Home Remodeling And Design: How To Make Your Own Slip Covers For A Recliner

How to make a slip cover for a reclining chair, an affordable way to protect your chair and extend its life.

Slip covers for a reclining chair take a little more work than for a regular armchair but are worth the trouble.

Buy fabric width wide enough for the widest part of the chair, keeping in mind that you will need extra to tuck into the side crevices of the seat.

Piping is optional. It takes a little more care to insert into the seams, but it gives the chair a more finished look.

To estimate the size of the pieces for the cover measure as follows:

Back - measure from top of back to floor.

Front of Back, Seat Area, and Leg-Rest - measure from top of back, down back, across seat, continuing to bottom of leg-rest.

Arms - measure from crevice at inside Arm, over Arm, and down to the floor.

You will also need two strips of fabric for the fronts of the arms, two strips for the sides of the back, and a piece for the front of the chair under the leg-rest. This latter piece will need to be about three inches wider than the front of the chair (excluding arms) to allow for a Velcro opening.

Allow extra fabric for seams and hems on all these pieces, and enough to tuck down into the back crevice of the seat on the larger piece when the chair is in an upright position, which will also allow for the chair to recline.

With the right side of the fabric out, place the back piece to the back of the recliner and anchor with pins to the top upholstery of the back of the chair. Then place the back/arm/leg-rest piece in place, also anchoring with pins to the top of the back, the back of the seat area, and across the front of the seat at the top of the leg-rest. Tuck excess fabric into crevices at back and sides of seat.

Pin seam together along the back of the top of the back. Place the strip of fabric for the side of the back in place, anchor with pins to the upholstery of the chair. Pin around the seam of the side of the back, following the contours of the chair. Only the front and the top of this seam will be joined; the back edge, including the bottom half when we get to it, will be left open and edged with Velcro for removal. However, it should be pinned in place at this time. Repeat on the other side of the chair.



Remove the anchor pins and any pins you need to from the back outside seams and carefully remove the cover from the chair. Turn the cover inside out and reverse the pins to the inside of the fabric, making sure you replace the pins exactly as they were on the outside of the fabric. Sew the seams, inserting piping if you've chosen to use it, leaving the cover open from the top of the back down,

Set the chair in reclining position. Place the arm piece over the arm. This piece will go right to the back of the chair. Pin the edge to the upholstery of the chair down the back corner, starting from the bottom. At the back of the arm, cut a straight line into the fabric down to the top of the arm. Place the front flap of fabric over the arm of the chair and tuck down into the crevice between arm and seat. Leave the back flap attached, it will be used for a gusset in order for the chair to recline.

Cut the piece in half (from seat to floor) that will go under the leg-rest and pin each half to the upholstery of the chair at the front of the seat, overlapping in the center one-and-a-half inches as allowance for the opening. You may have to tip the chair on its back to do this. If this isn't possible, pin the sides of the pieces to the upholstery at the inside of the fronts of the arms.

Place the strip for the front of the arm in place and anchor to the upholstery with pins. Pin the seam around the front of the arm, following the lines of the chair and attaching to the piece beneath the leg-rest on one side. Repeat the process for the other arm.

Remove the arm pieces and sew seams, inserting piping if you have chosen to use it.

Fit all three pieces back onto the upright chair, right side out. Anchor the cover in strategic places that will keep it in place while you work.

Turn over a hem allowance at the edges of the bottoms of the sides-of-the-back. Pin across the flap of excess fabric (left for gusset) at the back of the arm piece, making sure of the fit from the top of the back to the floor. The gusset flap should be "protruding" from the inside of the cover at the corner of the chair where the reclining mechanism is.

From the middle of the raw end of the gusset flap, make two cuts, one to each of the opposite corners of the flap. The gusset flap should look like a flag, with the wide end attached inside to the bottom of the side of the arm.

Pin a seam with the back edge of the "flag" to the side edge of the front-of-the-back down to the corner at the bottom of the front-of-the-back. Pin the front edge of the "flag" down to the corner of arm piece. Repeat on the other side of the chair. These gussets will be tucked down into the corners of the chair when the chair is not in use and in upright position. They will stretch out when the chair is in a reclined position.

For the leg-rest: cut the cover about four inches from the edge around the leg-rest. Pin a half-inch hem around this edge.

Remove the anchor pins and take the cover off the chair. Move the seam pins on the gusset to the inside of the fabric and sew seams. Machine the leg-rest hem and insert sturdy elastic, stretching from one side of the seat, around the bottom, to the other side of the seat.

Neatly machine hem all raw edges (tucked-in edges etc.). Make a one-inch hem around the bottom of the cover.

Attach Velcro down the openings of the cover on both sides of the back. Attach Velcro to the front opening under the leg-rest.

Press the entire cover, being careful not to crush the piping if you have used it.

© High Speed Ventures 2011