How To Cover An Ottoman (Inc. Without Sewing!)

If your ottoman is a bit worse for wear, you don't have to get a new one yet! When the padding and form are still in great shape, the old ottoman may just need a bit of a cosmetic pick-me-up. We've scoured the internet for the best methods of giving your old furniture a face-lift and compiled them here.
There are several methods to cover an ottoman, which include:
  • Sewing a new reupholstered cover
  • Covering the ottoman with fabric in a no-sew method using staples or glue
  • Using a removable, machine-washable cover

Read on for directions on all three methods. Don't feel like getting crafty? We have that covered too - we'll give you some hints for great covers you can purchase ready-made for your ottoman.

Mid modern style armchair and ottoman, How To Cover An Ottoman (Inc. Without Sewing!)

Why Cover An Ottoman

There's a number of reasons why you might want to make a new cover for your ottoman. Maybe the current fabric doesn't match the rest of the furniture or decor. Or, it might have matched once. Now, however, it's old, tired, and faded. You can breathe new life into an ottoman that still has good bones with a replacement cover.

Lastly, you may want a removable slipcover to protect the ottoman. If you have kids or pets who tend to spill, stain, or shed, you can stop holding your breath every time they get near your favorite ottoman. Just put a slipcover on that can be washed as needed, and rest easy knowing that your ottoman is safe underneath. For best results, use a stain-proof cover or make your own with water-proof, stain-resistant fabric.

Reupholster a Rectangle/Square Ottoman

Reupholstering furniture really isn't as complicated as it sounds, and ottomans are no exception. There are really just a few basic steps.

  1. Remove wheels or legs from the ottoman. If the ottoman has a separate lid or comes in pieces, take it apart.
  2. Remove the old fabric. Use scissors, pull staples, or whatever it takes to carefully (carefully!) pull the old fabric off.
  3. Measure the ottoman's top and sides for the correct size cover.
  4. Cut the new fabric to fit your measurements.
  5. Sew the side pieces together, then sew onto the fabric ottoman top you have cut out.
  6. Replace padding or batting on the ottoman.
  7. Put the new fabric cover over the ottoman. 
  8. Hem the bottom or staple to the furniture's wooden base.
  9. Reattach legs, lid, etcetera.

This video breaks the entire process down in a very simple way. As a bonus, it includes a more complicated ottoman. This ottoman has a lid that needs to be removed, legs, and other factors that make it a more difficult job. While many of the steps may not apply to your project, it's nice that this video covers just about any scenario that might come up.


Reupholster a Round Ottoman

The same principles as above will apply to a round ottoman. Cut one long piece of fabric to fit around the side, adding one inch to the height and width for sewing purposes. Cut one circle of fabric that is big enough to cover the top of the ottoman after adding one inch to the diameter. Then, simply sew the fabric side to the edge of the circle. Hem the ends, reverse the fabric, and cover!

No-Sew Ottoman Re-upholster

No-sew versions are, ultimately, very similar. You'll still have to measure and cut material, though you can skip sewing several smaller pieces of fabric together. Instead, you'll use extra fabric, trim the rest, and staple or glue.

  1. Take apart the ottoman carefully. Remove legs, etc., so that you are left with the base that needs to be recovered.
  2. Next, cut off the old fabric. Carefully pull out any staples, etc., so that you can pull the fabric off the ottoman.
  3. Then, measure the new material. For no-sew methods, you'll want one large piece of fabric. Measure from the bottom of the ottoman, across the top, and down to the other side. Then do the same in the other direction. This will give you the length and width of your one piece of fabric. Add two inches to each measurement, giving you some extra material to work with.
  4. Place any padding or batting.
  5. Cut out and cover the ottoman with the fabric, making sure it fits. Use pins if needed to hold the fabric as you work.
  6. Staple the material in place on the bottom of the ottoman. You can also use glue to hold the fabric to the batting/padding if you prefer.
  7. Finally, reattach the legs, etcetera.


No-Sew Round Cover

Basically, for a round over, you'll follow all the same steps as above. Measure the diameter of the ottoman (rather than length and width), and add two inches. If you need help visualizing the process, this video is very useful. It shows constructing an ottoman from wood and padding (from scratch), but the process of covering the cushion with fabric is the same.


Removable Ottoman Covers

A removable ottoman cover is a great idea for a cover that you can wash and re-use. This way, you won't have to reupholster the ottoman again. You can wash it a thousand times if you need to (if you have pets that shed or messy kids, then this may really happen!). And, when the old cover is no longer useable, you can just sew a new one. 

The process is much like the reupholstering method, but the cover you create won't be permanently fixed to the ottoman. For this reason, you can skip some of the steps like removing the old padding or the ottoman's legs.

  1. Measure the length by measuring from the floor, up the sides and over the top, and down the other side to the floor. Then, measure the width in the same way. Next, add two inches to each measurement, leaving some extra material for sewing.
  2. Drape the material over the ottoman, arranging and pulling together. Use pins to hold sides in place as needed. 
  3. Use a piece of chalk or a fabric pen to mark where the corners will be sewn together.
  4. Sew the four corners, cutting off the excess.
  5. Hem the bottom if desired.
  6. Cover the ottoman and enjoy!

This video is very useful for seeing the process in action.


How Much Fabric Do I Need To Cover An Ottoman?

To know how much fabric it will take, measure each side's length and width and the top. You will also need to add a few inches (this leaves extra for sewing and hemming). By adding all five measurements together, you can tell how much fabric it will take to cover your ottoman. 

How Do You Measure An Ottoman?

A square or rectangle ottoman has a top, and you'll need to measure the length and width. Then, measure the length and width of each side. For the top, add an inch to each side. For the sides, add one inch to the length and one inch to the width. 

To measure a round ottoman, start with the top. Measure the diameter, and add one inch. Then, measure the sides of the ottoman. You'll need to know the height and the length (measure the entire circumference for the length). Again, add one inch to each measurement. This leaves some excess material that is needed for sewing.

What Is the Best Fabric For An Ottoman? 

To determine the best fabric, you'll need to consider the use of the ottoman. As a general rule, ottomans receive less wear than furniture like a couch. If your ottoman is primarily decorative, you might be able to use a fancy (but less durable) fabric like silk or velvet. 

However, if your ottoman is a functional piece of furniture, you'll want something a bit hardier. If there's any risk of spills or stains, or if it's placed somewhere like a kids' playroom, you'll want to take that into account as well. Cotton or microfiber are great family-friendly options. Both resist fading and wear. However, if dirt or stains are a concern, microfiber is the best material.

How Do You Wrap Fabric Around An Ottoman?

Use straight T-pins for the best results when wrapping the fabric around an ottoman. These special fabric pins will hold the material as you work. This allows you to make adjustments as needed until all the sides are tight and secured. Then you can staple or secure the fabric in a more permanent way.

Click here to see these T-Pins on Amazon.

When wrapping fabric, be sure not to pull too tight. This will cause the material to ripple or settle irregularly. Pull to remove excess material, but do not stretch.

Arts and Crafts? Seriously, Can't I Just Buy One!

Absolutely! There are tons of great, ready-made covers out there to hide the face of your old ottoman. Pick a stretchy cover that fits multiple sizes for the easiest way to a perfect looking makeover.

Click here to see this round cover on Amazon.

Click here to see this rectangle cover on Amazon.

To Summarize

If your ottoman is looking a bit rough around the edges, then you don't necessarily have to throw the whole thing out just yet. With a nice fabric cover, you can give a new look to an old, functional piece of furniture. If you don't like to sew, then even a simple staple gun or glue can hold your new cover in place. Ottomans, as a general rule, are not treated as roughly as other furniture like a couch. For this reason, even a simple cover will hold up for some time.

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