cushions · Slipcovers

Slipcovers for a State of Transition

My client Jenny is in that familiar state of transition.   You know, the time where your kids have all but left the nest and pursuing a life of their own but you’re too young to retire just yet.  Currently in a townhome, they do envision this a temporary place until the next phase.   Even then, they wanted to update and freshen it up to enjoy it themselves before any resale in the future.   My sentiments exactly.  Why wait until you are ready to sell before updating!  Been there, done that.  Do it now so you can enjoy it, keeping in mind what is timeless and sellable.

In addition to the typical repainting and kitchen updates, their furniture needed a bit of a refresh as well.  They had a heavy, comfortable and still functional couch, arm chair and ottoman that fit there space just fine and they wanted to repurpose instead of buying something new at this point. The textured chenille couch was a dated gold tone and the microfiber on the arm chair and ottoman were worn smooth in spots.   

Prep Work

The couch, arm chair and ottoman all required a bit of prep work before construction of the new slipcovers.  Did you know that on attached back cushions there is a zipper on the bottom so you can remove the cushion insert? FYI, if your cushions are looking a bit flat or squishy, you can remove the inserts and refill them to give them more fluff. Check out The Slipcover Makers tutorial on how to do this yourself. With Jenny’s permission, I removed the back cushions and made templates with the old cushions to make new loose cushions.  This was a first for me and I felt a little intimidated to cut off the existing cushions, but I followed some awesome instructions and all went well.  The Slipcover Maker has a great tutorial on this process.  I also cut off the skirt on the couch and stapled the skirts on the chair and ottoman to the bottom wood of the chair to reduce bulk so they would not interfere with the new skirts.  With the newly deconstructed furniture I was ready to tackle the slipcovers.

Arm Chair

For the armchair, Jenny chose a high performance, linen-look, washable fabric called Phoenician from Revolution Fabrics in a Toast color.  It compliments the fabric she chose for her couch and the rug and other chair she has in her living room.   A pair of arm covers will help extend the life of the slipcover and reduce the need to remove the entire slipcover should the arms get soiled.  But lets face it, in a house without kids full time, it shouldn’t need to be cleaned often.

Ottoman

In addition to stapling the skirt to the wood base of the ottoman, I converted the pillow top ottoman to a solid ottoman by add a layer of batting and a muslin slip slipstitched to the piping.   The end result is a clean and simple ottoman with a slipcover that can be easily removed and laundered. 

Couch

Jenny chose an oatmeal colored cotton/rayon blend from Big Duck Canvas .  This fabric definitely required prewashing in order to preshrink it for any future washing.  It did wrinkle a bit but nothing an iron and a little spray starch or steam can work out. The back featured two zipper panels that line up with the bottom pleats to make it easier to take on and off yet still allow for a tight fit. The final result is a more casual updated sofa to give them a few more years.

I always try to learn something new from my projects. After tackling the removal of the attached back pillows, I am inspired to try this on my own gray microfiber couch and loveseat for a fresh update sometime in the near future. 

Slipcovers

California Chair in Coral

The right fabric makes all the difference.  When Julie moved to Virginia from California, she brought along this awesome chair complete with palms. The chair was in perfect condition but the fabric didn’t go with anything in her new home.     

 She was planning to repurpose it in her basement guest bedroom and was looking for something to coordinate with the grey comforter and window treatments in a “rainfall” pattern (below) that would bring a little light to the space.

There are thousands of fabric options available online, but it is usually a last resort for me.  Personally I like to see the fabric and feel its weight, texture, coverage and drape.  Unfortunately, the number of brick and mortar fabric stores seems to be dwindling.  The Fabric Emporium in Warrenton, VA would be closing  it’s doors after forty years due to retirement so I was hoping to score a good deal on fabric and just maybe find the right fabric for Julie’s project (any maybe something for myself too).  Everything was at least 30%  off!  The fabric I found is a variegated tone-on-tone, coral colored, textured stripe in 100% cotton.  Since the chair would be in a low traffic and use area, she decided not to have the fabric prewashed in order to retain the sheen and qualities of the decorator fabric.   Though she did not intend to remove it and wash it, this slipcover could still be removed if she changed her mind and wanted to change the color or pattern.

I followed the basic lines of the chair but repositioned the scroll on the upper back to allow the slipcover to be removed more easily with the help of two back zippers.  A simple corded finish on the bottom finishes this cute chair that almost looks upholstered!

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Julie also snagged a fabric swatch for $.50 from the fabric store and was hoping to make a couple of pillows to pull it all together.   I made lumbar sized pillow inserts with some down from an old pillow and poly fiber fill.  A little cording, a zipper and a back to match the chair and I was able to knock out two pillows, one for her chair and one for her bed. 

Do you have a chair that is just sitting there waiting to be noticed, begging for a makeover and a new purpose?   I can help transform your chair and even help with fabric selection. 

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Decorating · Sewing · Slipcovers

Coral Cuteness

My client brought me a couple of interesting and challenging projects to work on to kick-start the new year.  She inherited these two great chairs from her grandmother.  Chairs like this are worth the time and effort to update, giving them a new purpose and a fresh look.  They were solidly built and held up well over the years, but were definitely in need of some attention, as you can tell by the fabric wearing through on the arms. 

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Her plan was to anchor the ends of her farm table with the chairs.  She wanted to find a fabric that would coordinate with her Pottery Barn pillows and table runner and compliment the area rug; something fun and whimsical with a little pizzazz.  She decided on a  coral geometric print for the chairs and a dark rosy color for the piping and trim that matched the back of the pillows and complimented the table runner. I think the chairs will be a nice accent pop of color to her room.  

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This chair was not without its challenges, though.   In order for the fabric to lay smoother on the curved interior tufted back of the chair, I decided to piece the back in three sections with contrasting piping to help with the matching of the pattern as best I could.  I like the vertical lines it gave the piece, breaking up the pattern just enough.

The other feature we needed to consider was the beautiful wood arms and legs.  A peak-a-boo arm and sassy short pleated skirt would ensure that we would let them show off.   Instead of a zipper, she opted for a contrast panel opening in the back with a covered button closure. 

Do you have an old chair that is hiding in the basement, attic or corner, or storage unit covered with stuff just begging for a second act?   If you have small children or pets, if you want a new look without buying new furniture, if you want to change your color scheme, if the piece is solid and has good bones, and if you like repurposing the old and making it new again for a new space, then slipcovering may be a good option.

I get such joy seeing the transformation from the old discarded pieces of furniture to something that is joyfully placed back into the rest of the house to use and show off. I would love to do a piece for you. 

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