Sewing a Slipcover for an Ottoman - dummies

By Mark Montano, Carly Sommerstein

Many people have an old ottoman sitting around in their den or living room for its great function, but often, that same (boring) ottoman wouldn’t win a design award. No need to throw it away and buy a new one. Try this easy ottoman project to “upgrade” an older ottoman; it’s a great opportunity to add a bit of color, texture, or both, to your room’s decor.

This project covers a square or rectangular ottoman. No matter if your ottoman sits right on the floor or has little legs, this design covers the entire ottoman, from the seat top down to the floor. (You could easily shorten the length measurement if you want to show off your ottoman’s gorgeous legs!)

Figuring fabric and trim

To create this ottoman slipcover, use a large square or rectangular piece of fabric. To get the right measurement to cover your ottoman, place your measuring tape on the floor at the bottom of the ottoman and measure the width from floor to floor; that is, up and over the top of the ottoman from one side to the other. Repeat this measurement with the length. After that, add 1 inch to each measurement and convert the inches of your larger measurement to yards.

For example, say your ottoman is 44 inches wide and 50 inches long. When you add an inch to each measurement for seam allowance, you end up with 45 x 51 inches. Converting 51 inches to yards, you’ll require 1-1/2 yards of fabric that is either 45 or 60 inches wide.

An ottoman begs for a bit of embellishment along the bottom, like a great decorative fringe, so try it out! Bullion fringe is a great look, or try a fun ball fringe for a playful, less formal effect. To determine how much trim you need, measure the ottoman’s circumference, measuring at the lower edge of the ottoman, and add an extra inch or two.

Going for your supplies

To start your ottoman upgrade, gather these items:

  • Approximately 2 yards of fabric. (For exact measurements for your ottoman, refer to the previous section.)
  • Approximately 3 yards of decorative trim (You may need more or less trim based on your ottoman’s size.)
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine with appropriate color heavy-duty thread
  • Straight pins

Creating your ottoman slipcover

When making your slipcover, follow these simple steps:

1. Iron all your fabric well, so it’s flat and smooth when you’re ready to cut it.

2. Lay the fabric evenly over the ottoman, with the right side facing down.

3. Using your straight pins, pin the sides together at each corner to create four flaps of fabric, as shown in Figure 1).

Pinning and cutting the corners of the fabric.

Figure 1: Pinning and cutting the corners.

4. With your scissors, trim the four corners so that you have a 1-inch seam allowance, also shown in Figure 1.

Be sure to measure the inch seam allowance, starting from the straight line the straight pins form.

5. Remove the fabric from the ottoman, prepare your sewing machine with heavy-duty thread, and sew your seams along the line formed by the pins, removing them as you sew.

6. Turn the fabric right side out and test it on the ottoman to check the fit.

7. If you’re planning to use decorative trim, measure the bottom of the slipcover all the way around its circumference to determine the amount need.

8. Create a hem at the bottom of your slipcover by turning your fabric under a 1/2-inch and stitching with your sewing machine.

If you prefer to add decorative trim, you don’t need to hem the bottom. Just add it around the circumference of the slipcover fabric, either by sewing, using iron-on bonding tape, or hot glue from a glue gun. If you’re using a longer fringe, be sure to pin it in place a bit higher so that it doesn’t puddle onto the floor.