How to make arm covers for my sofa

Sofas are the workhorse of the living room, and if you have children, the arms of your sofas can take a beating. Protecting the fabric on your sofa arm and creating a cover that can be laundered and kept clean is easy. By creating arm covers when your sofa is new, it's possible to prevent stains and extend the life of this expensive furniture piece.

Select a fabric that complements your sofa. Some furniture manufacturers sell extra yardage of your sofa's fabric, so you may be able to match the fabric exactly. Launder your fabric to shrink it before making your arm covers.

Drape 45 to 60 cm (18 to 24) inches of fabric over the arm of the sofa, face down. The fabric should extend beyond the end of the arm by at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) and reach the cushion area. Some covers can tuck between the cushion and the arm to help hold the cover in place. Other couch styles require that the cover reaches just to the edge of the cushion.

Determine the amount of fabric you want to fall on the inside of the arm and on the outside of the arm. The amount should be even when you look at it from the front of your couch. Allow for 2.5 (1 inch) hems, and cut the fabric.

Position a small piece of fabric facedown at the end of the arm. This piece should be 2.5 cm (1 inch) wider than the width of the arm, and 2.5 cm (1 inch) longer than the draped sides.

Pin around the shape of the sofa arm to the draped fabric. Follow the shape of the sofa for a clean appearance. Allow for the seam to be 1.3 cm (1/2 inch). The end fabric should be long enough to accommodate the length of the draped fabric.

Observe the pinned cover form, and trim along the bottom of the cover to make the cover even.

Unpin the slipcover, and place the pieces with face sides together on your remaining fabric so you can make a mirror copy for the other sofa arm. Cut out these pieces, and place them to the side.

Repin the slipcover with facing fabric together, and sew the end of the arm section using a 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) seam. Fold the bottom edge of the fabric under 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) and then fold it under a second time. This will turn any fraying edge inside the hem. Sew the doubled hem around the entire slipcover. Repeat with the second slipcover.

Iron the seams and sofa arm slipcovers.


If you would like to create a pattern of your slipcover on paper, in case you have a matching two-seater or want to make seasonal covers, simply trace the pattern onto a brown paper bag before you sew the covers together.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and ironing board
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About the Author

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.