In the world of motherhood, a slipcover on a couch is like a smock on a young child, drippy paintbrush in hand. Juice dribble, sticky fingerprints, a family’s assorted and unidentifiable messes and pet fur still find their way onto a couch-saving slipcover, but you can remove it and toss it in the washing machine, as needed -- it beats reupholstering or steam cleaning the furniture below. Choose prewashed, supple, yet tightly woven fabric, such as a cotton-linen blend, medium-weight brocade or damask, or denim twill for a durable, no-sew slipcover that shouldn't slip or shrink.
Measure the couch from the floor in front to the floor behind, going up and across the seat and up and over the back, using a pliable tailor’s tape measure. Measure the couch from the floor on one side to the floor on the other side, going up and over the arms, and across the seat. Add 12 inches to each of these measurements for the size of slipcover fabric required.
Lay the fabric right side up over the couch. Adjust it so that even amounts of excess fabric lie on the floor around the perimeter.
Pull the excess fabric evenly onto the couch seat. The cover should barely hit the floor all around the perimeter.
Tuck the excess down the crevices at the back of the seat and along the arms.
Push lengths of pool noodles or rolled magazines wrapped with rubber bands into the back and arm crevices. Cut pool noodles to size, using a serrated knife or small hand saw.
Remove the cushions from the couch. Line them up on the floor in the same way that they sit on the couch.
Measure the row of cushions lengthwise, or from side to side. Add 24 inches to this measurement. Measure the line of cushions from top to bottom. Multiply this measurement by 2.5. This is the fabric size required to cover the cushions.
Measure the couch from the floor in front to the floor behind, going up and across the seat area and up and over the back, using a tailor’s tape measure. Measure the couch from the floor on one side to the floor on the other side going up and over the arms, and across the seat area. Add two inches to each measurement. This is the fabric size required to cover the couch body, including a little excess for the snugness of the cushions when you put them into place over top.
Cover the couch body with its fabric right side up. Adjust it so that it hangs just to the floor around the perimeter.
Drape the cushion fabric lengthwise across the seat wrong side up, draping it up and over the back of the couch. Leave even amounts of excess fabric draped over the arms.
Set the cushions in place on the couch.
Wrap the excess fabric from the back of the couch over the cushions. Neatly tuck the excess fabric under fabric that sits under the cushions at the front of the couch.
Tuck the excess at the sides neatly under the cushions, as if you were wrapping a gift.