How to Make Shabby Chic Slipcovers

By F.R.R. Mallory
Shabby-chic decor style with mixed fabrics on the sofa.

Shabby-chic style became popular for interior decorating in the 1980s and 1990s. At the center of the style are overstuffed comfortable furniture pieces and vintage furniture. Often the upholstered pieces are slipcovered in fabrics with white, beige or soft pastel backgrounds. Floral fabrics are common, and often more than one fabric or print may be used on a single furniture piece. A shabby-chic styled room will usually have vintage lights or accents and a comfortable feeling that invites you to sit down and put your feet up.

Select one or more fabrics for your chair or sofa. Often the cushions can be slipcovered in a different fabric than the main part of the furniture. Choose sturdy fabrics with a soft background of white, ivory, beige or pastels. Choose designs such as florals and patterns that work well together. This allows you to purchase remnant pieces of fabric for a good price. Wash and iron your fabrics to remove sizing and prevent shrinkage later.

Remove the loose cushions from the furniture piece. For a sofa or large chair, start your slipcover at the base of the seat back. Drape the fabric face side down over the back of the sofa and allow it to fall to the floor. Make sure you have 1 inch of extra fabric where the fabric touches the seat cushion or frame. Add 1 inch along the back bottom edge where the fabric touches the floor for a hem. Cut along your hem line.

Place the next piece of fabric face side down along the corner where the first piece of fabric touches the seat cushion or frame. The second fabric piece should cover the seat cushion or frame and drape to the floor in front of the sofa. Add 1 inch to the fabric touching the floor and cut your front hem. Pin a 1/2-inch seam where the two fabric pieces join at the seat and sofa back.

Position another fabric section along the outer side of the sofa with face side toward the sofa. Pin a 1/2-inch seam along the back edge of the first piece of fabric. Pin a 1/2-inch seam along the front corner of the same side. The fabric along the floor should have a 1-inch allowance for hemming. Fit the side and over the arm to the seat. Repeat this with both arms.

Remove the cover and sew your seams. Turn the cover right side out and put it on the furniture. Make needed adjustments to the fit by taking deeper seams or adding pleats and tucks. Once you are satisfied with the fit, pin the hem all around. Remove the cover and hem it to length.

Fold a fabric piece for a seat cushion in half, face sides together. Position the seat cushion on the fabric and cut around the cushion adding a 1/2-inch seam allowance to each side. Measure the height and length of each side of the cushion. Add 1 inch to each side length and 1 inch to the height for seams. Cut fabric pieces to measure.

Place your side fabric strips face sides together and sew the short seams until your fabrics form a circle. Position your top cover face sides together with the long sides of your side strips. Pin a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Sew a seam joining the top and side fabrics together.

Position the bottom cover fabric, face sides together, with the long sides of your side strips. Pin a 1/2-inch seam allowance around three of the four sides. Sew a seam joining the bottom and three sides together. Turn the cover right sides out. Measure and cut hook and loop tape to fit the bottom and side opening. Fold the fabric under 1/2 inch for both the bottom and side fabric and sew hook tape to the side fabric and loop tape to the bottom fabric. Insert your cushion into the cover and press the hook and loop tapes together. Repeat for each cushion.

Place the fitted slipcover over the sofa. Position the covered cushions in place. Decorate with throw pillows in similar colors and patterns.

Tip

Add dressmaker details like buttons, pleats, ties, ribbons or other trims to the slipcover to make it more chic.

About the Author

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.