fabrics for slipcovers

Drop Cloth Slipcover

Drop cloth slipcovers have been a rage for a while now, but I did my first one just before Christmas.  I was a little dubious about working with drop cloths, but overall, it was a pleasant experience.  But not totally without some issues and concerns.


drop cloth slipcover before

 Here is what the loveseat looked like before.  Very pretty, but a little dated


drop cloth slipcover

And the finished slipcover.  My client likes things simple.  I really wanted to do a pleated skirt, but she nixed that idea.  So, just a plain hemmed finish.

Next post I’ll review my experiences with the drop cloth.


Screen Printed Pillow

I’ve had in my mind screen printing a wavy stripe pattern for a slipcover, but was kinda overwhelmed by the scope of the project.  So I decided to do a test run with a smaller project first–a small pillow.

Since this was a test run and a pattern I would most likely not use again, I decided use a freezer paper stencil.  Here is what that looks like once it is lightly pressed onto the screen mesh.

While they are considered temporary, freezer paper stencils can last for several printings.  This is after printing and washing out and you can see that it still in good shape.

And this is what the print looked like after printing.  The color of the background is off in this photo, but the finished pillow shows the true colors.

I used an X Acto knife to cut the strips, so they turned out a little more regular than I had hoped.  Next time I will tear the stripes and I think that will give a more irregular look that I’m looking for.

Ruffled Ottoman Slipcover

This slipcover is just too cute for words.  The client collects cute pieces of furniture and old textiles and sells them.  But she is keeping this one for herself.  The floral print is an old drapery panel and the contrast trim is what we are using for the love seat.  She wanted something short & flirty, so I did this full gathered skirt with a 1″ contrast band at the bottom.  So cute!

just too cute!

For the gathers, I used the zigzag over cord technique as shown in my gathering tutorial.

I’m linking up with

Shabby Creek Cottage

Miss Mustard Seed

One Sexy Chair

Remember this gold chair?  Well she has a brand new outfit and boy is it hot!  I have to say, this was one fun slipcover.  Although at first I was a little worried about it.  The client wanted a really tight fit, which can sometimes be difficult with these rounded chairs.  And the fabric was a knit.  It looked like a woven, but it was knit with a stabilizer on the back.  The only other time I'd worked with a knit fabric, it kept growing and growing.  Took quite some work to pull enough stretch out of the fabric so I could get a tight fit.

But this fabric was a dream to work with.  I fitted directly on the chair instead of making a muslin pattern, so I could control how much excess fabric I pulled out.

Here is a close up shot of the fabric.  Not the typical fabric most people would choose for this type of chair.  But my client is a textile artist, so I shouldn't have been surprised.

And here is the final slipcover.  She wanted tight and she got tight!  Since she wanted the fabric and the shape of the chair to be the main focus, we didn't do any details other than self welt.  I did velcro it to the underside of the chair.  This is the tightest slipcover I've made in a long while.  I love it.  Gotta be my new favorite slipcover.

PS:  I'm linking up with Miss Mustard Seed Furniture Feature Friday

Triple Ruffle Slipcover

Of all the slipcover samples I made for the Slipcover Summit this triple ruffle Parson chair slipcover is one of my favorites.  But they are all favorites, each for a different reason.

I generally like more tailored slipcovers, but every now and then I like them a little softer and more feminine and this one does that without too much fru fru going on.

The triple ruffle provides a chance to introduce a contrast fabric or texture.  The fabrics are a soft cotton ticking stripe and a soft linen look cotton duck.   I originally self lined the skirt, but with 3 layers of gathering, that was just too bulky.  So instead, I used a ¼” double fold hem.  Still working on getting the crease line out.  Thinking I may have to use vinegar and water.  But I’m loving this new (to me) hem for slipcover skirts.

Blue stripe Parson chair

And since my ruffling machine is on the fritz, I used the zigzag over cord method to make the gathers.

All, in all, a very soft, pretty feminine slipcover.

Triple ruffle skirt

If you have any tips on how to remove those annoying creases in the skirt, I would love to hear them.

Favorite Fabrics—Cotton

Remember that old commercial “cotton, the fabric of our lives” that was funded by Cotton, Inc?  Well, I don’t know about all that, but I do know that cotton makes wonderful slipcovers.  It is by far my most favorite fabric for slipcovers.  IMHO, cotton has all the qualities necessary for a successful, beautiful slipcover.  Cotton is a natural fiber—one of the oldest natural plant fibers.

Some of the properties of cotton that make it great for slipcovers are:

*strong and durable

*good color retention

*easy to print on

*easy to care for, easy to wash

*absorbs body moisture

Cotton is a very versatile fabric that can be finished in many different ways.  It can be dyed, over-dyed, bleached, stone washed, brushed; just to name a few.  Cotton fabrics has three characteristics I feel are most valuable for slipcovers.  These are:

*a stretch and recover capability; allowing it to conform to the shape of the furniture

*hard wearing—cotton takes a beating and keeps on looking good

*wash-ability—cotton fabrics can withstand harsh washing that slipcovers are subject to

*a dream to work with—cotton fabrics are just plain easy to work with.  I know it will ease where I want it to and stretch when I need it to.  And I’m at the point, I just don’t want to work with difficult fabrics any more.

So for what it is worth; my opinion on why cotton is the best fabric for slipcovers.

What is your experiences with cotton fabrics? Do you love it, hate it or just don’t care one way or the other?  Let us know what you think.

Fabrics I Try to Avoid

In my fabric options post, I touched on several fabrics I feel are not suitable for slipcovers. Let’s take a deeper look at these fabrics and why I try to avoid using them for slipcovers.

Acrylic—a lot of outdoor fabrics are made from acrylic and it is sometimes blended with other fibers. The outdoor fabrics are becoming popular for slipcovers, but I put them in the unsuitable category for several reasons. A few of the reasons are:

* they don’t easily mould to the shape of the furniture (especially very rounded, curvy furniture)
* while some acrylics can be machine washed, they usually can’t be dried as the heat is detrimental to them, so it is recommended to air dry them.
* acrylic fabrics are prone to pilling and static cling
* require extra time and effort to sew and make look good (at least for me they do), which means that you should charge a higher price to fabricate with them

Polyester—the most popular polyester fabric I’ve used for slipcovers is microfiber suede. I’ve made several slipcovers with microsuede (more than I want to) and some have come out great and others, well not so great. They quality of the fabric makes a big difference. Unfortunately, most of them have been of a low quality. Here are the main reasons I don’t like it:

* very little cross grain stretch, which I believe is very important in a slipcover fabric
* requires extreme tensions changes on my sewing machine
* does not conform to the shape of curvy furniture
* static

Upholstery weight fabrics—usually heavier, denser fabrics with a textured backing. While I’ve sewn some upholstery weight fabrics into beautiful slipcovers I won’t work with them again in the future. Here’s why:

* extremely difficult to sew, even with my industrial walking foot sewing machine
* finished slipcover weighs a ton
* depending on how heavy the backing, will not conform to the shape of the furniture

Having said all that, I have used these fabrics many times before. However, all of these fabrics presents some unique challenges and require extra time and effort which is hard to predict beforehand. Will I use any of them again? Probably so, depending on the circumstances. All except upholstery weight fabrics.

The last time I used a heavy upholstery fabric I could not finish it with my walking foot machine. The layers were just too thick to get under the presser foot. I had to go to a friend’s upholstery shop and use one his super heavy duty machine. Even then, I had to sew extremely slow. And the worst! I broke his machine; popped the presser foot right off. Luckily he was able to purchase a small part and repair it, without too much expense.

So I’ve decided that heavy upholstery fabrics are not worth the potential damage to my machines.

What about you? Are there any fabrics you try to avoid for slipcovers?