A Modern Update on an Old Swivel Rocker

At first glance this old swivel rocker seems like an easy piece to slipcover. However after studying it for a bit, there were a few things to consider. It would be more challenging than originally planned, but as you will see, it turned out beautiful.

The tufting and curved inner back with an attached back cushion would have to be addressed and covered to create a new back line. I did this by stuffing batting in the crevices and then sewing a flat piece of cushion wrap over it to connect the front and back. I also made a muslin cover to protect it when taking the cover on and off (not shown).

We had originally planned to do a regular corner pleated skirt. However, after some consideration, I suggested we try a waterfall skirt that flows down from the body of the slipcover fabric rather than an attached skirt which would add a bit more bulk to the already heavy fabric and the existing skirt underneath. It would also give the chair a modern update, elevating it from the very dated greenish corduroy. I went about an inch longer as well to cover the metal legs of the chair that were somewhat exposed with the existing skirt and was an eyesore to my client.

I usually like to study the chair for a bit and make notes as far as how to approach the slipcover process and design. But when I get stumped on what to do, I take pictures, mark it up and put it out to my “people” for advice on a Slipcover Network Facebook group. Often times, just taking the pictures and looking at it from another perspective gives me an idea on how to approach something.

One such area of consideration was where to put the zipper that would be functional, practical and the least visible to the eyes. Initially I put the zipper in the left back seam leading into the pleat, thinking it would provide enough easement to take the cover on and off. However I soon realized that the easement was needed closer to the bottom where the chair narrowed. Once I decided on the lower outer arm and three panel back chair piece placement, it became obvious it should be in the outer back seam just left of the back seam. Just like the inside of the chair, I used three pieces for the back to take into account the curves and provide for a tight upholstered fit.

The waterfall skirt was new to me. I love the way they look but had never incorporated them before into any of my projects mostly because of a fear of doing them. One thing I have decided to do now that I am resettled in my new work area is to learn more things and to not shy away from jobs because of the fear of the unknown. Rather, I embrace it as an opportunity to learn something new. I had a parson chair that was just sitting and waiting for me to recover it. I decided to incorporate a waterfall skirt into the design for practice. I wasn’t as hard as I thought and I loved the results. It provided me with the practice and confidence I need to incorporate this element into this project and as a bonus, I finally finished this chair when was staring me down for at least six months. I will show that chair in a later post.

What is a waterfall skirt? It is a skirt that flows from the body and fabric of the rest of the chair with a pleat cut into the fabric, folded to the back and attached to another piece of fabric to create a hidden pleat. It is held in place with a a topstitched seam. It eliminates the need for cording and extra bulk and gives a piece a seamless clean look. It can make a chair look more modern and updated. Just what my client was wanting. I was determined to make it work and it think I accomplished that. I love the graceful flow. I incorporated the same waterfall effect on the ottoman as well.

Because my client rents her beautiful house at Smith Mountain Lake, she was wanted to be sure to address the fabric selection. She chose a performance fabric, Revolution, in Sugar Shack Cypress. Though it is an upholstery fabric, it is inherently stain resistant and easy to clean. But to make things easier, I also made a set of arm covers and a second cushion cover. She could change one out while cleaning one if needed.

Arm covers are a great way to extend the wear of your slipcover!

The chair looked beautiful just the way it was with the detailed seamed back, however adding an extra loose back pillow gave the chair a little more bulk and the comfort factor as it sits next to her massive stone fireplace.

Oh how cozy! Not your ugly green corduroy chair anymore! This neutral, textured, linen-looking fabric will fit into any setting beautifully.

Here is the before and after.

Until next time, stay safe,