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How to Make Simple Slipcovers for Dining Room Chairs

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How to make simple slipcovers for dining room chairs using inexpensive neutral 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 couch as well!

My Previous 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.

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. One template for the shorter front section, a second for the longer back section and third for the knotted back piece.  Having a rigid template makes it easy to cut the fabric if you are making more than one cover.

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

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.

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

9. 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.

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?

I made Easy-Sew Chair cushions for my kitchen chairs here.

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. 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

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

  3. 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!