OLD-FASHIONED SLIPCOVERS BRING NEW LIFE TO THAT FAVORITE SOFA

Published: Thursday, Nov. 21 1996 12:00 a.m. MST

Some say that slipcovers are the greatest invention since sliced bread. When the fabric on a sofa wears to the point of embarrassment, but the piece is just too comfortable or nostalgic to get rid of, try the old-fashioned slipcover. Those cozy, comfy, even frumpy-looking things might be the best solution to an otherwise hugely expensive redo.

There are two ways to approach this chore: Buy a ready-made slipcover, which can look good but many times doesn't fit right, or have it made to fit.Having it made to fit isn't all that difficult. Here are some guidelines:

- Measure the piece of furniture to be covered:

That means end-to-end, back to front, bottom to top. Note the number of cushions and the size of each. Though an upholsterer will need to measure in person for cut sizes, etc., this first step will allow her or him to estimate the number of yards needed. This way, shopping for the right fabric can be a start. A sofa will take from 20 to 25 yards, and a loveseat will take 15 to 18 yards. Slipcovers always use more fabric than tight-fitting upholstery.

- Shop for the right fabric:

It is always a good idea to select a machine washable fabric, since the slipcovers come off easily for cleaning. It is wise to wash the fabric before having it made into slipcovers, in case there is any shrinkage. Also, washing will give it a more comfortable feel. If the idea of a washable fabric is too casual, and a more formal look is desired, find a dry-cleanable fabric. This type of fabric will give more of an upholstered look, as it will be more tailored in appearance.

Piping or ruffles can be part of this made-to-order slipcover. As a matter of fact, either or both will make a big difference in whether the cover looks store-bought or custom made. Ask the upholsterer to overlap and resew all corners and joints for durability.

- Making arrangements:

At this point the upholsterer will either pick the furniture up, make the covers and deliver the finished product upon completion, or he or she will measure on-site and make the slipcovers from those measurements without having to take the furniture out.

If being without the furniture for a few days or maybe a few weeks is inconvenient, searching for an upholsterer that can do the job without the furniture might be wise.

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