Sloppy Slipcovers (aired 4/25/04)

If you have a couch that's seen better days, maybe you're thinking about buying a new slipcover. Custom-made slipcovers can cost hundreds of dollars — sometimes even more than you paid for the couch itself! Consumer Reports looked at less expensive ready-made slipcovers to see if they might fit the bill.

Couches like these look great in the showroom, but can cost a pretty penny.
If you want a new look but don't want to spring for a new couch — is there a way to make your old couch look brand new? Consumer Reports' Pat Slaven just evaluated ready-made slipcovers. She checked ones from Pottery Barn and a Web site called Sure Fit and a third slipcover from

First, Pat assessed the quality of the fabric. She started with the ones from Sure Fit and Wal-Mart — which go for less than 100 dollars. Both are made from the same type of cloth.

"It's suitable, but it's not a real high quality fabric."

The 179-dollar Pottery Barn cover was far better. It was made with high-quality reversible twill fabric and it had a nice finish.
Then it was time to try the slipcovers out on the real thing. Consumer Reports enlisted the help of Michelle Miranda and her couch.

"I just wanted to change the fabric."

First, Pat put on the Sure Fit slipcover. It looked okay, but was pretty baggy and rumpled. And the seams didn't line up well with the edges of the couch. Next came the Wal-Mart cover. It turned out to be a pretty big disappointment, too.

"It looks like a drop cloth."

The one from Pottery Barn turned out to be the best of the three.

"It has fewer wrinkles. It's a little bit heavier. It hangs nicely. Pretty much what we found with slipcovers you get what you pay for."

But none of the slipcovers stay in place. When Pat and Michelle sat on them, they came untucked and got rumpled. Consumer Report says if you want your old couch to look brand new, it'll cost you. A custom-made
slipcover, like this one made for Michelle's couch, would cost you more than 600 dollars.

Consumer Reports says the manufacturers of the ready-made slipcovers offered this tip in the instructions — roll up some magazines and tuck them behind the cushions and next to the arms to help keep the slipcovers in place. Consumer Reports tried this, though, and found it wasn't much help at all.

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