Tips On Making Your Own Slipcovers
by Simon Phillips
Part 2 – Making Your Slip Covers
Having planned your slipcovers as set out in Part 1 – now is the time to get started.
The example here follows a basic technique for making sofa slipcovers, using a solid color fabric. The same principle can be used for most styles and shapes of sofas, loveseats and chairs.
Step 1 – If you plan to add a skirt to your seat, and it doesn’t already have one, decide where to place it and draw a line to mark the position, then measure the distance from the floor. How long you make your skirt is up to you – see what would work best with your particular furniture.
Step 2 – Measure your seat cushions, bearing in mind that on a 3-seater sofa, the middle cushion is often a slightly different size. Allowing 0.5in for the seams on all sides, cut out covers for the top and bottom, keeping the lengthwise grain front to back.
Measure the width and perimeter of each cushion, then cut out the boxing strip. When covering a T-cushion or L-shaped cushion, a good technique is to layout your fabric over the cushion and use a chalk marker to feel round the edge seam. Remember to allow extra for the seams to give you extra to work with to achieve the best fit.
Step 3 – Do the same for your back cushions, measuring and cutting out the covers.
Step 4 – Cut out the outer back cover. If you’re running the fabric vertically, try to position the seams in the same place they are on the upholstery. Generally, back seams are located where the cushions join, or there will be one central seam. Leave an extra 6in at each end of the cover for attaching the zippers.
Step 5 – Match the fabric for the inner back cover to the top edge of the outer back cover, and cut it to size, leaving a seam and tuck-in allowance. Roughly cut the ends that meet the arms, leaving enough excess to tuck-in or to join to the inner-arms. The tuck-in allowance depends on how much your seat depresses where the front edge and inner arms meet, when someone is sitting on it.
Step 6 – Pin the outer and inner back covers together, along the upper back seam line.
Step 7 – Cut out the deck, which will be the same length as the inner back. The outside edge should match up to the seam where platform cloth is sewn to the front upholstery panels. Pin the deck to the lower edge of the inner back.
Step 8 – With the grain running vertically, cut out the front sections of your slipcover, with the seams matching up to your upholstery. Remember to leave a tuck-in allowance at each end. If you’re going to fit a skirt to your cover, cut the sections just below the line where you’ll attach the skirt, leaving space for the seams. Pin the front sections together and then pin them to the deck piece.
Step 12 – Make the skirt. You can use whatever style of skirt you like, be it pleated, ruffled or straight. Cut it following the same grain orientation as the rest of the cover. To make a traditional straight skirt with a pleat at each corner, add twice the pleat depth for each pleat to the circumference. As a guide, have a pleat depth of 4in. At the back corner, allow enough fabric for the zips to be attached. Put your piecing seams inside the pleats.
Step 13 – Use your sewing machine to sew the cover together. If you’re adding a skirt, sew it on before you attach your zips. Finish by hemming the lower edges of your slipcover.