Learn how to make a slipcover that truly fits your furniture and looks beautiful! Pin fitting a slipcover right side out is easy and intuitive, perfect for beginners.
In this tutorial, I share simple, step-by-step instructions that will have you making a better fitting custom cover in no time.
Over the years, I’ve practiced many different methods for making custom-fit slipcovers.
I’ve tried pinning fabric reverse side out with and without welt cord. I’ve traced off furniture with a pencil and paper. I’ve made muslin patterns. And, I’ve used the half pattern technique.
It’s been quite an education!
But, I have to say, I always come back to the right side out pin fit method. It’s what I use for my personal slipcover projects and my client jobs with excellent results.
What Is The Right Side Out Pin Fit Method?
The process goes like this:
Pin and cut the slipcover on your furniture with the right side of the fabric facing out.
Trim and notch all of the seam allowances.
Then, remove the slipcover, unpin it and sew the sections together in a specific order.
Why Is This Pin Fit Method Easy?
No guesswork. Pinning fabric right side out allows to you capture the furniture’s right and left side just as they are. There is no confusion about how the slipcover will look and fit after it’s sewn.
Simple. Pin fitting right side out omits extra work. There’s no pattern making. And, no sandwiching welt cord in the seams as you pin. FYI — You can opt to add welt cord later when you sew the slipcover pieces together.
Versatile. Pinning right side out gives you a choice to work with your actual slipcover fabric, or a fabric like natural canvas if you want to make a reusable slipcover pattern.
Intuitive. A slipcover that is pinned right side out gives you precut, ready-to-sew pieces. Stitching them together in an easy-to-follow sequence comes naturally for beginners who are familiar with sewing projects cut from paper patterns.
Tutorial Part 1 – Pin & Cut the Slipcover
This tutorial is Part 1 of a 4 part series. You will learn pin fit basics — the six steps I use to pin fit the slipcover body using the right side out method.
I demonstrate the process on this English rolled armchair. It makes a great teaching chair because it’s loaded with classic design features, many of which are similar to other types of chairs.
The pin fit techniques you learn in this tutorial can be applied to your own slipcover project.
Pin Fit Prep List
Before you start pin fitting, you will need to prep your project. Download these helpful guides to get started:
- Calculate yardage
- Gather up supplies
- Preshrink your yardage
- Cut fabric blocks
- Optional – If your chair has a English rolled arm, pin a string on it to mark the arm seam placement.
OK, now on with the tutorial!
Step 1: Pin & Cut the Deck
I always start my slipcover projects by pinning the deck.
Think of the deck as the foundation of your slipcover. It holds the seat cushion and it’s where you create tuck-ins to help keep the slipcover in place. It’s also where the inner arms and inner back attach.
A good fitting deck will not only enhance the function of your slipcover but also make it easier to fit the inner slipcover sections and the skirt.
In this first slideshow, I show you how I pin and cut the T-shape deck.
Are you new to creating deck tuck-ins? Here’s what you need to know:
- A tuck-in is an extension of the deck fabric. It holds the slipcover in place.
- It tucks into the snug space between the deck and the inner arms and inner back.
- The tuck-in width should equal the tuck-in depth. Stick a ruler down into the tuck-in space to measure the depth.
Deck completed! This is what the T-shape deck looks like after it’s pinned and cut.
Step 2: Pin & Cut Inner Back
After the deck is in place, I pin and cut the inner back.
This armchair doesn’t have a loose back cushion. Instead, it’s designed with a rounded tight back, which needs tuck-ins at the upper inner arms and lower back to help hold it in place.
Follow this slideshow to learn the key steps for pinning the inner back.
Inner back completed! This is what the inner back looks like after it’s pinned and cut with the tuck-ins and upper arm seam allowance.
Step 3: Pin & Cut Inner Arms
Next, I pin fit the inner arms.
When this area of the chair is pinned and cut correctly, the rest of the slipcover pieces pin and fit together easily.
Because my English rolled arm chair has a sloped arm and a tight back, the inner arms require tuck-ins.
Have a look at this slideshow to see how I pinned the inner arms of my slipcover.
It usually takes a few attempts to position the fabric just right on an English rolled inner arm. Don’t be surprised if you have to shift your fabric piece at a slight angle to capture the entire inner arm and to get a smooth fit.
As you adjust the placement, make sure it:
- Covers the entire arm length
- Extends beyond the outer arm seam
- Allows for tuck-ins at upper inner arm and lower arm
- Wraps around the front arm to form pleats
Inner arms completed! This is what the inner arm looks like after it’s cut and pinned with tuck-ins.
Repeat the pin and cut process for the opposite inner arm.
Step 4: Pin, Cut & Pleat Front Arms
Now, it’s time to fit the front arms, which includes pinning the English rolled arm pleats.
I pinned right side out so that means I placed the pleat folds facing forward on the arm. This is exactly how the pleats will look after I sew the slipcover. Easy-peasy!
Check out this slideshow for the step-by-step.
Pleats on an English rolled arm usually look best when they are spaced equal distance apart. And, when the pleats are positioned in the same spot on both the right and left arms.
Pleat depth may vary but typically the fullest pleat is the center one.
Front arm completed! This is what the arm looks like after it’s pinned, cut and pleated.
Repeat the pin fit process for the opposite front arm.
Step 5: Pin & Cut the Outer Arm
It’s time to pin fit the outer arm. And, it only takes three simple steps!
Pinning the outer arm on this English rolled arm chair was a breeze. It’s one flat piece that connects to the inner arm with a single seam.
Here’s how I pinned it.
When you pin the outer arm seam all in one direction, it’s easy to pull the fabric too much to the right or left without knowing it. That’s what creates unwanted diagonal lines across the side.
To keep the fabric hanging straight and smooth, pin the seam directional. Start pinning the seam at the center. Pin towards the back first. The, pin towards the front and down the arm.
Outer arm completed! This is what the outer arms looks like after it’s pinned, cut, and seam allowance trimmed to 3/4 inch.
See how the fabric extends past the back corner and below the skirt line by at least a couple of inches? That’s what you want.
The extra fabric gives you plenty to work with when pinning the back seam and marking the skirt placement.
Repeat the process for the opposite arm.
Step 6: Pin & Cut the Back
This is the final step for pinning this English rolled arm chair slipcover!
The back on this chair is a simple one piece. I start by pinning it along the top, capturing the contoured shape as I go.
Then, I finish by pinning it to the inner arms at the back corners.
Click through this slideshow to see how it’s done.
It’s common to fit the back too tight. When that happens, the fabric pulls across chair and puts strain the corner seams, and the zipper, if your slipcover has one.
To avoid this problem, I add ease to the corner seams as I pin. Here’s how:
- Start pinning the seam from the top and work down.
- Place your pins 1/4 inch away from the corner as you begin to pin.
- Slowly increase the ease in tiny bits as you pin down the seam.
- Increase the ease to 1/2 inch as you reach the bottom of the seam where it meets the skirt line.
Back completed! This is what the back looks like after it’s pinned and cut with seam allowances trimmed to 3/4 inch.
After your pin fitting is completed, you are ready for Part 2 of this 4 part series. It’s all about prepping your pin fitted slipcover for sewing. You’ll learn:
- How to mark and cut the skirt line and add notches to the seam allowances.
- Remove the slipcover from the chair while it’s still pinned.
- Unpin the slipcover on the table and label the pieces. Yep, that’s right! The entire slipcover gets taken apart for easy sewing.
Then, in Part 3, you will learn how to to sew the slipcover pieces together.
And, in Part 4 I will share how to make the tailored skirt and the box cushion cover.
I love that you want to learn how to make a good fitting slipcover! Imagine your worn & loved furniture finally looking new again, and without spending a fortune!