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As you might see from the snapshot to the left, I once had a very cheap and wonderfully tacky brown tweed couch. We obtained said couch from a friend of ours who has been known to be a bit, shall we say, wild. Unfortunately, I was so unhappy with the fabric and condition of the couch, and acted so quickly, that I don't have ny really good "before" pictures, so you will have to use your imaginations. Imagine this lovely brown twead couch has been passed down from distant aunt to niece, survived four years in a dorm room, moved to CO, dragged up and down several different narrow apartment staircases, and switched hands until it was in the possession of my aforementioned friend of ill-repute, wherein it lived in a poorly ventilated garage for a year before we inherited it.
After acquiring the new used couch, and telling my dear mother all about it, she promptly went out and purchased a lovely, loosely woven blue fabric (you can see it nicely juxtaposed in the above picture) super cheap and sent it to me in a huge box. It actually cost more to ship than to buy. I think she bought about 14 yrds, which ended up being a little bit too much (but you can never really have enough fabric). Needless to say, the fabric sat in the box for a good week (or three) before I finally got around to doing something with it.
At the time I didn't have a sewing machine, so I needed an easy way to handsew the whole reholpstery project. After some extensive googling, I ended up combining several techniques. I began with the cushions--which seemed easiest. I very bravely cut a large square of fabric and placed the cushion in the middle. I folded the fabric around the cushion and cut the excess, leaving a few inches (probably better to leave about 4 inches or more, it sucks to run out of seam allowance). Using a backstitch
, I stitched up the sides of the cushion, starting from the L shaped end. When done, I had varying amounts of excess fabric leftover at the top of each cushion, so I folded the available fabric underneath the new cover and stitched them closed around the cushion. The last touch on the cushions was to to tuck the corner pockets into the new cover to make pleated ends.
The overall effect was a handsewn border around the cushions (sort of like a box cushion) which is pretty close to what I was aiming for.
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It was pretty easy to staple a narrow strip of fabric to the base of the couch. I probably cut too much fabric, but the excess is hidden beneath the cushions. Staples underneath the couch and to the backside of the base keep the staples hidden and the fabric secure around the bottom of the couch.
After I finished the cushions, I took remaining scraps of fabric and individually covered the arms of the couch. I decided pretty early on that it would be too much work to strip the remaining tattered fabric of the couch so I instead covered over it. I stapled the individual pieces of fabric to the wooden frame using a heavy duty staple gun...
By the way, if you've never used a staple gun, a good tip is to try to embed the staple into the hardest surface of your project (the staples just fall out if not secured into place). Also, they make staples of different sizes, so don't be like me, and think about what you are doing and how thick the fabric and or wood is before you begin. Longer staples are more secure but may require hammering down (as mine did), while shorter ones sometimes are too small to penetrate through all the layers of cloth to get to the wood. Not all staples are compatable with all guns, so check before you purchase anything. Lastly, test your gun before using it in your project (it can be a huge pain to remove misplaced staples, which can cause issues with the fabric draping etc.---I recommend using plyers to remove these).
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I inevitably did not have enough fabric to cover the arms the first time I tried. I folded the fabric around the natural curves in the furniture to add some design elements, but the excess attention to detail left the side a little bare.
To fix it, I simply added another, larger, piece of fabric below the curve of the arm and stapled it to the back of the couch as well as on the bottom of the couch (this arrangement allowed me to hide a bunch of sloppily placed staples)...it also looks pretty intentional--a plus for we clumsy crafters.
Next, I had to tackle the backrest...I'd been avoiding it since I wasn't sure how cover the three cushions with their separate lumbar supports; and I wanted to preserve the original detail without going through the effort of adding piping and individually stiching each cushion. Plus I didn't really have a good way to secure the covers, as mentioned, stapling only works if there is something hard to be stapled--eventually I decided on the following plan: I cut individual squares of fabric for each of the two back cushions for each section of the the couch. I then handstiched the two squares together, and the three pieces together so that they would line up against the backrest. I stapled the top of each cover to the back of the couch and allowed the bottoms to be draped over the backrest where they can be tucked into the cushions and into the sides of the couch.
I will admit that my sewing was most definitely sub-par on this project. I recommend patiently making smaller stitches, which are easier to hide, and tying very secure knots at the beginning and end of the stitch, rather than my version of loose, large back-stitches and feeble knots. Also, next time I do this (probably again without bothering to measure as I should), I will make the covers smaller...too much fabric leads to a lot of tucking in--which can get tiresome. Alternatively, I might explore using dowels to keep tucked fabric in place, although I'm not sure that would work with this style couch.
The last bit to be done was to cover the back of the couch. The original fabric was mostly missing, allowing full views of the the wooden frame beneath. I decided to cut the hanging piece of fabric and then cover over the whole back. I also needed to position the fabric to hide the messy stapling from the backrest cover.
Well it's good enough for the family anyway :)
...and voila! Good as new and hardly a dollar spent. As an addendum, I would like to point out that the loosely woven fabric is pretty hard to work with, since it resists cutting (frays very easily) and stretches more than it probably should. Also the color has faded a bit, but that is to be expected with two dirty dogs. All in all, I am satisfied, and proclaim it--good enough.