Slipcover Basics Video
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Make an upholstered cornice.
Upholster a slipseat.
Make a slipcover.


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- Slipcover FAQ's -
E-mail Customer Support! Questions about slipcovers or the video answered promptly. 
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How to Make a Slipcover In outline form.
How to Upholster a Slipseat.
How to make an Upholstered Cornice.
Frequently (and infrequently) Asked Questions:
Fabrics

Patterns

Other styles.

 

Yardage and Materials

Style Questions:

Support
Beginner
Matching Patterns
Decorating With Slipcovers
Questions about the video.

 

What fabrics are best for slipcovers?  Where can I find fabric inexpensively?
To start use plain, inexpensive fabric. No stripes, no large patterns that will require matching.  In short, the best fabric for your first attempt is something that you won't miss if you have to throw it away. Anything light and easy to sew from the surplus bin will be fine.
Once you have done one slipcover and feel more confident of your skills, then you might look at some more valuable fabrics.
I've been looking for a pattern for slipcovers.
No pattern is necessary. The furniture serves as a form.
Essentially, you measure, add for tuckage, and rough cut a piece.
Then you pin it on and go to the next piece.
When everything is pinned to the furniture and to its mating pieces, you trim and notch to maintain registration.
Judy uses a half piece method. This is very simple, and allows the slipcover to come off in one piece after cutting.
Sofas, Love Seats and other styles.
Judy uses the same basic technique for most styles of furniture. For styles other than the wing chair Judy uses to demonstrate, we will be adding a growing file of pictures that demonstrate the differences. A basic guide is the upholstery. Usually the slipcover will seam at the same places that the upholstery does. A sofa or love seat will usually require you to sew two (or even more for a really long sofa) pieces together to make the inside and outside backs, the deck and the front panels.
 
Sofa beds:
Judy says that she slipcovers sofa beds in the same manner as a regular sofa with one exception:
Instead of including tuckage in the seat deck, she inserts a zipper at the base of the inside arm, around the base of the inside back, and back to the front at the base of the other inside arm. This is where the seat meets the arms and back. This allows you to open the bed without having to remove the slipcover.
Recliners:
These are difficult unless you are considering keeping the recliner closed (and that really makes it a chair and not a recliner). The problem is that slipcovers aren't attached to the chair in the way that upholstery is, and when you want to open it, the slipcover binds the recliner. A woman that Judy taught does do recliners, but more as a slipcover - upholstery hybrid. It really is better as an upholstery project. You can find decent recliners at used furniture places, as people tend to get rid of them when all they really need is to have the mechanisms tightened.
You could theoretically make a slipcover in several pieces that would work for a recliner.  Each arm (inside, outside, front panel and arm back) could have a zippered (or velcroed) form fit cover that would be similar to an arm cover that actually covered the entire arm and zipped down its back corner.  Another cover could be made for the inside and outside back that attached to a cushion cover. The footrest would make a simple upholstery project similar to our slipseat project.  Most footrests attach with four or six screws.
Slip Seats:
Slip seats are most often found on dining room chairs. They are upholstered seats, usually fastened by screws from underneath. These really make a great beginner upholstery project and with experience can be reupholstered in a few minutes each. Typically they're about an inch thick. Thicker ones may have a seam sewn into the corners, so look first. The typical slip seat requires no sewing and no tools more sophisticated than a screwdriver and a staple gun (you can use a tack hammer and upholstery tacks if you prefer, just don't try holding the tacks in your mouth like the old upholsterers do.. they raise heck with fillings, and don't do your stomach any good either). Also, you'll be adding a lot of time to the project this way. As you'll be saving yourself a lot of money, buy an inexpensive stapler at the hardware store.
Click here to learn
how to upholster a slipseat.
Sectionals:
Sectionals can be slipcovered using some modifications to the technique that Judy demonstrates in the video.  Judy treats each section as a separate piece of furniture.  For symmetrical pieces (those without an arm on one side), no change to Judy's method is necessary.  For pieces that don't match themselves side to side, you have to cut "on the whole."  This is not any more difficult than Judy's "half cut" technique, but will require close attention in cutting.  
For sectionals with integral recliners, you may want to have the recliner upholstered and make slipcovers for the remaining sections out of a contrasting fabric.  Upholstery weight fabric is usually difficult to make a slipcover.
Curved Back:
These, like sectionals often require some extra care to look good.  Judy alters her
seat tuckage to make adjustment of the inside curve easier.
Measurement and Yardage:
This is one of the most common questions asked us and on the decorating message boards. It's a difficult question for a lot of reasons.  There are tables out there, but even they have to simplify their calculations to cover a wide range of material and furniture styles.  One reason that makes this difficult to answer specifically is that even within one style of chair (for example, wing chairs), there will be a great difference in the yardage required to cover the piece.  If you use a material with a stripe or a large pattern repeat, then the matchwork will call for considerably more yardage than a plain or nondirectional small print.
Judy has enough experience that she can get a pretty close estimate just by looking at a piece of furniture. For those of us with less experience, she's prepared these guidelines.
The Skirt.
A skirt is optional. The skirt in the video is a pleated skirt that has a very crisp, upholstered look. To the right, on our camel backed sofa, you'll see an example of a gathered skirt. Another look is a partial gather that's only gathered at the corners.
If you don't want a skirt, you can sew in a welt to finish the bottom. For this, Judy marks the bottom of the chair on the slipcover with chalk. From this mark, she measures an inch lower all around and cuts on that lower line. Then she sews a finished welt to finish at the upper line. She takes the welt and extra inch, folds and irons them up so that the welt is showing and top stitches the whole thing together.
Attached Cushions
Judy usually treats these as if they were the inside back of the sofa. In other words, she makes no attempt to make the pillow backs look like pillows.  This can be done, but it's a lot of work, and usually does no more than call attention to itself.  Occasionally, she may need to put darts in the outside corners of the attached pillow backs.
Slipcover Stays
You can use just about anything to hold the slipcover in place. Judy's covers don't often need anything because she uses ample tuckage, but there are some pieces that even she has to use something to hold the slipcover. 

Like cold remedies, everyone has their own favorite; PVC, broom handles, or cardboard tubes. Judy will use anything that's available including old magazines rolled up. You can also purchase slipcover stays which are sometimes called screw pins. They're available at your local sewing supply store. These are particularly handy on the interior curves of sectionals.

The major shortcoming is that if you have boys in the house, you can be sure that they'll undo them and likely install them upside down in the seat.

 

Wide Panel.
There are two ways to handle a wide panel.  First, let's define a wide panel.  Let's say that your sofa has an overall length of 84" and the fabric that you want to use is only 54".  The outside and inside backs, deck and front panel are all wider than the fabric.  What do you do?
The simplest way to handle this is to railroad the fabric.  Railroading fabric is nothing more than running the fabric 90 degrees from its normal direction.  You simply turn the fabric sideways.
Normally, you would run the fabric from top to bottom on your furniture.  In other words, your fabric will normally end up on your furniture with the pattern in the same direction as it appears on the bolt.  To determine whether your fabric can be railroaded, just lay a section across the bolt and see if you notice a difference. If not, then it can be railroaded.
If you notice a difference, if there's a stripe or pattern that will show the difference or if the fabric has a nap or direction like a corduoroy or velvet, then you've got to make a double panel.
You'll need enough fabric to do your inside and outside back, the deck and the front panel.  The skirt is done differently, so you won't need to make a double panel, including tuckage.  
Take a measurement from the top of the inside back (usually this will start at the back of the top of the sofa where the outside back panel is welted) down to the deck.  
Add 4" for tuckage and 1" for seams.  
Cut two widths of your material to this final dimension, fold them together, label them with masking tape or chalk and set them aside.  
Do the same for the deck, (measuring in front from where the upholstered deck is sewn to the front panel) adding the same 4" tuckage and 1" seam allowances.
Do the same for the outside back adding a 2" seam allowance (see next step for an explanation) but not the tuckage allowance.
To measure for the front panel, measure from the bottom of the furniture (above the legs or feet) up around the front of the seat deck to where the upholstered deck is sewn to the front panel.  Add 2" to this measurement.  This will allow for any misalignment and the excess will be taken care of when you go to do your skirt.

One fabric saver is to use a different or less expensive material for your deck. Upholsterers often use this technique.  If you lift the seat cushions on an upholstered piece, you'll see what we're talking about.  If you're already using an inexpensive fabric (and you should be for your first piece) this may be more work than it's worth to you.
Email Support
Judy offers free email support to help you get through your project.  If you can email her a
picture, it will make it simpler for her and you.  She may mark it up or use it to reference your questions.  Even if you decide to phone, the picture will go a long way to explain your project.
Will the video help a beginner?
Actually, except for the costs of the fabric (which can be considerable), slipcovers can make a simpler beginning project than many apparel projects. If you think about it, a 1/4" difference on a slipcover isn't likely to show. However, a 1/4" off on a neckline, and YIKES!
Here are some things that might help:
Start small.  An ottoman or a small or plain chair will limit the amount of fabric needed and provide a simple starter to establish your technique.
Use plain, inexpensive fabric. No stripes, no large patterns that will require matching.  In short, the best fabric for your first attempt is something that you won't miss if you have to throw it away. Anything light and easy to sew from the surplus bin will be fine.
Matching Patterns.
Matching can be difficult even for a professional.  Good cutting technique is the key to getting a good match.  Judy suggests that you start your first matching project with a small directional print to get the idea.  An example of this might be a simple floral pattern so that you can get the idea of finding your pattern repeats and mirroring them with a central flower on each inside arm.  
This will also give you experience centering a feature on your inside back and on your cushion (don't forget that cushions are reversible top to bottom - be sure that when you flip it, the same match shows up). You'll also want to match the skirt and front panel.
Once you've done a couple of slipcovers with simple matching, you're ready for a simple stripe.  Try to pick one that keeps to a simple pattern.  A pattern with more than three different stripes will be more difficult.
Decorating With Slipcovers.
Aside from the costs, slipcovers have other advantages over upholstery.  At one time, slipcovers were primarily used to protect upholstery, many other uses have developed as time went on.  
You can use slipcovers to make a "matched set" out of your mismatched furniture.
With a second set, you can use one for everyday wear (animal and kid proof), and another set for "company."
You can change sets with the seasons, with neutral wall and window colors, use your slipcovers to color your room.
You can wash your slipcovers, without the expense or trouble of upholstery cleaning.
And yes, they will extend the life of your upholstery by years.
Questions About the Video.
How long does it take to get the video?

Normally, credit card orders are shipped the next business day.  Checks are welcomed, but may take up to five business days to clear.   
How do you ship?
We usually ship US Postal Service First Class Mail. Though they make no guarantees, most customers in the eastern US receive their videos in three days or less. West coast customers normally receive theirs within five days.
Shipping beyond the US will be extra.  We will
quote you our rates should you be interested.  Or you can check the US Postal Service for your own quote.
Is the video available in formats other than VHS?
Yes, we can provide a copy in all of the popular international formats for an additional fee.  Simply let us know what country you live in and, if you know, what format your VCR uses.  We will also provide you with a link on currency conversion that will give you an idea of the costs in your local currency.   Yes, we can provide a copy in all of the popular international formats for an additional fee.  Simply let us know what country you live in and, if you know, what format your VCR uses.  We will also provide you with a link on currency conversion that will give you an idea of the costs in your local currency.  
How long is the video?
Including the credits, it is 57 minutes long. Including the credits, it is 57 minutes long.
What does the video show?
Using a wing chair, Judy demonstrates all of the techniques involved in making a custom slipcover.  The method that she uses is called the "half-piece" method.  This makes for a uniform, symmetrical cut from side to side and will improve your results with less work. Using a wing chair, Judy demonstrates all of the techniques involved in making a custom slipcover.  The method that she uses is called the "half-piece" method.  This makes for a uniform, symmetrical cut from side to side and will improve your results with less work.

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