How To Get The Perfect Fit With Custom Slipcovers

Everyone's heard these new words added to the vernacular since the economy took a hit: Budgetista and recessionista. Simply defined, the words describe a person who enjoys fashionable styles but achieves the look on a budget.

While most people wouldn't dream of purchasing all new furniture right now, they can all learn the skills of a recessionista. The easiest way to revamp a room on a budget is by recovering your furniture with new slipcovers.

Purchasing a slipcover is a bit like purchasing a swimsuit cover. It's usually one size fits all and makes every piece of furniture look sloppy. The best option for buying slipcovers on a budget is to find a company that makes made-to-order custom slipcovers in the exact measurements of your furniture. Custom slipcovers give a tailored appearance to chairs, loveseats, sofas, ottomans, dining chairs and pillows.

Before you start measuring your furniture make sure and grab a pencil, paper and a flexible fabric measuring tape.

How To Measure A Sofa Or Chair For Custom Slipcovers

The first step in measuring a sofa or chair with arms is to determine two things: The style of the cushions and the style of the back. Learn how to order custom slipcovers.

Seat cushions on chairs, sofas and loveseats are usually either square or t-shaped. A t-cushion slipcover wraps around the front of the seat, making the shape of a 'T' when viewed from above. A square shaped cushion fits evenly within the frame of the seat, looking like a perfect square or rectangle.

The back style of furniture is very important to establish before taking measurements. Before measuring the piece of furniture, it's important to remove back cushions if they are removable. There are four basic styles that are common in custom slipcovers. In this article we will talk about furniture with square seat cushions:

1. Square Low Back: This style of chair or sofa has removable back cushions. From the side, the back looks like a pyramid or square shape. This type has a straight upholstered back rising above the armrests. The height difference between the armrest and the back is less than 10 inches. If there is more than a 10-inch difference, then the style is a Square High Back. This type of furniture typically has a very deep seat depth because of the removable back cushions.

2. High Back: Seat cushions on this type are removable and arms are either square or round. The difference between this style and the Square Low Back is that the space between the arms and the top of the back is usually more than 13 inches. High back furniture usually does not have removable back cushions, but if it does have removable back cushions, you'll need to remove them before measuring and order separate cushion covers as well.

3. Tuxedo Back:This piece of furniture features the same height of arm and back or a difference of less than one and a half inches. Tuxedo Back furniture usually has removable back cushions that can have cushion covers ordered to exact specifications

4. Round Back: See measuring guide below. This sofa or chair is easily distinguished by looking at it straight on. It has a rounded, fully upholstered back and no back cushions. The back rises above the armrest no more than nine inches.

A. Seat length: the total length of the seat between the arms, tip to tip, at the widest point.

B. Seat height: the thickness/height of the seat cushion.

C. Couch length: Measure base of front, left to right, 4 inches below seat cushion. C1: Arm to arm - Measure distance outside the arms at widest point.

D. Couch Depth: Measure side depth of furniture at the bottom (at seat cushion level). D1: Arm Depth - Measure Arm depth, from tip of the arm to the back of furniture.

E. Skirt Width: Measure from underneath of seat cushion down to the floor (in center of furniture).

F. Back Overlay: Remove seat cushion, measure from seat cushion base over the back and down to floor in the center of furniture.

G. Arm Width: Measure the top of the arm at the widest point. G1: Arm Width: Measure the bottom width of arm at the lowest point.

H. Arm Height: Measure from tip of arm down to cushion base.

I. Seat Depth: Measure depth of seat cushion. (If you are buying optional separate seat cushion covers, remove seat cushions and measure depth of furniture base.)

J. Back Height: Remove seat cushion. For accurate measurement: Push furniture against the wall and measure from wall, down to furniture base.

K. Select arm shape.

L. Length of Back: Measure from floor to top at the edge.

O. Measure thickness of back (at arm level)

P. Skirt Width: Measure from underneath of seat cushion down to the floor. (Same as dimension E)

Q. Height: Measure height of arm (front of furniture).

R. Arm Width: Bottom of arm. Measure at lowest point. (Same as dimension G1)

S. Width: Back of furniture: Measure back width left to right. Usually there are visible seams at that point.

T. Width: Measure width at the widest point in a back. (At arm level)

U. Height: Measure height of the back in center of furniture.

V. Height: Measure height of arm (back of furniture)

Measure Armless Furniture And Ottomans For Slipcovers

Most armless slipcovers are made from one piece that drapes the entire piece with a straight skirt and a center kick pleat.

Armless chairs require fewer measurements. The basic measurements you’ll need to take before ordering a custom slipcover for an armless chair, sofa or loveseat include:

A:   Total length of the seat left to right tip-to-tip at widest point.

B:   Back depth: Measure maximum thickness of back cushion at the top.

C:   Top length: Total length of the back at the top at widest point.

D:   Base depth: The distance from the back to the front of the couch at widest point.

E:   Skirt width: The distance from the top to the floor.

F:   Seat depth: The distance from to the back of the seat at the widest point.

G:   Back height: Maximum back height from top to bottom at the highest point.

H:   Back depth: The maximum thickness of back cushion at the bottom of the back.

I:    Back height: At the highest point. (Usually in a center of the chair or sofa)

J:    Base height: Distance from floor to where the seat and back meet.

K:   Back length: Length of the back left to right tip-to-tip at widest point.

If the piece of furniture that you’ve chosen to slipcover has an ottoman, you’ll need to make sure and order a custom fitted slipcover for it as well in either matching or contrasting yet coordinating fabric. Square, rectangular, oval and round ottomans can easily be slipcovered if you know three basic measurements including:

A:   Length of the ottoman

B:   Width of the ottoman

C:   Height of the ottoman

Measuring Dining Chairs For Slipcovers

Last but not least, dining chairs can be infused with new life by adding custom slipcovers. Adding fabric slipcovers can soften wood chairs. Fitted slipcovers can be made to fit Ladder back, Parsons, Queen Anne, Colonial, Chippendale and most other styles of chairs with straight, curved, round or square, wooden or upholstered back up to 45 inches.

Most dining chair covers feature a straight skirt with a split kick pleat in the center of the chair and two ties in the back. Chair covers can be ordered with short skirts for a casual dining look or a long skirt for formal dining chairs.

The basic measurements for dining chairs include front and back width, seat height (skirt length), seat depth, total overall height, distance from seat to top of chair back, chair back width at the top, and the thickness or depth of chair back.

Chair slipcovers can be ordered for dining chairs with arms and will require additional measurements to take into account arm height, width, distance apart and depth.

Putting A Slipcover On For The First Time

Custom slipcovers offer a snug fit in order to get a tailored look. Following the manufacturer’s directions for putting the slipcover on will ensure that the fabric or seams don’t get ripped. There’s usually only one way to put a slipcover on a piece of furniture so it’s important to read the instructions and have patience. Some slipcover manufacturers make custom slipcovers with a back zipper for a tight fit while others use Velcro, pleats or other fasteners to ensure a perfect fit.

After you’ve measured your furniture, now comes the fun part: Choosing fabrics and colors for the slipcover. One of the best features of ordering slipcovers is that you can change the look of a room anytime by adding a slipcover. If you prefer dark colors in the winter months and lighter colors for spring and summer, slipcovers are the perfect way to modify the look of a room on a budget.

Even if you are on a very tight budget, you can still update the look of furniture by ordering a custom pillow cover to redo pillows for any chair or sofa. It’s as easy as choosing a contrasting print or solid and measuring your pillows. Within a matter of days, you’ll have custom pillow covers that transform the whole look of the room.

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Comments 4 comments

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heymcs 6 years ago from Utah and DC

I am so glad to have found your hub before purchasing slipcovers for our couch. I will definitely go with custom covers now. Your tips and how to measurement instructions are invaluable - I never even knew I had a high back sofa! Thanks.


Shelby 6 years ago

Thanks for posting this Hub! I have been thinking about getting slipcovers for some time -- it looks like custom is definitely the best way to go.


Janet 6 years ago

I am so excited to find out that custom slipcovers are affordable. Now I may be able to update my old couch!


Pam M. 6 years ago

Great info! The measuring diagrams really help a lot. I always thought custom slipcovers were out of my price range, but it looks like they are actually pretty affordable.

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