Monday, July 26, 2010


A month or so ago someone asked me to talk about my chair covers which I have been sewing for what seems like 100 years!  Last night I FINALLY FINISHED the last bottom so now I have 24 complete sets.  I cut up my grandmother's pillowcases (remember the ones you had to iron) used old doilies, old lace and hankies and made the chair back covers.  The bottoms were made out of pieces of fabric and tablecloths were cut up for the skirts.  I had a huge basket of those battenburg tablecloths in the basement in a holding pattern needing to be ironed.  This was never going to happen!  Guess what?  That basket is now empty and I am glad! 

 I cut up maybe 10 or so table cloths and used this fabric mostly for the skirting around the bottoms.  I bought 2 large plastic containers to store all of them.

HERE IS WHAT YOU DO: Using a piece of newspaper or tissue paper cut out a PATTERN like your chair back.  This is what you are going to use to cut out the pillowcases.  Some pillowcases are fancy on the top and some have more work at the bottom so you will be deciding where to cut off the extra according to the design.  Remember you will be appliqueing an old doily or hanky or lace or whatever on the front of the cover also according to the designs.  You should do this  after you slit up the sides so that you can get into it!  The slit is also necessary to open it up to accomodate the metal chair.  If you have taken some off the top you will want to round it off to fit the chair.

You can make a pattern for the chair the same way and then cut a pattern for the skirting by measuring the length from the chair seat to the floor or shorter if you like!  I made the skirting on the fronts go further around than in the backs and YOU MUST LEAVE AN OPENING ON EACH SIDE FOR THE CHAIR LEGS THAT CROSS.  The opening should be at least 6 inches.  I measured the front about 14 - 17 by 40 inches of fabric which I pleated as I sewed it on.  The back skirt was about 14 - 17 by around 30 to 36".
Another words, they weren't all the same and I wasn't hung up about that!

Frankly, my sewing machine is from the 1970's and wasn't being nice. I was using a zigzag stitch and it wasn't doing very well at the end in places.  I am not a perfectionist so I didn't mind that.  I hope these ideas are helpful!  You can do this even if you haven't sewed a lot!

My tea party is in 2 weeks now on to cleaning the house, touching up the garden after major hail and deciding on the the menu - this will be FUN!


  1. You have made 24 sets of these? MY STARS! But oh, how pretty! And THANK YOU for the gift of the tutorial. I have some lace and doily odds and ends I'd been saving for some unknown project. Maybe this is it!

  2. What a clever idea and how nice that you can use those ugly metal folding chairs and they are now a thing of beauty!

  3. Bernideen,
    this idea of covered seats is just gorgeous. I love how the seat looks now and with your tutorial it seems so easy to do. I relly have to make some for my seats. I am so curious about your tea party. Must be an great event when you prepare 24 seats.
    Greetings, Johanna

  4. Hi Bernidine! I'm not sure it was me that asked, but I'm glad you answered. What a great way to use vintage linens! I have a couple of "cutter" boxes too, jut waiting (and waiting and waiting) for me to do something with them. Your chair cover is beautiful and unique. Your tea party is going to be terrific. I can't wait to see it (you will share with us, right?)
    Thank you for showing us how to make the pattern. It's so much easier than I thought!!
    Patricia :o)

  5. Super lovely! You did a terrific job. :)

  6. Congratulations on finishing your project! What a great feeling and they turned out just beautiful.

  7. After 2 or 4 I wouldn't be doing well, much less 24!! ;) These are just wonderful and I love how you brought old items back to life! I love vintage pillowcases too!

  8. Those are just the cutest chair covers. I can imagine how pretty they all look all set up together. Great instructions too!

  9. What an accomplishment, Bernideen! Amazing work! I'm sure your guests at your tea party will be amazed!

  10. What a great proyect!!!

  11. Hi Bernideen! These chair covers are so lovely! These plastic bins look like the ones in my family/craft room that are filled with vintage linens waiting to be used in a wonderful project, and now I have found one.
    You are my Tea Queen/Goddess!
    Robin from Robin's Nest Treasures

  12. What a terrific idea! Thanks for sharing how to do it too! Thank you for sharing this at Rustic Restorations Weekend!

  13. This is an incredibly awesome idea, thank you for sharing this wonderful tip! Someday I hope to have a covered garden area where I could use these chair covers for garden parties. What a great idea to use old pillowcases too! Love this great idea!


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