EFFORT: 2 out of 5
RESULTS: 5 out of 5
My sister recently came to my house for a sewing date. The plan was for me to teach her how to sew a simple stretchy long-sleeved shirt, since she’d wanted to learn to sew clothes like I do.
She showed up, however, with a different project in mind. She thought we could also recover the ottoman from her living room, which she was in the process of redecorating — swapping the old blue and tan palette for a new colour scheme of charcoal grey and mustard yellow.
She didn’t bring the ottoman, though. She just brought the thick fabric she’d removed from it — after yanking out the upholstery tacks that had once held it in place.
Could we work with that? Of course we could!
First off, let’s clear up the difference between reupholstering a piece of furniture and recovering it or slipcovering it.
Reupholstering means you’re putting new fabric onto furniture, usually holding at least some of it in place with little metal spikes (tacks) or by stapling it on the underside of the piece.
Recovering or slipcovering furniture means you’re sewing (or buying) a cover that slips over the piece and can be removed easily for washing or redecorating. While we could have certainly sewn a slipcover for my sister’s ottoman, she wanted it to be permanently recovered.
Since this ottoman had unique wooden legs that come right out of the edge — rather than tucked further under the bottom — it meant we couldn’t do it the easy way by wrapping the fabric around the whole seat and stapling it underneath. Nope, we’d need to use upholstery tacks, like it had originally.
She’d bought a metre of heavy-duty charcoal fabric with a nice texture to it. All we needed to do was arrange it and sew it in the same way as the “original” fabric she’d removed.
The fabric she’d removed looked like a droopy rectangular casserole dish, so that was the shape we needed to recreate. We simply stuck the old fabric on top of the new, and pulled the new fabric’s edges up to match the old edges — pinning everything in place.
In order to keep the same tidy “box corners” of the original fabric, we pulled the fabric tightly where it met at each corner and sewed straight seams down — snipping off an excess triangle of fabric from each corner. Soon we had two droopy rectangles (one old, one new).
All that was left to do when my sister got home was to put the new fabric rectangle on the ottoman, fold the edges under just enough so it grazed the top of the wooden cross-piece and hammer in some fresh upholstery tacks to keep it in place.
For less than $20 in fabric and upholstery tacks — and about 30 minutes of sewing, cutting and hammering — she had what looked like a brand-new ottoman. It was far less expensive than buying a new one to match her new living room, and she was able to give a new life to something she already had.
(We also sewed her very first shirt and a throw pillow for her armchair! Talk about a productive sewing date.)
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