Category Archives: inspiration

Slipcover Design: 5 Tips for Creating a Look You Love

One chair, four slipcovers. It’s amazing how each slipcover gives the same chair a completely different personality!

The wingback chair featured in these photos is mine. It’s worn & loved and, yes, it has 4 (or more) slipcovers. Years ago, I did a pin fitting on it and created a reusable slipcover pattern. Now, whenever I get the urge to update my decor, I pull out my pattern and tweak the details to design an entirely new look for my old chair.

Fabric choice and style details make all the difference in how your slipcover will look, fit and function. Here are 5 tips to help you design a slipcover you will absolutely love:

1. Enhance your furniture’s best features. Design your slipcover to show off one or more of the unique design elements on your chair or sofa such as arms, legs, arches, wings, etc.

2. Choose a slipcover fit that matches your personal style. Is your style loose and shabby chic?  Snug contemporary?  Or, relaxed and tailored?

3. Decide on slipcover details before you buy fabric. Consider skirt style – short, long, pleated, tailored or no skirt.  Think about seam finish such as top stitch or welt cord — self matching or contrast. Is your fabric a print that requires matching? Be sure to account for these details in your yardage calculation to avoid coming up short

4. Pick a timeless fabric and color for long lasting design appeal. Classic fabrics such as denim, canvas, twill, ticking, linen and matelassé in slipcover weights (10 to 14 oz.) will add longevity to your slipcover. Neutral colors offer the most flexibility when it comes to decorating.

5. Match your slipcover function to the fabric. When choosing fabric consider how you will use your slipcover. If your slipcover will get heavy traffic and require frequent washing go with a durable, heavy weight fabric. If you want your slipcover to be pet and/or kid friendly avoid brushed fabrics (pet hair magnet) and textures that snag easily. And, for occasional use slipcovers that are mostly decorative a medium weight fabric, solid or novelty, will work fine.

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.

Style Boost for a Canvas Slipcover

If you live with solid color slipcovers you know how practical and versatile they are.  But do you ever get in a decorating rut with them?

Canvas Slipcover by Karen PowellI’ve been feeling that way about my red slipcovered chair, which is tucked into a cozy corner of my home.

I want to give it a new look but I don’t have time right now to sew an entirely new slipcover.  Should I just swap out the accent pillow and be done?  No, not again!!

So, I started playing around with mixing layers of pattern and texture against the solid red canvas.  Using what I had on hand,  I pulled in an old cushion cover, textured blankets, a vintage grain sack and other accents.  I even created a simple cushion sleeve for extra layering. Here’s what I came up with:

Red canvas slipcover with ticking detail.

I have always like the look of farmhouse-style decor.  Above I used a ticking cushion cover from my chair’s previous slipcover.  I combined the stripe seat with a vintage wool plaid blanket and a sweet velvet bird pillow.  Oh, and the handwoven striped rag rug adds yet another layer of texture and richness.  Pretty cozy don’t you think?

Floral cushion wrap by The Slipcover MakerOnce you get started in mixing patterns it’s hard to stop!  In this French country version, I kept the ticking cushion cover and then layered it with a floral linen sleeve.  I made a fabric tube from a Waverly print, pressed it flat and seamed the ends together.  The finished sleeve is the width of the cushion.  Think of it as a fabric loop.  It slides over the cushion and fits snug so it won’t shift around with use.

I love the look of the ticking stripe and floral with the vintage grain sack.  It was long enough to hang over the chair so the inside back is completely covered.  I added even more pattern by layering in the plaid linen pillow cover and a striped quilt.  It looks like a different chair, doesn’t it?

Floral cushion sleeve by The Slipcover Maker

OK, now it’s your turn.  How will you give your slipcover a style boost?

 

Inspired by Washable Velvet Slipcovers

When I spotted Rachel Ashwell‘s washable velvet slipcover I started thinking about velvet in an entirely new way.  I like the washed-worn look and not-so-perfect fit.  The overall feel is more comfy-cozy than formal upholstered velvet pieces.  I’m inspired!

The last time I made anything from velvet was back in the 1970’s when I sewed practically all of my own clothes.   The velvet fabrics I used were so slippery to sew!  Pressing had it’s own challenges.  Machine washing them was out of the question.

Fast forward 30+ years and a whole new generation of velvet fabrics are available:  distressed velvet, vintage velvet, heather velvet, chenille and velour that look like velvet, etc.  Not all are machine washable or easy to sew but now we have options galore.  I haven’t experimented with velvet recently but when I do I will opt for a  washable 100% cotton or cotton blend and stay away from the slinky and stretchy polyester-nylon-acrylic versions.

Velvet upholstered sofas and chairs are trending!  Here are a few pieces I found that have the relaxed, lived-in look I like so much.  Great inspiration for slipcovers.

Why Organic Cotton for Your Slipcover?

I just added another favorite slipcover fabric to my FABRICS page.  It’s the 10 oz. organic cotton canvas (duck) from Big Duck Canvas. When you compare it side by side with the Big Duck’s regular 10 oz. cotton canvas it looks exactly the same.  However, you’ll notice right away the difference in the hand-feel; slightly softer surface and overall less stiff.

big duck canvas organic cotton canvas

Organic cotton canvas, color white, from Big Duck Canvas

The nicer hand-feel is a result of the certified organic cotton and how the fabric was processed.  The cotton is grown, harvested, woven into fabric and finished without the harmful, toxic chemicals traditionally used in conventional textile manufacturing. The entire process, from field to fabric, meets the Global Organic Textile Standard.

When I find an organic cotton fabric that is suitable for my slipcover projects I’m all over it.  I opt for it because certified organic cotton is produced with care for people and the environment.  I like supporting sustainable farming.  I like that organic production methods significantly reduce field and factory worker’s exposure to hazardous substances.  And, I like having textile products (including slipcovers) in my home that don’t outgas toxins.

There’s much more to share about this topic, which I will do in the coming months. For now, take a look at the Choose Organic Cotton video above. It’s a simple and informative intro to why organic cotton fabrics benefit us all.

*Big Duck’s organic cotton canvas has been preshrunk (washed) by the mill, however, you still have to wash and dry your yardage before making your slipcover to remove residual shrinkage.

Video source: created by G. Kennedy Creative, found on prAna channel at YouTube.