How to Make Slipcovers: part 1

Every time I mention on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter that I’m making slip covers, I always get the same comment: “Slipcovers scare me!” I was once the slipcover scared crowd, but now that I’ve made a few of them, I can tell you they’re not so scary after all. Although I’ve read a ton of e-books, blog posts and all the other information I could get my hands on about making them, there were lots of tricks and tips that I learned not through reading, but just by jumping in and doing them. So I’ve finally decided to share all of that knowledge all week for Slip Cover Week {it’s not as scary as you think!} A big thanks to Online Fabric Store for partnering with me for supplies on this series!

how to make slipcovers

Before we start cutting fabric, making piping or installing zippers (yes, we’re going to learn all about it), let’s start with all of the tools and supplies you’ll need to make slip covers. I’m giving you every single tool & supply I used so you will be armed with all of the knowledge you need going in. Imagine taking a road trip without a map or GPS. Consider this post your slip cover GPS, k?

Brother Project Runway Sewing Machine


You’re going to need a sewing machine. If you’re in the market for one, this is the one I have – the Brother Project Runway Limited Edition. It sews like a dream! No matter what kind of machine you have, you’ll need a couple of different foot attachments for making slipcovers: a regular sewing foot and a zipper foot. You’ll be changing them out quite often, so keep them both within reach.

sewing machine needlesMake sure you have plenty of sewing machine needles, too. I know it’s kinda basic, but having extras on hand will save you a lot of frustration. Think of it as a cheap insurance policy.

gingher scissorsYou’ll also need some good scissors. Gingher makes some of the best sewing scissors around. Granted, they cost a bit more, but you definitely get what you pay for. Buying good scissors can last you years and years – so think about that next time you’re purchasing yet another cheap pair ๐Ÿ˜‰

Guterman Thread

Good thread is another investment well worth making. I personally prefer Guterman 100% cotton thread. I buy it on sale or with a coupon and stock up when I can. This is the only kind of thread I use. Period.

needlesBesides sewing machine needles, you’ll also need regular old fashioned hand needles, too. You won’t use them very much, but you will need to use them a bit on the zippers.

side cuttersSide cutters or wire cutters will also come in handy. Pulling the needles around the zippers can be tough, and those will not only help with that part, but you’ll also need to cut the zippers as well.

zipperSpeaking of zippers, you’re going to need one for every cushion plus one for the base. I used 7 total, and I prefer the upholstery or industrial zippers for this application. They won’t slip or break as easily as the cheaper plastic ones. If you look at your couch or chair now, it probably has a metal zipper on the cushion. Buy the longest you can, because you can always trim them down but can’t add to them. {I chose the 72 inch version.}

pipingPiping will make your slip look all profesh and stuff, so using just a bit of it here and there will give you some cover ‘cred. Don’t worry, it’s not hard to make – I’m going to walk you through it step by step. You’ll need to buy the raw cording to make it. I prefer 4/32 size, because most upholstery piping on a new couch or chair will have the thinner stuff, not big and chunky. If you want larger, go for it!

duck fabric grayOf course, to make a slip cover, you’re going to need some fabric. I use cotton duck fabric, because it sews beautifully, washes well and is a great price point. For my couch, I used driftwood gray from Online Fabric Store. It’s like the Goldilocks of gray – not too light, not too dark… it’s just right!

sewing measuring tapeTo measure all of that fabric, you’ll need a couple of different instruments. One is a basic yard stick that you can find at any sewing section (you probably already have 3 of them!) The other is a flexible measuring tape, because you will need the flexibility of it around curves, etc.

Ticonderoga PencilsYou’ll need to mark and trace onto the fabric, and to do that I use my favorite pencils. While you’re at it, make sure you have a pencil sharpener, too. Fabric tends to dull pencils very quickly ๐Ÿ™‚

ball pins

ย Once you get the fabric measured, traced and cut, you’ll also need to pin it together using some straight pins. I like this type with the big balls on the ends to make them easier to handle.

Band-aidsAnd last, but most certainly not least, invest in some Band-Aids. You’re going to get pricked. Be prepared.

Now that you have your supply list, you can find the next steps below:

How to make piping

How to cut fabric

How to cover cushions


Do you have any slip cover questions you’re hoping I’ll cover on how to make slipcovers?

Be sure to leave them below so I can be sure to answer every little question I can!

Want to see all the slipcover posts? Here ya go!

Part One: Tools & Supplies

Part Two: All About Piping

Part Three: Cutting Fabric

Part Four: Covering Cushions

Part Five: Beginning the Frame

Part Six: Working on the Arms

Part Seven: Finishing the Frame

Part Eight: Final Tips & Tricks

About Gina Luker

Gina Luker is a writer, photographer and lover of all things quirky. She's usually found with a drill in one hand and a cocktail in the other while blogging along the way. She's addicted to coffee, polka dots, rock stars, Instagram, and everything aqua.


  1. How to measure for fabric to purchase so I have enough yet not a lot of waste? Thanks

  2. Also, what types of material?
    So thrilled you are sharing this with us! I have always wanted to make these for our couch! And I’m going to! With your guidance! Thanks!

    • Hi Terri,
      It’s cotton duck, the link is above.

      • Hi Gina,

        I checked out the duck fabric that you use and it indicates that it cannot be washed or dry cleaned. I would be inclined to ignore that but am wondering what your experience is with this. I was my slipcovers pretty regularly – my dogs are just too comfortable on my couches!


  3. I have been putting off making slip covers forever! Maybe I will get the courage to do it with you. I am thinking about using drop cloths. I made a drop cloth slip cover for an ottoman and it stands up to the worst abuse…The problem is, I really want bright white and I am not sure I’ll be happy with the off white color… hmmm

    • Khadija – you can bleach drop cloths.

      • I bleached one from Walmart before and it lightened but didn’t bleach enough. I think I’ll try a different brand from Lowes next. Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Diana Kremenliff says:

      I too wanted to use dropcloths to make a slipcover but wanted a bright white. I did the bleach thing and it still wasn’t white enough. Searched everywhere for white dropcloths but didn’t have much luck unless I wanted to spend over $50 for a small size. So I started looking for white dropcloth-like fabric and found some beautiful white duck cloth at Walmart for $5.97 per yard. The best price anywhere including local fabric stores and online stores. It is 100% cotton and drycleaning is recommended but I bought one yard and washed it in my washing machine. Nothing drastic happened other than some shrinkage which is to be expected for 100% cotton fabric. I have an order for a 15-yard bolt coming and can’t wait to get started on making a slipcover.

  4. I am a new follower to you, and I am so excited about this tutorial!! Hoping I, too, can go from the scared crowd to the slipcovered group!!

  5. I’ve been putting this off for some time. One question…how do you judge how much to leave for tucking in on the wings of a wing chair? Thanks.

  6. I’m new to sewing and just starting out so this list is great. Thanks!

  7. I am worried about picking the right fabric that will stand up to pets (3 dogs ๐Ÿ™‚ who like to jump up and sit on the couch. I thought about using a drop cloth, but I’m not convinced the weave on the one I bought (I actually bought one at Big Lots and one at WalMart) is tight enough. Would duck cloth be my best bet? Thoughts?

  8. I just found your blog and have been wanting to make slipcovers for a long time. I made some for my porch glider but that was almost too easy. I have gotten into piping in a big way after doing pillow shams with success, so this might be just the encouragement I need. Your directions are so thorough and encouraging! Love your site!

  9. This is awesome! I’ve been thinking of making a slipcover for our couch. The only thing stopping me is that it’s reclining on both ends. Do you have any tips to deal with recliners?

  10. ooohhh! looking forward to what you have to share!

  11. Mauri Swanson says:

    I am also new to sewing & very scared however, I need to make a slipcover for my sofa sectional. I want it to be White with a skirt around the bottom. How much fabric would that be? I was thinking 15-17 yards? Is the Cotton Duck soft and comfy?

  12. Yvonne Leanza says:

    Can I pay you to do it for me? Oh please! Lol! Please let me know if we can work something out.

  13. Im making an attempt at making slipcovers for a love seat and sleeper sofa, Im using a white denim or duck type cloth, I am not sure how to do my cushions, and am fretting over this, they have a piece of piping across center of front and are a bit curved on in the front and sides, flat across the back, kind of like this ( should I put the piping just across the front or could I still put it all the way around top and bottom, my couch is curved and a bit puffy in the back and no cushions. I think I would like cushions on back they are deep enough for a cushion If I stay not to thick. What should I do, would they look right if with just the piping on the center front. I really didnt want to buy new foam as I have no place to store my cushions and my furniture is in great condition, just want a little more beachy look. Thank you so much.

  14. Hi there – I am really really struggling with trying to top stitch cotton duck cloth – I have exactly the same machine that you do – the Project Runway Brother – I ‘ve tried all types of needles, different threads, different tension (upper and lower) and I can’t get anything to vaguely resemble a neat top stitch! It;s wonky and jumps stitches – its driving me completely crazy.. any suggestions anyone?

  15. It seems I could save some time and purchase cording. Yes?

    • All of the store-bought cording I’ve seen is covered in chintz, which is far too thin for a slipcover. The piping actually takes a lot of wear, so you want the same weight as the rest of the slipcover – 10 oz. to 13 oz. for a canvas or twill. Also, you want it pre-shrunk, so it’s worth it to make your own after washing the fabric.

  16. Another person asked about the fabric you recommended as it says not to wash or dry clean. ???

  17. Hello Gina,
    Thank you for your well done post. I am attempting to recover my couches as well. I decided to go with a natural raw linen instead of the ducking. I was wondering if I should wash the fabric first? Do you know? My gut says no, but what if something spills on the covers and I wash them and they shrink? I would appreciate any insight you might have for me. Thank you in advance.

  18. Janet Weidendorf says:

    Where is the best place to buy upholstery foam rubber? I am in Florida but need to do 2 sofas …old foam runner on both…Don’t want to use the original stuff. Thanks! Just found your site…have been sewing for years but never had enough nerve you do these.!!!

  19. Janeintherain says:

    I have been dragging my feet on getting started on this project for nearly two years. I am so glad I found your blog. I actually find myself excited to get started now.
    Thank you!


  1. […] a basic slipcover tutorial to recover your seat.  Gina from The Shabby Creek Cottage has a full series on slip covers, making it a good place to […]

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