Monday, February 6, 2012

Sewing Project: Couch Slipcovers- Fabric Choices & Planning

I'm planning to sew up slipcovers for our two playroom couches. Crazy?  Oh, yes.  But I'm going to give it a go!

The couches themselves are about seven years old.  They are identical (which will hopefully make the sewing a bit easier) and currently upholstered in a cocoa colored microfiber that I chose because the design consultant told me it was super durable. Of course, my kids have destroyed the fabric anyway.  I'm sure the dog helped.

Dexter the Pug nests in the cushions regularly.  He likes to cuddle.

The couches themselves are still very comfortable and in pretty okay shape. The back cushions are down filled and the seat cushions are down wrapped foam. To reupholster would be roughly $3,000 and to replace them with the exact same couches (La-Z-Boy "Daphne") would cost $3,200.  In either case, the fabric is only going to be destroyed again.  The couch and chairs in the living room are leather (and twice as expensive) for this very reason. 

The Plan:

I own Custom Slipcovers Made Easy by Elizabeth Dubicki, which, while the images are certainly dated, has step by step instructions and tons of photos detailing how to make well-tailored and fitted slipcovers.  So tailored and fitted, in fact, that I'm intimidated whenever I flip through it.  She wants you to start with an upholstered chair to get your feet wet.  Pfft.  Two couches for Rebecca!

The Internet, in all it's DIY-blog glory, has been more of a cheerleader. Here are but a few of the brave ladies who have slip covered their family sofas and shared their tips with the world:

Bibbidi Bodbbidi Beautiful:  A much uglier couch then mine turned into a beauty by simple white canvas.  Pleated skirt too!

Midwest Magnolia:  An ottomon with piping!  This done in a far more tailored way then my current ottomons. Love the corner pleats.

Honeybear Lane:  A more modern shaped sofa, like mine with the sharper corners. Great tutorial!

Pink & Polka Dots:  Super inspiring results with a sofa, chair and ottomon!  I think the fact that she tackled the main part of the couch in one day was amazing.

I purchased the $10 Pink & Polka Dot "Lazy Girls Guide to Slipcovers" PDF.  In comparison to the Custom Slipcovers Made Easy book, Pink & Polka Dot's approach is way less detailed and far more encouraging. Plus, her blog is just stuffed with slipcovered success! My plan, so far, is to follow her rough outline and try to incorporate the more "professional" techniques where I am able.  I'm going to skip the muslin draft like she does for sure as that just seems like a waste of both time and fabric. If you leave a big enough seam allowance to make corrections I just don't think there is a need. I've decided to do piping which will add some difficulty, but I am NOT going to do a skirt so hopefully that will balance out in terms of expended effort.

The Fabric:

This was tough.  You'll note in all the links above the sewers have chosen white duck or canvas for the fabric.  White slipcovers are classic and I do admire the way they look. Everyone swears it is so easy to just throw them in the wash! But I know I'd be washing them everyday.  I decided quickly that microfiber was out since it hasn't stood up well so far and I wanted something that could resist the randomly spilled cup of juice and muddy dog feet, so 100% cotton was out too.  My outdoor furniture is uphostered in Sunbrella fabric and has worn excellently despite being out year round and is really easy to clean (you just get it wet and scrub it down with a brush if you need to, but you rarely need to) so I decided an indoor/outdoor fabric was probably the way to go. 

I ordered a bunch of fabric samples from in a wide variety of fabric types and prints. sends good sized swatches, FYI.

Fabric choice, unfortunately, was limited by the room itself- there is a 30' dark redwood wall on one side, a brick fireplace hearth in the corner, fantastic stone tiles with an ever so slight pink undertone on the floor and an exposed wood celing.  I know Rustic-Modern is in vogue and all, but it isn't exactly easy to decorate around if you don't live in a Dwell magazine spread.  Which I'm totally willing to do, btw.

No fluffing.  Keeping it real, folks.

You think your cobwebs are bad?  Bats hide up here.

Sofa, tile, maple, redwood and brick in one shot.  It's an insane combo to work around.

So yeah, finding fabrics to pull that all together was not easy, but here is what I came up with:

Final fabric choices altogether in rough proportion. It'll be happy! 
Should also make the room both warmer and brighter.

$8.98/yard, need 38 yards.  Total $341.24

The sofa slipcovers will be Premier Print's Indoor/Outdoor in "Dixie Yellow", a 54" 100% polyester, mid- weight fabric. The washing directions say to use cold water and a mild detergent like Woolite, but to NOT dry it in the dryer, air dry only, which is a bummer, but still totally workable.  It is mildew, stain, water resistant and fade resistant up to 500 hours of direct sun exposure.  Not that sun is a problem in the playroom- next to the kitchen it is the darkest room in the house which makes it good for TV.
This is way brighter on my screen then in person. 
$10.99/yard, 2 yards needed.  Total $22.00.
I've tentatively chosen to make the piping with Joann's 45'' Home Essentials collection in "Picnic Spice Red". It is a dark coral pink. This catches the pink undertones in the floor without being PINK! and coordinates with the brick too.  100% cotton so I'll wash it before making the piping to allow for shrinkage.  My reservation is that it's a little juvenile to have contrast piping, though it is the only casual room in the house so I should embrace that, I guess.  We do call it the playroom afterall.

$11.98/yard, need 3 yards.  Total: $35.94

The couch throw pillows will be made in Marco Valdo's new Charlie home dec corduroy line in "Orange".  It's pretty heavy duty, definetly made for upholstery, but our pillows take a fair beating, being used as walls for blanket forts and floor cushions for cartoons so it is appropriate and surprisingly soft.

$19.98/yard.  Not cheap!  Need 4 yards.  Total:  $79.92.
Again, less pink, more of a dark coral-ish-red in person.

The two ottomons I already slipcovered once before will now be redone in Richloom's Cynthia "Kalidescope".  I've been toying with making (or having made) some curtains for the room in Cynthia as well, but one project at a time! The ottomons will be what makes the whole scheme work- it has the orange, the yellow, and the dark red-pink. It looks good on the tile, next to the redwood, the brick and the maple.  If I pipe them they will be self-piped, I think.  Just so many decisions!  The fabric also has some of that crazy green that ties into the playroom bathroom, though technically you can't see one from the other.

This is by far the biggest sewing project I've taken on.  
Wish me luck!

Upcoming Projects: Not Yet Blogged

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