How to Choose the Best DIY Slipcover Design

I recently shared a photo of a sewing project that’s been in the works for the past two weeks – dining chair slipcovers! Since we are now new owners of a soft mango wood dining table and Basque dining chairs to properly host anything from a casual to formal dinner party, I wanted to make some dining slipcovers that fit the need of our busy family. During my design process, this question kept looming in my mind, “How am I going to keep a nice piece of solid wood from receiving planes, trains, and automobile dents?” There are a TON of free tutorials and Etsy patterns available for sale to make a nice slipcover, but I was on the hunt to find one suitable to modify it into a nicely fitted slipcover for our Basque dining chairs.

crate and barrel basque-java-side-chair

Source: Crate and Barrel

No one made DIY Basque dining chair slipcovers, and the ones out there don’t always fit snugly over dining chairs. For example, 14 years ago, I purchased a set of canvas dining chair slipcovers from Pottery Barn that have held up nicely, but they were meant for Pottery Barn dining chairs, not my Parsons chair knock offs.

During the research process, I looked for three things to help me come up with the best DIY slipcover design:
1. Slipcover Style
2. Color and Fabric Choices
3. Seam Line

How to Choose the Best Dining Chair Slipcover Design

Most free DIY templates came from a Parsons chair design, which was perfect for the look I wanted to emulate. However, the choices were endless. I thought about what I liked about each design, and which ones were feasible enough for this novice sewer.

1. Choose Your Slipcover (and Bathing Suit) Style

I’ll begin with style because if you don’t know what you want, you could spend days, weeks, or months to figure out your dining slipcover style.

Two-Piece, Bikini Look

Originally, I wanted to go for the bikini look to my chairs, covering only the seat and top half of the back of the chair. It exposed the wood, much like a supermodel’s hourglass midsection in a two-piece bathing suit. But I would never be caught dead in a two-piece. Ever. Plus, Linus and Piano Man’s are too small to sit properly in the chair. They’d much rather prefer to have an extra cushion behind them, so they can sit comfortably.

Choose Your Slipcover Dining Chair Style Bikini Look

More importantly, I also had to consider that any exposure of wood would eventually meet the hand of Linus’ pretend playing of planes, trains, and automobiles.

One-Piece Bathing Suit Look

If I had to wear a bathing suit, then I think a one piece is a respectable look for a mother of two. It properly covers up any unwanted skin, or in this case soft mango wood, and I don’t have to worry about future deep cuts or dents.

Choose Your Slipcover Dining Chair Style One Piece Look

However, just because you decided to wear a one-piece doesn’t mean it has to look boring. You can add fringe and other fun embellishments, such as pleats, to add your own personal style.

Sarong, Cover-Up, or Formal Look

If you’re still not keen on showing too much skin or wood, then a modest sarong or cover-up is your best bet.

Choose Your Slipcover Dining Chair Style Sarong Cover Up Look

Perhaps, even a floor length gown look is probably what you’re looking for. (See Diagonal Seam at the Corners under 3. Choose Your Seam Line.)

I’m definitely not into all the formalities when hosting a dinner, so this look is out for me. Plus, I wonder if my children would trip over all that extra fabric as they run around and under the table during playtime.

2. Color and Fabric Choices

Once you’ve decided on your style, you have another big decision to make, choosing your fabric. And if you’ve shopped around for fabric, you know the options are endless here too.

Bright and Colorful

If your personality and fashion style is loud and proud, go with a fun and colorful fabric. It’ll definitely make a statement in your dining room.

Color and Fabric Choices Bright and Colorful Dining Chair

Simple Patterns and Solid Colored

Simple pattern – like the ever-popular chevron, stripe, floral patterns – can add a fun, modern element to your dining room.

Color and Fabric Choices Simple Patterns and Solid Colors Dining Chair

Don’t forget about color too! Plenty of solid color choices give any dining chair a splash of color without breaking the bank too.

Classic White

Then there’s always classic white/off-white/antique white that can last for years, if you don’t have little ones or pets running around the house.

Color and Fabric Classic White Dining Chair

I already had a general color palate laid out before we ever purchased our dining table and chairs. It all began with a pair of green Pottery Barn curtains that were on clearance and our turquoise tea/dessert set. I knew I was going to need to tie in those colors with fabric from our dining chair slipcovers, but I was torn between a colorful fabric or classic white.


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