Wednesday, July 25, 2012

DIY: Cotton slipcloths

For those who asked: how I did the sofa covers.

sofa - done!
If you are pin-and-measure perfectionists, this will drive you crazy. Otherwise, have fun! You need sewing experience to make quick work of similar slipcovers (or look online for how to sew corners and zippers).

After you examine the piece of furniture, you should have an idea of how the main cover could be cut and sewn, or in my case, pinned. Take your time to think about all the possible ways you can use fabric on the piece.
For a week, I considered several layouts before deciding how I could leave a 9’X12’ canvas dropcloth intact to wrap around the sofa base, back, and sides. I secured it with upholstery pins where they wouldn’t be obvious. (Re-pinning is easy for washing, if it loosens with wear ,or doesn’t fit the way you’d like.)

The sofa has 3 cushions. I cut one rectangle of fabric to covered top, sides, and bottom of the middle cushion. After putting a zipper in the open end, I sewed up the sides and made diagonal seams to create corners. Easy.

I decided the simplest way to negotiate the curved side cushions would be with a series of side panels. First, I laid out one side cushion on the fabric, turning it over this way and that to make sure I maximized material. Hint: leave yourself lots of room on the floor or use a huge table to make sure the fabric lies flat for an accurate layout. Deciding the layout before you cut is a big deal that saves you grief later!

Side sofa panel
For the side cushions, I laid one side cushion flat-side down on the fabric and traced around the side (plus ¾” seam allowance) with a ballpoint pen. (I like to write on the right side of the fabric.) I flipped the cushion over, allowing room for the front face and then traced around the cushion again, connecting freehand between the lines of top and bottom (first trace and second trace).

Because the second dropcloth was big (9’X12’), I folded it double thickness for cutting. That way, I only had to trace once, cutting through both thicknesses for two slipcovers.

Sofa base pinned
I cut a few lengths that were the width of the cushion side (plus ¾” seam allowances). I cut 2 side pieces to fit the “box-ey” end and inner curve, and installed the zippers into 2  back pieces. Finally, I cut 2 pieces for the inner sides, to be trimmed in place according to how the zippers lined up. (I sewed them into one length to fit the entire sides and backs of the cushion.)

Sofa detail
The trickiest part was lining up the top/bottom and sides – I guess-timated the front-side of the cushion and lined up that “box” before I started sewing. From there, I zipped around the bottom, sides, back, and other side. Then I started again on the top and matched the final edge. Luckily all the sewing lined up after doing top and bottom seams. I trimmed the long extra piece off when I was done. I popped the ugly cushions into their new case.

Yay, quickly done, all those years of quilts, jeans, baby clothes, and other sewing coming in very handy in turning corners and hand-adjusting top and bottom fabrics so the presser foot didn’t pull them through unevenly. I’ve got enough left to do curtains for a room, pillow covers if I feel like it. I have another week before W takes the sewing machine home. Good tools are inspiring, and Bernina is one of them.


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