Few weeks ago a friend of mine called me enthusiastically about a chair he found at Kontti, a chain of thrift stores owned and operated by Finnish Red Cross. He went on and on about its lines and how he was planning to re-upholster it with some Ikea-fabric.
You know where this is going, right?
So, the other week I visited him and he showed me the chair and the fabric. He was right, the chair has nice lines and the fabric he had picked up was nice too. I’m especially happy by the fact, that he is FINALLY introducing patterns in his home decor. It has been an uphill battle but I got him there. Only a decade or two and we might even see patterns with multiple colours in there.
As you can see, the original material is rather “interesting”. Certainly a product of its time. But it’s actually quite nice to sit on, so creating a slipcover would be a good way to bring it up to date.
We began by laying the cover on the material. We discussed on how to go on about it and since I had to go and pick up my phone I had left elsewhere, I left my friend to his own devices. Meaning, I assumed he was going to do what I instructed him to do. Wrong. When I came back two hours later, he had decided to clean up his balcony instead and was planning to leave the “actual sewing and doing” for me.
I’d like to pretend I stood my ground with this. He was the one who sewed but it was me who did the thinking. In the end I didn’t get back home until very late that day. But I did get a good meal out of it, so it wasn’t entirely terrible experience. Plus the chair looks pretty bitchin’ too. Here’s how we (and I use the term we here very loosely) did it:
A crude prototype
First we cut the material in half lengthwise and I had Niko finish off the short ends with a double fold, while I pondered how to put the cover together. I knew it had to be some kind of envelope pattern but as the top and bottom were to be of different widths, I had to do some figuring out to get it to look neat.
The original material is still underneath as there is no way the Ikea fabric would support the weight of a person. We (I) decided the best way to get a tight fit, was to pin the fabric directly on the chair frame. This way we could also be sure that none of the original material would be showing and that we could see/test right away, if the cover would be easy to remove and put back on.
If you take second look at the prototype, you can see the shape of the finished cover. We left very wide seam allowances and used that to create nice edges on the narrow opening. The seam allowance isn’t of even width, but pressing it forces it to stay in shape. You can see the difference in the picture above.
The little cut-offs on the original material are there to help to put the cover on the frame. We had to leave a gap on the new slipcover as well and it left a little of the orange fabric visible. I solved this by hand stitching small pieces of fabric on either sides of the frame as you can see here. Here’s how it looks when the slipcover is on:
See, no ugliness in sight! The next step was the seat cushion…
The original seat cushion was double-length, but my friend only wanted a cushion for the seat part. I cut it in half and crudely rolled the opening hem closed and stitched it up by hand. We then made another envelope cover for it:
Very simple. First, finish off the short ends with a double fold. Then fold it around the cushion to see where you want to stitch, take it off and stitch the side seams closed. Here’s the finished cushion:
And here’s the finished chair:
I don’t know about you but I’m very pleased with myself. If you have any questions…Go ahead and ask!