Tucking properly keeps your slipcover in place.

How to Tuck a Slipcover on a Couch

by Linda Erlam

Unless you have the luxury of a custom-made slipcover, the cover you purchase may not fit your sofa perfectly and may not tuck well -- or stay tucked. And if your children use the couch for a trampoline and your pets as their sleeping pallet, keeping the slipcover tucked properly is even more difficult. Using the slipcover-makers' traditional tucking method and a bit of sleight-of-hand, you can put the cover on, tuck it in and hold it in place.

Fit the slipcover over the top of the back of the couch first and then pull the cover over the rest. If your slipcover fits over the cushions, all the cushions will fit under the cover. If your slipcover has separate cushion covers, remove the cushions before fitting the body slipcover. The success of the slipcover tucking process depends on how deeply and snugly you can tuck the excess fabric in place. Since some back and seat cushions are not anchored to the sofa, if your cover is made to go over the seat and back cushions, you will experience some shifting. For best results, treat the seat and back as one long cushion and keep the tucks around the edges.

Arrange the slipcover over the couch, evenly distributing the extra fabric around the seat and between the inside arms and back.

Smooth the seat fabric across the front of the seat, arranging the top of the skirt evenly across the front of the sofa. Smooth the excess seat fabric gently, from the front of the seat to the back, to the intersection of the seat and the inside back. Tuck the excess fabric into the space at the intersection. Smooth the excess seat fabric at the left and right edges of the seat into the spaces at the inside arm and seat intersections.

Tuck the inside center back. Place one hand flat on the top of the back and use the other hand to smooth the fabric down from the top to the join between the seat and back. Tuck the back fabric into the space between the sections. Move slightly to one side of the section just tucked and repeat the smoothing and tucking. Ensure that the fabric is smoothed down to the tuck and no diagonal folds are visible. Continue smoothing and tucking the entire inside back.

Adjust the front of the arm so the cover fits the front of the arm.

Smooth any excess fabric on the inside of the side arm toward the back, to the intersection of the inside back and arm, but do not tuck it into the space.

Use both hands and smooth the fabric on each arm down and away from the top of the arm, one hand on the outside of the arm, the other smoothing the fabric down the inside arm. Tuck the excess fabric on the inside arm into the space between the seat and the inside arm.

Tuck the excess fabric between the inside arm and the inside back into the space between the two sections. Smooth the fabric across the section arm and into the tuck space in one smooth step. Keep the movements fluid and do not tug the fabric.

Check the tucks. The fabric should remain smooth inside the tucked locations, not bunched up. Re-tuck if necessary to create smooth tucks. Use a rubber kitchen spatula or a tucking tool to push the fabric as deeply into the tuck area as possible.

Cut sections of 1-inch foam pipe insulation 2 inches shorter than a tuck space around the couch seat and insert it into that space. For example, tuck a 24-inch piece of pipe insulation into the 26-inch tuck space between the inside arm and the seat.

Items you will need

  • Sofa slipcover
  • Cooking spatula or tucking tool
  • Foam pipe insulation, 1-inch
  • Scissors
  • Twill tape, optional
  • Sewing machine, optional


  • Sew two 14-inch pieces of twill tape at the location on the inside of the slipcover corresponding to the top of the couch legs. After the cover is in place, wrap the ties around the couch leg and knot the ties, keeping the slipcover corners in place.

About the Author

Linda Erlam started writing educational manuals in 1979. She also writes a biweekly newspaper column, "Design Dilemmas," in the "Lakeshore News" and has been published in "Design and Drapery Pro" magazine. Erlam is a graduate of the Sheffield School of Interior Design and is a practicing interior decorator and drapery workroom operator.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images