The experience many of us have had with a slipcover involves a factory-made elastic cover purchased from a box store that claimed to be “one-size-fits-all” but, in reality, did not fit anything, slid all over the place and was embarrassingly unattractive. A custom slipcover is COMPLETELY different. Unlike a “one-size-fits-all” product, a custom slipcover is custom-fit to an individual furniture piece, ensuring that the slipcover conforms to each angle and curve of the furniture and stays put. The pattern making process is labor intensive but the result is a slipcover which most often resembles a new piece of furniture! Here are some factors to considering when investing in a custom slipcover.
Is is fit to cover?
Your first consideration is whether your furniture should be slipcovered. Fortunately, the use of a pattern means almost any furniture piece can be slipcovered, including sectionals, wing chairs and chaises. However, it is important that the furniture’s frame is in good condition. Although a slipcover is a great alternative to purchasing new furniture, it is still just a cover. If the frame is damaged and needs repair then your best option might be take it to a reupholstered, who would be able to make the needed structural repairs.
What’s your furniture’s value?
The second consideration is the value you place on the furniture, including sentimental value. Many of my clients use slipcovers to preserve furniture purchased when they got married, furniture handed down by their parents or pieces that have provided the backdrop for wonderful family evenings and get-togethers. For others, it’s their favorite piece of furniture but it no longer matches their changing decor and they just can’t stand to part with it. And, for even other, it’s purely an economic issue; a slipcover might be less expensive than replacement furniture. Whatever the motivation, a custom slipcover will be more expensive than a ready-made one purchased at a store or online, so the value you place on the furniture can be a deciding factor.
What type of fabric should be used?
The third consideration is the appropriate type of fabric. For the convenience of our clients, we carry several lines of fabric and we can help you find the one that you love. However, if you choose one on your own, it is very important to select one that is appropriate for your lifestyle and suitable for a slipcover. If you have children and or pets or frequently entertain family and friends, you should choose a fabric which is durable and easily maintained. My recommendation is to use an indoor/outdoor fabric; they are very durable, scrubbable, washable, resistant to stains and liquids, and much softer than indoor/outdoor fabrics made many years ago.
I know what you are thinking: the idea of outdoor fabrics reminds you of sitting on canvas. However, many fabric manufacturers, such as Sunbrella, have created upholstery fabrics which are soft to the touch and have all the durability and easy maintenance of traditional outdoor fabrics. In addition to outdoor fabrics, simple brushed cotton twills are durable, soft and can be thrown in the washing machine (as long as they were pre-washed prior to slipcover fabrication). If the slipcover will mostly be decorative with normal usage, then you can choose from a vast array of dry-clean only fabrics. However, it will be very important that you consult the fabricator prior to fabric purchase to make sure you do not fall in love with a fabric which is too thin, too thick or otherwise inappropriate.
Finally, we come to the 800-pound gorilla in the room: pricing. As I mentioned above, a custom slipcover will always cost more than the ready-made elastic kind. While prices will vary from fabricator to fabricator, you should be prepared to spend several hundred dollars on labor and on fabric for each slipcover. However, here are a few ways to control the price. First, brushed cotton twills are extremely economical and come in an array of solid colors. If you are looking for a basic utilitarian slipcover that’s durable and comfortable, this is a great choice for controlling cost. Second, if your furniture has decorative legs, request that the slipcover be made without a skirt. This will showcase a decorative feature while reducing the amount of fabric required. Finally, pick a solid color and avoid fabrics which large or complex patterns! Yes, patterned fabrics are beautiful and stylish, but the patterns have to be matched across the entire slipcover. This requires significantly more fabric and time to fabricate. Plaids are especially difficult because the fabric requires painstakingly precise pattern matching and care to ensure that every line is appropriately matched. This requires more time and difficulty, which means a higher labor cost and more fabric.
These are just some of my thoughts on choosing a custom slipcover. I hope you found them to be helpful and educational! If you have any further thoughts, comments, questions or ideas, feel free to reach out to us!