30 November 2012

How To Re-Cover Couch Cushions

 I showed you here a bunch of pictures of my newly re-covered couch,
but here is a quick reminder of how the couch looked

and after:

The couch was originally covered in microfiber, which I absolutely hated, so I re-covered it with this fabric:

I'm going to split this tutorial up into two posts, so in my next post I'll talk about how I made the long cushions for the back of the couch, and today will be about how I re-covered the seat cushions.

I must start this post by saying that if I can do this, ANYONE can. 
A small child even.

Okay not a child, but really anyone else. 

I am not a fantastic sewer and watching YouTube videos of professionals putting couches together had me almost hyperventilating and wondering why the heck I was going to attempt this. 

Adding to my nervousness about my lack of sewing skills was the fact that Rob had warned me that if I destroyed the couch and was unable to fix it we would not be buying a new one.

If that's not incentive to not screw up then I don't know what is. 

But the fear of sitting on blankets draped over bare foam for the next year and a half was not as great as my hatred for that microfiber. So I took a deep breath, downed some hot chocolate (cause I don't drink, so I've got to get a boost from something) and got started.

Since I suck at math and didn't want to do a bunch of measuring, I used the original cushion covers as my template for cutting out my new fabric. They were also my guide for putting the new cushion covers together. 

I started by taking the old covers off the cushions and taking pictures of them to help me remember how everything was suppose to go together. (-a friend gave me that tip and it helped so much- especially with the underside of the biggest cushion, which was pretty complicated.)

In order for my method to work, I had to separate all the different parts of the cushion covers without cutting them. So I used a seam ripper to separate every piece of microfiber that made up the covers. 

The big black nylon piece on the bottom has the zipper going up the middle of it. Every piece of fabric that was microfiber was going to be replaced with my new fabric, and it was all going to be reattached to the black piece that's on the bottom of the cushion.

Every time I got a piece of microfiber fabric separated from the old cushion cover, I'd put a piece of tape on it and label it A, B, C, etc. If it was a funny shape with say one side wider than another, I'd stick another piece of tape on it with directions like "This side attaches to black fabric" or "this end to back of couch" just to help me orient things when I was putting everything back together. 

Once the whole cover had been dismembered I laid the pieces out one at a time over my new fabric and carefully cut around the edge so the new fabric pieces were in the exact size and shape as the old pieces. I didn't have to add anything for a seam allowance because I was using the same allowance that the old pieces had been given and since I'd used a seam ripper to take the pieces apart the extra fabric was already there.

Every time I cut out a new piece of fabric I made tape labels for it that matched the labels on the old cover pieces. 

I then saved all the old pieces in a pile just incase I needed to reference them for something- which I did several times.

To make things even easier to reassemble correctly, I drew out a picture of the cushion and wrote in where each piece went by writing the letter of each piece of fabric on the side of the cushion that it went on. 

Then it was time to start putting everything together. Basically I was building a fabric box.

Since I was starting at the top and working my way down, I first laid the fabric that was going to be at the top of the cushion down on the table. Then I arranged all the side pieces around it and made sure I had all of them in the spots they were suppose to go.

Once I knew exactly where all the side pieces were suppose to go, and which of their ends attached to each other, I went around and pinned all the side pieces together so they made a big circle
and I sewed them all together. 

Then I arranged the attached sides to the top piece and pinned them all the way around so that I knew for sure that everything was lining up exactly where it was suppose to go before I started sewing. 

Then I sewed it all the way around. 

I mentioned before that I already knew my seam allowances because of the old fabric. Since it was microfiber I could easily see the holes where the stitches had been after I ripped them out. So before I started sewing my new fabric I just measured the distance on the old fabric between the stitch marks and the edge and that's how much space I left between my stitches and the edge of the new fabric. 

Also, a tip about the stitches themselves- I had wanted to use upholstery thread but had heard that home machines can't handle it. I'd read a tip though about only threading the top of your machine with it and leaving regular thread in the bobbin. I tried it and it still didn't work for me. It jammed the threading mechanism and I had to untie it with a pair of tweezers. 
So to help make the stitches stronger since I was just using normal thread I did two rows of them and would back up the stitches multiple times at the beginning and end of every section I sewed. 

And now, another tip....if you're recovering an L-shaped cushion like I did, make sure you pay attention to which direction you face your L so that you don't get finished and realize it's on the wrong side of the cushion. 

Think even a moron wouldn't do that?

Well this moron did. 

I was like 70% done with the L cushion, which was the hardest and most time consuming part of the whole couch, and just as I was gloating to myself about what a spectacular job I was doing, Rob came downstairs, took one look and was like "You did that backwards."

I could have died. 

I have no pictures of what followed but I can tell you it looked something like this:

So save yourself the agony and pay attention to what you're doing. 

But anyways, back to the tutorial-

So after putting the top of the "box" together, which was the top and sides, I put the bottom together by attaching the few new fabric pieces that belonged on the very bottom of the cushion to the black piece of fabric. You can see which ones I'm talking about if you look at this picture again-

-see how it has a few pieces of microfiber that go on the very bottom? 

I attached those new pieces to the black piece first, that way it would be easier to attach the top section because both halves would be the same shape. 

Then I laid the bottom piece over the top, right sides together, and pinned it all the way around and then sewed. 

I didn't get a picture of the process of getting the cushions into their new covers. Rob had to help me. The big L-shaped one was kind of tricky. Rob had to fold it in half to get it in the cover. I've heard that if you are having a hard time getting a cushion into it's cover you can wrap it in really thin plastic and suck the air out with a vacuum, then while it's really thin you put it inside the cover and then rip open the plastic so it expands. We didn't end up having to use that trick but it sounds like a good one. 

All of the cushion covers had zippers already in the black fabric that was on the bottom, so I didn't have to try sewing zippers on which was another plus about taking apart the old covers and reusing the bottom of them.

Oh and speaking of the bottom of the covers- there were a couple pieces of microfiber fabric under there that now that I look back on it I didn't need to remove and replace with the new fabric. Most of the microfiber underneath did need to be replaced with the new stuff because it connected to pieces on the side of the cushion so it would have showed. But a couple pieces were on the very bottom and don't show at all, so if I was doing this again I would have saved myself a little time and left them alone. Just something to consider if you are planning on doing this.

Also my plan for the cushion covers changed after I got my fabric. I had originally planned on removing them frequently and putting them in the washing machine so that's why I made sure to get washable fabric. But now I am not planning on washing them in the washing machine unless I absolutely have to. Here's why:

1. If I was planning on washing them after they were made, I would have had to wash and dry the fabric before I cut it, that way it could preshrink. If it didn't get washed until after it had been cut, then the size would have been completely wrong and would no longer fit on the cushions. I'd been planning on pre-washing my fabric, until the huge roll of it got here and I started getting really really nervous about stuffing 30 feet of fabric into my ancient washing machine.

2. Since I couldn't use upholstery thread in my sewing machine, I was worried that if the cushion covers kept getting taken off, and washed, dried, and stuffed back on the cushions frequently, that the weaker thread wouldn't be able to hold up to all the stress and that the seams might eventually start coming apart.

So for those two reasons, I chose to spot-treat my couch instead. I'm still glad I got washable fabric though, because if some crazy catastrophe happens that nothing but the washer can get clean, I can take the covers off and wash them. I just wouldn't dry them since they weren't pre-shrunk- I'd put them back on the cushion wet so that they'd stretch over it and then just let them air dry.

But I really don't see that having to happen because we're pretty strict about the kids eating on the couch- most snacks that they have are stuff like animal crackers, dry cheerios, dry corn pops...couch-colored  snacks. The most dangerous thing I let them carry around with them are fruit snacks. And my daughter already spit one out on the new fabric and got red stains on it and they scrubbed out really easily with some couch cleaner I already had. So I'm really not worried about stains.

So anyway this was such a long-winded post, but that's the recover process for the cushions!
I can't even say how much I hated doing it, but I am completely in love with the results!!

My next couch post will be about the cushions I made for the back

Have a great weekend! I'll be relaxing on my "new" couch!

*August 2013 update: to see how I tufted the back cushions on the couch (see photo below), go HERE

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Liz Marie Blog

29 November 2012

HGTV Home Pop-Up Showroom

 I just discovered something exciting at the Mall of America-

an HGTV Home Pop-Up Showroom.

I was walking by with my husband and brother and screeched "What?!?! An HGTV store?!?! We have to go in!!!"

It has this cool set up right when you walk in-
I don't know what you're suppose to do at this table, but I'm going back to find out!

They don't actually sell anything in here, but they have stuff like fabric and wallpaper and pillows and flooring that you can pick out and they can then order for you.

I instantly fell in love with this lamp.

They also have a few areas set up like rooms, to give decorating ideas.

I really loved this paint chip wall!

The best part about my visit was that I didn't walk out empty-handed-
they sent me with a free copy of HGTV Magazine!

I'm definitely going back so I can spend more time. It looks like it's here through the first of January. 
HGTV actually has a lot of exciting stuff going on at the Mall of America in these next few weeks- here are some details! If you are in the Minneapolis area you should definitely check it out!

28 November 2012

Christmas Mantel

 I'm not yet finished getting my house ready for Christmas, but one spot that is ready
is the mantel.
Well...pretty much....still need to hang the stockings but first I have to get new hooks.
But I'm going ahead and showing it to you anyway!

I'm loving this sparkly vase filler so much that I'm seriously considering leaving it out all year.

I think if it's surrounded by non-Christmasy items I could make it look like it belongs. 
And it looks so good in that West Elm vase

The evergreen branches are from a tree in our front yard. 

I used another one in a vase on this table, along with some berries.

We have our Christmas tree but I haven't gotten it decorated yet. 

Hopefully I'll have it done by tonight. 
In the meantime I'm enjoying the simple but pretty look of the mantel!

26 November 2012

Metallic Cowhide Rugs

On Friday I included one of these in my Christmas Wish-List. 

Here's why:

They are glamorous and beyond gorgeous. And I think I need one.