Skip to Content

How to Make Your Own Simple Chair Covers

No need to call an upholsterer when you want to change the color or pattern on your occasional chairs or dining chairs. Here’s how to make your own pattern to create simple chair covers.

Do you have any furniture in your house that you mostly love, but it just needs a little updating? I do because I’m a sucker for garage sales, estate sales, and generally anything with a little history (and a low price tag) to it.

I got these sweet little chairs from Craigslist a couple of years ago, and immediately fell in love as soon as I sat in one. These might be the most comfortable chairs I own. I even loved their quaint rose pattern, although it doesn’t fit any of my decor.

I knew I could fashion chair covers for them someday, if I ever felt the need.

Occasional chairs in cream and antique rose pattern

Fast forward a couple of years, and although I still love the chairs’ original upholstery, I can’t deny anymore that they need a little update to fit in with the rest of my living room.

(This is mostly because my best friend and design eagle-eye, Jana, tells me so whenever she comes over.)

When I decided to do a Spring Refresh on these dated accent chairs, my first thought was, “but I hate sewing, and I don’t have a pattern.” Jana assured me that she would help, if I would finally do something about them.

I grudgingly agreed and we put our unskilled heads together and came up with a plan. I didn’t want to just start stapling new fabric to the chairs (my usual M.O. includes either staples or hot glue) because someday I might want to use them in their original state again.

So I decided to make simple slipcovers for them, which turned out to be easier than I expected.

~ This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. ~

Make your own simple chair covers

How to Make Your Own Simple Chair Covers

This project worked out to be relatively easy because my chairs are a classic L-shape. The L-shape also works great for parson style dining chairs. If you have a different style you’re trying to update, you can still use these steps, but the measurements might not be as simple.

Also, if you’re looking for custom slipcovers that you don’t have to make yourself, give this shop a try: August Blues (That’s not an affiliate link, I just really love her stuff.)

1. Measure the Chairs

First you’ll need to measure your chairs to get an idea of how much fabric you’ll need. 

Keep in mind that if your fabric has a big pattern to it (called a “repeat” in design lingo), you’ll want to match up the lines as much as possible, so you may need to buy extra fabric to move your pattern around.

Handwritten measurements and notes for simple chair covers

I measured from the bottom of the back of the chair, all the way up and around and down to the front. Then I measured each side “L” pieces. Then I had to figure out how to fit all those pieces onto one cut of fabric.

2. Pick Fabric

Then you need to pick out the fabric. You can use almost anything, but I chose heavy duty upholstery fabric because I wanted them to retain their shape and stand up to wear and tear from the kids and dog. Not to mention my rowdy guests.

When you’ve picked your fabric, pick up a spool of thread to match. (Use heavy duty if you’re using upholstery fabric.)

3. Make a Pattern

Next, create your pattern. This doesn’t need to be technical or intimidating. It’s just a way to get your measurements onto your fabric. Mark your measurements on the back side of the fabric with pencil or chalk.

Be sure to line up any lines and designs in your fabric that you want to meet up at the seams. My fabric has only a subtle pattern, which isn’t why I picked it, but it ended up being a lot easier to work with. Score!

Remember to leave a couple of inches along the bottom of the chair so you can hem the whole piece.

4. Cut the Fabric

Now cut out your pieces. When cutting out your pattern, make sure to leave about an inch around every edge for seam allowance. (That’s the edge that ends up on the inside and keeps the seams from unraveling.)

Ok, sadly that was the easy part. This is where it gets interesting…

5. Fit and Pin the Pattern

Pinning the edges of the slipcover

Now lay your fabric upside down on your chair. Use straight pins to pin the fabric pieces together around the edges of the chair. Keep your pins as close to the chair as possible so you can get a nice tight fit, and use lots of pins (about every couple of inches).

You may need to tuck the fabric a bit as you follow the contours of your chair.

Dog sitting on unfinished chair

6. Sew it Together

Use your sewing machine to stitch the whole line you’ve made with your pins, pulling each pin out as you go. Don’t worry about the bottom edge just yet.

Sewing chair covers with a sewing machine

Even better, talk a good friend into coming over to help you do the sewing!

7. Fit and Adjust

Now try fitting the cover right-side up onto your chair. If there are any areas that seem too tight or loose, you will need to restitch those. That sounds annoying, but it’s really not so bad.

Fabric tucks on simple chair covers.

Hopefully you’ll just be making minor adjustments at this point.

8. Hem and Trim

Once your cover fits well, you’ll want to hem the bottom of the whole “skirt.” Simply fold the fabric over twice toward the inside and stitch along the bottom.

That will give you a nice clean edge, without a lot of fuss. (If you like more fuss, you can add a pretty piece of trim to the bottom to finish it off.)

Occasional chairs with blue slipcovers

Finally, put your cover on, tuck in the extra fabric along the bottom of the seat back, and straighten everything out.

And you’re done! It looks like you have brand new chairs, for only the price of a few yards of fabric, and without having to search for a pattern.

Simple Chair Cover Resources

Finishing Off the Spring Refresh

I love my new chairs, but I felt like they needed a little spot of color, so I threw my Easy DIY Placemat Pillows on them, which just happened to be the perfect size and shape.

Living room with blue slipcovered chairs

Then I added a lovely garden stool from HomeGoods, which tied the whole vignette together and brought just the right amount of color to that side of the room.

Then, because I stole the pillows from the couch, I just had to pick up a new Ikat pillow from World Market to pull everything back together.

Now the whole room has a soothing blue vibe, without the red and yellow rose chairs to break up the theme. Plus, if I ever change color schemes, I can go back to the roses, or just make new slipcovers.

Simple blue herringbone removable slipcover

In the meantime, I’m enjoying my new Spring theme, and hoping the weather cooperates soon. How about you? Are you ready to try this kind of refresh on a piece of your furniture?

Let me know if I missed anything in my instructions, or if you have any questions along the way. 

Naomi Sethie

Thursday 10th of June 2021

those look great, thank you for sharing

Lourdes Quinones

Monday 15th of February 2021

Great job I am inspired thank you


Tuesday 16th of February 2021

Thanks Lourdes!

Michele Wright

Saturday 6th of February 2021

Hey cool instructional. I wish I had a chair that would be easy to reupholster but I have a great big club chair in a pretty busy pink pattern but I can't find a slipcover that fits my color needs. I might try this on my Parsons chair though. I also wanted to point out to you that you should have made pattern from the pieces you cut so you just cut new fabrics easier and make any adjustments then. I don't recall that you mentioned doing that before you sewed it together.

Julie Breslin

Sunday 18th of October 2020

These look brilliant! I love the final results! I have some sewing experience but have never tried making slip covers. Your blog has given me the courage to try to cover my sadly outdated striped slip chair. Yay!


Monday 19th of October 2020

Thanks, Julie, I'm so glad to help! Good luck on your project!


Tuesday 5th of May 2020

It looks great but how do I keep the bottom back of the chair where it meets the back side of the chair from lifting when someone sits on it?


Friday 8th of May 2020

That's the great thing about this process! You simply tuck it back in if it lifts out. That way it doesn't pull on the fabric and give you a misshapen slipcover.


Creating a color-filled life. Conquering my little world one DIY project at a time. With lots of coffee and chocolate. Albuquerque NM. Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Facebook