Slipcovering An Old Chair

Hello Everyone!  Hope you had a great weekend.  It has been much warmer, and dare I jinx it, spring-like in my neck of the woods.  I feel for you out there who are still covered in ice and snow.  (well, unless you really enjoy ice and snow 🙂 )

If you have been reading awhile, you know how much I love buying antique or vintage furniture pieces and giving them new life through upholstery.  You can find some really interesting shapes and great bones in old pieces, and although discovering them before someone else does is getting a bit harder (don’t you think so?), the end result is well worth it.

While doing some friend visiting and furniture hunting in Austin a couple of years ago, I went to an estate sale and found this $40 chair. I do have a love for this type of chair, which I lovingly refer to as the Mad Hatter.  (I have a similar pair I use as host chairs in my dining room.)

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It has lived in my garage for a long time now as I waited for the perfect space for it.  It came as pictured with no cushion, and at some point, someone took a marker to it, but I just couldn’t sell it.  Finding this type of chair is rare, and I knew it had a spot somewhere in my home.  A trip into my favorite local home store, Simple Things, inspired me, and suddenly I had an idea.

I saw this chair on their showroom floor, and I was sold.

It looked very similar in scale, shape, and size to my chair, and it was slipcovered in a classic linen.  I took several photos of it, taking note of all of the details in the pretty slipcover.

I then went to Cutting Corners and purchased yardage of their Glynn Linen (you can also buy it online, and it comes in lots of colors), which is a 100% linen fabric that works beautifully in numerous projects; in fact, I used it on my racing stripe settees here.  (If you are familiar with Lee Industries, this is their “Glynn” linen also.)  I decided on “Driftwood”, which is a nice gray a tad on the brown side.

Side Note:  I added a little extra yardage to my order so I could wash this fabric BEFORE I sent it on to my upholsterer.  Since my plan was to use this fabric as a slipcover, I wanted it to be really soft, and I also wanted to ensure it would not shrink terribly when I washed the slipcover the first time.  I washed the fabric twice on “warm” and used lots of my favorite lavender fabric softener.  You may have an upholsterer or slipcover maker that will do this step for you, but in all honesty, my upholsterer had not made many slipcovers before, so I knew I needed to do this step for him.

After washing the linen and going over lots of details with my upholsterer, I sent it off and crossed my fingers.  I needn’t have worried, it came back beautiful…

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Would you ever know that underneath this pretty slipcover was a chair badly in need of a makeover?

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Something I love about this type of chair is the way it wraps around you when you are sitting in it.  Those curved wings are almost comforting in a way.

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I will tell you, the cushion was not quite right at first…it almost felt as if you were sliding off of it when you sat in it.  I think it was because the cushion was all foam, and I typically prefer a down/foam blend.  I sent it back, and my upholsterer got it right the second time.  It feels great!  Moral of this little story: Never be afraid to send something back to your upholsterer if it is not quite right.  You should feel good in your upholstery!

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All of the little details I painstakingly went over were carried out so beautifully.

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The feeling I get from this chair simply stated would be “lived in”.  We are not a perfect family in a perfect house, and I like that it is a little messy, a little rumply here and there.

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I have never taken an old piece and slipcovered it like this, and I have to say, I am a fan.  It is easy to change if I want something different in the future, or even if I want to have a couple of slipcovers I can switch from season to season.  Plus it is washable (hello, awesome) so I practically invite the kids to sit in it (unless they have a sharpie marker in their hand).

Perhaps you have a chair in your garage begging for a pretty slipcover?

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P.S.  This room smells heavenly right now because of my blooming lemon trees!  Bring on the Spring!

Written by Grace

16 Responses to “Slipcovering An Old Chair”

  1. Chrissy February 24, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    Love the slipcover style. Thanks for all the tips!

    • Grace February 24, 2014 at 9:36 pm #

      Hi Chrissy, thank you so much! Please send me a photo if you slipcover something awesome. 🙂 G

  2. Elizabeth @ The Little Black Door February 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    That slipcover is so well done, it looks like it is just an upholstered chair! And the fabric selection is perfect!

    • Grace February 24, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

      Hey Elizabeth, thank you! I’m so glad it looks upholstered! That’s the thing about slipcovers, you don’t want them to look too baggy, ya know? My upholsterer did a great job for sure. 🙂 xo, G

  3. Diane February 24, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Grace..love the chair!.. did u just send measurements?… To have the slip cover made?… I have a chaise that I don’t want to move that needs a cover!o

    • Grace February 24, 2014 at 9:52 pm #

      Hi Diane, good questions! I did not send the measurements, and I’m not sure you could get an accurate slipcover that way. Doing that would make me a little nervous to be honest! Most upholsterers will pick up your item and deliver it back to you, so I would make sure to find someone that will do that if you don’t want to move it. 😉 Good luck! Send me a photo when you are done. 🙂 G

  4. Nancy February 24, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    I would love to know what the cost would be to do a chair similar.

    • Grace February 24, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

      Hi Nancy, I’m so glad you brought this up. I actually meant to put that in the article! I believe my upholsterer charged me $120 for the slipcover, but keep in mind that he gives me better prices because I bring him a lot of business through clients. 🙂 I’m not sure exactly how much slipcovering costs since I don’t do this much. I have contacted slipcover companies locally that have been pretty expensive, but this is very detailed work and a craft, so I’m sure the price is well warranted. I would just ask your upholsterer if he is comfortable doing a slipcover, or if you don’t have one, get recommendations from friends and just call around. Hope that helps! G

  5. Emily February 24, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    Grace,
    You are the queen of repurposing old furniture! I’m with Nancy. Can you share an average price for doing a chair like this? I know it depends on fabric choice, but what about labor?

    • Grace February 24, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

      Hey Emily, thanks girl! My upholsterer charged me $120, and I’m not exactly sure what this type of service goes for. See above reply for more info. 🙂 xo, G

  6. Teresa s. February 25, 2014 at 12:17 am #

    Hi grace! I found a similar “mad hatter” style chair last year at a thrift store. The fabric is in good condition, but the seat cushion is flat as a pancake. We are currently living overseas and cannot find a suitable replacement. I will need to order the cushion online. Can you give me a little bit more detail as to that bottom cushion? Thanks!

    • Grace February 25, 2014 at 10:10 am #

      Hi Teresa, I’m happy to know another mad hatter chair lover. 🙂 I had my upholsterer make the cushion from foam, and then he added a down wrap to it after I did not like the all foam feel. I’m sure there are companies out there that sell cushions, but I have never pursued that avenue before. Perhaps try taking this on as a DIY? You could make a template of your cushion out of paper and then buy foam and cut it to size. It would be simple to add down or batting as needed to suit your seating comfort. I have made cushions in the past doing this, and it is really easy. I hope that helps! Let me know if you need anything else! G

  7. emily February 25, 2014 at 6:14 am #

    oh my! such a beautiful transformation. i love a good linen slipcover…looks so very inviting.

    • Grace February 25, 2014 at 10:11 am #

      Hi Emily, I’m with you. Linen love! xo, G

  8. Erica Jo Harvey December 1, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    Grace, I have come across a similar set of chairs to purchase for my home, but can’t quite make a decision. What makes this style/shape of chair unique and a special buy?

  9. Anne Nonna Muss December 3, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    Beautifully done and I agree with you about the beautiful bones. Truly a lovely addition to your room.

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