Ideas for Decorating Slipcovers - dummies

By Mark Montano, Carly Sommerstein

Deciding what kind of trim you want to add to your slipcover project is mostly a matter of taste. For example, if you like an ornate look, consider using a jasmine, which is a trim that features a cut fringe skirt interspersed with tiny tassels; a bullion fringe, which resembles the epaulettes of military uniforms; or even a moulinee trim, which features multicolored tassels. For a simpler feel, try a flat trim, such as a grosgrain ribbon, which has a ribbed texture and is easy to work with because it doesn’t snag; or a picot-edge trim, which is a type of ribbon that features a rounded decorative edging.

When shopping for trim for your slipcover, remember these important points:

  • Keep in mind the scale of the slipcover fabric to which you’re attaching the trim and the proportion of the furniture you’re covering: If you’ve chosen a floral-patterned medium-weight cotton chintz to cover your smaller loveseat, most people would find that an accessory with a small-to-medium scale is ideal — a trim with a medium-length fringe and simple style (so the trim isn’t too large for the furniture’s size and doesn’t compete with the fabric pattern).

    But say you’re adding an accessory to a sofa slipcover made from a heavyweight velvet. Why not add some beautiful cord and tassels? Most velvet is strong enough to carry the load of many accessories, both aesthetically and physically, so why not go for it if it suits your decor?

  • Be sure to buy a bit more trim than you need. As with fabrics, the dye lots for trims vary, and you don’t want to be caught short only to return to the store to find the colors don’t match or that the store no longer carries the trim.

  • Make sure that your fabric can support the trim’s weight. A heavy trim can cause your fabric to sag and pucker. You don’t want to waste time and money on a trim that you later discover ruins the look you wanted with your slipcover.

  • Consider using trims in unconventional ways. Contrasts in materials can pack a lot of design punch. Why not add an inherently opulent trim, such as a beautiful multicolored tassel fringe, to a plain but strong fabric, like cotton duck? Let your color palate unite the two disparate elements.

There are lots of types of trims and embellishments you can use on slipcovers:

  • Fringe: Fringe is a trim that is made up of two parts: headings and skirts. The headings are usually flat, woven tops or decorative braids, and the skirts are the tassels or cut yarn that form the “fringe” part that hangs down. A few two-part fringes that are popular are ball fringes, bullion fringes, and tassel fringes. Flat braid, ornate braid, and decorative ribbon have no heading, so you stitch both edges to the fabric. To add tassels to slipcovers, drape them over the furniture corners (you can use a chair tie, which has ready-made tassels on a length of matching cord, or stitch a complimentary corded rope trim to your tassel to add length) or attach them to the corners of pillows.

  • Appliqués: Crafts and fabric stores stock some beautiful beaded and sequined appliqués that pack a style punch for not that much money. Ornate or low-key, appliqués add tons of individuality and wonderful texture to any piece of slipcovered furniture.

    Apply as many of them anywhere you want, following the scale principle: For a small piece of furniture, let your appliqués be of a smaller scale; for a larger slipcover, your appliqués can become proportionately larger.

  • Embroidery: Consider adding a bit of embroidery to your slipcover. A lot or a little, embroidery adds a unique charm wherever it’s applied. Some modern sewing machines come with an embroidery function built in, and if yours has one, you probably have friends begging you to try it on their own creations. Some of the newer ones are programmable and can do truly amazing design work.

  • Stencils: Creating a motif on your slipcover fabric with stencils and special fabric paint. Some fun ideas include pastel bunnies, chicks, and flowers for a child’s room; metallic fleur-de-lis, stars, moons, and suns for a more formal room; and vegetables and fruits for a kitchen.