Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Posted originally on CHFI Slipcover Forum ( by Shirley Hendry Walsh on 2/25/2004:

method : double on half

I did promise a while back to do this, and then waited to see if I could get it into Sew What. I didn't get a response, so I will do it here :

I'll do double on half first though it's # 3 down on the methods list.

Double on half. Done in the home, or shop if you choose. Using the real goods, folded on the center point of ( symetrical ) furniture on the center portions, doubled WS out, RS facing, on the arms.

Let me say that in different words. You take the chair ( sofa ) measure the inside back top and place a pin at the half way point, same on deck, outside back bottom. You are placing a pin where you have measured to find half the chair. The pin marks this place and doesn't get removed untill you are done.

Your block cuts are made the same size you would make them for any slipcover technique, generous. I do the outside back first. I fold goods ( vertically, in half ) to WS out, place the fold on the halfway point, and anchor into chair, with long pins, into the four corners. My pins are inserted back an inch or more from my proposed seam line. My anchor pins stay put while ( and when ) I close seams.

I then position all my block cuts ( double layer )every where on my chair ( on the half I chose to use of course ), WS out double thickness, RS facing smooth and having respected grain and pattern on the side I can't see. I anchor with reasonable tension, though tension ( pulling ) is done on closing seams, not at time of anchoring per se.

This is not a " how to " . This is a contrast. This assumes you would know how to decide where your seams would go, how much over the block cut should be to work with safely, and where you'd center or "picture frame" your print.

After anchoring every pair of cuts securely and having placed those long fat anchor pins out of the line of " traffic " ( where my line of closing pins need go ), and making certain I have a range of choices for seam placement given my block cuts overlap generously , I dig in and see what I can close up. Where appropriate, all block cuts which tuck are arranged so that I can see tuck is provided for : either thay are tucked in, or they are peaked out where I can see they are tucks and not excess.

Closing is the whole game. You must have already made sufficiently large block cuts to give you choices. If one looks short, replace it now. You are brushing cloth into place, it's a gentle process. You sweep one piece into the piece it joins to with tension, but without strain. Closing pins are distributed not in baby step fashion ( say, not here, then at two inches away, then two inches away in a straight line ) but in a " hop skip and jump "" style. You need not work on the outside back untill it's finshed and having closed no seams on other parts of the chair. It's faster to throw in the closing pins you can decide on quickly, and leave areas you are uncertain about to last. You may trim seams as you pin some areas closed in order to see what you are doing in tight areas. Darts folds and unexpected seams used to remove excess are discovered and closed while closing seams.

Pivot cuts : these take courage. In crotch areas, or where turns are made with a block cut, to make it conform to a curve or change direction with it, you often must clip deeply. You must in order to continue closing seams, and when you get there, you will know. Hop skip and jump untill this is a last task, then you will see your choices more clearly. Once you hope skip and jump enough the seams will in fact be closed with pins every two inches apart or closer if defining a curve, or supporting heavy cloth.

To summarize what has not been a full description by any means, just the " lay of the land " and to contrast to what you may now do : all parts of the chair are cut at this fitting, save boxings, skirts, cord. NO cord is pinned in, you may not pin cord in using double on half. There's no sewing done prior to this app't, and many slipcover cutters will not even have the benefit of having seen the furniture or fabric choices prior to walking in the door. You are not there to invent a new process, you are there to execute a proven process, there's no creating or perhaps even much thinking involved. With enough cloth you can embellish after you get back to the shop. You have not cut into the bolt prior to arrival. You will cut off the block cuts without the benefit of a table or yardstick. You pull it off the bolt which lays on the floor, hold a length up to the spot you need a block cut, glance at the pattern, makes sure you have enough block cut to manipulate the pattern into the spot you'd like it to be. Clip the selvage at that size you want.

Hold the cloth end, bolt on floor. Flip the cloth over onto itself at the clip in the selvage, line the cloth up selvage to selvage ( fold will be you cut ) and slip your very shrp scissors into the fold and slit it. It will be straight. You pull the cloth as much as you slide the scissors. This has been done with success a million times, use your foot to help you ( right handed , then right foot ). Try this at home, it's easier than it sounds.

Once it's all trimmed in the home, you fold the pin fitting up and wrap it in the remainder of the cloth and bring it back to shop. You have also : traced cushions, noted boxing height, skirt height intended has been marked on the fitting, and hey, write the phone number on the deck too, may as well.

This is the one and only visit, the one and only fitting, the next trip back it's installed finished. With practice, a chair wil take total 30 to 60 minutes. The average cutter will have as many as six addresses to hit in a day, though hopefully the seven or so pieces they can do are at fewer addresses ( multiple job ). The average cutter will not explain this to a seamstress, it will be understood well enough in this form those people will not need to speak. Exhausted yet ?

Obviously, for those of you who have considered and then tried pre measuring, have had an app't prior to see the job, and can take the cushions with you, you can see how to break this into smaller bites. Just know there are men out there doing this everyday, and that it can be done in a haste, with proven process, and have all the fit that you may struggle longer and more haphazzardly at achieving. You can imagine, these people can employ and delgate to others: they price to receive volume, the volume supports the process. You must keep a seamstress busy to keep a seamstress you have trained to do this, this seamtress training took me two years. Cutters volunteer to do this for the minimum price so the flow of work is uninterupted, so they can keep the employees busy so they don't go out and do it independently.

A rat race ? Yes, but it is THE rat race. It is how most slipcovers make their way into the hands of the people who buy them. You need not change a thing just because you know. You should at minimum be aware. And, if you are good at telling yourself the work they do cannot possibly be good, you need to know it is good work, the results are very acceptable. Creative ? No. Turned around fast ? Maybe not. Competitive ? If they do it in your city, yep. It is how slipcovering is made into big business.

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