the slipcover grief cycle.

A few of you guys recently asked us how our slipcover has been holding up with three small children. After all that we’ve been through together, the following story is so ridiculous, it literally pains me to tell you what happened.

But let me rewind.

Once upon a time, I decided to redo our living room.

And just like any room overhaul, it was no small task.

Those of you who have been with us for a while, know I suffered from acute dark sofa remorse, and I rambled about it for months while I searched {and even took a few tough losses} for the perfect slipcover-potential-shape. It literally took me all summer to find the perfect sofa for which I’d scoured the southern hemisphere. The other additions {duncan and the masterpiece theater twins} were lucky, and fabulously easy finds, but that last crowning touch would be that slipcovered perfection.

My amazing super duper talented friend Tiffany is the entire reason I was even able to think about pulling that entire room off, and just in time for a few insanely crazy deadlines.

When we were finished, I was all, YEAH! WE beat the MAN!

So, now that you’re caught up: I’d resisted washing my little treasure for seven a few months until I had time to have Tiffany {oh so graciously again dedicate time to this project} and serge the edges for me. Seven whole months of no washing with three small children is the equivalent to an eternity in smudges, nervous living, and mini scrub sessions to make do in the meantime.

Since our house is officially off the market, I took it to her, and despite her crazy schedule, within two days she was finished. On Monday, I washed my slipcover. I didn’t dry it, because I didn’t want it to shrink. I’d remembered reading that you didn’t necessarily have to pre-wash your slipcover fabric from numerous sources, before the slipcover was actually made. So, you guessed it, there had been no pre-washing seven months prior. I was kind of on a crunch for time, and just didn’t think it was necessary. All would be rainbows and unicorns in the world of fabric karma. I just assumed that if I just didn’t tumble dry my slip, it would be fine.

You know what they say about assuming.

I was so excited when we slipped the back on late yesterday afternoon. It smelled like fresh laundry, and I was looking forward to a like-new cover. Only, something was wrong. It wasn’t quite the smooth fit I’d experienced before from Tiffany’s brilliant handiwork. Nope. In fact, I think I popped a seam trying to squeeze it over. I stopped, and looked at Jamin. “Should I panic now, or later?” I asked him, from the other end. Usually, he keeps me calm. Maybe it was backwards. Inside out. Upside down.

He had no answer, so the panic crept in.

Where the fit had been perfectly generous before, this felt a bit like stuffing potatoes into infant pantyhose. It took us a good ten minutes to get it to the point you see, above. Here’s a little before and after for you…

I’ve never taken such a loss on a project before. I think I literally stomped my feet and there was much gnashing of teeth. I felt like my two year old when we tell him no more Bubble Guppies for the night. This one was a real blow.

I ate a little too much chocolate.

Shock. Denial.

Bereaved planking.

I’m in a slipcover grief cycle. And I can honestly say I have no idea what to do.

Even if it were salvageable, by, say, beating the crap out of those pillows, stretching it with a steamer and adding a ruffle at the bottom…I’m not sure it’s worth the non practicality of it all. I have a family of drooling, food wearing, messy kids to care for. I don’t want to add a needy eccentric sofa to the list. Not to mention, it’s officially uncomfortable and lumpy.

I’m not kidding when I say I wanted to throw up a little in my mouth. Jamin finally broke the tension with a “Bless our hearts. It looks like we’re in college.” And then I began the scary laugh. At least I can say that the lumpy, uneven, salvaged furniture was, in fact, paired with the same bad decision making skills I sometimes suffered from circa 1999. If only I’d pre-washed my fabric.

At what point do you draw the line at what you really want, all for the sake of practicality? And sanity?

When I texted a friend, she put a positive spin on it. At least now, you can get your dream sofa.

Can I get my dream sofa? I thought I had it. Do I still secretly want that chesterfield I’d dreamed of? Is that a temporary craving or is that forever? I don’t even know who I am anymore! I didn’t even prewash my fabric! WAH!

I know. First world problems. But this one hurts a little in that deep regrets, hindsight is 20/20, this is so unnecessary and I hate to tell my amazing friend Tiffany what I did… kinda place.

Let this be a lesson to us all. Always pre-wash your fabric? Research what you’re buying? {I’m thinking I also had some bad fabric.} Dry clean your slipcovers? I’m just not sure where it all went south. All I know is that I can’t look at my living room for a while. At least not until I know exactly what I’m doing, right after I pull myself back up by my yoga pants boot straps.

RIP, portrait of perfection slipcovered sofa. RIP.

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Responses to the slipcover grief cycle.

  1. Colleen says:

    “Bereaved planking.” I’m so, so sorry…but that’s the funniest thing I’ve seen and heard all day. Get the Chesterfield. Your sofa would want you to move on.

  2. Oh my! That really stinks, and I feel your grief, revisiting those beautiful “before” shots. If I lived closer I would drop dinner over as you go through the grieving process. ;-). Despite your terrible loss, I have to say, your tale made me laugh. :-)

  3. Amy says:

    Bahaha, I totally understand! We had some slipcover nightmares too when trying to find the right one to cover the couch we borrowed from our in-laws. They are so difficult!

  4. oh no!!!!!! i have a stomach ache with you on this one!!!! i never imagined from the beginning of the post that it would be this bad! lol! you totally deserved that “too much chocolate,” but not only that… you deserve to go buy a big ol’ stinkin’ new couch and new shoes and new friends!!!!!

    you’ll show them!

    LOL. actually, i am not LOLing… but i/we all will LOL about this someday. Someday after you’ve eaten enough chocolate, bought enough new summer capris and happy jewelry and furniture to make us all feel better about your college couch. :-)

    that’s what i’d do… and my husband would encourage it so that i would stop making that crazy laugh sound…



  5. Delina says:

    You have some fabulous pictures to remember that fabulous slip-cover by. RIP.

  6. Danielle says:

    I am sorry for your awful dilemma but you made me laugh outloud quite a few times reading this post!!! Isn’t this how it is? We think we have it figured out and it comes back to bite us hard!!! I know you will figure out something… and thanks for making me laugh today!

  7. Malinda says:

    This just makes me sad. :0(

  8. I’m still burned out from searching all LAST summer. Craigslist still makes me cringe. I should just go straight to anthro and blow 3,000 on something all for the sake of my sanity. ;} I kid. Kind of.

  9. Naomi W. says:

    I am going to be covering a chair soon. I think I will pre-wash the fabric. Thank you for your insight. I am so sorry about the loss for you.

  10. kat says:

    Okay, thank you for that great laugh.
    We just finished a case of the voms, said 8 year old is now feeling better and extremely bossy and combative, 5 year old explaining why everything in her life is unfair, 3 year old can do nothing but whine, and 8 month old just got woken up early from nap by loud, bossy, whiny siblings.
    So thank you. I needed the laugh of that before and after picture, and the bereaved planking. I will now stare down the barrel of a no school day with a good laugh under my belt.
    RIP beautiful slipcover. That is painful. We have an ugly microfiber sofa, with my lovely decorative pillows (which are now stained, and they were not prewashed either, even though I took the time to slipcover the pillows so that they were “washable”).

  11. Jessie says: That is the saddest/funniest/saddest story I’ve heard in a long time. It was so dang pretty before! My advice, pick yourself up off the couch, throw it in the dump, and start searching for the Chesterfield. If retail therapy doesn’t help, nothing will. Good luck:)

  12. Oh. my. gosh. What a disaster!!!!!! Ashley, I’m grieving with you. Seriously. I just adopted white slipcovers for our living room a couple years ago, and I think I’d die if they went kaput. Of course, ours came with IKEA furniture, so they kinda have the college look, too. 😉 I definitely abuse mine. I bleach the heck out of them, with the result that I’ve actually had to sew on some patches. Classy. If you’re looking for an interim fix, our Ektorp sofa with white slipcovers is very similar in shape to your dearly departed and only about $500. Good luck, my e-friend :)

  13. Oh no! That is really too bad! I have an Ikea sofa with a slipcover so I can feel your pain. It needs to be washed on cold and air dried or I would never get it back on my sofa. Slipcovers are high maintenance. I bought white slipcovers so they could be washed but honestly I usually cover my slipcover with an old loose slipcover. Ha! My kids are just too messy to leave them around my pristine white slipcover! Can I ask what kind of material you used? One thing you might try (after you are done ignoring your living room and your poor sofa) is to re-wash one of the slipcovers for the seat part or whatever in cold water. Take it out of the washer and hang it to dry until it is still slightly damp. You don’t want soaking wet. Then try to put it back on your seat form and see if it being wet stretches the fabric a little more. Leave the cover to dry like this. Its worth a try maybe.
    Good luck and I hope you have a better day. :)

    • Hey Carrie! Glad I’m not the only one with issues in the high maintenance department. I’m kind of over it. I was in a pinch for fabric this summer, so I ordered some lighter weight duck from I’m actually going to have to go back and find the fabric, because I’m not sure. I think it was shoddy fabric, it’s so thin. I actually did all that you suggested, to wash it. I put them on the hand wash cycle on cold, and took them out to let them dry. Just didn’t put them on slightly damp, because the gross brown that is the real sofa underneath, FADES on the white. These things are just too high maintenance for me! I need to sit on this for a few days. Literally. ;}

  14. Robin says:

    Wow, I never would have thought fabric would shrink THAT much, especially without going through the dryer. Hmm. Maybe my clothes really are shrinking in the laundry and I’m not gaining weight? :-) … I’m so sorry for your grief. But, just think of how many people you have now saved from slipcover nightmares by sharing your pain. And for that, we all thank you.

  15. katie s says:

    Oh the sadness!!! I am so, so sorry!!

  16. OMG! I am laughing so hard right now and I’m so sorry!! This exact thing happened to me many years ago! It was awful! I got over it. You will too, and you will once again be able to look at your living room. Oh how I remember this grief well. I’m sorry! :)

  17. And obviously in remembering my grief, I forgot how to spell my own blog name…..Happy Easter!

  18. Catherine says:

    This is the funniest sad story I’ve ever heard. I’m sorry that it happened to you and glad that you are able to find humor in it. I am in the process of making a slipcover for a chair and the fabric after the pre washing isn’t even close to what it was before…. your after pictures didn’t surprise me a bit. I have an Ikea slipcovered couch that is pretty wonderful and not 6000 (what the….?) and we will see how it looks after the slipcover gets washed. I’m afraid. I’m very afraid.

  19. Bummer! The college comment had me rolling on the floor…Isn’t that what we are all trying so desperately to avoid? Have you considered having the sofa reupholstered instead of bothering with a slip cover? Something with Scotch Guard to make it easy to clean up after the kiddos. I don’t think the lesson here is about prewashing fabric or weather it should have been put back on damp; I think its about finding solutions for our home that work for our family AND are beautiful. How much time and unnecessary energy did you expend keeping the sofa some resemblance of show ready? Your home was just letting you know this wasn’t gonna work. Sometimes we just have to stop fighting it :) Easy for me to say, when I spend a great deal of energy fighting my own home’s voice…(((hugs)))

    • Teresa-I can’t agree more. I think in some way, this makes the loss easier for me to handle. As soon as it happened, and I literally started stomping my foot and tearing up over it, Jamin confessed he never thought it was comfortable, anyway. I was a nervous wreck when company came over and children ran around with food… Duncan and the twins are doable, because you don’t see every single smudge, but this sofa was just too high maintenance for us. It’s just one big BLECH of an issue, and I guess it’s a big fat plethora of lessons learned. Something to contemplate, for sure.

  20. That is very upsetting. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  21. Michelle says:

    You are seriously HILARIOUS! I look forward to reading your posts everyday. I’m so sorry about your sofa, but i’m sure you’ll come up with something equally as great as the white slip-cover. :)

  22. Jenn says:

    Oh my heart is breaking for you {and laughing at the same time, I have to admit, because you are hilarious about it all}. Seriously though, this just flat out sucks. I think, from what you said, you actually held it together pretty well. I may have possibly just curled up in the fetal position on the floor and then gone to bed for a few days. I can’t believe it shrunk like that!

  23. Mandalou says:

    I have this romantic image of clean white furniture, so breezy and relaxing on the steamy HOT Texas summer days. REALITY though is that I have FIVE kiddos, two dogs, a long haired kitty, and a smelly, knarly ferret. So I went with the IKEA Ektorp with their white slipcovers. I have, as you can imagine with my menagerie, had to strip and wash many times. They have, so far, lasted for two years, and when they do wear out I’m not worried because the white slipcovers are so affordable to replace. Also, I’ve found many a tutorial on how to dye them different custom shades.

  24. I think, for all the reasons you mentioned about living with little ones, that even if you did buy your “dream sofa” you would still want to slip cover it with washable covers. Research your fabric options. Spend a bit on the fabric, this time (still cheaper that the sofa) and start over.

    Get the fabirc, if you can, from a professional place–like an Ethan Allen or a Room and Board or whatever would be the equivalent where you are. I had a sofa professionally recovered at great expense–and it was trashed by my kids when they were small. Slipcovers are a must with kids that age!

    Just a thought.

  25. Sarah says:

    I am so sorry about your poor sofa & I feel really bad about it, but I cannot. stop. laughing. :) Really, it’s kinda funny. Or maybe just the way you presented it is kinda funny. The photo’s funny… or maybe it would be funny if it didn’t really suck for you. Bah! It just looks hilarious. So sorry though, you’ll find something else for it don’t worry. Also of note, is that you planked out on the couch? You are TINY girl! :) In a good way.

  26. Diane McBee says:

    I Love this post! It reminds me so much of REAL LIFE! Everytime I have undertaken any kind of project- there is always a little “something” to make it not perfect. Even on occasion when I have had the luxury of hiring a job done( new counters ). I like to think this is God’s way of reminding me that it is just “stuff” and to not place all my focus on it. But laughing is for SURE the way to handle it! I love your room!

  27. Erin Rizzo says:

    I understand your grief. I too longed for the slip covered sofa. Bought mine from a professional company, that had been used by tv programs. Instead of braving the white, I went with a lovely blue, only to have the bottom cushions fad on me within a month. No, it wasn’t exposed to sunlight. The company would not replace them. Six years later, I still have the sofa, as ugly as it is, faded and torn and not looking well fitted, yet comfortable and an old friend it seems. It has seen me through the a miscarriage, loss of a beloved pet, another child diagnosed with autism, and many joys. But it still looks like crap. lol

  28. shaunna says:

    Friend, I am SO sorry!! We did pre-wash…it’s still always like squeezing something WAY too large in, but they still do fit—-go for the dream sofa, I say. RIP.

  29. Michelle says:

    It will probably stretch out again if you leave it on the sofa. That’s what mine does. Not all the way back to normal but pretty close. But then again, a new sofa is always nice! :)

  30. Kim says:

    Oh Ashley! I feel your pain (even though I laughed at this post, I wasn’t laughing at you!) thank goodness for patient, loving husbands who say things like that to make us laugh when they should be giving us the evil eye for screwing up. It will all work out in sofa world. :)

  31. Angela R says:

    Go to They sell pottery barn brand slipcovers. They are amazing and cheap. I’ve had mine almost a year and with two dogs and a 2 yr old they get weekly washing and have held up great. You could probably even tailor them down some to get the look you want. It might at least hold you over until you came get the couch you want. Hang in there!

  32. Rachel says:

    Bless your heart. Looks like the sofa ate too much Easter candy.

  33. isabel says:

    Do not despair! I have Ikea sofas with slipcovers and it’s always a feat to put them back on! I mean I need my husband’s muscles, could not do it on my own. But after a week or so, they start to relax and look normal again. It’s kind of cool cause the tension kind of irons out the wrinkles from the dryer (yes, I throw them in the dryer!). So give it a week at least, relax and let your slipcovers relax!



  34. Tess Powers says:

    Ashley- you (and your sad slipcovers) made me laugh today! Sorry to hear about your experience. I have been itching to make some slipcovers so I thank you for letting us learn from your mistake! I say it is time to just buy a new one. Or, this is an opportunity for a new blog post in the future?

  35. I had that happen once but with drapes. Luckily the ones that were the WORST off after washing got hid behind the sofa so no one was the wiser that they were literally a foot short and uneven. Now I tend to buy extra fabric and wash it all on hot and dry it. Otherwise I just can’t maintain it.

    I think sometimes we need the solution we thought would do to blow up in our face because it always was only the solution “for now”. Now is over. :) Go find your sofa!

  36. Nicole says:

    SOOOO something I would do (and how my thought process would go if I had your results). I feel for you… I do. Get the chesterfield. I bought a different couch when I had a chance to buy the chesterfield. Still thinking about the chesterfield…

  37. Dorothy says:

    Oh, Ashley, I can’t even express how bad I feel for you! And I say this as someone who’s had 4, count ’em 4, couches bite the dust or be on the verge, because of dogs lounging on them. I’ll be really interested in what you end up doing. I am SO OLD now, with adult kids, but I still haven’t figured out how to get a beautiful couch that stays that way. And I sure don’t want to spend a bundle on a great one to have it trashed. I really thought you were on the right track. Till then, I’ll just say, go ahead with the scary laugh! Completely understandable and natural under the depressing circumstances. xo to you.

  38. Treva says:

    Thanks for the sad (although funny) cautionary tale. I have also toiled over several slipcovers that I have put off washing. I did prewash the fabric, but I did not yet serge the inside seams. I have a morbid fear that they will fall to pieces if I wash them before serging them. I think it is time to take that new serger out of its Christmas box and learn how to use it. I am sorry for your pain! I am still cringing for you;-)

  39. Jenn says:

    Oh I ache for you!!! Hang in there! Can’t wait to see what you do!

  40. Jen says:

    So sorry for you, I know how frustrating that is, I have a habit of skipping steps in projects for time’s sake and then regretting it later. I had a pair of slipcovers made for a couple of chairs and washed them repeatedly, no problem. But they weren’t easy to keep white, so one day I tried soaking them in some Borax, and later washing in some bleach. I ended up with two giant holes in one of the slipcovers. Just one, but I have two matching chairs so one just isn’t enough. I had to live with the ugly dark green upholstery for awhile until I figured out a new solution that didn’t cost a fortune. I finally found a fitted slipcover from a catalog that fits my chair and ordered a couple while they were on sale. You better believe those babies are never getting boraxed and bleached!

  41. Rhonda says:

    Oh, if you only knew how many of us have been in this same situation! I’m always so bad about prewashing fabric too cause I’m impatient and it never fails to shrink every time! So sad for you!

  42. The picture of you on the sofa was perfect; I did that exact thing the other day when something didn’t work out quite right! So sorry for the slipcover debacle. Argh!

  43. Jennifer Talley says:

    So sorry for your loss! But thanks for sharing. I have 20 yards of white denim in JoAnn bags and a $700 estimate for slipcovering my red, rolled arm 3/3 sofa that I just know could look like Pottery Barn’s slipcovered ones. (that are just about $1200 new!). Your honesty has made me realize I just need to sell my car and by the yellow leather chesterfield from Anthropology that I really want! (won’t happen…)

  44. Jennifer Talley says:

    I really am literate! I didn’t proof my post!

  45. colleen from alabama says:

    I don’t know how many other people can say this but i have been where you are! I have a DREAM Rowe sofa that my husband and i got for our first real piece of furniture. It cost a boat load and has an awesome slip cover. I too, washed (as the directions said) and did not dry… It shrunk but the pillow covers did not! HOW BIZARRE! Anyway, it doesn’t look distorted. It fits, except in the back so i just pushed a sofa table behind it to hide where the velcro doesn’t meet :) I really love this sofa but can’t afford to get another slip cover right now so i’ll just wait it out! If its in your budget, go for that dream sofa girl! I’ll be cheering you all the way to anthro and back!

  46. Jac says:

    Yup, a lesson we’ve all learned. And why I’m going to try to come back from the dead and use all the lessons. I sew for a living. I got caught on the first one. Yes, I pre-wash and run all fabric through the dryer before I sew slipcovers. (Test a piece of fabric first to see if it is fabric that can handle washing) Also, you need to purchase more fabric to account for shrinkage.

  47. Robyn says:

    Oh, I’ve so made a mistake like this by not washing fabric before….lesson well learned for me….I wash everything first now, no matter what they tell me! …..I so feel your pain….I do have some exciting news to share I called today and found out it will only cost me about $200 to get new foam for my sofa cushions….I’m so excited that is way better than a new sofa! I am also thinking about making a slip cover for my sofa kinda sick of the color vintage 2003 golden brown with dark green….it was great when we had a 100 year old home but now not so much….Best wishes with your sofa, you know deep down what the right decision is.

  48. Jenn says:

    I would so do this. And after all that work. My husband now often says, “maybe it’s worth just saving up and buying what you want? How much is your time worth?” That being said… I rarely take his advice. What about a compromise and buying a pre-made slipcover that fits the dimensions of your couch? I know potterybarn would let you return to a store…

  49. Heather says:

    SO SO SO sad!! This is something that would totally happen to me!! Buy used..if and when it gets trashed you’ll be fine w/ it because you got such a scream’n deal!!

  50. Kathleen says:

    Have you tried re-washing the slipcovers and putting them back on while still damp? I have a Pottery Barn slipcovered sofa myself and this is how they recommended to wash it. Give it a try…it can’t hurt!

  51. Angela Nicolaides says:

    Ohhhh, I am so sorry for you. This is the first time I have visited your blog, and ooohhhhhhh bless you. I COMPLETELY sympathise with you, we just want to have pretty things don’t we, and it never seems to work out in our favour…I am 100% with you on this. I can just imagine how obsessed you were with it in the first place, and the joy at looking at it sitting there so perfectly, then the doom….. Ah, so glad you have your sense of humour, keep it up and maybe just carry on avoiding looking at it for a while longer. You will sort it out and something better will no doubt come along…..good luck xxxx

  52. I came across your post over at Nester’s Nest Files and couldn’t help but click over here after reading the excerpt. I’ve been reading this with hands covering my eyes just enough to peek out; like watching a horror movie where you know what’s coming next, but can’t bare to see it, lol. I can feel your pain…that’s a hard one to stomach! But out of everything ‘bad’ comes something good, so chin up. There has to be a lesson (or a reward) in here somewhere! P.S. The photo of you on the sofa made me laugh…not at you, I assure you, but definitely with you. Great blog post, if that helps take the sting out a little. ~Kerri, A Pop of Pretty,

  53. Charlotte Knox says:

    Oh my. I made some slipcovers in white denim and have not had a bit of trouble out of them. Oxyclean is our choice of laundry booster (which can’t be used with bleach) and it takes out all the nastiness of 2 Jack Russell Terrorists. We also sit on this sofa and eat dinner. So, needless to say this sofa gets a lot of wear and dirt.
    I’m sorry this was a disaster for you.

  54. ellen rollins says:

    Ashley: First time for me also. Not sure how you came to have the slip cover..came with the couch? you had it made for the couch by someone? It looks like the material was not made to be washed? Any chance you could get another one ?
    I am sorry. Love your blog . Ellen

  55. Doris from Indy says:

    I’m sorry for your loss! Do you have any extra fabric or access to purchase more? As a seamstress I would take some of the stuffing out of the pillow backs that you have so they fit the new shrunken size covers, then make another pillow to fill in the back of the sofa. Then possibly Tiffany could add a box pleating at the corners of the main cover to give it some space. The seat cushions will probably stretch out a bit on their own. I’m sure Tiffany would have some ideas how to salvage it too! Good Luck! :-)

  56. Dalia says:

    I thought that I was the only one that went through things like that. Oh dear, I have to admit, it made me chuckle a bit, I’m in the south too girly and my home is open for ice-cream and tantrums. I’m still trying to figure out how to cover my monster sofa. In the mean time, I avoid my living room.

  57. Natalie says:

    Oh my word!!! I am horse laughing! This is so sad and so hilarious! I can say that because the very same thing happened to me less than a couple of months ago and it just got worse! I HAD to have these way-to-expensive slipcovered chairs from a little store in Birmingham, At Home. They were awesome. Two bar stools and a captains chair to match! Perfect! I promised my husband it was worth it since you could pull them off and throw them in the washing machine! And with 3 kiddos, this was perfect. He was hesitant, but I insisted! They went frm these awesome slip covered chairs to these barely can velcro way too small slips! It was terrible! I prayed and cried for two hours one night after they had gone to sleep trying to get them on. He didn’t notice until the next time he so nicely threw them in the washer and dryer for me and well… you know the rest of the story!
    Totally enjoy your blog! Blessing to you and your family!

    • Oh Natalie. What a heavy loss. So sorry. Yours might hurt a little more than mine ;} It stinks to insist on something, and then it come back to bite you in the butt, doesn’t it? That has happened to me a few too many times, now! BOOOOOOO.

  58. Kelly Jones says:

    Try washing it again on COLD and then take the fabric out of the washer and try to stretch it back out? That’s what my slipcover lady told me if my shrunk a LITTLE, maybe it will help! She also told me when I bought my fabric to prewash it on HOT, then dry the heck out of it to shrink it. Then when I clean it to wash on cold and dry it on delicate cycle. I have seen it shrink a little, but it seemed to get better.

    I think you NEED that dream sofa. : )

  59. Amy Brandt says:

    I have all Ikea slip covered white/ linen sofas in my house and wash and dry on delicate cycle and they turn out just fine! (life savers with kids) Love that they have many different fabrics and the sofas are wearing much better then my girl friends Pottery Barn sofas, also love that the slip covers are so much cheaper then PB’s are, so you can change them out frequently.

  60. Kelsey says:

    OMIGOSH that is SO sad and sucky and hilarious and horrible all at the same time!!! If I was a super talented seamstress I would totally offer to remake you a “pre washed” slipcover…but alas…I buy mine from IKEA because I can only sew a straight line. Chesterfield’s would be uber kid friendly with all their easy wipe down leathery goodness. Go for it!!!

  61. Laura says:

    I am just now reading about this, as I’ve been way behind on the posts. And it actually makes me really sad. I don’t even know what to say!! I’m sorry for your loss…? I can’t imagine how frustrating that must have been! It’s not like it was a small project – a frame you were making that went lopsided or something. It’s a sofa! A sofa is a big deal. And it was so PRETTY. And perfect, really. Aaaaand now I’m reopening the wound. Sorry. :-/

  62. Hi! You posted this forever ago and I am just now seeing it. I don’t think I have ever posted on here before but HAVE to share this tid bit of info with you…. IKEA. I LOVE the white sofa slip cover look and would not accept, “Oh but you have 3 kids, a dog, and live smack in the middle of Georgia red clay/dirt” to stop me! IKEA sells the lovely Ektorp sofa for a small $399 with the white slip cover on it! We bought two, 5 years ago, and they are still FABULOUS! The top half of the cushions are down filled and the sofa is totally comfy. And I wash the slip covers with SHOUT AND BLEACH several times a year and throw them in the dryer for 15 minutes to knock some water out of it before I slip them back on damp. To make them last even longer, my sweet husband blessed me with yummy chocolate brown covers that I put on in the fall/winter! They are so affordable and here is the KICKER… when I need new white slip covers… they are $100 bucks a piece! Totally family worthy! NO… they are not top quality sofas by any means. But they are affordable, durable, washable, changeable, and replaceable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That helps me relax and my living room looks amazing! So get to IKEA girl and exhale with joy! :0)

  63. Holly says:

    Your post has just made my day. Not that I would ever wish that on anyone, but I am so glad to see that I’m not the only one that these kinds of things happen to. You know how in beauty magazine all the models look perfect? We stress, diet and wear silly skinny jeans hoping to look a tiny bit like them (and fail) then we find out that although they are drop dead gorgeous in real life, they do get airbrushed to reach that level of perfection that God didn’t intend for us to reach here on Earth. Well, I realize that the same happens in decor mags. Instead of the airbrushing magic, the rooms are never in the hands of children under the age of 37 and no food (especially grape jelly) has been even as close as the house across the street.
    Sorry for you loss anyway, it happens to us all. In Heaven we will all wear skinny jeans and sit on perfect sofas. Can I get an “AMEN”?

  64. Barb says:

    I did the same thing a year ago…. made beautiful white slip covers to hide an ugly yellow couch…. didn’t prewash…. tried desperately to “fix” them, gave up and started all over. I have NEVER NEVER NEVER not prewashed again!!!! I can SO feel your pain !

  65. Naomi says:

    This is bringing back memories of my best friend’s sofa saga. When we were about 20, she was living with her boyfriend. His parents were coming into town to meet her for the first time and she decided that called for a major house-cleaning, including washing the denim cushion covers on the sofa. It wasn’t a slipcover, and yes, she dried them. We were laughing so hard trying to put the cushions back in that we were crying. I’ll never forget the phone call to her boyfriend telling him that we needed to go out and buy a new sofa within the next six hours.

  66. Ann K. says:

    I’m working on a slipcover for my sofa now and found your post. You write about it in such an endearing, funny way, but being in the middle of a similar project I also teared up a little at the thought of something going horribly wrong like this. Hope you’ve since worked out your sofa issue!

    • Hey Ann! It had a very happy ending…I guess it was just meant to happen that way! But trust me…there were tears. I literally cried over that sofa. I feel so silly looking back on it now, but it was more than a sofa to me, as I’m sure you can relate! You live, you learn! Good luck with your beautiful creation…I’m sure it will turn out just perfect! ;}

  67. tammigirl says:

    If it can be done once, it can be done again – another slipcover must be made.

    I saw where there was a lumpy sofa cushion and I said “No, this will not do.”

  68. M Christoferson says:

    Oh my gosh, I have to say I laughed so hard at your slip cover story. Thank you for letting me feel I am not the only person with a crazy emotional reaction to things I love. I ordered the belgian slipcovered sofa from RH, it came and I was so dissappointed, it was so sloppy looking and over stuffed, not at all looking like the pics in catalog or at the store. For a month I cringed at how even more sloppy it looked anytime anyone sat on it. Called RH, complained, sent them a photo of it and they happily returned my “custom sofa”. Looking for a new sofa, funny thing is the chesterfield sofa RH has is what I wanted in the first place, husband talked me out of it. I am afraid to order from RH now, second time quality has been bad at RH. Hickory has beautiful chesterfield sofas.

  69. Jen says:

    PLEASE tell me you know roundabouts how much fabric you used??? I have this same couch and with a toddler, beige isn’t very pretty anymore!

  70. Mishelle says:

    Your sofa it’s still beautiful!! Have another slipcover made. I always make two sets of seat covers. And always always wash fabric on hot twice before sending to upholster.

  71. Bekah says:

    Oh. My. Goodness.
    I have tears streaming down my face from laughter. The picture of you “plaking” on your couch–AAH! I feel your pain!!!!
    A couple years ago, my husband and I decided we needed additional seating for our living room in our new house! :) We drove to a whole other state seeking out our new addition…and once there settled on the idea that we didn’t need an addition, we needed a whole new set: sofa, love seat, chair. Beautiful white linen set, my dream furniture. I was elated that I got him to agree. We had them hold our furniture until we could return the next week with a truck… and thank goodness we did! Our plan for the “old” sofa was to move it down the hall to the guest room.
    Why we didn’t think of doing this before purchasing new furniture…I still don’t know. We tried horizontal, vertical, on its side, pivoting (have you seen that episode of Friends?).
    We still have the “old” sofa in the living room. I haven’t been able to re-convince him of the beauty that sofa alone would bestow on our room.

  72. Jona says:

    God bless you for sharing your awful story! I just bought 30 yards of white denim to make slipcovers with and wasn’t sure about washing the fabric….now I know. I will wash it twice in hot water like one of your commenters recommended. Whew! I hope everything worked out for the best anyway.

  73. Tanya says:

    Thank you for the laugh!, i was reading along and when i got to the picture of you that said “Bereaved Planking” I couldn’t stop laughing, sooooo funny!
    Thanks for the smile!

  74. Pam says:

    I have the opposite problem. A sofa that looks like it’s been on a diet with a too big sloppy looking slipcover.

    But Just in case no one else mentioned it, try putting your slipcover on wet and pulling and prodding. Damp fabric has some stretch and I’ve done that with my too small chair slipcover with some ok results.

  75. antiquechase says:

    This really is not funny. but man, you make it funny. I’m sure I would have thought I was being “punked” or in a bad dream…. Lesson to us all. I still have white slips in my entire house… the PB one hasn’t been washed (yet).. oy. I’m scared.

  76. Gina says:

    I agree with Pam. If you still have the sofa and slipcover, get it wet. If it is cotton, take it a step further and iron it will it is wet. You should be able to get quite a bit of “give” out of the fabric. I am about to start my first slipcover project. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  77. Katie says:

    This post just made my night! I laughed out loud to the point my husband had to ask what was so funny! I too suffer from dark sofa remorse (and dark chair remorse, and dark bedroom furniture remorse…) and would have probably done ALL the same things you did (except I don’t have a crafty friend like Tiffany.)

    Your new chesterfield couch looks ahhhh-mazing! Everything happens for a reason :)


  78. Tricia says:

    I hate to laugh at your pain, but oh my goodness, this is so funny! I just kept looking and the before and after pictures of your sofa and was laughing so hard that no sound was coming out and my eyes started to water! Sorry. On a happier note, your current sofa is beautiful :)

    I’ve slipcovered a few things and despite the ladies at the fabric store telling me that my fabric was dry-clean only, I was a rebel and washed it…turned out to be a great decision!

  79. Allison says:

    there are some pinterest tutorials for how to stretch out shrunk fabric… involving baby shampoo :)

  80. Jessica Posey-Dowty says:

    I read an article about “re-stretching” fabrics that had been shrunk. Both a dress and a sweater had been miniaturized by throwing in the washing machine by accident. In each case, the technique worked. I first tried it on a terribly shruken cotton dress. I soaked the dress in water with just a drop or two of hair conditioner (overnight). It relaxed and went back to the original size. I tried again on a wool sweater and it too worked (even better). (The wool sweater went from adult size to a very think doll size and then back to adult size). Needless to say, I air dried both items the second time around. The electrostatic bonds that cause fabrics to shrink are broken up by hair conditioner. I’d try it. Too much hard work to throw away if you still have the slip cover. I am embarking on making two slipcovers- so thanks for the advice on pre-washing the fabric.

  81. Stacy says:

    Sorry for the slipcover blues. That truly sucks. One thing you’ll need to do before you make another one, is once it is washed (very important, but you know this now), is to stretch the fabric back into shape. I spent 4 months working for a drapery maker and that’s all they made me do. It’s called blocking. Stretch diagonally from all points, and up and down (weft, weave). Fold the fabric after a few stretches such that you get a 45 degree angle (weft meets weave edges). If the edges or main areas are bulging, or the edges won’t meet correctly, keep stretching. A good long table helps but you can do it on the floor. Make sure the edge you’re folding up to meet the selvage is straight (tear off an inch if you can to get a straight line before you start stretching). This will make sure your fabric is back in shape for draping on your couch to make a pattern.

  82. Ann says:

    I found this article while searching “prewash linen upholstery fabric”. I laughed until I cried. I feel your pain, and have the projects to prove it. The writing and but photos are priceless. Thank you and press on, friend.

  83. Sharon Andres says:

    Just came across your post while searching for pre washed gray denim for my sunroom sofa. You have probably long since taken care of your slip cover dilemma, but just in case, I found the absolute best PRE WASHED white denim at Lewis & Sheron Textiles in Atlanta. Reasonably priced (I think $14/yard?) and has surpassed my expectations. We have 4 kids and dogs and like to enjoy actually living in our home. My slips are gorgeous. I’ve had them about 2 years and have washed them several times. I usually pretreat them with Oxyclean or something along those lines, let sit for a bit, and then wash in my oversized front loader. First time I think I used cold water but since then I usually do warm water/cold rinse. Sometimes I run through twice depending on the mess. I damp dry them on low for 10 minutes or so, just enough to get a few of the wrinkles out and then put them back on. I did by 2 white quilts at Pottery Barn Outlet & keep them tucked tightly around the top and bottom cushions. Easy to pull off and wash as needed. Hope this helps.

  84. Debbie Perkins says:

    Well, Bless your heart…I had a rolling giggle (if at all possible) the whole time that I read your blog. Curses!!!! :) I knew what was coming when you said the dreaded W word. Yep, been there, done that. I attempted to slip cover a sofa sleeper and a love seat. I DID prewash. It was a soft greyish colored duck cotton. Can you say mammogram? Yep. That is what the 15 yards of fabric looked like when I pulled it out of the washer and dryer. My jaw hit the floor. Well, it’s bought and paid for, gotta use it. Then, in my case, tearing apart the sofa, I couldn’t do a slipcover. I had to cover the sides and bottom. Love seat, also. Yes, did the kid stomp and ground my teeth. Hubby so “kindly,” NOT, helped me put the sofa and love seat back together. Fun, right? Ok, the saving grace in my case was covering the seat cushions and back cushions. All 10 of them. Yes, I’m twisting my hair and doing the finger roll on my lips, sound included. They really look good. I finally, like you, had to take the cushion covers and wash them. They actually washed and dried well. They just are a little lighter with the washing. I love your slipcovers, before and after. Maybe you can get that new sofa. (oh yeah, just got a chair and a half with a huge storage ottoman for $5. Schnadig brand.I’ve been on for an hour.) You see, we never learn…. I will be washing the chocolate cotton. Good luck!

  85. Trina says:

    I wash on a delicate cycle, tumble dry until almost dry (still damp)~ this helps fitting everything back on and leave everything to air overnight. Never had a bother x

  86. Ayesha says:

    I enjoyed this post so much in a knowing-laughter – had those kinds of thing happen myself – way! Thanks for the reminder to wash the material first. I am a six-cat farm household and want a easy slip off and wash option. Thanks for the advice and the diyers’ shared knowing laughter – as Brene Brown would call it. Will have to read up to date posts to see if you get the Chesterfield – on my wish list too!

  87. Lane says:

    I just really screwed up my couch covers as well! I bought a minimalist vintage mid-century sofa with wood frame, gorgeous with tapered legs…couch including covers were LIKE NEW. No signs of wear, fabric looks as fresh and vibrant as if it had just rolled out of an all american Union Only “Made in America” sans sweatshop factory. NO vintage dust, dirt or grime. How many things from the 1950’s are less vintage ick

    It could have really been okay if I just blotted the fabric until it was “clean” until it felt like mine…but being paranoid/OCD about not knowing where this has been, I handwashed the covers (with delicate cycle detergent, Woolite). Now that they have dried, I very truly, deeply, madly regret it. However, I did google extensively within the last couple hours, and we may have hope… I am soaking one of the back cushion covers in a cold water and fabric softener mix for a few hours then will try and stretch by hand and try to let the cover dry while back on the cushion if it will fit back on there. It has sadly shrunk about 4-5 inches of it’s original size.

    • I’m so sorry Lane. It hurt me to read this! Let us know how it turns out… been there. :( It will have a happy ending!

      • Lane says:

        The covers did stretch after the fabric softener soak! Not back to original size of course, but maybe (?) a couple inches. I hung them on pants hangers overnight so that they were almost wet/very damp by morning and kept stretching the fabric by hand throughout the day and evening. It was a total work out! They did stretch a bit more after they were zipped up.

        I originally had taken the covers to a dry cleaners who told me that these could be laundered in a machine! They were nowhere ready on time so instead of patiently dropping them off at another dry cleaning facility, I took them home and followed the original advice, except hand washed them thinking I could get the cleaning done overnight. Never again!!

  88. MEG says:

    I am so sorry for your living room. But this is pretty funny and I show it to my all customers who want to purchase a slipcover sofa. This is a great “this could be you” tool.
    The best way to look at it IS that you can REALLY get the sofa of your dreams.

  89. Ronia says:

    Where did you get that sofa cover? What were the measurements of your sofa? Thanks for the insight!

  90. Nancy Rea says:

    LOL. Just finished reading Jenny Lawson’s book (Let’s just pretend this never happened), and didn’t think l would laugh as long or as gut busting again. Your slipcover story proved me wrong. The pictures were priceless.

  91. Lea says:

    I am in the market for a slipcover and ended up on your blog … I’m glad I did :)

    Sorry about your slipcover. I’ve taken this post as a pre-sales warning and a glimpsy into design potential. Thanks a bunch!

    Is the last picture on the About Us page how you ended up resolving the issue?

    • Hey Lea! Well, I guess you could say that. This is a really long story, but the slipcover was my “I-really-want-a-chesterfield-butI’ll-do-this-instead-to-save-money,” piece. and then catastrophe hit, and we ended up going with a chesterfield after all. Lesson learned in maybe sometimes it’s better to do what you really want than go cheaper, spent a whole lot of time and money on something that is your second choice, only to be taught in the end that going for what you really want and sticking with your instincts is best. ;}

  92. Ashley says:

    Just ordered 45 yards of denim fabric to slipcover our massive sectional. I was actually doing a little research online hoping to convince myself I will be able to bypass cutting and shrinking the fabric first. I’m so glad I found your post! I will definitely take the time (and patience, ugh) to wash and dry it before I start sewing. Thank you!!

  93. k says:

    I would be curious to see what it looks like if you put the damp slipcover on the sofa and let it dry, rather than let it air dry and put it on the sofa. I’d hope the results would have been better :(

  94. Gram says:

    I once had beautiful white denim covers and they were not pre washed but the lady who made them allowed enough for shrinkage. I washed and bleached, washed and bleached and loved, loved, loved them. Decided to change furniture and bought slipcovered sofa and chair from Rowe. The sales person at furniture store checked numerous times with the rep and we were told they were washable. Even called back one more time on the day I decided to order them and got same response. Well, they shrank and no one will even talk with me from the company. Seams ripped, cushions bunched up…I know the sick feeling you felt! The initial response when the sales person called them was that I didn’t launder them properly! Never asked how or what I did. (Remember I had white denim covers for years) The end result was an offer from the furniture store to allow me to buy another set at their cost of $500. Why would I want to spend anymore money for something that is not what I was told? I am not sure how to proceed with this issue since I cannot get a response to emails or phone calls from anyone at Rowe. They only speak with dealers! I saved for a long time and shopped many stores for slipcovered furniture before purchasing the Rowe furniture and I am so disappointed with my living room now. If you are in the market for slipcovered furniture I would certainly not buy Rowe furniture!