My kitchen has seen the gamut of colors. It has been wide blue and white stripe wallpapered (not while we lived there), Parisian Taupe, Moroccan Red, hospital white, and is once again Parisian Taupe. Parisian Taupe is my standby color – it’s got just the right amount of every shade that it compliments any color set next to it. I decided that the warm fall reds needed a change on our main level and adopted a new color scheme of blue, cream, and green. The paint was minor in this redo. There would be a ton of sewing, which was my stopping block.
The most daunting task of this revamp was the reupholstery of my kitchen chairs. In my house, everything is remade, and then remade again. I am in love with my Louis chairs; they are in all of the decorator magazines and go with any style table. The chairs were purchased in a light pickled finish, but have been repainted with chocolate and gold about 9 years ago and the natural wear and tear of chairs in our house has truly blessed them with the natural worn dings and scratches in the paint that they look like they are real French antiques from Louis himself. They have encircled a modern glass top with ornate pedestal and now sit alongside a farmhouse table built by my dad for us for Christmas a few years ago. The chairs have seen rich purple fabric flecked with tiny spots, cream tapestry, and red and mustard gingham. I like the red, but it lends itself best to Christmas decor and it was high time for a change for these royal beauties.
Rather than reupholstering them yet again, since the integrity of the wood is undoubtedly compromised after stapling and removing staples around the back six times, I figured I would sew slip covers that can be easily washed and removed if and when I have the desire to change them again. I began by making a pattern using tissue paper pinned to the chair so it would be a glove fit.
I made the tucks so I could see exactly how the finished product would be sewn. I found the center line and worked with half of the chair so that my pattern and the fabric piece would be perfectly symmetrical. The fold of the fabric for cutting would run down the middle. I labeled my pattern with a highlighter showing ‘center – fold’ so there would be no confusion at cutting time. I repeated the process with the seat back – knowing I would cut two circles for the front and back – leaving an ample seam around both pieces so I would have enough for seam allowances. My slipcovers are fully lined so I ended up cutting twelve ovals for the seat backs with my chosen fabric and twelve ovals out of white muslin for the liner.
I removed the pattern pieces and made sure they were neat when positioned flat for cutting. The opening at the base of the pattern piece below (seat piece) would be rounded following the line – I just didn’t have tissue paper taped inside. I notched out two cuts in the top for where my ties would be inset and the skirt would come out of the back of the chair.
I cut two pieces for the seat – one from the cream candlewicking fabric I had chosen and one white muslin that I was using as a liner and checked the fit. Pretty good for a slipcover – not too tight, but doesn’t look slumpy either.
Once I set the ties in and sewed the rounded edges for the back, I snipped about a centimeter in around the inside of the tie seam so the fabric would ease and not cause the bunchiness that you can see in this picture. Of course, ironing after you are completely done makes a huge difference too. Snipping just lets it have space to flatten out – just be careful not to snip too far in causing fraying or splitting the seam.
I took the chairs to my workroom to constantly check the fit during sewing. It becomes like a factory when you are making six. Make one, check the fit, if it works, repeat the same step through all of the chairs to maintain consistency. If not, make necessary adjustments, and then finish all six. For the seat back, I realized after sewing the first one that I couldn’t sew the circle as far down as I would have wanted to because it made the back seat slip too tight to pull over the rounded edges. Trial and error is the name of the game here. Here is a picture of the slip cover completed, but unironed. I topstiched around the back just for added strength and it is more aesthetically pleasing.
The last step on each chair is to hand sew the back of the slipcovers closed. That is the one opening I left to be able to work inside out and the easiest to finish by hand at the end with one short straight seam.
Here is the finished product. Perfect for spring, but easily transformed back to celebrate the holiday season. Who knows….maybe this season will be a neutral Christmas theme in keeping with my fresh new palette.