If you’re considering slipcovers, you might be wondering what their capabilities are. Let’s dig deeper into their kinds and understand the job they do.
A custom slipcover is a cover specially designed for only one couch model—so you get a great fit, but the cover is not versatile at all; it will not fit any other couch. Scroll down to Types of Sofa Frame Shapes to witness the variety of shapes in the sofa world and understand why “custom” means locking yourself in with a single couch.
Ready-made stretch slipcovers are the opposite—they offer great versatility, but variable looks and fit. How well your ready-made sofa cover is designed and how many pieces it comes in will determine whether you attain a true fit, or whether you’ll get all bent out of shape (ha).
You can read more on comparing the couch cover types: here.
Here’s what various slipcovers will typically offer, according to their number of parts:
A slipcover that’s basically a single sheet pulled over the entire sofa—frame, cushions, and all—fits about as well as you might imagine: poorly. You’ll be tucking it and re-tucking it at all times of day.
A two-piece slipcover means one piece for the frame/base and one for back or seat cushions. It achieves a better look than a one-piece, since the separately covered seat cushions will help hold the frame cover in place, but still tends to look a little unkempt.
A three-piece slipcover might have a cover for the frame/base, a cover for the back cushions, and a cover for the seat cushions. Alternatively, it might cover the frame/base and two separate seat/back cushions. Again, it’s a step up from the two-piece slipcover, but if multiple cushions are placed in a single case, you miss out on a truly streamlined look.
Four pieces and up
When a slipcover has separate coverings for each component, the fit and look drastically improves. You can achieve a tailored fit that allows the true silhouette of your sofa to show.
To understand why we proselytize about multi-piece stretch slipcovers, just have a look below at all the shapes and sizes of couches out there. Ready-made sofa covers face the challenge of accommodating these wide variations; without some stretch and separately covered pieces, your couch cover just won’t look entirely neat, modern, and intentional. But getting a ready-made slipcover doesn’t have to mean compromising on the looks. If you know what to look for, you can have it all: looks, fit, and versatility (check out our slipcovers to see what we mean).
Here’s a quick, handy reference to the many shapes of sofa frames, sofa arms, and sofa cushions out there.
Types of Sofa Cushion Shapes
- Box standard, straight-sided cushions.
- T-cushions: shaped like Ts when looking down; they look like square cushions but with extended pieces that sit in front of the sofa arms.
- Half T-cushions: each cushion has a single extended piece; when combined, they form a T-shape.
- Diamondback cushions: standard cushions at the back, but on the front edge, they look as though the corners have been cut off at an angle.
- Half-diamondback cushions: standard cushions at the back and on one side, but look as though one corner has been cut off at an angle.
- Trapezoid back cushions: features one slanted edge.
- V berth back cushions: features two slanted edges so that the cushion approximates a V-shape.
Types of Sofa Frame Shapes
- Chesterfield: a very traditional, proper-looking sofa, known for a tufted back and sometimes tufted cushions.
- Lawson: has low arms and a back that is slightly reclined rather than upright; a comfortable option that suits both modern and traditional décor.
- Tuxedo: a contemporary sofa with high, straight arms and a sleek back with no back cushions.
- Mid-Century Modern: defined by clean lines, wooden legs, and a minimalist and sometimes retro look. It can come in many shapes.
- English Rolled Arm: features a high back, low rolled arms, tight upholstery, and cushioning all over.
- Knole: a larger sofa with a high, straight back, deep seating, and adjustable arms that can hinge open—perfect for the delectable living room nap.
- Loveseats are smaller sofas that seat two people, and come in many shapes.
- Sectionals: multi-piece sofas that have been assembled into a particular configuration, such as L-shape and U-shape.
- Modular Sofas: like sectionals, comprised of several sections, but modular sections are detachable and can be rearranged into different configurations at any time.
- Camelback: features a high back in the center that slopes down until it reaches the arms.
- Cabriole: a classic sofa, often with a partially exposed carved wooden frame. The back is the same height as its arms, and the arms are often curved in.
- Divan: a backless sofa, usually positioned against a wall and appointed with pillows.
Types of Sofa Arm Shapes
- Track arm: The simplest shape of sofa arm, with clean, straight lines and a modern, rectangular look. Occasionally studded with nails for added ornamentation.
- English arm: Like a track arm, but with softened, rounded out edges.
- Scroll arm: Essentially an English arm, but featuring a swooped curve.
- Rolled arm: A round, rather than boxy, arm. There are many common variations to the rolled sofa arm, such as:
- Pleated arm: A rolled arm with the upholstery fabric gathered to create pleats.
- Ruched arm: A rolled arm with the upholstery fabric gathered to create many pleats or ruffles along the entire front side of the arm.
- Pad arm: A rolled arm with another padded layer added on top.
- Key arm: Boxy and sleek like the track arm, but distinguished by a slightly more complex L-shape.
- Shelter arm: Arms that curve away from the sofa as they extend upward.
- Saddle arm: Also sometimes called saddle bag arms, which offers a better visualization; the arms look like entirely separate padded pieces that rest on top of the sofa.
Convinced yet of the challenge facing ready-made slipcovers? They’ve got it tough!
While custom sofa covers are your best bet for an ideal fit (since they’re made from scratch for each sofa), they come with added time, monetary, and versatility costs. You can read more on slipcover price ranges here.
Ready-made slipcovers are very versatile for a multitude of shapes, but admittedly don’t have a stellar reputation for fit and look.
But here’s the secret: look beyond simple offerings and search for slipcovers that are well-designed, stretchy, and provide separate coverings for each of your couch components.