Slipcovering 101: Learn From My Mistakes

Monday, February 20, 2012
New fabric can make old furniture look new. 
Home on the market, and upholstery looking old? It's time to bring fabric to the rescue.

My two wicker chairs desperately needed updating. I was tired of their dreary, stiff, brownish-red slipcovers and uncomfortable seats.

I wanted something light and lively, and I already owned the perfect fabric. It was the same yardage I used in my tutorial to construct a fake bed and bed skirt for bedroom staging.

I'm not averse to making mistakes, as long as I can learn from them. What I learned when I sewed these slips was "Think ahead," and, "Take your time."

You would think I already knew these rules! What can I say except, "Impatience took over my mind."

My covered cushions look okay, but they could look better. Specifically, here's what I did wrong and how I will make slipcovers differently in the future.

Think about seam placement

Since each seat cushion was square, I cut out two squares of fabric for each, sewed these together, then squared off the corners.  I didn't realize that the front seam on the seat didn't have to be a seam at all. I could have simply wrapped the yardage around the front of the foam cushion, and sewn three seams.

The best upholstery and slipcovers have matched patterns where seams join. I could have had this seamless, custom look, but I blew it by not thinking ahead.

Aim for a custom fit

By cutting out just two panels of fabric and placing the seam midway on the sides of the cushion instead of on the edges, my slips look like they might have been purchased ready-made instead of custom-fitted. Had I cut side pieces, the look would have been classier.

add batting for softness

Another oops I made was to not wrap the foam cushion in a layer of synthetic batting. Batting softens the hard edge look of a square of foam. I've used this method before to make cushions that look both more professional and more comfortable.

Take time for details

Rushing also meant that I did not take time to add piping. Skipping the steps that would require me to buy or make piping and sew it into the seams meant forgoing a custom look.

Whether it matches or contrasts, piping always makes any slipcover, pillow, cushion, or upholstery look crisp, finished, and high end.

The beautiful chair pictured on the left was expertly and lovingly upholstered by Little Miss Penny Wenny, and she blogged about it on her site last April.

Notice that the chevron pattern matches as it rolls over the upholstery. Notice that she's incorporated self-piping along the seam lines, some of it double.

Although this chair is upholstered, not slipcovered, the same rules apply. Attention to details makes a difference. Follow her example, not mine.


I hope next time I sew slipcovers, I'll take my time and think ahead. Meanwhile, I still like the new look my wicker chairs have. And, hey, it takes humility to admit your mistakes in blog land. To my credit, I did replace the worn-out fiberfill stuffing with new foam cushions. Much more comfortable!

The red fabric had lived its best days, 
but I love my orange swirly fabric.
Need help staging your home on the market? I can help you decide what to spruce up, what to clean, how to get organized, what to get rid of, how to update and refresh what you own, and so much more. Download my ebookDIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. 
Here's an example of the transformations 
Slipcover Queen Kristi at Pink and Polka Dot creates. 
Notice the self-piping and cute pleats.  

How to Get Buyers to Fall in Love with Your Home on the Market

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Romeo and  Juliet couldn't resist each other. 
Love just happens!

According to our literature, poetry, songs, and movies,  you can't convince someone to love you. The magic is there, or it isn't.

But when it comes to convincing home buyers that your house is the one that will make them happy, the story is different.

There are lots of steps you can take to get them interested, and even excited enough to make a commitment, which in real estate terms means to make an offer. Here are the most enticing ways to create that magic.

Seduce from a distance 

Your home has to look good -- very good -- even from afar. Yes, we're talking curb appeal. Again.

Is your landscaping tidy and appropriate for the season? Is the area around your front entrance unobstructed, clean, and colorful? Do your siding and roof look problem-free? Have you removed all distractions, like bikes, garbage cans, and gardening equipment, from the front of your home?

Wow them from the start

Make buyers feel that they have just opened a delightful Valentine's card when they open your front door. First impressions count, and most buyers make a judgement about a home during the first few minutes of a home tour.

Is the first sensation one of being crowded into a foyer, or is it one of being welcomed to a spacious home? Are the paint colors neutral enough that anyone could love them? Are your home's best features noticeable? Are its flaws de-emphasized?

Appeal to the senses

Buyers make decisions based on sensory input. No matter how perfect the floor plan or how new the cabinets, if your home smells like pets or mildew, you're in trouble.

Is the temperature right? Does your home smell good in every room -- closets and storage spaces included? Do doorknobs, countertops and other surfaces that will be felt, feel smooth and clean? Is the clutter gone? Is the artwork non-offensive?

Create desire

People like to believe the house they are buying is a step up the social ladder. Make them feel like winners by looking like a winner yourself.

Are there some status touches, like thick towels, contemporary electronics, bedding that is on-trend, and even name brand foods in a pantry? Buyers buy the lifestyle, so don't underestimate the details that make your the home look luxurious.
Who wouldn't fall in love with a
tiny office space staged like this?

Don't let them forget you

Prepare a takeaway. Work with your Realtor to have a printed single sheet that points out your home's best features. If your home is a larger one, consider a more extensive printout. Include at least one photo.

Buyers might tour a handful of homes on one day, so make your home the one they'll remember. Have something memorable, like a big bouquet of bright flowers by the front door, a humorous sign by the back door, or mints on the kitchen island, to leave a friendly, lasting impression.

Get the look. get the book.

I give specific advice for staging your own home in my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. If your home is on the market, or you are thinking about selling, I'll walk you through the important steps to help you stage to sell. It's easy when you know all the subtle but powerful tricks of the trade! Download now and start staging today.

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