We’ve helped thousands of customers choose the right slipcover solution for their home, and have made or installed countless slipcovers ourselves. Though we no longer sell ready-made furniture slipcovers, we’ve compiled this slipcover shopping guide to help you pick the slipcover solution – from ready-mades, to custom, to do-it-yourself – that best fits your home, your furniture and your lifestyle!
Slipcovers are a popular, easy-living and time-tested answer to countless furniture woes. With them, you can quickly update an entire room, freshen up a timeworn favorite, or even protect expensive upholstery throughout the toddler years.
But shopping for – and fitting – slipcovers can be a daunting task. Will today’s popular ready-made slipcovers fit both your furniture and your lifestyle? Where do you turn if you want a more tailored look? What if you’re trying to cover a sectional, chaise lounge or recliner? And finally, what slipcover solutions fall within your budget?
The good news for slipcover shoppers is there are many options available to fit a variety of needs and budgets. For many, great looks can be achieved quickly and easily with ready-made slipcovers costing only about $100 to $200 for a full-sized sofa. These “one-size-and-style-fits-most” slipcovers can be the perfect choice for a lower-budget makeover. Plus, many ready-made slipcover makers offer coordinating accent pillows along with “specialty” slipcovers for recliners, wingback furniture, ottomans, and dining room chairs, so they are definitely worth a look when shopping.
But, if you desire a more tailored look than ready-mades offer, have a hard-to-fit piece of furniture, or if you want to slipcover a piece that falls outside of ready-made’s traditional sofa, loveseat and chair sizes, then a semi-fitted or custom slipcover may be the only way to go.
Slipcovers vs. Upholstery – Which to Choose?
Why and when should you choose slipcovers over reupholstering a piece of furniture? After budget considerations, this is really a choice based on lifestyle, furniture use and personal preference. Ready-made slipcovers are generally the quickest and least-expensive choice for updating furniture, so if you’re on a tight budget, they can be a better choice over upholstery.
But if your furniture’s styling and construction make it impossible to get a livable result from ready-mades, then the cost of a custom slipcover may run as much as – or more than – reupholstering the piece. In this case, lifestyle considerations should influence your decision.
Slipcovers do offer benefits over upholstery, mainly wash-ability, easy repair and a more relaxed look – though well-fitted slipcovers can give you an upholstery-like fit and finish, too. Ultimately, if your furniture is home to busy kids and pets, if you want to be able to thoroughly clean your furniture, or if you just want to add a seasonal change to your decor, slipcovers are definitely the answer.
Once you’ve considered your basic furniture styling, the use it receives, and the look you want to achieve, it’s time to look at the different slipcover options to see which best fits your needs.
Choosing slipcovers: The Low-Down on Ready-Made Slipcovers
Loose-fit describes the ready-made slipcovers you find in catalogs and on websites like SureFit.com, Land’s End and Pottery Barn. You’ll also find loose-fit styles on the shelves in many retail stores including Waverly brand at Target, and Cannon and Fieldcrest (both brands are made by SureFit) at Bed, Bath & Beyond and Macy’s.
These slipcovers are definitely a step up from old-fashioned furniture throws and are constructed to give a loose, semi-fitted finish to a variety of furniture styles. Regardless of the brand, most ready-made slipcovers follow the same general styling; one-piece slipcovers that drape over the entire piece with floor-length skirts that are straight, ruffled or pleated in some way. They are available in a wide variety of fabrics, textures and patterns to suit most any décor, and most of these makers also offer matching pillows and accents to complete your look.
Ready-made slipcovers are made to fit a range of furniture sizes. You tailor them to fit your furniture by tucking self-anchoring seams and extra fabric between the back, seat and arm cushions; though some brands require additional anchors to keep the cover in place. While the arms of ready-made slipcovers are designed to fit a variety of furniture arm styles, thin arms can pose a challenge.
Since ready-made slipcovers are anchored by tucking seams between the cushions, they work best with furniture constructed with attached, one-piece cushions such as tight-back and attached-back styles (see our furniture style chart). The tight crevice between the seat, back and arm cushions provides the secure anchor for the slipcover, so furniture styled with removable seat and back cushions or scatter-back pillows can be more difficult to slipcover using ready-made styles – but it’s not impossible!
Fitting loose-fit slipcovers on hard-to-fit pieces
You can fit ready-made slipcovers to furniture with multiple seat and back cushions – whether attached or removable — it just takes a little extra work and patience, but it’s well worth the effort – especially if you’re on a budget.
Before you apply the slipcover, create the smoothest surface possible by placing cushions and any scatter pillows side-by-side across the back. Minimize the “valleys” between the cushions by layering quilt batting over the entire seat and back before applying the slipcover. Once applied, the slipcover will hold the batting in place and give your slipcovered piece a much smoother appearance. The batting technique also works to build-up thin arms underneath the slipcover.
Since the seat, back and arm cushions don’t create tight crevices, anchoring ready-made slipcovers on multiple or loose-back cushion furniture can be a bit of a challenge. Once you’ve applied the slipcover, push a few rolled-up magazines into these crevices, on top of the slipcover seams, to act as anchors. Though you’ll need to straighten and re-tuck the fabric periodically, these magazine-anchors will help secure the slipcover between the cushions, and usually work better than the store-bought anchors.
Slipcover basics: Consider Furniture Style and Use Before Shopping for Slipcovers
Before shopping for slipcovers, it’s important to consider how your furniture is styled and how it is used. With ready-made slipcovers particularly, furniture styling and construction play a key role in how the slipcover fits both the piece and your lifestyle. Just as a well-chosen slipcover will add livable style to any room, a poor fit will detract from your décor and require constant upkeep – not good in a busy home!
Most seating furniture falls into one of four basic manufacturing styles and these are generally categorized by the construction of the back cushions. These are tight-back, attached pillow back, loose pillow back, and scatter pillow back.
Regardless of the back cushion styling, seat cushions are typically constructed as either an integral part of the base or as removable single, two- or three-piece cushions.
After you’ve identified the basic back and seat cushion styling of the furniture you want to slipcover, next consider the detailing. Are the arms generous and round, low and boxy, or thin? Is your piece a tall wingback-style? Does it have shapely feet that you want to show off? Is the back straight across the top or is it a “camelback” with a slight rise in the center?
Now think about the use it receives. Will kids and pets be jumping on and off all day? Will the slipcover need frequent washing? Is a fitted, tailored style or a loose, casual look more appropriate for your décor and lifestyle?
Once you have considered these points, check out our Slipcover Shopping Guide sections on Ready-Made and Semi-Fitted or Custom Slipcovers to determine which options will best work for you!
Sofa pictures courtesy of Rowe Furniture. Online at www.rowe.com
They also have a wonderful line of slipcovered furniture that’s worth a look!
Your furniture’s styling makes all the difference when it comes to fitting slipcovers. Tight-back and Attached-Back styles generally work best with ready-made slipcovers. Loose-Back and Scatter-Back can be challenging to fit with ready-made slipcovers, but you can see how we did it, or consider a more custom slipcover approach that may provide a better fit.
Tight-Back furniture styling gives a smoother cushion base for ready-made slipcovers and generally provide the best fit and finish.
slipcovers for attached back furniture
Attached-Back furniture styling gives a tight cushion base for ready-made slipcovers, and valleys between the cushions can be minimized with a layer of quilt batting.
Loose-Back furniture styling can be a bit of a challenge with ready-made slipcovers, but we’ll show you how to make them work
Scatter-Back furniture styling can also be a challenge with ready-made slipcovers, but we’ll show you how to make them work
Other furniture styles, like those with low arms or in non-traditional sizes, may require a more custom slipcover approach.
Choosing Slipcovers: When Semi-Custom or Custom-Fit Slipcovers are the Right Choice
If loose-fit slipcovers do not provide the finish you want, then a semi-custom or custom form-fitted slipcover may be your best solution. The most obvious benefit of these slipcovers is their separate covers for seating and back cushions, so straightening and re-tucking is not an issue as it is with ready-mades. They offer any number of finished looks, from casual semi-fitted to tailored gathers and pleats, and can be made to fit unusual furniture shapes and sizes.
In the past, the only way to have a fitted, tailored look was to have a custom-made slipcover pin-fitted to your furniture by an area workroom, and many good slipcovers are still made this way. But if your budget does not allow the custom costs or if you do not have a reputable slipcover shop nearby then, thanks to the internet, several semi-custom and custom slipcover makers are as close as your computer.
Whether you’re considering semi-custom or custom form-fitted slipcovers, makers TodoEs, Potato Skins and Seams to Be are all worth a look. These companies have perfected at-home measuring methods and can create a range of slipcovers looks to fit just about any need. And it doesn’t matter where you live since they take your measurements and work with you over the phone or internet to create a slipcover solution that fits both your furniture and your lifestyle. Plus, they can make slipcovers from fabric you provide if you wish.
Semi-custom and fitted slipcovers are more expensive that ready-made styles, usually ranging from $200-$500 for a basic sofa cover with separate cushions. But they are the ideal solution if you want to avoid constant tucking and straightening or if you have truly hard-to-fit furniture such as a sectional or chaise lounge, an armless euro-style sofa or a wood-trimmed Victorian wingback.
Slipcover Size Chart and Fit Tips for SureFit Slipcovers
SureFit is one of the most popular makers of ready-made slipcovers. Here is their size chart along with some fit tips that work with their slipcovers and with most other ready-made slipcover brands.
Loose back pillows: Lay the pillows flat across the back of your furniture. You may need to remove one pillow so that they lay flat against the furniture back.
T-Cushions: Surefit’s SOFA and LOVESEAT sizes will work with T-cushions, but please note, if your furniture is at the maximum length measurement from arm to arm, there may not be enough extra length to fit the “T”.
SureFit’s regular CHAIR size may not provide enough extra length to pull over the “T” – but WINGCHAIR slipcovers will usually fit the “T”.
To fit your T-cushion, pull the elastic or straight skirt over the T-cushion, making sure to tuck the fabric around “T”. Repeat on the other cushion. Then just continue following the slipcover instruction. Note that straight skirt slipcovers require a bit more tucking and patience when styling around the “T.”
Skinny Arms: Wrap foam padding around the arms to pad and shape them. Then just follow the instructions for applying your slipcover.
Large Chairs: Use a loveseat size cover on a large chair or on a chair-and-a-half. Then just follow the instructions for applying your slipcover.
Sectionals: SureFit’s one-piece slipcovers work best on sectionals with outside arms. Purchase the appropriately sized slipcover for each piece of your sectional. Usually, you will need a loveseat and sofa sized slipcover. Separate the sectional pieces from one another and apply each slipcover as explained in the instructions. There are no arms where the two sections meet so simply fold and tuck the unused arm fabric down into the crevice between the two pieces.
Sofa Beds: Simply remove the cover from the arms and seat. Once you are finished using the sofa bed, restyle the cover on the arms and seat cushions.
Lay non-skid strips used for carpeting on top of your seat cushions. This will keep your slipcover from sliding out of place once it’s on.
Other Details for Surefit Slipcovers
Furniture Height: Standard slipcovers will fit furniture up to 32″ tall, wingback styles fit pieces up to 41″ tall – measuring from the floor to the top of the back.
Yes! SureFit slipcovers fit camelback furniture styles, measure from the highest point on the back to the floor.
Ottoman Slipcovers: Consist of an ottoman cushion cover and a separate ruffle. Fits square, rectangular and round ottomans up to 116″ in circumference.
(Measure all 4 sides.)
Dining Room Chair Slipcovers: Constructed of one piece of fabric with an attached back. Fits most armless “parson-style” standard dining room chairs with a back body length of up to 42 inches.