Sofa Slipcover – bleaching

Something about the idea of sewing a couch slipcover is hugely daunting. Maybe it’s the sheer size of it or perhaps it’s the awkward shapes, but it sounds like something for the experts.

That’s totally not the case. This is actually a project I would put at beginner level. Surprising, right?!

I think the key to sewing a slipcover is to just take it one step at a time. Forget how huge it all seems and just start at the very beginning, progressing as you finish each piece. Before you know it, you’ll be done!

There are some great tutorials out there and I recommend browsing them all, before starting. Check out Annabellea, WhatTheCraft and Miss Mustard Seed.

Piping on the slipcover seemed way too fiddly for my liking, so I left that out this time round.

Cost: $70-$100 (NZ is kinda pricey. I’ve heard of people in the USA making it for under $50).

Made from heavy duty painters drop cloth (available from any hardware store eg Bunnings). I also used zips for the cushion covers and found continuous zips via Trade Me (which you cut to length and add zipper heads where needed) a cheap way to get long zips.

The great thing about the drop cloth is it’s lots of hard wearing fabric at a great price. I used 1.5 packs for my sofa.

If you’re using drop cloth, you’ll notice it’s kinda ugly. Don’t be put off, it’ll come right. Some people like it as is, but I prefer things to look a bit crisper, so I bleached it.

Due to the nature of it, the fabric won’t ever be totally white, but mine is now a pale oatmeal colour and I like it. If you do want white though, it’ll pay to buy a heavy white fabric instead.

If you’re not bleaching the fabric, make sure you still prewash it though to avoid your finished product shrinking later. That would be too heartbreaking!

To Bleach or Not to Bleach:

Here is a comparison of fabrics before (left) and after (right) bleaching. The difference is very subtle, but still lighter. It’s purely a matter of personal preference.

How To Bleach:

I started by unpicking the seams in the drop cloth (it came in 3 pieces all sewn together). Essentially just because it made handling it less cumbersome.

Place fabric in top loading washing machine (or just a large sink if you have a front loader) with warm water. Add 2 cups of bleach and let the machine mix it for a little. Leave it to sit for about 6 hours. I occassionally got the machine to swish it some more over that time, just to make sure the bleaching was even.

Drain water and fill machine/sink again. Add 1 cup of bleach and your usual amount of laundry powder. Leave it for a few hours and drain.

Then sash as usual through a full cycle with laundry powder and NO bleach this time. Some people like to add Hydrogen Peroxide to the final rinse to help neutralize the bleach. I didn’t bother.

Dry fabric. In a dryer is preferred so the fabric won’t shrink if you tumble dry it again later. I don’t use a dryer and dried it the old fashioned way … on the washing line.

Part 2 – sewing the sofa cushions

Part 3 – sewing the body of the sofa cover

8 thoughts on “Sofa Slipcover – bleaching

  1. Hi there. Nice to see someone here in NZ blogging about these things. I love Miss Mustard seeed and sewed slip covers for our couch and two chairs by following herinstructions. I’ve also done a bit of refinishing and tried out the DIY chalk paint recipes. But it is often frustrating to try to “translate” things to the kiwi scene. I look forward to seeing what else you do.

    • Hi Ruth! Sounds like you’re quite the diy-er. Good on you! I agree, it can be quite challenging to find the same items here that you see on tutorials. The prices seem a lot higher here too. How did you get on with the chalk paint? Did it work? I’ve always wondered how successful they are. Thanks for reading and commenting. I always love a good blog comment.

  2. Sorry, hit the wrong button… As I say I haven’t used real chalk paint so I can’t compare, but I quite like it. My latest experiment was painting union jacks onto stools I had covered with drop cloth. They turned out really great. Look forward to keeping up with your creative endeavours!

  3. Pingback: Slipcover Tutorial, part 2 – Cushions « Offsquare

  4. Pingback: Slipcover Tutorial, part 3 – Sofa « Offsquare


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