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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yep, It's a Slipcover

When we moved into our new house, I decided that instead of reds and greens as accent colors in our living room, I wanted to go with blues and yellows. Great! On a budget of approximately $27. Not so good. Especially since our loveseat is a nice, mossy green color. (I bought this piece of furniture seven months pregnant. Do not buy furniture when you are that pregnant! You will not make good choices!) This loveseat is comfy, but it definitely wasn't fitting in with the new turquoise and teal accents that were making their way into the living room. I've always had the idea that I could sew slipcovers for furniture, so I decided to try it out.

Now, I was concerned, because I have also always had the idea that I could cut hair, until one horrible evening a few years ago when I tried my hand at my sister's hair. With Motown blaring on the stereo, I slowly watched in fear as I hacked her poor hair to death. (Have you ever been in a wreck? It was like that - a slow-motion I-can't-believe-this-is-happening-right-now-make-it-stop kind of experience.) I was assured by the hairdresser that we both went to at the time that I did not, in fact, have the gift of haircutting. And that I was to never try that again.

There is an e-book at that's super-helpful if you just need some motivation to get started. No patterns, exactly, but lots of information and encouragement. Here's part of the intro:

"I want women to make their homes beautiful and encourage them in the process to not live by
fear, but believe THEY can do it. Don’t be afraid to cut fabric. Don’t be afraid to just begin somewhere and on some piece of furniture that you do not love right now. Just go for it."

Yes! Yes, I will buy 10 yards of fabric, drape it all over a piece of furniture, and cut and pin and pin and cut and sew and welt and sew until I am ready to break up with my sewing machine. And that's serious. My sewing machine and I have been on solid terms for about 18 years now.

Here's the basic process:
1. Go to I.O.Metro Home and buy lots of upholstery fabric. (No, I'm still not a paid advertiser. Just a devoted customer.)
2. Wrong-side out, lay it over the sofa in the general area it'll end up covering.
3. Tuck and cut and pin where you'll sew the seams.

4. If you're doing welting (which I totally recommend), you have to pin it in while you're adjusting.
5. Drag the whole thing to your sewing machine and sew, sew, sew wherever you've pinned.

6. Put it back on the sofa, adjust and re-sew if needed, and pin on the skirt. Then sew, sew, sew the skirt on.

That's it!

I won't get into all the details. If you have the feeling that you could do it, you probably can. I will share some things that I'll do differently the next time:

* Be sure to get a fabric with no stretch at all. It's a beast to work with that much fabric to begin with, and if it has any give, it'll stretch out of shape while you're sewing it.
* Leave lots more fabric to tuck than you think you'll need.
* Because there's so much fabric, next time I'll set up my sewing machine on a big table instead of the desk. I spent as much time wrestling the fabric to stay put as I did sewing.
* Next time, I'll definitely hand-baste while the thing's still on the sofa instead of just pinning.
* I'll do a more decorative skirt next time, too. For this one I just did box pleats on the corners and in the middle front, and that looks a little plain to me now.

So now we have a loveseat that's a nice, neutral mushroom color. It looks lovely with the turquoise and teal accents, and when the inevitable kid-messes happen on it, I can just whip it off and clean it up. Overall, I think it's a totally do-able project, and something that I'm kind of excited to do again. Maybe our slipper chairs could use a face-lift. . .


  1. Good for you!!! I'm dying to have my mom do this to my sofa (she can sew, and I refused to let her teach me every summer of my childhood because I'm stubborn and silly). I have a cream chenille bedspread over a camel backed sofa in our living room that acts like a slipcover for all intents and purposes and I LOVE it. I love taking it off and washing it and feeling like what I'm sitting (or laying) on is clean. Hope to see you guys sooner than later. Tell the fam' I said "hi!"

  2. I am that sister. It really was a horrible haircut - I didn't know how bad until I saw the expression on my real hairdresser's face. But I have to accept partial blame for entrusting myself to someone who said, "I've never done it before, but I feel I could cut hair." Thank you, Mel. I'm glad the slipcover was a more successful undertaking. :)