How to slipcover a recliner

Updated April 13, 2018

Instantly add new life to your old recliner with a slipcover. Most manufactured slipcovers are made from washable easy-care fabrics. Because a recliner has moving sections, a good fit is essential. For the best fit, measure carefully and choose a stretchy slipcover made for the style of recliner you have.

Measure the back of your recliner from the top to the bottom of the frame with the recliner in the upright position. Measure the chair width from armrest to armrest at the widest point. If the chair has an attached footrest, recline the recliner fully and measure from the top of the chair to the bottom of the extended footrest. An attached footrest is one that has connecting upholstery fabric between the chair seat and the footrest. Use the measurements to find the correct size of slipcover.

Note construction details about your recliner, such as if there is a release handle and which side it is on. A two-piece recliner slipcover consists of one piece that covers the back, seat and armrests, and a second piece that covers the footrest. Three-piece slipcovers have an additional cover for a loose back cushion.

Vacuum your recliner, making sure to clean out all the crevices. Use a steam-type cleaner if one is available. Remove loose armrest covers before putting the slipcover on the chair.

Place the recliner in the upright position and fit the slipcover over the back, seat and sides of the chair. Tuck extra fabric into the crevices in the chair. If the slipcover has tie adjustments, recline the chair to its greatest length and snug the ties around the chair. Fit the footrest cover while it is in the raised position.

Check the operation of the chair. The slipcover should be close fitting so that no loose fabric interferes with the operation of the mechanisms. Pin loose fabric at the back of the chair or underneath the chair to keep it out of the way.


Wing chair recliners, one-armed recliners that are part of a sectional, and other speciality recliners may require custom slipcovers.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring device
  • Manufactured recliner slipcover
  • Steam cleaner or vacuum
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About the Author

Fern Fischer's print and online work has appeared in publications such as Midwest Gardening, Dolls, Workbasket, Quilts for Today and Cooking Fresh. With a broader focus on organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles, she specializes in topics involving antique and modern quilting, sewing and needlework techniques.