Making loose covers to be dyed
If you are thinking of making loose covers for dyeing to any colour you like there are a number of things you can do to make sure this will be successful. Dyeing ready made loose covers of course can also be successful. This information is relevant whether you have sofas with loose covers or you need loose covers for dining chairs sometimes called slipcovers.
1. Choose a good quality 100% cotton fabric with a conventional firm weave and preferably undyed or at least in the lightest shade available. Insist that your fabric is all from one batch, better still all from one roll.
2. Choose an untreated fabric ie. no fire retardant finish.
3. Even if the fabric supplier claims the fabric is pre-shrunk it is a good idea to really make sure by ideally cutting the fabric into suitable lengths overlocking the edges and then wash the pieces in a very hot wash and then tumble dry them. This will remove most of any potential shrinkage. You can also test the shrinkage by cutting a piece say 50cms square exactly then washing it as described. This will then give you the percentage of shrinkage for length and width and you can add these percentages to the cutting patterns. Washing all of the fabric before cutting your loose covers is the ideal solution.
4. Now you have pre-shrunk fabric still cut the covers a tiny bit on the generous side especially for the base cover itself which has to fit over solid parts of the furniture whereas the cushion covers are only stuffed with soft filling. This will ensure minimum stress on the seams and your loose covers will last a very long time.
5. Sew the pieces together using a strong 100% cotton thread as this will dye the same shade as the covers. If you use polyester thread it will not dye. This is not too much of a problem as most seams are well hidden on loose sofa covers but we are talking here of building the ideal loose sofa covers.
6. The seams must not be skimped. All cut or raw edges must be overlocked and the lockstitching should use plenty of stitches to the inch for security and preferably 2 rows of lockstitching. If you could cover the seams with a binding so much the better. This would further protect the seams from any fraying.
7. Use neutral coloured good quality zips of a medium shade. The tape on zips will usually not dye.
8. Keep an extra length of the fabric which you can have dyed at the same time to use to repair any accidental damage to your loose covers.
9. Consider making some spare parts for your loose covers at the same time even if it is only armcaps.
10. As an alternative to hot washing lengths of fabric and then dyeing the finished loose covers you could also consider cutting your fabric into suitable lengths ie. 2.5 meters maximum and we could dye the pieces for you. This way it is also pre-shrunk and you then make up your covers using standard making techniques. As an investment we would still advise ensuring the seams are high quality and that the maker understands you want the covers to be machine washable.
We use the highest quality safe and non toxic dyestuffs which achieve the best levels of light and washfastness.
Hope you find this information useful and we are always happy to advise if you contact us.
Making loose covers this way and dyeing them, you will have covers which should last for many years, withstand many washes and will be capable of being redyed every few years to simply freshen them up or to change your decor or lifestyle Loose covers can be so versatile