Sunday, November 13, 2011

1930s Sofa Slipcovering Odyssey

Warning: to those fashion sewers who abhor home dec sewing, may want to move along.

We needed a sofa for the living room of our new house, and I found this 1930's settee at an antique store in the Stonington Borough, CT (sorry for the bad iPhone photo):


The light blue striped (silk?) fabric was terribly sunstained and had to be replaced. For some reason I got the idea into my head that I could slipcover the sofa. Having never slipcovered a thing in my life. I mean, the library has books about DIY slipcovering, so it can be done, right?

After about 40 hours of hard labor, it can be. Below, the photographic evidence:



The robin's egg blue and red fabric is Robert Allen, purchased at a wonderful discount home decor fabric store, Just Fabrics in Cranston, RI. I draped the fabric on the sofa, and traced out where I thought the seams should go using tailor's chalk. I then cut out the pieces with a 2 inch seam allowance using my Olfa rotary cutter arm.



My sewing garment skillz applied to this project: I added side panels, stengthened with cording, to accomodate the curved back (like princess seaming!)


I also inserted a regular - but massively long - upholstery zipper on the cushion, which is down-filled. I added these little tabs to cover the zipper ends!:


This part was tricky to do because I had to seam the inner arm, side arm, and deck (bottom part underneath the cushion):


Picture of the back:


In order to get the fabric to curve along the back of the sofa instead of hang straight down, I cut and basted the pieces, and pulled them very taut while on the sofa, temporarily anchoring the pieces with pins, and then re-drew seam allowances based on their new taut positions. Okay, that part was tough, too. Because the slipcover is so fitted I added 2 invisible zippers on the back side seams to enable the cover to come on and off.

Despite leaving a 2 inch seam allowance, the bottom edges came up short in a few places so I had to finish the bottom with self-made bias binding. It was actually very easy to do: just a lot of straight line sewing.

Whew. Though I still need to sew curtains for almost all the rooms in the house, I need a break from home dec sewing for awhile. A long while. Back to garment sewing, yay!

* * *

Do you tweet? I scornfully opened a Twitter account in order set up a Pinterest account, eventually began following things I like, and am now hooked. I randomly tweet about sewing, style, life.... Like how Connecticut was hit by a freak Nor'easter 2 weekends ago and we lost power for 10 days. That was unpleasant. There's a "follow me" button in the upper corner. If you Tweet, please let me know, becuase I'd love to follow my sewing friends.

62 comments:

Suzy said...

Oh wow, what a transformation. It looks gorgeous!

I don't abhor home decor sewing but have to say find it boring. I moved house back in August and still have temporary curtains all over.

Karen in Milwaukee said...

Brilliant! Can you hear me applauding? (I'm in Milwaukee) My mom always made slip covers for furniture that fit and lasted forever. That was probably my early exposure to tailored design and piping. You deserve a professional photo shoot, or maybe smart people will pay you to use your beautiful sofa in their photo shoots. I don't think I've been to your blog before, so I'm off to play in your archives. Yay, Sunday and coffee.

Nancy said...

Wow - that looks really nice, I can't believe you've never done this before.

K.Line said...

I'm totally not into home wares sewing but this is awesome!! You should be thrilled.

Lisa said...

WOW I am seriously impressed . That looks like a completely proffessional job .

Karin said...

Love it, love it, love it! You did an awesome job! It looks great. I admire the whole process: seeing the potential in the old sofa and snapping it up; choosing the gorgeous upholstery fabric, and the workmanship in recovering. Well done you.
I've never tried tweeting, or read any tweeting. I'm still trying to figure out blogging! If I do, get sucked in (and so many people do swear by it), I'll look you up for sure.

Lori said...

That is some kind of transformation, incredible job. It is so beautiful.

Sheila said...

Ok...that reupholstering is Jaw Dropping... Seriously.. Gorgeous.

Carol in Denver said...

You did a wonderful job on that slipcover! I've made slipcovers and know they don't always come out the way envisioned. And this was your first one! Very impressive.

littlebetty said...

This is seriously awesome! It must have taken so long, but it looks amazing. Completely worth it.

Laury said...

YOU did THAT, with no prior experience!! That is insane. Gorgeous! That was one ugly piece of furniture before. Nice work!

montanachic said...

That is so @%#*&*^ AMAZING!

Peter Lappin said...

Wow! That sofa looks fantastic and I love the fabric. How about a matching jumper?

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

I'm always impressed with a garment sewist who tackles a home dec project. I'm now in awe of you because that is one stunningly beautiful couch. You did an amazing job and should be very, very proud of yourself!

Bobbi Bullard said...

I'm impressed and jealous. I have a chair in my living room that is so frayed you could lose a small cat in the rifts. Maybe I'll try it now that I've read your blog.

Gail said...

Stunning transformation. Makes me want to have a go at our old sofa.

a little sewing said...

Impressive results! Congratulations on such a professional job. Your sofa looks just beautiful, and I loooooove the fabric you chose.

enjoy your beautiful new sofa :)

Allison said...

Beautiful!

Becky said...

Wow, it looks really professional! And I love your fabric choice. It's so graphic and pretty.

Carolyn said...

WOW! Looks absolutely fantastic! Your piping is immaculate, and the whole things looks completely professional... well done on a magnificent transformation!

Maria (viola33) said...

Your new sofa looks fantastic! The fabric looks very stylish, after upholstering it got a designer's look.

Eugenia said...

You have done an amazing job! I don't think home dec sewing on such a large scale is ever going to be for me (I think a throw pillow is about my limit!) but I am totally in awe of people who can cover a sofa. I LOVE the fabric - so perfect!

Clio said...

WOW - That looks fantastic!

I don't Tweet - I just can't cope with one more thing to do/check/follow/remember a pw for.

Yikes! 10 days! I thought it was bad in my neck of the woods where I was without power for 2 days!

Rosy said...

I love your version! What is an awesome job. I understand that domestic sewing can be boring (to me it seems), but the result is spectacular! My sincere congratulations!

Yan Hong Lowson said...

I've just borrowed a few books from the library so I can learn to reupholster one of our chairs! I've already bought the fabric. Of course I can do it! haha. And I've only ever made quilts. LOL I definitely do not have your garment sewing skills, but recently learned to sew my first dress! Your settee looks beautiful.

Sophia said...

This transformation is amazing. I can't believe all of the details you added. And the fabric, I instantly thought Pottery Barn when I saw it... just beautiful. You should be really proud of yourself for this!

JoanneM said...

Speechless.

Melanie said...

Amazingly gorgeous!

meli88a said...

That is beautiful. I love shape of that sofa and the fabric you chose is awesome.

I'm so sorry to hear that you were without power after that Hallowinter storm we had -- it was freezing the week afterwards!

Mimi Jackson said...

Wow - so impressed.

Anonymous said...

Wow that looks absolutely bueautiful, you should feel very proud of yourself

Janet said...

Well done! Gorgeous sofa and fabric.

I've been putting off recovering my dining room chairs for a year. You've inspired me to get going.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

I am thoroughly impressed. I despise home dec sewing for myself but admire a project like this--that fabric was such a fantastic choice for the style of the sofa.

erinkg said...

Wow, you did a really amazing job. Very impressive!

Debi said...

This is so incredibly stunning! Great job!!! I am garnering inspiration to cover the small couch that is in my sewing room!!

Leslie V said...

Wow!!! that is beautiful!!! I love the color and you did a great!!! job!!!!

Jessica said...

Wow. That is incredibly awesome. Amazing!

littlecottondresses said...

This is crazy impressive! Bravo!!
Excellent fabric choice, it seems to fit the style of the couch.
Kudos to you for not being intimidated by something new, and turning out something that nice!

BigD said...

Happened upon your blog.
I think you did a beautiful job. LOVE the fabric!
I did something similar when we first married, almost 20 years ago, with my husband's old college couch. (Which was used when he got it!)
Instead of invisible zippers (which I didn't think of) I used hidden strips of velcro to get the back fitted. (I had 6 cushions to do.)
What amazes me, when I think back, I did it with my $99 very basic high school-graduation-present sewing machine. It's a wonder that puppy still worked when I was done!

Sherril said...

I was smugly thinking how awesome it was that I reupholstered an ottoman this weekend--until I saw that awesome sofa you reupholstered. It looks fabulous. That was quite the project to start a new skill with. I completely understand how garment construction skills can make the bigger home dec projects go much more smoothly. Visit my blog and see my ottoman if you want. http://sewingsaga.blogspot.com/2011/11/pillowtop-and-piping.html Now to see which one of us gets the curtains sewn for the rest of the house. Have I mentioned how much I hate home dec.

Adrienne said...

Very nice work! Congratulations!
I like the piping and the fabric choice very much.
Smooth workmanship, especially for your first slipcover.

MushyWear said...

You did a phenomenal job on this! 40 hours?! Wow! It sure does look gorgeous.

gingermakes said...

Wow, this looks great! Nice job!

Bella said...

Wow! It looks great; lovely job. I can't believe you did it by yourself. And the fabric is just great.

StaceyB said...

This couch is stunning!!! I love the fabric choice - it compliments the 30's feel of the couch so well! You did an incredible job with the slip cover!

rebekah said...

This looks amazing! I reupholstered dining chairs once and that was frustrating enough!! This is fabulous! :) Well done! :)

Vicki said...

Wow, great job ! I once slipcovered two sofa's and vowed never to do it again.

Bri said...

Wow, you have mad skills! I love the style of this sette and I'm amazed at how you pulled this off! The fabric is beautiful and the details you've added with the slip are fantastic! I always think about attempting a slipcover and you make me want to do it!

RueChicPieces said...

Love your blog! Check out my sewing projects. Regards from Germany, Liz

www.ruechicpieces.blogspot.com

polyrattan sofa said...

nice job on there! like a work of a true pro!

alethia said...

I love home dec projects, your sofa is beautiful.

Gabrielle said...

OMG, 40 hours~! It looks beautiful - but I don't know how you had the perseverence to work on such a long project! Well done, and I hope you get a lot of enjoyment from this sofa.

Christine said...

Gorgeous! You make me want to attempt a slipcover for my sofa.

JustGail said...

Just popped over from Peter's blog, and just want to say you did great on the slipcover. I love that fabric too! It's a real eye-opener to find out that furniture has fitting issues too, isn't it?

Lasso the Moon said...

wow. just wow. You made that look so good. I can't even tell it's a slip.
anna

Denise said...

Very professional job. I'm impressed.

Second Hand Rose said...

Wow this sofa looks amazing, you are so talented! It looks out of this world! XxxX http://thesecondhandrose.blogspot.com/

Helen said...

C'est incroyable! Magnifique!!

sarah said...

so fabulous. You did a wonderful job! Thanks for sharing.

Nothy Lane said...

Your slipcover looks amazing!!!

Nothy
www.aftagley.blogspot.ca

theperfectnose said...

Nice. We have a regular two and half seater that I need to get around to doing XS I have a vintage McCall's book which seems to have good instructions but I'm bookmarking this too.

allspiceabounds said...

WOW! This transformation is amazing! I am super impressed. Congrats on a great job! : )