How do I decide if I should slipcover or re-upholster?

 Most of us became aware of slipcovers in the early 90’s when the  ‘Shabby Chic’ style of covering  became well known. They were loose fitting covers, skirts puddling on the floor, often using several different fabrics. Custom slipcovers  have changed and now  are usually very fitted. ‘Fit like a Glove’ – that is the school of construction I follow.  

Slipcovers are everywhere. Spotlighted on Cityline recently and featured in Style at Home in a summer issue  they are experiencing  a huge resurgence. Slipcovering is a great way to add style and detail to furniture without spending a lot of money. Consider the following:

Slipcovers are now less expensive than upholstery.  I learned a new way of doing covers last year and now, instead of several days to cover a piece, I can do it  in less than half the time and I don’t need to have the piece in my workroom. So I can charge a lot less  and you save money.    A wing backed chair uses about 8 meters of fabric, the cost of fabric for the chair on the  cover page of my website was less than $60.00 – we waited for the fabric to go on super-sale.

Slipcovering, if done correctly, will appear as if it is upholstered. (Take a look at the slipcovered pieces at  Fabric choice is not  as  limited as upholstery because almost any natural fiber  or blend fabric of medium weight  can work – from drapery fabric to denim.  Consider the possibility of using a Sunbrella fabric – one that won’t fade in the sun for use on chairs for the patio or sunroom. 

They can be removed for cleaning.   Dry-cleaning is recommended  unless you have an industrial sized  laundry setup. You don’t want to put 10 to 16 meters of fabric into a regular washer/dryer.  Ironing the pieces would be nearly impossible.  

You can have additional cushion covers made so spills won’t matter quite so much. You can mix and match fabrics and use home decor trim.  We often see Christmas cushions appearing at this time of year – why not have a slipcover made that uses Christmas fabric as well? Or use a great print for a summer cover, a chenille for winter.   

Slipcovering does not interfere with the original covering – for sentimental or antique reasons you may not want to damage the original upholstery. 

 A slipcover is  a garment for your furniture.  It can’t solve all  the problems underneath but it can certainly camouflage some of  them.  

So – to slipcover or re-upholster? If you like what you have read so far, consider slipcovering. If your piece  squeaks, wobbles or sags  it is probably a candidate for re-upholstery. 

 A word of caution: I recently  purchased a pre-made  chair slipcover.   It was made by the most well known brand of ready made slipcovers and I wanted to use it in my slipcover displays – showing the differences between a ready made and a custom made cover.  It  cost just over $100.00 and it looked so bad I returned it. I knew that even if I put a big sign on it saying ‘ready made’  someone  seeing it in a slipcover display would assume that I had done it.   Trust me, one size does NOT fit all.  It doesn’t in pantyhose  and it doesn’t in  ready-made slipcovers.

Now – for all of you who have been told that sleeper or pull out  sofas can’t be slipcovered – the good news: new techniques and products have made it possible to do these pieces as well.  

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