Monday, September 13, 2010

DIY: Conquering the Couch Cushions

This weekend, I completed a project that I have wanted to tackle for quite a while.  We have a couch in our family room that we inherited from a friend ... a couch that likes to eat you.  Do you remember that movie, "The Little Shop of Horrors"?  Feed me, Seymour!!  Well ... that was our couch, without the singing. :)  The cushions on the back of the couch were sloppy and slumped and no matter how I fluffed or stuffed them, they would swallow you.  But not anymore ... now it is a nice little couch that sits up nicely and is actually a whole lot more comfortable to sit on.  If you have an ornery couch or chair that isn't behaving itself well ... here's what I did to tame ours.

First let me give you an idea of what I was working with:

This is NOT staged ... this was the typical look of our couch.
For the most part, the couch is in great condition, but the back cushions had no form and were constantly slumped.  I had re-stuffed the cushions a few years ago, but it had made very little difference.  There was no real backbone to hold them up and they were no match for the force of gravity!

And so ... I loaded up one of the cushions and headed to my favorite fabric store, Hi-Fashion Fabrics.  I love fabric stores ... they are full of such wonderful potential.  Everywhere I look I see a project I would love to make:  pillows, curtains, bags, clothes!  I'm kinda like a kid in a candy store. :)  This particular fabric store has a funny sign on the door:  "Parents:  Please supervise your children.  Running in the store is dangerous and will not be tolerated."  In light of this "suggestion" I usually find time to go alone.  Did I mention I love fabric stores? :)

Another reason I love this store is because the people who work there are wonderful resources, have lots background and are very willing to jump in and help you with your projects.  The particular woman I spoke with actually said she loved when people came in with good challenges.

I explained the problem (the cushions pretty much spoke for themselves) and she gave me a few ideas.

  • Option 1 was using a 5 inch formed foam that would fill the cushion completely.  Perfect!  After a few calculations ... our total came to about $75 ... a cushion.  

gasp!  ... visions of Brett's stricken face and the words, "HOW much?!?" coming out of his mouth.  

  • Option 2 was using two 2-inch pieces of foam and sandwiching some batting in between.  A few clicks on her calculator ... $33 for each ... totally $66 per cushion.  Not much better. 

slumped sigh ... visions of us forever being eaten by our couch.  

All my supplies.
The look on my face must have told her that this wasn't going to work either.  She tapped her pencil on her lips ... hmmmmm... "What if you used this?"  She pulled out a huge roll of thick woven batting.  "This is only $8.99 a yard ... which comes to ... $43.54 for both."  Yeah!!  After a few minutes of discussing some particulars of how to put it to use I was out the door and ready to transform our couch.

Making my pattern.
First, I rolled out paper to make my pattern.  (I bought this great newsprint paper at Sam's Club several years ago and it has come in handy for banners, outlines of the kids bodies for silly projects ... and now, couch recovery!)  I pulled the pillow insert out of the cushion case and laid the case on the paper.  It took a few minutes to fold all the extra fabric back to find the seams, but soon I had a good outline of the form of the cushion.

The batting after tracing.
Next I cut out the paper pattern (I only needed one as each foam piece was going to be the same shape.)  I then laid out the batting on the table and traced the pattern onto the batting with a thick black marker.  I repeated the tracing four times, end to end.

After I had all four pieces traced out, I started cutting out the shapes.  This was by far the hardest part of the job.  The batting was 2 inches thick and really quite challenging to cut.  But ... 20 minutes and one broken pair of scissors later - I was done! Whew!  Fortunately my hand still works today. :)

Before ...
Now was the moment of truth!  The cushions had an inner pillow that held all the fluffy batting inside. Initially I thought that I could keep the pillows the same size, but quite quickly it became clear that there wasn't enough room for all that fluff to fit in the cover.  I had to make a cut on one side of the pillow and remove almost half the old batting.  I took this time to re-fluff the remaining batting and even out the filling.  Then I sandwiched the pillow in between two of the cushion forms.  Then it was time to stuff!  This was actually a two-person job and it probably would have been fun to have a camera rolling as Brett and I wrestled the sandwich into the case.  You've heard the phrase, "Pig in a polk"?  That was us! The trick was to not change the evenness of the pillow sandwich while still using enough force to get it in the case.  With a little huffing, puffing and stuffing we were successful!

After! :)
This gives you an idea of the change ... I was so excited!  Right before my eyes, our couch went from slouchy to standing tall!  Within a few minutes we had the other cushion stuffed and our couch was transformed.  Brett and I sat down and were thrilled that there was more hiney room and the cushions extended up our backs instead of slumping down behind us.

Now our couch looks like a place where you'd like to cuddle up to watch a game or movie ... without any fear of being eaten! :)
Our Couch Recovered :)

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