Learn how to sew a fitted couch cover out of drop cloth in this step-by-step tutorial. Or follow the steps to make a chair cover! It’s less scary than you’ve probably imagined it. You can totally do this!
*Scroll to the bottom for a printable tutorial*
Watch every step on my Couch Cover Youtube Playlist:
Just click the play button and each video in the series will play. There are one minute videos for all the steps and two full length videos for the cushion cover and couch cover.
Thank you for liking, commenting, and subscribing to my Youtube channel! It really helps me out 🙂
You can watch the solo video here:
Our Beautiful Vintage Couch
When we moved to Texas, we didn’t bring a lot of furniture with us. So, I was on the hunt for a cheap, but nice, couch.
I came across a craigslist ad for a vintage couch in three sections that looked promising but they wanted $180 for it.
We were still scraping by at this point so we couldn’t afford to spend that much on anything.
Sitting on the floor was free.
But, the picture they put up didn’t have very good lighting so the first impression wasn’t very good. The post had been up for over a month so I was hoping the seller would be more willing to lower the price.
I felt a little bad but the most I could realistically spend was $60. So I emailed the person and apologized for the low offer but just said something like, I really like the couch and could come get it tomorrow but this is all I’ve got to pay you.
The lady kindly said she would take it because she just wanted it gone.
We’ve had it for almost five years now- which is amazing because couches have only lasted maybe two years, at the most, for us.
The fabric finally gave out and started ripping towards the end of last year. And once it starts to rip, it progresses quickly to large tears and stuffing fluff being pulled out by little hands.
I didn’t want to give it up because I love that it has such a low profile, lovely claw feet, no back cushions to rip off and toss around, and it’s so solid!
So I took a deep breath and started making a couch cover.
Will This Work for My Couch?
If you have a symmetrical couch or chair you want to cover, YES, this will totally work for you.
If you have an asymmetrical couch, this tutorial won’t work very well for you, unless you have a matching opposite piece. This is my couch.
This is because you’re making the cover inside out so when you turn it right side out, everything will be on the opposite side.
Drop Cloth for a Couch Cover?
What started this whole project was a video by Lisa from Farmhouse on Boone. She has a tutorial on how to make a chair cover using bleached drop cloth. You can watch that HERE.
It looked so lovely and had that sweet, bright, country farmhouse vibe that I love!
You can make a couch cover out of any material you want but usually people choose something that’s thicker and stronger; something made specifically for doing upholstery. This is so it’ll hold up to a lot of use.
You also need a lot of fabric to cover an entire couch (like way more than you would think just looking at it). Drop cloth is cheaper than buying upholstery fabric but it still cost me around $20 for each 9×12 cloth and I used about 4 of them.
However, I don’t think it’s cheaper than buying an inexpensive slipcover when you factor in the piping and thread.
But, you can make it custom to your couch, it’s very durable/bleachable, and it looks WAY nicer than any slipcovers I’ve seen.
Bleaching the Drop Cloth
I use this 100% cotton drop cloth, and it can be bleached regularly.
You need to soak-bleach it before you start making the cover. This will give you a brighter, softer fabric to work with.
My post about making drop cloth pot holders talks all about how to bleach the drop cloth. Click HERE to read that.
OR watch this short video I made:
If you choose the bathtub/container method, do it in a ventilated area and make sure to lock the door while it sits so that you don’t have little kids getting into it. Or just put it somewhere they can’t get to.
Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Materials for a Drop Cloth Couch Cover
*Affiliate links – Thank you for clicking on them and purchasing through the links!!*
Sewing Machine – This is the machine I use. It’s simple and works pretty well. Not a glowing review but it got me through this entire project and it’s still kicking.
Zipper Foot – Your sewing machine should have this in the attachments it comes with. It’s usually labeled with the letter “I”. (The regular presser foot is labeled “J”)
100% Cotton Drop Cloth – I used about four 9×12 drop cloths for my L-shaped couch but you might need a different amount for your couch. You can always use the extra for pillows, an apron, pot holders, etc.
Bleach – I poured several glugs of bleach into a bathtub of hot water for each cloth. And I had to do that twice for each cloth to get it evenly white. I don’t have a precise amount because I was just eyeballing it. Maybe around 3 cups of bleach to a bathtub of hot water?
Cotton Piping – I used two reels of size 1, 3/16″X50yd piping. It’ll be different amounts for different couches. If you buy too much, you can use the extra for throw pillows!
Upholstery Thread – I started out using regular, all purpose thread but the first time I took off the cushion cover it ripped out of side. If you want it to be removeable and last for several years, go with upholstery thread. You’ll have to rewind the bobbin a lot more often and I found that it jammed the machine almost every time it got to the end but it was worth it for how strong the seams are in the end.
Pins – These are similar to the ones I use. You want ones that have big, colorful heads so you can see them when you accidentally drop them on the carpet 🙂 And you need a lot of pins for this project because you’re following them as the line to sew. It gets to be a lot of pins when you sew a line that goes up the side, across the back and down the other side.
Scissors – a good pair of scissors saves a lot of time- especially when cutting thick drop cloth.
Pencil or Something to mark with – You want to use something that isn’t permanent to mark some seam intersections and where to attach the ruffle.
Make a Bunch of Piping
Piping is the round trim you see along the edges of a lot of furniture with fabric. It makes the couch look classy and elevates the whole look. And it’s not difficult to make.
You want to make a lot of it before you get started. It’ll be a good jumping off point because it’s not difficult to do.
Basically, you are just attaching long, skinny strips of fabric to each other and then wrapping them around the piping.
Then you sew the strip as close to the piping as you can, using a zipper foot.
Check out my blogpost tutorial on how to make piping HERE.
You can watch the video on how to sew strips diagonally:
And here’s a video on how to use strips to make the piping:
Cutting Out the Pattern Pieces
Watch the short video I made on how to cut out the pieces:
Bleach, wash, and dry the drop cloth.
To cut out the pieces, start out with the biggest parts of the couch and drape the bleached drop cloth.
Place the fabric right side against the couch if your fabric has a right side. (Drop cloth doesn’t have a right side so it doesn’t matter)
Use the seams of the couch as you guide. Pin the fabric to the couch following the shape and curves of the couch.
Cut the pieces a few inches bigger where the seams are so you have plenty of material to work with when you start pinning pieces together.
Cut two pieces for the back of the couch that overlap each other by several inches. This will create a flap in the back. That will make it easy to take the couch cover on and off when you’re all finished.
Make sure to give extra length to any pieces that hang to the bottom of the couch so you can decide how long you want it after the body of the cover is sewn together.
Tips for Pinning and Sewing the Couch Cover Together
You’ll be alternating between pinning and sewing from this point on.
Use a Zipper Presser Foot and set the needle all the way to the left.
Set your machine up with upholstery thread and test the tension before you start sewing. The stitches might be a little off because of how thick the material and thread are. I have pictures of bad and good tension on my post about making piping. Check it out HERE.
Hem the edges that overlap in the back before you start pinning anything.
Pin and sew one seam at a time if you can. It can get a little tricky down on the seat of the couch.
Don’t trim any extra fabric off of the seams unless it intersects another seam. This is just in case you sew something way off on accident. You’ll be able to pick it out with a seam ripper and re-sew it.
Add piping wherever you see it on your couch. Just rest your piping against the piping on the couch and sandwich it between the two pieces you are pinning together.
Place your pins as close to the piping as you can to make it nice and tight. This is the line you’ll be following as you sew.
You could switch back a forth between a regular presser foot and a zipper presser foot because you only need the zipper foot for sew the piping but you can just do the whole thing with the zipper foot and save time.
Every time you sew a seam, put in back on the couch (wrong side out) and pin it all back where it should be so it doesn’t shift around as you pin the next piece to it.
The hardest part of putting the cover together is deciding which pieces to sew first or the order to sew all of the pieces.
Take a look at your couch and find where there’s piping on it. You want the piping to be one continuous line so anything that touches it needs to be sewn together before sewing the line with the piping.
Usually the side pieces need to be sewn to each other and then to the top piece at the corner. Then you can attach those to the back pieces with the piping in between.
After that you can attach the front pieces to the top.
Next, attach the seat pieces to each other and then sewn those to the front pieces at the middle line.
If you make a mistake and realize you should have sewn a different seam first, just pick it out with a seam ripper and try again.
Just keep going. Pin the next thing and you might have a weird intersection of seams in one place. It’s not usually that big of a deal when everything is all finished.
Just don’t give up! Better to have an imperfect couch cover you can wash than no cover at all.
Making and Attaching the Ruffle
*If this is at all confusing, watch the long version of the couch cover video and I show you how to do everything.
Before you make the ruffle, you have to decide where you want to attach it on the couch.
The bottom of my couch is very curvy so I had to measure up from the floor about 5 1/2 inches all the way around and mark it with a washable marker.
For the ruffle, cut out a strip that is 1 and 1/2 times the length of the base of the couch. Hem one side and one end of the ruffle. I cut my 5 inches wide.
Spread the couch cover on the floor, wrong side up.
Starting at the overlapping back flaps, fold the bottom of the couch cover up where you marked it and place the hemmed end of the ruffle against that, sandwiching the piping in between.
Make sure to fold the end of the piping in so you don’t have a raw edge sticking out.
I tried to make the ruffle the normal way by doing a running stich to gather it but it was not working for me.
Maybe it’ll work for you. If you want to see how to do a ruffle the regular way, check out my tutorial on How to Sew a No Zipper Circle Skirt.
So, instead I made a pleat every few inches along the whole ruffle.
Make a small fold and pin it down. Pin that to the piping and couch cover.
When you get to the end, cut off any excess ruffle fabric, hem the end, fold the end of the piping in and pin it to the couch cover.
When you pull it up to look at the underside, you should have right sides of the fabric facing the floor with the round piping in between.
How to Make the Back Ties
Now you need to make some ties to close up the back flaps.
I cut out eight strips the were about 4 inches wide by about 23 inches long.
Side note- I think I should have made them a little longer so I could do a really nice bow. As they are, I can do a knot that looks kind of like a faux bow.
So just test out the length before you commit so you end up with what you like.
Take two strips sew them right sides together on three sides, leaving one short end open (if your fabric has a right side).
Do that for the other sets of ties then turn them all right side out like you would a sock.
Fold in the open end and sew it closed.
Top stitch around the entire perimeter for a nice, finished look.
Attach the Back Ties
Fit the couch cover back on the couch and pin it all in place, including the back flaps.
Pin ties straight to the couch where you want them to sit.
I think they look nicer and they have more stability if you attach several inches of the ends to the couch, not just the very edge.
Use a pencil or washable marker to mark all around the ties and where the flaps overlap.
Take the ties and the cover off the couch and lay everything on the floor.
Pin the ties back on where you marked then dew them down.
You Made a Couch Cover!!
You can totally do this!
Next, you just have to make the cushion cover to match. You could make a cushion cover in a day if you have the cloth and piping all ready to go.
Check out my blogpost with the details for covering any cushion – without a zipper. Click HERE for that tutorial.
Or watch the video here:
Don’t forget to pin it.
Print the tutorial for later!
- 100% cotton drop cloth
- Sewing machine
- Zipper foot
- Cotton Piping
- Upholstery thread
- Marking tool/pencil
If you're at all confused by these instructions, watch my videos on how to sew a couch cover and how to sew a cushion cover.
- Bleach the drop cloth by either soaking it in bleach water in your washing machine, bathtub, or in a large container for 6-8 hours. You'll need to stir if every couple of hours. Find more details on my DROP CLOTH POT HOLDERS blog post.
- Wash and dry your drop cloth. If there are still tan spots after drying, repeat the bleaching process.
- Follow the pattern of the couch and cut out pieces paying attention to where the seams of the couch are. Cut the pieces a couple inches larger than the seams.
- Remember that the pieces will switch sides when you turn the cover right side out at the end. You can cut measure and cut two
- Cut out two pieces for the back and overlap them in the middle by several inches. Hem the edged that overlap.
- Sew a lot of piping. Cut and attach 3 inch wide strips together to make a long strip then enclose the 3/16"cotton piping in the long strip. Sew as close to the cord as you can using a zipper foot. The zipper foot usually has the letter "I" on it and can be found in your sewing machine accessories.
- Make sure you attach the pieces tightly to the couch with a lot of pins and center everything before you pin any pieces together.
- Add piping wherever there is piping on the couch.
- Follow the pins as a guide for where to sew the lines.
- Pin and sew one seam at a time. Always re-pin the cover to the couch nice and smooth (lining up the seams carefully) when it goes back onto the couch.
- I started by sewing the side pieces where they connect and then sewed them to the top piece at the top corners.
- Next, I sandwiched the piping between the back pieces and the side/top piece. Then I pinned and sewed everything together.
- I sewed the front pieces together then attached them to the top piece with piping in between those too.
- Don't trim the seams unless they intersect another seam.
- I sewed all the seat pieces together then attached them to the top piece along the middle line.
- I measured up from the floor and marked where I wanted to attach the ruffle all around the base of the cover.
- For the ruffle, I cut out a long 5 inch wide strip that was about 1 and 1/2 times as long as the base of the couch.
- I sewed it to the bottom of the couch with the piping in between.
- I made ties for the back by cutting out eight - 4 inch wide strips and sewing two together, right sides together, on three sides. I left one short end open.
- Next I turned it right side out then folded the open end in and top stitched the whole tie.
- I marked where I wanted the ties then pinned and sewed them on.
- To sew a cushion cover, use the cushion as a pattern and cut out one whole piece for one side. Cut out two overlapping pieces for the other side and hem the overlapping pieces. Cut out a long strip that goes all the way around the cushion. Sandwich piping between the seams and sew everything together.
- For more details on how to make a cushion cover: watch my video or find the instructions on my blog!
- Trim the seams, turn everything right side out and you're finished!
If this seems overwhelming, just watch the videos. It is way easier than it seems, it just takes time. You can totally do this! You just need to start and take it a chunk at a time. Start with the piping, make the cushion next, then move to cutting pieces for the couch. One step at a time and you'll get there!