How to Slipcover a Recliner

How to Slipcover a Recliner

When I decided to slipcover my two recliners, I found there to be a shortage of information for recliners in particular.   Slipcovering, sure.  Upholstery, no problem.

Slipcovering recliners, hmm, not so much.

So, I got to work and just created my own information.  As it turns out, a hybrid of upholstery and slipcovering seems to be the ticket.

There are two main differences between regular chairs and recliners:

 foot rests

and

  moving parts.

With this in mind, I had to make five different “slipcovers”. The two foot rests are just reupholstered, but each arm has its own slipcover and the back and seat make up one long, flexible slipcover.

Ok, let’s get started.

First off I have to say “Get your game face on, Sister!”

This is not a task for the faint of heart. Its time to be really stubborn. I averaged 16 hours per chair. Making slipcovers is not my favorite thing to do, it is amazing to accomplish something like this. But, I rank it up there with photography and cake decorating, in other words its more advanced on the scale of crafty things.

If you don’t have any sewing experience, this is not a good first project.

However, you can conquer this by taking it one step at a time. But, after a few hours, when you start to get that crazed look in your eyes and are thinking you would like to punch the next person that asks you what’s for dinner, then it is time to take a break . . .just sayin.

Slipcover a Recliner

Supplies

*The post contains some affiliate links*

  • Antique Hemp Sheets
    • Each chair took about 2 1/2 hemp sheets, if I had done ruffles, I would have needed three sheets each. I bought my hemp sheets off Ebay. In the first video below, Marian discusses more about the pros and cons of using hemp sheets. And here are my thoughts on more of the whys and hows of purchasing hemp sheets.
    • Wash and dry these as you normally would before beginning.
    • If you are using upholstery fabric that is approximately 4 1/2 yards per chair.
  • Sewing Machine
    • Mine is just a mid level Pfaff. If you are going to be making a lot of slipcovers, I recommend an industrial sewing machine. But, I made it through two with only four broken needles, so it is possible.
    • Get several of the strongest sewing machine needles you can find. I used leather and denim grade.

Here are the chairs before I slipcovered them.

How to Slipcover a Recline by She Holds Dearly

I inherited these two wing backs and am grateful, but have never thought the fabric suited my house very well.  So, I became determined to change them.

How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly

Slipcover a Recliner

Tutorial

  • First, I unscrewed the two foot rests and recovered them with fabric.

How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly

  • I stapled the fabric in place and reattached the foot rests to the chair.
    • I figure if I have to reupholster them once a year, I can handle that.

How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly

  • Secondly, I made the piping. This step is optional, but I really love the look of piping and think it makes slipcovers look so much more professional.
    • I can use all the help I can get to make my slipcovers look convincing!
    • I used Miss Mustard Seed’s new slipcover video series for a lot of this project and improvised the rest.  Part One covers hemp sheets and making the piping. Follow each of her steps and then come back here to continue.
  • Next, I made the two arm covers.
    • Note that when you fit the left arm and stitch it, you are really making the right arm. You will see this once you turn it inside out. Be careful to fit the opposite arm for the second one.

How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly

  • Watch Miss Mustard Seed’s Part Two  and Part Three for all the cutting, pinning and sewing steps.
    • Make the long piece of fabric that covers the front of the back and the seat cushion about 12 inches longer than you think, so you can tuck it in later. I will show you what I mean.

How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly

  •  For the arms, remember to make the slipcover go down between the inside of the arm and the seat.
    • Also, stitch the arm closed along the back.

How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly

  • Once you have finished sewing the arm slipcovers, trim the seams inside about 1/4 inch from the stitching.

Warning! 

Do this very, very carefully. Know exactly what you are cutting. I didn’t do it this time, but I have many times been trimming my seams and accidentally cut the stitching or worse, I cut a hole in the middle of the item I was making.

  • The last piece to sew is the back and seat cushion section.
    • This is a real bear. So, just start with the seam between the inside of the wings and the front of the back. Are you confused yet?

How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly

  • Once that fits the way you want, work on the outside of the wings and piping.

How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly

  • Then, move down to the cushion. You will need to bring the fabric down in front to tuck underneath.

How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly

  • Add a piece of fabric along the sides of the seat cushion and have it meet up with the very back of the slipcover.
    • The trickiest part is where the front of the back meets the seat. I left about a foot of fabric here and cut out an arch of each side. The arches need to be hemmed and then this piece is pushed back out of sight between where the seat and the back meet. This allows enough movement when the chair is in the reclined position.

How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly

  • You are almost done, continue pinning, trimming, stitching and trimming the very back of the slipcover and leave two big flaps like it shows in the videos.
  • Finally, watch Part Four  (you will not use the information on slipcovering the chair cushion) and finish up.
    • Decide if you want to add a ruffle.
    • Then, hem the bottoms of all three slipcovers and decide how you want to close the two flaps on the back. I chose big buttons because they reminded of the vintage children’s pajamas.
    • I hate making button holes so I just safety pinned the flaps closed.

How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly

  • Iron everything, put it all in place and go kick your feet up with a cup of tea!

How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly

How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly How to Slipcover a Recliner by She Holds Dearly

Also, feel free to leave me any questions in the comment section and I will do my best to help you through this.

If you are not ready to sew a slipcover right now, this might be a good post to pin for later (wink)!

Sharing at these parties!

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65 Comments

  1. Shaundra
    March 28, 2016 / 2:07 PM

    The end result is beautiful! Good on you for persevering to the end 🙂

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 28, 2016 / 8:58 PM

      Thank you, Shaundra!! I really hate not knowing what I’m doing, but it pays to be stubborn sometimes. 🙂

  2. Tanya Hulbert
    March 28, 2016 / 3:51 PM

    Wow, Sarah! I’m completely impressed! 16 hours is a huge commitment but you started and completed the task. Good for you! The chairs turned out lovely. I hope you feel so good about your accomplishment.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 28, 2016 / 8:59 PM

      Tanya,
      And that was 16 hours per chair! Haha, at least they turned out, I have had things take that long that ended up in the garbage. Yikes!

  3. March 28, 2016 / 5:56 PM

    You my dear lady rock! That is one thing I could never do. Ever! My sewing machine and I divorced many many years ago. I got the house and “he” got the sold in a garage sale for 2 bucks. (I called it He, cuz he was a jerk) LOL

    Your chairs look wonderful, you did a great job.

    I would love it if you could share this at the Dishing It & Digging It Link Party. I think our followers would love it. http://www.rustic-refined.com/2016/03/dishing-it-digging-it-link-party-89.html

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 28, 2016 / 9:04 PM

      Oh, Christine, I have had a jerk sewing machine in the past! They will make you cry! A good sewing machine is a much.

      Thank you for your kind words and link party invite. I will be there! xo

  4. March 29, 2016 / 10:24 AM

    Oh My Goodness!!! You did a fabulous job on these slipcovers! Way to take on a challenge! I love the details you added with the buttons and embroidery on the backs! Gorgeous! I hope you have a great day!
    Smiles!
    Terry
    The Curator’s Collection & Making Broken Beautiful
    http://thecuratorscollection.wordpress.com

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 30, 2016 / 5:36 PM

      Terry,

      You are such a love! Those buttons and embroidery are my favorite aspects, too. I just checked out your beautiful blog, I’m so impressed.

  5. March 29, 2016 / 6:57 PM

    Wow, you are a brave soul :o) The slipcovers turned out so great, I love the buttons on the backs!

    Tania

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 30, 2016 / 5:37 PM

      Thank you so much, Tania! I’m so happy you stopped by!

  6. March 29, 2016 / 8:22 PM

    It turned out beautifully! I LOVE it!!!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 30, 2016 / 5:37 PM

      Kristi,

      Thank you, my dear! That means a lot coming from someone as talented as you!
      xo

  7. Marlene
    March 30, 2016 / 4:14 AM

    Super wonderful job and what a great idea using hemp fabric. I would suggest spraying the entire chair with Scotchgard We have nine grandchildren and I Scotchgard everything and everything remains superclean

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 5, 2016 / 7:21 AM

      Oh, Melissa! You are always so encouraging, thank you, my dear.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 5, 2016 / 7:22 AM

      You bet, thank you for stopping by and for hosting such a fun party! xoxo

  8. April 1, 2016 / 5:18 AM

    Thank you so much for this. I have a chair very similar and keep it slipcovered because of the cats. Pinning this.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 5, 2016 / 7:23 AM

      Oh good! We have pets and kids, as well. Slipcovers are a must at our place.

  9. April 1, 2016 / 1:54 PM

    gorgeous work! i made crude slipcovers years ago for an armless settee (now there’s a simple project) but haven’t tackled anything since. i love the IDEA of making them myself just not the making. stop by my blog (hellolovelystudio.com) if you have a moment. pleased to meet you. 🙂

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 5, 2016 / 7:25 AM

      Thank you, my dear. I know what you mean about not wanting to make slipcovers! Haha! Your blog is lovely, I’m so pleased to meet you!

  10. April 3, 2016 / 7:27 AM

    What a great job! They look beautiful! I love the color and the buttons down the back are perfect! Thank you for sharing at Dream. Create. Inspire. Link. I’m pinning and sharing your post!

    Cat

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 5, 2016 / 7:26 AM

      Yay, Cat! I’m so glad you stopped by! You are most encouraging, thank you for all your kinds words and for hosting such a fabulous link party.

  11. April 3, 2016 / 7:54 PM

    Wow, those came out beautifully, Sarah! I missed the sewing gene in my family so I am always in awe of someone that has that gene. Thanks for sharing your talent with us.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 5, 2016 / 7:27 AM

      Marigene, you are so cute. I’m sure that you could learn to sew, even without the family gene! But, thank you for your sweet compliment!

  12. April 4, 2016 / 5:35 AM

    Gorgeous!! They look summery and light! Your slipcovers look so professional too! Thanks for giving us the tutorial as well! And thanks for linking up to Dishing It & Digging It!!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 5, 2016 / 7:28 AM

      Jennifer,
      Oh goodness, what a sweet thing to say! “Professional” is what I was going for, I think the piping helps, don’t you? Thank you for stopping by and for organizing such a great link party! xoxo

  13. April 4, 2016 / 2:29 PM

    AMAZING job! I sew, so I know this is not for the faint of heart!! Thanks you so much for sharing at Dishing It & Digging It!!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 5, 2016 / 7:29 AM

      Haha!! We get each other, don’t we? Thank you for understanding and for your sweet words!

  14. Peggy
    April 4, 2016 / 8:08 PM

    Amazing job! I have looked everywhere for info on recliner slip covers. I am not a great seamstress so a bit timid to try this. But there is no room in the budget for two new chairs, so I may get brave. Thank you a great tutorial!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 5, 2016 / 7:30 AM

      Peggy,
      I’m so pleased to have provided something valuable for you! Cost is what drove me to make my own slipcovers, too. Necessity is the mother of invention! 😉

  15. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co.
    April 5, 2016 / 5:49 AM

    Oh pretty! Your chairs look so light and fresh now. That was quite an undertaking. Nicely done! … Featured you at Be Inspired this morning. Thanks so much for sharing! … And I took your farmhouse tour too. You have such a lovely home!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 5, 2016 / 7:31 AM

      Sharon,
      Oh my, I’m so flattered and excited! Thank you for sharing my slipcovers, I am looking forward to your post!!

  16. April 5, 2016 / 12:30 PM

    Wow – these turned out beautiful!! Your hard work paid off! I pinned this post, although I don’t know if I’d have the patience to pull it off.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 6, 2016 / 8:00 AM

      Jenny, thank you so much for your sweet comment and I really appreciate you pinning this as well. Haha, it does take a lot of patience, I think first you have to get really frustrated with your chairs and then comes the will power to make slip covers!

  17. April 5, 2016 / 9:53 PM

    It turned out beautifully.. You did a fabulous job on these slipcovers! It’s Gorgeous….

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 6, 2016 / 8:00 AM

      Melisa,
      Thank you for stopping by and for all your kind words. You are such an encouragement to me!

  18. April 6, 2016 / 4:42 AM

    This is great! I’ve made a lot of slipcovers and done a lot of reupholstering but have never figured out how to redo our chair that is just like this! Now I’m looking around to see where I can put it if I use your clever method! Thanks so much! And your chairs look beautiful!
    Lynda @ Gates of Crystal

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 6, 2016 / 8:02 AM

      Lynda,
      Oh my, that is the most wonderful compliment! I’m so glad you found the post to be valuable.

  19. Joanne B.
    April 6, 2016 / 3:57 PM

    Wow wow wow! You ought to be so proud of the great job you did on slipcovering your recliners! As if one wouldn’t be a big enough job to tackle- you had two! I have two recliners I would love to A) either reupholster or B) slipcover and while I would never tackle the job myself I have been unsuccessful in finding anyone who would do either- and we are talking about professional upholsterers and slipcoverers! They ought to be ashamed of themselves! Here you figured it out and tackled the job yourself! Great job!

    • April 6, 2016 / 4:05 PM

      Wow, I am shocked that no one would help you! I may be a little crazy, but now that it is over, it really wasn’t so bad. I feel much more confident about it. If you have basic sewing machine skills, you can do this!

  20. April 6, 2016 / 7:25 PM

    Sarah! I love your work on this recliner so much I’m featuring it this week on Making Broken Beautiful! So honored you chose to share them there last week! I hope you have a great day!

    Smiles!
    Terry

  21. Janae
    April 8, 2016 / 8:22 AM

    You are So right, there is NOTHING out there for slipcovering a wingback recliner!! I am in the middle of it myself, and have a couple questions! How did you attach the slipcover to the cushion (where you sit)? To hold in place (bottom of the cushion), elastic? What about that little piece you don’t see unless the chair is reclining (by the back legs)? Did you just tuck in the back of the outer arm (by back leg) or how did you attach that to stay in place?

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 8, 2016 / 9:19 AM

      So, I hope I am understanding your questions correctly, but I don’t have anything attaching the seat cover to the cushion, I sewed little side panels, about six inches wide, to the seat section and brought the front section down enough so that it holds everything in place. The front just tucks under the front of the cushion, it is tight enough to stay put.

      The backs of the arms are sewn closed, to put the arms on it is like putting on a hat. Just pull them straight down over the arms, they are only open on the bottoms.

      And those side panels I added to the seat come all the way back and meet up with the back panels. They are sewn right to the back panel, so when the chair is reclining you can see a section of the side panels.

      I hope that helps, you can email me pics and I will try to help you further, if you would like! I am so proud of you for making your own slip covers!

      xoxo

  22. Sherry Stuifbergen
    April 11, 2016 / 9:30 PM

    You did a fantastic job. I also got inspired to sew slipcovers from Miss Mustard Seed. I used drop cloths. It was scary and I spent 1.5 weeks working and undoing and reworking the slipcover and cushions until I got it right. I am very proud of my slipcovers. You should be too of excellent sewmanship! I want to join your blog. I gather much inspiration and ideas from my blogs such as yours. Our homes reflect our souls.

  23. April 12, 2016 / 6:32 PM

    I’m trying to get emotionally prepared to tackle a tricky slipcover/upholstery project. Yours turned out so beautifully, I’m inspired! Also I didn’t know you could order the hemp sheets!!! So great!
    xo

  24. April 20, 2016 / 9:45 AM

    You did such a beautiful job on those wingback chairs! I absolutely love your style! I loved reading about how you ended up with the adorable farmhouse. What a sweet story of God’s provision! Thanks for sharing this at my Creative Ways Link Party! Hope you’ll be back again tonight!
    Blessings,
    Nici

  25. April 26, 2016 / 7:41 AM

    Wow! Looks gorgeous! I tried to recover an old wingback once… and let’s just say there will not be a post about it 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  26. May 8, 2016 / 7:08 PM

    They look great and you make it look so easy. Hmmmm, but I am still afraid to try it. LOL I want to though, so maybe I will.
    🙂 gwingal

  27. Grandma Sue
    November 28, 2016 / 8:54 PM

    WOW! Thank you SO MUCH. I bought fabric EONs ago to recover my beloved old recliner (it’s wonderful for afternoon naps!) and even though I’ve been sewing for over 40 years, I’ve never attempted a slipcover, let alone one for a recliner. I’ve made clothes, costumes, bridal gowns and quilts but just never had a good idea how to slipcover my favorite chair (Plus I was just plain too “chicken” to try.) Thanks to you, I finally have the confidence and inspiration to do it. You’re a gem!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      November 29, 2016 / 8:49 PM

      Oh, that is the best news! I am so excited for you, thank you for such a fun comment!

  28. Mariann A.
    March 27, 2017 / 5:27 AM

    I’ve already made a slipcover for a sofa bed. I pinned and marked everything inside out on the wrong side of the fabric and cut accordingly. It turned out great but I used cheap fabric and the dogs put holes in the cushions. I have 2 wing chair recliners just like yours. I hate the way those stretch covers look. I’ve had them, maybe inferior ones, but they look like pantyhose sucking in cellulite. I LOVE the fabric you used. I’m a quilter so projects that take time and patience to come out right are familiar to me. BTW , does the fabric wrinkle easily?

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 27, 2017 / 6:54 AM

      Mariann, the hemp sheets do not wrinkle easily. Actually, when I wash them, I can replace them when they are just a bit damp. As they dry, they take the shape of the chair and any wrinkles go away. The only thing I would say is to be careful to only sew pieces together from similar weave. I have a couple of sections (down on the sides of the seat cushions) that are from a different hemp sheet that had a wider weave. When I wash the slipcovers, the stitching can come apart on that seam. It is always a pain to mend, I should just replace those sections.

  29. Jennifer Jackson
    July 1, 2017 / 2:40 PM

    These slip covers are beautiful!! You should go in the business of taking orders, charging and making them for people as myself that never learned to sew! Absolutely Fabulous!!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      July 1, 2017 / 9:01 PM

      Awww, you are so sweet. Oh my gosh, if only I had the time to take orders! I bet there is someone near you could help.

  30. Linda
    July 19, 2017 / 9:35 AM

    You’ve inspired me! My recliner is very similar to yours and in desperate need of a “face lift.” It is structurally sound, but the fabric is dated. My one issue is that the back (the part your back leans against when you sit in the chair) is not one solid, smooth cushion. I am not quite sure how to handle this. I feel like if my slipcover just skims over it and tries to make it a whole, smooth back that the “crease” will show that’s in the middle. Do you think this would be solved if I lined the backside of the fabric for that section with a lightweight batting and then muslim to finish so the batting didn’t stick to the actual chair???

    Thx,
    Linda

  31. August 15, 2017 / 7:37 AM

    OH. MY. GOSH. I have a nearly identical chair and have had this redo on the back burner for years. Like you, I had searched in vain for a tutorial. Thank you for the genius ReupholSlipcover solution! I happened upon your blog through the Craftgossip link and am looking forward to reading about more of your clever ideas. Thanks!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      August 18, 2017 / 6:20 AM

      Oh, you are so sweet, Lucy. Thank you for stopping by, I’m so glad our paths have crossed.

  32. Janet Schminkey
    October 9, 2017 / 9:59 AM

    These are the best looking slip covers I’ve ever seen. Can you come to my house and do my two that our cats have scratched up? LOL…I’m not sure hemp would be a good fabric with claws involved but I absolutely love the idea..

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      October 13, 2017 / 1:26 PM

      Haha, I wish I could! Those darn kitties! Let me know if you ever tackle this project.

  33. Linda
    October 16, 2017 / 11:45 PM

    You are an inspiration! I’m screwing up my courage and I’m going to give it a try. I have no wings on my “ladies recliner” so shoumd be a little easier. Wish me luck!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      October 21, 2017 / 5:27 PM

      Yay! Good for you, Linda, you can do it, one little step at a time. Email me with questions. xoxo

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