Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Slipping One Over on Your Furniture

If you have any shabby or inexpensive furniture sitting about that could do with a refresh or an upgrade, you might want to consider knitting them some sweaters. Making knitted slipcovers for furniture can be quite a lot easier and cheaper than reupholstering. I speak from experience, having reupholstered several pieces of furniture myself. In the case of one particular piece, a buttoned tub chair bought from Value Village for $15, it took me about $160 and about 30 hours of work to get the job done, and then I must have spent another 30 hours lying on the floor with my legs up on the couch in an effort to "recover" from the number I'd done on my back. Tailored slipcovers can look just as good as upholstery, and besides being easier and cheaper to make, they have the added advantage of being easily removed for laundering or replacement.

In today's post, we're going to look at some ideas and patterns for slipcovering and reupholstering furniture in knitting. The above photo is of the Sweet and Lowdown Chair, designed by Veronik Avery. The pattern is available for download for $5.50(USD). The knitting completely covers the original fabric seat and back and makes an fantastic looking piece that will look good as indoor or outdoor furniture. Knitted slipcovers for plastic patio furniture could be an idea to consider as well.

This Chair Cover pattern, designed by Amy Butler, was published in Farmhouse Knits, published by Rowan. It's a great way to turn a simple chair into something special. I bet there's a plain wooden chair under this slipcover.

This is the Aran Armchair Cover, designed by Erika Knight and published in Simple Knits with a Twist: Unique Projects for Creative Knitters. The main body of the chair is slipcovered (the ribbing at the bottom is a good way to keep the edge taut), while the seat cushion would have a zippered or buttoned knitted case on it. As you can see, this cat approves of the job, more or less.

This is an ottoman cover designed by Vogue Knitting. There's no pattern available, but VK does offer a helpful article on how to customize the project for your ottoman. There aren't that many slipcover patterns available, which is just as well because you will need to custom fit your slipcover knitting project to whatever piece of furniture you're working on.

This Union Jack piece is upholstered rather than slipcovered, but is so fantastic I just had to include it. It's a bespoke piece from Melanie Porter, a studio that does handmade furniture restoration and upholstering. Their gallery is well worth a look if you'd like some ideas and inspiration for fixing up your own furniture. There's no reason why a slipcover has to be neutral monochrome cables or moss stitch. I can easily imagine some fantastic fair isle or gradient designs, or cute picture knits for a child's room.

Using knitting as upholstery rather than as a slipcover is another do-able option if you feel like tackling a bigger and more involved project. Upholstering isn't that hard though it is a lot of work. I won't go into a lot of detail about how to do it here because there are sure to be excellent tutorials elsewhere on the web, but essentially, what you do is strip off the old upholstery, take it apart, use it as a pattern to cut (or knit) your new upholstery, and then put the item back together in much the same way as you found it when you took it apart. You will need some machine sewing skills, a sewing machine, and a few basic tools such as a screwdriver, grips, scissors, a hammer, and a heavy duty stapler. To get matching buttons such as those you see here, take some of your upholstery material to a upholstery shop and have them cover a set of buttons for you.

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