Frequently Asked Questions
Why custom slipcovers?
Custom slipcovers are the less expensive way to change the look and feel of your room, making it easier to preserve furniture - if your furniture was in good condition prior to being slipcovered - and ensure more than one look for the room. Often, people wait until their furniture is stained or torn before they consider custom slipcovers. You don’t have to wait that long.
Are white slipcovers a good idea?
Are Performance Fabrics a Good Choice for Slipcovers?
Naturals vs. synthetics
Overwhelmingly, my clients ask me what fabrics are best for making slipcovers?
And the next question is usually about performance fabrics. So, first what are performance fabrics? They are a group of synthetics that provide resistance to stains or repel moisture and/or protect against fading from sunlight. Some can also be mold resistant.
But for me they aren’t always the best choice.
First, I think a slipcover made in a good quality cotton denim, cotton canvas, linen or hemp looks much more beautiful and feels so much nicer than a synthetic version.
I don’t have a need for fabrics that are chemically treated to guard against spills, grime and dog slobber. Stains don’t freak me out. If my slipcovers get dirty, I just throw them in the wash with or without a laundry booster. It’s easy.
For some of us, synthetics can also be problematic. They can cause health problems related to breathing, smelling or touching chemicals. High-performance fabrics can be heavily treated in order to do what they are supposed to.
Lastly, they usually have no give (stretch), which I find is very important for the look and fit of a slipcover.
So how to decide? Start by deciding how you would like your slipcover to look and feel. How you need it to perform, and how your choice will fit into your budget.
Here are 5 things to consider:
1. All polyesters are not created equally. It can be the chemical treatment that makes the difference. Untreated polyester and other synthetic fabrics suitable for slipcovers have no protective powers. They may not protect any better than untreated natural fiber fabrics.
2. Not all performance fabrics look and feel alike. Fiber content, weave, weight and hand-feel vary greatly. Some are made from 100% polyester, and some like Sunbrella makes their performance fabrics from 100% solution-dyed acrylic.
Each fabric can vary in weight, and might be fine for outdoor cushions, but too lightweight for an indoor sofa or chair. One big problem is no give (they’re as stiff as a brick), which can result in some puckering when sewn. Some have a weird sheen, some smell like petroleum that won’t wash out and others pill with wash and wear.
3. Not all performance fabrics protect alike. Here is where reading the label to determine exactly what protective qualities the fabric offers is essential. Some are made for indoor use and protect against only one thing, like stains. Others are made exclusively for outdoor use to withstand year-round elements. Even these may have a limited UV exposure time frame.
4. As I mentioned before most of these are treated to do the job they are meant to do. Stain, soil and moisture protection might be temporary. Treatments applied to the fabric as a coating will eventually weaken with repeated washing and abrasion. Protective features that are engineered into the yarns (like Sunbrella and Outdura fabrics) are long lasting.
5. Not all protective synthetic fabrics are washable. If you’re want your slipcover to be washable make sure the performance fabric can be washed and dried with good results. Some dry-clean only fabrics can be washed. But the only way you will know for sure is to buy a yard and wash/dry it to test for shrinkage, pilling and color loss.
So, do a little research when buying any fabric for a slipcover. Almost all online retailers will provide a description of what you are considering. It is a large investment, but one; I think has a terrific return. Choosing the right fabric provides a foundation for a long-lasting investment.
Should I Pre-Wash Fabric?
Cut the fabric into 3 to 4 yard lengths. This can easily fit into most washing machines because it’s about the size of bed sheets. Ideally, you want a little room in the washing machine to spare, otherwise you can create deep-set wrinkles.
Wash the fabric in hot water, no detergent and one length at a time.
Tumble dry on high. Make sure to check the fabric doesn’t get rolled up into a big ball. If it is, pull it out; shake it up and put it back into the dryer on high. This will help keep the wrinkles at bay.
Remove the fabric as soon as its dry. Fold it, or roll it onto a tube. Most fabrics, depending where you purchase them, come on a tube. Keep it and use it for this purpose.