Thursday, January 20, 2011

In which my sofa gets a makeover

We purchased our living room furniture in 2004 when the Little Guy was not quite a year old. Fast forward through toddlerhood and two dogs, and the sofa is really beginning to show its age. Last fall I started looking longingly at furniture ads but, budget reality being what it is, quickly realized a new sofa was out of the question. I thought slipcovers might be an option but it turns out that we have a somewhat odd sofa and none of the ready-made ones were going to look good. They'd cover the old upholstery, but it wasn't likely the fit would be very neat and I knew that would make me a little nuts.

After estimating yardage to make my own and pricing upholstery fabric (and subsequently picking myself up off the floor when I figured out how much 16 yards of fabric would cost), I found an online coupon for cotton duck at Joann's - it was a great deal IF you bought a full 20 yard bolt. Sign me up!

A few things I failed to take into consideration at the beginning of this project:
  • Cotton duck shrinks. A lot. And since washability was a huge part of the whole slipcover deal, the fabric had to be prewashed. 20 yards of canvas is heavy. 20 yards of WET canvas is really heavy. I spent one full afternoon wrestling it around the local laundromat.
  • There is no flat surface or floor space in my house big enough to roll out more than a few yards of fabric at a time. So cutting out the pieces meant rolling out a small area, ironing it, drawing out the pattern, cutting it out. And then repeating that process about 17 times.
  • Upholstering (which I've done before) is, at least in my book, easier than slipcovering because you don't have to fiddle with the fit as much. Folding and stapling is a lot more forgiving than actually sewing a removable cover.

I started the project the week of Christmas and finally finished today. I LOVE how it turned out, and I'm just proud enough of my work to share the whole ugly process.

1. The before photos. Note the lovely chewed corners on the throw pillows. My dog apparently has a taste for polyester fluff.

2. The first glitch in my plans - there were no inside covers on any of the cushions, so taking the covers off meant completely unstuffing them. I ended up making permanent inside covers for all of them out of assorted fabrics and mismatched sheets. Not pretty, but it worked and it will make it much easier to remove the new covers to wash them.

3. Work in progress. Since making the inside covers had a side benefit of letting me really fine-tune the fit before I tackled the canvas version, I decided to make a test version of the main slipcover the same way. My mom came over for an afternoon and helped with the figuring on this. Thanks, Mom!

4. And finally, after nearly four weeks, a little swearing, two broken needles, multiple spools of thread and three pin-related injuries, it's done!

Still needs throw pillows but I haven't decided whether I'm going to buy them or make them. And now that I see how close the color of the cover is to the color of the walls, I'm thinking of painting the living room...

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  1. I'm in the process of slipcovering my sofa now. It's my very first sewing project and it's a beast (and I'm not even doing it nicely with piping like you.)

    Thanks for showing me the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully this will motivate me to work faster.

  2. Good luck, Meghan! My best advice is, "pin, baste, test, breathe, repeat"! It was a pain to take the whole thing off the couch several times to test and adjust the fit, but totally worth it in the end. Come back and share a link when you have it finished - I'd love to see pictures!

  3. OMG You're my hero! I love the look of this couch. Very Pottery Barn-ish. ;)

  4. Looks great. This is my big project this weekend. I haven't sewn since high school, but I got a new sewing machine for Christmas, so I'm dying to dive right in. Hope it turns out as nice as yours!

  5. Wow, you have done a fantastic job, I have thought about slip covering over the years but always give up the idea as too hard.
    I like your white sofa with the white walls, I love the white on white look and the rest of your furniture and rug keep it from looking too bland JMHO

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