2.26.2015

The Courage To Reupholster A Sofa and (a Sort of) How To

I'm finally writing about this pretty camel back sofa I got last year, which went through a makeover. Now, I know this sofa is not perfect. I fully recognize areas that might be too lumpy or not pulled tight enough. Therefore, I must apologize to all of you perfectionists out there, but I'm just thrilled it's done and not looking half done. I am by no means a professional upholster. I upholstered a small chair a few years ago. I really wanted to bring this to an upholsterer but that darn budget forces me to take measures into my own hands, literally. I am so glad I did it. I had several friends come over and help me take this couch apart (I bribed them with lunch) and a good friend that helped me sew the cushion. 

One friend who came over to help me said encouragingly, "Tracy, you just have to look at this as your practice sofa. Who cares if it's not perfect? Try your best and don't worry about it." Oh, how wise! These were just the words I needed to hear to get over some of my fears of upholstering a whole sofa, which sounded daunting sometimes. Actually, it's good advice for anything we do, especially in design. There has to be some trial and error and we learn from our mistakes which help for the next project that we do. 

If you ever find yourself wanting to rescue that chair or sofa and you know you'll need to reupholster it, then know you can do it! You will need to have some determination, goals and band aids near by when you take that sucker apart. 

The sofa project took a long time because it got put on the back burner with other projects several times. I hope to be able to explain some tips and things that helped me upholster the sofa. Every sofa or chair is different and I'll explain the things that helped me with my particular sofa. 

Step 1: Find your vision and sturdy fabric
I had read how velvet is a wonderful durable upholstery fabric so I wanted to go with that type. Also, I knew I wanted to stick to something solid in color (as a beginner upholster). It would be difficult to match up stripes or a patterns. 

Finding navy blue velvet was not common. I ended up finding some on Ebay for $12/yard. 


upholstery chart
                                                          image source
This chart helped me know about how much fabric to expect. It's always a good idea to buy extra fabric than what it calls for so you can feel safe you have enough.

2. Research
I looked up some You Tube videos and found this one most helpful here. Also, Jenny from LGN has some incredible upholstery tutorials. There are also several books out there that are helpful like this one, which I got at the library. 

Step 3: Stripping the sofa
You need:
-flat head screwdriver
-pliers
-hammer
-a bowl (to collect staples) and band aids (it's easy to hurt your hands doing this part. You could wear work gloves.)
Save all your pieces of fabric and label them. You will use these pieces as your template for your new fabric.Also, save the welting/rope to reuse it for the welting. My little girls added some stuffed animal friends on the sofa to keep me company. 
Step 4: Stapling the sofa:
You'll need: 
-Staple gun
-Air compressor with upholstery staples in the gun. This way it went fast!! (optional)
-Scissors
-the new fabric (cut pieces)
-Curved needle (I needed this in one section)
- I used cardboard for the front arm
- Fabri-tac adhesive
-Nail head trim (optional)
Once all your fabric has come off then you're ready for the stapling to begin! And yes, this looks like a mess. The other major motivator to work on the sofa was so our puppy wouldn't eat the whole thing. Don't you love all the little stuffing on the floor?
The curved arm originally had welting around it. I decided to make a separate piece to cover this area. Here's a good shot of the air compressor we used too.
Once I stapled the arm as best as I could I traced the shape of the arm onto a cereal box or thin cardboard.
The cereal box got covered with velvet using  fabri-tac upholstery adhesive. This stuff is great because it doesn't show any marks of glue once its dried and it really sticks well (it's a permanent adhesive that says its washable too).

                      Once the fabric was covered then I used brass nail head trim to hammer into place.

Work with what you have. Towards the end of the project I was running out of fabric. It wasn't too difficult to sew two pieces together on the machine and then staple the whole thing to the back. Again, this is not a perfect job, but I figured mostly the sofa will be against a wall so we won't see the back sewn piece.
The front bottom part of the sofa was tricky because the seat cushion was tightly sewn covering the springs and I didn't want to take that apart (which would have been a ton more work). I ended up using a curved needle and hand sewing the velvet to that section and stapling the bottom section.
Curved needle sewing isn't as scary as I thought. If you have the right tools, things go a lot more smoothly.
The cushion was sewn by my friend who has a great sewing machine. I asked her help because there were some sections where we were sewing through four layers of velvet (because of the welting). My basic sewing machine would not be able to handle all that work. I'm not going to explain the cushion sewing since she did most of it.
Overall, I'm happy to have a piece of furniture in our library room now besides our piano. Someday, we will add side chairs and a small coffee table, but this room is baby steps to being done. It's good for the soul to try challenging, out of our norm projects and I'm glad I did.


BOTN I'm joining the party button 125 x 125
here
and linking this to:
Not Just A Housewife 

35 comments:

  1. WOW! it's gorgeous! that color is amazing! props to you, tracy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Cassie! Due to our budget it was necessary for me to learn how to do this. I'm just thrilled the room is not covered in stuffing. Our puppy was having way too much fun in that room while I was working on the sofa.

      Delete
  2. I love the color and I think you did a great job!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love it. I especially love how the curved backrest area is so perfectly smooth looking - it would think it would be hard to not get any puckers there. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lia! There were definitely tricky spots, and it has flaws but overall it looks done. Thank goodness!

      Delete
  4. I think you did a great job and should be really proud of yourself! Consider it Perfectly Imperfect :) Reupholstering is really hard. -Robin @ www.designbyrobinsnest.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Robin! I do love how it turned out and I'm so glad our room is not a mess anymore.

      Delete
  5. I adore your color and fabric choice - it really makes it a beautiful piece of furniture and perfect in that room. What a daunting project and you did such an amazing job! I love it!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is fabulous!! That fabric is a stunner and I'm unbelievably impressed that it turned out this well for your first time upholstering!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kris, I'm happy this beast is done too and that my room is not a mess anymore! Thanks.

      Delete
  7. Tracy I am seriously in awe of your skills. I shared it on IG, I love that you tried something that was kind of intimidating, look how fabulous it turned out!!!! You are making me think I can try the one thing I find most daunting.....figuring out how to sew on the sewing machine. (I'm taking baby steps.)
    Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful project.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Lisa! There really wasn't too much sewing involved, more stapling and figuring out like a puzzle how everything needs to go on. I'm thrilled my room is looking more like a room than a workshop. Ha!

      Delete
  8. I love the color and am so impressed with your willingness to take a risk and try it yourself :)
    - Lora

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Due to our budget I felt it necessary to learn how to do this without sending it to an upholsterer. "Necessity is the mother of invention." I learned a lot, and know its not perfect, but I love how it turned out. Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  9. That took a lot of courage and it turned out great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I don't know if it was courage or just necessity, but I learned a lot on how to upholster and get over some of my fears of it.

      Delete
  10. Wow! Good for you. Love the color and fabric choice. Turned out great

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! The color was what sold me too. Thank goodness for Ebay!

      Delete
  11. Tracy, I would have been totally intimidated tackling and upholstering a sofa like that! The blue velvet fabric is stunning! It turned out beautifully. I love the contrast of the blue sofa against your white bookcases. Thanks so much for sharing about it, that is no small project:) - Tara

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tara, it was intimidating, but do-able! It just took a lot of time and figuring out how everything needs to be put on. I'm so glad to have the room back together again, not looking like a workshop.

      Delete
  12. That sofa is beautiful! Great job finishing it and it looks amazing in that room! Love it!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Trisha! I love how the room is coming together too.

      Delete
  13. You did an amazing job, kudos for tackling something that is rather scary! (your friend's advice to use it for practice is indeed wise). Love the fabric and nailhead trim work, not to mention the look of the rest of the room is so lovely! (I'm being sucked in by your equally amazing built-in bookcases and decor!). Pinning! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I'm so glad for encouraging friends who help change your perspective. We're loving the fabric and the fact that our room is getting put back together.

      Delete
  14. So pretty, Tracy. I love the color and it's stunning in front of your shelves!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer, thank you for the feature. I'm like a proud mama of my little blue velvet baby. So glad it's done and now we have a place to sit in that room!

      Delete
  15. You are absolutely amazing and so is your fabulous sofa!!! Thanks for your endless inspiration! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are absolutely amazing Pam! Thank you for the feature. I'm so glad I finished this sofa, it took awhile and several times I thought I should just quit, but now I'm like a proud mama of this blue velvet baby.

      Delete
  16. I love that you just went for it! I have a big ol' armchair that I've been meaning to upholster for the past six months, but it's just so intimidating. Thanks for proving that I should just do it already! :)

    TheCheapishly.com

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi, I was sent here by Jennifer from Dimples and Tangles. What a great job you did! I admire your courage and the blue fabric is stunning! Be proud and enjoy! BTW, as a result, I'm subscribing to your blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so kind Patricia! I'm so happy this little sofa is done and our house can look somewhat normal again and not stuffing everywhere.

      Delete
  18. Love! Can you please share your source for the gorgeous brass sconces with the adorable stripe shade? Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I got the sconces two years ago from Overstock. They were around $30 each. I used Rub and Buff in antique gold on them to give it that brass look and I added the navy blue trim with some glue on the shades. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  19. I was with you when you bought that!!! So proud of you to make it happen!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I was with you when you bought that!!! So proud of you to make it happen!!

    ReplyDelete