Ordering Slipcovers


The original text of this article was take from an email that we wrote to a client. This article still has to be edited and rewritten, but (hopefully) that will come another day. In the meantime this will give you a little idea about the process of ordering a slipcover.

Requesting an Estimate

One of the best ways to obtain an estimate for the slipcover is to bring the furniture to my shop so that I can take pictures and measurements. However, that is comberson for the client. So I do most of my estimates from pictures that clients sent to me.


When we make a slipcover we need to have the furniture in our shop. (We don't need need to have the furniture in our shop until we are ready to start on making the slipcover.) We measure and fit the frame step by step throughout the process. We do not make slipcovers from measurements or from old slipcovers.

The Cutting Layout

Because of the amount of time it takes to create a layout (often up to a couple hours) we generally don’t make a layout until we have the furniture, the fabric, and any other supplies in our shop. We usually create the layout just prior to doing the job. If a person wants us to go out to measure the furniture and to create a layout before we have written up an order, then there will be extra charges for our time and travel expenses out to the clients home and for the time to do the layout. Unless the client has chosen a very expensive fabric it's usually not advisable to do this in advance of the job.

Most of the time when we make slipcovers I make a cutting layout on the computer of where to cut the fabric. Creating the layout in advance gives us a plan of where to cut every piece of fabric. This allows us to know if we have enough fabric to do the job before we get started.

To make a layout we first measure the cut size of every piece of fabric (width X Length - seam to seam) on piece of furniture. We then transfer all those measurements into the computer.  Just a note here, even though I use the computer to do the layout, it is a hand method of manually lining up all the pattern pieces.

When using a plain fabric making the layout is much less time consuming. Whenever there is a pattern to match, then time to do the layout about doubles.

The Fabric

The new fabric that the client has chosen is thin and colors of the existing fabric on the sofas will show through to some degree.

The seam allowance on the back of the fabric will show along the seams through to the front side.

If the slipcover has cording, then the cording needs to be cut out of a matching fabric, or cut out of one of the two colors of the stripes.

There will be

In order that I can do a realistic cutting layout of the fabric we need small piece of the fabric that is full width so that we can see where the stripe is on the fabric.

Even though the fabric is a stripe and very light and very plain. Consequently, we need to take extra cautions and … to clean our machines and tables to minimize the risk of spotting or soiling of the fabric.

The Yardage and Fabric Allowance

Estimating how much yardage a piece of furniture will take is just a guess. Furniture comes in so many sizes, styles, and .. that it is hard to tell exactly how much fabric that the furniture will take until a cutting layout is made. So we generally allow an extra percentage of fabric to allow for most styles of furniture.

Whenever we give yardage for a slipcover or upholstery job we try to always allow an extra portion of fabric to allow for flaws in the fabrics, mistakes, unforeseen circumstances, etc. If we  order the fabric too close and then later find out that we don't have enough fabric to finish the job, then our whole work flow is affected. We have to set the furniture aside until more fabric comes. The tables have to be…. Then there is the chance that the fabric might have been discontinued, or the new fabric might be a different dye lot…..

About the Sofas

The cushions on the one sofa appear to be oversized (from the picture they appear to hang over the front of the sofa at least several inches. Am I correct in my assessment. Do the cushions hang over the front of the sofa several inches? If this is true, a slipcover will not change the size of those cushions. (To minimize the overhang, the existing cushion covers (and maybe the interliners) would have to be cut down prior to making the slipcover. But if the client likes the sofa the way it is, then that is fine.

The Slipcovers

Apparently the client said that she wanted Shabby Chic style of slipcovers. We don't have an specifications as to what that would mean. From looking at these pictures on the Internet it appears that the term Shabby Chic covers a whole lot of types. For example, I found this picture on the Internet:

For my eyes it looks like an ill-fitting sloppy slipcover with very wrinkled fabric. The cushion covers look like they are way too big. As I think about it, I will NOT make a slipcover to look like the above picture.

When making a slipcover we have a choice to talk about. We can either

  1. make the slipcover fairly snug so that it looks smooth and neat (almost like an upholstery job.) In this case, there is a possibility that if it is washed the slip could shrink, making it very difficult, and impossible to get back on the sofa. This would depend on the amount of shrinkage in the fabric and upon the cleaning method. We recommend have them professionally cleaned.
  2. Or we can make it a little over size to allow for a more casual appearance (a few more wrinkles, etc.) This would make it more likely of being able to get the slipcover back on the sofa after cleaning.

Client Should Look at Pictures of Our Slipcovers

In order that the clients have a better idea of what type of slipcovers that we make, I would suggest that the clients look at the pictures of our slipcovers.