So you’ve got a perfectly comfortable, functional couch… it just looks like hell. With a custom made slipcover, no one will know what evil is lurking underneath all that handmade awesomeness!
We scored a couch, loveseat, and chair set at a secondhand furniture store when we first moved in. The upside is that it’s the most comfortable couch I’ve ever had the pleasure of napping on. The downside is that the couch takes quite a beating, especially from our two cats. It also doesn’t help that we’re total movie and tv junkies, so we spend a lot of time EATING on it. So even though it was in Like New condition when we bought it, five years later… not so much.
I’d been thinking about slipcovering it for a while, and once Spring Fever hit me, I decided now was the time to do it.
I decided on the fabric first. Actually, I decided on the fabric, and then I started doing rough estimates of cost and started asking myself if it was worth it. I even decided I wouldn’t make my own. I started looking at some of the “cheap” slipcover options (meaning not custom made and under $200, which was my estimated fabric budget). I liked none and all had mediocre-to-bad reviews, so I made the final decision that DIY was the way to go.
I saw a commercial a few years ago that featured two women sitting on a couch that was covered or slipcovered in a sort of crazy quilt type patchwork. I fell in love. I was initially going to cover each surface with a different print (left side plaid, right side polka dot, one cushion in damask, another cushion in stripe), but after doing a few sketches I decided to scale it back. It was looking busier than I wanted, and would have required more extra fabric/expense to do it that way. I decided I’d do the base of the couch in one fabric, the cushions in another, and the back pillows in a third fabric.
To choose my fabric, I did a few sketches on the computer, inserting various Home Dec fabrics I found online, until I found the ones I liked. After I sketched it out, I decided to also do the backs of the pillows in a different fabric.
As promised, the very first WhatTheCraft video tutorial is here!
Check it out for step by step instructions for making a square bottom bag.
And while you’re at it, go subscribe to my YouTube channel! There are lots more tutorials to come (including applique, inserting snaps, and t-shirt collars)!
Lots of people ask about making different sized bags. Here are a few sizes to use as guides, but you can of course make a bag of any size with this tutorial.
(Click for larger image.)
Remember, these are guides only! If you want to try a different size, I’d suggest making a paper pattern first. That way, you can fold up the gusset and get a better feeling for what the bag size will be like when it’s completed.
I will preface this post with the admission that I really am a dummy when it comes to photography. I don’t know many technical terms, I’ve never taken a class… I’ve learned it all through trial and error.
There are a few key components that you’ll need, but aside from the camera, they’re not too expensive (and in some cases, free), so don’t fret, my pet.
What you need:
a camera – Your phone doesn’t count.
light – Natural daylight is the best!
a tripod – I guess if your phone can go on a tripod and takes decent pictures, I’ll let you slide…
a backdrop – I use a cheapo bed sheet. It’s not the prettiest or most professional, but it works.
a remote for your camera – If you’re the model and photographer, this will make your life a million times easier. I got mine from Amazon.
additional lighting – The more “daylight-like”, the better. See the bottom of this post for a link to a great tutorial for lighting on the cheap.
If you’re using a standard sewing machine and trying to reconstruct t-shirts or sewing on knit fabrics, you’ll want to use a zig-zag or stretch stitch. The zig-zag allows the stitch to stretch with the fabric, so it doesn’t break when you try to get your newly reconstructed t-shirt on or off.
If you plan to be sewing a lot with stretch and knit fabrics, you might want to consider investing in a serger (sometimes called an overlock machine).
A serger is a special sewing machine that uses 3, 4, or 5 threads. It trims off the seam allowance and sews “around” the seam, locking the edges to prevent rolling and fraying.
Sergers are very well suited to sewing stretch fabrics because it’s stitch allows for a significant amount of stretch without breaking- more than even a zig-zag stitch.
Sergers aren’t cheap, but there are some decent inexpensive models on the market. One I can personally vouch for is the Brother 1034D.
You still might wind up being stuck sans serger for a while, so if you can’t resist the urge to sew with knits and other stretch fabrics in the meantime, here are a few more tips if your sewing machine tends to go Cookie Monster on your fabric:
- If the sewing machine sucks the fabric into the machine or forms a big wad of thread on the underside when you first start sewing, try sliding the edge of the fabric about an inch or so past the foot when you first start sewing. You can also try wrapping a piece of tape or tissue paper around the edge of the fabric to add extra stability. It may also help to sew the first few stitches by turning the wheel by hand manually.
- Make sure you’re using a ball point needle for knits. Standard sewing machine needles are made for woven fabric and can snag the fibers of knit fabric. Some machines are very temperamental about this. Others are not.
- You can try an overlock attachment, but I have no experience with them. From what I’m told by those that have, it is NOT really anything like using an overlock/serger machine, it merely makes stitches that look like it.