How to Slipcover a Dining Chair

Dining chairs are the perfect candidates for slipcovers because they have simple shapes and are most likely to be the victim of occasional spills. Washable slipcovers with skirts and ties add function and a bit of flirty style to any dining space.  

Dining Chair Slipcover

Dining Chair Slipcover

Dining chairs are the perfect candidates for slipcovers, since they have simple shapes and are most likely to be the victim of food spills! Washable slipcovers with flirty skirts and ties add function and some feminine style to any eating space.

Photo by: Marian Parsons

Marian Parsons

Materials Needed

  • 1 yard per chair of desired fabric
  • coordinating all-purpose thread
  • cotton cording in desired thickness (long enough to go around perimeter of chair seat twice)
  • sewing machine equipped with zipper foot
  • 1-1/2 yards per chair of grosgrain ribbon
  • sharp scissors
  • straight ball pins
  • quilting ruler
  • iron and ironing board
  • heavy-duty sewing machine needle
  • no-fray fabric glue

Cut Fabric Pieces and Make Custom Piping

Cut a piece of fabric to cover chair seat, allowing an extra inch on each side for a generous seam allowance. To figure out how much cotton cording is needed for this project, measure circumference/perimeter of each chair, then double that measurement for each chair so there is enough piping for the top and bottom of chair's sides. Cut length of cotton cording to measurement. Cut the same length of fabric in 3" wide strips to use to cover cotton cording (Image 1). These fabric strips should be cut at an angle or 'on the bias', so it lies flat when sewn. If necessary, sew shorter pieces together to create lengths long enough to cover cotton cording. Press seams open with an iron, so they lie flat. Wrap fabric around cotton cording and sew in place with a sewing machine equipped with a zipper foot (Image 2). Tip: Make sure fabric is a good weight for your sewing machine. With the piping and ruffled skirt, this will lead to sewing through several layers of fabric, so a heavy-duty upholstery machine will be required for certain fabrics. 

Pin Fit and Sew Seat to Sides

Cut a piece of fabric that's long and wide enough to cover the three front sides of each chair and one for each back (the space between chair's back braces). Allow 1" seam allowance on all sides. Sew pieces together in order to make one long length, if necessary. Position seat top face-down on chair. Hem end of side piece of fabric where it's against chair back brace, so raw edges are not exposed (Image 1). Pin top to sides, sandwiching piping in between (Image 2). Finished piping side should be inside; facing chair seat, and all raw edges should be pointing out, since slipcover is being assembled inside out. Note: Leave back, between chair back braces, unpinned at this step (Image 3). 

Tidy Up Edges

Where the end of the side edge meets the seat back, fold end over and trim, so there is no exposed raw edge. The piping is now hanging out and needs to continue around the back and meet up with a new piece of fabric to cover the space between chair's back braces (Image 1). Pin piping around back brace, making sure it's tight against the frame (Image 2). While pinning, trim excess fabric allowance to reduce bulk and ensure edges line up cleanly (Images 3 and 4). 

Add Back Fabric Piece

Add piece of fabric to cover back, between chair back braces, in same manner described in steps two and three.  Fold raw edges back and pin to seat, sandwiching piping (Images 1 and 2). Where the ends of piping meet, just cross the ends and let them 'disappear' into the seam. Sew along pins, removing them as you go. Try slipcover on to ensure proper fit (Image 3). 

Sew Piping Along Skirt

Turn slipcover inside-out and place on chair again. Pin piping that will run along bottom edge of chair side, where skirt will be attached (Images 1 and 2). Where piping ends, fold over the underside of slipcover to hide raw edge (Image 3). Sew it on and remove pins (Image 4).

Sew Skirt

Cut a piece of fabric about 6" wide and at least double the measurement of the chair's perimeter. The longer the fabric, the fuller the skirt will be. If necessary, sew smaller pieces of fabric together to make one long strip. Fold strip of skirt fabric length-wise, with right-side facing out, and press to create a crease (Image 1). Pinch skirt in a ruffle and pin to the bottom of slipcover, along lower piping (Image 2). Make sure raw edges are facing in the same direction. Skirt may be pinned in place and then sewn or it can be ruffled as it's being fed into the sewing machine (Image 3).

Attach Ribbon Ties

Cut grosgrain ribbons to approximately 18" each, four for each chair. Tuck ribbon into hem where slipcover meets chair back (Image 1). Fold ribbon over and sew into place on underside of slipcover. Sew zigzags to secure ribbon, similar to a 'seat belt' stitch (Image 2). Repeat with other three ties for each chair (Image 3). Add no-fray glue to the bottom edge of each ribbon to prevent fraying. Trim all threads and press skirt before installing on each chair (Image 4). 

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