Give your old armchairs a new lease of life with these country-style slipcovers and cushions.
You will need
(To cover one armchair you will need approximately 300 x 140cm of fabric)
• sufficient soft-furnishing fabric
• matching sewing thread
• newspaper or brown paper
• tape measure
• masking tape
• old sheet or sheeting fabric
• craft and dressmaking scissors
• dressmaker’s pencil
1 Draw a rough diagram of your armchair and number each panel.
2 Take measurements for each panel across the width and height. If the panel is tapered or shaped you must make several measurements, moving from the narrowest section to the widest section. Jot down these measurements on your diagram.
3 Using newspaper or brown paper, make the basic pattern pieces from your measurements. As each piece is completed, stick it directly onto the armchair. Adjust the pattern piece to fit until you are happy with the shape. Continue in this way until all the pattern pieces are completed.
Soft-furnishing fabric is ideal for this project as it will wash and wear well. It is available in a wide range of colours and prints and often you can purchase it wider than normal dress fabric, which will reduce the cost of the slipcover. If the fabric has been starched, it is a good idea to prewash it, leave it to partially dry then press while damp to remove the creases. This will ensure that your slipcover will have a perfect fit when you assemble it.
1 For an armchair similar to ours, you will have to cut out one piece for the front seat and skirt section, one piece for the front panel, one piece for the back panel, two pieces each for the inner and the outer arms and two pieces for the front of the arms.
2 If you have not made a slipcover before, it is a good idea to make a mock cover from an old sheet. Cut the pattern pieces out, tack them together and fit over the armchair. You can then adjust the pieces to fit perfectly. It doesn’t matter if the slipcover is a little larger than your armchair, it will be easier to remove and refit when required if the finished cover is on the generous side. Remove the tacking stitches and use these fabric pieces as the actual pattern.
3 Place the soft furnishing fabric with the right side uppermost on a flat surface and smooth out all the creases. Place the paper pattern or fabric mock pattern on the right side of the fabric. Make sure each piece is placed correctly on the grain line.
4 Remember to make mirror images for the shaped pieces such as the front of the arms. Also make sure there is sufficient space between each piece for seam and hem allowances. Note We allowed 2,5cm for a generous seam allowance and a 10cm double hem allowance.
5 Using the dressmaker’s pencil, draw around each shape carefully. Use a ruler for all straight lines and make curves as neatly as possible. Cut out each piece. Label the pattern piece on the reverse side according to your diagram.
Tip If you find the fabric pieces bulky and heavy, making them awkward to sew, place a chair directly next to your sewing machine table so it can carry the weight of the fabric as you work.
1 Using a matching coloured sewing thread and sewing the pattern pieces together with the right sides of the fabric facing, sew the front panel and seat section to the back panel. Pin and tack each seam before you start machine-stitching.
2 As you work, clip the seam frequently around the curved top edge so the seam will lie flat. Finish the raw edge of the seam with a zigzag stitch, open the seam and press flat. This will remove any bulk in the seam and also will bind the raw edges so they don’t fray. If necessary, you can trim the seam as you work.
3 In exactly the same way, sew the inner and outer arm panels to the seat and front panel. It is a good idea to slip the cover over the armchair at intervals as you work so you can unpick the seam and rework it if necessary.
4 Continue in this way until you have sewn all the pattern pieces together. Do not turn up the hem at this stage. If required, work a double seam for reinforcement around the arms. The slipcover takes the most strain in this section of the armchair.
5 Fit the cover over the armchair and leave to hang for at least a couple of days. The fabric will gradually take the form of the armchair.
6 While the cover is fitted on the chair, make a mark on the lower edge using the dressmaker’s pencil if it hangs lower at certain sections. Remove the cover from the armchair.
7 Fold a 10cm double hem along the lower edge, trimming it if necessary to fit the dressmaker’s pencil marks. Machine-stitch or hand-stitch the hem in place. Fit the cover over the chair.
Size 45 x 45cm
You will need
(to make one cushion cover)
• 50 x 100cm fabric (same as armchair)
• matching coloured sewing thread
• 40cm zip fastener
• 200cm pompom trim in a complimentary colour
• 45cm cushion pad
1 Cut out two squares each 48 x 48cm, which includes a 1,5cm seam allowance. Take one square for the front of the cushion and with the right side of the fabric uppermost, tack the tape of the pompom trim around the outer edge. Make sure the tape and the raw edge align and that all the pompoms are facing inwards.
2 With the right sides of the front and back together, pin the zip tape in position along one edge, making sure there is an equal amount of fabric left at each end of the zip. This seam will form the lower edge of the cushion cover.
3 Using a zipper foot, sew the zip in place, trying to sew as close to the teeth as possible. Make sure the pompom tape is caught into the seam. Close the seams at each end of the zip. Open the zip fastener and leave it open while you complete the cushion cover.
4 Now sew the remaining three sides of the cushion cover, making sure the pompom tape is sandwiched between both layers of the fabric and that it is caught into the seam.
5 Clip the corners of the cushion cover diagonally to ensure a neater point. Turn to the right side through the zip opening. Insert the pad and close the zip.