a blog chronicling my days of unemployment and all the crafty things i'll do during it

Thursday, September 2, 2010

the long awaited couch reupholstery (part 2)

continued from part one.

on my evenings and weekends from work, i managed to complete the rest of the project.

new fabric: i laid out my fabric on my living room floor and placed all the old upholstery pieces on top. i pinned them into place, and cut around them, creating a duplicate piece out of my new fabric. i labeled the new pieces with the labels from the originals. some of the old fabric was so worn that it needed to be thrown away. but, some has been salvaged by a friend, who wants to use it to make pillows for her couch and to reupholster a couple seats on wooden chairs. i approve of this fabric in small doses such as these. i don't think it will be so hideous in these amounts.

piping: i'd never made piping before this project. so, i called my aunt to find out why it was important that piping be made with bias cut fabric. really, what i wanted her to say was that it wasn't important at all, and that i wouldn't have to cut 20 feet of 2-inch bias strips (pain-in-the-butt!). but, she informed me that it was important for durability (longevity), and for flexibility (going around corners). so, i used bias-cut strips, and the previously salvaged piping cord, and made enough piping for my cushions and the arm-facings.

padding: i hadn't planned to re-pad the couch. but, when i removed the original fabric, the padding looked so old and thin - it needed some love. i happened to have a bag of quilt batting in the closet, so i added a layer of that to the arms and to the back of the couch.

cushion covers: these were, by far, the most challenging portion of the project. my cushions are box-shaped, so they are easier than some couch cushions - but sewing around corners and through several layers of thick fabric (top/bottom, side & piping) is challenging, even with the necessary zipper foot attachment. in addition, box cushion covers have zippers, and i think this was only the second (and third) time i'd ever installed a zipper. i really just used the original cushion cover as a guide. they turned out a bit uneven, with a few puckers - but you can't really tell once they're filled with foam and in place on the couch.

reconstruction: piece by piece, the couch was finally reupholstered. i used a craft-sized staple gun, and followed the order pictured by my library book. it was nice to have and extra set of hands for this part of the project. chris was able to pull the fabric tight into place for stapling. i was pretty sure there would be staples showing when it was done, because i hadn't thought of a better way. but, at the last minute i raided our stash of thumb tacks and used them as makeshift upholstery tacks. we carefully hammered them in, and we broke a couple in the process, but we had spares. someday, i'll replace them with real upholstery tacks, but for now - these look much better than visible staples.

and that's it!

in summary, here are my tips for your amateur reupholstery project
1. check your local library for upholstery books and find one that has a similar project to what you're planning
2. take digital pictures along the way to help you reconstruct your furniture
3. buy a bit more fabric than you think you'll need
4. reuse as many materials as you can (piping cord, foam , etc - it's already the perfect size/shape for your piece of furniture)
5. have an extra set of hands to help with the actual upholstery stuff - pulling fabric to the right tension for stapling. the extra set of eyes is also helpful to let you know if it looks too tight or too loose.
6. have spare sewing machine needles, and make sure they are heavy-duty ones for upholstery fabrics. i broke 2 or 3 needles during this project and had to run out to buy more.


  1. it looks so AWESOME. YAY new couch!!!! so... what about your other couch...??? lol

  2. Jen
    It looks great! You did an amazing job!