While working on the playroom, I received a handful of people asking me to save my step-by-step instructions on how I reupholstered my antique sofa in my kids playroom to my Instagram highlights. So I thought it would be wise of me to share how I reupholstered this wooden trim antique sofa on my blog for reference in case, you know, Instagram ever shuts down. Get ready, because this is a long one!!!
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Materials to Reupholster an Antique Sofa
- Fabric, I used 5 yards of fabric on this sofa and I pretty much used all of it.
- Pneumatic staple gun with compressor* You can use a handheld one, but it will not work as great.
- Sewing Machine
- High Strength, durable thread
- Sewing pins
- Seam ripper
- Upholstery tack remover
- Electric sander
- 100 Grit sandpaper
- Dremel w/proper attachments
- Varathane or finish of choice
- Paint brush
- Down feathers
- Glue gun
- Glue sticks
So you saw the before of the couch, here is a close up of how the wood trim looked. I did not realize how bad it was until I pulled it out to reupholster. If the wooden trim looks like this, you definitely need to sand or strip it!!!
Steps 1-4 on How to Reupholster an Antique Sofa
1.Remove any piping and outer fabric along with old batting. You can simply pull it off. If anything is tacked down, use a tack remover to remove things such as nail heads, staples, etc. *If the batting is in good condition, feel free to leave it. I removed the outer fabric and first layer of batting. Since this piece was a true antique, I had horse hair stuffing under my first layer of batting secured with a linen fabric. I did not remove this layer due to not wanting to mess with the form of this sofa or wanting to have the horse hair spill out everywhere. Please note, If you plan on using piping, you can reuse the piping by removing the old fabric with a seam ripper.
2. Once fabric and batting is removed, sand wood trim using an electric sander and sandpaper. I used a 100 grit sandpaper, it is what I had on hand. If you like your wood trim as-is (if you have any), skip this step. If you plan to paint the trim, this is where you would prime and paint your piece.
3. Don’t forget to sand the legs to your piece. If detailed, you can use a Dremel to get into the crevices. If you like your trim as-is, skip this step. If you plan on painting your legs, this is where you would prime and paint your piece.
4. Once your piece is sanded, seal your piece by using a sealant of some form. You can use wax, polycrylic, polyurethane, etc…I used a Varathane with a clear semi-gloss finish. It was the only thing I could find close to a polycrylic in my town. Please do note, that polycrylic does not yellow, whereas polyurethane eventually does.
Steps 5-8 on How to Reupholster an Antique Sofa
5. Once your sealant has dried, staple batting onto front of sofa.
6. To make sure your new to you sofa is properly fitted, trace old pattern over new fabric. Use a seam ripper to remove any thread on sewn pieces. I like to iron the pieces on top to make sure that it is properly stretched and I like to give myself a 2″ allowance for mistakes or shrinkage. Basically cut fabric 2″ wider in all directions to allow for mistakes.
7. Pin and prepare to sew seams that are on the front of the sofa.
8. Sew seams and piping (if any) together using a sewing machine.
Steps 9-10 on How to Reupholster an Antique Sofa
9. Once seams are properly sewn, place and properly fit fabric to sofa. Make sure you line seams up where they need to go. Add a few staples using a staple gun to help hold the piece while you fit it to the sofa, start from the center and work your way out, keeping the arms for last.
10. Add bottom fabric (the piece that goes under the cushion) and secure using a staple gun. My bottom fabric was attached (sewn) to the springs, so I wasn’t able to take the original fabric off.
Steps 11-14 on How to Reupholster an Antique Sofa
11. Double check and make sure the seams are lined up. This is important as things may have shifted when pulling fabric through the back end of the sofa.
12. Finish properly securing fabric to front end of the fabric by adding more staples, again, start from center and work your way out. I typically start by distancing my staples while tugging and shifting my fabric, then I apply staples closer as I become more sure of placement of fabric.
13. Onto the arms, fold arms over wood, secure using minimal staples. Adjust as needed.
14. Fold front of fabric like shown in photo and staple.
Steps 15-18 on How to Reupholster an Antique Sofa
15. To help with the fabric molding to the curve of the arm, cut slits at a diagonal and secure with staples.
16. Add piping, if wanted.* I sewn my piping earlier in the steps and had them sitting aside.
17. Once piping is stapled, Add batting to back end of the sofa.
18. Refer to step 6.
Steps 19-22 on How to Reupholster an Antique Sofa
20. Once flexible metal tack strip is secured, properly fold and cut remaining fabric into the tack strip. Please refer to video from step 19 as this is hard for me to explain.
21. Using a rubber mallet, gently hammer tack strip closed.
22. With a hot glue gun, add piping or trim to sofa to hide staples.
Steps 23-25 on How to Reupholster an Antique Sofa
23. With a seam ripper, rip through the thread on the cushion and add add more down feathers to it to make it thicker. Skip if you are satisfied with your cushion thickness, or if you are using the existing cushion as-is.
24. Refer to step 6 on how to size fabric for cushion. Pin and prep (inside out) cushion cover for sewing. You can stick the cushion inside cover once it is pinned to make sure it fits properly. Once you properly fit it, take cushion out and sew it leaving an opening to stuff cushion inside. *Make sure you are doing this step INSIDE-OUT!! Once you sew it, turn it right-side out and stick cushion inside. If you know how to add a zipper to a cushion, you would do that accordingly on this step.
25. Hand sew cushion opening closed using proper needle and durable, high strength thread.
Just like that you learned the basics to reupholstering an antique sofa. Super easy and affordable right? This truly was the missing piece to this space and I feel so lucky to have been able to find this gem of a sofa and bring it back to life.