Lisa DiAntonio is founder and owner of Green Park Studios, a custom fabric printer. She showed us How to Print Your Own Recipe Tea Towels, and now she’s back with another sweet and easy project. Lisa shows you how to design and create a simple seat-back slipcover with ties on the sides. They’re a fun addition to birthday celebrations, weddings, outdoor parties or they can be an everyday addition to your home decor! Lisa shows you how to create custom fabric in the first half of the tutorial, with sewing instructions for the slipcover in the second half below.
Learn more about Lisa and her company in her introduction, and let us know if you create your own custom slipcover. We want to see it!
Are you ready to make your own custom seat-back slipcover?! In this design the front of the slipcover is custom printed and the back is made from a remnant piece of fabric. To create the slipcover you will use Adobe Illustrator. If you have never used Illustrator before, don’t be afraid! This is a perfect project to learn the basics and before you know it, you’ll be designing all sorts of things! (You can even get a free 30-day trial of Illustrator from Adobe.)
- Adobe Illustrator
- Sewing Machine or Serger
- Your Printed Fabric
- Half yard of any fabric to complement your design
To get started, think about what you want the slipcover to look like. Is it for a birthday, wedding, baby shower, bridal shower or anniversary? One place to get ideas for your design is an online graphics site called Creative Market. Here you can search for the theme of your design and browse through hundreds of artwork files that you can download. Since we are doing a birthday slipcover for this tutorial, we searched for ‘birthday clip art’. Click here to see the search results. Note that it is best to download images that come in a PNG format, as they have transparent backgrounds and can be placed on top of other backgrounds easily.
After you have your artwork, let’s get started with the design.
Step 1: Measure Your Chair
First, you need to measure the seat-back of your chair. We are putting our slipcover on a sweet, antique child’s chair. Measure the width and height of the seat-back. Our chair measures 12.5” wide by 12.5” tall. So the cover goes over the front and back of the seat-back, our finished slipcover will measure 25” long by 12.5” wide.
Step 2: Open Adobe Illustrator + Create a New File
In order to make a 25” by 12.5” finished slipcover, you will need to create a new file with an artboard– the area in Illustrator that you design in– that is 54” wide by 18” tall. Your file will be this size since Green Park Studios prints a half yard size of fabric and then one yard increments after that. Your slipcover design will fit nicely on a half yard of fabric.
To do that go to File>New. When the pop up opens, give your file a name, choose only one artboard, and in the artboard width and height enter 18” for width and 54” for height (make sure your units are in inches). Then click OK. You will see a blank white rectangle at this point.
Step 3: Create Your slipcover Outline
First, you want to create a line around the border of your artboard so when you get your printed fabric, you can simply cut along the line to cut it out. To do that, select your ‘rectangle tool’ from the left, vertical toolbar. The ‘rectangle tool’ button has an icon that looks like a colored in square. When you hover over the icon, the name of it will appear.
After you select the ‘rectangle tool,’ click once on your artboard. A pop up will open asking you for the width and height of the square you want to create. Enter 13.5″ for the width and 26″ for the height. Click OK. A box will appear on your screen. It may not be perfectly aligned with your artboard. To move it, simply choose the ‘selection tool,’ which is the black arrow at the top of the toolbar on the left of your screen, then click on and drag the square to where you want it.
If you want a white background, make sure your box has no fill and that the line stroke is a light color (we use light gray). If you want a colored background, choose any fill color you’d like and there’s no need to have an outline as you will just cut out your colored box. To change the fill stroke colors, use the drop down boxes at the left of the top toolbar (see image). With the selection tool chosen (the black arrow in the left toolbar) select your rectangle, then click in the drop down boxes to choose your fill and stroke colors. You will also want to change the weight of the stroke to about 0.025” if you are using one around a white background.
Step 4: Create Your Tie Outlines
The slipcover will be tied at the sides to hold it onto your chair. The ties can be created out of the same fabric as the slipcover. Doing it this way allows you to create your own design on the side ties, giving a cool and customized look!
Each finished tie (there will be a total of eight of them) will be 14” long by 0.75” wide. In order to make them that size you will need to create a box (same process as the outline for the slipcover) that is 14” long by 3”. Do this for all eight ties and arrange them on your artboard as you’d like. As a note, if you want to rotate any item go to the top menu and select Object>Transform>Rotate. Just be sure the item you want to rotate is selected first, using your selection tool (black arrow).
Step 5: Place Your Text/Images on Your Slipcover
This is where you can get creative and have fun! First we will place our text on our slipcover. Our design will be for a birthday. To place text, click on the ‘type tool’ (’T’ icon) on the left toolbar then click on your artboard. Type one word of your text. Because your artboard is large, the text will most likely be very tiny. To make it larger, choose the ‘selection tool’ (black arrow) at the top of the left toolbar. Click on the text so there is a box around it with tiny squares at the corners. While holding the shift key, click and drag on one of the corners to make the text larger. Holding the shift key enlarges the text proportionally. Next, choose the font you want for your text. Your text choices are in the top toolbar next to the word ‘character.’ If you don’t see the drop down menu, click on the word ‘character’ and the text window will open. You can also choose the color of your text using the same drop downs you used to change the color of the box. Just be sure the text is selected first using the selection tool.
Here are some key notes when designing your slipcover:
1. Type in each word separately. That way you can move them around freely and arrange easily.
2. Remember to put your text and images on one end of the slipcover as only half will be seen on each side of the chair.
3. If you want to have images and text on both sides, be sure to place the other one upside down, so that it’s right side up when on the chair!
4. When placing your text and images remember your 0.5″ seam allowances, and keep away from the edges.
Now we can place our images around the text. You can find images all over the place, but our favorites are Creative Market and Etsy. When you find images you like, simply purchase them and download to your computer. Note that if you want to layer your image over a colored background be sure it’s in a PNG format, which has a transparent background. To place your images on your artboard, select File>Place from the top menu bar and then click on your artboard to place it. After the image is placed you can scale it and move it around as you wish. Be sure the selection tool (the arrow) is selected when you want to scale and move items around.
Here are some key notes when placing images:
1. If you are placing text and images on the other side of the slipcover be sure to rotate 180 degrees. To do that, select Object>Transform>Rotate and choose 180 degrees.
2. If you want to place an image behind your text, you can move it behind it by selecting Object>Arrange>Send Backwards until it’s behind the text.
3. Download your images in PNG format to have transparent background.
After placing our images, here is our slipcover at this point; our images came from Etsy from a store called FRANCEIllustration.
Step 6: Design Your Side Ties
Using the same process as putting text and images on your slipcover, you can add text or images to your side ties. Note that you will only see the MIDDLE section of the ties. Your cutout of the ties is 3” wide, but you will be folding in the first 0.75 inches on each edge, thus you will only see the middle 1.5 inches. Here are the designs on our ties.
Step 5: Save Your Design
At this point, you are ready to save your design so you can upload it for printing. To save your design, go to File>Export. A window will pop open for you to save your file. Give your file a name, choose the folder you want to save it in then, VERY IMPORTANTLY, save it as a JPG using the drop down next to the word ‘format.’ Then, below that, click on the box next to ‘use artboards,’ and then click in the circle for ‘range’ and type in the number one. Once you make those selections, click ‘export.’ At this point another window will pop open. Save your file in the ‘color model’ of RGB, choose a resolution of 150 ppi, then click OK. All other settings can remain untouched.
Next, before uploading your file for print, you will want to rotate it 90 degrees so it fits onto one yard of fabric across the fabric width. Do do that, just double click the file you just saved to open it. In the program that opens files there will be a method of rotating it 90 degrees.
Step 6: Upload Your Design for Print
You are now ready to upload your design for print! To do that, go to the Green Park Studios Print Studio and click on the ‘Get Started’ button. You will be asked to upload your file to the print configurator. Depending on the size of your file, it may take a moment. The configurator defaults to a basic repeat and a 7” sample, so you will probably see only white at first. On the right, keep the repeat at ‘basic,’ and choose ‘half yard’ as the quantity. Next, you will want to select your fabric. Great fabrics for the slipcover are Broadcloth or Linen Cotton Canvas. We will be making ours with the broadcloth.
Once you make your selections, you are ready to add your fabric design to your cart. Once we get your order, we will begin printing. We ship within 5-10 days of order.
Step 7: You Have Your Fabric, Let’s Get Started!
Now that you have your fabric, you are ready to make your slipcover. The first step is to cut out the fabric along the handy lines you created when designing your slipcover.
Step 8: Make the Side Ties
Each side tie will be folded in fourths along the long side then sewn at the edges to create a neat looking tie.
First, fold the tie in half the long way and iron.
Then open it up and then fold each edge into the center line and iron again.
Next, fold in half along the first center line that you ironed so that the tie has the image on both sides, then iron flat. Lastly, cut both ends with pinking shears (unless you want to fold them under and sew).
Finally, sew along the open edge.
Step 9: Sew the Slipcover, Lining + Ties Together
First, grab your complementary fabric and cut a rectangle out that is the same size as your slipcover.
Next, place your lining fabric face up on a table and place your ties so that one is near each of the four corners and the other four are place so they will be near the top of the seat-back when the slipcover is folded over it.
Then place your printed slipcover right side down over the lining and ties. Pin down at each tie.
After pinning, head to your machine and sew around the edge (1/2″ seam allowance), leaving a section open so that you can turn the slipcover right side out. After you turn your slipcover right side out, topstitch along the entire edge of the slipcover taking care to neatly sew across the opening where you turned the slipcover right side out.
That’s it! Your custom printed seat-back slipcover is done!