The Slipcover Maker’s Fabric Shopping Guide

Use this guide to shop for slipcover fabrics with confidence. It’s a collection of my best advice, reviews and resources for making smart fabric choices.

Many of you have told me your chair or sofa slipcover project is on hold because you are afraid of choosing the wrong fabric. I understand! With so many options to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Especially when you shop online.

Don’t give up! With these helpful buying tips, you can easily find and select fabrics that suit your style, budget, slipcover needs and sewing machine.

Slipcover fabric mood board of denim and prints.

Start Here!

Before you Google “slipcover fabrics” and start clicking on links, get prepared for your search! Check out these two posts to help you decide how you want your slipcover to look and what fabric weight would be best.

Then, once you have a good idea of what you want and need, start shopping by fabric type!

Denim Fabrics for Slipcovers

Cotton Denim & Twill

Cotton denim is a durable twill weave fabric. And twill is a lighter weight version of denim. Both are dyed in solid colors. By comparison, yarn-dyed denim is woven with two colors, like blue jean fabric.

Denim fabrics wrinkle less than canvas and have a softer hand-feel. Expect moderate shrinkage. Preshrink before using.

Shopping Tips

Denim & Twill Resources

Natural cotton duck fabric on a roll.


Canvas, or duck, made from cotton, other natural fiber or a blend, makes a versatile slipcover. It has a crisp hand-feel and a casual look. Expect moderate to high shrinkage. Preshrink before using.

Shopping Tips

Canvas Resources

Stack of natural linen fabrics.

Linen & Hemp

Slipcover weight linen and hemp fabrics are strong and wear well. Tightly woven canvas, twill and herringbone weaves work best for durability. Expect moderate to high shrinkage. Preshrink your yardage before using.

Shopping Tips

Linen & Hemp Resources

Dark blue thick velvet fabric.


Forget the fancy velvets! What we want for slipcovers is cotton or polyester plain velvet in 10 to 12 oz weights that can be machine washed. And stand up to at least moderate use.

Shopping Tips

Velvet Resources

Blue check and stripe slipcover fabrics on table.

Prints, Stripes & Checks

The most common fabric patterns used for slipcovers are designer home décor prints and woven stripes and checks.

Choose patterns printed or woven on a tight canvas weave in cotton, linen, and blends with mostly natural fiber. Many dry clean only prints can be machine washed. Wash test a yard to be sure.

Shopping Tips

Fabric Patterns Resources

Tips for Buying Fabrics Online

1. Order fabric swatches before you buy yardage.
Descriptions and images are not always accurate online. Review a swatch in person to see the actual color, feel the weight, and check the coverage.
2. Wash test a sample.
If you’re unsure if the fabric you like will wash and dry with good results, buy one yard and test it for shrinkage, fading, and pilling.

3. Don’t assume that like-fabrics are all the same.
For example, a 12 oz. denim from one shop can differ vastly from another one in terms of quality and performance. The same goes for canvas, linen, and hemp fabrics.

4. Inspect your yardage.
Fabric retailers have strict return policies. Upon receipt of your fabric, inspect it to make sure it’s first quality and in the correct color, without flaws. Report defective yardage within 30 days of receipt to claim a refund or exchange.

Now that you know your way around fabric shopping, I hope you find one you love and work for your slipcover needs. Let me know in the comments which fabric you chose! — Karen


  1. Thank you! Enjoy your articles. Do you have any good resources for ticking/railroad fabrics for upholstery. I got a few samples from Waverly but they feel too light.

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