slipcover fabrics

Best Fabric Weights for Washable Slipcovers

There are many things to consider when choosing fabric but weight is numero uno. Why? Because it dictates the look, feel, and function of your washable slipcover. 

How do you figure out which weight is best for your project? 

In today’s post, I share a simple guide to help you match fabric weight with the end use of your slipcover. This is key!

Stack of canvas slipcover fabrics.

COTTON CANVAS

Most popular canvas weights for washable slipcovers:

  • Light weight, 7 oz.
  • Medium weight, 8 to 10 oz.
  • Heavy weight, 12 to 14 oz.
  • Heavy duty weight #12 canvas– This is an 11.5 ounce tightly woven with 2-ply yarns.

Choose a weight based on how you will use your slipcover. For example:

Light weight canvas, 7 oz. or “drapery weight” — Best suited for slipcovers that get:

  • Occasional use
  • One wash per year

Medium weight canvas, 8 to 10 oz.  — Best suited for slipcovers that get:

  • Moderate use
  • Two to three washes per year

Heavy weight canvas, 12 to 14 oz. and heavy duty #12 weight — Best suited for slipcovers that get:

  • Everyday use
  • Frequent washing up to four to six times per year

Stack of denim slipcover fabrics.

COTTON DENIM & TWILL

Most popular denim weights for washable slipcovers:

  • Light-Medium, 8 oz. 
  • Medium weight, 10 oz.
  • Heavy weight, 12 to 14 oz. 

Choose a weight based on how you will use your slipcover.

Light-Medium weight twill, 8 oz. — this weight is a twill, not a true denim construction.  It has diagonal ribs like denim but the weave is finer. Consider it the lightest weight denim-like fabric. Best suited for slipcovers that get:

  • Occasional or moderate use depending on the fabric
  • A couple washings per year

Medium weight denim, 10 oz. — Best suited for slipcovers that get:

  • Moderate use
  • A few washings per year

Heavy weight denim, 12 to 14 oz. — Best suited for slipcovers that get:

  • Everyday use
  • Frequent washing up to 4 to 6 times per year

TIP: Don’t confuse stiffness with weight.  Denim that feels very stiff or rigid rarely softens after it’s washed and might wrinkle like crazy. Medium and heavy weight denim that feels supple and weighty works best for casual, comfy slipcovers.

Stack of linen slipcover fabrics.

LINEN & HEMP 

Most popular weights for linen and hemp woven in canvas, denim and plain weave for washable slipcovers:

  • Medium weight, 8 to 10 oz.
  • Heavy weight, 12 to 14 oz.
  • Heavy duty weight, 15 oz.  

Note: 4.5 oz. to 7 oz.  weights are not included here because they are too light for most washable armchair and sofa slipcovers.  

Choose a weight based on how you will use your slipcover.

Medium weight linen / hemp, 8 to 10 oz. — Best suited for slipcovers that get:

  • Moderate use
  • A few washings per year

Heavy weight linen / hemp, 12 to 14 oz. and heavy duty weight 15 oz. — Best suited for slipcovers that get:

  • Everyday use
  • Frequent washing up to 4 times per year

TIP: not all heavy duty 15 oz. linen and linen fabrics are suitable for slipcovers. Some will be too stiff or too thick. Wash test a yard to find out if it softens and gets supple enough for your needs. 

Linen and hemp are natural fibers woven in a variety of weaves. Weights will feel differently from weave to weave. For example, a 10 oz. hemp canvas will feel and perform differently than a 10 oz. hemp denim or herringbone.


As you shop for washable slipcover fabrics, keep in mind:

1. Fabric weights are not consistent. For example, a 12 ounce cotton denim from one brand will most likely feel and perform completely different from another brand’s denim of the same weight. 

2. Fabric retailers don’t test the fabrics they sell. That’s your job! Glean what you can from the fabric description. If you’re still unsure about the weight, buy a yard and do a wash & dry test. You will quickly find out if it’s right for your needs. 

3. A fabric described as heavyweight doesn’t always mean it’s durable. Make sure it’s tightly woven for best performance. 

No matter what type of fabric you choose, make sure the weight matches up with your slipcover’s end use and how often you plan to launder it.

If your fabric offers good coverage, washes well, and is durable enough to hold up to daily normal use you have found the best weight.

Have fun fabric shopping! — Karen

 

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