Thursday, December 9, 2010

Slipcover Tips 1: Deciding on Style

Every work of creation starts with an inspiration. I LOVE Coastal Living magazine and every single issue includes a minimum of 3 examples of (often) WHITE slipcovered rolled arm sofas. I LOVE every one of them.

Slipcovers aren't technically difficult to make. But they require time and carefulness. They aren't a quick hit like a fun little "one-hour" knit top. There's lots of measuring and if you use welting (which you MUST to get this cottage look), you're sewing through so many layers of fabric around so many corners...keeping your stitching tight into the welting without causing puckers is the ever-present challenge. But you get better at it with practice. And with a couch with many cushions, you get lots of practice. (By the way, I'm just a BEGINNER at slipcovers... this is just my second attempt ... the first was this rolled arm upholstered chaise.

Step 1: Decide on the style
Ah yes, the inspiration. It's a loveseat I have to cover. I bought the fabric a year ago (natural bull denim from Hancock). I washed it with a cup of bleach to lighten it a little. I'd really like bright white, but am afraid it might be too white (any advice from any of you who have bright white, please let me know). This bleached natural is pretty close, but not so scary.

The photo above shows the vision I have in mind. My loveseat (below) has only a slight roll on the arm.

Style decisions to make:
1. Fabric and Color: To get the cottage look, I want white denim (aka twill). (BTW, I learned that denim IS twill. The diagonal weave you see on denim is in fact what defines "twill").

2. What shape of cushions. I want box cushions on the bottom. With welting. (even tho my original cushions aren't box). For the upper cushions: I'll probably also do the box, like the first photo. The pic below shows a "t-shape" box back cushion that fits nicely over the big roll of the arm. My arm isn't that big, so I won't bother with that.
Another option is scatter back knife edge as in the next pic. For a loveseat, you'd have 3 of these these. (altho I'd make them in the same white fabric). (as I'm typing this post, Irene has made the very good point, that the scatter cushions need to be "arranged" constantly. EXCELLENT point!!! Thank you, Ireneb... I think I'm already helped into the decision to make boxes for the back.)

3. What style skirt (if any). The cottage look almost always has a skirt, like in all three example pics above. You still have to decide how to have it fall and how to build it (to be talked about later). In the first pic, the skirt starts 2 inches below the bottom cushion. In the next 2 pics, the skirt starts right at the level of the bottom cushion.


  1. Just to play devil's advocate... If you have scatter cushions for the back - won't you have to be "fixing them up" all the time, as they will tend to slip around?

  2. I cannot even believe you are a beginner. That beachy look is what I crave. I'm in the process of getting my paneled walls painted a beachy white so I'm getting closer.


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