Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Amateur Upholstery Hour: Introduction

Can someone please stop me from buying fabric?
Please.  My husband begs you.

  I have been completely incapable of finishing anything this past week and a half, even though I have several projects in progress.  This weekend I set out to sew early in the day Saturday and Sunday and was thwarted each time. 
Sidetracked, really. 

What did I do instead?  I organized my fabric.  I know I should be ashamed at how much I've accumulated, but it secretly makes me happy when I walk by.  I cleaned out my closet and did a major cull.  I feel good about that.  Oh yeah, and I bought this couch from the Salvation Army.

With the grand intention to reupholster it.....  ack!

Sorry I trailed off there. I'm a little embarrassed that I'm even proposing this.
Now I know you are probably thinking about my last two and half month adventure with upholstery that involved tears, but let me explain: 

J and I stopped by the Salvation Army after lunch on Saturday.  We fell in love with this couch but had no real desire to purchase it.  Luckily, J and I have similar taste in furniture and home decor.  We both like antiques and artsy, quirky things.  While we were looking at it, an employee glanced over and said we could have her for half price.  Half price made it a whopping twenty seven dollars.

We couldn't not buy it, right?

We think it's from the late 50's/early 60's.  We're calling it mid-century Asian modern, though I'm not sure that label exists.  It's definitely mid-century and it has an Asian flair.  The old fabric is a brocade of some sort.  It weighs about three tons.  I wasn't expecting that when I helped carry it out of the store. But I'm glad because that means it's solidly constructed (solid piece of wood, too).   It's also eight feet long.   The only reason it was so cheap is because it's in pretty rough shape.  There's some damage to the wooden frame.  The white cushion covers look pretty good in these photos, but trust me when I tell you they are not in real life. (Why would anyone want a white couch anyway?)
J used to work doing faux finishes in homes and on furniture.  He can paint just about anything impeccably.  He's excited about repairing the damage to the frame.

As for the upholstery... 
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

I should also mention that school's out for summer after this week.  Hands down the best thing about being a teacher ;)  So, this becomes a major summer project.
Destruction of the old upholstery begins this coming weekend.
The only reason I'm even writing about this now is because blogging will keep me honest about it, whether I succeed or fail.

My weekend in a nutshell.  Instead of finishing that simple cotton a-line skirt I've started, I hatched a plan to upholster a couch.  
How was your weekend?


 All the photos in this post were taken with my brand spankin' new iPhone.  I've had it for a week and I'm not sure how I ever lived without it.  This one below is just for fun.  Instagram.

Hope everyone has a great week!


  1. Fabulous score! Good luck with the project. Have you seen the Simplicity upholstery book? They have it at my library, and whilst I've only glanced at it, it looks pretty good.

  2. Your beautifully organized fabric is just the picture I need to kick start my own stash (monster) cleanup. I want my fabric to look that pretty stored too! :) Also, that couch is divine. I love the sides! I can't wait to see what you do with it.

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  4. That is a great thrift store find! I wish you the best of luck reupholstering I think a site called "Curbly" has some posts on reupholstering, but the site is a blog so you have to scroll through to find the posts. :]

    * I deleted my first comment to fix a typo. :]

  5. Yes, iPhones have that effect on people. I'm resisting.... but I hope you have fun with it!
    OF COURSE you can re-upholster a couch. It's all straight lines, right? I've done ours three times now, but it sorely need re-doing, ulp! The main thing causing my hesitation in starting is that although it's not difficult, it's heavy work and kinda not fun...

  6. I really like the design of the couch. Do you have any ideas about the fabric yet? Muted or bright color palette? Solid or a print?
    I could totally see it in a bright big scale 60s graphic print.

  7. Wow! What a holiday project. At least you'll have the time to really knuckle down and get stuck into it. Enthusiasm can wane if it drags over too many weekends. Good luck!

  8. Thanks for the words of encouragement, everyone!

    katherine h, I didn't even think of checking out the library- duh. I ordered a Singer upholstery book that got good reviews online. I'll have to check out the Simplicity one.

    Carolyn, all straight lines except for the the base. That's what I'm most afraid of screwing up.

    Katarina, we are definitely going for some sort of wild, graphic print. We're looking for a print similar in style to the whole mid-century modern vibe. I have swatches galore on the way. I'm most excited about picking the fabric!

  9. It helps to stay the heck out of fabric shops. I throw away the ads and coupons as soon as they appear in my mailbox. I did cave and buy five colors of wide-wale cord, and I did give a friend money to buy me merino in New Zealand, but those were special cases. Mostly just stay away from fabric stores to keep the stash down.

    Great couch! My mom has a white couch. It makes sense with the living room, and she didn't buy it until she was sure all of us kids were out of the house for good. It's really pretty, and she works her tail off keeping it in sparkling condition. She's just kind of nutty that way.

    What are you going to use to re-upholster? I love unexpected and ridiculously huge projects, so I'll be keeping an eye on your progress. :) If you have any major issues or problems, I could ask my mom. She does a lot of huge upholstery projects...

  10. you can CERTAINLY do it. you just needz alcohol.

    i can't believe you snagged that beauty for 27 dollars!

  11. According to my internal accounting system, upholstering a couch is worth hundreds, maybe thousands! of dollars of guilt free fabric accumulation. Your fabric looks so pretty all organised.

  12. I love the look of your fabric stash! And that couch is a wonderful find - an incredible bargain!

  13. kbenco- Ha! I will be reporting back to my husband using your internal accounting system.

    Steph- I may take you up on that offer if I get stumped. I'm hoping to post about this as I go.

  14. Excellent score! That you find the existing cushions disagreeable will only help prod you through the refurbishing. Can't wait to see what you come up with.