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Making an Ugly Sofa Beautiful

A few months ago, my boyfriend and I uprooted and moved one state over.  It was fairly short notice, so we just packed as much as we could into an SUV and drove to our new apartment. The only “furniture” we could fit in the car was a fold up table, tiny folding chairs and a blow up mattress. After living like this for a few days, I was finally able to go out to find a sofa. I ended up finding this nice camel back sofa with lion feet legs.

Isn’t it beautiful?! Not. It had the ugliest slip cover, but a quick glance at the underlying fabric and I fell in love.

This is the story of how this ugly sofa turned into a beautiful piece of furniture.

I really wanted a darker colored sofa, but I figured I could paint it a la this tutorial and still have the pattern of the fabric show though. Unfortunately, when I got the couch home and removed the slip cover completely, there were a few problems.

The cushion was only covered by the fabric from the ugly picnic slip cover fabric. Yuck. While I brainstormed about what I could do, I just wrapped up the foam with an extra bed sheet cover. You probably noticed that the cushion looks bigger here than in the first picture, and that is true! I was able to score 4 pieces of high density upholstery foam for just $40. I was so excited. I ended up using two pieces on the couch and I’m going to use the other pieces to reupholster a little chaise lounge I got. But that will be a different post.

But back to updating the sofa – the first thing I thought I could do was to stick with the original plan and paint the couch. I figured I could paint it and then buy enough (almost) matching fabric to make a new cover for the cushion. Sadly this couldn’t happen because I noticed small tears in the fabric that would eventually tear more and more as we used it. That must have been why they slip covered it in the first place.

The second thing I thought I’d try was to attempt to dye the slip cover black. I felt as though that was the only color that could cover the ugliness of it or at least tone it down so the plaid wasn’t too bad (a.k.a. too noticeable). After ordering a bunch of dye only to accidently lose half of it down the drain before I even started dyeing the fabric and then having the fabric not take any of the color (yay for rushing things and not figuring out what kind of fabric it was) I decided to try a different tactic.

I found this tutorial and thought that this is the one that I’ll do and I will make it work no matter what. I ordered quite a lot of this dark purple upholstery fabric and got to work.

I cut up the slip cover to make a rough pattern for the pieces and to take out the piping cording so I could remake piping in the new fabric. This picture shows after I sewed on the arm pieces.

And here it is almost done! It stayed like this for a while because, even though it was only a few straight lines I had to sew for the cushion, I kept psyching myself out. I only had enough fabric to attempt this once, and I was sure I would mess it up somehow. Eventually I decided to get the cushion done, so I glued the foam together so it would appear to be just one big piece of foam, I crossed my fingers and sewed up a huge rectangle. Thank. God. It fit. I had to enlist the help of the boyfriend to get the cover on, as the cushion is a foot taller than me, but we crammed it in there and it ended up being a perfect fit.

And here it is complete (or almost… I’m really tempted to paint the legs white)! I love it so much! I wish I had just skipped the whole dyeing debacle and went straight to this, but it all worked out in the end.

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chezlin

chezlin

11 Comments

  1. K Carpentier
    May 30, 2012 at 9:12 pm — Reply

    Looks great! I have several pieces around here you can practice on…..please. Let’s talk!

  2. Janine Crawford
    June 28, 2012 at 11:25 am — Reply

    Great job! I am a master at making slipcovers but this idea is an inspiration. May I suggest that you paint the legs glossy black?

  3. July 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm — Reply

    […] been itching for some new pillows for my awesome couch, and I ended up coming up with the simple idea of just using my boyfriend and my initials. And an […]

  4. September 5, 2012 at 9:16 am — Reply

    Lovely, how many total hours did it take you?

  5. October 19, 2014 at 11:36 am — Reply

    […] I’ve sewn fabric directly onto the existing upholstery job. […]

  6. January 15, 2016 at 10:45 pm — Reply

    I’m imressepd. You’ve really raised the bar with that.

  7. April 28, 2016 at 6:52 pm — Reply

    Some apples roll away from the tree. “How about them apples?” Adventurers usually do the discovering eh! It usually takes a certain amount of resiliency and ability to plod on to complete a quest. Find your place.-Sandman

  8. May 15, 2016 at 6:33 pm — Reply

    That’s cleared my thoughts. Thanks for contributing.

  9. June 5, 2016 at 7:21 pm — Reply

    Merci, vraiment merci pour cet article, c’est vraiment extra.J’ai acheté un satellite A200 1VC il y a 4 jours et j’ai passé presque 2 nuits avec un pote à essayer de virer ce …… de vista à la …..!, mais en vain.Je commençais à bader sérieusement (en fait j’étais presque résigné à rester sous vista) ;(L’HORREUR, quoi! Je vais tester tout et je vous tiens au courant.

  10. October 22, 2016 at 9:18 am — Reply

    That’s a smart way of thinking about it.

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