Operation Massive Red Couch: The $100 Makeover!!

Hi Friends!

For the past couple (5!!) days, I was buried under piles of shredded fabric in a creative chaos that took over 2/3 of our house. The goal: a slipcover for our massive.red.couch. 

I had zero direction or even the slightest idea of a game-plan... but I grabbed a few canvas drop-cloths from Home Depot last week and was determined to find a way of conquering this project.

After about 96 hours of cutting, pinning, sewing, tying, stretching, and fluffing... it is :
{{ slightly fraying in areas, questionably machine-washable, and needing to be thoroughly scotch-guarded}}

"...and there was much rejoicing!..."
(and maybe a few margaritas)

...then we promptly set to cleaning up the scraps and loose threads and pins that were scattered across the floor.
In case you are either curious about how I went about this great task or are perhaps contemplating a slipcover makeover of your own.... I'll show you how I managed to man-handle over 500ft of fabric and give our gigantic red sectional a quirky, casual, and happily imperfect-neutralizing makeover for $100!

Prep Work:

I put all of my fabric through the washer/dryer using a bit of fabric softener. Then I gave our couch a good vacuuming as I took off all of the cushions. While the fabric was still slightly damp (to decrease wrinkles) I started on the "body" of the couch.
Something to keep in mind... is that I pinned my fabric inside-out while on the furniture, so the form I pinned on the left-arm piece fit onto the right-arm piece once it was finished (inside out = opposite).

Also- think of a sofa as a sort of puzzle... each part of each piece of furniture (back/arms/sides/front/base) will need to be cut/pinned/sewn to fit into the adjacent pieces to create the big FINAL pieces.
( say what?!)

Our massive.red.couch. is a sectional, so we have 3 pieces... left arm, wedge, right arm. Basically, I created three complete slipcovers for each...meaning each separate piece has it's own complete slipcover, then each cushion is slip-covered (3 body pieces with 4 cushions each... yep... that's 15  SEPARATE final pieces, folks!)
don't think about that too much... 
just start DOING it!!

So here it goes:

So I literally started by just draping the fabric across the back of my first piece (left-arm) smoothed it out, and cut it to size- leaving at least a good 2'' excess all the way around for pinning and tucking. 
(I was ultra liberal with my first attempt, so it was slightly baggy, but 2'' should give you enough wiggle room).

Then cut the arm piece:

Next, cut strips to fit along the sides/front of the base (where the cushions sit on-top of) and pin those together:

Then, I used a white cotton sheet (that was washed/dried so it won't shrink) for the lining of the base... basically so I wouldn't waste more drop-cloth fabric, but I also think the contrast adds a profesh touch. 

So, I simply laid/tucked the sheet fabric across the sofa base and cut it to line up with the drop-cloth fabric (leaving 2'' seam-allowance all around). Also, I tucked about 2'' of extra fabric into the sofa's "cracks" to be sure it would give enough when sat on.

After pinning the body together, I started working on the edges/sides. 
I cut and pinned the right side and the face of the arm to the body:

(right side)

(left arm)

Then, I cut out and pinned the "skirt" that was attached to the long narrow body pieces seen in step 3.
The skirt was about 2'' less than the actual front of the base (from the seat to the floor) so there's a visible, even seam around the entire piece... If you choose- you could also just cut each of your front/side pieces to go to the floor and skip the skirt step.

(see the skirt here ^ )

SO NOW... start sewing...
One. Edge, At. A. Time.

remove pins as you go, and I recommend starting with the "interior" edges (i.e. the base of the body's seams with the back/arm/front edges, then working your way "out" to the sides, and eventually to the skirt).

On to the cushions!

So I simply folded my fabric in half and plopped my cushion down on top.
Then I cut around it- leaving a good 2'' allowance on each edge (since you'll be pinning, sewing, then stuffing the cushion back in).

(Oh and this is where you'll start seeing the help of my trusty four-pawed assistants...
If you plan on attempting your own slipcover, I am happy to rent them all out. I'm pretty sure I would not have finished this project without them... uneven edges, loose hairs, slobber and all.)

after much exploring, there was a time of rest.
Then back to helping.

(can't make this up, y'all).

Then measure the length and width around three edges of your cushion and cut a strip of fabric, leaving about 3'' on each end of excess.
Then sew the ends of the strip down slightly to create closed seams

Starting about 2'' from the corner, pin in the strip to the top and bottom pieces of fabric, creating an inside-out pillow case with one edge open.

(yes, Logan was in on it too).

Cut several (about 4-8 per cushion, depending on size) strips approx. 3''x8''. Fold them together and stitch along the 3 "open" edges, using a surge or zig-zag stitch to prevent lessen fraying.
These will be used to tie the cover around the cushion- making it easy to take on and off to wash/clean.

Then tuck half along the top open edge (turning the edge up over the tie) and pin.


Sew around each edge, reinforcing corners and over each tab.

You've done it once, you've done it a thousand times...
now call in BACKUP!
Yep...this here is my husband, Dan...
learning to sew 3''x8'' strips of fabric into "ties" for the cushions.
He warned me to not post these...
I am too proud not to. Such a good sport, and so very helpful!
I couldn't help taking pictures... look how cute he is when he concentrates!

Phew. Step 12...
So now our cushion covers are sewn all the way around.


...how are those pets helping out?
Not so much?
Quick! Distract them with early christmas presents!!
(yes they have to unwrap their own)

Ducks!! Yay!!

STEPS 13-15...

 Please forgive me for a lack of photos at this point... as you can tell, things were getting slightly chaotic in the home stretch.

You should have your body piece sewn together:
Flip it inside out- checking seams for any tears or open seams... IF ANY, shove them through the sewing machine once more to finish.
Then gently tuck your finished slip over the corresponding section... 
(remember the whole inside out = opposite note from the beginning!)


You should have your cushions sewn together
So turn them inside out and stuff in your cushions, then use your fabric ties to close them up with a bow.

So simply fit your body pieces onto each section...smoothing and tucking. Plop your covered cushions down and stand back in awe... then prepare to start on the next piece...

 you should start to see your slipcover coming together!!

(you have a long way to go YOU'RE ALMOST THERE!!)


...and then... all of a sudden...

{{ it's done. }}

 It may not be absolutely perfect...
There may be stray threads and fraying seams...
I may have needed to touch up areas that quickly fell apart...

But when all is said and done...
This slipcover cost $100, not $1000 ( or even $3000, like Crate & Barrel wanted to charge)...
used 9 total drop-cloths from Home Depot (8- 6x9, 1-6x12), 
and holds up to pets, vacuuming, washing...and upon-scotch guarding it: stains. 
And operation massive.red.couch is complete!!!

Can't beat that with a baseball bat!

Now do your best happy-dance and go lay on your marvelous creation!! 

(I did.)

Oh Happy Joy!!


and please share if you happen to embark on such a journey of your own!
May the force be with you...
I'll be here, in this pint of ice cream and toasting you with a little liquid courage.



DeeAnna said...

Amazing! I covered a chair with a drop cloth but a giant couch? Wow! It looks great. (oh and your doggies are adorable!)

Erin said...

I just can't get over how adorable you are! :) This turned out great and you told it hilariously! DUCKS! :)

sasha t said...

omg this is fucking amazing. you are amazing! i also HATE our hand-me-down couch which has been graced with an oversized, always-falling-off or coming-undone $50 slipcover of the same color from target. i envy your ability. oh.. can i curse on your blog?
love, sasha

Ann @ makethebestofthings said...

Beautifully and creatively done. You really persevered and came thru with a great project. Personally, I loved the red color but you've done a great job. Have to remember the canvas drop cloths option for my own massive chocolate brown couch!

the cape on the corner said...

oh my gosh, that's amazing, and looks like an awwwwful lot of work. tho your adorable helpers clearly made things easier for you, lol.

ok, i must ask your opinion. we're doing a retro basement with turquoise and reds. i feel like it needs a red couch, as opposed to cream or a gray, to pop on the light turquoise walls. the problem-i'm afraid of being stuck with a big red couch. what say you?

Beckie said...

Eeps! Considering I've never sewn much before I would never undertake such a huge project, but many congrats to you for finishing!--and finishing well I might add! More than anything I enjoyed the pictures of your cutie-patootie doggies and kitty : ]

Amira said...

oh.my.gosh. you have a brick wall. swoon! <3

Hailey Marie said...

Thanks ladies! It was a ton of work...the photos don't lie! I truly owe it all to my helpful staff ;)
Honestly, I do love red couches- we fell in love with ours when we saw it in the showroom at Crate&Barrel, it was so different than the typical beige couch- but it was pretty over-powering and dark and heavy, it sucked the little light we do have right out of the room. It also contrasted with our brick wall (the reason we bought our house) and we were simply in need of a fresh, lighter look. I think you can still get the effect of a bold color (like red) by bringing in fun accessories that "pop" like frames, pillows, even furniture! I love using color in more unexpected ways: a turquoise lamp, yellow dresser, red coffee table, etc.
~Thanks again for the love!!~