A New Look for a Trusty Little Sofa


New look for the Ikea Manstad sofa

When we first moved to Canada and had to furnish our one-bed apartment from scratch, the IKEA Manstad was perfect for our needs; a pull-out bed for the occasional guest, extra storage space (always welcome in a one-bed apartment) and a great price at only $700 (definitely welcome). There was just one problem, it was only available in two colours, neither of which was particularly nice, and the fabric was a bit cheap looking. Basically, I had wanted to re-cover it from the day we bought it, and as usual I had that niggling little feeling “I’m sure I can do it myself”.

If you do any research on the internet about slipcovers or re-upholstery of the Manstad you’ll most likely come across this Eddie Ross post, he does a fab job of re-covering the Manstad, but for me it suffers from the same issue as the slipcovers; the Manstad was not designed for a slipcover, so anytime you put anything over it, you can see the lumps and bumps of the fabric underneath, especially the piping. It’s not really the sleek upholstered look I wanted.


Manstad sofa with custom slipcover in grey

It took me some time to build up the courage to finally give it a go (and not before spending $500 on a slipcover that I was never happy with) but I finally did and I have to say that I am so glad I did. It is actually much easier than it looks since the sofa is really just a combination of blocks, so there are no complicated lines to deal with. The hardest part, by far, was removing the gazillion staples!! You’ll need one of these guys, and if you can convince someone to help you out, invest in two.


  • Upholstery Fabric, I used 10 meters (11 yards). Note, I did not re-cover the pull out bed.
  • Upholstery Thread, I used 2 spools but my sewing machine was eating thread at the time and I also did a French stitch around the seams.
  • Heavy duty staple remover
  • Heavy duty stapler
  • Heavy duty staples, because those gazillion staples that you took out, have to go back in. I used 10 mm staples.
  • Velcro, about 4 meters of both hook and eye

Unfortunately because I was so eager to get on with it, I don’t really have many before and during photos, sorry. I am just going to try and walk you through the process.

1. You’ll have to dissemble the sofa (just work backwards from the original assembly instructions), because I planned to do this over a few weekends and we only have one sofa I tried to make it as un-disruptive as possible by dismantling one section at a time. I started with the chaise, then the arm of the chaise, worked my over to the two back pieces, then the other arm and finally the main seat section.

2. Take out those gazillion staples. Once these are out you’ll be able to pull off the fabric pretty easily. Once you have it off the sofa, you’ll want to take it apart since you’ll be using these as a template to cut out new pieces.  Because the fabric is pretty sturdy, once you have the first few stitches undone you can easily rip the rest open. Be careful not to tear the black polyester lining though (the pieces that cover the bit of the sofa that cannot be seen), you can reuse these to save some money on your upholstery fabric. You can also reuse the zippers on the cushions. NB: make sure you label what you are pulling apart as they will be indistinguishable from one another. Mark which pieces fit together and where they should align. 

3. Lay the old pieces flat onto your new fabric and start cutting. I had initially tried to draw a “plan” for cutting out the new pieces to ensure that I was cutting my fabric in the most efficient manner and not wasting any, but as it turns out those guys over at IKEA are pretty smart and have already pretty much figured out the most effective cutting pattern for each piece. I could fit almost all the pieces for each section onto a rectangular section of fabric, meaning I had minimal wastage. I recommend marking where there should be small holes cut into the fabric (for screws and such) but not actually cutting them out until you have fitted your new covers, since they may not line up exactly where they had previously.

Manstad Dissemble and Cutting Order

Click on image to enlarge

4. Once you’ve done your cutting, start sewing. I serged the edges along the bottom but I did not bother with the inside seams.  I chose not to run piping along the seams, instead I opted for a French stitch finish. Not only is this way easier, I prefer it. I ironed the seams flat before doing the decorative top stitch.  You’ll need to cut little notches around any curved edges to get it perfectly flat.


French stitch seam detail – click to enlarge

5. Once you’ve sewn all your pieces together, they will fit over each sofa section like a sleeve, it should be a little tight to get on (but not near impossible) and that’s good ’cause it means you’ll have a nice snug fit. When you’re pulling the “sleeve” down, try to keep it as straight as possible ’cause once it’s on fully it will be pretty difficult to shimmy it straight.

6. Then you get to put those gazillion staples back in and trust me it is so much more satisfying than taking them out. Now is also the time to re-cut any holes that are needed. And reassemble.

I’m writing this from memory, I actually re-covered this sofa about a year ago now, I appreciate that it may sound over simplified but honestly once you start taking pieces apart it will be really easy to see how they fit back together again. If you are thinking about this and anything is unclear, just ask!! I’m really posting this to say that if you have one of these sofas and you’ve been toying with the idea of re-covering it yourself “Don’t be afraid to give it a go!!”


Manstad DIY re-upholstery


Manstad DIY re-upholstery

Note, IKEA have now discontinued the Manstad and have replaced it with the Friheten which comes in a much better selection of fabrics for the same great price. Apparently I am not the only one who knew this little sofa could be so much more.

29 thoughts on “A New Look for a Trusty Little Sofa

  1. Nice!!!! Great work! The original on mine looks horrible too now! My mom will help me make a new one but I am away visiting her and I do not have the measurements. Do you happen to have them? I would really appreciate it! I am dreaming of a new cover!!!

  2. Thanks, I was really pleased with the results and I don’t think you’ll regret it if you give it a try.
    Do you mean how much fabric to buy or the measurements of each piece?

  3. Sorry, no. I never did measure each piece. I just used the old pieces that I’d taken off as a template to cut the new pieces. I had roughly estimated how much fabric I would need and it worked out spot on.

  4. What kind of fabric did you use? It really looks amazing, I can’t wait to get started on mine!

    I’m thinking of trying a stripe design but i think the stripe match will drive me crazy and there will be more wastage 😦

    • Hi Megan.
      Thanks, I was so pleased with the result and I wish I’d had the courage to try it sooner (before wasting money on slipcover).

      I’m not 100% sure of the exact fabric type but I would guess it to be a linen/cotton mix, it is upholstery fabric so it’s relatively heavy. I also doubt it is 100% natural (it’s been pretty stain resilient so far). It also looks like it has some kind of treatment on the back, perhaps a fire retardant? And it was 54″ wide.

      I’ve got two wing back chairs that I am planning on recovering and I have been thinking about a stripe design too, but I’m not sure if I am ready for that kind of challenge either!!

      Good luck.

  5. Hi! I am looking forward to trying this over the summer. I was wondering on which pieces you used the Velcro. Also, is any part of the slipcover you made removable so it can be washed? I am assuming the pillows are, but what about where the butts sit? Lol, I have young children and a dog and am looking for something washable. Would this diy still be for me?

    • Hi Stephanie, the velcro is for the piece that goes along the front of the storage compartment (under the chaise). This piece is removable so that you can switch which side the chaise is on. Other than the pillows, I did not make any of the pieces removable. It is just my personal preference but I’d previously had a removable cover on there that drove me nuts, it was never quite snug enough. Even with the removable cover that I had, you still had to dismantle the sofa to remove it, so it wasn’t that convenient to wash.

  6. Hi! I was wondering if you used a regular sewing machine to tackle this project or do you have an upholstery machine? I only have a regular sewing machine and am wondering if it could handle sewing thick upholstery fabric.

    • Hi Sydney.
      Nope, I don’t have a fancy upholstery machine, I used my little old regular sewing machine.
      One thing I wish I’d figured out sooner is not to try pull or push the fabric through, I initially thought that I was “helping” feed through some of that thick upholstery fabric by giving it a slight tug from behind. I didn’t realize until later that I was actually causing my machine to miss stitches and causing the thread to “bird nest”. So just be patient, don’t be tempted to tug on the fabric. I hope that is helpful.

      • Thank you so much! As soon as I find fabric I may give this a try. I’m slowly building up courage to tackle this project. 🙂

    • Yes, the slipcover featured in one of the photos above is from comfort works. It just didn’t work out for me, it didn’t achieve the sleek look I was hoping for. Before you spend all that money on a slipcover you need to be realistic about what result you’re going to get. That being said, comfort works do offer a great, high quality service, it just wasn’t right for me.

  7. Love your couch!! It really pushed me to tackle mine. I just started disassembling my couch (like 10 minutes ago) and I notice that there are sections that use a black fabric to supplement the grey for the hidden areas. Do your 11 yards include coverage for these areas, or did you reuse the black pieces? Thanks.

    • Thanks Kiela.
      Yes, I was careful to keep those black sections intact when I pulled everything apart and I reused them . For two reasons, it obviously saves on fabric and also, since it less bulky that proper upholstery fabric and it usually in between two sections, I think you get a bit of a snugger fit.

      So my estimates assume that you will reuse these pieces.

      Good luck!!

      • Thanks. By the way, do you have any tips for sewing the curved corners? I am having some issues with puckering. Yours look so effortless.

  8. Hi,
    Your slipcover is just perfect ! You’re so talented !
    I wish i could do the same but it seems so difficult for a novice at sewing like me !! I’m french and found manstad slipcovers here but there are so expensive. I’m gonna give a try but that will not as beautiful as yours…

    By the way, where did you get these pillows ? They’re amazing ! I’m looking for them

    • Thanks Grace. It is easier than it looks, most of the sewing is along straight edges.
      I mad the larger cushions. The smaller cushions are from a home-ware shop in Canada but I can tell you the brand is “Storehouse”.
      Good luck with the sofa.

  9. Looks super awesome Sacha!

    Just wondering how much it cost overall? Was thinking, what if you used the custom slipcovers you had and stapled them to the sofa – would it have achieved the same thing?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Chak.
      The fabric to re-cover cost me about about $230 (Canadian). There were no additional costs since I reused the zippers and anything else I could from the original covering.
      Yes, you could staple down the custom slipcovers but:
      1. They work out to a lot more than $230
      2. For the best results I would recommend removing the original cover. Removing all those staples is by far the hardest part of this project so if you’re going to go that far I say just go all the way and make the covers yourself.

      Good luck.

      • Really love the way your manstad looks now! I have one too, and I find the shape perfect for my living room, but the cover looks awful! I got in touch with comfort works but I had doubts and what I see here is just confirming them… Problem is: I can only hand sew!
        So I was thinking: maybe buying the custom cover and then removing the existing cover before fitting it to get a snugger look would work?
        Thanks a lot for sharing your work!

    • The fabric to re-cover cost me about about $230 (Canadian). I reused the zippers from the original covering and also the cheaper black fabric that cannot be seen.

  10. HI Sacha, I just wanted to comment to thank you for taking the time to put these instructions on here. Because of you and your excellent instructions I finally took the plunge and re-covered my awful old stained grey ikea sofa. Now it looks amazing and pretty expensive too. Yet all it cost me (apart from a whole lot of hard work) was $150 AUD. So again thank you so very much for your help 🙂

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