November 26, 2013

Making a Slip Cover - Part Two

You've now covered the body of your sofa, except for the skirt.  I don't have a reason but I usually cover the cushions now and do the skirt last.  You can skip to making the skirt if you'd like or follow me in making the cushion covers.

I bought 15 yds of fabric and ran out.  Our couch is large.  I bought 10 more yds because I want extra left for replacements or other pieces of furniture.

I trace with a pencil and then cut out fabric the shape of each of my cushions.  I will need to cut out a top and bottom for each cushion.  If your fabric is not the same on both sides, be sure you have a top and bottom for each cushion with your fabric right side out.

I  measure out my pieces of piping.  

Because I have 3 seat cushions, I will need 6 pieces of piping this length.

I then use the piping to measure the length of fabric I will need for the sides of the cushions.  Make your piping several inches longer than you need.

It's pretty hard to move your piece of furniture to a "work room" so I always work right in the room where the furniture lives.  I'm working with such large pieces that I just lay the fabric right out on the floor.  To get a straight cut, I fold the fabric back over itself, making sure the sides are aligned, to get a straight cut.
I measure the sides of my cushion adding an inch on the sides for seam allowance.
I use the tape measure and a pencil and make marks along my fabric at the appropriate width.  Then I use a straight edge and draw a pencil line where I'm going to cut.  You want to be really precise when doing this and make your edge as straight and accurate as possible.

I cut the first piece, adding several inches to the length and then use it as a pattern to cut the other two pieces (I need 3 sides).

The next step is to cover your piping.  Because I cut all the way across my fabric and then cut 3 pieces about 6" wide, I still have fabric the right length to cover my piping.  I lay the piping on the edge of the fabric and using a piping foot sew as closely to the piping as I can.
Then I trim it off.  I cover all 6 pieces this way.
Then I lay the covered piping on one of the tops or bottoms of the cushion covers and "surround" each of these pieces with piping.  Start on what will be the back of your cushion cover. Your fabric should be right side up.  Clip your piping so that it will be more flexible when going around a corner.

When you get all the way around your cushion clip the fabric away from the piping and cut the piping so that it meets the beginning without overlapping.  Fold back your fabric and finish sewing on your piping.
It should look like this.  Repeat for each of the tops and bottoms of your cushions...
making sure that you always start and end at the back of your cushions.  On my couch, these seams won't show at all because they'll be covered by the back cushions.

After you've covered the tops and bottoms you're ready to add the side pieces.  Again, make sure you start at the back of your cushion and sew a side piece onto a top or bottom piece, right sides together.

 Use your piping foot and stay as close to your piping as you can.  It should look like this.
When you get to the back, trim your fabric so that they overlap slightly, trim them off and sew them together.

I hope you can tell what's happening in these pictures.  It's pretty hard to get your fabric length exactly right so I finish it after I put it together.  You can also make adjustments in this area if your cushion cover turns out a little tight so you may want to wait to sew this seam until later.

I should have my cushion turned inside out in this picture - sorry!  Put your cushion cover on, inside out, matching up your top to your bottom.  Pin it together in a couple of places so that you can still remove it from the cushion.  Sew away from those pins being sure your top and bottom are matched up.  If not, your sides will be twisted or your cover may not fit at all.  Leave the back side of the cover completely open including the back corners.

If your cushion fits well it will be hard to get it on.  You want a wide opening in the back to do this.  I don't sew in zippers but you can if you like.  Just be sure that the zipper wraps slightly around the back corners of your cushion.  After I insert my cushion I hand-stitch my cover closed.

Your basic rule is just to follow the lines of your upholstery.  My back cushions have piping on only the top and sides so that's where I put my piping when I cover them.

Your last step is the skirt!  I will post that in a few days.  I may not get to it before Thanksgiving but will if I can.

My son, Matt, is home this week.  He lives in Boston so we are enjoying spending this holiday with him! Laura, who also writes for our blog, and her family will be in Virginia for the holiday with her husband's family.

I hope you have a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving surrounded by people you love.  We have so much to be thankful for!

Love and blessings!

" Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."  Philippians 4:8


  1. Hi Lynda,

    I have a love seat just like your family room sofa, minus the middle cushion. I want to make a slipcover and have been looking for fabric. Is the duck fabric comfortable in touch?

    Thank you.

    1. Yes, the duck is comfortable. The fabric I used on our couch is even heavier than duck - almost like a canvas - and it's very comfortable. All your fabric will stretch when you sit on them and become softer. Be sure to wash your fabric before you make your slip cover. Mine still shrunk the first time I washed my slip cover, even though I had shrunk the material before sewing. Hope your project turns out well!

  2. How would you handle a sofa with three back cushions that are attached to the back of the sofa?