How to make your own sofa cushion covers

How to make your own sofa cushion covers

Slip covers are a great way to disguise flaws in your existing furniture without having to go to the expense of replacing or reupholstering it. Making fitted cushion covers for your couch is a fairly straightforward and easy process.

To begin, you will need to measure the cushions on you couch. The easiest way to do this is to take them off the couch and throw them on the floor! Take a long, flexible sewing measuring tape and measure the length, width and height of each cushion in inches including fronts and backs! Once you have all the cushions measured add up all your inches and divide by 36. That will give you roughly the number of yards of fabric you will need to purchase to cover all your cushions (a yard is 36 inches).

If you want to slipcover the body of the couch, you will also need to take its measurements as well. Measure it with the cushions off (since the cushions will behave with fitted covers, all you need to do is make a loose or fitted slipcover for the body of the couch and then the cushions will go sit on top of it). Measure all aspects of the couch from the floor, up over the back to the floor again, as well as the arms of the couch. Again, add all your measurements up and divide by 36 to get your yardage. It is generally a good idea to buy a few extra yards of fabric to ensure that you have enough.

Once you have all your measurements, head to your local fabric store. It is important that you choose a fabric that is compatible with your lifestyle. Each bolt of fabric has a care and content sticker on one end. This sticker will tell you what the fiber content of the fabric is (cotton, synthetic, or a blend) as well as what kind of care the fabric needs (machine wash, dry clean only, tumble dry only, etc). Medium to heavy weight tightly woven fabrics make the best slip covers. Holding a piece of the fabric up to a light source is an easy way to determine how tight the weave is.

If you can easily see light through the fabric, and especially if you can see visible spaced between individual threads then the weave is loose and probably not suitable for a slipcover. Upholstery fabrics usually make good slipcovers; however, many are dry clean only. It is best to avoid extremely stiff fabrics (they will not drape well and will be uncomfortable when you sit on your couch), scratchy fabrics, and fabrics that will not breath such as rubber-backed or vinyl fabrics. In addition to your fabric, you will need to purchase coordinating thread, along zipper (the length will be determined by how long your couch cushions are. It is best to choose one that is just a couple inches shorter than the length of the cushion) and any trim or decorations you desire.

Before you cut and sew with your fabric, you will need to wash it to pre-shrink it (this is only applicable to machine wash fabrics and is not necessary for dry clean only fabrics). This is an important step and should not be skipped! If you do not pre-shrink your fabric it will shrink and distort your slipcover the first time you wash it after it is sewn! Iron your fabric if it comes out of the wash wrinkled.

The easiest way to make covers for your cushions (and the same method can be used for the body of the couch, just on a large scale) is to simply use the cushion as a pattern and pin and cut your fabric right on top of the cushion. Lay your fabric out on a large, smooth surface (a slick floor such as wood or linoleum works great) wrong side up. Place the couch cushion on top of it. Measure and mark the fabric evenly around the cushion using a ruler or compass if you want to be really precise.

Be sure to add in extra width for ease in putting the cover on, and for seam allowances. If the cushion is really wide, it is best to make a long piece of fabric the same height as the cushion plus seam allowances. The piece will be sewn to both the top and bottom pieces of the cushion creating a top, bottom, and side. If the cushion is narrow, you can simply add enough width to the top and bottom pieces to make them wrap around the sides of the cushion when the two pieces are sewn together. The opening for your cushion should fall along the back of the cushion where it will not be seen.

It is easiest to apply a zipper or snap tape, or another closure method of your choice along a seam line. With the fabric pieces, right sides together sew in your method of closure along the back seam line and then continue sewing the remaining seam lines for your cushion. The opening can then be opened and the slipcover turned right side out.

Repeat for all the cushions on your couch, and the slipcover for the body of the couch (it is not necessary for a closure method to be sewn onto the couch body slipcover!!). Once you are done sewing, put your slipcovers on and your couch back together and enjoy your handiwork by kicking back and relaxing!


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