How I Got Started

Our wedding

When I got married 14 years ago I inherited an ugly couch, and as a new wife I was determined to make my little dated apartment "cute". I went out and bought fabric and a pattern for a slipcover. To my dissapointment the fit was horrible and the tuck-in and ties were awful, so I bought more fabric and made the cushions as separate pieces that sat on top of the main body slipcover. I still hated it.

Our house being built

A year later we built our first house, so I headed to the local thrift store and picked up a chair, that I was determined to make a better slipcover for. I had looked at a few pamphlets and books at the fabric store, and thought I had figured out how to make a "custom slipcover".

Ugly chair that I picked up at the local thrift store. Soon I learned this chair didn't have really good lines. I now would never choose the fluffy back thing.

My first custom slipcover. My recommendation..don't choose a stripe or plaid for your first slipcover.

My friends and family loved it and started asking me to slipcover their furniture. In the mean time we got pregnant with our first child, and I told my husband when we had babies I would stay home and make slipcovers...he laughed. I had my first "real" client when my baby was 3 months old. I think he forgot how determined and focused I can be when I want something. He has become wiser over the past 14 years.

I still ended up having to go back to work part time as an assistant manager at Bath and Body Works when my baby was 7 weeks old to pay the bills. I did about one to two slipcovers a month during this period for clients. By the time my baby turned a year old, my business had grown enough for me to stay home and sew. So I took a leap of faith and quit my job.
I had a display chair in a few shops (Joanns and Addie Landons) and cards up at the fabric store, and the rest of my business came from word of mouth. All my clients are now from word of mouth, I haven't had a chair in a store for about 6 years.

My family picture from Christmas 3 years sister is a photographer. You can check out her blog at

I now have two ladies that help me sew to keep up with my growing business. I try to keep my work schedule to 2-3 days a week, because I now have 3 children. So I have my "mom" days and my "work" days. My husband is a fireman and has 4 days off in a row, so he watches the kids on my "work" days.

I have lots of designer clients, and regular repeat clients. With having the extra income I was determined to put it to good use and get out of debt. So slowly over the past 10 years I've paid off the basement, the cars, and the house...yep the house!!! Now I am working on paying off the cabin we just bought. Remember how focused I said I was? My friends think I am crazy. I might be a little bit, but I like to call it "determined" not crazy.

So if you want to learn to make slipcovers to redecorate on a budget or you want to make some extra money...learning the art of slipcovering is an invaluable tool and skill. If you love fabric and decorating and have some sewing skills you will become obsessed with the possibilites of what you can do with an ugly piece of furniture. You will become a regular at the local thrift store and craigslist.

My "How to Slipcover Video" walks you through the basics of slipcovering and will give you the skills to slipcover just about anything. I teach you to make a slipcover by pinning it on inside out. I was self taught and learned through trial and error over the past 11 years... with the DVD you can learn without going through the heartache and wasted time that I went through. I am now fast at what I do, and with practice you can be too.


Susy said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It has encouraged me to move forward. I am just getting started in the business. My sister gave me your video. I have had a few clients here and there, but I am serious about stepping it up in 2013.

Susy said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It has encouraged me to move forward. I am just getting started in the business. My sister gave me your video. I have had a few clients here and there, but I am serious about stepping it up in 2013.

Anne Marie said...

Hi Shelley,
I think you have a great story and your work is absolutely beautiful! I just happened to come across a picture on Pinterest of a chair you reinvented and started looking through your blog. The only things I've ever sewn were stuffed animals in Home Ec class in junior high school, so I'm really amazed by your talent!

Denise Petersen said...

Shelley, I love your story and would love to learn to do this for my personal use. I have several old pieces of furniture I would like to recover. Not sure I could learn this from a DVD. Can I come and learn in person? I live in Kaysville and am guessing you don't come out this far for work? What type of fabric is best and do you recommend painter drop cloths? Saw it on pinterest. Thank you! Denise

Shelley Anderson said...

Denise, I am not offering workshops at this time. My DVD will teach you quite a bit, I have heard back from lots of people with their pics of their first projects and how much they loved the tutorial. I would recommend duck cloth, canvas, linen, etc--anything that's upholstery weight. I try to stay away from drop cloth because of all the flaws and weak spots that you have to avoid. I do service Kaysville, if you are interested.

Tonie Hale said...

Shelley, where do you recommend getting fabric? To have you do the slipcovers, do you buy the fabric or is the customer required to buy it? Thanks!

Shelley Anderson said...

Tonie, click on the "process tab" on my menu bar. client buys their own fabric, and I list fabric stores etc.