1.23.2013

What You Need to Know About Slipcovers


Do you have children or pets?
Like to change the look of your interiors?
Eat on the sofa ?
(oh, you know you do).
Here are some things you should keep in mind when slipcovering.


Tip #1:  
Consider slipcovers on dining chairs or bar stools.  Our barstools came with removal, velcro-ed covers.  They are a cinch to wash when food gets on them.


Tip #2:
Having slipcovers made often costs as much as reupholstery.
 So, decide if your furniture piece is worth it.
After
Before















Do you like the design and is it in good shape?

Tip #3:
Have slipcover fabric washed before fabrication. 
First, try washing a swatch.  The fabricator may charge you $1 to $2 per foot to wash the fabric for you (which may be worth it if you have large quantities). 


Tip #4:
Look for white, off white, taupe or oatmeal fabric on sale or at a discount outlet.  I use 100% linen, cotton/linen blends, cotton basket weaves or cotton twill fabrics.



Tip #5:
Purchase at least 10% more fabric for shrinkage and if want to have throw pillows made...or to back expensive, designer fabric pillows with it.  

Tip #6:
Generally stick with solid fabrics in the colors mentioned above so that you can change your look.
Here you can see how Debbie changes her living room from winter to spring.


Tip #7:
Make sure your fabric is sturdy enough to hold up to wear and is thick enough not to be able see through it.

Vignette Design uses heavy woven, vintage Hungarian linen on her dining chairs...
and she even had them beautifully monogrammed.

Tip #8:
Use slipcovers to change or update the design.
Here my friend, Netta, slipcovers just the back of her armless Louis Ghost chairs.
 
Notice the simplicity of the drape on this sofa from 
And here is another updated simple slipcover from The Iron Gate from T&G.
I love these chairs.

Tip #9
White is good for cleaning with mild bleach and stain removers.
After Tommy went back to college, I washed this sofa's slipcover and the chocolate and pizza stains are gone!  Note:  Take the slipcover out of the dryer slightly damp and hand smooth the wrinkles while it is on the sofa.



Tip #10:
When in doubt about the fabric, dry-clean the slipcover.
I dry-clean some of my throw pillow covers, too...since I have ruined a few (with fading, bleeding or shrinkage) in the washing machine.  More on Pillow Care here.

Your slipcover can be sewn for a loose, casual look or tailored for a more formal design.  Either way, I think they are great.  
How about you?

80 comments:

  1. Mary Ann, I'm so glad you posted about this today! I am online trying to figure out a white fabric to cover the pillows of a bamboo chair in. I'll look for cotton or cotton/linen blends - thanks so much for the recommendation!!

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  2. I am getting ready to have slips made for my dining chairs, so this post is very timely! My chairs currently have a floral fabric on them. Which slipcover material do you think would work best, so the pattern doesn't show through?

    Thanks, Mary Ann!

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    Replies
    1. I have 100% linen (pre-washed) on my dining chairs...they have lasted 8 years (although seasonly I take them off--like right now). The thicker linen hides the suzani pattern (bold colors) beneath well. Good luck, Carolyn.

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  3. I think using slipcovers is very smart. Especially when there are children or pets. I've been wanting to have some made for my house and need to move that project along before I regret my procrastinating. Because yes, we do eat on the sofa!

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  4. Thanks for the mention Mary Ann! Slipcovers really do make sense, whether you have dogs, kids or just want a different look for the season. Great post! ~Delores

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  5. Hi, Mary Ann - Wonderful and so informative!! Thanks for this post. This will be very helpful for homeowners and designers. It's been a while since I've had slipcovers made. I do love the look.
    xoxo
    Loi

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  6. Great post with lots of good advice. Slip covers are such a great idea when done right and I like the way they can so easily transform a tired looking chair or sofa. Eating on the sofa? Moi? Never! ;-) xo

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  7. Thanks for all the great tips...I made a decision awhile ago that my next sofa and chair in our living room will be slipcovered. The fabric on our current furniture has faded terribly even with the double low e glass on our windows. And they aren't even right next to a window! Also we have a dog and grandchildren in our future so slipcovers seem to be the way to go.

    Linda in SD

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  8. Great informative post Mary Ann....thanks for the mention. I'm thinking of having slips made for my dinning room chairs.

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  9. I couldn't live without my white slipcovered sectional, club chair, loveseats, and barstools ! 5 kids & 1 dog , slipcovers keep me sane & happy:))) great post!

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  10. I have had such mixed emotion about slipcovers. I was never sure what was the problem. You have resolved my issue. Apparently I love the look of slipcovers, but I need a little less casual fit. I am now laughing at myself for something so obvious. This is a great post.

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  11. Our next sofa is going to be a white slipcovered one! Can't wait!! These are great tips!

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  12. I feel like this post was written just for me - thank-you!! x Sharon

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  13. I have a slipcovered sofa in my family room from PB, and don't know how I got through life without them. I can't imagine how I put up with the everyday dirt that I couldn't see because I always used dark upholstery before. Now I want to slipcover the chippendale style sofa in my living room. How do I find someone who will do a great job? I do live in SoCal so if you have a recommendation....
    Madeline

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  14. This is a fabulous post...and you are soooo talented. If i ever get my beach house, I want you to decorate it! I love your style...and all these options, brilliant!!
    And yes to slipcovers.....love the look especially for the coastal home.I love what you have done (and your talented friends too)! Thanks for sharing......

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  15. I am ALWAYS so inspired by the choice of fabrics in your home and your clients, Mary Ann! My mom always had them in our house growing up. White cotton in the summer on all the sofas in the house and wool or silk damask in the winter. BTW-Your lifestyle makes me want to live in CA so much! (However, I do not want to pay the taxes that go along with it!)

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  16. Inspiring rooms (as always). Slip covers make so much sense, but, as you have said, they have to be made very well. Bisous

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  17. Great post (as always)! Very timely. Love your bar stools. Where are they from?

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  18. Love slip covers! I have them too and there perfect to throw in the wash!

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  19. I love slipcovers, too, but I've never understood how you pre-wash the fabric since a sofa can take up to 20 yards. Do you have to find an industrial sized washer?

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    Replies
    1. That's why I let the fabricator do it...they know where to cut it and still make the slipcover...and they do use an industrial size washing machine.

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  20. great article!!!!!! can't have too many slipcovers as far as I am concerned!!!

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  21. This is great information...where were you a couple of months ago with this info?? haha...
    xo
    annie

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  22. Thanks for stopping by my blog today! This was very helpful advice on slipcovers. Our family room couches have been tormented by a certain little pug who will remain anonymous. I have thought about slipcovers, but it is a clean lined small sectional.....also thought about the cost. I think we just nee to pick up a few Ikea sofas, teach our pug better manners, and call it a day!

    I have just taken "a walk" around your blog and I am smitten :)

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  23. Slipcovers are the best. I don't think I'd ever have anything but slipcovers, and always white or white-ish. This is great info on color and fabric selections...I totally agree.

    I am especially loving the texture of your white sofa slipcover...love that texture.

    Have a great night!

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  24. I have always loved slipcovers for the same reasons!

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  25. The versatility can't be beat! I haven't had mine for long, but within the first month a guest spilled coffee, it came right out in the wash! Great post, Mary Ann!

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  26. I am "patiently" waiting on my my new slipcover for our sunporch. I have everything done in the room ... the slipcover will be the piece that pulls it all together! Slipcovers are Amazing!! xo

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  27. Hey, Mary Ann! We got the Pottery Barn "Comfort Short Slipcovered" chairs for our dining room. Love the look with the great table you found us. Question about the slipcovers: do I untack the pleats? I like a more tailored, tight fitted look, but Pottery Barn shows the pleat open. What do you think?

    As always, love your work and your blog!
    Nancy C.
    Carlsbad

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    Replies
    1. HI Nancy...sounds like it is all coming together!!! That is so great. I would untack the pleats (like when the pleats come tacked with a skirt or blazer)...you can starch or velcro the pleats a little if its not tight enough for you...but I think it looks pretty untacked on the website. Bravo! Send me a photo, please.

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    2. The velcro idea is a great idea!
      Will send pics of the chairs and of (are you sitting down?) the new carpet! :)

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    3. Hooray...perhaps I can post about it...I still have your before photos. Just get the throw pillows and I can show your living room before and after, too!

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  28. These are all really great tips. I am considering having a slipcover made for my living room sofa. I received a quote for over $500 plus fabric. Not sure if I want to spend that much though, seems like I could just purchase a new one! Is that the going rate?

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    Replies
    1. That seems very reasonable to me. In my area custom slipcovers are actually more expensive than reupholstering.

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    2. Brandi, if your sofa is well made and in good shape that is a good price for a custom fitted slip cover. This means that the cushions have separate covers, too, right?

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    3. Yes, separate covers for the cushions too! Thanks so much for your response(s). Now onto the hard part, choosing fabric!

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  29. Mary Ann,
    Such a great post. BTW, your dining table looks so pretty set for a wonderful meal. I do not own any slipcovers because I've always been afraid it would be such a hassle to take them off and wash them that it would defeat the purpose for me. In addition, I don't care for the relaxed fit, only reinforcing my thoughts on how a tight-fitting slip cover would be to remove for laundering.
    Karen

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    Replies
    1. Karen, It's not fun to remove my slipcovers to wash and put back on since they are fitted...but sooo rewarding to have them fresh and clean.

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  30. I agree.. so practical and the perfect solution for a home with kids, pets, etc. Your tips are wonderful and I wish I'd seen all this years ago when I was first starting a family!

    Your home looks so organized and everything coordinates perfectly :)

    leslie

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  31. This is great information for anyone who is thinking about slipcovers. I really can't imagine having a upholstered sofa or chairs with dogs and a child running around. I have to wash our slipcovers often with all of the activity they see. I wish someone had told me years ago to take the slipcovers out of the dryer before they completely dry. I just learned that about a year ago and was amazed I didn't have to be drenched in sweat after putting the covers back on the furniture. Haha!

    Heather

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  32. Perfect timing. I will soon be purchasing a new sofa and chairs for my FR. I definitely want slipcovers. I love linen but don't think I can live with the wrinkles. Of the four fabrics (linen, linen/cotton blends, cotton basket weave, and cotton twill), how would you rate them for wrinkling? Thank you for your great post, Jan Walton

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    1. Cotton basket weave and cotton twill wrinkle less. I have cotton twill on the club chairs in the mountains and that is super sturdy (held up to my kids when they were smaller).

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  33. This past fall I purchased a new sofa and two chairs with ottomans, all slip covered. I need to wash them from all our holiday entertaining. Wondering what they'll come out like! Do you throw them in the wash at home or have them cleaned somewhere?

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    Replies
    1. Did they tell you that you can machine wash them, Marilyn? The sales people at Crate & Barrel have told me that their customers wash their slip covers with great results. I wash my slip covers in small batches in my washing machine. Perhaps you could try washing just one cushion cover in cold water and take in out damp...to test. What's the fabric content?

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  34. Mary Ann: Here is a post I had done on slip covers for our chairs in the dining area:
    http://www.libbywilkiedesigns.com/2011/09/contrast-piping-on-slipcovers-part-ii.html
    Once again, I used contrast piping: it's one of my very favorite "details"!
    You put the slipcovers in the dryer?? yikes. I always wash in cold water and line dry to avoid any shrinking at all! Well, and now I don't even own a dryer any more.....

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    Replies
    1. Ha! I don't own a clothes line, Libby. Plus, the fabric was all pre-washed and is already shrunk. Off to see your post :)

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  35. Can you tell me where you got your bar stools from?? I am in LOVE ;)

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  36. I bought an Ikea Ektorp sofa cover in white and then had it made into chair slipcovers. It is thick, prewashed, washable, bleachable (even though it says you can't-I have) and only cost me around $50! On a side note, my seamstress said that she was very impressed with the quality of the fabric and the construction of the slipcover.

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  37. I love slipcovers! I have several in our vacation home. They are all white and they are very easy to clean! Thanks for the beautiful inspirations.
    Leslie
    House on the Way

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  38. I love my slipcovers! Someone at a show room a few months ago told me that slipcovers are no longer popular??? The show room did not have any. I think she was completely wrong. So many people want CLEAN upholstered furniture that I can't imagine it ever losing popularity. I would like to try my hand at making my own slipcover. Would you mine sharing your favorite sources for fabrics and is their a particular fabric weight that you prefer??

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    1. I go to a local discount warehouse called Dorell...or Michael Levine in L.A. I watch as the fabric is rolled to make sure there are no defects. Just remember to wash a swatch to see how it turns out.

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  39. Hello,

    Love this post! Thank you. Love my slip covers. Beautiful pics!

    Take care,
    Claudia

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  40. Hello- First of all, I love your blog and your sense of style. It is so elegant and yet so livable. To me, that is the perfect balance. I adore the slip covers you have on your dining chairs (specifically the seat-only slip covers with the wooden back of the chair still showing -Photo below tip #3). I have my grandmothers dining room chairs and we just had the seats reupholstered a year ago. We now have a 5 month old baby and I need to get slip covers made before the inevitable spill happens. Do you have any advice on what I should ask for when I place the order? I will be showing a photo of your chairs. Any help would be hugely appreciated! Thank you! -Isla

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    1. Isla, you might want to scotch guard the current seats. Regarding the fabrication of the new slipcovers...there are choices for fasteners...I have buttons on mine, but you could also do ties or hidden velcro.

      I've also had breakfast room cushions made from a soft outdoor fabric that my client says has been easy to spot clean. I have thought about using soft outdoor fabric for slips...but I think it loses it stain resistance with washing.

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  41. Great Post Mary Ann! Lots of wonderful tips on slipcovers...which I love. Haven't had to wash mine yet, but will keep your tips for when they need it! Always love seeing your pretty house!

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  42. We love slipcovers-and especially slipcovers for your walls. Just about all the tips you listed for fabric slipcovers are applicable to selecting "slipcovers" for your walls. Using a vinyl repositionable, removable and reusable wallcovering makes installation a DIY project, affords design flexibility and is economical.
    BTW, wonderful ideabook on Houzz. Congrats!

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  43. Hi Mary Ann, Thanks for all the great info. I have been looking at slipcovered sofa's lately and you helped me decide to go ahead with the purchase.
    xx, Sherry

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  44. Could you tell me where the blue and coral pillows in tip #7 came from? I love that pattern! Thanks!

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  45. I always use slip covers because it keeps the furniture clean and it gives an extra look to my home.

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  46. Terrific guide to the always practical, chic (if done correctly) alternative of slipcovers!

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  47. Great post! I'm a huge slipcover fan also, plus I love light neutral fabrics so when it comes to sofas the only practical way to have that is by slip covering for easy clean up. Im currently wanting a pair of matching sofas for my living room ( slipped) and I'm finding that unless you want pottery barn or restoration hardware, which I don't , it's very difficult to find! I have inexpensive ikea sofas in there now, moved them in there temporarily & decided I loved the look. I just want something a bit nicer for my permanent sofas. They will do for now though. Have you ever ordered anything from Best Slipcover Company?

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  48. Thanks for so perfectly spelling out how to use slipcover and their care. Perfect post!

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  49. What a fabulous post, and you have inspired me... not to make my own, but to find the fabric to give my living room a fresh look for spring/summer.

    I have marked this post for reference - bravo!

    Bises,
    Genie

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  50. Nice blog... thanks for sharing with us..

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  51. Making extra ones will be a good idea in order to change if it gets dirty.

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  52. Hi Mary Ann... Great site, love your style! I am so excited to find your site and start following. This article on slip covers is so informative. Just in time because we are in the process of buying a sc sofa for our new family room. We are unsure where to buy the sofa from, the fabric or the seat cushions (meaning one long, 2, or three seat cushions, down wrapped, or inner spring). We are torn between RH, PB, or Ethan Allen. I am in love with the Track Arm Sofa in belgian linen form RH but worried about the quality and if the long seat cushion will loose its shape. We live in Northern CA and have 3 children- 20, 8,6 plus 2 dogs... So slip cover is for us! Will you be so kind to give your expert suggestions and experience regarding quality, construction and where to purchase. Thanks so much!

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  53. Wonderful suggestions, and such great timing. My cushions are already with a seamstress; just trying to make a final fabric decision! I have narrowed it down to PB Twill & PB Washed Cotton/Linen. Do you know which would be more durable for a toddler/multiple dog home? I'm not worried about wrinkles, but definitely need something that will wash well and resist snagging. Am off to wash the swatches now - thanks for the idea!

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  54. Very nice restful house. Great! impressive photos.

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  55. Hello Mary Ann, PLEASE HELP. I am in search of slip covers. I see BEAUTIFUL covers online and in books, but when I go to "well known cover" sites-I SEE,BLAHHHH.. could it be my couch, with the huge arms.. I love it because it is large and do not wish to throw it out yet.. Please help:)

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  56. Hello Mary Ann, PLEASE HELP. I am in search of slip covers. I see BEAUTIFUL covers online and in books, but when I go to "well known cover" sites-I SEE,BLAHHHH.. could it be my couch, with the huge arms.. I love it because it is large and do not wish to throw it out yet.. Please help:)

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  57. Love this post! Thank you. Love my slip covers. Beautiful pics! Painters

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  58. I definitely enjoyed reading every little bit of it and I have it bookmarked to check out new stuff posted regularly. Chino carpet cleaning

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  59. belgian linen pillows, linen pillows,designer pillows, luxury pillows- http://trentrhodeshome.com

    designer pillows

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