my tips for a successful slipcover

Thank so much to everyone who checked out my guest post last week over on Amber Interiors.  In case you missed it, I revealed a new slipcover for my modern sofa.  I was able to completely change the look of my sofa by recovering it in a linen fabric and adding a skirt.  Since it’s a slipcover, I can take it off and on to change up the look or to get it cleaned.

A few years ago, I never would have thought I’d have a slipcover.  I perceived them to be frumpy, beachy and granny.  Only for really ugly sofas or people with kids.  But I’ve learned they can be tailored and chic and provide you with great flexibility.  I thought I’d share a few tips for those considering a slipcover.

First, let’s look at my sofa again.  (If you want to see Martin in his original form, please click here.)

Tip #1 Get a custom slipcover

Custom slipcovers may cost a little more, but will fit your sofa like perfection and the quality will show through.  They come in pieces: a fitted section that covers the body and arms, and then separate covers with zippers for each loose seat or back cushion.  A better fit means less shifting with daily use.  I’ve never had to re-adjust or tuck mine.

Tip #2 A single skirt adds casual elegance

This is purely my opinion, but I love the look of a straight skirt across a sofa.  I didn’t want any added seam definitions.  Sometimes I’ll run a seam along the base of the sofa (where the feet begin) to help hold it in place, but for my own sofa, I wanted more of a flowing feel.  I also did NOT want any pleats.  Many slipcovers have a pleat at each cushion, or one in the middle, but I wanted a single piece of fabric across my base.  I thought it looked cleaner, and thus kept the sofa more modern.

Tip #3 To welt or not to welt

Adding welt (cording) to the cushions, arms and back can help add definition and be a nice tailored look.  I decided that since my sofa frame was so modern, I wanted to soften it up a bit, so I opted for no welt.  If you take note, Old Martin, has welt, and it makes him seem a lot boxier.  

Also, some might say welt cording helps keep the cover in place, but you also notice when the cording is “off track” on the arm or sofa.  My edges are less defined, and for me that’s convenient and beautiful.

Tip #4 Don’t ignore the back

If you don’t specify, your slipcover fabricator may put the zipper right down the middle of the sofa back.  The horror!  My sofa floats in my room, so that would certainly not be OK.  I have my workroom put the zipper in the back corner every time.  It’s a nice clean look and it gives you flexibility.  Your sofa may be against a wall now, but it doesn’t mean it always will be.

Note the single seam across the back of my sofa.  The zipper is tucked into the left side pleat.

Tip #5 Choose the right fabric

Cotton and linen are the most common slipcover materials.  Cotton can be thrown in the washing machine.  White cotton can be bleached.  It’s hard to beat that in terms of practicality.  For families with young kids, I like to have two made.  This lessens the wear and tear on the slipcovers and allows one to be on while another is being washed.  For my own sofa, I was less concerned with practicality and more concerned with look and feel.  Fact of the matter is that linen just has a classier look and feel than cotton.  I spot treat any stains and find that it’s held up great so far.

These tips are just my opinion.  I’ve done slipcovers several ways.  For my own sofa, I felt a tight fit, seamless, skirted slipcover was a modern bohemian interpretation.  If you are a regular reader to this blog you probably recognize this fits me to a T.  Thanks for reading and a big hug to those of you who sent me kind words and compliments!

Happy Monday.  Any one else secretly excited for Bachelor Pad to begin tonight?  Tehe.
  1. Therese

    That’s a lovely slipcover. Do you have any recommendations of where to go to have one made? I live just outside Philadelphia. Thanks!

  2. I’m about to dive into a DIY slipcover. Thanks for the comparison and notes. Martin looks fabby in his new duds.

  3. @MaryBeth the labor for my slipcover was quite inexpensive as I got a trade discount. For others the labor might be $600-1,000. Look for someone who will measure in your home and come back to re-fit it. I saved on pick up and delivery fees this way.

    My fabric fabric was $160.
    For me this was much more financially feasible to recover my sofa than to buy a new one.

    Plus, I like the idea of not wasting- since this was a good sofa, I wanted to find a way to still use it.

  4. Great info on slipcovers: Good workroom is key, right? And worth the $ to get a good fabricator! As for Bachelor Pad…who decorates that place!! I usually start the Bachelor seasons appalled by the interiors and the contestants! (love it anyway!!)

  5. I know, you did such a great job. I would’ve never thought to slipcover my sofa. I just can’t wait to get rid of ours that I can’t possibly think of anything that would make it better.

  6. This is a great example of a fitted slipcover that looks fabulous (not sloppy). MG/BW has a great one too, I think with clean lines. I think the ones with rolled arms tend to look beachier and/or sloppier. I love a skirted sofa! Great job, Naomi!

    P.S. – Bachelor Pad is playing in the background as I type this. These people are c-razy!

  7. Could you give me a rough idea of how much this might cost? I just don’t understand some of the pricing it is almost always cheaper just to buy a new sofa.

  8. You proved me wrong about slipcovers. Yours looks fantastic. But I have a hard enough time changing sheets so I can’t image taking off a slicover, washing and putting it back on. Sounds like a nightmare. Tell me it’s not so that this may become an option one day.

  9. I was not a huge fan of slipcovers either, but after seeing some well done covers and my ever-changing tastes, they are *brilliant* (c: Yours turned out to be absolute perfection and I’m loving the color scheme with the pillows…

  10. Thank you for the tips! There are so many details that us not in the know would never even think of. I am sure there will come a day when we slipcover our sectional — is that possible to do, to slipcover a sectional? It was an expensive couch with a sleeper in it, so I definitely don’t want to replace it any time soon.

    Love the new look!!!

  11. I’ve always liked the idea of slipcovers! But never actually had one of my own… Maybe someday I’ll have a ‘Martin’ worth slip covering!

  12. Elissa- Forget Jake! For me it’s all about Graham 🙂

    Hyphen- Finding a good workroom is always the toughest part! I have one Philadelphia source, so I count myself lucky. Have you tried Angie’s List of services section of Craigslist?

  13. Great tips! Any tips on how to find a good fabricator?

  14. Erin

    MF awesome. Period.

  15. I am contemplating a slip cover, but I like a fitted look and my sofa floats in the room. You have showed it can be done, thank you,Kathysue

  16. This is such, such a great look. I loved the look of Original Martin, so I’m actually surprised by how much I love this new look!

    Bachelor Pad! I am not secretly excited, I’m just excited! Can’t believe Jake will be back…

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