Start a slipcover business?

So, you are making slipcovers, or learning how to make slipcovers.  And you start thinking, maybe I could earn some money doing this.  But how do I get started?  Here are a few tips to help you out.

Develop a plan

A slipcover business is not just about sewing slipcovers, it  involves a lot more. Here are some things you need to consider before getting started:

How will you budget your start-up costs?
Do you have the necessary equipment?
Where will your business be located?
Do you have the necessary sewing skills?
Do you have the necessary administrative and management skills?

Take time to answer these questions before you invest time and money into starting a slipcover business.

Legalities

Knowing the legal requirements before you get started can save you a lot of time and frustration.

Will you require a business license?
If you work from home, will you require a home occupation license?
Do you live in an area that prohibits home businesses?

Check out these legal requirements before hand. I know of a business person who was forced to move her business out of her home due to HOA rules.  You may also want to consider speaking to an attorney and accountant.

Setting up your space

Give some serious thought as to where you want to set up your business. Moving your studio mid stream is time consuming and very stressful.

Do you have space at home to dedicate to your business?
If not, can you afford to rent a space?
Are you comfortable with strangers coming to your home?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you figure out how much money it will take to get started.

Supplies and Equipment

There are a lot of supplies that go into making a slipcover; things you probably don’t already have on hand. Here are just a few:

Do you have the funds to thread, cording, zippers and other supplies?
Will your sewing machine withstand heavy duty use?

While you can purchase supplies as needed for each job; eventually you will want to establish wholesale accounts. And you will eventually want to purchase a more professional sewing machine for speed and sewing power; which will contribute to you being able to finish a slipcover in less time; thereby increasing your earnings.

Marketing

How will you get the word out about your new business? Here are a few things to try:

Family and friends
Local fabric stores
Church members
Upholsterers

When you first start out, there may not be a lot of money in the budget for marketing, so think of ways you can market your business on a budget.

Time Management

How good are you at managing yourself and your time? Without having a boss standing over you, you are on your own when it comes to getting the work finished and out the door. Here are a few tips to help you out:

Set aside a certain time each day when you are “on the clock.”
Conduct time studies on how long it takes for you to complete each job.
When business is slow, practice on your own furniture.

You will need to train yourself to stay focused. Knowing how long things take and how to make efficient use of your time will help you to get the work out as promised.

While there is much more to think about when deciding if a slipcover business is right for you,  this should help you get started. Interested in learning more? Consider taking a class with Home Fashions U

Take action now to get started with your home based slipcover business and share with us what steps you are taking.

Another Great Week

Welcome to another week here at SIYS. Last week was a long one with lots of work on the site. With some tweaking here and there I think I finally have the look and feel of SIYS the way I want it. Still some minor things to do, but it is never done, is it?

I’m happy to share more great information with you this week. Why don’t you take a listen, and see for yourself.

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed that short message and don’t forget to come back often. Better yet, subscribe to our feed so that you will know when new information is up.

3 Keys to Getting Organized

Getting organized is one thing that is always on our list of things to do.  It isn’t rocket science, but does require some forethought and some work. By keeping these 3 critical things in mind, you will be well on your way to getting and staying organized.

1—A place for everything.

Now I know that sounds like your mother talking, but what mom told you was true. Having a designated place for things makes being organized easier. So look around, and find a place for each and everyone of your sewing tools and supplies.

2—Choosing a place.

Ok, now that we agree everything needs a place, where is the best place? Finding the right place will take some trial and error, but a good place to start is the point of use. For example, you use the scissors at the cutting table and the sewing machine, right? Then keeping them in the desk drawer does not make any sense. Keep tools and supplies close to by where they will be used. If they are used in more than one spot, consider buying duplicates.

3—Put it away!

Now that you have a designated place for things, close by where they will be used, make sure and put them away after using them. Again, sounds like mom here, but mom really does know best. It doesn’t do much good to get organized if you don’t take a few minutes each day to stay organized. Putting things in their place at the end of each sewing session will save you lots of time and frustration when you come back for the next session.

So there you have it. By incorporating these three actions into your routine, you can easily get and stay organized.

A Space of Your Own

Now that you’ve decided you want to make your own slipcover, you need a place to set up to sew. How much space do you need? That depends how what type of slipcover diva you plan to be. Do you plan to be a one-time diva and sew just one slipcover? Then you will need just a temporary space.

If you plan on making slipcovers on a regular basis or if you are considering starting a slipcover business,

Or do you plan to sew a whole house full of slipcovers or maybe open your own slipcover business? The answer to these questions will determine how much and what type of space you will need. Let’s explore the different possiblities.

Temporary Space

If you only plan to sew just one or a few slipcovers, then your space needs will be minimal and simple. For a dual purpose cutting and sewing surface folding banquet tables or even the dining room table will be sufficient. Typically a cutting table is 6-8 inches higher than a sewing table, so you will most likely need to raise the table temporarily. Canned goods or bed risers are good for this.

Semi-Permanent Space

What if you want to make more than just a couple of slipcovers? Maybe a whole house of slipcovers? Setting up a semi-permanent space will be beneficial. But where? Here are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
*A corner of the family room
*A corner of the basement
*Temporarily take over the dining room
*Temporarily take over the guest room

A Permanent Studio Space

If you plan on making slipcovers on a regular basis or if you are considering starting a slipcover business, you will need to have a permanent set-up. This will require more space that the other two situations, so take a look around your house and consider some of these areas.

*The sun room
*The laundry room
*Permanently take over the dining room
*Permanently take over the guest room
*Set up a permanent space in the basement
*Set up a permanent space in the garage

These are just a few ideas. I’m sure that once you put your thinking cap on, you will think of more possibilites. Go ahead, take a look around.

If you have come up with some creative solutions for your sewing space, we would love to have you share with us.

Until next time, happy sewing.

10 Tips For A Successful Slipcover

You are thinking about making your own slipcover, but not sure where to start? Here are 10 quick steps to help you get started.

1— Mentally prepare

Take some time to get in the right frame of mind to make your slipcover. Making a slipcover is not particularly difficult, but does require a certain way of thinking.

2—Research and find reference materials

If you are unsure of how to start, take a few minutes and do some research. There are many different ways to make a slipcover. Find one that resonates with you. Stay tuned to SIYS for upcoming tutorials.

3—Choose furniture to slipcover

Keep it simple for your first slipcover or two. Something without arms such as a Parsons chair is great. If you don’t want to fit your first slipcover, consider my Parsons chair pattern. This will give you a little experience under your belt before you jump into the fitting process.

4—Choose fabric

For your first slipcover, choose a fabric that is easy to work with.  A cotton duck, twill, canvas or denim fabric would be a great choice.

5—Choose your slipcover fabrication method

Will you pin fit your slipcover?  Will you fit with the fabric right side out or wrong side out?  Will you fit the entire furniture, or just half?  Will you make a muslin pattern and use that to cut the fabric?  Will you measure the furniture and then draft a patten?  As you can see, there are many different ways to fit your slipcover.  As time goes on, we will explore these different methods here on SIYS.

6—Choose design details

What type of skirt do you want?  Do you want any extra design details?  A pleated back? Ties? Contrast cording? Contrast skirt?  Think about what design details you want before you start cutting.

6—Set up your sewing space

If you don’t have a permanent sewing space, get your temporary space set up.  Make sure you have all needed tools and notions before you start sewing.  This will save you lots of time and frustration and make the sewing go smoother.

7—Fit and cut the slipcover

Now is the time to get serious.  Make sure you have enough time to complete the fitting and cutting process.  It is difficult to start and come back trying to remember what you were doing.

8—Sew it up

If you don’t have time to complete the sewing in one session, break it up into several sessions.  Try to complete related tasks in each session.  For example, make all the cording in one session.  Stitch the cording to the pieces in the next session.  Stitch in inside pieces in another session.

10–Finish & Enjoy

Time to enjoy your new slipcover.  Also, it would be a great time to analyze the process.  What went smoothly, what didn’t.  Make notes to help you for your next slipcover.  There will be a next one, won’t there?

My First Slipcover

My first desire for a slipcover was in 1999 after we bought our first house.  We had just settled down from our military career and I wanted some nice furniture.  Had this little antique love seat that would have looked so cute with a slipcover.  So I called around and got some estimates, but our post house purchase budget was way to small and could not accommodate a custom slipcover.  That idea was quickly put on the back burner.  It never occurred to me to make one.

Fast forward a few years and I’m working part time at a local fabric store.  This store offered a variety of custom decorating services; draperies, upholstery and slipcovers and more.  One day when I arrived to work, everyone was in a frenzied panic.  The slipcover lady had suddenly retired due to health reasons.  We were not allowed to accept any slipcover jobs.

This was one of those moments that make you go “hum”.  So after work, I did some research and discovered that our slipcover lady was the local slipcover maven.  All the stores and designers used her for their slipcovers.  Another “hum” moment.   I said to myself  “self, you should be making slipcovers”.

By this time, I no longer had the cute little love seat, so off to the thrift store I went.  Found a small armless love seat, figuring it would be easier without arms.  With the help of an old Sunset book on slipcovers I made my first slipcover.  Guess what, it turned out cute! and it fit!  Can you say I was hooked!

There was one minor detail that I thought was funny.  I put in a zipper in one corner, only I put it in like a dress zipper; unzipping from the top down.   Slipcovers unzip from the bottom up.  All I could do was laugh; didn’t even get mad, because it worked and didn’t really need a zipper.

I decided right then and there I would start a custom slipcover business.  Wanting to jump in with both feet, I found a 4 day slipcover class at the Custom Home Furnishings Academy and I’ve been at it every since.

And that is the story of my first slipcover.  I would love to hear about your first slipcover so please share with us.

13 Favorite Tools

I was thinking the other day about all the different tools I use in the studio and the office. Grabbed a pen and started writing down my favorite ones. Here is what I came up with. To make the list, the tool must save time, keep me organized or just be fun to use.

13. Seam Ripper—can’t really say it is a favorite, but since I can’t seem to finish a slipcover without it, decided to include it.

12. 6″ ruler—I have one of these at every sewing machine. They really come in handy and are much more useful than a tape measure around my neck. I would only choke myself with one of those.

11. Needle nose pliers—also at every machine. Really handy for pulling the cording out of the seam allowance.

10. Clipboards—great for keeping work order and other project documents together.

09. WordPress—I love WordPress. I’ve built two sites using WordPress and it is relatively easy.

08. Thesis—In conjunction with WordPress I use Thesis. Together they are a great combination.

07. Ruffling machine—My least used sewing machine, but when I want to make ruffles, nothing beats it.

06. Bias tape maker—my newest favorite tool. I just recently learned how to use it properly and love it.

05. Audacity—free open source software that I use to make my podcasts.

04. 10 tailor shears—these are some big honkin’ shears, but anything else feels like a toy.

03. Gravity feed iron—when working with heavy slipcover fabrics, you need a heavy duty iron. My Consew Gravity Feed fits the bill.

02. Skirt markers—I created skirt makers the size of skirts I put on slipcovers and this saves a ton of time.

01. Pleating tool—a tool I created to make pleated slipcover skirts. It is totally amazing.

Now that you know my favorite tools, why don’t you share yours.

SIYS, Who Are We

In my last post, I gave you a preview of what you can expect at SIYS, so now I thought I would tell you a little about myself.

SIYS will be my virtual classroom, a classroom without physical boundaries,

I’m Angie Knowles, a slipcover diva. Slipcovers are a major part of my life. I love sewing slipcovers, writing about slipcovers and teaching how to make slipcovers. I made my first slipcover in 2000, with the help of on old Sunset book and took my first slipcover class in 2001. Immediately after my class I started my custom slipcover business. I totally immersed myself learning everything I could about slipcovers; devouring every bit of information I could get my hands on. I badgered (gently) other slipcover divas to share with me everything they knew about slipcovers. I worked nights and weekends practicing slipcovers. I wanted to know it all.

Then in 2004, I got a taste of teaching at the Slipcover Summit in Ft. Collins, Co. WOW! what an experience. Now you may think that in only 4 years I could not possible know enough to teach others. But I have this thing; if I’m really interested in something, I become obsessed with it. I live it, breathe it, and gobble up any and all I can about it. Then I practice it over and over and over again until I perfect it. And along the way, I document everything! Another thing I have. Fast forward to today. 7 years of teaching at the Slipcover Summit and lovin’ it. But I want to teach more. Not everyone can make it to the Summit or to my local classes; although I wish you could.

And so the birth of Sew it Yourself Slipcovers. SIYS will be my virtual classroom, a classroom without physical boundaries, allowing me to reach anyone who wants to learn to sew slipcovers for themselves, or to maybe even start a slipcover business. In coming posts I will delve more into how I plan to accomplish all of this.

Now that you know a little about me, tell me a little about you and how SIYS can help you in your slipcover endeavors. In the meantime, if you would like to be a part of this exciting learning adventure, sign up to receive my free ebook How To Make Bias Covered Cording. And don’t forget to follow SIYS on Twitter and become a Facebook fan.

Until next time, happy sewing.

Make Your Own Slipcovers

So there you are, sitting there looking at your ugly sofa again and you’ve just about had it!  You are this close to dragging it out to the curb.  But wait! there is a better option.  Make a slipcover! Yeah, right.  Well, I have some good news for you.  You can make a slipcover and Sew It Yourself Slipcover (SIYS) is here to help.  Exactly what is SIYS and how can it help you.  Well, take a listen.

 

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