Introduction: DIY Sofa Slip Covers - the Complete Know How
When I moved house I didn't have any furniture. So my mom gave me some sofa with the condition that I need to get slip covers for it as the fabric was ruined. I checked around for people to sew slip covers. The prices were absurd! Some quoted so much that it would be better to buy another sofa! Okay, So my sofa was 11 pieces. Still I didn't want to fork out so much. I would feel so guilty!
Hence I tried my research into sofa slip covers. This was my first trial. I was quite happy how it turned out! So it gave me the confidence to try a bigger project :-).
All you need for this project is some basic sewing skills, the willingness to try and go through it with confidence and when you get stuck to try again :-P
Basically all chairs have the same rules irrespective of their shapes, so I picked the most difficult which has everything you need to know included in it for this tutorial :-D
Step 1: Materials
Fabric of you choice- For beginners it's always better to go with plain or printed fabric which has no direction. Fabric with lines or patterns will be a lot of waste as you have to align the lines to give a nice neat finish.
As this is going to get a lot of use it's best to go with fabric which can take the rough handling and a lot of washing. I used 100% cotton handloom fabric.
Cotton Cord - For piping.
Single Foot/ Zipper Foot - This is a must have for sewing the cords and also for sewing the panels which require the cords. The foot helps to sew right at the edge.
sewing machine and basic sewing skills.
Step 2: Measuring
First serf the net to see some pictures of slip cover designs. See and save the pattern you like. Next is to see if it's possible for your sofa. If it's not, try and incorporate what you like in the pattern in your sofa pattern. After all, it's your sofa! As you can see from my introduction picture, I wanted a sofa with a skirt and piping. Yes, all the trimmings! And I have never made a piping in my life! So yes, YOU Can DO IT.
There are 2 methods you can go about for the fabric. If you have only 1 sofa and don't care about waste of fabric, Go ahead and buy a large fabric and drape over your chair and start pinning and cutting.
In my case I have 11 pieces. I can't afford to be that luxuriously wasteful :-P
So I measured and then bought an approximate amount ( moving toward the excess approximate amount!) Always buy more as you have to wash the fabric before you start to cut as some fabrics shrink. In my case the width shrunk about 3", Not sure of the length.
The first thing you need to do is measure your sofa. Check out the sections it has and measure and mark in paper. For some parts you would need a block to make life easier. Do not be intimidated! It is actually much easier than writing this instructable! lol!!
Below is an example of how I went about mine. Each sofa is different, so shapes would be different, but going about it is the same way!
Back rest (BR) - For my back rest, I pushed the tape right in to the crevices and then went all the way over and down to the flow. Then measure the width. In some sofa the width might be different at different levels. take the widest measurement ( this rule was applied when measuring my corner sofa as the back of the BR was wider than the front of the BR)
Arm rest (AR)- Again right in to the crevices and then all the way to the floor. Measure the width too.
Arm rest front panel (ARFP) - I kept a board and drew the shape. The reason the panel doesn't go all the way down is because I wanted a skirt for that part too.
Arm rest back panel ( ARBP) - Again keep a board and draw and cut the shape. Here I took the full length.
Seat.- Push tape into the crevices, down to where you want your seat to end and attach to the skirt. ( this is only if you want a skirt. If you don't then all the way down). Measure across too. Do the same to measure the width of the seat too.
Back Rest Side Panel (BRSP) - Now this posed a problem. I found a nail half way down. I don't know if all sofas have this, may be they do because the arms have to be connected. But I assumed it was to be at the bottom. Apparently it was not so. So I took the full measurement, measured where the nail would be and made a block. Slip the board down the BRSP, draw the curve and cut off the excess where the nail is. Please check picture for proper clarification.
(I like to say that I knew all this from the beginning and never made a mistake! but honesty forces me to tell you that the BRSP is an edited version. I did not cut the excess off in the block earlier and that was a mistake. I shall post pictures of my mistake in the last step, and how I over came it too! )
Step 3: Cut Panels
First cut all the panels. If you fabric has a right and wrong side remember that, the BRSP will have to have panels cut with fabric folded either right side facing together or wrong side facing together. Leave sewing allowance all around. My fabric was hand-loom (didn't have a wrong side) and a bit stretchy. So I actully didn't have to keep much fabric but I stll kept 3/4" all around. I wanted to be safe as I was a newbie still.
Cut all the rest of the panels of the sofa such as the arm rest, back rest, seat and skirt.
Now you might be left with some strips. You can use these strips to make your piping.
Step 4: Making the Piping
Piping gives sofas and cushions a nice professional clean and neat look. It's easy to do if you have the zipper foot.
Once you have cut all you fabric according to the measurements you can use the balance fabric for the piping. Cut the fabric into 2" or 1.5" strips. Join them together making a long strip.
There are 2 ways of joining the fabric.
The 1st method is the right one and best for thick fabric. The second is the lazy and easy method and is fine if the fabric is not thick.
Method 1 - take the 2 strips to be joined. Place them right side together in a right angle. Sew a diagonally in a 45 degree angle (here perfection is not necessary). Cut off excess fabric. Now open up and press the folds down on either side. Please check picture for reference. This way when doing the piping the joint will not be thick as the edges will be distributed.
Method 2- Here is basically the lazy method where you simple do a straight stick joining both fabrics with right side together. This is not great for thick fabric as at the joint you will be sewing 4 layers of fabric making it very thick.
Once you have joined all your fabric for the piping it time to make the piping.
Change your machine foot to the zipper foot. Now place your cord in the center of the wrong side of the piping. Fold it and pin. Place your zipper foot right at the edge of the cord and sew away. I was thrilled to see how neat the piping came out.
Step 5: Cut and Sew - Seat
For seat you would basically get either a square or rectangle fabric. First hem right round or over-lock for neatness. you can forgo this if you like as it wouldn't show. If you have hemmed the seat fabric then tuck it into the seat firmly with the wrong side facing up. Pin the corners and draw a line for convenience. This would be your sewing line. Now push your hand in the back of the seat and pin if you can or at least make a mark with a sewing pencil. Sew all four corners. Fit it back into the seat with the right side up. Check if it is nice and tight. If it's loose all you have to do is make another stitch. Once you are happy with the fit, feel free to cut off the excess fabric and cord it, or over-lock it.
Step 6: Back Rest
Cut the back rest as per measurement. Here you would get a long rectangle piece. Now sew the right side of the seat back to the right side of the back rest fabric.
Now turn fabric to wrong side and again fit into the seat. As you would have noticed we always work on the wrong side, but to check for proper fit we turn it back to the right side and check.
Now pin the Back rest side panels to the side. Remember to place the right side facing inwards. It's difficult to make a mistake as the curve of the BRSP will guide you :-)
Now pull and pin. You can either go with a needle and thread or mark with a pencil the sewing line. You could also do both!
Sew it. Now turn inside out and fit it! If you are like me, right now you would be feeling pretty excited about how it's turning out!
Step 7: Joining the Arm Rest
Now the Arm Rest. Please observe pictures properly to understand this bit.
The Arm Rests would be 2 large rectangles. Now This part has to be joined to the seat and back rest.
Let's first do the joining to the back rest.
Now place the both of the AR fabric together right side facing each other. Now place the BRSP block and mark where the nail is ( this applies only if you have a nail. I'm assuming most sofas will be joined at the arm, if yours is not, lucky you, it's pretty straightforward. You do not have to cut off the excess) Now cut off that small piece of rectangle off.
Note - I have fitted the backrest back in the wrong side on the sofa and just placed the arm rest fabric so that you know what I am about to tell you. If I put this in the machine and sewed you would be quite confused as you would only notice a bunch of brown fabric being sewed! Though this is in the wrong side, you have to sew the right side together.
In the second picture I have I have marked where the two fabrics should be joined. Though I have put the wrong side here you have to put this in the right side and joint both right sides together. That way the hemming would go inside. When you sew you would understand.
Now again put the cover in the wrong side on the chair. We have to move to the next step.
Step 8: Sewing the Back Arm Rest Panel
Now remember the ARBP we cut? Pin that to your sofa and slowly pin the and tack the Arm rest to it's back panel. While you do that make sure to pin and tack the Back Rest fabric too to the Back Panel.
Sometimes it might be easy to draw the sewing line on the fabric with a sewing chalk.
Step 9: Adding the Piping and Front Panel.
Now pin the piping to the Front Arm Rest Panel.
Pin and the Arm rest fabric to the piping. Note that the piping should go inside. I have shown a close up. Now pin the Front Panel to the chair. Then Pin and tack the front panel to the piping and the Arm Rest Fabric. Note that the piping should be sandwiched between the AR fabric and the ARFP fabric. Now tack it and sew. Turn inside out and check it out.
Note : I was doing 2 chairs and this chair's seat was not sewn at this point. As you can see, you can go however you like in attaching the pieces.
Step 10: Adding the Skirt
As I wanted a skirt for my chair I thought adding a piping will give a nice finish to it. So I followed the shape of the sofa with where it was going to attach with the piping and pinned it to the sofa. The black line is drawn to show the shape I took. Now as you did for the ARFP pin the seat fabric and the ARFP fabric to the piping. Then pin the skirt fabric to the piping. Now as I wanted a Box Pleat in the center of the ARFP . Mark the center and make 2 pleats to form a box pleat. It is best to leave 4" for the pleats. That way you would have a nice box pleat. I didn't do so as I didn't have enough fabric. So make a 2" fold inwards on either side of skirt at the center point of the ARFP to form a box pleat. I hope you understand what I mean. Please check picture for reference.
Now sew and turn inside out!. That is it!
Step 11: Other Shapes
Here you can see the other shapes I did
Step 12: Finishing Touches
I noticed that sometimes when you sit and get up the seat gets all wrinkled up again. I wasn't happy about this. So while surfing the net I came accros this video! it solved the issue like magic :-). The idea is very simple but effective. All you do is use a sponge noodle in the crevices. This tucks in the fabric nice and tight. To make sure the fabric does not go up I punched some eyelets in under in the extra fabric of the seat cover and ran a cord through it and tied it to the legs. This way the sofa looked nice tight and very professional looking ( if I do say so myself!) Actually at this point I was kind of very proud of myself. All the sewing skills I have is actually documented in instructables! so if you check out my instructables you would know it's very basic!
So if I can do it, YOU can do it. Go ahead and try and and please post pictures.
Step 13: My Mistakes
So there I was sewing away , the ARBP and all sewn. I happily turned inside out and started fitting my chair. The front was perfect. I come to the back and see ' ARRR, What happend?? how can this be??'
For the life of me I couldn't figure out what the problem was. So I did the basic of basic newbie method. I unpicked the stitches while it was in the chair. Stuffed in the offending fabric while I stuck my tongue out at it then sewed it close by hand with a slip stitch. Then I turned it inside out and cut off the offending fabric! That's how I learned from my mistake. Not very professional huh? But hey! it worked :-)
To be honest, writing this tutorial was more difficult than actually doing it :-)
Step 14: Ta Da
I hope you found this tutorial helpful . If you one day make your own sofa slip covers I would love to see pictures of it!
I would also love to have your vote for the Craft 101 contest. So please, your vote would be most appreciated!