Saturday, November 15, 2014

How to Make a Chair Slip Cover Out of ScotchBlue Painter's Tape

Have you ever done something for a really long time, like 20 years, and then suddenly woke up one day and you were just done? I have been feeling that way about decorating my house for about 6 months now. It is not what I want it to be, but I am tired of fighting with it. I want to make one huge push and just get the whole thing done so I can ignore it for the next ten years. 

My problem here has been a shortage of both time and money. I do almost everything myself because I have had much more time, than money for the last 20 years. And fortunately, I am crafty and have a knack for design. It has been fun to paint and reuse and sew and tinker. It was an awesome creative outlet for years. But now I want to put that energy in other directions. I have less time and many important things competing for that time. But still no extra money for decorating. 

So I have had to think out of the box. For a while I did the barn sale. I have given up a few luxuries and asked for house related things for Christmas and birthday presents. But my mother actually gave me the best "outside the box" idea ever.

She suggested I make a slip cover out of painter's tape and try to win the Scotch Blue Painter's tape Contest. The Grand Prize is $5000. That would make a major dent in finishing stuff around here. And by "finishing stuff" I mean paying other people to do the work so it actually gets done this decade. 

And I did it. 

I spent 30 hours over the last two weeks and figured out how to build a self supporting, structurally independent slip cover out of painter's tape. In theory, I could take it off and put it right back on, as it's not reliant on the chair for its form. I finished this morning.

I promise that's not chintz. Here's a closer look:

All those little bits of color are the brand markers for the two types of ScotchBlue painter's tape I used. The green one is the ScotchBlue Multi-Surface with Edge-Lock TM  Paint Line Protector Painter's Tape. The orange one is ScotchBlue Delicate Surface with Edge Lock TM Paint Line Protection Painter's Tape. The good people at ScotchBlue were generous enough to send me 3 rolls of orange and 2 rolls of the green (I already had another roll of the green that they sent me earlier.) when I asked for it, without even knowing what I was going to do with it. Super generous. Thanks so much guys!

So, are you curious how I did it? 

Here's what I started with:

I made the mistake or starting with the arms. I had this great plan to run a chevron down them, and it was awesome until I tried to reinforce the back. Crash and burn city. I had to throw away 3 hours worth of work. But I did learn the right way to do it from that mistake.

You build and underlying skeleton of the shape you want with tape facing you sticky side out. Then you tape to that. This gives the structure you need, but allows for re-positioning without too much headache.

I used straight pins to keep the tape in place while I was building the design for the back. I removed them as the top layer got closer to the edge. The piece running up the middle was just tomark center so I could make a shot at having the "V" in the right place, as it had to line up with it's mirror image on the seat top.

This picture gives you a better feel for how the chevron pattern builds itself layer after layer.

I used the same technique on the seat, and lined up the stripes. Then I trimmed the seat cover to fill in just the space between the outer piping. I added tape sticky side up to the underside to use as a bridge between the top and the sides.

The tape running horizontally is sticky side up. I lined it up with the piping and then ran the tape from the side over the top and attached it, cutting off the extra after each side was all adhered. Yay for invisible seams!

Here you can really see how nicely the chevron pattern came together. What? Did you think I was just going to do something easy when I had two different colors to work with? Come on. It's a CONTEST. You gotta take it over the top with money like that on the line. 

I started on the arms...again. This time I built the structure first.

In interest of time and my sanity, I decided to just go with stripes from the inside to the seam and then from the seam to the floor. Good choice. It took WAY less time and looked better than the original design had.

Here's the top half finished.

This is about when I stopped least about the design coming together.

The fronts of the arms are panels I built flat and reinforced flat. The orange piece of tape right on the edge is one of my cheats. That is directly stuck to the chair fabric. I couldn't figure out any other way to bend it the right way and keep the line. But everything else is structurally independent.

I used the same seaming technique on the outer arms as I did on the seat. Cut to length. Add tape sticky side up. Bring bottom over top and then cut back to correct size while leaving the rest adhered sticky side to sticky side.

Here's the outside arm structure:

Here you can really see how the pins hold things in place until the tape covers that spot. You can also see the sticky side up waiting to meet the other half of the seam. 

Here's the side all finished:

And just for good measure, I did the back as well:

The back also uses the sticky sides together seaming technique along the top and sides.

So there you have it. 
Tons of my life spent recovering a chair with tape the hard way. 

Here's a few more beauty shots. 

I was pretty psyched with how it turned out. Good thing my living room just happens to be orange.

And you can't forget the staging pieces, carefully chosen to coordinate, but not "match" the chair. They set such a happy mood, don't you think?

OK so here's the round up on this project:


I really like this tape. In both flavors. I will definitely be using it again, probably in a more normal fashion. I am starting to prefer it over Frog Tape. 

1. It releases from itself without too much trouble and without peeling adhesive off either side, a major plus when working with long strips.

2. You have about 1-3 chances to reposition it without losing tackiness (less with the Delicate, more so with the Multi-Surface). 

3. It holds its shape really well, even when being stretched and bent around corners. 


It does not adhere to the slick side of itself very well, so be careful to just have a tiny overlap if you are layering tape to add width. The more surface area you have connected to the actual surface, the better your chances of things going well and not having any drips or bleed through. 


As far as the project itself goes, I just wanted to see if I could do it, both for my own glory and to win the contest. I would not recommend anyone else trying this with the medium I used. It was insanely hard, time consuming, and frustrating.

If you wanted to use tape to build a slip cover, the most functional option would be to use duct tape over an old velvet chair that you hated the fabric of. You could do some really cool designs and the duct tape would probably wear and feel like vinyl. I think that combo could take a lot of abuse. Great for college students short on cash and long on tacky inherited furniture.

Have you guys done anything weird with tape? Built the Leaning Tower of Pisa or something? Tell me about it.

Talk to you soon,

CM Shaw


  1. OMG you have lost your mind! Now I see why you are the artist! How did you think of this??? You better win...most creative application. Absolutely amazing! Great job my friend! Oh...your gift is in the box and now riding around Alabama with would think I would pass a post office soon!

  2. Screaming. I can't believe how cool it turned out!! You are genius. Crafty and genius. I love the chevron design.

  3. My friend - it turned out to be an amazing project! Congratulations! I guess when you put your mind into it you can accomplish INSANE projects!!!!

  4. You really blew me away with this when you shared your peek on Instagram. You are a creative genius. You really think outside the box!!!

  5. Hello my friend. Hope you are doing well. Miss you! Hey...sharing this today on fb page. Hope all is well!