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Cheat Sheet

Window Treatments and Slipcovers For Dummies

From Window Treatments and Slipcovers For Dummies by Mark Montano, Carly Sommerstein

Before sewing up some new slipcovers or window treatments, make sure your sewing kit is well-stocked with the necessary items, and follow some shopping tips to get the best fabric for your project. Use a handy table to help you figure out how many yards of fabric you'll need for a slipcover or window treatment.

Sewing Kit Essentials for Window Treatments and Slipcovers

Having a well-stocked sewing kit makes your slipcover or window treatment project go smoothly. Regardless of the degree of difficulty for your project, stock your sewing kit with the following tools so you're prepared:

  • Butcher paper or pattern paper

  • Cloth tape measure

  • Colored pencils

  • Dressmaker's shears (for cutting fabric only)

  • Extra long straight pins

  • Hand-sewing needles

  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks

  • Iron-on adhesive tape such as Stitch Witchery

  • Retractable metal tape measure

  • Regular scissors (for trimming threads and cutting paper)

  • Ruler or L-square

  • Seam ripper

  • Sewing machine needles

  • Tailor's chalk

  • 2-inch safety pins

Fabric Store Shopping Tips

Shopping for fabric can be a bewildering experience if you're not prepared. Whether you're sewing window treatments, slipcovers, or bedding, a fabric store can help you devise your decorating plan. Be sure to browse the store first to gain a sense of the quality and variety of the goods. When you're ready to buy, use these shopping tips for purchasing the right fabric for the right price:

  • Some discount stores or wholesale fabric retailers "do better" on the price if you're buying in bulk. If you're buying a lot of fabric for a project, first ask for the price per yard. After the sales clerk tells you, ask again, saying, "What if I buy 10 yards?" You almost always get a better price!

  • When buying more than a yard or two of fabric, ask the vendor to unroll the whole bolt so you can check for fabric flaws. If you're paying a special "by the bolt" price, roll out and measure the entire bolt to be sure that the bolt really has enough on it for your projects; bolt bulk can be deceiving.

  • Test your fabric's quality. Pull a bit of the fabric at the end where it was previously cut to see if it unravels easily. If it does, don't buy it!

  • Create a "color notebook" with your room components and bring it with you to the store. Add swatches of fabrics and trims that exist in the room, some paint swatches from your walls, a picture of the furniture you plan to treat, and a photo of the room you're decorating. Record your furniture's and window's dimensions in the book. This notebook lets you visualize everything, and you can quickly refer to it with salespeople.

  • Consult the bolt or cylinder tag for all the information you need to know about the fabric you're considering. This tag includes the price per yard, fiber content, care instructions, fabric width, and the company name that made the fabric.

  • If you're unsure of a fabric's color, texture, or design suitability, ask the vendor to cut you a swatch to take home, so you can test it "on-site." Staple each swatch to a page of your color notebook and add the business card of the store where you bought it, along with the price per yard, so you know how much it is and where to buy it for future reference.

  • Always keep a measuring tape with you so you can double-check width. Some fabric may be missing its bolt tag, and bolt tags have been known to lie.

  • Don't be afraid to ask questions and spend as much time as you need to make the right choice for your project. Fabric shopping is meant to be enjoyable, so look at, touch, and even smell the fabrics, and, of course, have fun!

Finding Yardage Needs by Fabric Width

To determine your yardage needs for a window treatment or slipcover, measure your furniture or window first. Use this table to easily convert your yardage needs from one width to another. Most decorator fabrics are 60 inches wide, which is why that column is shaded in the table below, so start your calculations based on 60-inch wide fabric. If you need 2 yards of 60-inch fabric but the fabric you love is 45 inches wide, just slide your finger from the 60-inch column to the 45-inch column; you need 2-3/4 yards for the same coverage.

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