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No-Sew Canvas Chair Back Covers!

The woodland winter wonderland in our dining room is now complete! Once I finished the tablescape I was very happy with everything except our dining room chairs which stuck out like a sore thumb.  With six large pine farmhouse ladder back chairs around the table all you saw was wood! Normally I love the look of the pine chairs but with the subdued color palette that I have going on I needed to tone them down.

My first thought was to make chair back covers.  Just one little problem…I don’t sew.  I am the mom that hemmed her daughter’s school uniform pants with a hot glue gun, remember?

But when I set out to do something I find a way.  I had a vision for this project and I had to accomplish it without sewing somehow.  That’s when a little saying of my husband’s popped into my head.  “Dance with the one that brung ya.” (He really has good grammar but his favorite expressions and colloquialisms usually do not!). Well, that hot glue gun saved my bacon on pant hemming so I figured we’d “dance” again for those chair back covers.

And dance we did.  Ohhhhhh baby do I love. LOVE. LOVE how they turned out!!!!!!!!

If you love them too and would like to make some of your very own, the detailed steps are listed below! I’m sorry I didn’t do a photo tutorial…a) I wasn’t sure if they’d turn out and b) hot glue guns and cameras don’t mix.  I think the directions will make it easy to follow.  If not, maybe I’ll do a little video tutorial.

But first, a few tips. I used a roll of canvas that I bought at a garage sale.  It is really nice, heavy canvas and was a dream to work with. I ran out of it after making five so I made the sixth out of drop cloth canvas that I had on hand.  FYI, the heavy canvas worked great. The drop cloth canvas was not quite as thick and doesn’t hang nearly as nicely on the chair. If you use drop cloth canvas for this project, pick up some of the super thick ones not the el-cheapo kind. Lastly, I’m sure this would work with regular fabric but make sure it’s at least upholstery fabric. I think the hot glue on thinner fabric would be a messy, nightmare.

Materials you will need: fabric, some good fabric scissors, tape measure, high heat hot glue gun with LOTS of glue sticks!

1.  Measure the back of the chair width and length. I only covered the middle, slatted part so I measured that area.  My measurement came out to 15″ for the width and 25″ for the height. (Double the height so it will cover both sides of the chair back.) I added two inches to the width and about 5 inches to the length for the “seam allowance.”  So the fabric piece that I actually cut was 17″ by 55″. I deliberately added more than I’d need taking consideration for the thickness of the slats of the chair back.

2. Cut out your fabric.  Word to the wise…before you cut all of your fabric out, take your first cut and use it as a template to make sure it’s going to fit properly.

3. Lay the fabric wrong side up. Plug in the hot glue gun and get your tape measure ready.  You are going to create about a 1/2″ seam up one whole side of the length of the fabric.  To do this squeeze a nice line of hot glue about a quarter inch from the edge. Do this quickly and then fold the fabric over.  You can do sections at a time but I prefer to move quickly and do it all at once.

4.Go to the opposite side of the fabric and you are going to do this same thing, but this time you have to measure! Use the width measurement that you took in step one. Start in the middle and hold the tape measure from the seamed side edge to the rough side edge (it will be too long) and fold up the raw edge until it meets the correct measurement. Put a dab of hot glue here to anchor it.  I found that it was easier to start at the middle and work out toward the ends, re-measuring every few inches.  Do not try to eyeball it. What you think is straight might not be and precise measuring is key for a proper fit. You are now finished with the long sides! Yea!

5.Now seam up one end of the width using the same method as step 3.

6. Place your fabric over the chair back to make sure that the width is good. Now look at the length and mark where the un-seamed side needs to be glued so that it perfectly meets the other side juuussssttttt above the chair seat. This part is a matter of personal taste, you may want it shorter.  I wanted mine to come all the way down till it was almost touching the seat. Now take your tape measure and to find your hemmed length! Write it down.

7.Repeat step 4 with your new length measurement.

8. Lay your chair cover over the back of the chair and it should be perfect!

9. Repeat the above steps for as many chairs as you are covering.

10.To attach the chair cover to the chair, my method is a little unconventional.  I hot glued the lower corners together. I am very impatient and it worked well for me.  When I want to take the covers off, I’ll worry about how to unattach them then! I also put a dab of hot glue in the upper top “corners.” The top of the chairs is curved and I wanted them to stand up instead of sag and the hot glue worked for me. I’m sure normal people would want to stitch instead of hot glue this whole step number 10.  But I’m allergic to needles and thread and remember I’m dancing with the one that brung me….my trusty hot glue gun.

11. Sit back with a Diet Coke and admire your handiwork. Silently mock all those fabulous seamstresses out there who would have charged an arm and a leg to do what you just did for cheap/free. 😉

Since I already had everything on hand to make these…they did not cost one penny!

So now the actual chair back cover is finished.  Embellishing options at this point are ENDLESS. You could paint on it, have it monogrammed, do any number of fun things to it. But I wanted pockets….cause I thought they would be fun and different and in my book different is good! 🙂

Here’s how I created the pockets:

  1. I took a pocket from my son’s Levis that I cut up for this project and used it as a template.
  2. I cut out 6 pockets from some tan and white ticking stripe fabric.
  3. I “hemmed” them using the same method as above with the hot glue gun.  The seam is verrrrrryyyy close to the edge and since the fabric is thinner, I used a very fine line all the way around.
  4. I measured 4 1/2 inches down from the top, back of the chair in the center and made a pencil mark.
  5. I applied a thin line of hot glue around the sides and bottom of the pocket NOT THE TOP…LEAVE IT OPEN!
  6. Adhere the pocket to the chair back cover so that the top of the pocket is lined up with the pencil mark you made.
  7. Repeat for the rest of the chairs.
  8. Celebrate.

Here comes the fun part….figuring out all the cool things you can put in those pockets! For Christmas I made placecard holders using a sheet music covered candy cane, a manilla office tag, a tiny mercury glass ornament, a clipping from our live wreath and tied it with jute. Again, I had everything on hand except the candy canes so the cost of this entire project was $2.

I can’t wait to change them out seasonally with my tablescapes.  I think a starfish peeking out in the summer sure would be cute.  That’s the beauty of using neutral colors for this project, it will look good no matter what the season.

And here’s how they look with my woodland winter wonderland tablescape…

I hope you like them as much as I do!

Linking up to:
PhotobucketMy Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Catch As Catch Canfreckled laundryFunky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

The Lettered Cottage
24 Comments Post a comment
  1. Susan, Love It!!!! Your table would make Colin Cowie proud!

    November 18, 2010
  2. Ido #

    WOW! your dining room table looks beautiful. I don’t sew either, but I found a hem tape that you just iron to the fabric and Voila! you can make anything with that. Every day I wonder, what will “maple & magnolia” will show us today? As always, thank you for this wonderful tutorial.

    November 18, 2010
  3. Love the pocket, the exposed wood pairing and how clean & fresh your table looks! Although my mom use to sew – I didn’t really get into it – “sew” this would be a great project to try =)

    Thanks for sharing over at Susan’s BNOTP link party!
    😀 Lynda

    November 18, 2010
  4. Kim #

    Very nice idea and I love the addition of the pockets. Thanks so much for joining the party!

    November 18, 2010
  5. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. #

    Super cute!

    November 18, 2010
  6. You hope I like them???? I sure do! I’m going to adapt this for Christmas. Thank you for taking the time to share it.

    November 18, 2010
  7. You are so clever! You really did transform the look. I love your table and the quiet feel of it.

    November 18, 2010
  8. Sue #

    You are so much fun I love your table setting and dinning room! And I love the chair covers it’s funny that you use the hot glue very cool idea. I so sew not the best but it works for me there is a sewing mech. that you can program from your computer to do just about anything it will sew designs etc for you I have that on my Christmas list this year hope Santa reads this post! LOL

    November 18, 2010
  9. I *do* like them as much as you do! I’m saving this post to my “Tutorials I want to make” file! Thanks for showing! Have a blessed Thanksgiving & Christmas!
    Hugs, Heidi

    (Giveaway on my blog)

    November 18, 2010
  10. Susan, Those are super adorable!!! I LOVE them! Thank you so much for coming to my party! I hope to see you next week!!

    November 18, 2010
  11. Very easy to follow directions! Love the finished look.

    November 19, 2010
  12. The addition of the pockets just completes your chair covers. How unique!

    November 19, 2010
  13. Aren’t you the cleve girl! Your chair covers are absolutely adorable and you’ve made them seem so simple to make….thanks!

    November 19, 2010
  14. super! great tute too. This coming from someone who hates to sew!
    thanks for linking up and linking back to me.

    November 19, 2010
  15. I love the look of the table and the chairs! Great job!

    November 19, 2010
  16. Love these and love the details you added!

    November 19, 2010
  17. What a beautiful and festive look. No sew… love that even more. Nice job!

    November 19, 2010
  18. that is so cute and a creative way of restyling your space, thanks for sharing the inspiration

    November 19, 2010
  19. Wow! You did a really great job…especially for someone who doesn’t sew! I don’t sew either, but I’m not sure I could do as well as you did on these!!! My niece is bringing a sewing machine for me to practice on when she visits for Thanksgiving. She’s dreamin’!!! You did a phenomenal job!

    November 20, 2010
  20. Oh, those are adorable, I want to make some!!


    November 20, 2010
  21. Wow, those are so pretty! And the little pockets in the back are the coolest touch ever!


    November 21, 2010
  22. Precious! Thanks for the inspiration. Happy Thanksgiving. Cherry Kay

    November 22, 2010
  23. I love everything about these! New sew, cute pockets. Definitely a freckled favorite this week.


    December 3, 2010

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