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How to Make Sure You Get Enough Fabric for a Slipcover

One of the most important parts of planning your slipcover project is measuring your furniture correctly. You need to understand the different parts of your slipcover and how they come together to make your slipcover properly, and measuring them is the beginning step in that understanding.

You also need to know how to determine how much fabric you need. Calculating your fabric needs informs your fabric choice in two ways: available quantity and price. Finding the right fabric in the right amount and within a budget you can live with are both crucial steps.

Making correct measurements for slipcovers can be tricky because slipcovers need so much fabric. The following list offers a few general tips to help you:

  • Always allow for extra yardage, just in case you need it. Cutting off an extra 1/2 or 3/4 yard of fabric is easier than having to go back to the fabric store, locate your bolt, and buy more.

  • When measuring unusually shaped furniture, measure at the largest dimension both vertically and horizontally. If you have a sofa that is wider on top than at the bottom, measuring along the widest part can ensure you have adequate coverage. Be sure to add in your 1/2-inch seam allowance on each edge (or 1 inch, if you prefer), and for “bottom” pieces of your furniture that will be hemmed, be sure to add a 1- to 1-1/2-inch allowance so you have plenty of fabric to construct your hem.

    Always use a soft, cloth tape measure so you can correctly gauge the wraparound sections of your furniture, and to tuck into your sofa’s or chair’s crevices for tuck-ins, if necessary. A metal tape measure doesn’t account for the “give” you need for slipcovers.

When measuring your furniture, follow these easy steps:

  1. Move your piece of furniture to a place in the room where you have total clearance on all sides, which helps get accurate measurements.

    To create your future slipcover, get to know your furniture a bit better. Make a sketch of each piece of furniture you plan to cover from different viewpoints. Doing so helps you keep track of measurements and gives you a context that makes understanding how the pieces fit together a whole lot easier. If you’re artistically disinclined, use your camera.

  2. Measure your piece of furniture by placing your tape measure at the front on the floor.

    Measure from the floor, up and over the seat, up the back, and over and down the back to the floor again. Doing so determines the length. You’ll be multiplying this figure by the number of fabric widths you need.

  3. Starting at the widest part of the furniture, measure from the right side on the floor up, over the armrests and down to the seat, then over the seat to the opposite armrest, up and over, then and back down to the floor on the right side, and divide this measurement by the width of fabric you’re using.

    For example, if your furniture width is 90 inches and you’re using 45-inch-wide fabric, then you need two widths.

  4. Multiply the number of widths needed by your length measurement.

    Suppose your length is 140 inches, so 140 inches multiplied by 2 is 280.

  5. Divide that figure by 36 (because 1 yard equals 36 inches), and this is your basic yardage.

    Add in an extra 2 yards to be on the safe side.

    So, 280 divided by 36 is 7.7 (round up to 8) + 2 = 10 yards of 45-inch wide fabric.

Many people push their sofas, loveseats, and chairs against walls. When measuring your piece of furniture, be sure to move it away from the wall and measure the outside back area to take into account the fabric you’ll need. This point may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times “out of sight, out of mind” has led to unfortunate trips back (no pun intended) to the fabric store.

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