How to Cut and Pin a Sofa Slipcover.

3 Materials
8 Hours

A sofa slipcover seems like a daunting task, but if you think of it in small steps you can definitely tackle it!

If you’re a beginner I would suggest using an inexpensive fabric or even a drop cloth for your first attempt at slipcover making. 

Drape your fabric over the inside back of the sofa and allow the fabric to drape down over the deck(seat of the sofa, under the cushion), and down the front. You may need to seam together two or more widths of fabric to cover the whole inside back and the deck.

Remember you can either railroad your fabric(unroll your fabric horizontally across your piece) or you can run your fabric vertically. If your fabric has a pattern with a definite top and bottom, then you’ll need to place your fabric vertically so the pattern isn’t sideways. Therefore you’ll have to seam your fabric…and you always want to put a full width in the center with two pieces on each side. Exactly like my fabric is in the picture below…except your fabric will be all the same. 

I seamed together two contrasting fabrics creating a “racing stripe” down the center. 

When you drape your fabric, make sure your fabric is cut straight and then line up the cut edge of the fabric to the top edge of the sofa. Pin it in place so it doesn’t shift around when you are positioning the fabric over the rest of the sofa. 

Once the fabric is smoothed out over the inside back, the deck and down the front, next, cut off all the excess fabric covering the arms. The idea is for the slipcover to fit snuggly and look like upholstery. To accomplish a snug fit there should be seams at the joints of the arms. 

After I cut around the arms with at least a 2″ seam allowance, then I put in relief cuts around the curves so the fabric will lay down flat around these curved parts. 

I pin a square of fabric on the front of the arm and trace the outside edge with chalk, then cut that with a 2″ seam allowance. I generally double my fabric when I cut, so I can cut two pieces at once. Just make sure your fabric is right sides together.

Then I pin and sew the welt to the front arm placket piece. 

Then drape fabric over the arm. You can measure the arm, front to back and from the deck to just under the curve, to cut out a square of fabric to make this part more manageable. I, however, just drape the entire piece of fabric and cut. My method can lead to messy cuts and possibly cutting into fabric you didn’t intend to cut, but I like to work fast and the draping method works for me. Whatever cutting method you decide to use, make sure you pay attention to the way your fabric placed on your piece regarding the grain and the pattern. Don’t let your fabric get askew.

Once your pieces are cut, it’s time to pin this thing together. I use a copious amount of pins because I prefer to pin my entire piece before taking it to the machine to sew it together. Plus, I do all my client sofa pin fitting on site, so I MUST pin the entire sofa to then bring it to my workroom to sew it. So if anything comes apart I may have a hard time sewing it.  You always pin your piece inside out… or reverse pin. Unless your piece is not symmetrical…then you’re in trouble…JK…you have to pin right side out. I don’t like this situation. 

You push your fabric snuggly into the corners of your piece, roll it between your fingers to get it flat together and make sure there’s no gathers or puckers, then pin. This part takes practice and patience. 

The inside corner is a bit difficult because you’ll have a three way intersection happening. I like to make sure I use plenty of pins and I cross two pins perpendicularly at corners so when I’m sewing the slipcover I know the criss-crossed pins are where I make a turn. You’ll repeat this process on the opposite arm

The second to last step is to attach the back piece to close up the slipcover. I pin on the welt across the top back and then pin on the large back piece of fabric. This is where you would put in a closure. I usually use hook and loop tape or sometimes a zipper. I install my closure in one of the back corner seams. The very last step is to hem the bottom. In my case, I installed a welt trim around the bottom and then attached velcro to fasten it to the bottom of my sofa frame to hold the slipcover firmly in place.

Notice the welt at the bottom edge of my slipcover?That’s the gist of cutting and pin fitting a sofa slipcover. The video below will be super helpful in further explaining these steps. 

Resources for this project:

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Mimzy lombardo

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Suzanne Tackett
    Suzanne Tackett
    on Jul 19, 2020

    How do you make slip covers for a sofa whose cushions don’t come off?

    • Deneen Giesen
      Deneen Giesen
      on Nov 14, 2020

      Now, why didn’t I think of that about cutting off the cushions! My mom taught herself to upholster on our worn out sofa set. I remember watching her work magic getting the piping sewn straight, and the pieces put back together perfectly. When we moved, she went and found a job upholstering furniture, and then eventually started working on awnings. She taught me to never be afraid to make something better.

      what a lovely job you have done with your slip cover!

  • Maggie
    on Oct 24, 2020

    Can you do the same thing for a recliner? Or do you have a tricks for doing one for a recliner?

    • Mimzy lombardo
      Mimzy lombardo
      on Oct 24, 2020

      You know ....I've never done a recliner. I think it can be done but you'd have to do some separate parts because of the moving parts. It's funny because this question reminds me of my mom, who always said "no moving parts" when people would ask about recliners. So, I've always said no to recliners as well. I have seen others do recliners slipcovers, but I think it would be a bit tricky.

Join the conversation

4 of 14 comments
  • Lynne
    on Jul 20, 2020

    i really want to learn this. you did a beautiful job!!

  • Cissy Pendino
    Cissy Pendino
    on Aug 5, 2020

    oh it looks so good I have a couch to make a cover for I just keep sitting it a side.. I know I wil I know I will yes you have encouraged me again thank you

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