Replacement Denim Slipcover for Tuxedo Arm Sofa

Sofa Slipcover Copy Big Duck Mushroom Denim

Are you thinking about replacing your white slipcover with color? If bright and bold isn’t your style go with a rich neutral.

That’s what my customer did for her pair of tuxedo arm sofa slipcovers. She chose Big Duck’s 12 oz. cotton bull denim in color Mushroom, a versatile earthy shade that blends nicely with other neutrals and colorful accents.

No welt cord for these classic covers. Instead, I finished the seams with an edge stitch. Clean and simple.

4 Things to Look for When Choosing Slipcover Linen

How to choose linen for slipcovers

Fabrics in photo: InstaLinen Brazil Blue #5, Brazil Off-White and Manchester Natural Brown.

The type of linen fabric used for washable slipcovers is anything but fine and fancy.

It’s nothing like a light weight linen blouse pressed smooth and then creases like crazy the minute you put it on.  And, it’s a far cry from starched-stiff, heirloom napkins and tablecloths — the “good linens” used only for special occasions.

Instead, slipcover linen is weighty, slubby, floppy and softly dimpled after washed. It’s strong and wears well. The look is imperfect and uniquely different than any other natural fiber fabric.

Linen is offered in many different weights, weaves and finishes. Here are 4 key things to look for when choosing the right one for your slipcover project:

1. Authentic Look & Feel — a 100% linen, or a linen-rich cotton blend, will give you all of the rustic character, strength and natural beauty linen has to offer.

I avoid linen blended with rayon or polyester. These fibers change the look, hand-feel and performance of linen: rayon adds a weird wrinkle and sheen and polyester may add pilling, seam puckering and a sheen.

2. Heavy Weight  — 12 to 14 oz linen, sometimes referred to as upholstery weight, works best for slipcovers that get daily use. A weighty, supple linen will drape beautifully and provide very good coverage over upholstered furniture.

3. Tight Weave — a densely woven linen in a plain, canvas or herringbone weave will be your best bet for durability. All linen fabrics have a natural ease so look for the tightest weave you can find. It will hold it’s shape better than loose weaves.

4. Washable — make sure the slipcover linen you choose can be washed and dried with good results.  When yardage is preshrunk correctly, it will not have deep set creases or sharp wrinkles.

Most linen fabrics are labeled “dry clean only” but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be washed. The only way to find out is to do a machine wash and dry test on a one yard piece — hot water and hot dry.  This is very important to do before you commit to buying lots of yardage. Avoid linen that pills, fades, has flaws and extreme shrinkage.

Want to explore slipcover linen for your next project? Check out my favorite resources:

12 oz. Brazil Linen from InstaLinen. This 100% linen fabric is offered in many gorgeous colors. My favorites are Blue #5, Off-White (both shown in photo above) and White.  Read my review  and take a look how it made up in a chair slipcover and a sofa slipcover.

13 oz. Manchester from InstaLinen, color Natural Brown (shown above). This is my go-to when I want a heavy, rustic, undyed linen. It’s got that chic European look. Love it! Read my review.

Fritz Linen-Cotton Stripe by Richloom. Offered in lovely muted colors with a simple ticking stripe pattern woven in. I first spotted this fabric in a slipcover made by Sherri at August Blues. Even though this fabric is made with more cotton than linen, it still has many of the linen characteristics I love.

Hemp French Linen from Hemp Traders. This fabric is 100% hemp and won’t disappoint. It has the same look, feel and performance of a heavy weight linen. Hemp and linen are very similar in so many ways. What makes it unique is the “old style” weave — reminiscent of vintage linen textiles. Here’s how it looks in a chair slipcover.

Old Ticking Stripe for New Slipcover

Back in 2014 I posted Ticking Stripe Fabric Reviews. At that time I tested a variety of ticking stripes all of which turned out to be too light weight, too limp or too narrow for slipcovers.

My search continues for the classic, old school stuff —  a cotton woven ticking (not printed) in a heavy weight twill or herringbone weave without fire retardant.

In the meantime, I leave you with a little ticking inspiration. For this simple tie-back slipcover, I used my stash of vintage ticks from the 1960’s — tightly woven, weighty and durable.

Indigo Ticking Stripe Chair Slipcover


Natural Canvas: 3 Favorites for Slipcovers

Natural canvas is one of the most popular fabrics used for casual, washable slipcovers.  Why? It’s affordable, durable and versatile. Below are 3 of my favorites.

Natural Cotton Duck for SlipcoversNatural Cotton Duck #12 Weight:  This tough cloth is designed for tents, awnings and tote bags but I found it works great for slipcovers. Pile on the kids and pets! It’s denser, thicker and more durable than 10 oz and 12 oz canvas. The look is simple, wrinkled and super casual. I buy it at Big Duck Canvas.

Cotton Poly Blend Canvas Natural

Natural Cotton Poly Canvas 12 oz:  No extreme wrinkles! This lovely cotton canvas is blended with a bit of polyester, which helps soften the wrinkle and adds strength. The subtle rib in the weave replaces the grainy texture found in 100% cotton canvas. I think you’ll love the French laundered look after it’s washed — softy crumpled, relaxed and very cottage-y.

Washed Natural 10 oz. Canvas Slipcover

Natural Cotton Canvas 10 oz:  Sewing your own slipcover? This 10 oz. canvas will sew just fine on your home sewing machine.  It’s the most economical canvas, a good choice when you’re on a tight budget and want to make a simple, medium weight slipcover. The hand-feel softens after it’s washed and takes on a relaxed, broken-in look with a grainy texture. Expect high wrinkle. I buy it at Big Duck Canvas.

Check out my reviews of the two Big Duck natural canvas fabrics mentioned above to get an idea of shrinkage and usage. Don’t forget to follow my fabric pre-shrink instructions to minimize wrinkles.

Denim Slipcovers FAQ

Denim Fabrics for SlipcoversDo you wonder if denim is the right choice for your project? Below I answer your most frequently asked questions about one of my favorite slipcover fabrics.

Does denim work better than canvas for a slipcover?

For my own slipcovers I use denim more often than cotton canvas because I like the appearance better. I like the twill weave texture as opposed to the flat look of canvas. Denim also has less wrinkle than canvas.  Both denim and canvas are strong, versatile fabrics that make a good looking and durable slipcover. Consider the look you’re going for, your budget and what kind of use your slipcover will get.  Buy a yard of each denim and canvas you like, wash them and throw them over your furniture to see which one speaks to you.

Will un-dyed natural denim cover my dark color upholstered furniture?

Heavy weight 14 oz. natural denim does a good job at covering dark colors.  Most 12 oz. denims will, too. I recommend testing a sample to be sure.

What type of denim holds up best to kids and pets?  

A heavy weight 14 oz. denim will be the most durable and can take frequent washing.  It makes a very substantial slipcover. Some 12 oz. denims will also work well.  Both yarn dye denim and bull denim will work as long as they are heavyweight.  I don’t recommend denim that is lighter than 12 oz. for high traffic slipcovers.

 Is $18 denim better quality than one that is half the price?

Price doesn’t always reflect the fabric’s quality. I bought a $10 natural denim and liked the quality much more than a more expensive one I had.  I have also purchased discount denim and was very disappointed with the amount of flaws and extremely high shrinkage.  You can find out a lot about the fabric quality by doing a wash & dry test on one yard.

I bought denim that is pre-washed. Do I have to pre-shrink it before making my slipcover?

Yes! A fabric labeled “pre-washed” means the fabric has been finished in a way that makes it feel soft and supple.  It doesn’t mean all of the shrinkage has been removed.  Be sure to pre-shrink your denim yardage so your slipcover doesn’t shrink later on.

I found a denim I like but its Dry Clean Only.  Can it be washed?

The best way to find out is to wash test a yard.  I have washed many dry clean only cotton denim fabrics and most of them turned out great.  Sometimes they shrink more or fade easier than a washable denim so be sure to test a sample before you commit to a lot of yardage.

The indigo denim I bought feels very stiff after I washed it.  How can I soften it?

Frequent washing will relax the fabric over time but it probably will never feel like a soft and supple “pre-washed denim”.  Special chemicals and wash treatments are applied to the denim during production. These cannot be duplicated in a home laundry. In lieu of chemicals, I have tried vinegar, fabric softeners, dryer sheets and dryer balls to soften stiff denim without success.

When shopping for denim, don’t confuse stiffness with weight.  Denim that feels very stiff or rigid doesn’t always soften after it’s washed and might wrinkle like crazy.