What are the best slipcover fabrics?

I recommend medium to heavy weight fabrics that are durable, washable and have long lasting design appeal.

Below are my favorite slipcover fabrics. Purchase them from the retailer’s links provided. I’ve tested each one for shrinkage, coverage and durability. These are the fabrics I typically use with very good results for my client jobs and my own projects.

Not sure which fabric will work best for your project? Consider a Fabric Consult.


Bull Denim Natural for SlipcoversNatural Bull Denim 12 oz. http://bit.ly/1GWXoYz

You can’t beat the quality of this U.S.A. made cotton denim for the price. I like everything about it: the perfect shade of un-dyed Natural, the good coverage and the casual-chic look. This fabric is not pre-washed but the crisp hand-feel will relax and soften when you pre-shrink it. Shrinkage: color Natural, 6 on a one yard length and 3″ on the width.  Also offered in White! http://bit.ly/1DjxV89

Washed French Twill Washed Denim 14oz., Natural http://bit.ly/1A0D84i and White http://bit.ly/1zwkcyt

This heavyweight, supple denim is pre-washed giving it a “French Laundered” look and feel; perfect for creating cottage-style slipcovers. It’s soft, substantial and has a richer appearance than inexpensive lighter weight denims. Shrinkage: 1″ on a one yard length, 1/2″ on the width. 

Hemp Organic Cotton Twill55% Hemp, 45% Organic Cotton Twill http://bit.ly/1mQrFkX

This medium-weight twill feels like bull denim except it’s beefier than most 10 oz. weights. The hemp fiber adds a little texture, which gives the fabric a rustic, casual look. Durable and offers good coverage. Shrinkage: 3″ on a one yard length, 2″ on the width.


Brushed Dockside Denim WhiteDockside Denim Bleached White, 11 oz. http://bit.ly/1xWExKX

This is the softest denim I’ve found in a heavy weight. It’s beefy, supple and the brushed surface makes it cozy feeling. The “bleached white” color is a very pretty soft white. Offers good coverage. Shrinkage: 4″ on a one yard length, 1/2″ on the width.

See the slipcover at I made with Dockside Denim: Theresa’s Sofa http://bit.ly/1j2ToqH


Big Duck Canvas 10 oz Natural

Cotton Duck 10 oz. Big Duck Canvas 10 oz Canvas for Slipcovers

This is an economical duck cloth (canvas) that makes a casual slipcover of medium-weight. I like the hand-feel after it’s washed; the fabric softens up without becoming too limp.  It takes on a relaxed, broken-in look with moderate wrinkle. Go with color Natural for a painter’s drop cloth look. Shrinkage: White and colors 3″ on a one yard length, 1″ on the width and Natural 4″ on a one yard length, 2″ on the width.

See the slipcover I made with 10 oz. Big Duck Canvas for my bedroom chair.

big duck canvas organic cotton canvas whiteOrganic Cotton Canvas 10 oz. Big Duck Canvas  http://bit.ly/UV3Co2

This canvas (duck) is certified organic from field to fabric under the Global Organic Textile Standard. The look is the same as Big Duck Canvas regular 10 oz. cotton duck but the hand-feel is softer and less stiff. No harmful chemicals are used to grow, weave or finish the fabric. The white color is achieved with safe peroxide instead of chlorine bleach.  The fabric is “preshrunk” but you will still need to preshrink it.  Shrinkage: 2″ on the length and no shrinkage on the width.

Big Duck Canvas 12 oz WhiteCotton Duck 12 oz. Big Duck Canvas http://bit.ly/1ulUPqb

I like this heavyweight duck cloth (canvas) for simple White slipcovers that get a lot of use and frequent washing. It’s a good choice when lighter-weight White fabrics are not dense enough to cover dark colored upholstery. Shrinkage: White 3″ on a one yard length, 2″ on the width.

Heavy Weight Natural Canvas for SlipcoversCotton Duck #12 weight Natural, Big Duck Canvas  http://bit.ly/1KSLVxl 

A heavy duty canvas made with 2-ply yarns in the fill (width of fabric). It’s denser, thicker and more durable than 10 oz and 12 oz canvas. Designed for tents, awnings, tote bags, etc. but I found it works great for slipcovers. I love the casual, relaxed look after washed….wrinkles and all. Shrinkage: 4″ on a one yard length, 2″ on the width.

Carr Go Canvas NaturalCarr-Go Cotton Canvas 8 oz. http://bit.ly/NAucQ9

A good canvas for medium weight slipcovers that get moderate use and washing. It’s tightly woven with finer yarns than a utility canvas so the texture is a bit more refined. I love the look and feel of the sanded surface. It’s slightly suede-like, which gives the fabric a rich appearance. Overall good coverage but check White and Natural to make sure your upholstery color doesn’t show through. Shrinkage: 1.5″ on a one yard length and 1/2″ on the width.

See the slipcovers I made with Carr-Go Canvas: Sherry’s Sofa http://bit.ly/1gxa2z0 and Jackie’s Loveseat http://bit.ly/1hqc3Ol and Bonnie’s Chairs http://bit.ly/1nEbmr5.

Hemp Traders Hemp CanvasHemp Canvas 11 oz., Natural http://bit.ly/No2cze  

A hard-wearing 100% hemp canvas with linen-like texture and a more upscale look than cotton canvas. It’s weighty but not stiff and offers very good coverage. This canvas softens nicely with wash and wear. The look is relaxed like washed linen. I’m always happy with the results when I sew with this fabric. Shrinkage: 3″ on a one yard length, 1″ on the width.

Pebble Brushed Canvas NaturalBrushed Cotton Canvas 13.6 oz., color Natural http://bit.ly/1pAbNls

A thick, soft and supple canvas with more of a chunky weave than basic canvas. The brushed surface takes on a cottony hand-feel after washed. Shrinkage: 4″ on a one yard length, 1″ on the width.


Gray Line Linen Oatmeal

Home Furnishing Linen 11 oz.,  http://bit.ly/1bkKLF5  

This is heavy weight linen with wonderful texture from Gray Line Linens. Color Oatmeal shown here. It’s supple and offers very good coverage. The look is casual-chic. The label says machine wash and natural dry but I put it in the dryer on low heat it comes out with soft crumple and a floppy feel. Shrinkage: 3″ on a one yard length, 2″ on the width.

Take a look at Sally’s sofa slipcover and chair cushion covers and Annette’s sofa slipcover I made from this Home Furnishing weight linen in color Oatmeal.

Rustic Linen Mixed NaturalCanvas Weight Linen 8 oz., #IL090 http://bit.ly/1QisRHd

This heavy-weight linen is made with nubby, thick & thin yarns, which gives it a rustic texture. A good choice for shabby-chic style slipcovers. Color Mixed Natural shown here. Shrinkage: 4″ on a one yard length, 4″ on the width.

35 thoughts on “Fabrics

    1. slipcovermaker Post author

      You’re welcome, Patty! I try to list as many tried & true slipcover fabrics under $20. There’s no need to spend a fortune on good fabric for a slipcover.

  1. Pingback: Big Duck Canvas: A Good Choice for Slipcovers | The Slipcover Maker

  2. Sharon

    Thanks Karen for the quick reply. I’ll try cutting the fabric smaller as you suggest. Cross your fingers 😜😜

  3. shalomchica

    Thank you for this helpful info! One question….which would work best with cat hair?? :) I know it clings to some fabrics & while not others … Any thoughts on that?

    1. slipcovermaker Post author

      I’m pretty sure cat hair will cling to all of the natural fiber fabrics I list. I made a truck seat
      slipcover for my Dad many years ago out of Cordura nylon canvas. His dog rode with him everywhere. The hair didn’t stick to it at all! It had such a slick surface. Not very comfortable however for a chair or sofa :)

  4. Janet

    I have a client, that I made draperies for, and she had someone make a slipcover for her sofa out of a white denim that the manufacturer claimed was pre-washed. When she received it, the fit was a little loose. The first time she washed it, she used cold water and dried it in the dryer. When put it on her sofa and the fit was a little snug, so I told her next time let it drip dry and put it one the sofa a little damp. The next time she washed it and drip dried, she could not get it on the soda. She ripped a seam trying to get it on, so she ask me to look at it. I could not get it on either, and then I just laid it on top of the sofa to see if it was the same size, and it was 2 inches narrower than the sofa back!

    Do you pre-wash fabric that claims to be pre-washed by the manufacturer? Have you had denim shrink again after the first wash? I make slipcovers once in a while, but have never had this problem. I would like to know if I should always pre-wash a fabric before I make a slipcover no matter what the manufacture label says for future reference.

    1. slipcovermaker Post author


      I preshrink all of my slipcover fabrics, including cotton denim, even when it’s marketed as “washed” or “laundered”. Those terms can mean different things from fabric to fabric. For denim, it sometimes means it has undergone a light wash that softens the fabric but not fully preshrinks it. Other times it means a type of finish was applied that gives it a laundered look and feel. Regardless, the fabric will always shrink. It’s important to work out the shrinkage by washing the fabric in hot water and dry on hot. Then, once it’s made into a slipcover I’ve found the shrinkage on most cotton denims is minuscule during the first wash and does not alter the fit. –Karen

      1. Janet

        Thanks so much. That is good to know. I will relay this information to my client. I love your website. It is full of helpful information. – Janet

  5. Fran

    I wish I had read this before having new slips made for my sofa. I love the fabric I chose (heavy cotton canvas), but it is uncomfortably stiff and visually stiff. Is there any way to soften and relax the fabric more quickly than repeated washing? Thanks, Fran

    1. slipcovermaker Post author

      Hi Fran,
      If your canvas did not soften when you preshrunk the yardage there is really nothing you can do to make it more supple and soft. That can only be done when the fabric is woven and finished. In my experience fabric softeners, vinegar rinse and dryer sheets don’t make a significant difference on crunchy fabrics. You might want to explore Milsoft, a fabric softening chemical. It’s sold at Dharma Trading
      http://www.dharmatrading.com/chemicals/milsoft.html?lnav=chemicals.html. I have never used it and have no idea if it would work on a slipcover. I would would talk to someone at Dharma and then test it on a yard of your fabric before applying it to your slipcover.

  6. Fran

    Thanks for the product name. Think i’ll give the washer a couple of more chances, then go for the chemical if that doesn’t work. Fortunately, I have a yard of fabric left from the upholsterer to play with. This slip replaces an old one made of the softest duck. I have been spoiled. Fran

  7. beccalouise

    The fabrics I have been looking at say dry clean only. Should I assume that just means it is not preshrunk? I would shrink it myself before I make the covers. But I just want n t to make sure I will still be able to throw them in the washer from time to time after that. Thoughts?

    1. slipcovermaker Post author

      Dry clean only fabrics are not preshrunk. Some are not washable. Test a one yard cut. Assume all fabrics are not preshrunk. Regardless if its labeled “dry clean only” or “pre-washed”, it’s important to preshrink your fabric before making a slipcover.

  8. Jean Jaroslawski

    I really love your coral material. i have an Ethan Allen chair that I am interested in having a slipcover made for but I do not live in your area. Can I purchase the material?

  9. Jean Jaroslawski

    Thank you Karen. I am redoing my bedroom,beachy theme and just an Ethan Allen chair in great condition from a friend. I happened upon your website , saw the coral pattern and now nothing else will do! Wish i lived closer to you> Thank you so much, I appreciate your help and love your website. Jean

  10. Sasha

    Thanks for the info, Karen!! I am thinking about the Dockside Denim you mentioned above. Since you list the shrinkage, I’m assuming you have laundered this fabric? The seller says it is Dry Clean Only, and that is the only thing holding me back from the purchase. Also, at 11.5 oz do you think this makes a sturdy enough slip to withstand everyday use and frequent washings?

    1. slipcovermaker Post author

      Hi Sasha,
      Dockside Denim is washable. The retailer, slipcoverfabrics.com, does not label it Dry Clean Only. My review is based on washed fabric. It’s fairly durable but I’d go with one of these heavy weight, unbrushed denims: Topsider Twill or French Twill — both at slipcoverfabrics.com.

    1. slipcovermaker Post author

      Hi Sasha,
      It could very well be the same fabric. When ever I see a Dry Clean Only label on a natural fiber fabric I get a yard and do a was test. In many cases I’ve found the fabric can be washed and dried with good results.

  11. Paula

    Hi Karen, I am trying to find a 3 cushion sofa cover for a large leather sofa in something very durable because of dogs and children. I have looked everywhere and most companies only offer 2 cushion and not in cottons, etc. Any thoughts? Thanks!

    1. slipcovermaker Post author

      Hi Paula,
      That’s a good question. I’m not familiar with what the ready-made slipcover retailers offer. I’ve posted your question, perhaps another reader has a suggestion.

  12. Photo Jill

    Hi Karen,
    First of all, Thank you!, for great information. I wish I had stumbled upon your site earlier! If you could please give my your professional advice, I would greatly appreciate it. I bought a 1958 sofa off of Craigslist-it is amazing-but upholstery was in need of update- I purchased Hemp fabric to have it recovered in. While reading your information, I am thinking maybe I should have slipcovers made, while upholster still has in their shop. My question: could I use the French Twill fabric you have listed above for slipcovers over the hemp? thank you in advance for your reply and Merry Christmas from Texas!\

    1. slipcovermaker Post author

      Yes, you can slipcover over hemp upholstery. I had an old thrift store chair reupholstered in hemp canvas. It wore very well but the natural color showed soil and stains over the years. So now I slipcover it. In fact, I’ve made 3 slipcovers for that chair and all of them cover the hemp beautifully.

  13. Erin DuBroc

    Hi Karen, Thank you for your tips! A question for you: I need a fabric that will withstand two young boys. I want to make a slipcover for our sofa ottoman that I can wash and even bleach if I need to. The problem is, I don’t necessary want a stark white fabric. The natural/off-white is more my style. For this, would any of the fabrics you have listed above work? Or would you suggest a Sunbrella/indoor-outdoor fabric? Any direction is appreciated — I don’t want to work so hard for it to look ruined in 6 months. Thanks!

    1. slipcovermaker Post author

      Hi Erin,
      All of the natural fabrics I love and recommend are pretty substantial but they do not have a stain resistant treatment. Once you start bleaching a natural fiber denim or canvas you weaken the fiber over time, which will shorten the longevity of your slipcover. And, bleach will turn that lovely natural color to a weird white color. I don’t have a lot of experience with synthetic fabrics that have anti stain/soil finishes but a slipcover maker friend of my says Sunbrella Canvas works like charm in terms of resisting stains and dirt. In my opinion the key is to pick a Sunbrella fabric that has a soft, natural fiber feel so it drapes well and feels comfortable. You might explore this one http://bit.ly/1vZVqzo perhaps in another color if needed. Good luck with your project!

  14. Lisa Pearson

    Hello, I am interested in knowing your recommendation on the best fabric to use for a pet owner. My furniture is an army green color. Thank you for your help.

  15. Judith Norton

    Great site with lots of very good info.
    My question is about stain testing the fabric. I test all my fabrics before making a final decision. My test includes the following with a tablespoon of each: ketchup, red wine and salad dressing. Let is sit for about an hour. Try to wash off. If it doesn’t wash, I don’t use it.
    I’ve order a test yard of both the white and natural canvas from Big Duck. The white worked fine; the natural did not. Even soaking in bleach did not take out the oil based stain.
    Have you done any stain testing of your fabrics? If so, which one tested well?

    1. slipcovermaker Post author

      Hi Judith,
      No, I don’t do stain testing. The natural fiber fabrics I recommend do not have stain repellent finishes. It’s a given most will require a textile stain removal product on tough spots. I leave it up to my customers (and readers) to choose one that works best for them. Undyed, completely unfinished fabrics are the toughest to remove stains.

  16. Annie West

    I’m working on making some slip overs for our old couches. My husband is adamant that whatever fabric we use needs to be soft to the touch. We tried out some brushed cotton canvas slipcovers from the world market and he liked the feel of that fabric. I’m looking thru your website and I see a whole bunch of different canvas types. What would you recommend as a fabric that is durable, soft to the touch,but still has some thickness so it lays flat and covers the pattern on our old furniture?
    Thanks! I love your website!

    1. slipcovermaker Post author

      Hi Annie,
      You will find canvas fabric reviews on my FABRICS page. Also, check out my free ebook, All About Canvas for Slipcovers https://slipcovermaker.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/all-about-canvas-ebook-6-13-15.pdf. I go into great detail about different canvas fabrics and best uses for them. When in doubt about which one to use, buy a one yard cut and wash/dry it. Throw it over your couch and you will instantly know if it’s the right fabric.


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