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Thread: Decorating question

  1. #1
    Hypermediocrity Amanda's Avatar
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    Decorating question

    This isn't about a decorating show, per se, but I thought this was still the most appropriate forum in which to post my question. I have a couple of couches that are in excellent shape, save for a few unfortunately placed cat-related holes in the fabric. Having watched more than my fair share of Trading Spaces, it seems as though making slipcovers isn't THAT difficult to do. On the other hand, they *are* professional designers (except in the case of Kia; I won't give her that much credit), so they may just be making it look easy. Have any of you ever tried this? If so, with what results?

    Oh, and why aren't I just buying ready-made slipcovers? Well, a) the couches in question are those big loose pillow-back ones, and I've never seen slipcovers that would accomodate that style and b) I've yet to see a slipcover made of fabric I like well enough to want it adorning my couch. If you guys tell me that it's fairly simple to do this, I'd rather go buy a fabric I really like and just use that.

    Any thoughts anyone has will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Yoffy lifts a finger... fluff's Avatar
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    Slip covers really aren't that difficult.
    It's all in the pinning.

    Obviously start with your fabric with the "right" side facing the couch (I know you would have but, well you know, just in case...)

    A loose back couch is good to start on as once the cushion back is removed you should have a fairly rigid form to work with, making it much easier to pin.

    I would advise pinning the fabric loosely on one side before doing your form fitting pinning on the other.
    This is so you won't pull the fabric too much and find you have too little left on the opposite side (easily done when you're concentrating).

    I would also remove your slip cover and sew it, then replace it and do the hemming last.
    This obviously calls for an extra step in the process, but I think it's time well spent as you get to check the fit before hemming and removing the excess fabric, as once you've cut there's obviously no going back.

    I would pin the slip cover to the top of the couch before hemming as again the temptation is to pull the cover too tightly which can cause it to shift and you'll end up with an uneven hem.

    The loose back cushions can just be covered seperately.

    Turn the slip cover the right way round and Bob's your uncle.
    "That's Numberwang!"

  3. #3
    Reformed Perfectionist G.G.'s Avatar
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    Go to the fabric store and look in the pattern books under the Home Decorating tab. They have patterns for slipcovers that describe exactly how to do what fluff described below on a pillow-backed couch. It's not hard at all--you'll have the Pottery Barn look for a fraction of a Pottery Barn couch price. McCalls, Simplicity and Butterick patterns are generally easier to understand - Vogue patterns aren't always that user-friendly. Slipcover patterns aren't "pattern pieces", per se, but will give step-by-step directions for various sizes of couches and chairs.

    My only caveat is, sometimes the fabric, once you purchase enough, can get expensive. There are several discount interior fabric websites where you can get a better deal than in a store. I've done 2 slipcovers for my current couch. One was around $60 (20 yards of fabric at $3 a yard) but one was almost $400, since the fabric was $18 a yard.

    Of course, we want to see pictures when your done!!

  4. #4
    Yoffy lifts a finger... fluff's Avatar
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    I would also advise not to go for a fabric with too intricate a pattern as extra yardage will be needed to try and match the pattern and it's just too darn tricky.

    A neutral colour, in a solid or a pattern with other colours of low contrast to the fabric's main colour would be best. You can always tie the couch into your own decor with some throw pillows in more "adventurous" designs.
    If you get sick of the throw cushion fabric, a quick trip to Walmart (e.g.) and you'll be able to pick up a couple of yards of very cheap fabric and be able to change the throw cushions whenever you want. Much easier than covering the couch in a fabric you later decide is not to your taste.

    For reupholstering, it would be essential to buy an "upholstery weight" fabric, but for a loose slip cover you can usually get away with buying something in more of a heavier "drapery weight".
    Tell the assistant exactly what you want it for and he/she will be able to direct you.
    Be sure to let them know whether it is for a high or low traffic couch and make sure whatever fabric you get is washable, or able to take water and at least mild detergent in case of pet/coffee etc spills.
    The last thing you want is for the cover to be permanently creased, tear at the seams or develop worn patches because the fabric was too thin.

    If you do select a fabric that's fully machine washable, be sure to ask about "shrinkage".

    I feel like I'm bombarding you with info, much of this I'm sure would have occured to you when you went to the fabric store anyway.

    Good luck with it
    "That's Numberwang!"

  5. #5
    An innocent bystander nlmcp's Avatar
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    or if you are like me and clueless about sewing, I used two quilts to cover up my "toobigforslipcoversruinedbythe cats" couches. I bought 2 king size quilts from JC Penny (on sale for $39.99) and layed it over them and kind of tucked and pinned the excess. It looked ok for the year prior to us getting a new couch.
    I could go east, I could go west, it was all up to me to decide. Just then I saw a young hawk flyin' and my soul began to rise. ~Bob Seger

  6. #6
    Hypermediocrity Amanda's Avatar
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    These are all wonderful suggestions, and I thank you all so much! Goddesses, each and every one of you!

    I've printed this page out, because I'm stylistically impaired. I probably wouldn't have thought of any of it, so you've all made my life much easier!

  7. #7
    Reformed Perfectionist G.G.'s Avatar
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    So fluff...when are we going into business together? We could have our own show even...heh heh. I love home dec...and hate paying a lot for it. We gotta think of a clever name for ourselves though. Home Dec Hags? Eh, probably not.

  8. #8
    Hypermediocrity Amanda's Avatar
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    Okay, question number two for you lovely ladies:

    GG, you mentioned buying fabric from a website. Were you happy with the purchase? Have any of the rest of you done this, and, if so, how did that work out for you? I just wasn't sure if fabric is one of those things you need to actually see in-person before you commit to having it in a room with everyday use.

    The main reason I'm asking is because I scoured Chinatown yesterday looking for asian-themed fabrics, but had no luck. I've also checked all the mainstream fabric stores, but have succeeded only in finding places that sell an overabundance of ducky-patterned fleece. Cute, but um...not for my couch.

    I'm also going to check the heavily Indian-populated section of town today (Devon, for those of you familiar with Chicago), because I was told that old (or new, I suppose) sari fabric can work well for something like this. Do you guys have any thoughts on that? The person who assured me that this was true seems to be less knowledgable than you wonderful folks are, so I'd defer to your opinions on this.

    Thanks again for all the help thus far!

  9. #9
    Reformed Perfectionist G.G.'s Avatar
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    I've only bought a couple things from the website and was perfectly ok with them. My mom, on the other hand, is addicted to fabric-buying the way some shopaholics are addicted to QVC. She loves buying from the websites and I've not heard any regrets from her.

    Fabric.com has a 30-days return policy, which is nice. There's another site dear old Mom goes to - I'll ask her what it is when she gets back home this weekend.

  10. #10
    Hypermediocrity Amanda's Avatar
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    Thanks, GG. I really appreciate your help.

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