How do you make a slip cover for a wingback chair?

Updated November 21, 2016

People choose to slipcover their furniture for a variety of reasons. Furniture could be outdated, stained, damaged in some superficial way, or just plain boring. Replacing or reupholstering your furnishings is expensive, but making slipcovers for something like a wingback chair can seem too complex. Fear not. Making a cover for a wingback chair is no more complicated than making one for any other type of furniture. It is an affordable way to breathe life into old furnishings and you don’t even need a sewing machine. With fabric, pins and patience you can kiss your ugly chairs goodbye while adding style to your home and extending the life of the furniture you already own.

Determine how much fabric you’ll need by measuring the chair. Remove the seat cushion. Using a flexible measuring tape, measure the chair from the floor, up and over the space created by removing the cushion, to the top of the chair and then down to the floor on the other side. Write this number down. Add 6 inches to it and multiply the sum by 2. Then measure the width of the chair, going over the arms and across the space created by removing the seat cushion, making sure the tape measure touches the floor on both sides. Write this measurement down, add 6 inches to it and multiply by 4. Add the two numbers together and divide by 36. This will give you the number of yards of material you will need for the chair.

Measure the cushion. Multiply length x width x height. Divide the total number of inches by 36. This will give you the yardage needed for the second piece of fabric, which will be used to cover the cushion.

With the cushion removed, drape the large piece of fabric evenly over the chair.

Pull and tuck the fabric until it is tightly tucked into the clefts of the chair. Begin with the seat, then move on to the arms and then the back. As each section of fabric is stretched tight, use the pins to hold it in place, attaching the material in unobtrusive places, such as under the fabric folds or on the underside of the chair frame.

If using T-pins, push with the pin through the material and the cushion with your thumb, but not all the way. When the pin is three-quarters of the way inserted, flip the T and push the pin, changing from a right angle to a diagonal.

Use upholstery twist pins along the arms of the chair. Pull, fold and tuck the material until you are happy with the look, then pin on the underside of the arm, where no one will see.

Smooth the fabric over the top of the back of the chair. Form box pleats by hand and fasten them with safety pins or T-pins. Once the material is securely in place, you can cover the pins with decorative buttons or ribbons.

Wrap the cushion in the smaller piece of material. Use T-pins to hold the material in place. Place the cushion on the chair.


Flat sheets are an affordable source of material for slipcovers. Fabric outlets often offer fabric remnants that are suitable for this type of project. Use any leftover pieces of fabric to make small throw pillows.

Things You'll Need

  • A wingback chair with a removable seat cushion
  • Measuring tape
  • Decorative, durable fabric
  • Scissors
  • Upholstery twist pins
  • T-pins
  • Safety pins
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About the Author

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.