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. Custom slipcovers is a great way to breahe new life into estate sales, flea markets or thrist store finds. Or you may want to repurpose a dated but comfy couch from the family living room to another part of the house. Depending on the fabric, slipcovers can be machine washed or dry-cleaned. And that makes it so much easier to keep your house clean from the germs of sneakers on your couch or muddy paw prints after cuddling with the family dog on a rainy night. Maybe you want a shabby chic cottage feel, add a ruffled skirt where you have a pleated one now. A skirt can also be long or short. If you have unconstructed pillow backs they can be made more tailored by going from knife edge to a boxed style. While custom slipcovering offers near limitless options, there are a few common sense things to consider before selecting your fabrics. For example, if you love higher-end fabrics that require dry cleaning but you have a steady stream of teenagers or young children in your house…well that might not be the right choice for a high-traffic family area. Consider fabrics that are more wash and wear like denim, twills, canvas, even damasks. Use the high-end fabrics as a complimentary drape or pillows or window bench in a more quiet space, like your home office or sitting area of your bedroom. And one last thing about custom slipcovers; they aren’t your grandmothers slipcovers. Custom slipcovers can fit your furniture like a glove or have a more relaxed fit. In order to ensure a perfect fit, custom-fit slipcovers are measured to the exact dimensions of your furniture. The slipcovers are cut and fitted in your home so you won’t be without your furniture.




Are white slipcovers a good idea?


The key to successfully incorporating white slipcovers into your home design is fabric. Not all white fabrics are created equal. First, the weight of the fabric is important. I recommend no less than a 10-ounce denim or canvas. Anything lighter may not hold up to a lot of washings. Next, you want to focus on fabric content. I prefer cotton, especially if your home is prone to stains. All cotton can be bleached. Although, polyester or nylon blends prevent shrinkage better than cotton, an oil stain will most likely not come out. This doesn’t mean they won’t make a good slipcover, just that the stain removal is a little more complicated. If you’re using all cotton denim or canvas, I recommend pre-washing and drying the fabric. This will help with any shrinkage that might occur. Cut fabric into pieces about 3 or 4 yards; roughly the same size as a full-size sheet. Wash the fabric in hot water and dry it on high. If there is shrinkage, this is the step you want to find that out; not AFTER the slipcover has been made and is being fitted. I tell my client’s to immediately fold the fabric but not to worry about ironing it. I do that as a I go along. Ok, now let’s talk about how the fabric wears. If the slipover is sewn well, it can hold up to wash and wear for years to come.




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?


So, I hear this A LOT, along with what is the best way to wash my fabric? Let’s tackle should you prewash your fabric. The short answer – yes, you should prewash your fabric. Think about it like this; have you ever rushed to hem a new pair of jeans, only to wash them and now they're too short? That's what can happen to your slipcover, if your "all cotton" fabric isn't pre-washed. Here’s how to prepare fabric so it can be preshrunk prior to being made into a slipcover and then washed over and over as a slipcover:

  • 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.
Another question I often hear is “should I press it? It’s not necessary. I always press the pieces as I work with them; fabric that is severely wrinkled will distort the drape and fit so keep them to a minimum but you don’t have to press it. I like to work with a fabric that is at least 10 to 14 ounces. That doesn’t mean a lighter fabric won’t work; sometimes it’s easier to handle lighter material in and out of the washer. My experience is the heavier fabrics standup to more washings. Whatever fabric you choose make sure you love it and remember you’ll have the best results if you prewash it.





Customized Interior Spaces: Expert Sewing Services
 
 
Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Houzz Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Google+ Social Icon
  • Pinterest Social Icon

© 2015 by Custom Alley Slipcovers. Proudly created with Wix.com