Honesty Time

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DIY Desk Chair Slip Cover

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Last week I mentioned that I got a new chair for my desk at home. It’s ergonomic and has back support and arms and it swivels and all that jazz.

It was ugly as sin.

My room is all light blue and white, and suddenly this space age, black and silver, mesh backed chair tried to take over the place? Not on my watch, bub.

So off to the fabric store I went, ready for some leisure sewing on a project of my own, not for kids or a director. And I made a slip cover for my chair, and now it looks 10 times better than it did before. How did I do it? It was SEW easy.

I’m sorry. I’ll leave now.


Step 1: Buy your fabric. I purchased this lovely home décor fabric called “Johanna Spa.” It’s 54” wide and I bought 2 yards, though I think I only ended up using 1 ½ yards. I also bought a roll of 3/4” elastic to use in the seat and arm covers.

Step 2: Measure. Don’t just measure your chair just by how wide and long the seat is, but also by how thick it is, because the edges of the fabric will need to reach under, and you need a little seam allowance, and extra space to sew a 1” pocket for the elastic. My actual seat is only 20×20, but I believe I ended up cutting a square that was 31×31 to account for the inches that I added onto the sides. The back rest is easier, since you’re only sewing two pieces together, a bit like a pillow case. I added maybe two inches to the width of each panel just for seam allowance purposes.

cat likes fabric

Step 3: Get your trusty assistant and cut the fabric out. I started with the seat.

Step 4: Serge all the way around the edges. Hey, you’re going to be sitting on this! It’s going to get a lot of use! So I did what I could to make sure the edges were neat and clean and wouldn’t break or fray away. Then I folded the serged edge in and sewed that down flat as well.


Step 5: Get out your seam gauge and start folding over the edge about an inch. Mine was probably 1 1/8” but whatevs, right? Fold over your corners nice and neat. Pin as you go along.


Don’t forget that you need to leave about 3 inches unsewn so that you have a little pocket to insert the elastic. I used to get Fibro Fog Brain and forget about the pocket and sew all the way around and get frustrated that I would have to remove all of my stitches. Now I remind myself of this by placing large or colored pins at my stop and start points to remind myself of the sewing point of no return.

Second Reminder!

Don’t sew your square ends closed! Only sew the very edges, otherwise you’ll close the elastic channel. In the picture below, follow the green line, not the red line!


Step 6: Insert the elastic. Honestly, The easiest way to do this is to tie the elastic onto a knitting needle and run it through half of the square at a time. You can pop the knitting needle out of one of the corners and then reinsert it to get back around the rest of the square. I know a lot of people use wire hangers, but this fabric cost me a pretty penny and in my past experiences, the wire hanger has poked through and ripped my fabric AND my seams. And I have a lot of knitting needles.

Step 7: With extra elastic hanging down, try the cover on the seat. Pull the free ends of the elastic until the cover is nice and snug the way you want it. Hang on tight to those ends, remove the slip cover, and sew the elastic together. Boom. Done.

Step 8: The arm rests. I just grabbed some fabric and eyeballed how big the rectangles needed to be by draping them over the arms of the chair. Then I cut out the rectangles.

photo 3-2

Step 9: Same as the seat. Serge, turn the serge and sew flat, mark 1” pocket, sew, insert elastic, try on, sew elastic ends.

Step 10: So here we are with the fabric for the back. I intentionally made one panel longer than the other because the back of my chair has some weird silver space thing on the back and I wanted to make sure the panel was long enough to reach down and cover it.

Step 11: With right sides together, pin the top edge of your slipcover together.

Step 12: Here’s how you get a custom fit – do the rest of the pinning on the chair itself. I went and placed the cover on the chair and started pinning the sides of the cover to follow the line of the chair. I also readjusted some of the pins on the top so that the fit would be snug and custom to the curves of my chair. Don’t forget to place your marking pins to show you where to stop! You need not sew all the way down to the bottom. Leave a few inches open so that it’s easier to get the cover the curves and lumps of the chair.


Step 13: Take the cover off of the chair. Put the cover back on. Do this so that you can check the ease of taking the cover off and on, because if you struggle with the pins it, you’ll definitely have trouble once it has been sewing. Adjust pins as necessary.

Step 14: Sew your slip cover, carefully following your pins.

Step 15: Try it on the chair again. Not right? Seam rip and try again. Too lose? Pin and sew again. Just right? Move on.

Step 16: Press the seam open to give the outside a crisp finish, then serge your seam closed. Again, this helps it live up to wear and tear. Also, serge around the free edges. Turn those in about ¼ – ½” and sew them down. Now your edges look finished and flat!

Step 17: Try on, sit down, bask in your glory. All done in just the course of an afternoon!

photo 4-2

Now my back and my eyes are happy with the new chair. What can I cover next? Slip covering is so easy, I think I’ve caught the bug!


Author: Allyssa Ellen

A costumer, a makeup artist, an educator, and a librarian, all rolled up into one convenient, fun-sized package.

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