Friday, November 1, 2013

Bench Players

Today I'm show casing a recent project where I took two chairs and made a bench out of them. The chairs themselves have a low back so I thought they might look a little odd pushed up to a table. Plus, I didn't really have need of them as table chairs!

Here are a few before pictures of the chairs. You can see they have great detail on the front legs!

I spray painted two of the chairs black. When making the bench I wanted something that could be easily dismantled should they ever need to be turned back in to two chairs. I brainstormed a little bit and decided to just attach the board that would become the bottom of the bench to the current seat bottoms! One screw later...boom!

Then all that was left to do was make my bench cushion. If you haven't followed my upholstery series, you can learn all about the process here. I chose a sunny yellow chevron fabric. Here is the final result.

While I personally love the end product I've gotten mixed results from others. Some love it, some dislike it. What do you think?

Friday, October 18, 2013

60's Mod Couch Reupholster -- Final Installment

You can view the other installments of this series here:
Installment 1
Installment 2
Installment 3
Installment 4
Installment 5
Installment 6
Installment 7

Today is our final installment of the couch reupholster series!! It's been a long journey. Probably over 80 hours of work, but the end product is absolutely beautiful. Plus you just couldn't find a couch built with this kind of craftsmanship now.

Today we are going to make the couch cushions. All 8 of them! The couch cushions are the only thing on the entire couch that we used a pattern for. We ripped out the seams and even though the cushions were two different sizes we went ahead and wrote the piece on them so there would be absolutely no confusion. We then ironed them flat. (The picture below shows them before we ironed them.)

Once they were ironed out flat we pinned them to our fabric and cut out around them.

To find out how much cording you'll need, measure around all four sides of your cushion, double that, and then multiply it by the number of cushions you need to make. I can't recall exactly how much cording we made, but it was a LOT. In the multiple, multiple feet range. I explained in Installment 7 how to make cording.

Once you have your cording made and your cushion pieces cut out the fun can begin. First take your cording and sew it in place so that the edge of your seam allowance on the cording lines up with the edge of your seam on your cushion piece. You'll be using the cording foot on your sewing machine and butting that up against the cording as shown in the picture below.

When you go around your corners you'll need to make several small cuts to the cording allowance so that it will make the curve. You might not get the stitching in the corner tight enough the first few times. If you don't that's ok, you can go back and add a few extra stitches later.

When you get to the place where the cording will overlap, you'll need to join them as shown in Installment 7. You'll just keep on sewing right past the joint, maybe an inch. It's best to have this joint in the middle part of the back of the cushion, that way it won't be seen as much. Remember to reverse the stitching a little bit and then go forward again so the seam won't unravel.

Now to make the side piece of the cushion with the zipper. You could have kept and used a pattern piece here, but instead, we measured the height of our cushion and added 2 inches to this measurement. Fold the material in half and pin it, then run a seam all the way up the fabric, one inch in from the folded edge. At the beginning and end you'll need to reverse the stitch so it won't come unsewn.

After you have sewn your seam all the way down take scissors and cut right in the middle, all the way up the fold.

After you have cut up the fold, take and spread apart the flaps, laying the piece out flat.

You can see there's a seam right in the middle of the fabric. Now you'll need to cut a piece of continuous zipper tape to size. (If you're reusing your old zipper this section won't apply.) Here is a picture of the roll of the zipper tape so you'll know what I am referring to.

Cut your piece  of continuous zipper tape to size. Open up the ends about two or three inches. Work the zipper pull on. There is an arrow telling you what direction you should go. Once you get it started, pull the zipper apart a little more and then work the pull up again. Continue this process until you are about three-fourths of the way down the zipper. Once you have completed this -- join in here if you are reusing an old zipper -- turn the zipper upside down so that the pull is facing the fabric and your zipper is in the middle of the seam.

 Using a zipper foot attached to your sewing machine run a seam down each side of the zipper. Remember to reverse at the beginning and end so your seam won't unravel.

After you have ran your seams down the sides of your zipper, flip the fabric over and rip out the seam running down the middle of your fabric. You should have two nice folds with a zipper in the middle of them. Continue working your zipper down the rest of the way, stopping until you are about an inch from the bottom. You can also hand sew a seam horizontally across the zipper to keep it from coming all the way off.

For the rest of your side bands you'll need to take your measurement and add one inch (for a half inch seam allowance on either side). Now you simply need to sew the pieces together. You'll want to put the zipper piece in the back, where you cording joint is. Sew your sides on to the top and bottom piece. Remember it's kind of counter intuitive as you'll be sewing inside out and you'll need to flip your cushion back outside in when you are finished. is the finished product!! Much, much improved from it's previous 60's incarnation!

Click here to see the before!

Friday, September 20, 2013

60's Mod Couch Reupholster -- Installment 7

Welcome! We are nearing the finish line on our sofa. In this installment we are going to put the cording on the bottom of our sofa and attach the dust cover to the bottom of our sofa.

First you'll need to measure around the entire bottom of your sofa to get the length of your cording. Remember the saying -- Measure twice, cut once! Add 5 inches to your measurement just in case. Since our couch was over 7 feet long I had a lot of cording to make! A LOT!!

To make your cording you'll first need the plain cord. (Sometimes called upholstery piping cord, welt cord.) We used 5/32" cord. Cut out a 2 1/2 inch wide strip of fabric to the length you need. Unless you have really long fabric you'll need to join strips together. Center your cord in the fabric and wrap your fabric around the cord. Use the proper size cording foot (you can also use a zipper foot) on your sewing machine and sew as close as possible to cording for the entire length. When you have all of your cording made cut off the excess fabric, leaving a 1/2 inch allowance. 

Take your cording and, starting in the back, staple it to the bottom edge of your sofa. Leave about an inch from the edge to the first staple.

When you go around the legs of your sofa cut off the excess, getting as close to the actual cording as possible.

Once you make it all the way around your sofa you'll need to join your cording together. To do this cut off most of the excess cording leaving about an inch overlap. Then take and use a seam ripper to rip the seam out, go back about two inches past where they overlap. Next take the actual cord and cut it as close as possible to where it will join with the other end. 

Then take the fabric from the piece you have cut and fold it over to make a nice clean edge.

Take the fabric on your loose cording and wrap it around the fabric on your stapled cording. Remember, you stapled back about an inch from the edge so you should have room to do this. Your cord ends should just about touch. If you find you left too much cord cut to adjust.

Next we are going to take a small strip of cardboard and staple it around our 1/2 inch seam on our cording. This is so that the cording allowance won't droop down and be seen. Now you are done with your cording. 

Next you will put the dust cover on the bottom of your sofa. We saved the dust cover that we took off the sofa but it smelled like it had been stored in a musty basement for YEARS so we opted not to use it. Instead, we used landscape fabric. Yep, you read that right, landscape fabric.

Measure, cut to size and staple on. You'll need to make careful cuts around your sofa legs. Bam! Dust cover complete.

Next installment we will make our cushions and complete our sofa!!!

Friday, August 30, 2013

60s Mod Couch Reupholster -- Installment 6

Last time we put on the inside back of our sofa. Today we are going to put on the outside arms and back of our sofa. 

Depending on the style of your sofa or your personal preference you may or may not want to put cording on the arms and back of your sofa. I decided I wanted cording on mine so the first thing we did was take our measurements for the cording. We measured up the arms and around and then across the back. It was a lot of cording! I'll explain in a later post how to make the cording but for now just know that you need to leave a 1/2 inch allowance on your cording. 

We stapled the cording around the sides and back of the sofa. When you get to the corners make a small cut in your 1/2 inch allowance to get a tighter fit around the corner. You can also use a pair of pliers to squeeze the fabric together if necessary to get an even tighter curve.

 Get it as close to the corners and edges as you can, try to keep a straight line (or follow curves if necessary). 

After you have your cording stapled on next you will want to staple on your Ply-Grip (also called Curve Ease). Of course if you aren't using cording you'll start with this step. Did you ever wonder how they get fabric on things without the staples showing? Ply-Grip!

In our case we butted the Ply-Grip up against our cording. Be sure to staple each hole in the Ply-Grip. This does take a little precision with the staple gun. You can see the little metal teeth that grab the fabric in the second photo.

You'll want to put any cotton batting on before you put your fabric in the Ply-Grip. For the outside of our sofa arms we had a thin piece of cardboard that reused from the original upholster (found when we took the sofa apart). And for the back of our sofa we ended up stapling a piece of cotton fabric cut from a bed skirt. (You could use any spare piece of fabric for this since it won't be seen.)

After you have your cotton batting in place, measure your fabric for the area you are covering. Remember when you measure and cut your fabric to leave two inches on each side! Put the outside arms on before you put on the back of the sofa. After you do the outside arms of the sofa you'll need to go back and staple more Ply-Grip down the back sides (by the arms) so the fabric on the back will have something to attach to on the side (the place where the back of the sofa joins the back of the arms).

For the Ply-Grip take the little metal teeth and bend them upwards at a 45 degree angle. Take a cake spatula and press your fabric into the valley you've created.

It should catch slightly on the little metal teeth. Once you've pressed in around all the sides take your scissors and angle them into the valley and very carefully cut off the excess fabric.

When you have the excess fabric cut off you'll need to take your hammer and hammer the little teeth flat. You already have them bent upwards so just hammer them flat, like you are hammering them closed. This will pull the fabric taut across the area.

On the sides and the top where the Ply-Grip butts against the cording use the flat spatula to get a nice tight, clean fit.

When you have all your Ply-Grip hammered down you'll need to staple your fabric to the bottom of your sofa frame. In other words, completely finish the outside sofa arms before you move to the back. Now you have finished the outside arms and back of your sofa!