an Aside to Monday’s Sofa Slipcover

Friends, Thank You for your very kind words about my sofa slipcover! I’m so happy with it I could cry. It’s kind of brightened up the entire apartment space we live in and its given me the bug for a few more home dec projects. I just finished up a shower curtain and bought a second hand kitchen/cafe table to boot. I’ll also be installing coat hooks and a boot tray by the door soon. Nothing too glamorous really, but while I’m at it, I might as well give the couch a little something to compete against.

Since many of you were curious about the process, I decided to give you my inside info on how I did it. As this was my second time giving my sofa the slip – pun intended of course – I had a much better idea of what I needed to do and how to do it. So if you too are interested in giving a piece of furniture a slipcover, here’s a few ideas/suggestions for you.

Ideas for the Rub Off/Pattern
To start with, there’s actually a great pattern put out by McCall’s (3278) that walks you through the process of how to plan and sew a slipcover. I pulled the pattern out of my stash – which really its not a pattern per se, but more of a guide for how to make your own slipcover – and started perusing it and planning my slipcover back in May. McCall’s 3278 walks you through measuring your sofa or chair so that you have an idea of how much fabric to purchase, in addition it gives instructions on how to make welting for the slipcover and how to rub off the pattern utilizing muslin from your original sofa. If you want to sew a slipcover, get this pattern – you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.

For box cushions and throw pillow ideas, definitely read this Thread’s article. It would have been impossible to get great looking corners on my sofa cushions were it not for this article and I would never have come up with the idea of putting a buttonhole in the throw pillows – to make them washable – on my own. Also, this blog had a very helpful suggestion when it came to sewing a slipcover – as you go along, pin test the slipcover to the sofa by pinning the seam allowances together and draping it over the sofa to get a really nice and form fitting fit.

Sewing Notions for DIY Upholstery

There’s actually some great notions out there, at your local fabric store (amazing right?) that are easy to find and great to use for upholstery. I found all of the notions that I used in the making of my slipcover at Joann. It was really crazy that I didn’t have to go anywhere else to find any of it either. Hmmmm….. Anyway, let’s talk about them. First there’s upholstery thread which is a really fat heavy duty thread and it only comes in a few colors. I used this in the top thread of my machine only and it works really well in conjunction with your regular bobbin thread. I used the Coats and Clark brand, but Gutterman also has some and you can find it online here.

Heavy duty zippers. These are found only in the home dec isle too. I used a metal zipper in the slipcover portion of my couch – at the center back – and for the cushions I used this heavy duty zipper that comes in a 3 yard roll with something like 12 zipper pulls on it. You just cut off the amount of zipper you need and bar tack it at the bottom and top and there you go. These things have big sturdy zipper pulls and coils and their not going to just fall apart at the drop of a hat.

Drapery weights come in really handy if you need to add some weight to the hem of the skirt section of the slipcover. Just tack them into the corners of the slipcover and they’ll make your slipcover hang nice and straight.

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Upholstery needles are the only way to go if you plan to do any buttons on your throw pillows. Super long and they can hold about a million threads too.

Steam-a-Seam. I love this stuff. I think its the best stuff since sliced bread. I use it all the time and I really put it to work in my slipcover. Use it instead of hand basting – it’s the bees knees!

Welting cord can be found along with the other items above and it’s usually sold by the yard. There’s a few different sizes too.

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Fabric Ideas & Resources
I most definitely recommend scoping out your local fabric scene to see if there are any shops that specialize in upholstery fabric. Personally, I wish I had done this a bit more. I saw the fabric I chose online and went with it because I knew what the weight and quality of those Amy Butler cotton sateens would be like. It was only after I had purchased the fabric online that I started scoping out my local fabric scene. Surprisingly, here in SLC, Utah, there’s several shops around that have an amazing collection of home dec fabrics. Crazy. I’m still happy with what I chose, but I might have picked something different had I visited these shops first. Awww well. I found my fabric at fabric.com and I was very happy with the service – I also like the idea that I could reorder more of the fabric if I needed and I did because originally I only started out with 10 yards and had to order 5 more later.

For my sofa slipcover this time around, I decided to go with a print instead of a solid. Having grown up with printy couches my whole life, I didn’t realize why my mom had picked printy couches until I had a solid colored one. With my red sofa slipcover – the one I had previous to my now gorgeous new one! – there ended up being all sorts of stains and what nots all over it. I don’t even have kids friends. The solid red didn’t hide anything. So I decided on a print this time around and let me tell you it hides alot! For anyone first attempting a slipcover, I highly recommend using a print as even sewing mistakes and mishaps are not nearly as visible as they are on a solid.

I interfaced a few sections of the slipcover with some high quality muslin namely the seats on the cushions (the part you sit on), the back of the slipcover (the part you would have your back against were you to sit down on the sofa and also the skirt.

Well…. I think that just about wraps it up. Believe me, I’m not a professional home-dec-er. I never do stuff like this, just on occasion. Weird though that I did quite a bit of homework on this particular make. It’s only fair that I share it with you – especially if you too are a dressmaker turned home-dec-er every now and again. Let me know if you gals and guys have any questions and I’ll try to answer them! Hopefully this is a helpful post if you want to try your hand at DIY slipcovers. Enjoy!

xoxo,
Sunni

  • Janice - Sorry if this is TMI, but could you please post about how you made your shower curtain? Did you use vinyl or plastic, what kind of needles did you use? Thank you!
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    • Sunni - I most likely won’t be posting about my shower curtain, but I will tell you that I just used regular cloth – a cotton stripe and then an old chenille bed spread for a little trim at the bottom. Then I went and purchased a shower curtain liner to put behind it and Voila! cute shower curtain. The whole thing only took me about 3 hours from start to finish. Easy peasy.ReplyCancel

      • Samantha - I wanted to ask the same thing, because I haven’t seen fabric wide enough for a regular size shower curtain … or did you make a seam, matching the stripes?ReplyCancel

        • Sunni - The cotton I used was 64 inches wide and since my previous shower curtain was 66 inches wide, I didn’t think it would matter much. I did actually use an apparel fabric for it because its what I could afford and had access to. I just left the selvedges on the side, did not add any width to it, put buttonholes along with a bias strip and a piece of interfacing along the top and trimmed the bottom in my old chenille bedspread. Couldn’t have been easier, seriously. You could definitely go with something more interesting like adding a bias strip down the center of the shower curtain or piecing something together with various strips of fabric if you need something wider, its all in the imagination!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - Wow, this is so cool! I have cats so the edges of my couch are all torn up and destroyed, which prompted me to make corner guards for those parts, but I’ve never re-covered a whole couch! Kudos to you for undertaking such a ginormous project, and doing such a fabulous job!! :D
    Amanda recently posted..Musings of a bombshellReplyCancel

  • Crystal - Your couch slipcover turned out great. Congratulations on finishing such a big project. I can personally vouch for the McCall’s pattern. I bought that years ago when preparing to make slipcovers for the first time and it was a huge help, especially being a beginning sewer. I’ve made several tailored, welted slipcovers for couches, a settee, and a chair over the years. They are so much work. One awesome thing, too, is that pattern has a pattern piece for making the yards and yards of covered welt cording necessary for such a big project.ReplyCancel

  • Katherine - Your foray into slip-cover territory has been most serendipitous for me – I recently moved in with my boyfriend and he has an old seventh-hand sleeper sofa that definitely needs a pick me up, and I brought a huge over-stuffed armchair that I love but madly clashes now with the colour we chose for the walls. I’m about to get some swatches to choose the fabric, but I was so lost as to where to start looking for how to go about creating a slip cover from scratch. So thanks bunches for the resources, I’m going to rely on them heavily I think!

    Also, that is one smart slipcover! I love that pattern!ReplyCancel

  • Angela - Cheers to you for making a slip cover and thank you for sharing! Your tips are awesome, you are making me want to go out and get that pattern/ instruction set.
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  • Ira Morse - I have an old vintage sofas and I wanted to have a slipcover with less expenses. What I mean is a recycle slipcover, which I can use for my sofas.
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  • looloolooweez - Oh, thanks so much for sharing these tips. I’ve only recently started sewing but one thing that I really would like to make someday is a cover for our ancient, ugly sofa. It is a brown/rust orange sort of plaid, but some of the Mystery Stains still manage to show up. This post is def. going in my notes for future reference.
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  • Donna G - Hi, The interfacing on the seats and back rest is a great idea. I never did it but now you mention it…ReplyCancel

  • Katherine - Does upholstery thread usually work in your sewing machine or does using it in the top thread only make a difference? I tried it in mine (Viking E20) and even on the highest tension, the stitches came out loose and unusable. Maybe if I just use the top thread?

    Either way, awesome amazing project! One day I will have the courage to tackle a project that huge. :) ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Yes, I just used the upholstery thread in the top thread – I stated that in my post above. I’ve tried it in the bobbin thread too and it either breaks the thread or the needle. I personally felt it did make a difference as the upholstery thread is so thick and substantial. Makes a difference when you think about how much sitting and lounging on the couch you’ll actually do.ReplyCancel

  • Nothy - Hi Sunni,

    Your couch looks fabulous. I can’t believe how good it looks. Bravo! I’m thinking of making a slipcover for our couch. Can you give me an estimate of how much fabric you used…(I’m just trying to gauge how cost effective it would be to make a slipcover…I figure it will cost $100 -150 to buy one). ALso, what type of material did you use? I’m guessing a cotton-stretch satin?

    NothyReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Hi Nothy,

      I used 15 yards of fabric for my couch and its a cotton sateen – link for the fabric is in my post. There’s no stretch in the fabric and it cost me around $200 for the entire thing including fabric for my pillows and all notions.ReplyCancel