Furniture, like people, should change dress with the seasons
F. L. DEN. SCOTT
ONE of the least expensive and most effective ways of changing the appearance and feeling of a room is by means of slip covers. This is particularly true as the seasons change. Chairs and couches which seem the height of comfort in winter when upholstered in velvet or damask or velours, impart an air of heaviness and even dustiness in the spring. Similarly, in winter the comfortable wicker or rattan armchairs which were so pleasing in summer, require an added dignity when clothed in well tailored slip covers.
It is generally thought that only a few fabrics are suitable for slip covers—cretonne, chintz or shadow cloth, linen, taffeta or rayon novelty weaves. There are other materials, however, which make up well—gingham and chambray and unbleached muslin and calico in the cheaper fabrics; mohair, homespun, antique satins, basket weaves, moires, and heavy silks of various kinds in the more expensive types. Denim, of course, is a good old standby, as well as poplin. The primary requisite is that the material shall be strong enough to wear well and not too stiff to fall into pleats.
Before slip-covering the furniture, it is well to see that the pieces are in good condition. Turn the chairs and chesterfield upside down and see if the webbing is securely fastened and the springs still firmly in place. Examine the upholstering closely for traces of moths or insects. It is very easy for furniture which is completely covered to wear badly, often causing the slip covers to fit too loosely.
Whether the slip covers are made by a professional or by the 'family seamstress, the first consideration is pattern.
Large, bold designs are more suitable for large rooms, and generally require more material in order to centre the motif, while the small, all-over pattern is pleasing to the eye and can be used in almost any setting. If variety is needed and the number of gaily patterned objects in the room preclude the use of figured covers, a plain material may be used, bound in a contrasting color. The two colors may be reversed on the different pieces. One chair may be covered in green linen piped in tomato red, while two small chairs may have the tomato piped with green.
Material and Measurements
"COR a harmonious effect and to avoid monotony, the general practice is to cover the chesterfield and one chair in the same material, giving another chair a harmonizing or contrasting fabric. If there are still more chairs and the room is large enough, covers in pairs are pleasing to the eye and help to balance the furnishings properly.
When shopping for slip cover material. two points should be borne in mind—that thirty-inch material, when figured, cuts to better advantage than fifty-inch goods, and that a closely woven material gives better protection to furniture than a loosely woven one.
Pieces to be slip-covered should be carefully and accurately measured. The average armchair requires about seven or eight yards of thirty-inch material, with about two yards more for the cushion. Chesterfields need from twelve to fourteen yards. Allowance for matching and centring the pattern must be added to this. Such additional allowance will depend on the repeat of the pattern; whether the centre of the motif is eighteen inches from the next centre, for instance, or twenty-seven inches.
Measure the chair or chesterfield from the floor up to the top of the back, then down to the seat, and allow six inches for tuck-in. Measure across the seat down to the floor in front. Measure the sides, beginning at the floor and up over the arm and down to the seat, adding the six inches. For a winged chair, measure from the top edge of the arm over the wing. If the cover is to be finished with a ruffle or the popular tailored box pleating, allow about a yard, double fullness, for the depth to make the pleating.
Cutting and Finishing
THERE are various ways of making slip covers, and three ways of finishing them. Professionals make them the hardest way. Seams are sewn on the wrong side and a cord-filled piping set between. Another way is to sew the seams on the wrong side, turn right side out and make a French seam. This gives the effect of cording, though, of course, no contrasting color can be used. The easiest way is to sew the seams up on the right side, cut them as close as possible, and then bind with organdie or bias tape. An easy way of finishing the bottom of the slip cover is with a heavy fringe or gimp. This takes the place of a box pleating or ruffle.
The most important thing about slip covers is the way they fit. Baggy slip covers are much worse than none at all. They should be trim and tailored. And tliat welltailored look is the result of careful cutting.
No matter how well worn the chair may be and how knobby the filling under the upholstery, the slip covers should be cut along the structural lines. The seams should come where the seams arc in the upholstery. Proper allowance for tuck-ins at the back and side of the seat will keep the cover from wrinkling and becoming mussy, and will keep the slip cover well fitting and snug until the fabric is worn out.
The best way to make slip covers is to pin the material directly to the furniture. Begin with, the back and pull the material from the floor to the top and secure with many pins. Bring it down smoothly over the front of the chair back to the seat, pinning again. Remember the tuck in. Allow an inch for seams when pinning. Then put the material on the arm, beginning from the floor and going to the top of the arm. Pin, and continue over the arm and down to the seat. Make the tuck in allowance then pin to hold securely, being sure that there are no wrinkles. Cut and repeat the process with the other arm. Now the back and sides should be covered—pinned, of course. Draw the edges of the material together, slash wherever necessary to make it fit snugly, then pin these together.
If the chair has heavy, overstuffed arms, a separate panel must be fitted over the front of each. Pin the material to the panel, then pin the edge of the material already laid on the inside of the arm to the inside of this panel. Then pin the other edge of the panel to the back.
In some chairs the back should be separate from the
hack of the seat and .seamed at the top, following the seam of the upholstery. If the cliair is fairly straight up and down, no opening will be needed. If the chair is larger at the top than at the bottom, it will be impossible to put the cover on without an opening. In some chairs this may come at the side, in some in the middle of the back. In the latter case, pin first one side then the other, and allow a full inch for the lap.
If the seat of the chair is rounded or
' likely to be difficult, lay the material on j and mark the outlines with chalk, then • remove and cut, remembering always the i tuck-in.
Patterns Save Material
AMATEURS often make a muslin 4A pattern before attempting the ultimate cover. This saves goods, and is particularly desirable when expensive material is used.
If the lines of the upholstery' are followed
seam for seam, with pleats and set-in pieces put exactly where the original cover has them, there should be no difficulty in cutting. Naturally, directions cannot be given for every type of chair.
The ruffle or box pleat is quite simple and may be as full as desired. Double fullness is customary. It may be pinned in place, just as the body of the slip cover is. The main thing is to be sure that it hangs evenly. Allow a full inch for the hem.
Material need not be pinned to cushions. | The outline of the cushion may be traced on the goods with chalk or soft lead pencil, allowing the inch for seams: then a single: strip as wide as the cushion is thick is ; pinned around the side and secured with pins to the upper and lower pieces. If the cushion cover is to be removable, make one flat side in two pieces overlapping and fasten together with snaps.
Baste all seams on the chair, removing the pins as the seam goes along.
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