Basic Facts About Slipcovers
How do I know which type of cover is best for me?
Slipcovers vs. Re-upholstery - So you want a new look, but you don't know if you want to re-upholster your furniture or a slipcover. What's the difference? Which would be better?
First, let's talk about the basic differences between re-upholstery and slipcovers. Re-upholstery involves replacing the outside fabric covering on your furniture. Slipcovers are a fabric cover that you place over your existing upholstery. Slipcovers can be removed and cleaned, upholstery cannot. Slipcovers can be easily changed with the seasons, upholstery cannot.
Depending on the condition of your furniture, re-upholstery could involve as little as a new fabric covering or as much as re-constructing the entire frame and springs, as well as new cushions. The benefit of having your furniture re-upholstered is that basically your furniture ends up as good as new. The cost, of course, depends on the amount of work you have done and the fabric you select. This process can be very expensive and you should weigh the cost against the value of the furniture. Good, well constructed furniture with "good bones" is meant to last for years and should only require new fabric to freshen it up. Having good furniture re-upholstered can be expensive, but less expensive than buying comparable furniture in today's market.
But, what if your furniture is in good condition, but the fabric is worn or you like the fabric but you just want a change or you want to protect it? In that case your best choice is a slipcover. It can also give your furniture a whole new look; but, unlike upholstery, it can be changed with the seasons and removed for cleaning.
Custom Made Slipcovers vs. Ready- Made Slipcovers - Today, due to the popularity of the slipcover look, there are a range of furniture covers options available. But, not all slipcovers are created equal.
First, let's discuss ready-made slipcovers. This type of cover goes over your entire chair or sofa, cushions and all. These can be as simple as a large sheet with ties or as complex as a large sheet with strategically placed elastic. They are designed to be sold through retail stores or catalogs, which requires that the covers be designed to fit a wide range of furniture sizes and styles. It also means that the covers can't be very specific to any style of furniture or size. For example, in most cases, they don't fit furniture with "T" cushions, cushions that wrap around the front of the arm. Also, the covers usually come in only three or four sizes to fit furniture ranging from 32 to 96 inches wide, resulting in lots of fabric to tuck and tie up. Of course, these types of covers are not going to give you a very fitted look. And, keeping them neat and in place could become a full time job if you have small children and/or pets. But, if you're on a very tight budget, and just need something to cover your sofa or chair, this is probably your best option.
Semi-custom fit slipcovers are a step above ready-made and less expensive then custom fit. Semi-custom fit slipcoves are ready-made covers that are custom sized to fit your furniture, which reduces the amount of fabric to tuck and tie, but you still have tie or Velco tabs to take up the slack. But, they don't have the form -fit of a custom slipcover or the designer touches like pleated or ruffled skirts or covered welt accents. In some cases these types of covers are available with separate cushion covers.
If ready-made covers are not exactly what you had in mind, your other option is custom fit slipcovers. Think of a fitted furniture slipcover as a removable second skin that is custom made to your furniture's measurements and shape with separate covers for all of the removable back and seat cushions. No elastic, no ties required. Custom fitted slipcovers often include covered welt accents and decorative skirts. Like new upholstery, fitted slipcovers can change the look of your furniture. They not only change the fabric and color of your furniture, but, in many cases, they can change the design as well. Tailored, contemporary furniture can become ruffled and romantic. Furniture with traditional box-pleated skirts can become sleek and modern. You can show off your furniture's legs or hide them.
In most cases, custom fit slipcovers are made using a method that is very similar to re-upholstery. The fabric is draped over the furniture and cut following the lines of the furniture. The pieces are then pinned together and sewn. This method is referred to as pin-to-fit". This method has disadvantages. Because the fabric is cut on the furniture it isn't "squared". Also, the seams are not uniform and the cover may not be symmetrical - meaning that one side may not fit the same as the other.
Of course, custom slipcovers are not inexpensive. and unlike ready-made they take time to make The price is dependent on the size of your furniture and the fabric you select. Also, in many cases, there are additional charges for estimates, house calls to measure your furniture or to pick-up and deliver. Watch out for shops which offer bargain basement prices. They could be using cheap fabric that will not wash or wear well. You may be getting a low price, but you may be shopping for new slipcovers after the first cleaning. Well-made slipcovers should last for years.
Slipcovers made by Needle & Shears are custom made from patterns created from measurements you provide. This unique patterning method results in slipcovers that are perfectly symmetrical and aligned with uniform seams. This patterning method allows us to make slipcovers for clients anywhere in the country, since we don't need to touch or even see your furniture. It also means that we don't have the expense of lots of retail outlets. So, our costs are less and you save. In many cases our customers tell us that our prices are 30 - 50% less than custom slipcover shops in their area.
What Fabric Is Best - If you have decided to slipcover your furniture, the next logical questions are fabric and color. Start by looking at the environment in which your furniture will be placed. Is it highly active? Are there children and pets? Will the slipcover need to be cleaned often? If the answer is yes, look for durable, tightly woven fabrics that are washable: such as canvas, twills, hopsacks or micro-fiber. Don't be afraid of whites and naturals. Remember, these can be bleached.
You should be aware that not all fabrics make good slipcovers - not even if they're upholstery fabrics. Fabric for slipcovers should not be stiff. It should be able to drape over the curves of the furniture. That eliminates upholstery fabrics that have a backing. But, the fabric can not be too loose. It should have a tight weave. This eliminates many chenilles.
Color is a little easier. If you're covering a piece that is in a room with an established color scheme, trying to find the exact match to a color may be difficult. It's much easier to look for a solid color that complements the colors already in the room. Starting from scratch is even easier and much more fun. The easiest way to start is with a painting or a rug and work off the colors in these pieces. Don't be afraid of color. Bright vibrant colors can do miraculous things for a room. There are hundreds of decorating resources to help you work through the "what ifs", so have fun. And remember, with slipcovers, you can always change the look and color whenever you change your mind.
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