Tuesday, July 8, 2014

DIY Canvas Drop cloth Chair Cover

Shabby to Shabby Chic!
PicMonkey Collage
Several years ago I bought an ugly green chair…and I mean UGLY!  It is big and squishy and you can easily curl up into it and read a book, but it desperately needed “coverage”.
So, all those years ago, I found this inexpensive flowery fabric and made a very sad attempt at covering my chair.  There wasn’t enough fabric to cover the back, and I ran out of fabric before I could make tie backs.  It was too tight in some areas, and sagged in others.
NOTE:  The ill fitting bottom ruffle.  The seat cushion had fabric wrapped around it and was safety pinned on the bottom.
I’m almost embarrassed to show these cheesy ribbons I pinned just to hold the fabric in place… this is a sad, sad example of a slip cover… sigh…and a very scary choice of fabric….Yikes!
I turned to my new favorite fabric for all sorts of crafts…. Canvas Dropcloth.  They are cheap, sturdy, and can be bleached if need be.  I’ve already covered my dining room chairs and made several pillows with it, so why not?  You must be flexible though, as they range in color from grey tones, tan tones to a nice off white…basically you get what you get.
My Costs:
9x12 Canvas Dropcloth  $15 (Harbor Freight) – washed, preferably bleached
Thread $3
Scrap piece of Sew-on Velcro
2 Buttons $1 (JoAnns on Clearance)
Razor knife, scissors, pins
Time:  1 1/2 days… and I mean all day that first day. ;)
First Step:  I trimmed away the “skirt” with a razor knife. It would only get in the way and add unneeded bulk.
Step 2:  Body and Back.  Making the best possible use of your fabric, lay it across the back and drape it to the floor in the back, allowing extra length for how it may be pulled up when tied back.  Don’t worry about the bottom edge at this time, just allow a little extra length.  On the sides, allow just enough for the pleats you will see in the next couple of photos.

I tucked it into the grooves and used a pencil to draw my “stitching” lines.
Once I knew where my stitching lines would be, I cut away leaving about 3/4 inch excess fabric.  On the sides I left about 4 inches, so I could work in the pleats.
I decided to tuck 3 pleats toward the back and then pull one long fold across them toward the front.  I pinned these in place and then went straight to the machine to stitch across (on the outside). I felt it would be easier if I sewed pieces in place a little at a time during this project.d
I topstitched two rows of stitching.  Then I put the piece back on the chair to move to the next step.dd 
Place it back on the chair and tuck your penciled "stitch lines" back into the creases, making sure it’s in the same position it was before.  But don't get crazy, it'll be fine. :)
Step 3:  Seat bottom and arm.  This piece was basically an easy rectangular measurement, so I measured it and stitched it to the bottom of my “back” piece along my penciled “stitching line”.  I tucked it all back into place. 
I then draped a piece of fabric over the arm of the chair, allowing it to drape past floor by at least 3-4 inches (I can hem that later).  I tucked it into the rounded fold of the upper arm and drew pencil lines by tucking my pencil into the groove.  I removed the pieces and stitched them together on the pencil lines, clipped the curves and tucked it back  into place.ee
I pinned a piece of fabric (smaller scrap piece) to the front of the arm, allowed for a seam allowance of about 3/4 inch and trimmed it to size.  At this time, I removed it, traced and cut another one identical to use on the other arm.  I pinned it back in place so it would stay firmly on the front while I worked the arm folds into place.  I pinned the arm piece to the front piece, tucking the excess into loose pleats at the top.  I didn’t make the arms too snug as I wanted it to be easy to remove the cover for washing.
I removed the pieces, re-pinned them with right sides facing and stitched together.  Clip your curves!  Replace the cover.
As an afterthought, I realized I wanted a tie back, which needed to be sewn into the outside seam of the arm.  I made 2 long straps (long enough to button in the back) opened up my seam and sewed it in place.
Then move the entire project over to the next arm and repeat.  :)
The back,arms and fronts are stitched together, now let’s work on the “details”…
I needed to do something with the excess arm fabric, so I folded it under and pinned it in place.  I intentionally used the finished edge of my dropcloth toward the back, and planned to keep that portion open for easy cover removal.i
I double topstitched this piece in place.  The stitching you see on the left (vertical) is not stitched down, this is the finished edge of the dropcloth and it is overlapping the back piece freely.
My tie backs crossed in the back, I pinned them and marked where I wanted to place buttons and buttonholes.
Ooops… I completely forgot to show any pics of making my ruffle…sigh.  I cut a piece of fabric about 60 x 18 inches.  I folded it in half and ironed it down so that it was now 60 x 9.  I layed out a tape measure and began pinning folds/pleats into place until I reached my desired length of 46 inches.  I wanted it to go around the sides just a few inches.
I began to pin this ruffle in place, folding under the raw edge of my cover and pinning over the top of the ruffle.  I adjusted the ruffle as I went so it was just about the floor.  As I turned the corner, I realized I need to make this work somehow, so I cut a “corner” out of the side and left enough fabric to fold it under and top stitch it down.
Along both sides, with my tie backs securely in place, I tucked under the hem and pinned it.  I trimmed away the excess fabric with pinking shears and top stitched in place. No fancy hemlines here.
Note:  You can see that the ruffle is under the top edge,but on top of the side edge.  This made a weird little crease in the corner…but I don’t plan to lay on the ground and stare at that so I was ok with it.
After stitching it down.
Top stitching the folded fabric over the ruffle made it almost look like a piece of piping…kind of neat!
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So, now we need a comfy cushion for sitting on.  The cushion that was on the chair was in decent shape, but a little less fluffy and full than I like.  I had a pillow that would fit in there just right and I stuffed it into the casing until it was snug…and fluffy! :)  Then I zipped it up.
To make the cover for the seat cushion, I followed the basic pattern it already was made from.  I cut pieces for the sides and front.  I also cut two pieces for the back that will overlap and attached velcro so that I could remove it for easy washing.
o oo p
Ta Da!!!!  There she is…what do you think?  I’m pretty excited about it!
Details…. Although it’s not necessary I top stitched the seat edges, I think it made them neat and crisp.  r rr s ss t
Most importantly…Stormie loves her new chair!!!
I hope this tutorial was helpful to you! 


  1. Okay you seriously need to come over and help me do mine. That came out soooo cute!!!! Great job my friend.

  2. Oh my gosh!! You go girl!!!
    I reupholstered a wingback recliner chair. OH my.. kind of did the same thing. Took it piece by piece.. but when I was done.. I swore to myself I would save pennies and nickels to buy a new chair before I did it again.. sooo much work!! lol.
    Yours looks amazing!! Great job!

    1. LOL! That's funny. :) Thank you for the compliment. :) I think I'd do it again on THAT chair only because it really is so super squishy and comfy and I like hanging out in it. I like it much more now that it's pretty, hee hee