Sometimes if you’re on a tight design budget, a little bit of DIY can go a long way. For my daughter’s new nursery, I took a once-tired glider/rocker and made new slipcovers for it in a modern print. I’m by no means an expert – I actually don’t know how to sew. But it was relatively straightforward in the end, so here’s a simple tutorial for DIY glider slipcovers if you want to have a go yourself.
You Will Need
- An ugly ass glider
- 2-3 yards of fabric (I used Waverly Cross Section in Charcoal)
- Sew-on Velcro and/or sew-on snap closures
- Needle & thread
- Sewing machine (I have a Singer Simple – it’s the most basic model Singer makes, and it’s great for a proper beginner. I got mine from JoAnn, and they do a free “How to Use Your Machine” class which was really helpful.)
Back Glider Cushion Slipcover
As I said, I do not know how to sew. This is the first thing I’ve ever made, so this tutorial is very much designed for beginners on the basis of what worked for me.
I chose to DIY slipcovers over simply reupholstering the glider cushions. If you opted to pick the original covers apart, you’d have a pattern to work from, which would make for an easier DIY. But slipcovers are removable and washable. Bit of a no brainer for a piece of furniture that’s going to get spit up on on a regular basis.
I started by removing the back cushion from the glider, laying it out on my new fabric and cutting two pieces of fabric big enough to make a slipcover.
With the two pieces of fabric pattern to pattern (you’re sewing this inside out), I tacked all the way around the edges. In case you are a newb like me, tacking is loose, hand-sewed temporary stitching designed to hold the seam until it’s properly sewn.
(Apologies for the awful pictures – hopefully you still get the idea!)
You could probably pin instead, but I thought this was a more fool-proof way of making sure that when I sewed it on the machine, it would be a good fit. Keeping the cover inside out, I removed the cushion and used my machine to sew all around the sides and top, leaving the bottom open.
I tested the fit once I’d turned it back round the right way.
If you get to this point and it’s not perfect, it’s easy to fix. See how I made alterations on the seat cushion below.
To close the bottom of the DIY glider slipcover, I folded the fabric under and ironed along the seams…
…then sewed over the ironed seams with the machine.
I used sew-on snap closures to hold the opening together (like these). If I did this again though, I’d use Velcro like I did on the seat cushion (see below). Velcro looks tidier when the slip cover is on the cushion.
Next, I made ties to secure the cushion to the glider frame. I copied what was on the original cushion by ironing two long strips of fabric. (Clean edges are easy to sew.)
I sewed up the seams on the machine.
Then I hand-sewed them onto the back of the slipcover so that they’d be in the right place to tie on to the chair back.
And that’s the back cushion done.
Seat Cushion Slipcover
The seat cushion was similar to the back cushion. With the thicker pad, though, I had to make a few adjustments.
Again, I began by removing the seat cushion from the glider and laying it out on the floor between two wrong-way-round pieces of fabric. I then pinned along the back on the cushion in a straight line. I hadn’t needed to do this for the back cushion because it was easier to see that the pattern was straight with the thinner cushion. Obviously, if you’re using a solid fabric rather than a print, it wouldn’t matter so much.
I tacked all the way around the cushion again, aiming to keep the seam at the bottom of the pad rather than in the middle. I thought it would be easier that way because I’d only have to deal with one lot of corner folds.
Speaking of corner folds (which I’m sure is not the technical term), I pinned them in place as I tacked the edges.
When it was all pinned and tacked, I removed the pins, took the cushion out, and sewed the sides and top on the machine. Again, I put the cushion back in to test the fit.
I trimmed the excess fabric.
When I turned it the right way round, it was obvious the fit wasn’t as tight as I’d have liked.
Adjusting the Fit
See how the left and right sides aren’t even? One was too loose, and the whole seam along the top could have been tighter too. Thankfully, this is an easy problem to solve. I turned it all inside out again and adjusted the pins for a better fit. Then I sewed a new seam, removing the pins as I went.
The second time I tested it, it fit. Like a glove.
Now I just had to finish the bottom. I started by folding the fabric inward and ironing along the seam.
I used sew-on Velcro this time. The top row of pins in this picture was my guide to make sure I left enough fabric for a neat closure. I pinned the Velcro on underneath, removed the cushion, and sewed around the edges of the Velcro on the machine.
I tested it when I was done, and it was a good fit – the pattern even matched up pretty well.
To finish the corners, I folded the fabric inwards and pinned it on the outside.
I removed the cushion again and sewed along the seams I’d pinned from the outside, removing the pins as I went.
I put the cushion back in again. Still fit!
One More Tie
I just had to make one more tie to hold this cushion to the chair frame. Same deal as the seat back ties – ironing the seams the way I wanted them to sit before sewing them on the machine. This one was shorter, wider, and used velcro.
I pinned it to the seat cover where I wanted it, then sewed it on the machine.
With the seat cover finished, it looked like this:
The Arm Cushions
I opted not to add arm cushions for now. I do have a good idea of how to tackle the arms if I want to add cushions for those in the future though.
DIY Glider Slipcovers | After
Honestly, the slipcovers turned out better than I expected. Here’s a reminder of the before.
And a much cleaner, fresher after!
See the glider in its new home in Eleanor’s nursery reveal.
If you’re after more thrifty DIY ideas for nurseries and kids rooms, you might want to read about the upholstered bed, button monogram, or polka dot wall. And you can check out other simple DIY projects here.