Monday, May 7, 2012

Sewing A Parsons Chair Slipcover

Making your own slipcovers can be intimidating if you don't know how.  Parsons chairs are the perfect beginner project.
If you missed Part 1 How to Pinfit a Parsons Chair Slipcover, you can find it here.

Since I was slip covering 2 identical chairs, I pinfit one and used that to cut out my second one.

Step 1.  Cutting-  I recommend labeling your slipcover pieces before you take out the pins and remove it from the chair.  I use blue painters tape because it won't leave a sticky residue, but the tape can come off, so I pin the tape to each piece as well.  Parsons chairs only have a few pieces.  An outside back (OB), an inside back (IB), seat, and boxing.  My boxing had to have 2 pieces, so I labeled the boxing left box (L box) and right boxing (R box).  When I label something left or right I am referring to it as if I'm facing the front of the chair.
If you are only covering one chair, you can skip this part, but if you too are covering more than one chair simply lay your cut pieces on top of your fabric and use them as a pattern.  I made sure to line up my stripes.
After you have cut your duplicate pieces, label them as well.  I label them according to sets, so my duplicates were labeled IB 2.
Be sure to transfer all the notches to the additional sets.
We will go back and cut our skirts later.
Cut plenty of welt strips.  The directions for that can be found here.

Step 2.  Overlocking-  I overlock/serge all my slipcover pieces.  This keeps the raw edges from ravelling when you wash your slipcovers and it gives a more professional finish.
Step 3.  Welt-  I roughly measure how much welt cord I think I will need and make a little more than that.

After you have serged the edges and made all your welt cord, you are ready to begin to construct your slipcover.

Step 4.  Flat seams-  I stitch whatever flat seams there are first.  The first flat seam to stitch is the tuck in seam.  Pin the inside back(IB) to the seat.  Match up your notches and stitch, pivoting at the diagonal edges.

This is what it will look like when you are done.
The other flat seam was my boxing.  Remember I said I had 2 boxing pieces...a left and a right.  Pin and stitch these two pieces together.  Make sure to match the pattern.

Step 5. Putting all the pieces together-  Now it's time to add welt to our first piece.  The first piece to get welt is the OB.  I use a zipper foot and stitch close to the welt, but not too tight against the welt...our final stitching of the seams is when we stitch really close the the welt to hide all the previous stitches.  Simply lay your welt to the right side starting at the bottom of the OB.  Stitch.  Clip into the welt seam allowance when you have to go around a curved edge or corner.

This is what it will look like when you are done.

Pin your OB to your IB.  Match up the notches.  My OB was longer than my IB because I have not attached the boxing yet.  That's OK, Just match the notches and start stitching 1/2" from the bottom edge of the IB.  Make sure you back stitch at the beginning and end of your seams to secure them.
My IB had pleats around the rounded corners of my chair.  Pin those when you are pinning the front to the back.

Tip-  I stitch with the piece that already has the welt sewn to it on top.  When you sew welt cord to a piece of fabric, it is going to ever so lightly gather up that piece if fabric because it was on the bottom and the feed dogs of the machine feed it in just a tad.  So when marrying 2 pieces, put the piece with out the welt cord on the bottom, against the feed dogs so it will be gathered up too.  If you don't do this, you might find one piece is smaller than the other and you will have a hard time matching up notches.  The slipcover will still fit your chair.  As I said, it is a VERY slight gathering up that occurs.

Stop stitching 1/2" from the end and back stitch.  Turn the slipcover right side out and check to make sure everything looks good.

Now we're going to stitch our welt to the seat edge.  The welt has to go all the way to the edge that will be sewn to the OB, so the welt actually starts at the IB. (where the tuck in seam is)
The tuck in seam should be pushed towards the back.  Stitch the welt to the seat top, clipping into the welt seam allowance to go around any curves or corners.  This is what mine looked like when I finished stitching it.

Pin your boxing to the top of the seat edge that you just added the welt to.  Match all your notches.  Because my chair curved at the top of the boxing edge, I had to make a VERY small dart at the corners of the boxing.  Here's where I stitched my small darts.
Notice in the picture below that my tuck in seam is pushed to the back and my seat that already has the welt is on top.
Stitch around the curved edges, clipping into the seam allowance of the boxing if necessary to go around the curves or corners.
I hope you are all still with me!
We are about to cross our first welt cord seam.  Whenever you have to stitch across a seam edge that has welt cord, you have to dig the welt cord filler out of the last 1/2".  Otherwise you will end up with this big edge of bulk.  It's not as hard as it sounds, so hang in there.
The welt the we just stitched, the one that went at the top edge of our seat, that's the one that we need to dig out.  We need to do it at both ends.  See how the welt filler is sticking out ever so slightly?  
Grab a hold of the filler and pull it out about an inch or so.  Once you have it out, don't let go of the outer welt covering.  
Cut off approx. 5/8"-3/4" of this filler cord.
Now you can let go.  Grab the outer fabric and pull it back out taught.  You want the cut off cord filler to recess back into the welt cord cover.  Now this area will lay flat when you stitch over it.

Pin the seam allowance of the boxing towards the boxing and pin the empty welt cover flat.
Now you can stitch the last few inches of the OB over this seam and to the end of the boxing.
Here's what it will look like when you turn it right side out.  Notice how the welt we stitched over lays nice and flat.  No big lump of bulk.
Find the center of the bottom of the OB.  I usually put a little clip mark there.  This is where our bottom welt will join together.
If any of you have followed my pillow tutorials, you will be familiar with this next step.  
Lay the welt 1/2" beyond the clip mark, but start stitching the welt at the clip mark.  You will have to dig the welt filler out of the OB welt before you stitch across it.  Sew the welt all the way around the bottom of the slipcover stopping a couple inches shy of the starting point.

When you are few inches away from the starting point, pause with the needle down, lay the welt cord up to the clip mark and fold it back 1/2" and cut.

Open the seam of the welt cord up.  Just open a couple inches.
Fold back 1/2".
Lay the beginning welt edge over this.

Cut off the welt filler so it will butt up against the beginning welt.
Fold the welt cover over and stitch across this joint.
This is a good time to put your slipcover on your chair and see how it fits.  Make sure there are no tucks in your seams and that the fit is good.  Be sure to shove your tuck in pocket into the crevice between the IB and the seat.  My fit looked good!  
Step 6.  Skirt-  I chose to do a kick pleat skirt, so my directions will be for a kick pleat skirt.  But I didn't want just a plain kick pleat skirt.  I wanted to add a little interest, so I plan to add a banding of the stripe running horizontally along the bottom of my skirt.  You probably aren't doing yours out of a stripe, so you can skip that part and just hem your skirt.
This Chair was small enough that I only had to cut 2 skirt pieces per chair.  I cut 2 @ the width of the fabric x 14".  My finished skirt length is 13".  I added a 1/2" for the seam allowance and 1/2" for the seam that will attach the banding that will run horizontally along the bottom of my skirt.  This banding will also finish the skirt bottom so a traditional hem will not be necessary.  You might want to add another inch or so for a hem allowance.  I usually line my slip cover skirts, but this time I am not going to.
In addition to cutting 2 skirt pieces per chair, I cut my banding pieces.  I chose the part of the stripe I wanted and added 1/2" seam allowance to both sides of it.

Overlock/serge the top edge of your skirt.  If you are simply hemming your skirt, then you want to overlock/serge the bottom too.

The pleats in your skirt can be between 2" and 3" deep.  I made mine approx. 2" deep.  If I wanted to make them deeper I would have needed to cut more skirt pieces and I was a little lazy that day.

Start pinning your skirt pieces to the bottom edge of your slip cover.  Start your skirt at a corner of the chair.  It doesn't matter which corner.  Extend the first 2 1/2" beyond the corner.  Then form a 2" pleat.  Pin the skirt piece to the slip cover until you come to the next corner.  Form and pin your pleats to that corner as well.  Continue pinning up to the next corner where you will have to seam your skirt.  Pin the next skirt piece to this skirt piece, making sure the joining seam will be hidden in the back of the pleat.  Continue pinning your skirt to the bottom of your slip cover forming pleats in the corners and hiding the necessary seams in the back.  
Once you have it all pinned, stitch the skirt sections together.  You may have to unpin that pleat to stitch the skirt seam.  Press the skirt seams open and then re pin it to your slip cover.
Stitch the skirt to the bottom of your slip cover.  The backside of the pleats will look like this.
If you are unfamiliar with how to form pleats, you can find better instructions with pictures at my Kick pleat Valance tutorial here. 

As I mentioned, I added a contrasting stripe banding to the bottom.  I started my banding back in one of the kick pleat areas.  I stitched it with the right side of the banding against the wrong side of the skirt.  I had a stripe to be my seam allowance guide.  I made sure all my seams landed in the back of the pleats. 

Press the seam open, and the other the side of the banding under 1/2"  Again, I had a stripe to help guide this edge to be straight.

Then fold the banding up over the right side of the skirt and pin.

Top stitch close to the pinned edge.
Press the slipcover and the skirt pleats really well.
Now you can put your slipcover on your chair and sit back and admire your work!  Again, make sure you shove the tuck in pocket into the crevice between the IB and the seat.

 My skirt was dragging a little because of the grass, but you can see how well it turned out.

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  1. Wow! What a beautiful chair and I love the color of the fabric. The tutorial is so great it's almost like you were showing it to me in my living room.

    Thank you, Chantal

  2. Pretty! Love that pale blue. I wish I could sew :(
    Thanks for linking up!

  3. This turned out so great! Thanks for the in depth tutorial. And thanks for sharing at Terrific Tuesdays.

  4. What a beautiful job you did. I am about to help my brother slipcover a sofa...thanks for the tips!

    I would love if you would post it and share it with my readers! Join the Community and share any of your creative project!

    Susan @ Oh My! Creative

  5. Thanks for such great instructions AND photos!!! You've inspired me to finally recover my dining room chairs. I've read other instructions, but they sounded like jibberish. You rock! : ) Love all the other stuff you do too, btw.

  6. Your chair is gorgeous, you did an outstanding job.
    Am sure they are gonna look wonderful in your home.
    Beautiful work hon,
    Blessings, Nellie

  7. I could have used this before, that's for sure. Thanks so much!


  8. Your chair really turned out gorgeous, and I live the fabric your choose. Once again you have provided us a great tutorial, so we will have not problem making one ourselves. Thanks for sharing your creative inspiration over at Sunday's Best!

  9. Great, easy to understand tutorial! I found your link on Delightful Order's Link Party. I would love for you to post this on my link party at...
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. This is a super tutorial! Very detailed and makes me feel like you were teaching me personally! Thanks so much; your chair is awesome.

  11. Wow--this tutorial is awesome and perfect for people like me who would be too darn scared to sew a chair cover like this. I'm going to share this on the Sew Woodsy Facebook Fan Page! great job again and thanks for linking up!

  12. thanks for sharing.

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  56. My chair I will be covering is wider at the top of back than the bottom back where it attaches to the seat. I am concerned I won't be able to pull off the cover for washing. Any suggestions?

    1. I know it says on other sites It says pre wash your fabrics. For srinkage

  57. Hi! I don't know if you're still receiving comments from this, but I like this tutorial and even though I'm very much a novice, I think I'm going to give this a try. What kind of fabric did you pick out for this? Google is telling me that canvas, cotton duck, denim, and twill are good fabrics but are those okay for making the covered welt cord? Thanks!!