Sunday, September 25, 2011

from delusions to illusions

It looks rather like a slipcover.  That's the intent anyway - the illusion of a slipcover.
This is about 95% finished
I didn't have the nerve to tell you (in yesterday's post) that I only had 6.75 yards of fabric.  This is sooooo not enough.  A small sofa like this requires more than double that, but this was the fabric I wanted and I stubbornly plowed ahead.  I wound up piecing quite a few panels and using leftover blackout lining to stretch my yardage.

My back-up plan is /was to consider this a wearable muslin.  I have the same Sunset book recommended by Bunny who is currently sewing spectacular cushions.  Between the book, Bunny's posts, other online resources and my own high expectations, I knew a full-on slipcover job was just a little beyond my skill level (as of last Friday, anyway!)  But, as of this evening, I know I can sew slipcovers, and my next attempt will be successful.  I am the type who needs to try things out first, and THEN read the directions.  I learn a lot easier this way.

Here is how it works:
There are three basic pieces: the back, the arms and the cushion cover with attached skirt.

The back attaches with long strips of sticky-back velcro and it works surprisingly well.
If it stops working well, I will add a piece of fabric, but it won't match, so
the sofa has to stay against the wall.
I thought about buying come coordinating fabric and doing a mix & match sort of look, but it wasn't what I really want in the long run, so I nixed that idea.
Getting the back done gave me the courage to forge ahead.  It was pretty easy and it looked good.  The white fabric on the lower edge is leftover blackout curtain lining.  I used it everywhere it wouldn't show, and there is a pretty long piece tucked down into the sofa.  What you see laying on the sofa is the arm cover.

The arm covers are attached independently of the back and the cushion cover.  
Now the third piece, the cushion cover with attached skirt, is on and tucked in between the back of the cushions and the back of the sofa.  The white fabric is strategically pieced so it doesn't show when the back cushions are added next.
After tucking, fold the cushion cover forward and place back cushions on sofa.

Flip the cushion cover up and over the back cushions.

From the back, before tucking the fabric behind the back cushions.

Cushion cover is now tucked in behind the back cushions.
Rather than sewing all three pieces together (four if you count each arm separately) I will sew velcro strips to the only places where it matters.  A slipcover is like a gown - awfully big and hard to handle.
Leftovers.  Seriously.

By the time I got to this curve, I was warmed up and used to working with the chalk to mark stitching lines.  At this point it was actually fun, because I knew I had squeaked through with my skimpy 6.75 yards and I knew I had a slipcover of sorts.  Time will tell whether it's OK, or whether I see every little imperfection and try again.
I never realized it would be so hard to find sufficient yardage.  First of all, it takes a lot of looking and taking home samples to see what looks good in the room.  When I found the right fabric it was very disappointing that the store did not have enough, nor would they be getting any more in stock.  The only good news was getting it on sale and it cost less than $70 to make this slipcover.

Since then, I found a better source for home decorating fabric from Emily Henderson's blog Secrets from a Stylist.  In this post, she hung very long linen draperies and she got the fabric for only $7/yard from Grey Line Linen in New York.  I really would like washable linen slipcovers someday, so it's good to know where to get a decent price.

So, how was your weekend?  Get any exercise? I did.  How about getting outdoors?  Nope, not me, but I got a great workout making this slipcover; crawling around and hoisting this monster repeatedly as I dressed and undressed the sofa.  

Next up, I am a pattern tester for someone and I can't remember whether I am allowed to talk about it or  not, so I'll just say I am looking forward to some secret sewing this week.  
Tomorrow is Monday - I hope you got your creative juices stoked this weekend, whether by doing, by surfing the internet or by dreaming up ideas.

More later, friends!


  1. It's looking great, Robin! Congrats on seeing it through, too.

    My weekend consisted more of buying fabric than sewing it. Today was a free day for fun. Hope you are getting one of those now and then between all the reno work.

  2. Impressive! But ridiculously nervy. I can't even begin to imagine doing housewares sewing - seems impossible. And the fact that you have 2 inches of fabric left is hilarious. I also love to hear that you sew once to help you understand the instructions for the next time. That's the mark of an engineer.

  3. Your result is impressive. The amount of fabric left over is scary. I am sick of my couch, but somehow I don't feel inspired just... nervous. It definitely doesn't look easy.

  4. I'm impressed. while I am happy to sew items of clothing I am wary of home furnishings. I made some disasterous curtains about 5 years ago that I replaced with professionally made ones.

  5. Can you come to my house? I am a slipcover drop-out - too much measuring and the zippers and piping were intimidating, however your version looks easier. Tutorial?

  6. I have not been brave enough to take on the sofa but you have made a great job - and with a very impressive leftover pile! I love it when I get a job out of less fabric than I should - feel proud Robin.

  7. Your leftover scraps are impressive! The slipcover looks great, very tidy and professional.

  8. It turned out so great! Way to go!
    I stumbled upon your blog and I just wanted to say hi! Come on over and check out my new site Color Issue...I think you'll like it :-)


  9. What a good job! The look great! Upholstering and slipcovers are a great puzzle for me, but that's fun sometimes...well, when it works :)


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