Tutorial: Recovering a Glider Chair


I've been meaning to put together this tutorial forever, it's not great, but gives you an idea how I did this chair! It seems there's no shortage of fantastically ugly gliders out there (nothing screams young, hip mama like pleated denim cushions, right?!). I hate to see good furniture go to waste so I started recovering chairs a few years ago when I scored a nice glider that needed a little makeover. This is the simple version for recovering a glider and ottoman - it's easy enough you only need basic sewing skills and about 1/2 a day to do it.

A note about chairs:  This tutorial is for a Dutailier where the cushions snap to the frame of the chair and the ottoman cushion velcros to the base of the ottoman. Some glider models have chair cushions that velcro on and some ottomans have cushions that tie to the base - these are both fairly easy modifications to do. The chair does not need to be a Dutailier because I'm not giving you exact measurements.

If your chair is the same model as my other glider where the back cushion folds over the top of the chair and snaps to the frame, follow this tutorial, only leave out the holes for the straps when sewing the back cushion cover and skip step 8. Once it's on the cushion, mark where the snaps are and cut holes for them to poke through.

A note about fabric: I recommend using home decor fabric, but I've also used regular cotton with fine results, so use whichever you prefer.

What You'll Need:

An ugly chair, fit for recovering
4 yards of home dec fabric, (this will do a standard sized glider + ottoman)
sewing machine
measuring tape
snaps (like these)
snap applicator (like this one)
velcro (if your chair or ottoman has velcro)

STEP 1: Wash and dry fabric, iron if needed.

STEP 2: Remove all cushions from chair.

STEP 3: Fold the fabric lengthwise so you have a 4-yard-long strip of folded over fabric. Lay the back cushion on it leaving approximately 1 1/2" from the top of the chair cushion to the edge of the fabric. Cut the fabric 2" below the bottom of the cushion so you have a piece like this (remember, the fabric is folded over so there are 2 pieces under there):

STEP 4: Cut around the back cushion - 1" away from the sides and top and 2" away from the bottom of the cushion. You can measure and draw your cutting line with a fabric pencil/pen beforehand if you find it helpful. It should look something like this:

STEP 5: Making the cover... when sewing the cover for the back cushion, you need to allow 2 small holes in the top for the straps to come through.

Lay the 2 pieces of fabric facing in. Place cushion on top and insert pins to indicate on the fabric where holes should be left for the straps. Sew the 2 sides and the top with 1/2" seam allowance, making sure to leave the spaces in the top for the straps. This is kind of like sewing a pillowcase.


STEP 6: Next, hem the opening of the cushion cover. I did a folded hem where I folded the edge up 1/2" and then over another 1/2", pinned in place, and did a single row of stitching all the way around.

STEP 7: Apply snaps. You can use velcro or a zipper to close the case as well, but I prefer the ease of the snaps. I placed 3 sets of snaps equally spaced along the bottom of the cushion cover. Follow the directions for your snap applicator.

 After applying the snaps, insert the cushion, making sure to stick the straps through the holes in the top.

STEP 8: Make covers for the straps on the back cushion. There is no exact measuring involved here! Get your velcro and cut a piece (you'll want both sides of velcro here) that is approximately the length from where the strap sticks out of the cover to right before the snap, like so:

Next, cut a piece of fabric that is approximately 4 times as wide as the width of the strap and just slightly longer:

Fold edges over approximately 1/4" and hem - only 3 sides are necessary as one side will not show, but you can do all 4 sides if you want. You can do a rolled hem, or just fold and use straight or zig zag stitch like I did. The finished product should be 3 times the width of the strap.

Next, sew your velcro on. Velcro should be sewn on along the edge of the fabric with equal distances at both ends. Sew the soft pieces of velcro on the backside of the strap covers, like so:

And the rough pieces of velcro on the front side of the strap covers:

Wrap the strap covers around the straps, closing them with the velcro on the underside of the strap. Now you can put the back cushion on the glider - just wrap the straps over the back of the chair and snap on the frame, like so:

STEP 9: Cover the seat cushion. Lay the seat cushion on the folded over yardage of fabric and cut around the cushion as shown below. You'll want to leave a 2" margin along the back of the cushion and a 1 1/2" margin around the sides and front.

Turn fabric facing inwards and sew together with approximately 1/4 - 1/2" seam allowance - you can determine the exact seam allowance by measuring how tall your cushion is. The fabric has been cut with 3 total inches of excess fabric around the sides and front (1 1/2" on each piece). If the cushion is like mine and about 2" tall, you can sew with 1/2" seam allowance, which will give you about 2" of height around the cushion. Or you can just wing it - most cushions require about 1/2" seam allowance.

Again, like sewing a pillowcase, leave the back end open. Try it on for sizing in case you want to make any alterations...

STEP 10: Hem seat cushion cover. I folded the fabric over 1/2" and then another 1/2" and did a single row of stitching.

STEP 11: Apply snaps. This is pretty much the exact same thing we did with the back cushion... I used 3 sets of snaps placed evenly across the opening of the cover, something like this:

Done! Now insert the cushion and snap it closed...

STEP 12: Cut out the arm covers. Start by laying the arm cushions out on the folded over fabric. Cut the fabric 1" from the cushion all the way around (holding the top down if it tends to curl up), and 1 1/2" from the bottom, which will be the cover opening.

 If your arm covers have pockets (or you'd like to add them), cut out the pocket fabric. To size, cut the fabric the same width as your chair cover and make it about 1" taller than the pocket on your cushion (I was running short on fabric, so mine are barely the same height as the current pocket):

 You'll want 2 pieces of fabric for each pocket to make lined pockets (I used a plain beige fabric to line the pockets and for the underside of the ottoman cushion, which turned out to be a nice touch. If you want to do 2 tone covers like that, you'll need 3 1/4 yards of your main fabric and 3/4 yard of your second fabric). You should have 2 sets of pocket fabric like this:

Turn them face in and sew the top together (the widest part) with  1/4" seam allowance. Turn the pocket right side out and sew one row of top stitching. Lay pocket over one piece of the arm cover fabric, positioning it exactly where you'd like it to be.

Make note of where the bottom of the pocket should be on the arm cover (and just ignore how crooked I cut the bottom of my pocket!)...

Turn pocket over upside down and sew it to the arm cover like so:

 When you flip the pocket up, it will look like this:

STEP 13: Lay the pocket side of the arm with a non-pocket side, facing in, and sew together, leaving the bottom open, like a pillowcase. Fold the open ends over and hem - you can insert your arm cushion first to measure the exact amount to hem. Make sure the cover comes about 1/2" past the cushion to leave room for a snap closure.

Inside of arms after putting cover on:

STEP 14: Apply snaps to arm cover for closure. I spaced two sets of snaps equally across the bottom:

STEP 15: Cut holes for the cushion snaps to show through so you can snap your newly covered arm cushions onto the chair frame. For this step, you'll need to put the arm cushions in their covers and position them on the chair. Using a pen, mark the spots where the snaps on the chair frame meet the cushions. Next take your scissors and cut an X over the spot where the snap will show through. You can then cut off the 4 triangles made by the X, making a squarish hole, or you can fold them back and hem around the opening by hand for a more professional finish. Since I was in a hurry and this chair was just for myself, I left the snap holes unfinished. They do not show once the cushions are affixed to the chair, which is good because they're not really pretty...

Don't worry if the cushion shifts around once you've cut the holes, you can feel around for each snap and pull it back to the opening once you're attaching the cushion to the chair, which can be tricky, but once you get it on there, it looks so nice!

STEP 16: Sew the ottoman cover. First take the ottoman cushion and lay it on one piece of your remaining fabric. Cut the fabric approximately 2" from the edge of the cushion all the way around:

Next, lay the fabric on top of the ottoman cushion and cut the corners almost all the way to the top of the corners of the cushion (the corner will become tighter once sewn), like so:

Turn fabric upside down and trim a triangular section of fabric off of each corner, so that if you lay your fabric flat, there is a square chunk missing from each corner (I realize now I should have taken a picture of this...). Then sew the corners together making a cover that will fit over the ottoman cushion.

STEP 17: Place the ottoman cover over the cushion and turn cushion upside down. Now we're going to make the bottom of the cushion cover. You will need two pieces of fabric, they should be cut approximately 1" beyond the edge of the cushion and each should cover about 2/3 of the cushion, overlapping in the middle:

Once your fabric is cut, hem the sides that will overlap each other:

Next, if your ottoman cushion attaches with velcro, you will need to sew velcro onto the fabric...

Cut 4 stripes of velcro the same size as what is on your ottoman - you want the SAME side of the velcro as is on your ottoman cushion.

It helps with this part if you position the two pieces of fabric overlapping just as they'll be when sewn to the top fabric and put a few stitches on each side where they overlap to hold them together. Then pin the velcro pieces on the fabric exactly where they'll need to be to stick to the ottoman frame. Sew all four velcro pieces to the fabric.

Next, pin the two bottom pieces to the top fabric and sew all the way around your ottoman cushion cover, leaving the overlapping pieces open for inserting the cushion.

 Insert your ottoman cushion and pull cover tightly around it, it should look like this on top:

and there you have your fabulous new glider!