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.