Sunday, September 20, 2009

1970's Button Attached-Back Tapestry Sofa

A sofa suitable for a tall man's afternoon napping. Purchased at a garage sale for $10.00, this 78" long sofa from the 70's gets reworked in tapestry. While we discussed redesigning the buttoned back and cushion construction, we decided in the end, to reupholster as it had been. Purchased from S. R. Harris in Brooklyn Park MN, the tapestry fabric was not treated with any kind of backing, which makes for a soft hand, but a textile malleable enought to stretch all out of proportion, especially on the cushions. Honestly, they grew and grew while in the works. For the center cushion, what began as a 23" x 24 1/2" plate, I literally could have stuffed to stretch into 26" x 26"! New Rules: (with a tip of the hat to Bill Maher) - don't assume the existing cushions will template out to the right size for your newly reupholstered frame. Actually, this is an old rule, but one I'd forgotten and resulted in 2 late-night sewing sessions, instead of one. Oh well.

Whoa! A big gap between seats in the new fabric...that will never do. Will have to recut and sew a bigger piece to fill for center cushion.

Attached pillow-backs...that's a lot of sewing...kinda hate to see these come around, but they do look nice, once finished and are easy to keep, as they don't require all that endless fluffing and straightening, as many "loose cushions" do. And what was in the old sofa? Candy wrappers, ink pen caps and a coloured paper cut-out of a trout, marked "3 lbs".

These are the sinuous springs I'm always going on about, how much I love them. They seldom need retying, are hardly ever broken, and can really stand a lot of wear and tear. If you have young kids especially they're good, because the frame will have a stationary hard edge (at cushion) instead of a spring edge receiving movement and friction, which withstands jumping and wallowing a whole lot better. Now this old yellow foam on the arms that's past it's prime will get replaced with a new layer of 1/2" foam wrap and cotton...

Things are coming together...

...using slick fiber stuffing to fill hollow areas of cushions where the old foam (still with some life to them) was a little lacking...

A remnant of cotton velvet in the same bluish-green seen in the floral tapestry will make a nice gift of a feather pillow for this sofa.


  1. Helen - you do beautiful work and I love seeing the photos of your work in process!

    I recently stripped two sofas down to their sinuous springs and found a belt, a pair of shorts (boxers?), a mostly full bag of birdseed, and an ipod. The ipod almost made up for the maybe-boxers.

    I removed all the upholstery and foam because the couches were previously owned by smokers. They had tufted backs and seats and were made in the early 80s by Benchcraft. Any thoughts on whether or not these would be worth redoing, given all the foam needs replacing? FWIW, I did mark and save all the fabric in case someone wanted it as a template.

  2.'s up to you - if the frame is not merely stapled, but has some dowel and block joinery or maybe a steelbanded reinforcement, I guess I'd say so - it really is hard to say what is "worth" for each individual. As a sewer/crafter-maker, you may find it worthy enough as a learning experience. You may have a fabric in mind that you simply have got to have on there, cheap frame or not. Or you may really like the lines of the sofa(s) and find they fit your home perfectly, thus making it "worthy"...then again, you may decide in 2 years you don't like it any more and sell it in a garage sale. Was it worth it? Only you can say...Dollars and cents? People always want to compare with purchasing new, but that depends on where you shop. How much can you buy new Benchcraft for? I think only you can justify if it's worth it or not.


From Start To Finish

Here's a post from a while back that had lost it's image links.  Someone was asking about Cogswell chairs just yesterday, so...