If you’ve got a boring old ottoman hanging around, or if, like me, if you happen to find one of those plain cubes on sale, it’s easy to recover with a custom slip cover. This is another fantastic way to bring some fun textiles into a room with a project that you can sew in an afternoon or less. (I swear!)
This slip cover uses only basic straight seams, and I’ll show you the trick for getting nice, sharp 3-D corners. So let’s get started! –Brett Bara
*click here for more of brett’s sewing 101 columns!
CLICK HERE for the full ottoman slip cover how-to after the jump!
What You’ll Need
1-2 yards fabric, depending on the size of your ottoman
Sewing thread to match
Iron and ironing board
Selecting and Preparing Fabric
A heavier-weight fabric is great for this project since you’ll want it to be sturdy enough to stand up to some wear and tear. Heavy cotton, canvas or duck cloth are all great choices, as are many upholstery fabrics. If you have kids or pets or otherwise expect your ottoman to need to be laundered regularly, you might want to choose a machine-washable option. As always, I recommend beginners start with smooth-textured fabrics, so avoid any options with a lot of texture until you’re comfortable with sewing.
I’m using Butterfly Jubilee from Mod Green Pod, which is a heavy cotton.
If your fabric is machine-washable, wash, dry and iron it before beginning.
Measuring and Cutting
Measure the ottoman from edge to edge, and note the size of the top and sides.
To the top piece: add ¾” to the height and width. So if the ottoman top measures 14” square, you need to cut 1 piece of fabric that’s 14 ¾” square.
To each side piece: add ¾” to the width and 1 ½” to the length. So if each side of the ottoman measures 14” square, you need to cut 4 pieces of fabric that are 14 ¾” by 15 ½”. (As you proceed, be sure to sew the side pieces so that the longer sides are vertical; the extra length is for the hem.)
*Note: these instructions call for a ½” seam allowance, yet I’ve instructed you to cut each piece ¾” larger than actual size (normally you’d cut each piece 1” larger than actual size, to allow for the ½” seam allowance on both edges). But because you want the slip cover to be snug, we’re decreasing the normal 1” extra to ¾”, for just a smidge of negative ease.
Time to Start Sewing
Place two side panel pieces right sides together, with longer edges aligned. (You will be sewing along the longer edges.) Remember to check to be sure your fabric pattern print is facing in the right direction so that your print won’t be upside-down!
The trick of this project is that you want nice, neat corners on your slip cover. To accomplish this, leave ½” unsewn at the top of the seam. Measure ½” from the top edge of the fabric and place a pin to mark the spot. Continue to pin the two pieces together along the entire edge you will be sewing.
Begin sewing at the first pin with a ½” seam allowance. (Again, leaving that first ½” open). Backstitch to reinforce at the beginning and end of this and all seams for this project, and continue sewing all the way to the edge of the fabric.
This is what it will look like with the open ½” at the top of the seam.
Sew all four side pieces together in this manner, forming a tube. Iron all seams open and flat.
Slip the tube over the ottoman to make sure it fits well. If it’s not snug enough, make note of how much smaller it needs to be, and redo the seams where necessary. It it’s too snug, you can let out seams.
Now it’s time to add the top piece. Align one edge of the top with the edge of one of the sides. To get nice, neat corners, here’s the trick: Fold down the ½” open flap at the top of the side seam, completely out of the way. Then place the top piece of fabric over this.
Feel with your finger where that folded-over flap ends, and place a pin at an angle right at the spot where you feel the fabric ending underneath. Your goal will be to begin the next seam right at that spot. This spot is ½” from the top edge of the fabric, with a ½” seam allowance.
Continue to pin along the seam, and repeat the same process at the other corner, folding down the fabric underneath and placing a pin at that spot.
Sew along this edge, from corner to corner, with a ½” seam allowance – beginning and ending the seam ½” from the edge of the fabric (so you’re leaving ½” open on both ends). Remember to back stitch to reinforce the beginning and end of these seams.
Repeat around all four edges of the top, pinning and sewing each side separately as you go.
You’re almost done! Turn the slip cover right-side out and try it on again for size. Take this opportunity to double-check the hem; you should have 1” of excess fabric along the bottom for the hem, but if any shifting occurred, you may have more or less. Take note of that now and adjust accordingly when turning up the hem.
Turn the piece inside-out again and clip the corners on all three sides where they intersect. Removing this excess fabric reduces bulk inside the corners, for sharper edges.
To hem the bottom, turn under the fabric ½” along all 4 sides of the bottom, pressing as you go. Turn under another ½”, press, and pin in place.
Sew the hem, close to the interior folded edge. Finally, press open all seams on the finished piece.
You’re done! Don’t you love your new ottoman??
Check back next Wednesday, when I’ll be showing you how to sew a duvet!