Saturday, July 14, 2012

Quick and Easy No-Sew Slip Cover

The first piece of "real" furniture that I ever bought was a beautiful ivory colored recliner which I found at a yard sale. It was upholstered with this very "earthy" soft woven cotton (or some other natural fiber) fabric, and I fell in love with it immediately. So for $25 it came home with me.

I knew it was sorta impractical, being white and everything, but I just couldn't help myself. Unfortunately (yet totally predictably) within a few years the cats had made short work of it, reducing it's formerly soft & wonderful upholstery to shreds. Apparently cats like natural fibers too!

For years I tried covering it with various blankets or throws, but it always just looked like a disaster, although Sputnik didn't seem to mind. Here he is over the years, displaying some of his best "lounging in the recliner" poses.

I thought about getting a slip cover for it, but eee gads, the cheapest one I could find cost $50, and I really couldn't justify spending twice as much on the slip cover as I'd spent on the chair itself! Then one day I was folding some fitted sheets and it dawned on me that the fitted part was just the right size and shape to fit over the arm of the chair.

I was inspired and dove in for what I figured would end up being another long, drawn-out and never-finished project, rotting in the land of good intentions (where most of my projects end up.) But somewhere between laziness and ingenuity I struck upon a brilliant solution.

So here's what I did.

I took a set of twin sized bed sheets (the ones I used were old and even had a hole in them... which I strategically situated in a place where it wouldn't show.) I simply cut the fitted sheet in half. If you were feeling energetic, you could hem the cut ends, but since they don't show I never bothered.

Cut fitted sheet in half - Smoky was "helping" with this photo
Then I put the fitted sheet halves over each arm of the chair, with the elastic part tucked in next to the seat cushion. I anchored it by tucking the cut end under the bottom of the chair.

Note the feline "helper" with his tail sticking out

I then took the flat sheet and laid it vertically over the seat, and down the back, anchoring it in back by slipping the corners under the back legs of the chair and allowing the front to hang free so it could still recline. This photo shows it in progress - after laying the sheet out you tuck it in between the seat and arms, and then pull it nicely tight.

Jasper has taken over the "helping" duties
As a final touch, I took two safety pins (one for each chair arm) and snugged up the bits around the arms of the chair, tucking the pins in where they wouldn't show.

Safety pin circled in red - you tuck that part between the seat and arm so it doesn't show

And, voila! A perfectly acceptably if not beautifully slip-covered chair! (Jasper thinks so anyhow.)

It salvaged my favorite chair and actually doesn't look half bad. It stays in place much better than any of my other solutions ever did - I think having separate pieces for the arms and seat helps. Plus it was totally free (got the sheets on FreeCycle for another project that I never finished) and it's a piece of cake to take it off to wash it - which is what I was doing when I got inspired me to write this blog post.

I've been thinking that I might try something similar with the couch and loveseat - probably would need a double or queen sized sheet set for the loveseat and a king size for the couch - but I think it would work. And next time I might use solid colored sheets so it won't be quite so easy to tell if it gets slightly crooked.

So there you have it, the easy-peasy lazy person's DIY slip cover!


  1. I know about cats shredding furniture, unfortunately. Even though the cats usually use their scratching toys, when we bring something new into the house, they scratch it until it is properly marked (i.e. shredded). Then they're back to their scratching post.
    We finally got rid of two chairs that they had shredded (didn't like them as much as you did your chair) and bought wooden kitchen chairs to replace them. We put chair pads in the them and they don't look half bad in our living room. So far, the cats have left them alone.

    I'll keep your sheet cover solution in mind the next time we're trying to spruce up the cat furniture.

    1. If I ever get around to getting new furniture, I'm definitely going for something with un-upholstered legs - and smooth fabric that's un-interesting to cats! Truth is I sorta gave up fighting them about it years ago... it never did any good anyway.

  2. Great idea! I think it turned out well. I also enjoy seeing outside the box thinking and ways to use what's already on hand.

    Now I need to go find a beat up recliner and cute new sheet set to buy. Then I too can use this cool idea in my home. ;)

    Really, I would totally use this idea if I had need for it.

    1. Ha! Now there's a way to take a frugal idea and un-frugalize it! Well, maybe some day you'll need a quick slip cover and now you know how!

    2. Yes, I'm disappointed that you gave away more ideas online for FREE instead of selling them in an e-book, but am glad I now know how to make a quick slipcover just in case I ever have need of one.

  3. The chair looks great! Wondering if I can adapt this to cover the bottom of the bed (solid, fabric covered base with drawers- possibly called a divan?!) which has seen regular attacks from little catty claws... Perhaps this is why you can get fitted frills for beds?!
    Annoyingly, the scratching post (which they do actually use) is just outside the bedroom...

    What is it with cats posing in pictures of crafts? There was a whole thread on Ravelry (knitting and crochet site,) which started with a non-cat owner asking why people insisted on putting cats in photos of finished projects and spoiling the view of the lovely knitting thing... And the cat owning population of the site explaining that it is totally unintentional and that cats magically appear in the presence of crafts and camera...

    1. I'm totally laughing at the cats in pictures thing, because it's totally impossible to take photos that don't have cats in them. They just figure if it's interesting enough for you to want to take a picture of it, they'd better go investigate by golly!

  4. While I truly love the slipcover idea, and the chair looks terrific - Sputnik stole this post. Those pictures - OMG! Those poses, that cattitude is just too, too wonderful. Made me smile. THANKS.

    1. Sputnik is the lounge-cat extraordinaire! Glad you enjoyed his poses.

  5. Your post made me smile. I'm so glad to see someone else has a chair like that! Sputnik is beautiful...want to give him away?? In fact all your kitties are pretty!

    We found that the kitties don't like ultra suede furniture to scratch. Cat hair also wipes right off.

    1. I'm not sure what ultra suede is, but I'll certainly keep it in mind!

      Sputnik is a real sweetheart of a kitty. He's 15 now, but still as big a clown as ever, and his little brothers keep him from getting too lazy!

  6. Just chiming in to agree that Sputnik is one cute kitteh! I love his lounging poses.

  7. Our couch cover is always falling off. It starts off beautifully upright, fully tucked, but by mid-week has become little more than a slovenly sheet. I was hesitant to spend the money on a stretchy cover...maybe I'll try the DIY path and see what I end up with! Thanks for the idea.

  8. Yay! I have an old green chair. Old... sort of olive '70s color. I love it. But I want a red chair now. And I have a great piece of red velvet like fabric just sitting there waiting for me to do something with it. I am looking forward to a great red velvet chair! Thank you!

  9. Our fur babies keep life interesting. Thanks for sharing pictures with your kitties in them.


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