We Need New Upholstery But Can’t Afford To Buy It

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Dear Laurel,

I’m a fairly new reader. I found you when I looked for information about great sources for throw pillows. After reading the post, I went into my living room and imagined how some pretty new pillows would help spruce things up.

I stood there in the middle, staring at the upholstery. There before my eyes was 25 years of grape juice stains grease spots, not to mention some serious fading.

 

I don’t think that throw pillows will help that upholstery mess. lol

 

Hubs and I chatted, and since the vermin kids are now grown and pretty much out of the house, we decided to reclaim our living room with some spiffy new upholstery pieces.

So, we went shopping at the only furniture store in town. (There used to be three) I thought I was tripping when I saw the quote for one sofa, four chairs, an ottoman, and nine throw pillows.

Are you ready? With S/H and tax, it was $21,513.74

 

Okay, fine. We just don’t have that kind of money.

 

After putting four kids through college, our funds have limits.

 

Then, I had the idea to have our old furniture reupholstered. I went to a place that I’ve heard good things about, a 40-minute drive from our town. I brought in photos of our furniture.

Well, Laurel, this time, the quote was about half the cost of the new furniture, but that didn’t include the fabric or the nine pillows. And it didn’t include S/H and tax. Plus, the guy said that if the furniture needed new springs, which I’m sure it does, that would add several hundred more dollars.

 

So, we’re still talking at least 15k!

 

I didn’t realize that getting my furniture reupholstered isn’t that much less than brand new furniture.

Thanks to your article about throw pillows, I found some great sources to make some wonderful pillows for less than the upholsterer can do.

We’ve decided, though, that for the rest, we can’t afford to spend more than about $6,000.

I guess it’s Craig’s List and consignment shops for us.

It’s a shame because aside from the messed-up upholstery, the furniture is really quite good.

Sofia Stainer

 

***

 

Hi Everyone,

That’s a made-up Dear Laurel letter, of course. However, the essential information is today’s reality.

 

One option for Sofia is to paint the upholstery.

 

I first talked about painting upholstery in this post.

But, that upholstery was new, and the paint translucent, not opaque.

More about painted upholstered furniture in this post and other low-cost sources.

 

However, I adore slipcovers. I think it’s a great way to update old furniture.

 

Unfortunately, like a lot of things, the word has taken on some not-so-nice connotations.

 

For starters, I have a problem with the term “Shabby Chic.” Sure, Rachel Ashwell made a fortune with the brand, and I’m happy for her.

I have to admit that for about three years back in the late 80s early 90s; I liked it.

But then, those humongous chairs and a half and the faux chipped painted pieces lost their appeal.

And then, one day, there were ready-made slipcovers.

 

popular-shabby-chic-sofa-and-request-a-custom-order-and-have-something-made-just-for-you-13

Ummm…

not-at-all-chic-and-definitely-shabby-slipcover

These are good if you have pets.

And, below reminds me of the “granny” decor mistakes. It’s just a little too precious for my taste.

 

unique-shabby-chic-sofa-and-custom-shabby-sofa-chic-chenille-bedspread-by-vintagechicfurniture-1

 

But the above examples are not what I’m talking about when I’m talking about slipcovers.

 

robin-bruce-one-kings-lane-slip-covered-sofa

This chic, not shabby slipcover is what I’m talking about

 

katrin-cargill-cow-parsley-wallpaper-cole-and-son

And this classic by Katrin Cargill.

And the rest of these beautiful slipcovers, too

victoria-hagan-nantucket-living-room-with-custom-slipcovers

Victorian Hagan via Architectural Digest

Here are some beautifully tailored slipcovers over upholstery in Victoria’s Nantucket summer home.

 

victoria-hagan-slipcovered-sofa - over upholstery

This is Victoria’s old home in Nantucket from around 1999. Oh, how I would stare for hours. I painted my old living room this color, Ancestral from Pratt and Lambert. It is creamier than it looks here. And I used this gauze fabric from Henry Calvin for my old home and several clients.

 

diningroom-sam-allen-interiors-wonderful-slipcovers-on-the-dining-chairs-in-blue-and-white-ticking-stripe

Sam Allen

Maybe you’ve seen this wonderful dining room on Pinterest. I adore the slipcovers and also that they used the barrel armchairs as side chairs, as well.

 

rod-collins-furlow-gatewood - slipcvoer over upholstery

Furlow Gatewood – photo- Rodney Collins

 

Veere Grenney in Veranda - London apartment bedroom with chair with cool boxpleated slipcover on the chair

Veere Grenney via Veranda

A classic English bedroom. Nobody does slipcovers, like the British!

 

jk-place-capri-michele-bonan slipcover on the wingchair - upholsteryJK Place Capri

Laurel’s favorite hotel and possibly because all of the furniture is covered in white slipcovers!

 

Windsor Smith black kitchen white slipcover chair over upholstery

Windsor Smith

Windsor is one of my favorite interior designers. I love the chances she takes in her designs.

 

one-kings-lane_windsor-smith__slipcoverzebra-benches__

Windsor Smith

I’m trying to figure out if I think these conjoined twins are fantastic or not. We saw this interesting sofa in this recent post. I do love her signature detailing on the hem. However, I think I prefer Mark D. Sikes’ version (below) with a table in between the two sofas.

 

mark-sikes-wonderful-library-with-blue-slipcovered-sofas over upholstery

Via Mark D Sikes book, Beautiful

 

tulipe-chair-les-indiennes-slipcover-dining-side-chair

What better way to update some tired old upholstery with this charming slipcover from Les Indiennes (Tulipe Fabric)

 

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The Nester

Love the button detail on the back of this houndstooth checked fabric slipcover.

 

Where Can I Get Custom Slipcovers Made?

 

Anyone who can do custom upholstery can also make a custom slipcover. I have found that the price of slipcover labor is about half the cost of re-upholstery, and sometimes even less.

But, you might need a couple more yards of fabric, depending on the style. Some of the slipcovers do get tucked into the creases under the cushions. Therefore, when consulting yardage amounts, please be sure that these are estimates for slipcovers, not standard upholstery.

The very best site I found with tons, and I mean tons of advice, images, and great sources for inexpensive fabrics, is The Slipcover Maker.

 

In fact, I could’ve just put a link to her site and called it a day. :]

 

drexel-chair-before-after-slipcover over upholstery

How fresh is this classic ticking stripe on some dated fuddee duddee upholstery? You must check out her site. She’s located in the Kalamazoo, MI area, so you are in luck if you live around there! However, if you have an existing slipcover that’s kaput, she can copy it for you.

 

light-weight-classic-ticking-stripes-via-the-slipcover-maker

Beautiful ticking stripes sourced on The Slipcovermaker site.

 

What Other Fabrics Are Good For Custom Slipcovers?

 

Another terrific source on the Slipcover Maker site is Big Duck Canvas; They carry a 10 oz. Cotton Duck. It’s a good weight fabric perfect for slipcovers, and it’s really cheap.

Of course, you can use linen as well as lighter-weight cotton.

You can use velvet, but I recommend using poly velvet.

Any fabric that drapes well is suitable for slipcovers. However, I would avoid silk unless it’s not sat on a lot. And please keep it out of the sun.

Karen at the Slipcover Maker also provides a shrinking service. If you are using cotton, I strongly advise pre-shrinking your fabric. You can also do it yourself, but I’d spend the $ and have her do it.

 

Below are two other sources for custom slipcovers.

 

slipcovers-by-shelley-utah-buffalo-red-and-white-check-on-a-dining-chair

If you live in or around Eagle Mountain, Utah, please check out Slipcovers by Shelley.

How fabulous is this red and white Buffalo check on this dining chair.

 

custom-slipcovers-by-shelley-over-old-uphostery-chairs-dining-room

Shelley has a terrific website also filled with advice and tutorials.

pink-and-polka-dot-white-slip-cover upholstery

If you live in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC area, please check out Kristi, the “slipcover girl” whose website is called Pink And Polka Dot.

 

For The Adventurous and Talented who wish to turn their tired upholstery into a stylish new piece with slipcovers

 

miss-mustard-seed-tutorial-ottoman-slipcover

Miss Mustard Seed, who I’m sure a lot of you know already has a fabulous

tutorials about how to make custom slipcovers.

 

living-in-the-rain-garden-making-henriksdal-parson-slipcoversLiving In The Rain Garden

This clever woman covered an ugly brown leather Henriksdal chair from Ikea with a custom slipcover she made and get this. The fabric is a shower curtain from Target!

 

slipcover on a tired dining chair

Home Sweet Homemade

Diane, the author of Home Sweet Homemade, took a dining chair with some tired upholstery, made this cool corset-inspired slipcover, and put the chair in the guest bedroom. There’s a tutorial in the link.

 

one-kings-lane-eloise-slipcover-upholstery-headboard-white

This slipcovered headboard is a great idea and affordable. You can get it here, and it comes in 10 colorways!

 

one-kings-lane-blue-slipcover-sofa-with-white-piping upholstery

Beautiful dark blue slipcovers

 

While there is no separate category for slipcovers, included in this comprehensive directory are some of my favorite sources for slipcovered upholstery in Laurel’s Rolodex.

You might enjoy this post, What If The Furniture Doesn’t Fit?

And, if you missed the mid-week post because it came out late, you can check it out here.

Do any of you make your slipcovers? I know that some of you do, and I’m sure that I’ve left some things out. Please feel free to share in the comments.

xo,

Laurel-e1443573876689
Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES!

  • Michelle Winter - March 10, 2022 - 6:32 PM

    The word “spruce” was the giveaway it was you who wrote the letter. Plus it was funny, like you are.

    Thank you for letting us know how much slipcovers cost.

    I had it in my head it was nearly as expensive as regular upholstery, so it’s nice to know it’s not.ReplyCancel

  • Susan - March 3, 2022 - 1:35 AM

    What is the store with the gorgeous jacquard canvas fabric for slipcovers? Please share!!ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - March 1, 2022 - 10:27 AM

    Well, that’s a good point. Even drapes are hard to manage, just so much fabric to deal with and slipcovers would be more complicated. Plus most machines are not as heavy duty as you would need.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy - March 1, 2022 - 12:01 AM

    Great article as usual. So much good information. I love your style and humor.

    Keep up the good work.

    CathyReplyCancel

  • Dottie - February 28, 2022 - 9:20 PM

    Oh, Kristi from Pink and Polka Dot has made slipcovers for me! Beautiful work. Actually, I think I may have found her via your blog years ago. I love a chic slipcover, and it makes white furniture possible with young kids and cats.ReplyCancel

  • cathleen kushnick - February 28, 2022 - 9:04 PM

    Greetings — Not that you asked me but depending on the shape of your upholstered piece I’ve actually had good luck using a couple of cotton matelesse (spelling?) bedspreads and tucking them very neatly around the cushions. This works best if you have firm shaped cushions but I did it on a pottery Barn white duck sofa and it looked pretty groovy. Also it’s a different look but people do take interesting pieces of fabric, maybe pickstitched or african waxed cotton, etc. etc. and kind of layer up a sofa or chair. Not one is going to notice the upholstery is a little worn on the sofa arm if you have a gorgeous textile covering most of the back. Just some ideas . . .cheers.ReplyCancel

  • Irka Davis - February 28, 2022 - 8:22 PM

    Years ago I wanted something reupholstered and even though the cost was was less than a new piece of furniture, it was still a bit costly for me. So I taught myself. start with something small. The way it comes apart is the reverse of how to put it back together. Use your old fabric pieces as a pattern to cut the new fabric. (start with a solid…patterns can be tricky). Most is just stretched and stapled. The hard part is sewing the cushions and putting in zippers if you don’t sew.
    And now with Utube, there are so many posts with instructions. No reason to buy new furniture when you can recover your own.

    IT IS MUCH HARDER TO MAKE A SLIPCOVER. A SLIPCOVER IS ALL SEWED TOGETHER.ReplyCancel

  • Bonnie White - February 28, 2022 - 2:32 PM

    Custom works.com has very affordable Slipcovers as does Bemz.com. Look.ReplyCancel

  • Mary Ann Dudley - February 28, 2022 - 1:08 PM

    Laurel, what if custom slipcovers are not feasible? Do you have a source for a slipcover that can be purchased that looks somewhat ok?ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - February 28, 2022 - 11:05 AM

    There is an online store I love, mostly linen, fabric-store.com They have some gorgeous jacquard canvas fabric for great prices. I am studying hard to see if I have the nerve to make a slipcover. Thanks so much for all the slipcover instruction sites.
    (My husband thinks they look like “I can’t afford new furniture.” haha.)
    Your blog posts are always a feast for the eyes.ReplyCancel

  • susie - February 28, 2022 - 8:41 AM

    Furlow likes white cotton duck slipcovers as did Mary Emmerling in a book of hers from 1997 I bought for $1. I also like contrasting piping.ReplyCancel

  • Margaret - February 28, 2022 - 1:18 AM

    I’ve done slipcovers for my sofa 3 times over the years following the directions in a book my mom had. I think that being able to have the cushions covered separately is a big part of making it look nice. But it is a lot of work and you need to take your time. But it was a great way to have a new looking sofa on a very limited budget! Thanks for all the great tips.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Taylor - February 27, 2022 - 4:32 PM

    Laurel, I loved this post! My comment back to you has been loooong overdue. Like you, I can look at before and after pictures till my eyeballs fall on the floor, whether they’re of new siding on an outhouse or a silk rug in a formal livingroom. I think I live vicariously through those photos.

    I have to thank you for the tip on how to get the look of a natural seagrass or jute rug (hubs wasn’t going for it) with the benefits of a nylon rug for softness and cleanability, using Masland’s broadloom carpet cut and bound for our oddly long but narrow livingroom. I struggled for a couple of years trying to figure out what would “work”. It was a splurge to be sure, but worth every penny. Our floor is now warm in color and temperature.

    Also due to your influence, I rearranged our china cabinet to include just stemware and a few blue and white chinoiserie pieces my husband got at an estate sale years ago, when they were a dime a dozen, and which I didn’t appreciate aestetically until recently.

    Thanks to you, I fell in love/became obsessed with Chinese Chippendale side chairs for our small diningroom; not an inexpensive item right now, and wildly popular. This obsession started a nearly 2 year scouring of FBMarketplace, and CL, drooling over the new ones from Ballard Designs and the like. I finally scored 4 from the ’70’s for $100 total, which I’ll paint and recover, keeping in mind your suggestion to choose a stain and sun resistant upholstery fabric.

    Now the heart of my problem: I’ve looked at literally hundreds of pictures of parsons type dining room chairs for the ends of the dining room table, many of them slipcovered. But Laurel, here’s where my PTSD kicks in. I didn’t know the source of this angst until today, after practically hyperventilating when I saw your very first picture of the blue ready-made slipcover with the ditsy floral pillows. For us young, broke newlyweds in the early 80’s, and I know you can relate, those hideously fitting slipcovers were the only solution, and, by the way, the heighth of sophistication, for the hand me down sofa we practically trashpicked. As you would say, ain’t that ruffle just dreamy? It never stayed straight and it hit at the oddest spot, about halfway down the front and sides. So here I am, 40 years later, still bristling when I see a slipcover, worrying about it wrinkling when someone sits on it, tucking it in all around the cushions and getting pretzel crumbs under my fingernails, it moving around like one commenter described, trying to refit it to keep the piping straight.

    And then the unthinkable happened…the magical part of the post where you provide solutions. TaaaDaa – The Slipcover Maker, whose blue and white ticking chair doesn’t even look like a slipcover – in the best possible way – it is so well-fitted. And the clever woman with the mad sewing skills who covered her chair with the Target shower curtain. Are you kidding me? Is that even a thing? So now I can get a pair of less than attractive but clean and comfortable parsons chairs, and have slipcovers made to coordinate with the fabric on the side chairs. Be still my heart. The style of the slipcover with the tulips on it, the straight skirt that still shows some of the chair legs, that’s EXACTLY what I have been searching for all of this time. You have saved me tons of money for PTSD slipcover therapy and many hours of searching on line for something that didn’t exist until now.

    Laurel, don’t ever think for even one minute that you haven’t truly helped people with your design advice. It’s not just design. For my husband and me, you have helped us love the modest house we live in, make it a comfortable home for our needs, and feel confident to have family and friends over. We decide what’s okay-enough.

    We are so thankful to have a home we can enjoy just being in, thanks to your special gifts of design, humor, and humanity. You have a wonderful and lasting legacy.

    I am so happy to read about your life in Boston, your newly found social life and the beauty all around you. Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Pattiann Smith - February 27, 2022 - 3:45 PM

    Laurel, I live in Charlotte, NC and after reading this article I thought I wrote it!! Well after much searching I found a very reasonable upholstery company to make slipcovers for our two large sofas. I couldn’t believe the expense to replace them!! So I sought out slipcovers and found Byrums, in Blemont, NC. If anyone reading this needs re-upholstery or slipcovers they are the ones!!! Thank you for always being real with us, love your sense of human!! You are the best!!ReplyCancel

  • PamO - February 27, 2022 - 3:34 PM

    Here in Memphis area slipcovering is a dying art… none of our reputable upholsterers will do it. And the few little old ladies I have found over the past 30 years charged MORE than just upholstering would cost, certainly not less. (It’s also a look that is not for perfectionists.) My advice to clients with children and pets is to only buy or recover with ‘performance fabrics’ (aka indoor/outdoor) that can be scrubbed, even bleached. They are expensive, but worth every penny!!ReplyCancel

  • Kay - February 27, 2022 - 3:19 PM

    Just a thought that might be helpful. I have a velvet sofa and did very standard pillow arrangements on it until my sister gave me an extra long pillow (not a bolster). I put it in the center of the sofa, where it extends maybe three inches beyond the center cushion, on each side. It was an expensive pillow, but I can’t tell you how much that one pillow elevates the look of the sofa. I’ve since bought a couple more long pillows to change out seasonally. Such pillows need to be quite long relative to the length of the couch to really look good. The look is much more refined than the piles of pillows look, which to me is more comfy casual, unless your pillows cost a fortune.

    And I personally prefer the cleaner look of an attractive chair without a pillow, unless it’s a chair that’s seldom sat in. Guests find pillows on furniture annoying unless they’re long enough to put their back against.ReplyCancel

  • Ellen Shook - February 27, 2022 - 1:20 PM

    This post is worth it’s weight in gold, Laurel! So thanks for that, and the comments are really great, too. I taught myself to make slips years ago, having seen my mother do it over the years and I have a couple of suggestions for your readers as well. First, I personally don’t care for piping or cording. I either like it left plain, or flanged or top stitched. Even a little decorative ruffle can be a nice touch on some things. Grosgrain ribbon is a pretty accent on a skirt or flounce as well. Second, get yourself a box of “screw pins” aka slipcover pins. You can get a big box on Amazon for cheap. When you are ready to install the cover, discreetly place a few pins, like under the roll of an arm or in a tuck-in. The top of the pin looks like a small clear button, so it is not obvious even when placed in an area not covered by a tuck-in or cushion. This will keep the whole shebang in place more neatly so you are not having to constantly adjust and smooth out a slip that is not fitted as tightly as upholstery, which in my opinion is a better option because it makes it easier to take on and off.ReplyCancel

  • annemarie - February 27, 2022 - 12:38 PM

    i’m not sure this is the same but what the heck. i had a slipcover made for my sofa and it doesn’t hang the way it should. i spend a ton of time trying, successfully and un to get it right. i finally figured out that the fabric is not right for a slipcover. it seems fairly heavy but it seems to have too much ‘play’ i don’t know how to describe it.ReplyCancel

  • Gail - February 27, 2022 - 12:21 PM

    Thanks for the inspo Laurel. I lucked into the most gorgeous 1908 sofa that was completely rebuilt and reupholstered in a lovely cream fabric. It came with a matching chair and three wonderful side tables for $500. No, I did not forget a zero! The upholstery was spotless when I brought the pieces home. But my husband is a plumbing and heating contractor and is chronically filthy. I have already had his imprint shampooed out of the sofa twice. Now I have a blanket covering his end, which looks like crap and constantly needs to be tucked in. I think it’s time I went looking for someone to make me a dark navy slip cover. LOL.ReplyCancel

  • Bonnie White - February 27, 2022 - 11:28 AM

    I’ve gotten beautiful Slipcovers from CustomWorks.com and Bemz,com. Please check them both out if you have furniture from the top companies like pottery barn, crate and barrel, west elm, and many many more.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Schildroth - February 27, 2022 - 10:28 AM

    I never meet a slipcover that I personally like.ReplyCancel

  • Ralna - February 27, 2022 - 10:02 AM

    Thanks for these photos and sources! I have a wonderful handmedown sofa that was from my mother-in-laws “Victorian period” that I refuse to part with because it’s so comfortable. With tight tunneled back and good proportions. But it’s got green and pink flower brocade and fussy flower carved wood details, years of cats and kids have taken its toll. Currently a reindeer pelt is draped across its camel back. I’m more reindeer pelt, in the style department. I’ve been wondering what to do with it. It’s sturdy and a quality piece and I’m hanging onto it. Best napping spot in the house.ReplyCancel

  • Sherry Borst - February 27, 2022 - 9:15 AM

    I am so happy you mentioned Karen of The Slipcover Maker. I live in Grand Rapids MI and have used Karen’s unmatched skill on every piece of furniture I own…beginning nearly 10 rears ago. I have both taken furniture pieces to her (an hour away) but also used her fitting process of: measure pieces on 1st visit, a week or so later another visit to pre-fit and on the 3rd visit, Karen delivers a cover which fits like a glove.
    Every raw edged seam is perfectly finished on the inside and wash after wash, there is no fraying and no repair ever needed of seams e which did not hold up. I’ve never had a spot I could not get out and all but 2 of my covers are off-white.
    My 26 year old Ethan Allen furniture is holding up well and looks current in its new slips! Karen changed from a traditional upholstery skirt style to one which falls straight (from a seam under the front cushion) to the floor. Slipcovers mean I can have a look I like along with tea parties for 3 young granddaughters and not be a fussy hostess afraid of spills and though uniquely their own; smudgy little fingerprints.
    I am so happy I made the decision to use Karen and did not attempt to sew these myself. Her skill at both sewing and fitting is expert level, she guided me in fabric selection…plus she is an absolute delightful person.
    Sorry this is so long but I feel ever so fortunate to have found Karen. Having recently moved back to MI and near the start of beginning of her business, it was through Karen’s close childhood friend, (with whom my daughter worked) that I was given Karen’s phone number.
    I would try hard to figure out a way to work with her even if I lived in another State. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ReplyCancel

  • Mary K - February 27, 2022 - 9:12 AM

    For those who subscribe to Threads Magazine or their web site, there are instructions on how to make a Sofa Wrap. Related links include how to make a reversible chair cover and pillows.
    ReplyCancel

  • Cathy Boorman - February 27, 2022 - 9:12 AM

    This is such a useful post…I thank you. Would you mind a few questions? ( Please say no…🙏).
    Is there a specific number of pillows that are the minimum on a sofa? I have ordered two 84 inch ( I think) Century off white sofas and two blue-grey leather and wood chairs. My husband hates a lot of pillows, so is four enough on each sofa? Should they be the same size?
    Can I, should I, put pillows on the two leather chairs or leave them be?
    I read your fabulous pillow article but I don’t think it addressed these issues.
    Many thanks! Cathy in AZReplyCancel

  • Robin - February 27, 2022 - 9:02 AM

    I’m having the exact same issue with an oversized chair I just recovered! I have been blaming the upholsterer in my mind,but maybe that’s not it. I’m going to try to restuff the cushions myself to see if it helps.ReplyCancel

  • Louise Belcourt - February 27, 2022 - 8:55 AM

    This might be slightly off topic but if you have an IKEA sofa or chair that is looking tired there’s this company that has ready made slipcovers in zillions of fabrics and colors. And they aren’t expensive, I assume they can get it to you also fast. So kind of a win if don’t just want to pitch your IKEA furniture . bemz.comReplyCancel

  • Marlene Frank - February 27, 2022 - 8:48 AM

    Laurel, another great post. I have to say I have been there and done that. Meaning I opted to have a custom sofa recovered vs buying new. I chose against slip covers because I am just one of those perfectionist types – I mean I ironed my jeans in college back in the ’70s – that is how bad I am – so NO to slip covers. Anyway, my decorator who helped me buy the piece assured me that it was a good investment and worth reupholstering when the time came. So after about 10 years, In 2006 I decided to redecorate the family room including reupholstering the sofa. The cost was half of what new would have cost at that time. I learned due to some EPA type animal protection regulations in Massachusetts that down could not be added to the spring down cushions to plump them up. So my sofa was just recovered. Well okay, the cushions were in relatively good shape. Yet, the problem I discovered after a few months, the cushion covers (of my beautifully recovered in navy blue velvet chenille sofa) were beginning to slide out of place. My decorator was wonderful and brought in her man who fixed (attempted to) the problem. That worked for awhile, but the issue reappeared. Seems that chenille moves? And for the last several years every time the family room sofa is used, I have to pull the covers back into place. So my lesson is that while re-covering is possible for good furniture – it may make sense to bite the $ bullet to buy new. Especially if you have owned the piece for a long time – mine is now over well 25+ yrs and has earned its retirement. Or you know of a master class upholsterer.ReplyCancel

  • The Slipcover Maker - February 27, 2022 - 8:28 AM

    Laurel — very helpful post, and thanks so much for the mention! Here are 3 more tips for your readers who want to make their own slipcover: 1. Pin fit your furniture RIGHT SIDE OUT. Follow the tutorial on my website. This method is ideal for beginners. 2. A tightly woven medium-weight fabric (8 to 10 oz.) can easily be sewn on a home sewing machine. Consider cotton duck from Big Duck Canvas, 8 oz. Chino Twill and 8 oz. Carr-Go Canvas from sellfabric.com, or a 10 oz. dropcloth for a more casual look. 3. Preshrink your yardage!! Happy to answer any questions over at The Slipcover Maker blog.ReplyCancel

  • Linda - February 27, 2022 - 8:21 AM

    Some fabric shops have a bulletin board on which local seamstresses leave business cards with their specialties, including slipcovers and drapes. I slipcovered two chairs in the past–one a wing chair without skirt and one a traditional old stuffed chair. I used old sheets to create patterns and just chugged slowly along. They came out ok. No one walked into my house and screamed. I felt like one might have attained a “B” and the other an “A-.” The only iffy spots were where the arm pieces joined the seats. For one of them I found the fabric as curtains at a yard sale. I could not have designed more perfect material! It was an adventure, and I know not everyone is up for it, but really if you go slowly and have basic sewing skills, it is a doable thing, at least for chairs, cushions and pillows. Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Mary E - February 27, 2022 - 8:10 AM

    Good morning Laurel,
    My husband had a red recliner that I didn’t like. I thought if I could change the color to one that went with the rest of the room, I could look past the fact that it was an ugly recliner. So I made a slipcover for it. I didn’t use any piping so it was rather plain looking. But at least it went with my color scheme.
    And I used a lot of the links you’ve provided today as sources of information before I dove in. They were excellent.ReplyCancel

  • Cindy W. - February 27, 2022 - 7:51 AM

    I’ve made many slip covers and curtains over the years. One cheap fabric I’d like to share is working with large painters dropcloth that you can get at any of the local hardware stores. You can get a large amount of material for very low cost.The material is usually stiff and an off-white color – I wash it first so it is pre-shrunk and this also softens it. Depending on how white I want to get the color, I will soak it in dilute bleach solution until I get the color and softness that I like. I usually do a trial on a small 1‘ x 1‘ piece and then go for the big one .You can get a large amount of material for very low cost. It can also be dyed, or even have iron transfer such as monograms placed on it. It gives the look of linen and wears very well. I wanted a Hamptons look for our lake cottage and covered my IKEA chairs with this material making the skirts stop above the floor so the dark wood feet show- turned out awesome!ReplyCancel

  • GL - February 27, 2022 - 6:27 AM

    I’ve made slipcovers for dining room chairs and for a sofa, plus of course seat cushions and ordinary cushions. The lesser items are good but the sofa cover isn’t (the sofa is an impossible design with zips to hold the back cushions and the seat cushions to the structure, and it took 2 of us 2 hours to get them back together, never again!). Having done it once, I’ve got to do it again, but to a different design and method!
    My tips: start with a cheap fabric and get it plain so that you’re not trying to match patterns. Similarly, start with something easy like an ottoman. Pre-shrink the fabric if necessary.
    Piping is easy with a zipper foot on the machine. Getting it really straight on the slipcover is more difficult. I now attach piping to one of the pieces and then to the other, stitching closer to the cording each time.
    Take your time and don’t do too much in one go. You’ve got to be meticulous and you’ll inevitably have to do a bit of taking apart and re-doing, especially as a novice. When this happens, leave it for another day. (And I fully endorse Sara’s comment about bloodstains, a pain in every way!)
    To get a really close fit you need zips (see the invisible zip on the Sam Allen photo — the tab is visible). Another solution for some positions is Velcro, which holds things together very firmly. Using it may make it possible to have your sofa slipcover in several pieces, and thus easier to work with, and easier to remove and wash when the time comes. To look good, a slipcover has to be a tight fit, but you’ve also got to be able to get it on and off! It’s worth looking at videos of how to do that, even for cushions, so that you don’t rip the stitches close to fastenings, always a risk when stuffing a cushion filler into the cover.ReplyCancel

  • Virginia - February 27, 2022 - 5:25 AM

    Laurel,
    I hope this makes a shred of sense…. I am one week post op total hip replacement!!!
    We live in a small town, but are very lucky to have a wonderful upholstery lady. Sadly, she does not do slip covers. With lead times as long as they are for many manufacturers, I am wondering if you know any other sources for companies shorter lead times. As for ordering on line (One Kings Lane or Ballard for instance) I am so hesitant to order a sofa or club chair without first sitting on it or knowing someone who has. There is no greater disappointment than finally sitting down in the long awaited chair and find that it is hard as a rock!!!
    I have been in the design business for over 25 years and never experienced anything quite like this! By the time the sofa arrives, I am afraid that my client will want a whole new look!!!
    Thanks!

    VirginiaReplyCancel

  • Sara Fishback - February 27, 2022 - 5:03 AM

    Laurel! You included almost all the amazing sources I used!
    Slipcovers are SO much easier than I could have imagined! You do need a heavier sewing machine, the correct machine needles, good scissors, and lots of pins. Lots. (And when you stab your fingers – will you – while pinning all the things, try to just bleed on the seam allowance 🤓).
    The Slipcover Maker was my main source of information. Fabric was 10oz cotton twill from Big Duck Canvas. Zippers came from the very helpful The Zipper Lady.
    Helpful hints: practice making cording/piping if you never have. Also, work on a cushion cover first, to help get a feel for the process, and for dealing with multiple layers of heavy fabric.
    Cost to cover both the sofa and loveseat was about $300. 1983 Bernhardt pieces, still going strong.ReplyCancel

  • Ramona - February 27, 2022 - 1:19 AM

    My mother, a seamstress, made slipcovers for us. They are not that difficult except for one thing: too much material to handle — this is also a problem with drapes but slipcovers are far, far worse.

    I am hoping not to have to tackle this sort of project before I die even though I am no slouch as a seamstress.

    Perhaps I am exaggerating the difficulty as I have never really tried.

    No doubt, they are a good choice under certain circumstances.

    Your examples, are, of course, beautiful.ReplyCancel