Hello Friends! I recently posted the big reveal of my new sectional slipcover, and today I am back to share how I made my sectional slipcover, step-by-step! I am starting with the base of the sectional, and I will follow up with how I covered the cushions in a separate post. (See that HERE.) I have a ton of pictures to share, as in I edited over 80 photos, so I could share as many details as possible. Because of that, it was necessary to break this tutorial into two posts.
Here is what our sectional looked like before, a big brown beast of a sectional:
And here it is all shiny and new with its brand new slipcovers!
Not too shabby, eh? What a great way to lighten up a space!
Making this slipcover for our sectional took me six days, working about eight hours each day. It was time-consuming, but really not super difficult. I would not attempt this as a first time sewing endeavor, but if you know your way around your machine a bit, and have sewn a few things, I’m confident you can tackle this too. I’ve included affiliate links so you can find the exact products I used.
Let’s get started!
- Fabric I used 35 yards (8 yards to a bolt, 58″ wide) of Sew Classic Bottomweight 10oz Natural Bull Denim in White that I ordered from JoAnns. Here is the actual item #:10508372. TIP: I linked to the product online, but if your store does not have enough in stock, order it from the store, not online. I purchased mine online originally and two of the bolts were bright white compared to the other two bolts that looked more winter white. In order to receive a refund, I could not return them to the store, and I had to return the entire order, as it is considered one cut of fabric. Now this was made super simple because they included a return UPS shipping label with my order, but returning it to the store would have been easier. If you purchase your fabric from the store and there are any issues, they can take care of it right there. I had no issues when ordering from the store. Also be sure to look on JoAnns website for coupons! They always have them.
- Thread I used five spools of Coats and Clark Dual Duty Thread-400yds in White. TIP: buy a pack of bobbins and wind all your bobbins before you get started. I used around 10 total.
- Zippers I used cut-to-size upholstery zippers. One large roll did three cushions:
- Straight Pins
- Measuring Tape
- Cutting Mat, Straight Edge, & Rotary Cutter Well worth the investment for nice straight cuts.
- Good Scissors (for cutting fabric) and Not-your-Favorite-Scissors (for cutting zippers)
- Sewing Machine This is definitely NOT a no-sew project!
- Zipper Foot
- Piping/Cotton Cording I used 1/4″ cording from the hardware section at Walmart
- Iron/Ironing Board
The first step to a brand new beautiful slipcover is to wash the fabric. That’s right, all 35 yards of fabric. This was not nearly as hard as it sounds. I washed a bolt’s worth (8 yards) at a time without detergent, in warm water. Then I tumble dried it on the setting I would be drying them in the future. As soon as each piece was dry, I rolled it back onto the bolt, smoothing the wrinkles out as I went.
This prevented me from having to iron all that fabric!
Where to Start
Time to start on our slipcover. My sectional is in three pieces:
The entire left side is one “sofa”piece and then I have a single armless piece in the center, and the single right corner piece that has a rolled arm to the right of that.
I decided to make a base cover for the left side and then one to cover both pieces on the right.
I started with the smaller of the two.
To create a slipcover for a traditional sofa, you would place the fabric over the sofa right side down and pin, sew, then flip it right side out and voila…a slipcover. With a sectional, it’s not that simple because the ends don’t always match or aren’t perfect replicas of each other. The left side of my sectional or the “sofa” side, has a normal rolled arm on the left end, and this on the right:
Luckily the opposite end (the single right corner piece) has the same rolled arm as this piece has on the left side, so to get started on the base cover for the smaller two sectional pieces, I used the rolled arm of this larger piece.
Lay out the Fabric
Start by laying your fabric from front to back. Pull it over far enough over to hang past the back corner of the sofa by a few inches:
If you plan to add a skirt to the bottom, you don’t have to have it touching the floor like I have here, a few inches below the front edge would work perfectly. I ended up trimming quite a bit off in the end. Trim straight across the back a few inches from the floor as well.
(If you do not plan to add a skirt, let it drag on the floor a couple of inches.)
Following the lines of the inside corner of the sofa, trim fabric:
Pin, Sew, Test Fit, and Repeat
NOTE: All raw edges will need to be sealed to prevent them from unraveling when you wash your slip cover. However, I waited to do this until the end. More on that later.
Start pinning on the back corner. Here is what the top of the back corner of mine looks like:
I pinned where the seam is across that top edge, and snipped the fabric a few times where I wanted it to turn the corner easily:
I sewed where I pinned across the top:
Then I pinned down that back corner:
And sewed it. Then I did a test fit on the opposite side…
So far, so good. I pinned. removed, sewed, test fit, pinned, removed, sewed, test fit a lot as I went.
Next I started on the arm by draping fabric from the bottom crease, over the rolled arm, and down to a few inches from the floor.
I trimmed the excess and pinned on the topside of the arm, starting in the back…
And working my way to the front:
Before working my way down the back, I anchored the fabric in place with pins on the portion below the arm:
Then I pinned the back of the rolled arm, making three gathers in the rounded portion for a smooth fit:
Then I removed the anchor pins under the rolled arm and sewed, starting at the same point where I started pinning. Then I sewed down the back corner last, and did a test fit:
Looking pretty good.
If at any point, it doesn’t look good or is puckering funny somewhere, just unstitch with your seam ripper and adjust.
If you were creating a slip cover with a rolled arm on either end of the same piece like a regular sofa, you would likely need a zipper down the backside to help get it on and off easily. My covers have a rolled arm only on one side of each cover, so it was not necessary.
After a successful test fit, I put the slipcover back on the other piece, and resecured the fabric under the rolled arm:
Before moving forward with the front of the rolled arm, I needed to make a the piping for the outside edge of the rolled arm.
- To create the piping, I folded the fabric in half and then in half again. I used a straight edge and rotary cutter to cut 1 1/2″ strips of fabric. (I did not worry about cutting on the bias.)
- I pinned the pieces together on the diagonal. (This shows less bulk in your piping where the seam is.)
- I checked to see that the pieces would line up correctly before I sewed each seam.
- Then I sewed the seams, and ironed them open.
Using my zipper foot, I folded the fabric over my piping and sewed…
I have made several projects with piping in the past and never used a zipper foot, but for this project, a zipper foot is a necessity.
NOTE**I cut several strips of fabric for the piping at this point, but only sewed enough piping for the outer edges of the two rolled arms. You will need to make some for the skirting later also, but I will share a time saving trick for the cushions in that tutorial.
Front of Arm
I cut a panel for the front of the arm and pinned it in place to anchor it.
Then I sandwiched the piping in between the top of the arm and the top of the arm front:
I pinned all the way around…
Then removed and sewed…
I trimmed the excess fabric and test fit it:
As you can see below I still needed to add fabric to the left side…
I just cut a piece to fit front to back, sewed it to the other piece with the arm complete, and ironed my seams flat. (No need to seal these edges since I used the factory edge. I would zig zag them otherwise.) Then I trimmed the edges of the end like so:
Figure out Weird Sectional End
What better way to put it, right? Those ends are weird and you cannot simply turn them inside out and pin this time. No worries, I figured this part out for you!
Keeping the slipcover right-side-out this time, I started by working on the front corner, trimming the excess fabric:
Here’s how I worked this front corner:
I then moved on to the side panel. I cut a piece to fit and anchored it in place with pins:
Then I folded the top seam under and tucked the top of the front panel under it:
Then I pinned it in place all the way around:
And sewed that seam very close to the edge:
Looks pretty good! I sewed that front bottom corner the same way.
For the cover on the larger “sofa” piece, I followed the same directions except I sewed two pieces together first so I could center the seam down the back.
The end of this piece had this weird corner. I started with the rolled arm at the opposite end and then worked my way to this corner. These pieces are right-side out, and like the end of the piece I just finished, I folded the one side under and tucked the other piece under that and pinned in place:
I took that all the way down the back. The piece on the right goes over the arm and down the side.
You can also see where I centered the seam on that side.
Here are both pieces before adding the skirt:
Ahhh the home stretch of these base covers…the skirting! If you like (and assuming you kept it long enough all the way around), you could hem it at this point and call it a day. It is really tempting, but I love the tailored look the skirt adds, so here’s how I did it.
I determined that I wanted my skirt to start at the 90 degree angle where the seat meets the front. That measures 11″ from the floor on my sectional, so I lightly marked all the way around with a pencil at 11″.
I made enough piping for the skirting and pinned it where I marked with a pencil earlier:
Then I sewed the piping in place:
The skirt will have “pleats” in it, so I chose to have those at the corners, and where the cushions meet.
On the back, I divided the width evenly in three on the “sofa” piece and followed the natural breaks in the sectional pieces on the back of the other cover.
I measured for my pieces and added two inches to the width of each, and added an inch and a half to the length to allow for the hem and seam where it will attach to the piping. I used a rotary cutter to make my cuts. Then I finished the bottom hem of each piece by turning up once and then again for a nice clean seam that will not fray when washed. Then I folded the sides of each piece over the same way and sewed, ironing the edges as I went:
I also created strips to go behind where the skirt panels will meet. These will help create the “pleats”. They are about 6″ wide finished, so I cut them about 8″ wide.
Here all my pieces ready to go:
I ended up marking them with post-its to remember where each piece would go.
Then I started pinning each piece to the skirt just under the piping like so:
I was over in width a bit on some pieces when I got to the corners. I just folded and pinned them like I show below. Then I unpinned those pieces and ran them through the machine. Easy fix!
After I had all the skirt panels pinned, I sewed them in place.
If you leave raw edges anywhere, they WILL fray in the wash, I promise. Now that the base cover is complete, you will want to trim all of your seams to no bigger than 1/2″. Then go back and seal your seams by setting your zigzag stitch to the widest setting, but the distance between each stitch to the narrowest without taking it to a “stretch” setting.
Your seams should look like this:
That wasn’t too bad, right?
Before you know it, you will be able to enjoying your brand new custom slip covers!
The cushions aren’t too bad at all, but they are time-consuming. I’ll be back to share the how-to for those very soon!
UPDATE: See part two here now!
I tried to be as detailed as possible, but if you have any questions at all please feel free to reach out via the Contact Me tab at the top!
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