DIY Custom Marimekko Slipcover for Cheap!

Well Baby M is 10 months old, and my furniture is suffering at his sticky little hands. Ever try telling a baby not to drool all over the couch? It does no good. Since the fabric bench in his little play area was rapidly getting covered in slobber and banana mush, I decided I had to act fast and get a slipcover to protect it. I could not find a ready made slipcover to fit the bench, so I wanted to sew a slipcover to cover it. I went to the local Crate and Barrel Outlet to get affordable Marimekko fabric. At four dollars a yard, the outlet Marimekko fabric is affordable. The selection is not fantastic, as there are no smaller-scale and multi-colored prints available. I settled on a lime green on lime green circle print, Marimekko “kivet” fabric, to sew my custom slipcover.

Marimekko Kivet Green Fabric
Marimekko Kivet Fabric in Green. The right side is bright and the wrong side is muted.

The process of sewing my custom couch slipcover went well, considering that I have no real idea how to sew a slipcover. My slipcover design is meant to just drape over the couch and come off very easily for frequent washing (remember I am dealing with a messy baby here).

Marimekko Couch Slipcover DIY
Custom Marimekko Slipcover

I followed the basic slipcover tutorial instructions on honeybearlane: drape your fabric pieces on the couch inside-out and pin in place to get the right shape and fit. I didn’t sew any cushion covers or anything complicated like that: its just some Marimekko fabric in the shape of a couch. Next time I make a slipcover, I may use this helpful slipcover tutorial on Sew Mama Sew.

I did not sew down the top of the main couch cushion, so the slipcover has more than enough give to easily come on and off. After staring at my lime green fabric for a while I got sick of looking at it and began to hate it. I sewed the slipcover wrong side out, for a muted lime green pastel effect. To counter the baby drool problem, I added a layer of waterproof PUL fabric behind the slip cover.

DIY Slipcover and Bolster Pillows
DIY Slipcover and Bolster Pillows with Marimekko Kivet Fabric from Crate and Barrel Outlet

To complete the slipcover project, I made matching bolster pillow covers. I used the bolster pillow tutorial on Pretty Prudent, minus the piping detail. Also, I improvised an envelope pillow opening since there is no way I am going to hand sew the cover on. My first pillow is pretty sloppy to be honest. But I learned from my mistakes and the second pillow turned out better. Next time I make a bolster pillow I will probably shorten the length of the main pillow fabric to make a tighter fitting envelope pillow cover.

Red Velvet Envelope Pillow Cover Sewing Project

For various non-valid reasons I haven’t taken on any sewing projects in a while. To ease back into things, I made a pillow cover for the couch in my living room. I wanted a large, soft, and squishy pillow, so I ordered a 24″ down square pillow form online. Its a bit more expensive than plain foamy or whatever pillow forms, but to me the extra few bucks is definitely worth it.

I ordered some deep russety-red cotton velvet from fabric.com. In the end making this pillow did not realistically cost less than a store bought pillow. However, they apparently don’t make store bought pillows that meet my exacting standards.

Envelope Pillow Cover
Envelope Pillow Cover

Now, I needed to figure out how to sew an envelope pillow cover for my oversized pillow form. Due to an unfortunate deficiency in the amount of fabric I ordered (me no math good), I did not have enough fabric to make an envelope pillow out of two pieces of fabric. Luckily, Instructables had a good tutorial on making an envelope pillow out of three pieces of fabric. This sewing tutorial was helpful because it told you how to figure out how much fabric you would need to cut based on your pillow size. You need to have enough fabric so the envelope flaps on the back of the pillow are large enough to have a good amount of overlap for a secure fit.

If you have enough fabric, it will probably be easier and faster for you to make a pillow cover using fewer pieces of fabric. And, fewer cuts mean fewer chances for mistakes to ruin your project! This tutorial on Take the Side Street would be helpful for an easy sewing project that uses only one piece of fabric.

envelope pillow cover front and back
Front and Back Sides of my Envelope Pillow Cover

In the end, I was happy with how this simple sewing project turned out. My only issue is that I feel like for my personal taste,the pillowcase could fit the pillow a little more snugly since my pillow is quite soft and flexible. Next time I will probably cut the fabric to the size of the pillow rather than adding a one inch seam allowance.

Zip-o-riffic Pillow, or Zipper Hell

I went into this project so bright-eyed and hopeful; yes, other people complained about zippers, and some people build their project repertoires around projects without zippers. But, surely things would be different for me!  I would just follow directions and be careful, and surely everything would turn out all right! Zippers could not be that hard; other people must not be persistent or brave enough!

I was flushed with my successes so far- no, my work was not perfect, and my last pillow was a lot smaller than  the book said it should be.  But, I do not expect perfection, at least not right away, and was thrilled with my work so far. I was  looking forward to learning a new, useful skill (zipper installation) that would open up a wider variety of projects, likes skirts, dresses, and pants.

I bravely changed the presser foot- I think this was the first time I had done this, and it was a lot easier than I had expected- and got started. True, I was unable to find a diagram about how exactly the zipper is positioned in relation to the zipper foot, but I just tried to figure it out.  It was immediately apparent that my machine does not like sewing anything remotely thick, such as fabric next to a zipper.  OK, I reasoned, nothing is perfect, just coax the machine into doing what is was designed to do. But, I ended up breaking two needles!

Zippered throw pillow
Zip-o-riffic pillow with the Zipper from Hell

As far as I can tell, I followed the zipper directions. I managed to baste the zipper on and get one side of the zipper fully sewn on before slinking away in horror.

After this project, I looked askance at my sewing machine for a week, and was wary of starting a too-hard project, or any project at all. I’m going to come back to learning how to sew zippers after doing the rest of the two-spool projects. I don’t know what I am doing wrong- I might have to put out a craigslist ad asking for help, or find a class on zippers.  For my next project, I am going to make a sewing machine cozy from  Sew Everything Workshop. I am fully committed to learning zippers- they make so many more types of projects possible- but am taking a break from them right now.

Grade: Incomplete