I pretty much hate sewing slipcovers. Our slipcovers I made a few years ago had gotten really, really gross, though. Imagine four kids eating, sleeping, and hanging out on my poor sofa for years. Not only them, but their many friends, too.
I had done a really bad job sewing my last set of slipcovers, and I also made the mistake of making them in a natural off white color.. Then to make matters worse, I decided to try to dye them to cover the stains. I didn’t take photos to share with you, because frankly, I’m a bit embarrassed I had let them get so ugly. Imagine a mottled bluish purple dye job that was supposed to cover the stains, but only made the stains darker. Yep, it was time to make some new slipcovers!
So one day I was in the fabric district at my favorite shop, and I spied a few coordinated rolls of this old fashioned looking home decor fabric. I could tell it was really high quality. A nice thick linen cotton blend. This shop gets surplus from designers, and the fabric was from an English company called Bensimon . On the selvage was ‘Hand printed in England’. When I looked Bensimon up on my phone, I found a very posh looking site, and learned their fabrics are only available to the trade.
My hands were kind of shaky when I found out it was only two dollars a yard! I bought the entire amount then and there. I felt like I was committing a crime! And it just so happened to be the perfect amount of fabric too, as I only have one yard of fabric left after finishing! Is that luck or what? Now, maybe it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. Maybe a little too granny chic? But for forty bucks, there was no way I was passing this deal up! Plus, my kids will probably end up trashing this, too.
NO MORE EATING ON THE COUCH! Easier said then done…. now on to my slipcover sewing tips. These tips are for the actual sewing of the slipcovers. If you would like to know how to drape the fabric onto your chair or sofa and cut it out, you can visit my other slipcover making tutorial.
Welting and piping
Welting and piping give slipcovers a nice, finished look. I made my own piping with some cording I bought, but didn’t buy enough for the box cushions. I ended up making welt seams for those instead. They are just long two inch bias stripe ironed in half and sandwiched between the fabrics .
Sewing ruffles on slipcovers.
When sewing ruffles to slipcovers, it’s easier to make small pleats than to make ruffles with the sewing machine. Thicker fabrics for home decor are difficult to make a gathering stitch on. When I sew on a basting stitch and then try to gather it, it often breaks, so I just make small pleats and pin them onto the fabric. It looks just like ruffles. Another option is to use a cord and sew a zig zag stitch over the cord. The zig zag stitch makes a casing for the cord which can then be used to gather in the fabric. Too much trouble for me to bother with, though.A covered welt zipper is the most durable and attractive type of zipper to sew for slip covers. Also, if the cushion is flipped, it won’t irritate you if you are lying on it.
The box cushion has four main pieces. the top and bottom, and a long, rectangular area in between. That long rectangle has two pieces. A long one in the front that wraps all the way around the front and sides but stops about five inches before it gets to the back corners of the back sides of the cushion. The second piece of that inset is the back piece with the zipper, which wraps all the way around the back and extends into the sides to meet the other piece. This has to be longer than the back side, or else you won’t be able to remove the cushion easily. I didn’t think this through when I made my last set of slipcovers, so the back zipper was the same width as the back piece. And it was a nightmare trying to remove the cushions for washing. You need those extra inches to get the cushions off.