How to Make Simple Slipcovers for Dining Room Chairs

How to make simple slipcovers for dining room chairs using inexpensive fabric with an easy to follow step-by-step photo tutorial.

White and turquoise decorated dining room with white chairs and white DIY made slipcovers.

Way back in 1994 I made simple slipcovers for a friend’s dining room chairs.  (They are in the upper right in the photo below.)

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.

3 examples of DIY dining room chair back covers to make.

Examples of Dining Room Chair Back Covers

Chair back slipcovers are so versatile and can instantly change the look of not only your dining room chairs, but the entire decor of the room.

  • The purple chair back covers have piping around them.
  • Notice in the upper right photo that the end chairs have arms.  The knot has to be placed higher to accommodate the arm.
  • White wrinkly fabric – these are the slipcovers I still use and not on these chairs anymore.  Keep reading to see how they look on wicker dining chairs.

I think of the chair back slipcovers like the watches they sell with different color interchangeable bands that 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.  Not only do I love slipcovers for chairs, but I love them on my living room sofa as well!

Dining Room Chairs BEFORE Adding Chair Back Slipcovers


Dining Room Chairs AFTER with Chair Back Slipcovers


My Current Home’s Dining Area

Simple spring dining room decor.

I used the same slipcovers on a different style of chair and they still work.

Kitchen table with 5 dining chairs around it each with a white slipcover.

I have even made a set with longer backs and without the knotted back.

How to Make Chair Back Slipcovers for Dining Room Chairs

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

Once I took the measurements of my chair back, I made a cardboard template to use as a pattern. This made making six chair back covers easier.

supplies needed:

  • fabric
  • thread to match
  • pencil
  • straight pins
  • scissors

Should I Wash and Dry Fabric Before Sewing?

Since I have made slipcovers before I knew I had to wash the fabric first, which I did. Hot water and hot dryer.

photo showing fabric before and after shots of changes after washing and drying

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.

Step-by-Step Tutorial

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.  Once you have this measurement you can fold the fabric 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.)

2. 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.

Dining Room Chair Slipcover Step by step tutorial

Once I knew the right size slipcover I needed to make, I made 3 templates out of cardboard. Having a rigid template makes it easy to cut the fabric if you are making more than one cover. I made one template for the shorter front section, a second for the longer back section and third for the knotted back piece.

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

Pattern/Template making option:  You can make only one template for both front and back if you want. When cutting out the front piece, simply fold the template to shorten it.

Chair Back Slipcover Step by step tutorial

3. Fold knotted section template 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 tutorial and pattern

How to make a chair back slipcover

4. Arrange knot so seams are on the back.

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 between the difference of the two from the bottom up.

Steps needed to make a dining chair back cover.

6. Lay fabric for front of chair right side up (shorter piece).  Center knotted sandwiched inside front and back and 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 section) right side down onto these pieces aligning front, knot and back pieces.

Pictured instructions on how to make dining room chair back covers.

7.  Pin all thickness together. Sew 1/2″ seam around the cover.

8. Clip corners and then turn right side out.

9. Optional Step: Since the slipcover does not have piping/cording along the seam, after the cover is sewn together and turned right side out, you can run a line of top stitches 1/8″ on each side of the seam. This will help the seam lay flatter and look more finished.

closeup of seam sewn on a diy dining room chair slipcover.
Seam on chair cover with a row of top stitches on each side.

To do this, you will need to bunch the fabric up to get the seam on the right side of the fabric under the presser foot. Run a top stitch along one side all along the seam of the slipcover, then repeat on the other side of the seam. Clip threads and place on chair.

Wicker chairs around a round dining room table. Chairs have white slipcovers with a tied knot detail in the chair backs.

10. Place over chair. If knot on back is not centered, loosen in and arrange it to the center of the back.

Close up of side view of a wicker dining with a white chair back slipcover on it..

Side view of dining chair back cover showing different lengths of front and back sections.

How to Make the Dining Room Chair Slipcovers Adding Different Details

Dining Chair Slipcover Variation #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.

Dining Room Slipcover Variation #2:   For an even easier slipcover, make the front and back the same length and don’t add the knot piece on the back.

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

Kitchen table with 5 dining chairs around it each with a white slipcover.

I hope you are feeling inspired to make slipcovers for dining room chairs now that you know its not so daunting!

Don’t Sew or Own a Sewing Machine?

Here you will find how to make Easy-Sew Chair cushions for my kitchen chairs.

Or take a look at both these No-Sew Fabric Dining Room Chair Back Covers:

Casual dining area in a home with table and chairs. Chairs are wicker and have white chair back slipcovers on them. A white pitcher on the table has purple hydrangeas in it.

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  1. Amparo Jolivette says:

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    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Amparo – I appreciate you taking the time to tell me that you enjoy my blog. :-)

  2. Stephanie Poteet says:

    Do you happen to have a video of this process? I haven never sewn a thing before and would love to make these. I’m having a little trouble with my measurements.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Stephanie – I don’t have a video showing how I made the chair slipcovers. I made them when I first started blogging and videos were not as easy to make as they are today with our phones. What is giving you trouble about the measurements? Maybe I can explain it in more detail for you.

  3. Shauna Hutchinson says:

    Could you please tell me how to cover the back of a dining room chair that has arms?
    Thank you so much.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Shauna – I don’t have a tutorial about how to cover dining chairs with arms. If I was going to make covers for this style chair I would make the back cover and then follow the same steps to make a cover for each arm. Once you have the pieces cut, place on the chair with right side of the fabric facing the chair and then pin the pieces together. Then sew. I would watch this video. It may help you figure a way to fit and make the covers with arms:

  4. I have been thinking of ways to change up the chairs in our travel trailer. This will be the perfect way to have the table and chairs match our camping style without adding weight. Gives me an excuse to go fabric shipping again!

  5. Sheree Slagle says:

    I’m so excited! I have been cross stitching some FUN animals from Bothy Threads in England…I am addicted to these cute animals BUT what do you do with them when you are finished?? Only room for so many pictures. I just draped a finished Llama with red glasses over a chair and thought: THIS!! So did a google search and found your pattern. I think it will work perfectly with the cross stitch.! Thanks so much!! Blessings, Sheree

  6. Norma Rolader says:

    I love these chair covers and thank you for the info on how to

  7. barcelona chair cushions says:

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  8. 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.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

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

  9. 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!!!!!!

  10. 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.

    1. Stacey Rudolph says:

      I found your email!

  11. Love these! Thanks so much for the great tutorial!

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

    stuff and nonsense

    1. 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.

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


  14. Stephanie Lynn 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

  15. pk @ Room Remix says:

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

    1. 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!

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

  17. Emily @ LaForce Be With You says:

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

  18. antiquechase says:

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

  19. Diane @ home sweet homemade says:

    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.

  20. Your slipcovers are just beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

  21. Rose :: says:

    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.

  22. Lisa Serendipity Chic Deocr says:

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

    Take care,

  23. Elizabeth @ blue clear sky says:

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

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

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

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

  27. Bonnie@Creative Decorating says:

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

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

  29. Modern Country Style says:

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


    1. 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

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

  31. 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!

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

  33. simpledaisy says:

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

    1. Hi Heather-

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

  34. Kim @ Cheap Chic Home says:

    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.

    1. 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.

  35. 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

    1. Hi Diana-

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

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

  37. Restoration House says:

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

  38. pandora's box says:

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

  39. 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!