How to Make a Simple Slipcovers for Dining Room Chairs

One more project in my decorating marathon completed!  Simple slipcovers for dining room chairs and they will be ready 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.

Simple Slipcovers to make for dining room chairs

On the purple ones I even added piping.

How to make slipcovers for dining room chairs

Here are the new ones I made this weekend.  No piping on these, just simple slips.Easy to make slipcovers for chairs

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.



    • Terry Walker says

      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!

  1. says

    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

  2. says

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


    • says

      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.

  3. says

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

    stuff and nonsense

  4. Stacey Rudolph says

    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.

  5. Tina Cuevas says

    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!!!!!!

  6. Mickey Goddard says

    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.


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