GIT’R’DONE: Dianna’s Midcentury Couch Reupholstery Project

17 Nov

Mimomito reader Dianna (who is also a seller of beautiful refinished pieces of Midcentury furniture on Craigslist,) sent us step-by-step photos of her reupholstering a sad slumped in couch, into a beautiful rejuvenated treasure!

Read on to see the finished product!

Dianna had taken step-by-step photos of her process of reupholstering a cheap couch in her Upholstery Class. Here is what she had to say.

*  *  *

This is what our 1960’s sofa looked like when we got it from Craigslist for ten dollars.
It had 6 cushions that the instructor had already told us to throw in the dumpster when I took this pic.
The fabric was crumbling and ripped from age. Really nasty.

50 year old fabric falling apart.

The support stretchers are rounded like that so that the springs don’t bottom out when you sit in the center.

It takes an amazingly long time to remove 8 million staples.

Look at that lovely curved back.


We’re starting to think it would have been easier to build a new frame from scratch.

All the springs reattached. We removed all the long staples that the spring clips were attached with and replaced them with four screws for each spring. Those springs are never coming loose again!

Some nice heavy deck cloth to cover the springs to prevent wear on the foam.

The big white snake thing is a padded roll for the front edge of the bottom deck.

Some new foam on the bottom front of the deck in sections to try to compensate for the uneven boards and a layer of 50/50 cotton over the foam deck.

Now an extra layer of 50/50 cotton on the front edge of the deck to build up a little height so the cushions won’t have a tendency to slide off with use and to cover the foam.

It’s starting to look like a sofa again.

Webbing to build out the arms. It had nasty cardboard here before.

Upholstering a sofa is messy work.

Finally we get to attach the fabric on the inside arms.

A nice straight line.

First a layer of 2″ cushion foam and then a 1″ layer of foam and then a layer of polyester batting.
Santa is taking this class too. (Phil! He eats whole lemons and pounds coffee! – Serene)

The loose fabric is a stretcher. It’s sewn to the real fabric to stretch it to the place where it’s stapled on the back. You don’t waste the real fabric in a place where it’s not seen. It’s pulled through from the front. (I would gladly have wasted the real fabric to get out of sewing)

Now it’s ready to be stretched really super tight and stapled in place.

Now the back is finally done. The permanent staples are in.

Still not quite smooth and tight enough.

The back gets pulled tight and stapled and then the staples are pulled out and it gets pulled tight and stapled again and the whole thing gets repeated several times until it’s super tight.

The foam is now cut to the correct depth.

Cutting all the panels and attaching the welt to the top of the sofa back.

Just as I finished the top band, I realized that I put it on with the nap going in the wrong direction.
Next class, taking out the ridiculously overdone stapling job and re-doing it the right way.


The string is tied around the cotton bunches to keep it from pulling through the fabric.

Side arms get stretcher fabric first.

Now the back gets stretcher fabric.

Now a layer of poly batting.

The fabric is stretched and stapled at the bottom, then tucked in on that metal strip.

More tucking

Hammering the lumps out on the clips.

Attaching the newly refinished walnut base.

Time to take it home.

*  *  *

Thanks for sending us your impressive and inspirational photos, Dianna! Having taken the class myself, I understand that redoing an entire broken down couch is an outstanding feat. (And I too would much rather staple than sew anything, EVER.)

So Dianna, would you do it again?!

12 Responses to “GIT’R’DONE: Dianna’s Midcentury Couch Reupholstery Project”

  1. jeramie ivie November 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    that looks amazing! where is this class?

    • Serene November 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

      It’s at the McClasky Adult School, but they get pretty booked up and there’s now a waiting list. It’s not through the school itself, it’s a separate program.

  2. Dianna November 17, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    I may not do another sofa for awhile. But I’m working on some Danish modern chairs and I have lots more mid century chairs to do yet before I finish the class. It all seems so much easier now that I’ve finished that monster.

    • Serene November 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

      Please send us photos of before and afters!

      • Dianna November 18, 2011 at 7:38 am #

        I’ll do that!

  3. jwoo November 17, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    nice work!

  4. Rose November 17, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    My Gosh that is impressive! Looks great!

  5. Aunt Bucky November 19, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Could you post the contact information on the organization that is running the class through the McClaskey Adult School?
    I would like to take a course/class in the Santa Cruz CA area but don’t have any contact info on how to start this process.
    Thanks Rebecca

    • Dianna November 19, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

      Hi Rebecca. I believe that the McClaskey class I’m taking is just a local class with no larger affiliation. I would try calling the upholstery supply and/or fabric stores in your area and asking them for a recommendation.
      I found out about this class by asking the owner of an upholstery supply shop here.

  6. toniiii November 19, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    Diana, this is so wonderful. Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Brandon November 28, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    Hello All, Do you have any references for any swell local upholstery shops that are reasonably priced? I’m not quite up to the challenge of refinishing or re-upholstering.


  1. Dianna’s Latest Uphostery Project « mimomito | Midcentury Modern Mid Town - December 19, 2011

    […] Dianna is at it again! She most recently reupholstered a Mid Century couch (as featured in our Git’R'Done section,) and has shared again her most recent upholstery endeavor. This beautiful Danish lounge chair, all […]

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