Slipcovers provide the opportunity to change your decor with little commitment, and can extend the life of your sofa's original upholstery. While mass-produced slipcovers are available on the market, they can be costly and may not come in a fabric that coordinates with your decor If your sofa is an unusual shape or size, good-fitting slipcovers may not even be available. By making your own sofa slipcover, you can save money and get a customised look. Skills required for sewing a slipcover include measuring, fitting, and basic sewing skills.
Measure your sofa, starting with the width of the seat and moving on to the smaller measurements such as the arms. Measure cushions separately, remembering to account for both the front and back of each cushion, as well as the side pieces if they are box cushions. Write these measurements down as you go, noting the height and width of all pieces of fabric comprising the current upholstery. You may find it useful to quickly sketch each piece of fabric on your sofa, along with the measurements for each piece.
Calculate how much fabric you will need to fit all pieces of the slipcover, based on your measurements. Be sure to add ½ inch to each side of the pieces as you calculate, for seam allowances. Most upholstery fabric is sold in 58 or 60 inch widths. You may find it useful to draw a diagram showing how you will lay out the pieces, so that you purchase only as much fabric as you need.
Buy the slipcover fabric according to your measurements. If you are buying fabric containing cotton, you will want to purchase extra, as cotton can shrink up to 4 inches per yard once washed and dried.
Wash and dry your uncut fabric in the same way you plan to launder your finished slipcover.
Cut out the fabric based on your measurements of the sofa and your fabric diagram, making sure to add on the ½ inch seam allowance to all pieces. For fabrics with designs, such as stripes or florals, centre any large motifs on the sofa cushions, and be sure that the pieces are turned the right direction so the motifs all face the same way.
Decide on the opening for removing the slipcover, usually located on a back corner of the sofa, where it is less likely to be seen. This opening will close with hook and loop fastener on the final product.
Pin the slipcover pieces together and place them on your sofa, keeping the open back corner seam unpinned. The slipcover should fit snugly enough that it doesn't slide or move, but shouldn't be so tight that you will rip the seams when removing it.
Cut away any excess seam allowances, meaning anything beyond the ½ inch necessary for sewing the seam.
Sew the pieces together, starting with the largest pieces first. Try your slipcover on the sofa before and after sewing major seams, such as the seam connecting the front to the back at the top of the sofa, and whenever there is a difficult angle to fit. Any additional alterations should be done now, during the sewing process. Don't sew the slipcover-removal opening closed.
Sew the edges of the slipcover-removal opening by hemming them, and attach the hook and loop fastener to the opening so that it will fasten together without being seen from the outside.
Place the sewn slipcover onto your sofa, and hem the lower edge so that it stops at the floor. Stitch the hem in place.
Sew any cushion covers as necessary, using hook and loop fastener on the back edge so that the covers are removable.
If you are using a heavier upholstery fabric, such as cotton canvas, use a heavy-duty needle in your sewing machine. If you have never made a slipcover before, consider using a solid-colour fabric. You will not have to worry about matching stripes or patterns.
Tips and warnings
- If you are using a heavier upholstery fabric, such as cotton canvas, use a heavy-duty needle in your sewing machine.
- If you have never made a slipcover before, consider using a solid-colour fabric. You will not have to worry about matching stripes or patterns.