Slipcover Tips for Wingback Telephone Arms

Do you want to make a slipcover for your wingback chair but you’re not sure how to pin-fit the “telephone” arms? Learn how to simplify the shape and pin the fabric flat and smooth with these 3 tips.

Vintage floral wingback chair with telephone-shaped arms.

I walked through my local ReStore last week and couldn’t resist taking a photo of this striking vintage wingback chair.

Look at those front arms! Slipcover makers refer to the curvy design as telephone arms because they resemble a handset from an early rotary phone.

This unique arm can be a bit tricky to pin-fit your first time. Pinning the fabric to lay flat on the scooped area and placing the seam in just the right place around the curves might take a few attempts. But with a little practice, you will get the hang of it.

Want to give it a try? In today’s post, I share 3 slipcover tips for creating telephone arms that look and fit great.

Close-up of telephone arm on a wingback chair.

1. Create one-piece front arms.

Simplify the original front arm design. No tucks, no center insert. Instead, pin your slipcover with flat, one-piece front arms that are shaped to fit the telephone curves.

2. Determine the best seam placement.

If the upholstered seams won’t work as a guide for your slipcover seams, change the placement!

For example, to make one-piece front arms for this chair, I would use chalk or a string marker to create a new seam placement around the arm’s rolled outer edge. See my sketch in the image above.

I would also adjust the outer arm seam placement to sit on the lower outer arm, not under the arm roll. This will make it much easier to pin the seam. And, I would move the vertical inner arm seam towards the front to align with the deck join seam. See my sketch in the image below.

Slipcover seam placement on wingback chair.

3. Trim with welt cord.

Welt cord is the perfect trim for a wingback slipcover. It not only serves as a professional-looking finish but also helps stabilize the curvy telephone shape as you sew the front arm to the inner/outer arm section.

I like using this 5/32 size medium firm welt cord.

Cotton linen slipcovered wingback chair with telephone arms.
Slipcovers by Shelley grey cotton-linen custom cover.

Now that you’re equipped with pin-fit tips, I thought it would be fun to look at four inspiring wingback slipcovers with telephone arms custom made by Shelley Anderson.

Houndstooth slipcovered wingback chair.
Slipcovers by Shelley houndstooth wingback custom cover.

Take a look at the arm seam placements on Shelley’s slipcovers. They vary from chair to chair and that’s perfectly OK. Your telephone arm shape and overall slipcover design will dictate where to place your seams.

Stripe slipcovered wingback chair.
Slipcovers by Shelley stripe wingback custom cover.

You can see how nicely the welt cord defines the shape of the flat, one-piece telephone arms.

White denim slipcovered wingback chair.
Slipcovers by Shelley white denim wingback cover.

Also, do you notice the telephone arm pieces are not pinned too tight? That’s what you want especially if you’re making a washable slipcover with natural fiber fabric. The extra bit of ease allows the seam to lay smooth and relaxed around the tight curves.

Thanks for reading! Until next time, have fun slipcovering! –Karen


    1. This is a huge help.
      We have a wing chair with these type of arms and I was never sure how to do the arms. Now I do. Thanks so much for sharing.

  1. Loving all your tips! Do you have any information on slipcovers for a chair with a bustle back?

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