A piece of furniture is usually a long-term investment, something that will stay in your home for years. A slipcover is another investment, one that can protect the upholstery of your sofa or chair from young children or pets, change the look of a piece should you eventually grow less fond of it, or make a material like leather or velvet more comfortable during the summer.
Carl Dellatore, the owner of D & F Workroom in New York City, is an expert on slipcovers, and he suggests a few things to keep in mind when choosing one. Carl says that just about anything can be slipcovered, although it is harder to make slipcovers for more rounded pieces of furniture because the covers often have darts, pleats, and other complicated structural requirements. Rectilinear furniture is much easier to cover, usually needing only a few pleats on a skirt or simple cording to better define the lines around the arms, base, and back.
When choosing the material, the most important criteria are stability, strength, and washability. Sheer, thin fabrics like silk taffeta are unsuitable for slipcovers; the pattern of the upholstery may show through, wrinkles are harder to get rid of, and the slipcovers are harder to clean. Other types of silk can be used if they are given a knit backing, which offers the thin material solid support and stabilizes the warp of the fabric. Cottons make ideal slipcovers, especially oxford cloths and canvas, because they can be cared for easily and their tight weave makes them more durable.
When Carl sews a slipcover, he begins by measuring the dimensions of the furniture, adding extra length and width for pleats, skirts, and seams; he then makes a muslin slipcover as a test model. When he's finished, he takes the muslin version apart and, using its measurements, sews the final slipcover using the customer's fabric. The primary result is that the furniture's upholstery is better protected, and the slipcover may even change the appearance of an entire room.