Odds and Ends
How to get slipcovers to fit almost any furniture
by Simon Phillips
Using slipcovers on your furniture is an affordable and simple way of giving your home an instant makeover. If your couch is beginning to look worn and dated, but your budget won’t stretch to buying a brand new sofa, then fitting a slipcover over it is a thrifty alternative. Ready- made slipcovers are designed to fit most sofas, loveseats and chairs, and are great for covering up unattractive upholstery. It takes just minutes to fit a slipcover and they can instantly improve the appearance of tired-looking furniture.
There are two main types. The one-piece style is so-called because it’s made from one large piece of fabric that’s constructed to fit right over the whole seat, including the seat cushions. You just tuck it in around the edges to get a smooth, tidy finish. The other type has a separate-seat design, where the main slipcover covers the body of the furniture and any seat cushions are placed in their own cover on top. Both types are inexpensive, costing around $60 a cover, or less in clearance sales. As well as giving old furniture a fresh new look, slipcovers have the advantage of being washable, so it’s easy to keep your furniture clean and looking its best.
Of course, not all couches and chairs are “standard-size”. However, with the help of the dollar store and a few tricks, it’s still possible to use slipcovers on many awkward styles of furniture.
For instance, if your sofa’s got wooden arms, a regular pre-made slipcover will be too loose around the arms. In this situation, all you need to do is add padding to the arms by wrapping foam batting around them. You should be able to find this in the craft section of the dollar store. Alternatively, you could improvise and use some cheap towels or even an old blanket. The important thing is to add enough padding for the slipcover to fit neatly.
Foam batting can also come in handy if you want to cover leather furniture. If you fix it over the leather upholstery before you fit a slipcover, it’ll help stop the slipcover from slipping and looking a mess.
Another situation where it can be very difficult to find a slipcover to fit is with sectional sofas. One possible solution is to treat your sectional furniture as two separate seats, say a three-seat sofa and a two-seat loveseat. You could then fit regular slipcovers over each one and tuck the unused arm fabric into the crevice in the center where the two sections join. However, if one or both of your sections doesn’t have arms at the ends, this method won’t work as you’ll be left with excess fabric on show. Here it would be worth looking
at custom made slipcovers, which can be made especially without arms for armless styles of furniture.
Custom made slipcovers are generally more expensive to buy than mass-produced ones, but still work out cheaper than the cost of new furniture or re-upholstery. Because they are made to measure, they should fit perfectly and can make well-used furniture look like new again.
When using a slipcover on a sofa with removable back cushions, use sofa
cushions to replace the loose back cushions. Here, we’ve used
cushion covers to renew old sofa cushions already on hand.
-photo M. Alexander
If you have loose back cushions on your couch, you might be able to get a regular slipcover with spandex in it that will stretch enough to fit over the cushions as well as the body of the couch. However, it’s more likely you’ll need to remove them altogether if you want a slipcover to fit properly.
In place of the back cushions you could use some inexpensive cushions from the dollar store to give your furniture a whole new look.
Dollar stores also sell 16″ square cushion covers for cheap, so if you have some old sofa cushions, you could use these as an inexpensive way of re-covering old cushions to use for the