Saturday, February 26, 2011

Another Slipcover & Semi-Tutorial

I've been a slipcovering queen for the past few weeks.

 I'm happy to say I've recovered both of my sofas (living room sofa here) and I can finally put up my sewing machine or at least not be slumped over it all day.

I usually start off with the before and after but this time I'm just going to walk you through what I went through, share my mess ups & give some tips at the end. I didn't use piping on the body of the cover for this sofa.  I wanted clean lines to go with the style overall.

 Remember this sofa?  Got it for under $50 at GW.
(Woohoo- still tickled about that!)

I didn't want all the little ridge things on the back showing through, so the first thing I did was cover the back with batting. I used a staple gun and slip stitched it in some places and tucked it in in other places.

Second step is drape your fabric & pin it.  This is the first section, so I pinned the fabric right onto the arm. This way helps me get an idea of how much fabric I'm going to need & how to best position it.

  I work in sections and mold the fabric around the piece.   If you're unsure of where to place a seam for the best fit, look for the original seam on your piece. That is how I had to do the arms on this sofa. I followed the seam that was already there.

This side is pulled a little tight in the middle (it drove me nuts getting this part right), so I had to rip the seam and resew it.

This is a good example of scissor happy. I have no idea what I was thinking when I chopped the seat part off..but I needed it and had to patch it up. That was UNfun but it was under the cushions and didn't show. It's a learning process.

I would pin fit, trim extra fabric & sew, then turn it right side out to make sure it fit & looked right, then trim the extra fabric one final time. So this...

  Looks like this....

And here is the after:

 Since we're in the middle of remodeling the den it was hard to get a good picture. I see areas I should have tucked & straightened but you get the idea.

To say I'm thrilled to be finished with this is a total understatement.  I just started using a sewing machine this past year, before that I would hand sew or use stitch witchery or something like that.  I'm no pro when it comes to sewing and I believe if I can pull these off, then anyone can.  So, if you're thinking of giving it a try, I say go for it!

I've been asked questions about how I make my slipcovers.  Here's a few tips - I hope it helps.

1.  Get an idea of how you want the finished slipcover to look.  I found inspiration pics and it really helped when I wasn't sure how to finish an edge or where to put a seam.

2.  Know your fabric.  I kept that simple..I used drop cloths on mine.  It really helped with the fearless factor of just doing it.  I think it would have been harder if I was using an expensive or difficult to work with fabric.  Using drop cloths I knew if I screwed it up, I'd just get another one.. no biggie.  You can always upgrade fabrics down the road.  Also, if you are using a drop cloth make sure it doesn't have anything wrong with it before you start pinning & sewing..just give it the once over. Trust me, nothing smells more like defeat than to sew an entire section and notice a small tear in the middle or a dark thread running through it, etc.

3. Pin Fit -  I don't use patterns. I don't like measuring when it comes to stuff like hanging pictures or sewing...not always good but in this case, pin fitting fabric is awesome & pretty easy.  You just  mold the fabric around your furniture & pin it!  Leave yourself some wiggle room of extra fabric at the seams in case you've fit it too snug and need to let it out.  Speaking of that, I made my slipcovers a smidge loose to leave room for extra batting on cushions (just a personal preference). MMS has some great tips here that I found extremely useful and she is using piping at that link. 

4. Work in sections - I started by draping then cutting a piece of fabric that will cover one arm, then cut another piece to fit another part of the same arm, pinned them all together, and then sewed that section.  I added on sections from there.  Each time I added a new section I turned it rightside out and "tried it on" the sofa to make sure it looked right.  You have to do this alot and it's a royal pain but it's also fun because you start to see your progress!

Again, I'm no pro - I  Gumped my way through these covers for the most part. But from my experience, I do think working in sections (pinning & sewing)  is easier because you don't want to take this huge piece of fabric with 1000 pins in it over to the sewing machine and try to figure out what the heck is going on.

5. Use sew on velcro - that's what I recommend.  I used the sticky back velcro on a few cushions and the glue that was stuck on my sewing needle was AGGRAVATING - my thread stuck to the glue & knotted up.Cooking spray gets the glue right off.  I just sprayed some on a paper towel & cleaned my needle with it. It also removes spray paint from your hands and smells WAY better than goof off!  I might be overlooking the attributes of sticky velcro but from what I've seen, no thanks. 

6. Seam ripper - have one ready.  They are made for a reason.

In the end you will probably need to pull out the old needle & thread for a few finishing touches.

 These are areas that I pinned to get a better fit and put in a couple of hand stitches.

 It is a job making a slipcover but they are a nice change, they aren't expensive AND you can wash them! Also, I have found that using baby wipes gets spots out of these drop cloths without fail.  Now,  I didn't go over making cushions but if you can make a pillow, then you can make a cover for a cushion. If you can't make a pillow, then you probably aren't thinking about making a slipcover!

I also made my mom a lampshade like the burlap one I made for myself last week. She loves it and I'll be sharing that's been like Groundhog Day for me...nothing but slipcovers & lampshades!

I'm linking to these parties & TDC'S Before & After Party.  Have a fun rest of the weekend!

The Lettered CottageTip Junkie handmade projects


  1. Thank you! an excellent job!....good for you...smiles.

  2. I wish I could sew. I tried hemming the edges of a simple table square and failed miserably. What a great find on that sofa, its absolutely gorgeous!

  3. Wow - great job on this slipcover! Your tips at the end of the post are really helpful as well. I've been wanting to slipcover a funky chair of mine for awhile, and pretty soon it might be time to do it. Bookmarking your post for when that time finally comes! :)

  4. Jennifer, I've been a hobby sewing girl for forty years and don't think I could have done any better than you did. Your finished product looks great, congratulations on a job well done!

  5. AMAZING job!! Your new couch looks fabulous.

  6. Wow. You make it look so simple. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm your newest follower. I would love it if you linked your project up to my link party. It will be open through tomorrow.
    More The Merrier Monday.

  7. That looks great! Slip covering still seems so hard to me. Even with all the tutorials I read. You all make it look so easy, but I'm not buying it. I think it's a real talent. One I'm pretty sure I don't have. Reupholstering seems easier to me than making a slip cover. I bow to you.

  8. thanks for you sweet comment on my blog Type A, I just became your newest follower. i love slipcovers, can't wait to see what else you've done. do you know how to make double cording? and are your services for hire? =)

  9. I LOVE this! Its FAB!!! Come on 'ova and share this at my Linky Par-Tay!



  10. Thank you for linking up this great post last week! {Im a lil behind, eeekk!}

    Its party time AGAIN!!! xoxokara


  11. I,like you love the clean lines of your sofa & I am finding it
    impossible to find it in a color I like that is affordable - next
    time I see one like this on craigslist I am going to get it and try your technique - as you said if you can do it anybody (I) can do it. The only thing I will do differently is make it a one cushion seat.

  12. I'm curious, could you tell us what brand you used of drop cloth and where you purchased it? There are so many different kinds... Thanks!

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  14. Nossa...acho que não é um gênio

  15. very nicely done. been doing these for a while and eventhough it aint easy, the end result is beautiful. thanks.

  16. Found you through pinterest. I'm going to attempt my first slip cover.

    Must say, the original sofa had such a fantastic style! Was the upholstery in bad condition? It looks relaxed now but, before, it looked so interesting.

  17. Love the instructions. I have one that I am working on now. I have the back pillow and seat cushion finished, but, not the ottoman and the chair. Maybe this will get me motivated.

  18. Great article - and NICE job! Would like to share a little tip with you on removing 'sticky' from your needle (I do a lot of machine embroidery and do this myself) - alcohol will clean the needle. You can do it with a paper towel/tissue, cotton ball, or my favorite when I'm going to have to clean it often - an alcohol pad. You know those little tear open packages... I don't open it - just put it under my needle, and run the needle right through the package while it's still in the machine. If you don't open the package, it won't dry out and you can use it all day, just continue to poke new holes.

  19. Thanks for your post. It's a good idea for my old sofa. And you make so easy that I think. Give my salutations from Tenerife, Spain

  20. What do you mean by using dropcloths? Is it the canvas cloth you use put on floor when painting a room?

  21. Thank You for this post. 2 questions though:
    1. have you made and worked with piping? do you like it?
    2. also when you pin it its inside out but when you turn it right side out its on the opposite side it started out on. right? does that cause problems?

  22. i attempted a slip cover and I must say its way easier than it looked. once I started it came together pretty simply and just like it was supposed to. a must try for anyone .

  23. I want to make slipcovers but I'm not sure if my sewing machine can handle drop cloths. It's an inexpensive Brother. what do you think...hope to hear from you soon.


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