When your sectional starts to look dated, you can slipcover it rather than spend a lot of money on a new sofa. Premade slipcovers don't always fit sectionals perfectly, so you may want to make a no-sew slipcover instead. With just a few supplies, you'll have a customized slipcover that's a lot less than the price of a store-bought version.
Inexpensive canvas-type painter's dropcloths work well for no-sew slipcovers and can give sectional sofas a shabby chic touch in a just few minutes' time. Painter's dropcloths reduce a slipcover's cost substantially -- at least in half, if not more -- when compared with yardage from the fabric store. Just be sure to choose a canvas-style dropcloth without plastic backing. You'll also want to get adhesive-backed hook-and-loop tape meant for fabric. This will hold together seams beneath cushions or other hidden places.
Before you're ready to use the dropcloths as slipcovers, wash them to soften them up. If you don't like their tawny color, add bleach to the wash cycle to give them more of a light ecru linen look. Hang the canvas-type fabric on a clothesline to dry, or put it in the dryer. Line drying gives the fabric a fresher smell, but if it's somewhat stiff, you can soften it up by using the wrinkle-release setting on your dryer.
Things You'll Need
Multiple dropcloths based on sectional size
Adhesive-backed hook-and-loop tape
Vinyl L-shaped drywall corner edging
Easy Dropcloth Slipcover
This no-sew slipcover drapes completely over the entire sectional, cushions included.
Step 1: Measure
Measure the sectional lengthwise to know how many dropcloths you'll need. For example, a sectional that has a 6-foot section and a 7-foot section would require roughly two 9-by-12-foot dropcloths -- unless you plan on covering the cushions separately, then you'll need three.
Step 2: Drape Sectional
Arrange the dropcloths onto the sofa, draping them over the back and front, pulling them taut as you smooth them in place. If your couch is exposed from behind, leave enough fabric to hang down its back.
Step 3: Crevice Tuck
Tuck the dropcloths into the crevices of the couch between the back and seat and the arm and seat, rearranging the front, back and sides until you're satisfied with the look. Don't do any cutting yet, as you may need to rearrange the fabric multiple times.
Step 4: Pin Folds
Pin any areas where you want to fold the fabric for a smooth appearance (around the arms, for example), as you will secure these areas later with hook-and-loop tape. Rearrange as necessary. Once you're satisfied with the look, cut away excess fabric from the front, back and sides, but leave enough to fold underneath the couch.
Don't cut the fabric until you've settled on the look you want. Once you cut the fabric, you're committed.
Step 5: Cut Edging
Cut enough L-shaped drywall edging material to fit the length of the sofa between the cushions, as well as the back, arms and cushions. Push the L-shaped edging, with the open side facing you, into the crevice where the seats meet the back of the couch. Once hidden in place, the edging keeps the dropcloth slipcover from moving. Don't insert the edging into the sides yet.
Step 6: Fold or Twist
Fold, twist or miter the extra fabric at the arms, depending on the type of arms the sectional has, and tuck the extra fabric into the crevice before adding the L-shaped brackets. If you prefer a smoother look, smooth the fabric in front of the arms (folding it beneath any of the side fabric) and pin in place.
Step 7: Hook-and-Loop Tape
Replace the pinned areas with hook-and-loop tape to keep the fabric smooth.
Step 8: Hide Raw Edges
Fold the raw edge of the dropcloth over the front, sides and back, stapling on the underside every 6 inches to keep the fabric taut.
Use the hemmed edges of the dropcloth to your advantage for a finished edge; dropcloths come with four hemmed edges.
Separately Covered Cushions
Complete the steps in the previous section with the cushions removed from the sectional.
Step 1: Set Cushions on Dropcloth
Lay the cushions on the dropcloths and cut the fabric so that you can fold the edges under the cushion.
Avoid folding the dropcloth over itself beneath the cushion as this affects how it sits on the couch.
Step 2: Secure Raw Edges
Secure the four cut edges of the fabric to the bottom side of the cushion with adhesive-backed hook-and-loop tape, folding the corners as needed.
Step 3: Repeat for Each Cushion
Repeat for all cushions on the couch.
Step 4: Add Cushions
Set the cushions on the sectional with the slipcover already finished and on the couch. Add color-harmonized throw pillows to the couch.
As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.