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Chic Slipcover Makes An Old Ottoman New-And Cool-Again

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Put your feet up and ponder this age-old question: what's the difference between a footstool and an ottoman? Besides the fact that an ottoman sounds way fancier than a footstool, the only real differences are: 1) an ottoman is always upholstered (footstools needn't be), and 2) sometimes an ottoman has another job: large ones fill in as coffee tables and hollow ones can open up and act as storage boxes. Our ottoman was a favorite kitty perch and had definitely seen better days. Why buy new when you can make a simple cover? Sew4Home sewing to the rescue!

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Before: kitty-ravaged ottoman in need of rescue.

This project is a bit more advanced, but as usual, we've included detailed step-by-step instructions and lots of photos. Don't be deterred! But do read all the way through the steps a couple of times so you have a clear picture of what's to come. Then ... give your favorite ottoman a new lease on life.

Crisp white cotton duck is paired with striking Joel Dewberry Sunflower accents to give our ottoman a bright and cheerful look. Mix and match to best fit your environment; you could even make a number of covers and change them out for each season. Joel Dewberry, a Free Spirit designer, is a favorite of ours here at S4H. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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Yardages shown are for our sample ottoman which is: 30½" x 25" x 16". You might need more or less fabric based on your ottoman. We show you how to measure and figure out your cuts below.

  • 2 yards of 44-45" wide fabric for the patterned accents: we used Joel Dewberry's Sunflower in Sunglow from Free Spirit Fabrics
    NOTE: We have accounted for the extra fabric needed to fussy cut the design
  • 2½ yds of 54-56" wide fabric in a decorator weight for the main body of the ottoman: we used heavy cotton duck in a natural white
  • 6½ yds of ¼" cording
  • All purpose thread in matching colors to your fabrics
  • Rotary cutter and cutting board: 24" x 30" minimum size suggested
  • Quilter's ruler: 24" minimum length suggested
  • Tape measure
  • Fabric pencil or marking pen
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Iron and ironing board

Getting Started

Squaring the fabric

  1. We recommend using a cutting board and rotary cutter for the large fabric pieces that make up the body of the ottoman (white cotton duck in our sample) . The 1" grid on the cutting board helps with accurate measurements and cuts, and keeps the pieces square.
  2. Start by folding your fabric lengthwise, matching the selvages. Fold lengthwise again, matching the selvages to the fold of the fabric.
  3. Line up the fabric by placing the selvage/folded edge along a gridline. Use a ruler and rotary cutter to ‘square off' the end.
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  4. You'll measure and cut the pieces for the ottoman, starting from this squared end.

Measuring and cutting the body fabric

  1. With a tape measure, measure the width, length and height of the ottoman. Note these measurements. As we mentioned above, measurements used below are for our sample ottoman. Adjust accordingly to match the size of your ottoman.
  2. Measure the ottoman top, and add ¾" to the width and length. For our 30½" x 25" ottoman top, we need a piece 31¼" x 25¾".
  3. Cut one 31¼" x 25¾" rectangle from ottoman body fabric (white cotton duck in our sample) .
    NOTE: Our lightweight cotton print is not a suitable weight for a wash-and-wear ottoman slipcover. By adding a layer of heavy cotton duck behind the cotton print accent panels, we add weight and durability.
  4. For the 6" SIDE accent panels, add ¾" to the width and 1" to the length (this 1" is for the two ½" seam allowances). For our 30½" x 25" ottoman, we need need a piece 31¼" x 7".
  5. Cut two 31¼" x 7" rectangles from ottoman body fabric.
  6. For the 6" END accent panels, add ¾" to the width and 1" to the length (this 1" is for the two ½" seam allowances). For our 30½" x 25" ottoman, we need need a piece 25¾" x 7".
  7. Cut two 25¾" x 7" rectangles from ottoman body fabric.
  8. For the SIDE skirts, subtract 6" from the height (to account for the accent panel) and add ½" for a seam allowance between the accent panel and the skirt plus 1" for the hem. For our 16" ottoman height, the skirt's length measurement will be 11½" (16" - 6" + ½" + 1"). Add ¾" to the side width of the ottoman for the skirt's width. For our 30½" x 25" ottoman, that measurement will be 31¼".
  9. Cut two 31¼" x 11½" rectangles from the ottoman body fabric.
  10. For the END skirts, subtract 6" from the height (to account for the accent panel) and add ½" for a seam allowance between the accent panel and the skirt plus 1" for the hem. For our 16" ottoman height, the skirt's length measurement will be 11½" (16" - 6" + ½" + 1"). Add ¾" to the end width of the ottoman for the skirt's width. For our 30½" x 25" ottoman, that measurement will be 25¾".
  11. Cut two 25¾" x 11½" rectangles from the ottoman body fabric.

Measuring and cutting the accent fabric

  1. From the patterned accent fabric (Sunflower in Sunglow in our sample) , fussy cut four 10½" strips across the width of the fabric, centering the sunflowers.
  2. From these four strips, cut two pieces 25¾" long each (the width of the ottoman + ¾") and two pieces 31¾" long each (the length of the ottoman + ¾"), keeping the sunflowers centered.
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  3. Place each of these four pieces on the cutting board one at a time.
  4. Measure and cut 1¾" from EACH long side. These strips will become the piping for the ottoman.
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    NOTE: By cutting the decorative panels oversized and then trimming away the strips for the piping, we guarantee that the patterns align when the piping is added during the assembly process.
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  5. From the remaining accent fabric, fussy cut four 13" x 11½" rectangles for the pleats at each corner of the skirt. For our fussy cut, we made sure we had a sunflower positioned in the center of each rectangle.

At Your Sewing Machine

Create the accent panel loop

  1. Pair up each body panel (the white cotton duck in our sample) with its matching accent panel (the Sunflower Sunglow in our sample). You should have two side sets and two end sets.
  2. Machine baste each set together, using a long stitch length and staying within the ½" seam allowance.
  3. Pin one basted side panel to one basted end panel along the short side (the 7" side in our sample).
  4. Sew, right sides together, using a ½" seam allowance. Make sure the print fabric is running the same direction.
  5. Repeat to join the other basted side panel and basted end panel.
  6. Sew these two pairs together along each short side (7" in our sample), right sides together and using a ½" seam allowance, to create one big loop. Again, make sure the print fabric runs the same direction all the way around.

Create and attach the piping

  1. Gather all eight 1¾" strips and break into two sets (each set should contain two longer side strips and two shorter end strips).
  2. Pin each set of four strips together, end to end, alternating short and long strips. Match them up, right sides together along the 1¾" sides, making sure your print is running the same direction.
  3. Stitch all short seams of each set, using a ½" seam allowance. Press all seams open.
  4. You now have two long strips of piping fabric. One for the upper edge of the accent panel and one for the lower edge.
  5. Attach an adjustable zipper foot to your machine. Slide the foot just to the right of the needle, and tighten the screw.
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  6. Cut your ¼" cording in half.
  7. Starting at a seam in one piping strip, place one length of cording inside the strip, matching the raw edges of the fabric (wrong sides together) so the fabric wraps around and encloses the cording in the center of the strip.
  8. Using a long stitch length, machine baste close to the cording, all the while keeping the raw edges lined up. End your machine basting about 4" from where you started.
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  9. Remove your piping from your machine.
  10. Trim the cording so the ends are flush at the seam. Hand stitch the ends together.
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  11. Take the piping back to you machine, re-wrap the cording to enclose the joined ends, and finish your seam, matching your original machine basting lines.
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  12. Repeat with the other piping strip and the other length of cording.
  13. If you are new to piping, take a look at our tutorial: How To Make And Attach Your Own Piping.
    NOTE: We love specialty feet here at Sew4Home, because we're firm believers in the right tool for the job. So, if possible, look for a piping foot to fit your machine. This type of foot has a groove on the underside that positions the cording for you, making it easier to keep a close, consistent ½" seam.
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  14. Pin one finished piping piece to the top of the accent panel, and the other finished piping piece to the bottom of the accent panel. Remember how you cut the piping strips from the actual panel strips to start? That means now you can carefully, and perfectly, match up the pattern and you pin your piping in place.
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  15. Stitch both piping strips to the accent panel, using a long stitch length and a ½" seam allowance.

Create the skirt with its pleat panels

  1. Here's what's happening at each pleated corner:
  2. Attach a regular sewing foot to your sewing machine.
  3. Pin one 13" x 11½" pleat panel to each of the four skirt pieces, two side skirts and two end skirts. Make sure each pleat panel is facing the same direction!
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    Correct position for the sunflowers.
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    Not correct! One of the sunflower panels in upside down.
  4. Stitch each set together, using a ½" seam allowance. Press the seams toward the body fabric (white cotton duck in our sample) .
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  5. Pin one skirt END panel set to one skirt SIDE panel set, matching print fabric to body fabric, right sides together.
  6. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance.
  7. Repeat to attach the other skirt end panel set and skirt side set.
  8. Finally, pin together these two four-section units end-to-end, again matching body fabric to pattern fabric, to make one continuous circle. In other words, you should be alternating a body fabric piece and a pattern fabric piece all the way around.
  9. Press seams toward the body fabric.

Create each pleat

  1. At each seam, fold the skirt in to the center of the pleat panel.
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    One side folded in.
  2. The two folds should meet in the exact middle of your pleat panel.
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    Both sides folded in to meet in the middle.
  3. Pin in place, hand or machine baste in within the ½" seam allowance. Press.
  4. Attach an adjustable zipper foot or piping foot to your machine.
  5. Pin the skirt to the bottom edge of the piped panel, right sides together, matching pleat centers to seams. The photo below shows what I mean about the matching seam to pleat, however, I flipped the panel over so you could see it better; you'll really be working right sides together.
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  6. Take the project to your machine. Work with the panel on top and the skirt on the bottom. This way you can follow your previous seam line of piping basting. You should stitch all the way around, staying as close as possible to this previous line of stitching. Press the seam toward the panel.
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Attach the finished skirt/accent panel to the top piece

  1. On the ottoman top panel piece (31¼" x 25¾" in our sample) , measure ½" in from each side of each corner and mark with a pin.
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  2. With right sides together, match each side of the skirt to the side of the ottoman top, placing a seam at each pin mark. Pin securely.
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  3. Your adjustable zipper foot or piping foot should still be on your machine.
  4. Work with the accent panel/skirt on top and the top panel on the bottom. As above in step 6, this allows you to follow your previous seam line of piping basting.
  5. Stitch from the seam to the seam, staying as close as possible to this previous line of stitching. Back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam.
  6. Clip the seam allowance right at the seam. This allows the corner to form when turned right side out.
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  7. Stitch to the next seam in the same manner. Continue until all four sides are sewn.
  8. Press the seam towards the panel (away from the ottoman top).
  9. Flip everything right side out and pull the completed cover over the ottoman.The fit should be snug.
  10. Mark the hem. If your original measurements are correct, you should have about an inch to work with for a simple double-turn hem. However, it's a good idea to put the cover on and mark the length again, adjusting up or down as needed so the bottom edge will hit exactly where you want it.
  11. Remove the cover and create a simple double-turn hem. For our cover, we folded up the raw edge ½", pressed it, then folded up an another ½", and pressed again, creating a 1" double-turn hem. Pin in place.
  12. Topstitch close to the fold all around the bottom of the cover.
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    Do you LOVE these pleats? We do.

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler


Comments (19)

hotisthis1 said:
hotisthis1's picture

Just wondering how you calculated the 4 accent pleat pieces to get 13"?  I understand  where the 11 1/2" cn't ame from. Beautiful work.  I am not so sure I am ready to tackle piping yet.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@hotisthis1 - if you are new to pleats and how they are constructed, take a look at our full tutorial on box pleats (link below) - that will help you wrap your brain around how the measurements are figured. In addition, look within the instructions at the drawing of the inset; it shows how much fabric is taken up along the back and both sides of the pleat - to this, add your seam allowance on either side. http://www.sew4home.com/tips-resources/sewing-tips-tricks/how-make-box-p...

Margo McCarthy said:
Margo McCarthy's picture

Love the look of this ottoman cover. But I want to make it in one fabric and with pre-made piping. Can you give measurements for this? Would really appreciate it!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@ Margo - We're sorry, but we are unable to create revisions to our patterns or projects for size or usage variations. It's a challenge to change dimensions long-distance, especially without access to the item and/or person for whom the project is being adjusted. We would feel awful if we gave you inaccurate advice that caused your finished project to turn out less than successful. Our standard recommendation is to do the math to make adjustments and scale the original dimensions up or down. Then use these new measurements to make a prototype out of a muslin or another inexpensive fabric you have on hand. 

Erin DuBroc said:
Erin DuBroc's picture

Do you have a tutorial for a lined ottoman slipcover?  I'm sure I'm making this harder than it needs to be, but I want to make sure I do it correctly.  Thanks!  emdubroc AT gmail DOT com. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@ Erin DuBroc - we do not have specific lined ottoman tutorial. However, the center accent panel on this version is backed as are the pleated sections, so it is very nicely finished even without a full lining. 

Laila said:
Laila's picture

This is great.  I wanted to cover my ottoman for ages.  But, what is a "fuzzy cut"??

Laila said:
Laila's picture

I just found out in the glossary section about fuzzy cuts!  Thanks for the tutorial!!

e-mikrodimiourgies.blogspot.com said:
e-mikrodimiourgies.blogspot.com's picture
your site is amazing. thank you for all these greats ideas!
D ya said:
D ya's picture
Fantastic. I wish I had found this site sooner, great tuts.
I have a footstool just like that, only it's square. It's looking so tired and is begging for a new cover. Gues what I'll be making? (Hopefully before Christmas LOL)
Thank you. I've putthis site in my google reader (couldn't find a 'be a follower here??) so I won't miss any new tutorials and tips.
sookay said:
sookay's picture
Great timing! This is a project I've been thinking I could figure out on my own but a little hand holding is always appreciated. Thanks.