Do you remember the linen slipcovers I made last year about this time? I made a pair of linen slipcovers to cover the stained end chairs at our kitchen table…
You can find the tutorials and sources for these linen slipcovers HERE.
They look beatiful and have washed well except for one thing…
When I wash them, the ends fray, and the seams come undone in a few places. I have never had that happen with slipcovers before, but I also haven’t used this specific linen and I have never washed slipcovers this often! Because these are used all the time, the boys typically eat sitting at these chairs, and the cats love napping on these chairs, I wash them about once every month or two.
I just take the slipcovers up to the sewing room and fix the area, so it hasn’t been a huge deal, but I wouldn’t use this fabric again for slipcovers that need to be washed frequently. It was inexpensive, though ($6.00/yard on sale), so it was certainly worth a try! And I will take small holes over stained seats! But, if you’ve ever made a slipcover, especially one with tons of ties on the back, piping, and a ruffled skirt, then you know you really don’t want to do it more than once if you can help it! I will have to remake these eventually.
I used the same fabric (in a different color) on the chase in our bedroom and that has been fantastic. Because this chair is just used occasionally, I haven’t had to wash it. Sebastian likes to nap on this chair, but I put a blanket over it for him to lay on.
The verdict is, a lightweight linen (this is 7.1 oz. 4C22 from Fabrics Store) is a good choice if the piece of furniture isn’t heavily used and the slipcover doesn’t need to be washed frequently. I also wouldn’t suggest using this weight of linen for upholstery. It’s just not sturdy enough to hold up long-term use.
The nice thing about using the 7.1 oz fabric for linen slipcovers is you can sew it in a standard heavy-duty sewing machine like THIS ONE. If you use a fabric that is a heavier-weight, you will need to use an uphosltery machine or you’ll have needles breaking constantly and it will be frustrating. With pleats and piping, you might be working through 5-6 layers of fabric, which will choke a run-of-the-mill sewing machine.
If you do have the capability to sew with a heavier fabric, I would suggest using linen or hemp fabric that is a canvas-weight (11 – 16.5 oz.) HERE is a source I’ve ordered from before when buying new hemp canvas. My preference, though, is to use antique hemp sheets. I used to sell them, so I have a wholesale source. You can find them on Etsy HERE, though, and around $60-70 is a good price for one. If you need to purchase several, I would suggest sending an e-mail to the seller to inquire about buying in bulk. You might get a discount if you’re buying several.
I’ve been using hemp sheets for slipcover and upholstery for years and, while it’s more expensive, the result is beautiful and durable. I’ve had these chairs (free from a yard sale) for 16 years and made the hemp/linen slipcovers about 10 years ago. I’ve have washed them many times and they still look great. They are classic and I expect they’ll last for decades.
I cut them strategically, so I can use the leftover scraps and strips for piping, skirts, and ties.
(I made this slipcover out of heavy linen antique curtains! You can find that makeover HERE.)
And this linen desk chair slipcover for my office was made out of a few different linen sheet leftovers from other projects.
I also like using grain sacks for slipcovers and upholstery. The weight is the same and sometimes heavier than the hemp sheets, but they have striping and sometimes monograms to add more character. The stripes mean that your options are a little less limited when it comes to design, so I tend to use them on smaller chairs, ottomans, etc. THIS is my favorite source for buying antique European grain sacks. Her prices are good and her linens are always clean and as described. I wait to order a few at a time to save on shipping.
If you are purchasing grain sacks for an upholstery project, pay attention to the length and width. I look for grain sacks that are as wide as possible (typically 21-24″ wide), so I have more fabric width to work with. I’ll often cut them down the middle of the back, so I have one wide piece of fabric (with two seams in it) to work with.
Not only are these old fabrics heavy and durable, but I love the nuddy texture and have found them to be very forgiving. If I make a mistake, I can just sew it up by hand and it looks like a part of the story of the antique fabric instead of a mistake. You can also get away with having seams in odd places, which doesn’t work with new fabrics.
Right now, I have a big stack of hemp sheets waiting for me to start working on a slipcover for the sofa. I have been a little too busy to give it my attention, but I’ve also been admittedly procrastinating on it! I make slipcovers and upholster pieces for the results, not because I enjoy the process. But, as the weather warms up and the school year winds down, I’m ready to get into project mode around the house.