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Quick Fixes for Slipcover Slip-Ups

Don't let mistakes ruin your slipcover project. Fixing up foul-ups can provide you with a way to make your slipcover truly special. See if any of these quick fixes can cure what ails your project.

Getting rid of bagginess with darts

Darts are a way of tucking in excess fabric to get a cleaner, more streamlined look. They're great to apply around curves to get the smooth, rounded effect you want. Think of a tailored shirt or a fitted dress: The contours that hug the body are created with darts. The same principle applies to sofa, loveseat, and armchair slipcovers.

To tailor your slipcover with darts, follow these easy steps:

1. Turn your slipcover inside out and place it back on the piece of furniture for which it was intended.

2. Note which areas are a bit baggy, pinching the offending fabric up and away from the surface of the furniture.

3. Pin it so that the two sections of fabric come together creating a smooth surface beneath it.

To create a dart correctly, start pinning at one corner and work your way out to the other corner. Unless your darts are big and interfere with the way the slipcover smoothes out on the furniture, you don't need to cut away the excess fabric.

4. Sew your darts individually with the straight stitch setting on your sewing machine.

If you have a bit of bagginess on one side of your slipcover, chances are you have it on the other side as well, so create your darts on each side in mirror images to ensure a great fit.

Giving a too-tight slipcover some breathing room

What if you've done your best to get a perfect, snug fit but your slipcover ended up being too tight (you barely got it on, and you risk popping the seams if you sit on it)? If you planned a 1-inch seam allowance, get out your seam ripper, open up your seams, and resew them with a smaller seam allowance.

If you didn't start with a 1-inch seam allowance, don't despair. Just add some strips of fabric (one with stretch, such as Lycra, may be just the ticket) in hidden areas (under cushions, in the back area) of your slipcover to give it more wiggle room. By seeing where the fabric puckers — usually around the area where two seams meet — when you place it on your furniture, you can figure out where you need to add some give and how much you need. After that, follow these steps:

1. Draw a straight line along the seam with some chalk.

Doing so helps you find the stressed area when you remove the slipcover from your furniture.

2. Open up your seam.

3. Sew your strips in with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Covering a crooked hem with fringe

After you fit your slipcover on your furniture, you may notice that your hem isn't completely straight. Please refrain from running out of the room screaming and pulling your hair out. Instead of starting over, consider adding a decorative trim to disguise a crooked hem. Choose a trim that will give you adequate coverage — a fringe trim does the trick — so your mistake is fully covered.

Pin your trim onto your slipcover while it's still on the furniture, making sure that the trim is parallel with the floor, not aligned with the slipcover hem (which is crooked!). Try not to stretch the trim too tightly. Then remove it and sew or hot glue your trim in place.

Reaching the floor with ruffles

Ruffles can extend a too-short slipcover hem, giving added length to a slipcover while providing a softening, feminine touch.

You can choose from a few ways when treating the bottom of a slipcover with ruffles:

  • The easiest way to attach a ruffle is to sew it on to the hem's underside with a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.
    For a cleaner look, place the right side of the ruffle against the right side of the slipcover, aligning the top of the ruffle with the bottom of the slipcover, and then use a 1/2-inch seam allowance to sew them together. When finished, fold the ruffle down and press the area where it attaches to the slipcover.
  • You can also attach the ruffle to the topside of the slipcover — the right side of the slipcover facing the wrong side of the ruffle and then add a decorative trim (one without a skirt) over the area where the slipcover fabric and ruffle meet.
    You can topstitch the ruffle on with your sewing machine, and then use a glue stick to keep your trim in place. Hand stitch or machine stitch your trim permanently in place; the type of trim you choose determines if you can run it through your machine.
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