How to Choose Cheap Slipcovers

So as you may recall, I scored this awesome Lee Industries (sold by Crate and Barrel) Two Cushion Sofa off Craigslist for $500 this fall:


We have been diligent in teaching the children not to eat on the couch or drink on the couch- we eat together as a family at the dining room table anyways, but snacks are a completely different animal. The kids have to keep snacks at the coffee table and sit on the floor or get off the couch to get a bite….it sounds a little up tight, but I swear, it’s just good practice and manners anyways!! Drinks have to be kept on the coffee table, with the same rules. They want a drink, they have to get off the couch and take a sip, put it down before they can get back on the couch, or they are welcome to sit on the floor or somewhere else. We have a crazy swing arm TV wall mount, that allows the TV to swing all the way into the dining room, so they can even choose to sit at the table and eat their snacks, which sometimes they prefer. EVEN so, the couch has taken a beating from our dog. Our little dog has trashed the couch- we try not to crate her since she barks all day long when in her crate and she mostly just acts like a house cat anyways. However, if shes sick unbeknownst to us, or if one of the kids leaves the bathroom door open and she decides to drink a crazy amount of toliet water (gross) and decides to pee EVERYWHERE…well, it’s always hit or miss when we get home. Mr. Manor and I are diligent about washing the cushions, steam cleaning, and spot cleaning, so now the couch is discolored- GREAT! With the addition of the new chairs that will be in close proximity, we needed to decide if we wanted to do a slipcover in a pattern for the chairs, or do a slipcover that’s the same for all three. Seeing as how I have had extreme anxiety over picking a pattern for curtains; which aren’t really a long term investment, and a slipcover should get you at least 3-5 years (hopefully), I decided, they should all be the same, and something neutral. One of the pain points I have with the sofa, is how ‘yellow’ the fabric is. It makes the wall color seem more yellow or green depending on certain light, and it’s very hard to choose throws, or pillows because of it. So, now the process begins.

These are my just personal opinions- there are probably a lot of other choices out there, but just some food for thought!


Obviously, for something like a sofa and/or chairs that will be sat on a LOT in the living room, we want something heavy and durable that can withstand washing. Beware, the cheaper the fabric, it’s probably a shorter fiber and come apart quicker than a better quality fabric that are longer and stronger.

My choices:

1. Cotton Duck: grow/shrink several inches even if preshrunk; can withstand bleach

2. Cotton/Linen Blend: preshrink for a natural drape, light colors wash well, but will show everyday grime (for example, someone wearing cheap dark jeans, the dye might rub off and make the slipcover appear dirty- don’t wash with bleach, use spray and washes)

3. Brushed Cotton/Twill: thick, soft and nubby; can take bleaching; loses shape quickly; very comfortable and soft; 4-6 inches of shrinkage

4. Chenille/Velvet Chenille: great for pet shedding households and lots of spills; great for covering an existing piece of furniture that has a dark fabric

5. Mattelasse: more formal of a fabric; hard to do a rustic look; woven pattern good for covering an existing piece of furniture that has a dark fabric

6. Linen: timeless; you won’t be able to wash at home, it will need to be dry cleaned to keep tailored look; use starch for crisp tailoring

7. Denim: mother load of slipcovers; super durable and very washable; white denim can withstand bleach; gets baggy very quickly so best on boxy furniture with higher arms to support the slack

8. Outdoor Fabrics: very durable, and water resistant; not as comfy; red wine comes out; use spray and washes not bleach to keep water resistant properties; need to be washed more frequently than other fabrics

9. Canvas: also known as ‘big duck’ or ‘cotton duck’ is a heavy weight fabric similar to cotton duck; it’s very stiff at first, but softens over time without becoming limp or extremely wrinkly; 1-3 inches of shrinkage; can withstand bleaching at first, but then use spray and wash to extend life

10: Suede/Canvas Suede: medium weight; good for moderate use; more refined look sort of sandy; darker color upholstery underneath could show through; 1-2 inch shrinkage

11. Hemp Canvas: linen like texture, more upscale than cotton; ok to good coverage over dark fabric underneath, softens over time, expensive but has a really nice drape; don’t bleach, only use spray and washes; 3-5 inch shrinkage



Considering what you’re going to be slip-covering is important! In my case, my sofa is a rolled arm that is pretty tailored with castors. I like how tight the seams are, but I want the room to be casual. I’m not overtly feminine, so I don’t prefer too many details on a skirt. The chairs I’m covering are sort of bucket shaped with a skirt, but there are nice wood legs underneath the skirts. My dining room chairs have full length skirts, so I’m going to actually remove the skirts and not have the slipcover cover the legs of the chairs to open up the space a little more. Hopefully this makes sense, how I’m trying to balance everything.

Here are some details to consider for yourselves (all images are from Houzz)

1. Tiebacks: very relaxed and easiest to throw on and off

tie backs

2. Straps: super intricate; could easily rip if you have children


3. Ruffles: very girly, and look great with both stiff and relaxed fabric


4. Piped/No Skirt: tailored and very durable; piping helps strength the seaming

no skirt

5. Two Color/Separate Cushion: have the cushions be a different color to add interest

cushions are different colors

6. Loose Drape/Arm Ties: if not done right this looks cheap or bought from Target

loose slipcovers with ties on arms

7: Full Skirt with Arm Seams: hard to see in the photo, but the seams are visible in the rolled arm; full skirt

rolled arm with full skirt

8. Banded Closures with Kick Pleats: very refined with Asian flare; lots of maintenance; you would need to iron or steam these after every wash; if made of silk like these are in the picture, they would need to be dry cleaned

banded closures with kick pleats

9. Button Back Chair Covers with Box Pleat: french/shabby chic vibe; would need to iron or steam to show off these details; buttons might need attention after multiple washings

button back chair covers with skirts

10. Shabby Chic with Full Skirt: loose fit with full skirt; easy to put on and off; comfortable; might look disheveled in between washes

french rustic with full box skirt

11. Pattern with Ties: won’t show grime or dirt as easy; ties are easy to assemble after each wash

pattern with ties

12. Different Color Piping/Different Fabric Trim/Box Pleat: since there is a different color pipe and fabric, you would need to use spray and wash to avoid a bleed in the wash; easy to take on and off; adds visual interest

patterned fabric trim

13. Button Fasteners: ironing and steaming would be required for the slipcovers to lay perfect; buttons and fasteners would need attention over time, but pretty detail

tailored with piping and buttons

14. Different Fabric Backs: adds visual interest; can’t bleach; use spray and washes; easy to take on and off

different fabric backs

15. Inverted Box Pleat: nice detail to hide original upholstery that has a skirt; might require steaming or ironing to lay flat depending on fabric

inverted box pleat

16. Drape: effortless style; difficult to stay put as it’s just ‘draped’ and tucked into the back of the seat cushions; very easy to take on and off


17. Box Pleat Skirt: tailored with a lot of visual interest; depending on fabric, no ironing or steaming needed, easy to take on and off


The next steps are just personal choices- finding fabrics; cheapest ones are online sites, or through places like Joann’s in the Clearance section (make sure they are upholstery); color; and to sew it yourself or find a great seamstress!


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