How to make your own slipcovers


Give your loveseat a fresh, new look with a custom-made slipcover.

Some slipcovers are nothing more than a large sheet of material draped over a piece of furniture. But by sewing individual covers for each seat cushion and making the slipcover in several pieces, you can achieve a cover that not only looks good but that actually stays in place when the furniture is sat upon.

Nearly any medium-weight fabric will work nicely for a slipcover. Thin fabric will not hold up well and will not do a good job of covering flaws such as rips, knobby frayed spots, or other imperfections in the original piece of furniture. This style of slipcover features gathered bunches of fabric on the sides of the loveseat and on the front of the armrests, so heavy textured fabric such as that used for upholstery will not drape well.

Begin your slipcover project by pulling out your tape measure, a piece of paper and a pencil. Make a sketch of your loveseat and jot down measurements beside the individual sections.

Your first measurement will be for the main section of the slipcover and will start on the floor in the back of the loveseat. Take off the cushions, then measure up and over the back, across the part that the cushions rest on, and down to the floor at the front of the loveseat. Add at about six inches to the total length to allow for a hem at the front and the back and to give yourself a little bit of room to play with. Then measure the width of the loveseat.

You will need two rectangular pieces of fabric this size. The pieces will be sewn together with a seam down the center of the loveseat (to be in line with the cushions), and the excess material will be tucked in where possible, with most of the fabric gathered on the sides and being allowed to fall vertically toward the floor.

After laying the fabric on the loveseat, wrap the fabric around the sides, overlap the edges and pin in place. Secure the gathered fabric with ribbons, strips of matching fabric, or a decorative clip. (If using ribbons or fabric strips, tack one end of a strip near the front of the loveseat and one end near the back.

Pull together and tie.) After tucking the fabric into the crevices of your particular loveseat, mark the hem on the front, back and sides. Finish by turning over the bottom edge and machine-stitching ahem. For extra detail, sew decorative trim around the bottom edge.

Next, measure the arm pieces. Begin at the floor in the front of the loveseat and measure the height to the top of the armrest. Make a note of this measurement. You will not be cutting a piece of fabric this size, but you will need the number for the next measurement. Now, go to the floor on the side of the loveseat and measure up and over the armrests and down to about six inches below where the cushions rest.

(You will be tucking the fabric into this crevice.) Again, allow room for them. Then measure from the back of the armrest out toward the front of the loveseat. Add the height that was noted earlier to this width. You will need two rectangles of fabric this size. Each of these rectangles will be laid over the armrests, with the excess pulled into a gathered bunch on the front of the armrests and hanging vertically to the floor. Tuck in, secure the gathers, and finish the bottom edges as described for the main section.

When these pieces are placed over the loveseat and you are happy with how they fall, secure them to the loveseat with screw-in pins. These spiral pins have a button-type head. Look for them at hardware stores, fabric and craft shops, or where upholstery supplies are sold.

The last pieces you will have to make are the cushion covers. Trace the shape of your cushions on your fabric and cut out a top and bottom piece for each cushion, adding a seam allowance. Then, cut strips that are as thick as your cushions and long enough to wrap all the way around. Add several inches to this measurement, and again, be sure to add a seam allowance.

Starting at the center back of the cushion, attach and sew the top and bottom of the cushion cover to these strips, gathering the strips slightly as you round the corners. Across the back of this strip, cut a horizontal opening only large enough to squeeze the cushions through. Finish the edges of the opening by zigzagging or turning over a very small amount and sewing.

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