DIY: How To Recover A Nursery Glider

I have a little confession: it’s not completely finished. But the back and bottom cushions are slip-covered and, since a lot of gliders don’t even have arm cushions, I’ll explain how I did these and then update this post when I do get the arms completed. Here’s how she’s looking at the moment…

Even without arm cushions, it’s an improvement on the tired blue that is hiding underneath, am I right?

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, cheapest model Singer makes, and it’s great for a proper beginner like me. Also, if you buy one from Jo-Ann Fabrics, they do a free “How to Use Your Machine” class which was really helpful.)

The Back Cushion:
I actually started on the arms, made a big mess and gave up, then did the back cushion. But I’ll skip that first bit and start with the successful part instead. 😉

I should point out, in case you’re not aware, that I do not know how to sew. This is the first thing I have ever made, so this tutorial is designed for beginners. I’m sure there are better ways of doing things but this is what worked for me. 🙂 I chose slip-covers over just recovering the cushions, which I think is probably more difficult (if you picked the original covers apart, you’d have a pattern to work from at least), but slip-covers are removable and washable, which is what you want for a piece of furniture that’s probably going to get spit up on on a regular basis.

I began 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 slip cover.

With the two pieces of fabric pattern to pattern (if they’d been sewed together already, the cover would be inside out), I tacked all the way around the edges. Tacking, in case you are as much of a beginner as me, is very loose, hand-sewed temporary stitching designed to hold the seam until it’s properly sewn.

(Apologies for the horrendously out of focus 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. When that was done, I turned it the right way around and put the cushion back in to test the fit…
…and felt very proud of myself and started to think that this might not be as impossible as I originally thought! (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 cushion, 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), but if I did this again, I’d use Velcro like I did on the seat cushion (see below) because I think it looks tidier when the slip cover is on the cushion. Sorry, no picture of this step, but I promise it’s very straight-forward – just sew a few on at intervals along the bottom edges of the opening. I also sewed the edges (a couple of inches on either side) with the machine. I did a better job on the seat cushion than the back cushion for this step, so I’ll explain this part better later on.

Next, I made ties to secure the cushion to the glider frame. I copied what was on the original cushion by first ironing two long strips of fabric so they’d be easy to sew like so…
Then I sewed them on the machine…
Then I hand-sewed them onto the back of the slip-cover so that they’d be in the right place to tie on to the chair back.

And with that, the back cushion was done. Just the seat and arms left to do…

The Seat Cushion:
The seat cushion went pretty much the same way as the back cushion. The only difference was that because it was thicker, I had to make a few little 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, it wouldn’t be so important.

I tacked all the way around the cushion again, aiming to keep the seam at the bottom of the pillow 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:

All tacked and pinned, it looked like this:

Then I removed the pins, took the cushion out, and sewed the sides and top on the machine. When that was done, I put the cushion back in to test the fit:

I trimmed the excess fabric:

Then turned it the right way round to admire my handiwork. This way round, though, it was easier to see that the fit wasn’t as tight as I’d have liked.

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 (it’s not that obvious in the picture, but it was enough to bug me). Thankfully, this is an easy problem to solve – I turned it all inside out again, re-pinned it for a better fit, and then sewed along the pins, removing them as I went:

This time when I tested it, it was perfect. 🙂

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, then I pinned the Velcro on underneath, removed the cushion again, 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 and was happy with the fit again – yay!

I just had to make one more tie to hold this cushion to the chair frame. I used the same method as for the seat back ties – ironing the seams the way I wanted them to sit before sewing them on the machine – only this one was shorter and wider and used Velcro.

I pinned it to the seat cover where I wanted it, then sewed it on the machine. I went over it three times to make it extra strong.

With the seat cover finished, it looked like this:

And with that, the seat cushion was done!

The Arm Cushions:
Like I said, I haven’t finished the arm cushions yet. I actually only finished the seat at 10 last night (which is past my bed time as it is), and it’s taken me till now to write up this post, so I’ll get to it later. Having done the two big cushions though, I have a much better idea of how to tackle the arms, so I’m definitely not as intimidated as I was! I’ll update this post/tutorial when they’re done.

Before & After:
Want another look at how far we’ve come?


Honestly, even though it’s not finished, I’m really pleased with how far it’s come. Here are a few more pictures for your viewing pleasure…

Oh, and I might have been able to get some better photos had I not had a problem with trains appearing and wanting to “Say cheese!” 🙂


  1. January 31, 2012 / 12:21 am

    It looks great!! 🙂

  2. January 31, 2012 / 2:59 pm

    Your glider looks brand new now! You did a great job on it. I love a challenge, don't you!
    Hugs, Cindy

  3. January 31, 2012 / 9:02 pm

    I am soooo impressed! That fabric is awesome, it does look awesome without the arms. Your sewing on the straps is perfect! Did you make that rosette too? It is all lovely, thanks so much for linking up! Karah

  4. January 31, 2012 / 10:19 pm

    Love the trains saying hello. And you had me laughing with the things you'll need, 'one ugly glider' …

    Looks amazing … and I'm loving that pillow too. Did you make or purchase? And I'm guessing the new little one is still hanging on …

    Thanks so much for taking on our challenge and linking up today!

    [email protected]

  5. January 31, 2012 / 11:26 pm

    Thanks Karah, and thanks for hosting too! I'll get the arms done eventually but it'll do for now. 🙂

  6. January 31, 2012 / 11:27 pm

    Thanks for hosting it! 🙂
    The pillow was bought – I'm not sure I could take on something like that just yet lol. It was from Next (in the UK).
    And yep, she's still cooking – hopefully not for too much longer though!

  7. February 1, 2012 / 12:21 am

    This looks great! Thanks for sharing your "impossibility"! <3 from your newest follower and fellow {brand-new} blogger! Check out my "impossibility" and follow back!


  8. February 1, 2012 / 3:06 am

    Your chair turned out amazing, and I love your detailed tutorial. As it turns out, I'm in luck – I have an ugly glider! Your paint and fabric choice are great. I'm definitely inspired! Visiting from the Impossibilities linkup, and I'd love it if you'd share this at my Show & Tell linkup party and giveaway going on now @ the Delectable Home.

  9. February 1, 2012 / 5:11 pm

    Gosh! There are some clever creative people out there! I don't think I could begin to do something like this (I don't own a sewing machine which doesn't help!) but it's great reading about people who manage to do such great things! Well doneon achieving your Impossibility challenge!

  10. February 1, 2012 / 8:09 pm

    She's going to LOVE her new rocker!
    And, you will be so comfy in it!

    Now, you rest and put your feet up.

    Can you believe there are so many of us "Impossible" gals out there?

    ~ Dana
    Cooking at Cafe D
    "Jimmy John's Kitchen" Project

  11. February 1, 2012 / 11:23 pm

    Love that you admitted it's not finished – makes me think a mere non sewing moral like me might someday be able to do something like this (probably not)!! Love that your project lists calls for an "ugly glider"! Thanks for joining our Impossibilities Challenge party!

  12. February 2, 2012 / 4:05 am

    Yay, yay, yay!!! I love the way it turned out. I think it looks great without the arms, but I understand it will be much more comfortable to have them (especially since you'll probably be spending LOTS of time there when she arrives 🙂 ).

    Congrats on overcoming your impossibility!!!


  13. February 3, 2012 / 12:58 am

    (saw you on momnivore's linky party) Love it! It's so pretty. I did something similar a couple years ago, but the pretty fabric I found was too thin and I wasn't as happy with it. Home decor fabric is the way to go. Looks great!!

  14. April 20, 2012 / 8:43 am

    This is fab! I'm going to attempt it myself, I have just spend days agonising over fabric choice as I wasn't sure how thick a fabric to buy. Let's hope I got it right!


  15. October 16, 2012 / 4:56 am

    I would love to see how you did the arms! My glider is the same way with the cushioned arms, and that's what I was most worried about doing :S

  16. October 20, 2012 / 1:48 pm

    I have to shamefully admit that I still haven't done the arms. I use a boppy while I'm nursing so I haven't missed them. I'll get around to it one day though!

  17. April 30, 2013 / 10:32 pm

    AMAZING!!!!! Thank you so much! I am buying a home for the first time and you just helped me a ton!

  18. February 27, 2014 / 9:47 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your method. I am so excited to try this on the new (used) glider I just bought for my daughter's room! It seemed like such a daunting task at first, but after reading your tutorial I feel like I can do it!

  19. April 1, 2014 / 4:06 pm

    Hi, I was wondering if you pre-washed your fabric to avoid it getting too small with washing? How did yours hold up? I am a novice, too; haven't made much of anything in a long time.
    Thank you!

  20. April 2, 2014 / 6:06 am

    I just started this adventure, and I pre-washed my fabric… In my -very limited- sewing experience, its always been step # 1. So, I didn't even stop to think otherwise.

  21. April 2, 2014 / 4:57 pm

    I didn't but I'd recommend it. Mine were fine, but there's a good chance of shrinkage so I just got lucky! And my cushions held up really well – washed well and still looked new 2 years later when I sold the glider. 🙂

  22. June 11, 2014 / 12:11 pm

    Wonderful job! I love the fabric you chose! Looks like you have conquered your "impossible." Thanks for joining the party!

  23. June 30, 2014 / 12:30 pm

    Hi, Lizzie! I've been wanting to re-do some cushions I have on a rocking chair. I like the idea of slipcovering them like you did since I'll be using the rocker to nurse a baby and would like to have the ability to wash them. My husband thinks it's a bad idea since the cushions we have have sections in them that are quite "poofy"…it has the sewn lines on each cushion like yours but each of those sections looks more full than yours. I hope that makes sense. Anyway, he thinks that after sitting on the cushions, that you'll be able to see the indentations from those sewn lines of the original cushion. Do you notice that on yours? I thought if my fabric was thick enough it would help that to not happen so badly. Did you use a thicker type of fabric (I would buy one from the Home Decor section at JoAnne's).

  24. June 30, 2014 / 12:34 pm

    You couldn't really notice the sections through the slip cover. The fabric I used was quite thick – upholstery weight I think. Our cushions weren't super poofy, though. Sorry, not sure how helpful that was! (And sorry it took a while to reply – I was away for the weekend!)

  25. July 28, 2014 / 7:58 pm

    I was rather hoping I wouldn't get called out on them. We just used it without the arm cushions, then we moved and I sold the glider (with the fabric to cover the cushions if the buyer wanted to, although she didn't seem bothered). Sorry, never did finish it off properly.