Advanced slipcover styles and techniques from Pat Reese

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Boring but Useful: How I charge for cushion inserts

1. From the supplier's price list,find the cost of foam.
2. If  using more than one sheet, figure cost of total number of sheets.  Sheets are 24" x 80"
3. Multiply the above cost by two.
4. Add $10 per cushion for wrap, if the cushion is polyester wrapped.  Some suppliers will do this.. If so, get their price for wrap.Multiply by two for total labor cost.
6. Add total from #4 and total from #6. This will be the customer's cost for an insert. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Help from the Slipcover Network for all of us

Slipcover Network does wonderful things.  here's a shot of their newest design contest winner:


Slipcover Network's pricing information  
(only $10 per chart)
is just what custom slipcover makers need to find out what others in their region are charging for their work.

Keep up the good work, folks!!!  everybody loves ya.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Slipcover Design Contest and slipcover summit is the site for info on this week's slipcover summit.  An annual event for professional and would-be professional slipcover makers, it is happening in Nashville this year. Hosts are Anna Davis and Linda Willken.
Slipcover Summit and Slipcover Network organizer and chairman is Karen Erickson.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New fabric sources A new fabric source is offering fabrics and also custom made items, like slipcovers, bedding ensembles, pillows, and window coverings.  They offer do-it-yourself items, designer info, and full service help. 
The front page is in "shockwave" format and I couldn't get the "sign up" buttons to work so I was not able to go any further on their site.  If anybody figures this out, please let me know.

At you can see denims, canvas, embossed cottons and twills, all good for making slipcovers in any style. Prices are from $8.95 to $10.95 a yard. They offer hundreds of styles from companies like P. Kaufman, Robert Allen, Waverly, Kravet and Duralee.  Also outdoor fabrics.

It's not a new site, but offers articles on fabrics of all kinds, from vintage quilting to covering barstools. This is an information site, the kind we like.

That's all for now.  Share your favorite fabric site info?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

estimating yardage for slipcovers

There is a particularly complete and easy-to-understand method for estimating how much fabric you will need for a slipcover.from Claudia Buchanan

A classic upholstery yardage chart  is another good way to go. Since slips take more than upholstery you will want to add a couple of yards, or maybe three if you are matching a pattern.  But this chart is a good one to copy or download for future reference.

I have always used the yardage estimates that I learned years ago from Mr. Bazer.  That yardage chart, along with my labor prices is available on my primary website.

One-way stripes and prints are always going to require more fabric than solid color fabrics do.  If I have a central pattern for each cushion and for inside and outside back, I add about 50% to any estimate for yardage.  That is, if my cushions are wider than half a fabric width, (27") or if the pattern is a dropped pattern.  To put it another way, I need more fabric if I have to cut each side of a cushion out of the middle of a pattern or stripe.

Another reason to add 50% to your yardage estimate is if the fabric is less than 48 inches wide.  Some expensive prints have very wide margins on the side and so the fabric width doesn't matter.  For instance, if there is a border printed on one or both sides of the print.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

French dining chairs

This chair is all curves.  In order to fit the chair smoothly the cover has to have a flat piece at the sides of the back and also for the apron around the seat.  The apron is cut to match the curves on the bottom of the chair with an extra one inch of length to make sure that it covers the wood.

here is a close-up of the seat.  The apron has to extend around to the back to attach with hook & loop fasteners.  Since the fabric is patterned there will not be any extra buttons or trims except for a flat welt in all of the seams.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

what's wrong with these cushions?

These are nice cushions, and the quilted fabric is luxurious and comfortable, even though the cord is worn through in places.

BUT .......

The cord on these cushions has a jute core, such as upholsterers use.  It has worn out the cording from the inside, since the cord was covered with a lightweight chintz fabric.

If you cover your welt cord with fabric cut in the direction of  the grain of your fabric it will always be "wavy" like this.  Use bias strips (preferably cut at true bias, or 45 degrees) and join them with seams that are diagonal instead of straight across the cord. Free instructions for cutting continuous welt cord can be found here

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Does my wing chair have a "telephone arm?"

Here's a seminar attendee with her wing chair cover.  You may notice that the arm front panel stops at the level of the cushion and is corded all the way around.  Since this piece is shaped like a 1950's-style telephone receiver, I call this a "telephone arm."  

The inside and outside arm have to be cut to go around the lower part of the front arm and they are joined with a plain seam at the outside curve just above the "speaking" section of the telephone receiver. 

If you order my wing chair DVD and book be sure to let me know if you have this type of arm on your wing chair and I will include instructions for this variation.

Stay in,  Pat

Using multiple fabrics for a slipcover

This sofa cover was made for a restaurant waiting room in Dallas. There are five fabrics involved, including the polka dots for the back cushions and the cording, made from black and white striped fabric cut on the bias.  This would also be good done in small-scale prints and stripes in mixed colors.  

If you have done a multi-fabric cover, please send us a photo and some comments if you have time.
love,  Pat

Friday, May 14, 2010

Scalamandre is having a sale!!!

Scalamandre, which is only the highest-end house for silk fabrics and trims, is having a sale!!! is where you can find terrific discounts right now.  The buzz is that this years-old company is in new hands, and we all know that means bargains on current stock.

Here's a cover I made for an ordinary folding chair.With silk fabric and trim it sure looks uptown, doesn't it?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chair with front arm broken?

This post goes with a shout-out to Donna Berglin, my former intern who is now living and working in Portland, Oregon.  I miss you and your smiling face, Donna!!!

We did a set of three covers for this furniture.  Guess which piece had a front arm broken off?  You can't.
After the chair cover was cut, we copied it for both pieces, and stuffed the cover with dacron where the broken arm was.

Voila!!!  it was the chair on the right in the first picture.  Only the chair owner (and us) would ever know.  Not rocket science, I guess, but I was pretty proud of our near solution to the problem.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Slipcover with Dressmaker Skirt

This tone-on-tone gray cover is trimmed with a ribbon-style trim.  Usually I cut slipcovers in the customer's home, but for this style the piece has to be brought in to the shop.

I make the entire cover with extra length on the skirt (including pleat inserts) and then with the cover on the chair I mark and pin the hemline.  This is why I call this style "dressmaker skirt"

The flat welt in the seams is another way to personalize the cover.  Corners of the cushion have little pleats to make the flat welt go around corners well.  This style is the only time I cut strips on the straight grain of the fabric.  Any other time I use bias-covered welt.

Monogrammed dining chairs in white linen

This dining chair with arms has a monogram and a  box pleated skirt.  Box pleats spaced so that a pleat falls on each front corner.  White linen cover with 1/4" cordless welt in the seams. 
The closings are actually hook and loop fastener, sewn in, with 3/8" covered buttons applied on the outside.
ten side chairs are exactly same style, without arms and front arm openings. 

Friday, May 7, 2010

Altering Ready-Mades

Assuming, of course, that you can find fabric that you like,one way to go if you can't afford custom and don't want to sew a cover is to buy one ready-made and alter it.

First, check the measurements of your sofa or chair (length from front to back, side to side, and top to floor)  and then go shopping.  Internet preferred, of course, since we all want to save gas. Check the measurements of the ready-made cover to be sure it is at least as large as your measurements and possibly a little over.

When you get it home, put the cover on the chair or sofa, take a good look, and decide if you want it smaller somewhere. Do the same thing with the cushion cover(s).  If there is cord in the seams, you will have to open them at this point. Turn the cover wrong side out and pin the seams that need taking in. Do it with large stitches first, so you can tweak the fit if you need to.

Note: if you want to do this by hand, just be sure that you make "back-stitches" every inch or so, to keep the stitches from pulling out under stress. Sew the seams with LARGE machine stitches at first.

After you have a good fit, replace the cord in the seams if there is any, re-sew and trim the seams. Serge them, if possible.  Most ready-made slips are in less than wonderful fabric, and you don't want any fraying in the washing machine.  Some people even bind the seams by putting strips of bias tape or something like it over the seams.

If this system works for you, please send us a picture of your results.  Wing chairs are the hardest, but if you Google "wing chair slipcovers" you will be surprised how many sources you find!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Welcome to Slipcover University

Just a little blog for people with slipcovers on the brain, like me.

I hope to hear from folks who are using a Slipcover University  DVD or book.   I just sent a package to Dede O'Hair, a veteran of one of my classes at the Slipcover Summit. She turned up last week on the Workroom Association of America newsgroup. 

Or maybe we will hear soon from Carolyn Bentley, in Hamilton, GA.  Carolyn plans to cover a sofa with two seat and two back cushions.  She sent photos and measurements; I made up a custom kit of instructions with lots of pictures to show her how to cut and assemble her cover.  With this and the cushion DVD she is all set to start a new look in her family room!!!

.  There are lots of slipcover instructions and patterns out there.  You can find them in fabric stores, as well as online.  If you find something  that is more complete or easily followed than the SCU items, I will send back your money so soon it will make your eyes water.

In the meantime, please take a look at the SCU catalog.  Even if you aren't planning to make your own covers, you might find some terrific ideas, like the monogrammed dining chairs, or my new custom made patterns. For instance, make a folding chair look like a million bucks$$$...