How to Make a Simple Slipcovers for Dining Room Chairs

by Diane Henkler on 11/14/2010

One more project in my decorating marathon completed!  One more to go and it will be just in time to set the table for Thanksgiving dinner.

Way back in 1994 I made my friend, Pam  simple slipcovers for her dining room chairs.  They became a project in my book Instant Decorating.  Since then I have made so many of these Knotted Chair Back Slipcovers that I don’t even need the directions anymore. I have striped, floral, purple, and now white slipcovers for my dining room chairs.

I think of them like the watches they sell with different color interchangeable bands to coordinate with what ever you are wearing.  That is what I do with these chair slips.  They are a color accent that are so sew easy to make.  They are similar to a pillow case with an added knotted accent on the back.  I always planned on making a set with a ruffled trim or box pleats, but I like the look of the knot. It adds classic style and I can make it very quickly – no fuss.

First chair back covers I made in 1994 for my friend Pam. Notice the end chairs have arms.  The knot has to be placed higher to accommodate the arm.

On the purple ones I even added piping.

Here are the new ones I made this weekend.  No piping on these, just simple slips.

Since I am redoing this room on a very small budget, I used white fabric I found at my favorite $1.00 a yard fabric store - Jomar.   Since I have made slipcovers before I knew I had to wash the fabric first, which I did. Hot water and hot dryer.  Of course the fabric shrunk, which I expected, but what I didn’t expect was the texture of the fabric changed. At first I was upset, but then as I looked at it closer, I began to like it - in fact I loved it!  The fabric puckered and got thicker.

Finished Chair Back Slipcover

The How To:

This type of chair slipcover only works on straight back chairs, if yours taper slightly you can still make them, but will have to keep the line of the slipcover as wide as the widest part of the chair so the slipcover will fit over.

Materials Needed:

Fabric, thread to match, pencil, straight pins, scissors

1.  To determine yardage for each slipcover, measure for length by measuring height of front of chair back from bottom of seat to top and adding 2 inches. For back of chair back add 4 inches to the measurement of the front.   For width, measure around the chair, adding three inches.  ( Measuring around the chair back includes the depth of the sides.  One you have this measurement you can fold in half and cut into two pieces.

You can also measure this way:    Fold fabric for slipcover right sides together and lay on floor. For straight back chairs -Place chair back on fabric and trace with a pencil. From traced line measure 1 1/2 inches for seam allowance, plus the depth(side) of chair back.  Mark that measurement from traced line and draw a new line. Cut on outside line.( For chairs that have a slightly tapered back ( wider at top then bottom of chair back) – find widest part and draw a straight line down to the seat – repeat on other side of chair.)

For width of knotted back section, measure across the width of chair back at widest part and add 10 inches.  Length of knotted back section is 13 inches.  Cut knotted tieback according to measurements.

Once I knew the right size to make I made a template out of cardboard. One for the front and back section and another for the knotted back.  Having a rigid template makes it easy to cut the fabric if you are making more than one cover.

Dining Room Chair Slipcover Step by step tutorial

How to make a pattern to make a back slipcover for a chair

3.  Fold knotted piece lengthwise with right sides together. Sew a seam along open edge.  Don’t sew ends.  Turn right side out and tie into a loose knot.

Chair Back Slipcover Step by step tutorial

4.  Arrange knot so seams are on the back.

Chair back slipcover tutorial and pattern

How to make a chair back slipcover

5.  Sew a hem on bottom of front and back of slipcover pieces.  You will also need to sew a hem on each side of the back section since it is longer than the front.  Sew the hem the difference of the two from the bottom up.

How to make a slipcover for a dining room chair

6.  Lay fabric for front of chair right side up (shorter piece).  Center knotted strip across width of fabric with its seam side up and pin ends to either side of fabric about an inch or two from bottom.  Place back piece(longer) right side down onto these pieces aligning front, knot and back pieces.

Dining Room chair makeover idea

7.   Pin all thickness together. Sew seam around the cover.

How to make a chair slipcover the easy way

8. Clip corners and then turn right side out.  Place over chair.  Arrange knot if needed.

Chair Back Slipcover Step by step tutorial


Varaiation #1:  If your chairs have backs that taper in width from top to bottom more than a few inches you will have to alter the way you make the slipcover.  Make the slip cover as wide as the widest part of the chair back.  Instead of making a one piece knotted back create two long pieces and attach one to each side.  ( Or use two pieces of wide ribbon.)  When slipcover is placed on the chair the two pieces will  hang – tie into a knot or bow.  This will pull looseness at the narrow bottom part of the chair back to fit.

Variation #2:   For an even easier slipcover make the front and back the same length.

Variation #3:  If you are covering a dining room set of chairs and two have arms make sure you place the knotted piece at the same height on the chairs with no arms.  This way when the chairs are around the table they look consistent.


{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melissa November 14, 2010 at 11:29 pm

I LOVE these! So pretty and simple. I’m definitely going to have to make some for the holidays. Thanks so much for the great tutorial!


2 pandora's box November 15, 2010 at 7:49 am

This is great….and it’s on my 2011 list of things to do!! Well done!


3 Restoration House November 15, 2010 at 10:41 am

These are so pretty and look fairly easy to do as well. Thanks for the inspiration!


4 Kristen November 15, 2010 at 11:30 am

These are fabulous! They give the chairs a whole new look and really dress them up!!!! Love the knotted back detail :o)


5 Diana K November 15, 2010 at 4:42 pm

This is a great idea. I have been meaning to do this for my chairs for ever so long…and you have THREE sets. Maybe I could just borrow a set? Great tutorial-I saved it! Hugs-Diana


6 Diane November 15, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Hi Diana-

Go for it. They really are easy to make – just straight line sewing.


7 Kim @ Cheap Chic Home November 15, 2010 at 4:46 pm

How cute, the knot really makes them distinct. You must link these up with Fabric Fun Thursday ;0). Wow, at $1/yd., I guess you can’t complain too much.


8 Diane November 15, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Hi Kim-

Thanks – I will link up and will add it on my Link Party page. Jomar is the name of the fabric store I love to go to. They sell regular priced fabric, but I always head straight to the back where the the dollar a yard section is. It is one of those places you have to go to with an open mind and imagination – you never know what you are going to find. I plan on posting about it soon.


9 simpledaisy November 15, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Love those!!!! I really love your simple ones the best:)


10 Diane November 15, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Hi Heather-

Of all the slips I have made -these are my favs, too.


11 mary November 16, 2010 at 7:55 am

I LOVE them! Thank you so much for posting! :o)


12 Kim November 16, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Those are great and what a nice tutorial. Now I just need to find time to sew. Thanks so much for joining the party this week!


13 debbie November 17, 2010 at 8:22 am

I think they turned out great, and I like the texture even after the washing….NICE JOB!!~


14 Modern Country Style November 17, 2010 at 9:06 am

Okay, first the chandy redo and now super-sewing…is there NOTHING you can’t do!!?



15 Diane November 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Hi Sarah -
I just love creating. My sewing skills are passable- not great, but I learned a long time ago that I will probably never be able to afford to have somebody do it for me so I learned to do it myself. I can only sew a straight line – anything more than that never turns out right for me.
My best- Diane


16 Marsha November 17, 2010 at 9:16 am

Your chair covers look fantastic! Thanks for the tutorial too!


17 Bonnie@Creative Decorating November 17, 2010 at 9:50 am

Stopping by from Kim’s Boring to Better party!! Great idea and they look fantastic!


18 Kristin November 17, 2010 at 10:11 am

So pretty, I love the fabric! Thanks for linking!


19 Jill November 17, 2010 at 11:57 am

These are gorgeous and look so elegant!! I think I might have to make some *bookmarked!*


20 jodi November 17, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Great tutorial! They’re fabulous. Thanks for sharing. Loving your blog. So glad to have discovered it.


21 Elizabeth @ blue clear sky November 17, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Very pretty and so fresh looking. Love the little bow detail.


22 Lisa Serendipity Chic Deocr November 18, 2010 at 9:26 am

That is such a great easy to follow tutorial. My favorite’s are the ones you made this weekend…

Take care,


23 Rose :: November 18, 2010 at 11:10 am

Oh this is so excellent, and exactly what we needed, a year ago…. hah ha.. but now I’ve just designed our own.

Well, this excellent tutorial will come in handy for many folks, and is an inspiration for us all, as your pictures are beautiful. Thank you for sharing this with us at the DIY CRAFT TUTORIAL LINKY PARTY.

We look forward to seeing you again next Wednesday, if not before that, with other new ideas and tutorials. We love to feature your work; it’s really well done.


24 Patti November 18, 2010 at 11:18 am

Your slipcovers are just beautiful! Thank you for sharing.


25 Diane @ home sweet homemade November 18, 2010 at 11:28 am

these are really cute and I like how they don’t look so fussy but are still neat and fashionable. The knot gives them a bit of romance too. Great design!! Thanks for sharing.


26 antiquechase November 18, 2010 at 12:04 pm

I love the look… and the fabric after washing is my favorite. Visiting you today from My Uncommon Slice


27 Emily @ LaForce Be With You November 18, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Wow, love this tutorial! The chairs look great. Thanks for sharing!


28 Cheri November 19, 2010 at 2:45 am

These are great – thanks so much for showing us “how”!


29 Funky Junk Interiors November 20, 2010 at 3:08 am

Gorgeous! Such a dramatic change such a little thing makes. LOVE the back knotted detail. I just love the softly washed look. :)



30 Terry Walker January 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I made the Knot Back chair Back covers in a 1 day this weekend. Super simple and look great. I haven’t sewn in about 30 years, the instructions were easy to follow and on the mark. I made my pattern out of old wrapping paper with 1″ grids printed on the back — a really simple solution to getting the pattern perfect!


31 Dana Ward November 20, 2010 at 1:44 pm

That’s great! I would love for you to come link this up at my Strut Your Stuff Party, and enter the giveaway as well!


32 pk @ Room Remix November 20, 2010 at 2:21 pm

These are great, Diane! Simple, pretty, inexpensive and I like the detail that you added. Thanks for the tutorial!


33 Stephanie Lynn November 30, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Great job Diane – These look fabulous! This looks fantastic – amazing job!! Thanks so much for linking to the Sunday Showcase – I greatly appreciate it. I have featured this today. Hope you are enjoying your week ~ Stephanie Lynn


34 Rene December 1, 2010 at 8:50 am

What a great tutorial! Your chairs look so pretty in their new outfits and I love the texture of the fabric.



35 Cheri Peoples January 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm

I have 4 to do –come on over.

I am visiting from the CSI project. I am numbers 86,87,88, and 89.

Cheri from and


36 Diane January 8, 2011 at 11:52 am

Hi Cheri-

I wish I could come over as it is always more fun to do some projects with a buddy. I wanted to make another set for my chairs for the holidays, I even bought the fabric, but never found the time to get them completed. They will have to wait till next year.


37 alison April 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm

what an elegant way to dress up a simple slipcover…love this…thanks for the idea and directions!

stuff and nonsense


38 re October 15, 2011 at 12:39 am

Love these! Thanks so much for the great tutorial!


39 Stacey Rudolph February 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I made these in a Hawaiian fabric, since we are so lucky to live here!, and they turned out beautiful!! Thank you for the cute pattern! It really was super easy and your measurements were right on. I’d like to send you a picture if you’d like to see it. If so, how would I do that? I also pinned you on Pinterest.


40 Stacey Rudolph February 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I found your email!


41 Tina Cuevas May 20, 2012 at 10:51 pm

I am so amazed at everything I found on your website. I have been on it all day just looking at several ideas that I can use. YOUR talent is absolutely amazing!!!!!!


42 Mickey Goddard January 20, 2014 at 2:11 pm

I love the dining room slipcovers you made a few years ago. I recently bought at a yard sale 6 dining room chairs, sort of Parsons style but better made with wood frames, and I was told they were custom made. Couldn’t turn them down at only $5.00 each. Do you have an idea for the seats. I can’t get them off, the way they are made – too hard, so need to make some kind of slip cover for them. Love all your ideas. Thanks for sharing. I just subscribed. You are very talented, and thank goodness I found you.


43 Diane Henkler January 20, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Can you send me a photo of them so I can get a better idea of what they look like.


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