Notes on Recovering a Couch

It’s time to recover your couch when the cushions look like this…
It's time to recover your couch when the cushions look like this! Here's 6 tips to walk you through the process.
Our couch did not fair well in storage, but it’s insanely comfy and we can’t afford to replace it, so I decided to recover it. Here’s my tips after the experience:

1. Buy Enough Fabric (for pity’s sake).

I snatched up these 6 yards of 60″ upholstry fabric at the Salvation Army for $15. It was a good price, so I took the chance that it would be enough. It wasn’t. Now, I’m really good at ‘stretching’ fabric, but not having enough fabric made this project an absolute headache. I wish I’d had one more yard. Ideally, I would suggest one yard for each foot of the couch’s length, which would have been a nice 8 yard piece for this couch. Which would have cost an arm and a leg at Joann’s. Which is why I tried to do it with 6 yards of thrifted fabric. Which is why I have a headache. Which is why I’m writing this post.

2. Use UupholsteryThread.

You don’t want to go to all the trouble of covering a chouch to have the stressed seams rip when your two-year-old uses the couch as a trampoline. I bought 2 spools to be safe, and I used just over one spool. You may have to adjust your thread tension when using thicker thread.

3. Use the Old Cover for a Pattern

This is the coolest part of recovering a couch – you don’t have to make up the pattern – it’s right there at your finger tips. Just unpick the seams and lay the pieces out on your new fabric!

4. Zipper seams unravel!

All the couch cushion zippers I have met (I have given new life to at least three couches) are sewn with the same sort of seam they use to close feed bags. If you can find the right thread to pull, the whole thing unravels in seconds. Save the zippers! They will work perfect for your new cushions!

note on the last two points: these techniques work for cushions – but for the back and arms of this couch, I had to drape the fabric and pin and estimate. Which leads me to my next note–

5. Don’t be a Perfectionist.

I’m preaching to the choir here – It annoys me when I can’t achieve a perfect result. The fact is, it’s a couch cover. It doesn’t really matter. If you can’t handle a puckered corner or a less-than perfect fit, you should just buy a new couch.

which ties in nicely to my most important tip–

6. Count the Cost

Do you really want to spend hours sewing with heavy duty fabric to make clothes for something that can’t even say thank you? If you don’t get a good deal on fabric, recovering a couch can be a time consuming and expensive venture. You have to decide if it’s really worth it, or if you need to figure out a way you can afford a new couch.
For me, I really like this couch – it’s comfy, and it’s a sleeper – and the sleeper is comfy too! But we were the 4th family to love this couch, and the cushions were in awful shape. But we can’t afford a new couch. So, I buckled down and covered it (for the second time – first was a thrifted slipcover I found that sorta fit). But this is the last time. The very last time.

7 responses to “Notes on Recovering a Couch”

  1. Trina Avatar

    Or, “one man’s trailer is another man’s treasure?” LOL

  2. Traci Avatar

    As a side note, perhaps you, Rachel and myself should start a side-project blog called “Trailer Trash To Treasure”..

  3. Traci Avatar

    Trina you are absolutely awesome. And so diligent. I would get halfway through a project like this and throw in the towel and we’d live couchless… and my dear husband would not enjoy living couchless. Which is why we have torn up ends on our couch that has NOT been recovered. Is couchless even a word? I suppose not.I love the brown though!

  4. Miki Avatar

    my own couch becomes shamefully pathetic looking every few months and i end up having to patch and stitch it into respectability again. eventually, i suppose, i will have to buy a new one… but i just can’t justify the spending, and besides i *love* my couch♥you did a wonderful job on your, my dear. pat yourself on the back!

  5. CVO Avatar

    I think you made it work!

  6. Abigail Avatar

    You are amazing Trina. It looks awesome! And I like the brown a lot better.

  7. Christine Avatar

    It looks wonderful 🙂 Can’t say I’ll be recovering a couch anytime soon, but I will definitely save your tips some where handy 🙂

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