Slipcover Slip Up
In the “Pinterest Fail” Olympics, I’m fairly certain I would place to win at least a bronze medal – at best!
Folks, I am NOT a sew-er by any means! The only real sewing “success” I’ve ever had was back in Home Ec. when we made small duffel bags (which were surprisingly strong and held a decent amount, now that I think back on that project). But even back in those junior high school days, I remember sewing a piece of fabric to my jeans – amazingly, I didn’t jab my thigh at any point, but was hunched over so intently working that I didn’t know what was happening until I went to pick up said fabric square and realized I was attached to it. D’oh!
In my excitement at the thought of rehabbing children’s furniture, I had a moment of what can now only be described as sheer insanity. I dug through our storage closet and grabbed the sewing machine from the corner where it has been collecting dust for far too long. What transpired was yet again a valid attempt at a sewing project, but not exactly anything I would want to post pictures of to Pinterest.
We’ve had a kid-sized IKEA Poang chair for a few years now and the pretty pink seat cushion is bleached out from sitting in a sunny spot on our porch. Our daughter rarely sits in it, so I figured sprucing it up would either peak her interest to start using it again or would let me know that it was time to get rid of this chair (maybe by adding it to the next batch of consignment stuff? Haha!).
The cushion might have been OK as is, if it were all a nice uniform pale pink color from the sun bleaching it has had. However, it’s looking more like a botched tie-dye project instead, because the underside of the “pillow” that flips up when extended has legitimately never seen the light of day and is the vibrant pink of its fresh-out-of-the-box state.
I considered dyeing the fabric, creating some wacky design in fabric paints, or reupholstering the chair entirely. In hindsight (especially knowing my lack of sewing skills), I SHOULD have gone with one of those ideas. I may still do that one of these days. But for now, I let my ambition get the better of me and decided to create a patterned slipcover instead.
As you’ll see from the finished project, it’s NOWHERE even close to the outcomes of the tutorials I found online for this chair.
If you’re looking at my attempt and shuddering, or just thinking, “ain’t nobody got time for that!” and recoiling at the idea of a DIY project of this nature, there’s a fantastic Etsy shop called Rockin Cushions where you can purchase an already sewn slipcover for this IKEA chair and many other chairs.
If you want to try your hand at a slipcover yourself, here are a few tutorials I highly recommend:
For the child size Poang chair:
Haath Se has done a remarkable job creating the perfect slipcover, with the necessary panels to secure the cushion to the smaller chair (recreating the original setup exactly)
For the adult size Poang chair:
A piece by Stickelberry, which helped clarify the process described above in the Polished Habit piece.
The good news:
Most tutorials out there are made for the full, adult sized Poang chair, so you won’t be needing as much fabric as what’s mentioned there.
The design is practically identical to the larger version, save for some “pockets” to secure the cushion to the chair.
The children’s chair is the same width throughout the piece of fabric, so you don’t need to take multiple measurements.
You can basically do a giant pillowcase and cover up the whole thing (if you don’t want to torture yourself with the hinged pillow part). You can even add a zipper closure, if you like.
For the children’s chair, the author at Haath Se has taken the guesswork out of the project for you by showing a diagram for the two extra pieces you’ll need to secure the cushion (2 panels of fabric (for front and back): 16.25 inches x 35 inches each).
I so wish I had stumbled upon the tutorial by Haath Se sooner, as I would’ve done things SO much more differently, and I’m about 98% positive that the results would actually look like all of those I found online when searching Google for ideas.
Instead, I took cues from the tutorials I liked best for the larger, adult size chair and decided to combine techniques from each to complete my slipcover for the junior version. (I now realize this was my first mistake, because the cushions fasten onto the chairs differently for each size, despite how they appear on the IKEA showroom floor.)
I found an inexpensive fabric shower curtain that I liked with a fun pattern. I soon discovered, however, that it was a bit sheer and you could still see a bit of the pink of the original cushion showing through when laid over top. A quick (and cheap!) fix was to get an all white body pillow length pillowcase from Walmart to act as a second layer I’d sew onto the back of the patterned fabric when making my slipcover.
Pro Tip: Do yourself a favor and just buy the $14 one you like most at Homegoods or wherever, as it’s not worth the trouble to align everything to make it work with the white fabric. (I laugh now, thinking about how I was standing there looking at price tags, saying, “$14 is NOT cheap!” as I thought back to the one tutorial’s suggestion on where to find something affordable.)
Remember how I said I’m not that great at sewing? Yeah…
I stared at the diagrams and instructions for AGES and still wasn’t quite seeing the simplicity of it all, and couldn’t figure out what I was looking at or how exactly each piece of fabric was magically sewn together (a quick picture and a note to imagine an extra length added threw me off so much!).
All I knew was that I HAD to make sure that the design of the fabric would need to be centered. I can’t stress this enough if you have an intricate pattern!
In fact, with the kid’s chair being of uniform width, centering the pattern was actually much easier to do and I just ended up eyeballing things rather than taking proper measurements (not something an expert in sewing would probably do – proving once again how inept I am with this stuff), then pinning around the cushion in order to sew lines and cinch up the seams.
As with all tutorials you’ll find online, you’ll be reminded to make sure you’re sewing this thing inside out (with the patterned part on the inside of your cover) so that the colorful pattern you’ve selected can be displayed once it’s all sewn up and turned the right way again.
After a LOT of pinning (am I the only one that goes way overboard with those little straight pins in order to sew a straight line?) to the point where my fabric looked like the runway for Santa’s sleigh to touch down for landing, and sticking myself in not only my fingers but stomach too (yeah, don’t ask), I was able to pull the cushion out and sew up the sides and bottom. I had to go back and take in a side a smidge so the pattern was centered on the cushion once it was placed back on top, but that was (surprisingly) easy.
I made a valid attempt at tackling the hinged pillow, once I’d completed the body of the slipcover, but then decided last minute to scrap the idea … that awful decision left me with an extra length of fabric to try and wrap around and tuck into the part I’d already sewn. (Cue the comedy of errors music!)
I defer to the experts who’ve done these slipcovers countless times before me if you’re looking for advice, as I will FULLY admit that the remainder of the project was a bit of a Frankenstein experiment to piece things in place and avoid that damned hinged pillow. (Hence my lack of diagrams and useful pictures and measurements. Apologies, folks!)
If you decide to make those pockets I’d mentioned earlier, you will need the measurements for the trapezoid shaped pieces that will give you those. Again, I bow down to Haath Se for these, as I probably would’ve cut rectangles and then been figuring out how to make it work with what little fabric I had leftover if I’d continued to really give this project that good ol’ 110% effort (Ha!).
So … now that you’ve seen the before and after, and tested out how NOT to make a slipcover, you can try it yourself. As for mine, it’s not entirely awful for a first attempt, but is still pretty gnarly. The good news (I think?) is that our daughter has started to sit in it again – so I have to stare at all of things that were botched during this project for awhile longer until I try to do something better.