What to do with an ugly sofa: Part II -planning

Hi!  So in part I of the sofa series I talked about supplies and promised photos.  Today I am including some and will talk about the first steps of tackling the project.  Let me start with the photos.

Remember when I said that the sofa was covered in some rather hideous baby blue brocade when I bought it?  Here is that fabric:

original sofa fabric

I still have to try and dig up photos from back then, but they are all saved on a hard drive somewhere and…  I’m just glad I had saved a cushion cover.  Imagine eight feet of this fabric!  Not for me!  😀

At the time the sofa had two seat cushions, and I have changed it to a single one.  I think it will look better.  Let me continue to describe the original design before showing the current “before” look.  It had two seat sections and four matching back pillows.  They were all box construction with cording at the seams.  The arms also had a corded seam and were a two-piece design.  It was all very tailored and formal.  When I began ripping everything apart I found that the thing had been reupholstered at least twice before.  I know I took photos of this evidence, and I really will have to find them to share.  😉

As for now?  Well, I’ve mentioned the temporary solution of wrapping a blanket around the cushion, but I made some other changes to it when upholstering it last time.  I kept the corded seam on the arms, but I didn’t want to do corded box cushions for the back pillows.  Instead I simply used two pieces front and back for each but dressed up with pleated corners.  That also made them boxier which seemed better for their use than plain corners which would have been weird.  Oh, and I didn’t get around to using the matching velvet for those and chose dark blue silk dupioni instead (to tie in with the other blanket I was using for the seat cushion.)

Here is the result and current look with the temporary blanket cushion cover in all its glory:


The new plan is to eliminate the corded seams on the arms.  (I’ll need to prep the padding better than I did before too.  You may see the ripples?)  This time I want a less tailored look, and changing to a less fussy construction also hides a few amateur mistakes better too, I think.  😉  I am considering adding a final layer of padding using memory foam, but I have to make sure that isn’t unwise first.  The back pillows covers will be made just like the silk but cut a little larger since I think they ended up undersized.  I’m also making four matching throw pillow covers to replace the ratty old ones.  Maybe I’ll use some sort of self fabric embellishments on two of those?  Lastly, I think I’ll keep the cording for the seat cushion.  It shouldn’t look strange since the edges around the wood will be finished with double cord.  Perhaps I’ll cord the throw pillows too?  Yeah, I like that idea.  My plan had been to get the pillows and cushion done first since I dislike that sort of sewing and never get around to it at the end, but it seems I may need to leave the throw pillows until later for cording and deciding about embellishments.

Moving on, I obviously did some rough yardage calculations before buying supplies, but today I began the cushions and pillows by figuring the dimensions to cut.  The four throw pillows require eight pieces of 19×19″ fabric.  The back pillows need eight 20×27″ rectangles, and the seat cushion two 25×84″ oblongs, one 4×125 for the front and side edges, and two 2 1/2×93″ pieces for the back zippered piece.  I’ll be sewing it in the muslin first in case I messed up.  😉  The muslin is mainly being used to add strength, but it is also a cheap way to be sure I like the looks of the changes I’m making.

Something I recommend for calculating yardage is to not only use online charts but grab some graph paper and a pen.  Use it to plan the layout on the fabric and you’ll see a more accurate number for your project.  I just did this, and unless I made a mistake, there is a significant difference in yardage require from last time (due to the nap of the velvet) and from charts!  I’d estimated 12 yards in my head, I bought 16 yards allowing for extra throw pillows and just to be safe, but the layout shows that exactly 10 yards may suffice if I am careful.  Sketching a layout also makes you consider the nap or direction of a print if that applies, and it should allow you create a less wasteful layout.  If I had just started cutting to begin the pillow cover then I would have wasted yardage for sure.

Before penciling in the cutting layout on graph paper I made some very rough sketches of the pieces required for everything noting the dimensions.  Like this:


Quite rough, eh?  😉

I decided that the graph paper lent itself best to half scale with each square representing 2×2″.  I drew the boundaries of the fabric in pen then switched to pencil for the layout to avoid headache.  It made sense to begin by sketching in the largest pieces required, and from there I just fit things in as looked wise.  The shaded areas are waste.  The section reserved for bias isn’t drawn to scale.  For some pieces I rounded up to make using the graph more quickly, but it should all give a general idea of the yardage required.

cutting layout

I am quite happy about only needing 10 yards.  Even if it takes a little more I definitely have plenty extra.  (Although I keep wondering what huge mistake did I make?)  There should even be more than enough to do the matching loveseat-sort-of-chair that I’d planned for later, yay!  Using a plain fabric is the <strong>best</strong> way to save money on upholstery fabric.  Any pattern, stripe, or nap will add yards upon yards to the purchase.

Well, I think this is a perfectly good stopping point.  I don’t think I am up for cutting and sewing today, so this is probably the last post about the sofa for a while since I have to pack, paint, do repairs… but I’ll try to post about other things over the next few weeks.

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