Why I LOVE Living with White Slipcovers
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Today I am going to answer one of the most frequently asked questions I receive here on my blog… How hard is it to clean and live with white slipcovers?
I covered my 16 year old navy sofa about 5 years ago with a white Pottery Barn throw-over/ loose fit style slipcover that I bought on a discount website that sold Pottery Barn rejects for $29. I want to stress that it is not a custom made fitted slipcover with piping and zippers. I did however, using my own style, make it custom to fit my needs.
I made separate cushion covers myself using a white quilt to make the throw-over/loose style slipcover look more like this…
… a down filled Comfort Sofa from Pottery Barn. It is a slipcovered sofa with separate cushion covers complete with zippers.
My throw-over/loose style cover would look messy all the time if I hadn’t made separate covers for the cushions to help hold the loose cover in place.
Not only do I love the look of this PB Comfort sofa (above), but it is amazingly comfortable and I didn’t know just how much until I had the pleasure to sit on one.
My 16 year old sofa is comfy and I am totally content with it since it is well-made and still in good shape.
My reason for covering it was I was tired of living with the color. I know navy is a trending color now, but you know how it is sometimes, you just get tired of things and need a refresh from time to time. It also show signs of wear along some sections of the cording on the cushions.
A slipcover was the budget friendly answer for me to get the look I wanted, especially since Ed had lost his job at the time I wanted to get a new sofa. Covering it was the best option I had. I ended up loving it so much, that if I ever do buy a new sofa, it will be a slipcovered one and here is why.
- Having a white slipcover gives me a lot of options in the colors I use to decorate. It allows me to use any color scheme in the room I want. Need a color change for the seasons? It is very easy to do when you have white or neutral seating.
- The white slipcovers keep my decor looking casual and easy going.
- A slipcover is easy to clean, truly it is. I simply remove it and the cushion covers and throw them in the washer with Oxy clean detergent and warm water. I clean the slipcover itself about every 6 months. If something gets spilled, it is usually on one of the seat cushions that I simply remove and wash. The cushions get washed more frequently for this reason.
- To keep wrinkles at bay, I only dry the covers half way in the dryer and but them back on the sofa when they are damp. I use my hand to smooth the fabric and then let it dry. No wrinkles :-)
- I spot-clean the arms when needed using spray-on spot removers and a damp rag. I have used many different brands, all have worked.
- If I see dust on the back and arms between washings, I simply use the furniture attachment on my vacuum to remove it.
The hardest part of covering a sofa with a slipcover is when the cover is new and it is the first time you are putting it on. Once you figure it out and get the hang of it, the process gets easier every time.
How to Put a Slipcover Back on a Sofa the Fast and Easy Way
After washing and only drying half way so the fabric is damp, I have a TIP that I use to help make putting the slipcover back on the sofa fast and EASY.
- I attach 2 safety pins to the front arms of the cover before I wash it. After it comes out of the dryer, I simply find these pins to guide me on placing the cover back on correctly. Works every time!
Once it is back on the sofa, I smooth the fabric with my hands and tuck in all the extra fabric into the crevices. I use the ties to gather and secure the fabric in front of each arm. There is a lot of extra fabric since I don’t cover the entire sofa and cushions the way a throw-over/loose style slipcover is intended. I only cover the sofa frame/body.
Once I have the cover on, I add the cushions. I left this cushion uncovered so you can see how I place the cushions over top of the throw-over/loose style cover.
I do everything the easy way…at least for me. If you are a skilled and patient sewer, then making cushion covers the traditional way is probably a breeze for you. :-)
My days of working in retail display taught me that what you don’t see can easily be faked. The cushion covers are sewn, but instead of making complete box cushions with zippers, I made a half-box cover and added ribbon to tie the covers on to each bottom cushion.
Since making the initial covers using fabric from a white quilt, I have made new bottom cushion covers using white canvas to replace the quilted ones I made first. The quilt stitching didn’t hold up over the years. Canvas or twill is much sturdier.
The back pillows are covered with simple pillow covers and are still covered with fabric from a white quilt. They don’t get sat on and look just as nice as the day I first made them.
You can find the tutorials on how to make both of these here:
How to Cover a Cushion the Easy Way
How to Make a Pillow Cover Without Using a Pattern
The ties at the front are long enough to be tied into a bow, but I just tie into a knot. This photo just shows the beginning of how I tie into a pretty knot and then let the excess hang down in front of the folds.
If needed, to keep the fabric where you want it, you can use TWIST PINS.
To use them, you simply gather the fabric where you want it and push and then twist the pin into the sofa. The twist pin will hold the fabric in place until you untwist.
For more tips and tricks on getting loose fitting slipcovers to stay in place, check out the post I wrote when I first added the slipcover to my sofa. You can find it here: How to Cover a Chair or Sofa with a Loose Fit Slipcover
Here is a short time-lapse sequence showing how I add the cushions after the throw-over/loose style slipcover is on the sofa.
Maybe when I have some extra cash I will buy the PB Comfort sofa since the price has come down quite a bit, but for now I am quite content with my semi-homemade slipcovered sofa. What is more important for me now though is what I see when I am sitting on the sofa….
…. even on a rainy day… I am so happy and content sitting on my semi-homemade white slipcovered sofa and gazing out at the lake. In fact I am sitting on it as I write this post. :-)
The online store where I bought my throw-over/loose style white slipcover is still in business, it is called UglySofa.com, but I must warn you that many customers have said they didn’t get what they ordered and did not like the customer service. I never had a problem dealing with them, in fact the owner did a search for me to find a white-white cover for me. It is a second and was missing one tie, but for $29, I didn’t mind having to add it myself. I guess I am one of their happy customers.
You can purchase twist pins here: Twist Pins
If you have any questions about the white slipcovers that I did not cover in the post, please ask them in the comments.
I love the white color at most yet, i have always been afraid having white furnitures. I always thought how can i make it clean, furthermore i have lots of visitor, it makes the situation harder than it is. When i saw your post, it definitely attracted me i really like what you have written. I will try these kinds of tricks.
Thank you for sharing :))
Hi Ev – Years ago before I first had a white slipcover I used to think the same, that I would be washing it constantly. But even with kids, a dog and a cat, I didn’t need to clean it that much. The nice thing was that if one cushion gets a spill on it, all I have to wash is the one cushion cover, not the whole slipcover. :-)
I have a sectional. Its beige but not the beige I would really like. I am thinking of having someone make slipcovers but have no idea of the cost. Have ever priced this?
Hi Diane, I was looking at your sofa slipcover and you mentioned ugly sofa.com. This place is just what I’ve been looking for. Maybe you could explain the Brand x to me, would that mean Pottery Barn? I am looking for a large chair and ottoman slipcover but don’t know which,one of the versions to pick. Ex. Grand armchair etc. Rhanks for your help. Beth
Hi Beth – My slipcovers from Ugly Sofa are from Pottery Barn. The label is still on them, but magic marker it drawn though it. At the time I bought them, they were called the sofa cover and the love seat cover. Do they still carry these?
Love the pillows you used to finish off your ‘new’ sofa. Souce please. Thanks!
Hi Irina – The orange and fuschia pillows on my sofa are from World Market. The leopard is a pillow I made. Here are the links:
World Market: http://rstyle.me/n/by3u7sxuaw
Jamil Leopard Fabric I used to make a pillow cover: http://lsfabrics.com/fabric/jamil-2
Tutorial on how to make a pillow cover: https://inmyownstyle.com/2012/09/how-to-make-a-pillow-cover-without-using-a-sewing-pattern.html
White slipcovers can drastically brighten up your space as well as preserve the original fabric on the couch. The slipcovers are also a great way to hide the fabric if it is already in poor condition. It’s an easy way to change the look of the room, too.
I couldn’t even get through #1 without freaking – so no white slipcovers for me. My daughter-in-law has had them for almost 10 years (ok just off white) and she has managed to get through the toddler years with 2 boys and a dog. I don’t know how often she washes them, but they still look great. She is one of those people who can take care of special things. I’m not, so I’ll leave it to her to stay on trend.
OMG. Thanks for showing the underside of your cushions! I would never have thought of that but now that I see it, slipcovers are a possibility I would never have considered before. I had slipcovers professionally made, and it was almost as expensive as a new sofa. Looks great.
Diane, I am so impressed that you can accomplish anything with sure a beautiful view out your back door. What simple covers for people that don’t own a sewing machine. I tried slipcovers but, our dogs thought it was a challenge to take the covers off to get a treat. Now I just wash my cushion covers in cold water and hang to dry. I use a dehumidifier to speed up drying time. You have made such a difference to your house and I always enjoy what you are making or updating.
Excellent – and the uglysofa.com is just like you said, now I wish I had a sofa for those slipcovers! As for those little twirly pins, I bought some about 13 years ago, in case I might need them. Still have them in their little box, but someday!!! You sure know how to make things work well – I’d have sworn your sofa was new, with state-of-the-art slipcovers!
Glad you are enjoying your beautiful view!
Oh Diane, I have those exact slipcovers from the same place. I bought mine about 3 years ago, but I fight with the pillow covers. I have long thought of trying to make cushion covers for the same exact reasons, I’ve been too lazy though. I have two, one for my loveseat and one for my huge couch. I find that I can’t get the body of the slipcover into my home machine comfortably so I do take it to the laundromat. My only big issue is both of my little dogs use the couch and the loveseat to “rub” and scratch their backs on and the covers get gross pretty quickly and while it’s “easy” to take the covers off and wash them it’s not something I want to do once a month. Now I’m encouraged to try and make some cushion covers!!
Thanks for the blog on your slipcovers with resources. As always I get such inspiration from you!
I had white denim custom slip covers made for my couch and loveseat about 12 years ago. They still look brand new! So easy to throw in the wash and then put back on. Changing pillow colors is a snap. Love them!
Thanks for this great description and visual – most helpful. I was wondering about what you do with excess fabric at the back – i know since your sofa is against the wall that it probably doesn’t matter and is hidden, but have u any ideas how to tidy up the fabric at the back when the sofa is not against a wall and can be hidden
Hi Jane – In my previous house, the sofa was in the middle of the room so you could see the some of the back. I had dresser along the back. You can se a little bit of it 2 photo in this post: https://inmyownstyle.com/2015/05/summer-tour-of-homes-2015.html
To get the back of the cover to look as nice as the front, you do the same thing as you do to the front. Once you get the cover centered on the sofa, pull the fabric up in the front so the fabric just skirts the floor all along the front edge, tuck the excess up onto the seat and then pull to each side to gather extra fabric in front of each arm. For the back, line up the bottom edge of the fabric along the floor so it skirts it and pull the excess up and over the back of sofa and down into the seat. Smooth the fabric on the back and on the front with your hands to smooth. Then tuck excess up and into the crevices between the back and the arms. Depending on the style of your sofa, you may have to pleat the fabric to get it to lay nicely at the corners. There is a tie on each back and front corner, gathering the fabric at each will help keep the back and front looking neat.
I hope this helps.
I think what I love the most about your blog and posts is your willingness to show us your *warts* such as the fact you’ve had your sofa 15 years, frayed edges, couldn’t really afford a new one as Ed has lost his job. Makes you seem like our next door neighbor. ..albeit the one with a bit more talent and vision. Thank you.
I concur about white or nearly white slipcovers Diane :-) I have made some ‘faux’ slipcovers and having 3 dogs, they look as good as new because they can easily be removed and laundered when needed. My version of a home-made slipcover just covers the seat cushions and the back. The arms (with their original fabric which is oyster colored…quite light in color) are protected from the ‘dog wear’ by throws which can I switch out for the seasons and are also washable. :-)
I also agree that canvas duck or twill are great! And yup, those upholstery spirals are fabulous to keep things in place.