How to Alter Chair Covers

Chair Cover

Let me start this post by pointing out that I am not a crafty (as in creative, not sneaky) sort of person. I can sew by hand (if necessary) but I’m much more a magic web and iron kind of girl! My mum, on the other hand, has been sewing for as long as I can remember and is very skilled at all sorts of crafty things. This tutorial only exists after her promise to help me in the first place!

At the weekend found some lovely linen style (only 20% actual linen) chair covers that I thought would look great in the dining room. Unfortunately I purchased the covers before I’d measured my chairs. Oops. When I got the covers home they looked great in the room but were definitely too big. Originally I was just going to magic web the bottom hem and be done with it, but I was told that it wouldn’t be too big a job to do with a sewing machine. The following steps are how I altered the chairs, it took me 3 evenings to do (although probably half of that time was me fighting with the machine) but I have absolutely no experience with sewing machines. I imagine if you have an iota of skill or experience this should be fairly easy to do!

1. Turn the chair cover inside out and place it on the chair you’re altering it to fit. Pull the top of the cover to the right height so that there is no crease where the seat and the base of the back meet. Measure the excess and remember this number! Remove the chair cover and place it on a flat surface. Take some pins and place them in a straight(ish) line where your measurement will be (for reference mine was 5cm).

Pinning top

2. Once you’ve pinned along the top of your cover run a tacking stitch along it. I aimed my stitches roughly at the middle of where the pins were in the fabric. Once you’ve tacked all the way along then remove the pins. Flip the chair cover the right way round and place it on the chair to check that it sits evenly.

3. After you’re happy with the placement at the top flip the cover inside out again. Head for your sewing machine and sew just below the tacking stitch (if you sew too close it will be harder to remove the original stitches afterwards).

Tacking stitch

4. Flip the chair cover back the right way round and check how it sits on your chair. I always sewed a little lower than my original tacking stitch as my covers were really big for the chairs. If you’re happy with it then lift the cover off, flip it back inside out, removed the tacking stitch, and place it back on the chair.

5. Pull the cover straight so you can see how much excess there is on the floor. For my chairs this seemed to work out at around 8cm too long. Take 3 pins and pin the excess up. Then lift the chair cover up, place onto a flat surface and pin all sides, measuring for consistency as you go.

Single pin

Pinned hem

6. Once you’ve finished pinning take your cover back to the sewing machine and sew all the way around the hem. I rushed this for the first couple of covers which meant I had to spend a lot of time untangling various threads (sorry mum!). I think if you took your time it’d probably save you time in the long run! Once you’ve hemmed all the way round then stick the cover back on the chair and see how it looks. I’m a complete novice and I didn’t have to redo any of mine (except for the one I tried to sew without any thread), so it is a pretty easy task – once you get the hang of it. Your finished product should hopefully look something like the one below.

Final chair

And as my mum told me before I began (she knows me, and my lack of patience well) – it’s only a machine!


  1. June 8, 2013 / 12:49 am

    Love how this came out, you did a fantastic job!

    • Sammi
      June 8, 2013 / 8:33 am

      Thanks Dria, I’m really pleased with them.

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