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How To Cover a Chair or Sofa with a Loose Fit Slipcover

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I wish… I wish I had a  lot of things.  I wish I had a new car. I wish I lived on a body of water…  I wish, I wish.  My wish list goes on and on – most of them will remain wishes, but in some instances I have found a way to get my wish or at least something that brings me a bit closer to seeing that wish realized.   This is the case in my wish to have custom slipcovers made for the sofa and chair in my family room. I can’t afford to have custom ones made nor do I have the skill and patience to make them myself.

One size fits all or loose fit  slipcovers have been the answer for me.  Mine are from Pottery Barn, but SureFit.com sells them, too.   They are very affordable, come in a variety of styles and sizes, and once you know how to put them on – very easy to take care of, but there is always that love/hate relationship with them because they never stay in place and always look wrinkled, rumpled, or just plain askew.

I have changed that scenario by adding my own style to them.

I knew I could make them look better with my easy or no sew way.  The key is having separately covered seat cushions over top of the tie on slipcover.


 How To Put a Tie Arm Loose Fit Slipcover on a Sofa and Make It Look Custom Made

Trax, my cat  loves when I work with fabric.  You will see just  how much in a few of the following photos.

Pottery Barn Tie Arm Slipcover how to

Most throw over or one piece slipcovers are  made to go over an entire sofa or chair. Some come with a separate cover for the cushions, but most don’t or the cover goes over both bottom cushions and can look a bit odd.

1.  Wash your slipcovers before putting them on sofa/chair. Dry them until till they are damp. Don’t dry them all the way. This will help with keeping wrinkles to a minimum.  Remove the bottom and back cushions from the sofa/chair. If your back cushions don’t come off – you can still cover it my way.

Pottery Barn Slipcover How to

2. Place the slightly damp slipcover over your sofa/chair making sure the “Center front” tab is to the center front.   Arrange the cover around your sofa/chair. At this point you may be saying to yourself – how will this ever fit?  It is a little frustrating the first time you put one on. Just keep arranging, tucking, and smoothing until you like what you see.  It does take some work.

Hoe to put on a tie arm slipcover form Pottery Barn

3.  Arrange the length of the cover all around the sofa/chair. I left mine about 1″ from the floor.  I moved the furniture to work on it and Trax found one of his lost toys under the sofa.    Of course he decided he had to play with it right where I was working.

How to put on a one piece slipcover

4. Find the 4 ties that will tie around each corner and loosely tie around the front arms and back corners.   Begin smoothing the fabric on the arms, back and seat. I was left with a lot of extra fabric.  Push this into any crevices you can find.

The sofa is taking shape.

How to put on a Pottery Barn White Slipcover on a Sofa or Chair

The Chair had a lot of excess fabric to tuck in. Since my chair is a very large, I needed to get the small sofa/loveseat size to cover it.

How to cover a chair with a tie on style slipcover

5. Once you have the sides, back and arms smooth. Push in as much excess fabric as you can into the crevices.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, because it is all going to be covered with the cushions.

6.  I am not a seamstress and don’t pretend to be one.  I can sew a straight line on a machine and that is about it.   All you seamstresses out there – Collect $200 and pass Go and make the cushions the traditional way with cord and piping and zippers. :)

I am all about easy and a believer in what you can’t see can easily be faked.  I found white quilts on clearance at the store I used to work at.  I used them to make cushion covers. I was just going to cover each bottom cushion using my pinning method that I did on my porch swing – How to Make a No-Sew Cushion Cover, but I did not have had enough quilt fabric to get all the cushions covered that way, so I opted for a fix that has worked perfectly.  I sewed covers for the bottom cushions that are semi – boxed covers that are tied on with ribbon on the bottom.

7.  Here is the underside of the cushion.  The cover is more like a gently fitted wrap around cover. You can see I had to really scrimp on the amount of quilt fabric I had.   I was determined to make it work.  It is uneven, but no one sees it. I used these same covers with the old slipcovers I had on this sofa/chair.  I have washed them many times and the ribbons and uneven edges don’t matter one bit.

Easy Sew Box cushion cover

I first had to figure out how much quilt fabric I would need to cover each cushion. I  laid the quilt fabric over the top of the cushion making sure I would have enough to wrap around to the back and then cut it.  I laid this cut piece over the cushion with the wrong side facing up.  Pinned the corners as shown below. Removed it and sewed a straight seam for each corner to resemble a box cushion.   I removed the pins and trimmed the seam excess.  Turned the fabric right side out and placed it over the cushion to make sure it fit and pinned the underside to connect each side. Removed the cover and sewed these seams along with  4  – 12″ pieces of ribbon to each side edge.   It took me 15 minutes for each cushion once I had figured out how I was going do it. When I worked in display, I learned that there is always a way to get the job done – even if you can’t do it as you originally intended.

Illustration on how to make a semi box cushion cover for a sofa

Here it is tied on the back.  When I wash these cushion covers they are so easy to take on and off.  No zippers to have to deal with. Another thing I like about having separate cushions is when something spills – you don’t have to remove the entire slipcover to deal with the spill, only the affected cushion cover.

How to make a easy or no sew cushion cover

8. Place the covered bottom cushions on.

How to cover a sofa or chair with a slip cover

Then the back pillows. I made the simple pillow covers following these directions – 10 Minute Pillow Cover.

See any little cat feet impressions on the sofa cushions?

How to cover a sofa or chair with a one piece slipcover

I had to play a bit before I was happy with how the excess fabric on the front of the arms looked.  Once you are happy -tighten all the ties front and back.

How to cover a sofa with a slipcover

I added a few throw pillows.

How to cover a sofa with a tie arm slipcover

I placed the ottoman back – it acts as a chaise when pushed up against the sofa.  It is also Trax’s favorite spot.

How ot cover a sofa or chair with a slipcover

May not be perfect, but it is a very budget friendly way to get my wish.

Slipcover How - to

I have a few tips if you don’t want to make separate covers for your cushions. These tips will help keep the slipcover stay in place.   Always wash it first  and cover your sofa when the slipcover is still damp.  This will help you get rid of any wrinkles.

DIY Decorating TipTo keep a one-piece slipcover from moving and getting un-tucked,  push cardboard tubes into the crevices to hold the extra fabric down.  Here I used a long tube that fabric came on and a tube from a roll of foil.    Both are more rigid than a paper towel tube. You may have to use different size tubes depending on how big your crevices are.

Use paper towel tubes to keep a sliocver from moving on a sofa or chair

Push the tubes back into the crevice as far as they will go.

How to keep a slipcover from moving

P.S.  Two readers shared their tricks on how they keep their slipcovers from sliding all around.

  Heather wraps rubber bands around her tubes.  The rubber helps the fabric from slipping.  Brilliant!

Marie left a comment on my Facebook page that she uses PVC pipe that she got at the Home Depot.   Great idea!

DIY Decorating Tip

To hold pleats in place or any part of the slipcover that won’t stay the way you want it – use twist pins. You can find them at any sewing store or online.  These are clear plastic, but they also come in decorative shapes and finishes that look like nail-heads.

Twist pins wil hold a slipcover in place

You just screw it into the pleat or fabric you want to stay in place.

Slipcover twist pin

Twist pin for slipcovers

Pretty nice and comfy, too – Someone is  liking these new slipcovers from Ugly Sofa.com as much as I do.

tired cat



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  1. I would choose the Loosefit square cushion, probably in natural twill. We have a hand-me-down couch that was left over from the 60’s and I can’t stand looking at it anymore but can’t afford a new one yet. :(

  2. I would choose a Separate Seat Square Cushion Slipcover Large Sofa. Love my large queen sized pulled out bed. Really have wanted something solid colored over the current green-red-gold plaid. We’ve tried a thrift store find, but it scrunched so much I resold it at a yard sale. Like the tacks!

  3. I would get the Loose Fit Square cushion for a small sofa – and then do your trick! I actually have purchased a heavy damask fabric to cover the cushions on my crappy sofa and in the past also covered them with antique damask tablecloths. I am a very good seamstress but when it comes to cushions, I fold the fabric like you would fold wrapping paper over a box and then use big safety pins to hold everything together.

  4. looove this!! i would get the Separate Seat Square Cushion Slipcover Small Sofa!! i need it sooo badly with a small dog that has taken over my couch!!