I often trim my slipcovers with welt cord (piping). It adds a subtle design detail and professional finish. When the cord is covered in the same fabric as the slipcover it blends right in.
Welt cord also adds a lot of function to a slipcover. It gives structure to the furniture body, cushions and arms. It defines a skirt line or hem edge. And, it adds strength to seams.
The right type of welt cord will hold its shape and look smooth and straight throughout the life of a washable slipcover. I always use washable, flexible, non-shrinking cord. It has a poly tissue core that’s wrapped with a braided cover.
What I NEVER use is plastic clothesline. Here’s why:
I almost always put a zipper opening in my custom slipcovers for easy on and off.
For most styles, I insert the zipper in the left back corner. My customers don’t know it’s there until I point it out.
You might think it’s an invisible zipper. It’s not. It’s just a regular #3 nylon coil type and I sew it in much like you would a lap zipper.
But the trick to making it look invisible is how you close it. Here’s how:
What type of welt cord works best for slipcovers? My favorite is medium-firm polyester in size 5/32. This cord (above) has a poly tissue-like core and wrapped with a braided cover. Here’s why I like using it for sofa, chair and ottoman covers:
- Firm enough to keep its shape yet soft enough to bend around curves smoothly
- Doesn’t shrink or pucker when you wash your slipcover
- 5/32 size is ideal for slipcovers and the slightly smaller 4/32 is good for pillows
I buy this welt cord from The Zipper Lady (retail) and Rowley Company item # WC10 (wholesale).
Online upholstery suppliers often carry this type of cord, too. Tip: sample before you buy. I recently purchased 500 yards of “polyester welt cord 5/32” from an upholstery supplier and I was very disappointed with the quality. The 5/32 size was wimpy and the core was mushy and flattened quickly. Now I know not all poly welt cord is made the same way.
Avoid using cotton welt cord (left) for washable slipcovers. The cotton fill is a bit lumpy and loosely covered with fishnet. Another type of cotton welt cord is twisted like a rope. Either way, it’s mushy and flattens easily. Watch out, this stuff will shrink!
Choosing the color and fabric for your welt cord is a personal choice. Go with self-fabric for a classic look or get creative with a contrast color, texture and/or pattern.
I like using the same or similar weight fabric as my slipcover fabric for making the welt cord bias strips. For the cord, I get good results with this washable, size 5/32 quality. This cord has a poly tissue-like core and wrapped with a braided cover. Find it at The Zipper Lady.