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DIY Folding Chair Covers

One of the quirks of the barn is the man who oversees its rental. It’s owned by a larger group, but this guy has all the say, at least as far as I know. He’s made a couple of ridiculous rules (which seem to not always be enforced). The barn is rented with tables and chairs in it. The tables are rustic looking aged wood, while the chairs are metal and folding.

barn wedding
(Source: KristenHenschen on Flickr)

At first I thought that was no problem, we’d just rent different chairs. I mean, heck. Anything is better than a metal folding chair! But it turns out that they don’t allow that at all. You use the metal folding chairs… “Or nothing” isn’t even an option – we aren’t allowed to store them out of sight.

I hadn’t realized how strongly I felt about chairs until that discussion, during which I came almost completely unhinged. Sigh. When it became clear that it was folding chairs or find another place, I actually had to think about it. In the end, I loved the barn too much to give it up over chairs. At least they have padded seats.

But still, folding chairs. Banquet covers were a possibility. An overly formal possibility for the rustic homey thing the barn has going for it, but an option. The tables themselves are really cool, and I don’t want to cover them with linens. Without linens, the banquet covers are all wrong. So banquet covers for the chairs are right out. As usually happens with these things, I realized I could make what I wanted. What I wanted was something a little rustic, a little homey, that would camouflage the metal chair backs so I wouldn’t have to look at them all night.

diy folding chair covers

I will go to some lengths to get my way. I’m making 80 (plus a few extra) of these from muslin, with matching runners for rectangular tables. It seems like “how to make folding chair covers” is a popular question, so here’s what I did.

diy folding chair covers

Measure your chair. (Measure it again!) Mine was 18″ wide,17.5″ up the leg and 10.5″ from the seat to the back. From a 45” wide bolt of unbleached muslin, I cut 47” x 22” rectangles. (Tip: keep it folded and cut two at a time.)

cutting fabric

Then I pressed the corners in, and ¼” hems all around:

hemming fabric

Then turned under the hem again 1”, mitering the corners as I went. From the wrong side, I sewed a straight stitch 7/8” from the edge all the way around the rectangle.

hemming fabric

That 1” strip cut from the fold of the bolt? That I made into bound tape.

That tape is attached in four places on each cover to form flat loops 2.5” long. The cover is fastened to the chair by threading 1.5” ribbon through these loops and around the metal leg, then tied in a bow on each side.

diy folding chair covers

Okay, that’s my insane project. Do you have one of those? Come on, make me feel less crazy. Any thoughts on what to do with 80+ folding chair covers with matching runners, post-wedding?

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20 comments on “DIY Folding Chair Covers

  1. You can try selling them on bridetobrideboutique.com or you can go on a local wedding message board (like theknot.com) and see if anyone would like to buy them. You might even find someone else who is getting married at the barn that might want them! You could always try ebay or craigslist too. Great job! I would go crazy with something like that as well.

  2. Meganleigh writes...

    Those look great! I’d actually thought of doing the exact same thing for the metal folding chairs I’m going to end up using (because it’s not in our budget to rent 150 chairs and ship them from the nearest location, unconveniently at least 1 1/2 hours away). But now that I’ve seen pictures and a ‘how-to’, I’m ready to do it! Thanks!!

  3. Sara writes...

    As an alternative to sewing 80 chair covers, I just wanted to mention that searching for “wedding chair” on Ebay yields tons of results for chair sashes, bows, and wraps in all different colors that can be bought in bulk. I think there was a wedding on Style Me Pretty a while back that featured chairs draped in inexpensive blue pashminas, and it was such a pretty look that doubled as favors and warmth as the night got chilly, too.

  4. Jennifer writes...

    I don’t like those stupid folding chairs either. I fought for you when I was on the phone with “the man”. His whole speech was “tell your brides that they won’t even notice a metal folding chair at night in the barn”. I literally had to be pulled away from the phone because I started to argue with him, lol. He just does not understand! Arrg! But those chair covers are fabulous! You’re going to make the wedding gorgeous!

  5. Molly writes...

    Thanks for posting this. I’m throwing an dinner party (in honor of some friends who just got engaged) and I needed a solution to cover only a few chairs, not worth renting covers for something so small!

  6. Wow. I know exactly where this is, BTW, thanks to my hours of googling venue ideas. ;) For some reason I do remember reading about the folding chairs on their website (I really don’t care about chairs either, but folding chairs are pushing it.)

    But what an amazing solution! The covers look great and I can’t believe you hand-made so many. Do you think there’s any way you could sell the chair covers back to the barn when you’re done? …if not, perhaps you can sell them to a future bride… :)

    Best wishes.

    MidwestElle @ http://www.illinoisbride.blogspot.com

  7. Jini H. writes...

    great idea! i’m having the same issue. so any chance you still have them? would you be willing to sell them? i’m at my two month mark now! starting to get a bit overwhelmed!

  8. Houa L. writes...

    Do you mind sharing how much it cost you to make all 80 chair covers? I know that muslin can be relatively cheap to buy, but that’s a lot of fabric being used?

    Thanks!

  9. Katie writes...

    Hi! I know it’s been awhile since your post. If you still have these available, even some of the 200, shoot me an email if you’d consider selling them. Thanks!

  10. Cathy writes...

    My sister had her reception here – the guy hung around almost the entire time we were setting up… he even had the gall to make a comment about how we set up the tables (no table cloths, just runners) “would look weird” and my sister flipped and made him leave. He wasn’t very helpful, but the place was AMAZING.

    Oh – I don’t know if they’ve fixed them yet, but there was a window shade that wouldn’t go up all the way – it wasn’t an issue for us since the colors were black and green, but we had to pull all the black shades 1/2 way down. If it’s still like that, I’d bring it up beforehand – maybe they’ll fix it.

  11. Cathy writes...

    wow – I didn’t check the date on this post – just saw the picture – hope it was a beautiful wedding!!

  12. Those look great…The covers look great and I can’t believe you hand-made so many. Do you think there’s any way you could sell the chair covers back to the barn when you’re done?

  13. Sarah Duenas writes...

    ♥ :’) thank you. You. I’m going to start making these ASAP!

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