The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov

Friday, October 17, 2008

How to make slipcovers for your sofa and fitted sofa cushions

Many people would like to change the look of their living space; however purchasing a new sofa every year to spice up the area is not always affordable. Making slipcovers for sofas and worn down furniture isn't as hard as people think. It is a trendy way to quickly change the look and slip covering your family room sofa, which will extend the life of your piece. Slipcovers are also a great way to hide sofa stains or the worn out look of them and also keep furniture clean for resale value.

The shapes that are easiest to work with are square finished or arched finished armrests and simple, sleek shapes of fronts and backs. More ornate, fluffy and frilly sofas are not impossible to slipcover, they just may take longer then those simple designs.

It is important you get enough fabric material to make your slipcover. You can find great buys at the clearance bins at your local fabric store, just ensure they have plenty of it in case you need to return for more. Best types of fabrics are those made of 50% polyester, since 100% cotton sometimes continues to shrink with few washes. Another important thing to keep in mind when buying slipcover fabric is the weight. Do not purchase a heavy thick fabric. Those are meant to reupholster furniture. A medium weight fabric is great and ensures durability and life of your cover. Also, do not use very thin and lightweight fabrics with silky based thread line. Those easily tear and don't last long. Ensure you purchase a strong thread such as nylon preferably as it does not shrink and is stronger then cotton based threads. Strong thread will just ensure the stitching will not rip with your daily use.

Making slipcovers for your sofa:
Once you have chosen the fabric of your liking, it is important to wash the entire fabric before you begin any sewing and cutting. This is to ensure shrinkage has taken place. There is nothing worse then investing all this time and money to make a slipcover, just to have it shrink after your first wash.

To begin making a cover for your sofa, remove all the cushions and fitted sofa cushions off your furniture. Turn the fabric raw side up, not the finished face side and drape it over your sofa. With smooth gentle strokes fit the corners into place at the back, bottom and sides, while allowing the fabric run all the way to the bottom of your sofa at the back and front. (This is how much fabric you need to cover the entire piece) Tuck into the creases of your sofa just about an inch or two, to ensure a snug fit once finished and reversed.
Using pins, carefully start pinning the outline of your sofa starting at the top along the side all the way down to the floor, pinning two pieces of fabric coming together.

Once you have done so, the back is now in place and should not move on you while you work on the front and sides. The reason for starting with the back is sofas are mostly simple straight backed and it just makes it easier to work with. The next step is to smooth out the seat area ensuing the backrest is smoothed as well with the crease at the bottom of the "L" of your sofa. (Again, ensure a small tuck into the corners) Take the extra fabric you have from the side overhanging and using your pins, pin a straight crease following your armrest all the way to the front of your furniture. Don't worry if you have some looser corners, as the cushions (once slip covered) will tighten down the cover once in place.

Follow to pin the entire outline of your sofa design such as, arm rest front and back, just as if you were shaping the sofa ensuring the fabric stays shaped and smoothed by your hand. Once you have pinned the entire outline, you can trim off the larger pieces not needed. This will just allow you to sew your cover more easily. You can trim them off using zigzag scissors, to ensure the fabric does not fray. If you are an experienced sewer you can also finish with a secondary fray stitch on the edges of your cut fabric. Always leave 1 to 2 inches extra fabric. Do not cut too close to the stitches, as you will use the sofa and by sitting on it and the fabric may stretch. Slowly remove the cover and sew the pieces close to your pins, removing your pins as you move along.

When you're finished turn your entire piece inside out and check on the fit over your sofa. Some adjustments may be required and if you got this far, they you will know exactly what to do. Reverse the piece and make your adjustments with your pins and re-sew the area. Even most experienced sewers sometimes need to do this. This is also the time when you make small cuts into "L" shaped corners of your armrests, and places that are inverted. Make the cuts on the reversed side of course not the outside of the cover and again do not come too close to the stitches. Check the bottom of the sofa for length and make your length adjustments. It is all right to leave a puckered effect if you prefer, which means extra fabric is left to drape over the floor. Whichever the case, ensure the edge is folded under and finished to prevent fraying.

Making slipcovers for the cushions of your sofa:Once the slipcover is complete, you can work on your fitted sofa cushions. Measure against your cushions and cut your fabric. Make a pillow style cover (again with raw face showing, this is where you always stitch) and stitch along 3 sides leaving one side open to insert your cushion. Once finished turn it inside out and slip your cushion inside. If they are zippered type, do not worry about putting a zipper on the new slipcover. You can use Velcro either stitching it in place or using fabric adhesive. Simple ties can also be attached to ensure the cover closes snug over the cushions.

Once everything is complete, put your sofa back together using your slipcover and covered cushions. You may have to gently push down into the corners of your sofa to ensure the fabric fits snug all around. Some people use a stick (smooth, broom style pole measured to the length of your sofa) and place is in the back crevice of your entire sofa length in the 1 to 2 inch tuck. This will ensure the fabric stays in place under your fitter cushions.

Your sofa now has a brand new spanking look and/or is protected. Enjoy!

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