Everything in our house is second hand…or hand made. We literally have a few new appliances that we had the good fortune of acquiring through wedding presents- and that’s it!

We really love it that way. Everything in our house feels like we have made it our own.

The three-seat couch we were gifted from some good friends was no exception. The style and structure of the couch is perfect for us. Really supportive and a good size for stretching out. But the cover itself was a bit old-fashioned.

When we first moved in together we went to the Ikea store in Tempe to buy a few household essentials. Next door is the giant Salvos warehouse. Honestly- it was over two years ago and I still can’t believe how much we left with! One of the best steals was a whole bolt of cream linen for just $80. I always knew that I wanted to use it for upholstery projects- but it wasn’t until we got the couch later that I knew what it was meant for :)

I found it really encouraging to start off by just making the new cushion covers and then as each was done it spurred me on to take on the next step. It was nice to see more immediate results- but I also think the fact that I can’t stand things being uneven may have helped ;)

When you are buying your fabric make sure to measure out how many metres you think you will need, halve that, add that to the original figure and then you’ll have how much you are likely to need. Better to have scrap fabric than not enough!

starting couch fabric 

This was the original fabric. I think it may have been wool? It was probably very soft and colourful in its day !

old couch

Start off by carefully unpicking one original cushion cover. Roll out your new fabric on to a flat surface and smooth out the pieces. The fabric may not have been cut straight, so use the factory edge for a true straight guide. Trace around the pieces carefully and then cut in broad clean strokes making sure to allow for hem.

Use these pieces as a template for the rest of the cushions covers. Pin all of the various pieces together to make bunches. I like to drape the fabric over the cushions inside out and pin as I go along- making sure to allow overhang for hemming.

starting couch covers

I pin the whole way around except for the top where the zipper will go- then I gently shimmy the cushion out from the slip and pin the zipper in to place. I go around the whole thing once, folded over, with a zig-zag stitch to close off the frayed cut edges, then tight against the pins (removing as I go of course!) with a straight stitch for clean edges on the hems when it’s turned inside out.

I sew all the way to one side of the zip- by keeping the zipper open- then I close the zipper to be able to finish off the last zipper edge. Then just turn right way out and slip over the cushion! Voila!

sew couch cover

Once the cushions are done you should be feeling pretty good about what you have achieved :) Then you will want to progress on to the actual couch cover. This is achieved using various panels.

You want to roll out the fabric across the back of couch inside out and cut allowing a good size overhang for hem and refining the cut later to suit the couch a bit more closely. Then you will do the same for the back rest, seat and valance, arms and you will need two petal shaped pieces for the fronts of the arm rests.

pinned couch cover

I like to pin a piece to the couch itself, then as a new piece is added pin that to the first piece and continue. I trim the edges to fit the couch shape more closely as I go. You are going to need a new packet of pins!

When you are done you should have an inside out couch cover that you can gently slip off and start sewing. The same sew lines will be required as for the cushions- so zig zag hem the straight lines to cut closer in for neater lines,

It’s worth mentioning that fabric can shrink quite significantly upon machine wash or dry. If you can- get the manufacturers cleaning instructions relevant to your chosen fabric. You may want to wash all of the fabric before working with it- or allow extra breathing space knowing that it will shrink, say, 20% upon wash. Alternatively you could just hand wash as it is usually the friction that shortens the fabric fibres.

In my case there was absolutely no way I was hand washing or pre-shrinking, and I didn’t have manufacturers instructions, so I took a gamble and allowed an extra 5% or so all around. It did shrink upon machine wash- so lucky I allowed room!

I think the result is really striking and very comfortable. I got the crushed linen look that I love- without the $3000 price tag! It’s also just so uplifting to have items that you know are unique, and absolutely tailored to fit your life and your style in your home. That’s what it’s all about right?

Finished couch