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CHAIR COVER part 2: Fabric and Arithmetic and Patterns


THIS SECTION EXPLAINS DRAFTING THE PATTERN AND CUTTING THE FABRIC.  Begin your own chair cover by using your measurements to calculate its dimensions.  Draw a pattern, and you’re off!

The longer of the Gusset measurement or the Body measurement will determine fabric requirements as both pieces will be cut side by side. In the end, each of my chairs required about 7 feet or 2 2/3 yards of fabric. Material that is 60 inches wide will make two chair covers from the same length. More narrow fabric, 36 inch or 44-45 inch width, will only make a single chair cover from one 7 foot length.
You will need to cut two large rectangular pieces of fabric to make the Parsons’ Chair slipcover – I am calling the large one Cover and the other Gusset.  Cover is the big one, Gusset is the long skinny one.   Use the formulas below to calculate the length and width of these pieces for your chair.  The numbers given, used as examples, are the actual measurements for the chair in the pictures.

A chart of these lengths follows.

Here’s a summary of my Parsons Chair measurements:


A) Backrest from bottom, over top to seat crease → 50” 
B) Fold at seat crease → 2” 
C) Seat crease to front and down to bottom of upholstery → 21” 
D) Seat depth → 17” 
E) Seat width at crease → 15 1/2” 
F) Seat width at front → 18 1/8” 
G) Seat gusset [side] at crease– > 4 3/8” 
H) Seat gusset [side] at front → 4 3/8” 
I) Backrest width at crease → 15 1/2” 
J) Backrest width at top → 15 1/4” 
K) Gusset [backrest side]width at crease → 3” 
L) Gusset [backrest side] width at top → 2“ 
M) Hem allowance → 2” 
N) Seat circumference → 72”

AND here are the CALCULATIONS:

Cover Length Calculation

Add A to C → 50 + 21 = 71
Add two times B → 2 x 2 = 4
Add hem allowance for front and back [M] → 2 + 2 = 4
Include some length for mistakes → …+ 4
Sum = 83 inches

Cover Width Calculation

Choose the widest measurement from E,F,I,or J → F = 181/8
Add two times the wider of K or L → backrest is wider at bottom, so → +3
Add seam allowance for 1” per side → …+2
Include some length for mistakes → …+ 2
Sum = 251/8
This will be the width of the first rectangle you cut

Gusset Length Calculation

Circumference [N] → 72
plus hem [M] → 2 x 2 = 4
plus folded back cuff…allow 4” for each side → 8
Sum = 84

Gusset Width Calculation

Choose the wider of G or H → 4 3/8
add M plus 4 → 2 + 4
Sum = 10 3/8


Lay your fabric UNFOLDED and flat on your cutting table.  Using the measurements you took in the first step, mark two [2] large rectangles on your upholstery fabric with a pencil, fabric marker, or chalk.

Refer to your calculations for dimensions.

Make sure the long edges of your rectangles follow the lengthwise grain of fabric.  This is the only way they will fit on your material, but it is worth mentioning in case you are tempted to piece them together.  Now, CUT carefully along your marked lines.

You now have in front of you two rectangles of upholstery fabric.  The long, skinny gusset needs to be cut in two pieces along its short plane.  Fold it in half by matching the short edges together.  Press or otherwise mark the fold.  Unfold and cut Gusset along this SHORT line. These halves are identical and will form the sides of your seat cover.


COVER:  Fold down center of the cover by matching long edges [selvedges] together.  Mark this center line by pressing it in with the iron.  You can mark it with tailors chalk but this is more difficult and less accurate than pressing.

Lay folded fabric flat on cutting table. Determine which end will cover the seat and label it center front. Mark the opposite end on the crease as center back.


 For the next steps, refer back to your dimensions.


e Cover length measurementsStarting at center front [raw edge of fabric and on the fold], measure the lengthwise distance from the bottom of upholstery to the  front corner of the seat.   Mark with pin or chalk. Measurement C less Measurement D  → 21″ – 17″ = 4″ on my chair

On the same center fold, measure from that marking to seat crease.  This is the seat depth.  → Measurement D

From seat depth, measure 2x depth of your pleat. →Measurement C  Refer to drawing for clarification on this.


23Start at center front and measure at 90 degrees from the fold ½ distance of each horizontal measurement.  Get your right angle triangle or a carpenters square to make sure you are measuring at a right angle horizontally from the fold.

Carefully mark this distance using your favorite method.  I mark mine with a pin through both thicknesses of folded fabric.  I mark this with chalk on one half. then turn over and mark other side where the pin is …Seat widths marked with pins

Check to make sure all horizontal marks are visible on both sides of the fold.  Unfold fabric , lay it flat on cutting table, then draw lines connecting the dots [pins here] to show seam lines.  You will have HUGE seam allowances.  Just ignore them for now.  Can you see the chalk line connecting the pins in the picture below?  Look closely now.  🙂bbb MARK-SEWING-LINES-BY-CONNECTING-DOTS-001-576x1024

This drawing is an exaggeration of the seat shape.  A Parsons Chair will not have such sharp angles, but the slight differences in actual width will really show up in the cover’s fit.f Seat shapeNext step>