A little while ago, I did a post on making a sofa slipcover. I showed you how to start one and how to measure for the various pieces. But I thought it might be helpful to see some of the details for the more challenging pieces of the slipcover.
For the arm fronts, measure at the widest points for length and width. Can you see then, that the widest part of the arm front is right in the middle of the curved part, and the length is from the midpoint of the top edge of the front, down to the point where you want to sew this piece to the skirt. I usually measure an extra couple of inches in both directions, to give myself a little wiggle room with the seams. It’s better to have a little extra to cut away, then not enough to make a seam.
Once you have that rectangular piece cut, you pin it to the pieces surrounding it – there is one that drapes over the arm rest and one that is just under the arm rest on the outside.
I trace over the pins with a pencil to mark out my seam line so I know where to stitch the pieces together.
In addition to these arm front pieces, the skirt can also be a little tricky. First you need to decide what you want the finished skirt to look like. You have many options! Ruffled, pleated, short, long, etc. For our sofas, I wanted a skirt that went to the floor and had pleats at the corners and one in the center.
Measure the distance from the floor to the point where you want it to slide underneath the seat cushions. Don’t forget to add your hem allowance for the bottom edge.
The other measurement you need for the skirt is the distance around the bottom of the sofa. You can do this a few different ways. You can measure the distance from the back side to the front side, and cut 2. One for each side of your sofa. Repeat that method for the front and back sides.
Or you can also measure the perimeter of your sofa skirt – starting at one corner and measuring all the way around the sofa. This is what I did. After determining that measurement, I needed to add extra for my pleats. I wanted a pleat at each corner and one in the center. I decided to make my pleats 8 inches in width. This is a standard width for a pleat because it makes a nice flare for the finished look. To do this, I doubled the amount of inches of fabric I would need to include per pleat– 16 inches were needed for each pleat.
If that sounds confusing, look at this picture of the pleat. You can see I am folding over the top of it, which shows the layers of the pleat. It’s 8 inches wide on the wrong side, and then has 2 front flaps, each one 4 inches wide, which come together into a crease at the top of the pleat. But when the skirt is finished, you won’t see the flaps or their curved edges, they’ll be hidden behind the front of the skirt.
Remember also that you are making the slipcover inside out.
Because I didn’t want any seams on the outside of skirt, and the fabric isn’t long enough to make one long skirt plus pleats without any seams, I hid my seams inside the pleats. And of course, this means you have to cut a little extra fabric to allow for stitching those seams together. So since I needed to add 16 inches per pleat to the total length of the skirt, I also had to add about 2 inches to the sections where I would be hiding a seam allowance in the pleat.
Here is what the pleated skirt looks like when it is pinned to the rest of the slipcover, at the corner
and at the center of the sofa front.
To keep the pleat nice and tight at the top (so it makes an inverted V flap) I stitched across the top of it back and forth a few times to hold the crease. Otherwise it would just pull apart and not look like a pleat anymore. See where the middle yellow pin and middle white pin are in the picture above? That is where I stitched. You’re looking at the underside of the skirt. If you turn the skirt over, you would see the finished side of the skirt, and the pleat would have 2 sides butted up together in a crease, which then open out into a flap as it falls to the floor. You won’t see this when the cushions are on the sofa – I stitched it far up on the skirt pleat so that it would be underneath.
So when the cushions are in place, it looks like this
It’s easier to stitch the tops of those pleats, including the corner ones, before you pin the skirt to the rest of the slipcover. That way, the pleats won’t separate when you stitch the skirt seam.
Here is how the front corner pleat looks – lined up with the vertical seam along the arm front piece.
See, mine isn’t perfect, the pleat pulled apart a little at the top, but I don’t mind. It’s a small enough gap that no one will notice. And even if they did, I’m ok with that.
I didn’t mention anything about stitching the hem. Since I used drop cloth, I made sure that when I cut the skirt pieces, the finished edge of the drop cloth was on the bottom. So it became the hem and I didn’t have to stitch one. But if you can’t do this all the way around, just remember to take care of your hem. Finish it before you attach the skirt to the rest of the slipcover, or afterwards. It’s simply a matter of preference.
Here are a couple of different views of the final slipcover.
I apologize if any of this is muddy. It’s a lot harder to explain something like this than to just show you in person. But if you are trying to make a slipcover, you most likely already have some sewing experience. You don’t need to be an expert seamstress to do a slipcover. You just need to take careful measurements and take your time pinning the pieces together.
You can do it!