SLIPCOVERS ARE NOT ALL THE SAME
Slipcovers can be loose fitting ready-made or semi-custom fitted or totally custom fit and styled. The cost, fit and style of your slipcover depends on the type of slipcover you buy. Knowing the difference can save you time and money and insure that you get what you want.
What makes a slipcover "custom" and why don’t the ready-made covers from a retail store fit as well?
You know a custom made slipcover when you see one and sometimes they fit so well you don’t even know it’s a slipcover. The fabric doesn’t just lay over the furniture, it follows the form like a second skin – arms, back, seat and cushions all fit smoothly. No bunched-up excess fabric held together with ugly ties, elastic or Velcro like the ready-made covers.
They have designer touches, like skirts with pleats or gathers, and accent cording. That’s how they look and fit, but what exactly goes into making one?
A good custom made slipcover starts with a good design. Our designers study the form, style and construction of the furniture to create a good ergonomic design that allows the cover to be easily put on and removed even after cleaning. The slipcover design needs to highlight the furniture’s features – not mask them. The design is the most important part of creating a custom slipcover. All of the work that follows is based on the design that is created.
To put this part of the process into perspective, it is similar to building a custom home. The architect is the designer who produces the building plans based on the design features the client wants and their needs – number of bedrooms, kitchen, etc. Even before the shovel breaks ground, there must be a fully-detailed set of architectural/building plans. Then, and only then, can the building crew start to construct the home. Ready-made covers are also designed, but the design criteria is very different. To maximize sales, a ready-made cover must be able to cover, not fit, as many sizes and shapes as possible.
There are also several ways to make a custom slipcover. The slipcover can be pin-fitted or custom patterned. The pin-to-fit method requires draping sections of fabric over the furniture. The fabric is then cut and pinned together directly on the furniture fitting each section prior to sewing. This is a traditional method used by many slipcover makers and upholstery shops and is derived from the method used to re-upholster furniture. There are several disadvantages to this method: it wastes fabric because of the larger-than-required sections of fabric cut for each section which are then cut down to fit. The fabric can’t be properly squared prior to cutting and it gets pulled during the cutting and fitting processes. This can cause the fabric to twist after cleaning. And since each side of the furniture, left and right, is done separately, one side of the slipcover may fit better then the other.
We make our slipcovers from patterns. Making a slipcover from a pattern requires converting the slipcover design into a pattern, similar to converting a design sketch into a blueprint, which is then sized to the furniture’s measurements. The fabric is then laid out and squared and the pattern pieces positioned correctly on the fabric and then cut. Using this method insures that that the left and right sides of the furniture are identical and it also reduces waste - and the pattern can be reused in the future. After the fabric is cut, the sections are serged (over locked) to prevent the fabric from unraveling during cleaning - and we make generous and uniform seams.
As you can see, a custom slipcover is a work of art that takes time, talent, and expertise to create - which is only part of the reason why custom slipcovers fit better and are more expensive than ready-made covers that are mass produced. So, the next time you see a beautiful, custom designed slipcover, think of all the years of expertise, talent and time that went into creating it.
Questions to Ask & Things to Consider When Buying Custom Made Slipcovers On-Line
Custom tailored slipcovers may not always be the best choice for your decorating needs. If you are simply looking for an inexpensive cover up to hide that bargain furniture that you plan to replace next year, then custom tailored slipcovers are not the right choice for you right now. However, if you have invested in or plan to invest in good quality furniture, and want to protect and extend the life of your furniture, or create a great new look at a fraction of the cost of new furniture, then custom tailored slipcovers are the best solution. As with any other purchase, you should learn as much as possible about the product you’re purchasing and then shop and compare. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind and be aware of before you make your purchase.
• Cheap vs. Good Value
Cost is one of the primary considerations of any purchase; however, the lowest cost is not always the best value.
If you’re purchasing a custom slipcover to extend the life of your furniture, you'll want a slipcover that not only looks good and fits well but is well made, from high quality fabric, to make sure it will last. If you have to replace an inexpensive slipcover in less than two years, then the cost of your slipcover has doubled.
• Is it really a custom tailored slipcover?
You find the word “custom” used to describe a wide range of slipcovers. But what does custom fit really mean?
A real custom tailored slipcover is made not only to the width of your furniture but made to follow the curves and contours of your furniture on every side. The slipcover should follow the curve of the arms and back and should not require ties or Velcro tabs to take up excess fabric in the front or back.
Watch out for retailers who advertise their products as “custom slipcovers” who are simply re-sizing ready-made style slipcovers to the dimensions you give them. These types of covers can be produced quickly and cheaply. The result is just an ill fitting cover with less slack, not a slipcover with a tailored fit that follows the curves of your furniture that you expected.
• What measurements do they ask for and how do you submit them?
There is a saying that goes “Garbage in, garbage out.” This saying can easily be applied to some on-line slipcover retailers. The measurements required to make a well tailored slipcover are numerous and they need to be precise.
Therefore, the method used to collect these measurements is very important. The customer needs to clearly understand what measurements need to be taken and how to take them correctly. The possibility of making a measurement error, and getting a slipcover that doesn’t fit well, is greatly increased when you’re trying to take measurements based on crude drawings on your monitor that may not necessarily match your furniture while also trying to place your order. In addition, the pattern maker also needs photos of your furniture to have a clear understanding of your furniture’s design features.
• Are the slipcovers custom crafted for your furniture or do you have to pick a slipcover style that comes close to your type of furniture?
Furniture styles vary greatly. Furniture is designed with a wide range of design features – countless arm shapes and sizes as well as back and cushion styles making each piece unique. A good custom slipcover maker looks at your furniture and styles a slipcover that not only fits correctly but also takes the furniture’s features into consideration. Are the back cushions attached? Does it have a camel back? Do the arms slant out or are they scoop arms or English arms? These are just a few of the considerations that a good slipcover maker addresses when custom styling a slipcover for your furniture. This type of craftsmanship may take longer, but the end result is a slipcover that not only covers your furniture but enhances your décor.
• And finally, can you send them back for corrections if they don’t fit right?
Of course, no matter how careful you might be when you take your measurements, there is always the possibility that the slipcover may not fit correctly. Therefore, you want to make sure that you have the ability to send it back for corrections.
Some retailers don’t warranty their product or allow customers to send product back for corrections and simply use the “custom made” label as a way to prevent customers from sending back slipcovers that don’t fit well.
We hope that the information we have provided has given you a greater insight into what goes into creating a custom slipcover and some of the important aspects to consider when selecting a vendor to make your custom slipcover.