Old Sofa Saga
Many years ago I bought a sofa and when it got old I just could never throw it away. The sofa traveled from house to house, my two dogs slept on it and my kids used it as a trampoline. Then I gave it to my daughter and she used it in her bachelorette Manhattan rental where it was loved (sometimes too much) by many friends. The wine was spilled on it, and it’s delicate fabric absorbed many break-up tears.
In other words, the sofa dated in the 80s as delicate as it might seem turned out to be a real trooper. Like a petite woman with a willful spine, this vintage masterpiece created by late Sergio Savarese just never wanted to give in. And then I decided that it deserved a second life.
Why You Should Not Clean Viscose Fabric with Water
At the time I got it back from my daughter the fabric was pretty much worn out and the cushion was dead. Because the fabric had a high percentage of viscose it could not take water cleaning. As you might remember from my previous posts, the viscose doesn’t like water. Of course, my daughter didn’t know about viscose and the cleaners diligently cleaned it with water. Viscose has a lot of wood pulp and the whole sofa fabric became tough with lines. Besides, the cleaners’ tools left marks as if it hit the railroad tracks.
Reminder: Never buy the fabric that is predominantly viscose or rayon. Those two just hate water cleaning.
Have a look:
Besides, the color of the fabric was clashing with all I had, both the rug and the curtains.
Old Sofa Reupholstering Dilemma
Then I just got curious to find out the value of the old sofa. Reupholstery is so expensive! Gosh! The labor alone is between $1,000-$1,500.
It turned out that ELLE reupholstered sofa was $8,500 at 1STDIBS. Here it is:
My old sofa would still be a keeper even if it was zero dollars in value. It is like an old friend to me and it had memories. In 2006 I called the store where I bought it (it was called Dialogica in Soho) to find out that Sergio Savarese, the designer just died in a plane crash! I was in shock. I never knew Sergio personally but always admired his work.
My Old Sofa Must Stay
Early this year I finally decided that it was the time to take care of my old Elle sofa and reupholster it. I considered using bi-fabric thinking that probably if I use remnants I’d save the cost. At least for the fabric! I contacted my favorite online resource Modern Fabrics and searched through their vast selections of gorgeous designer fabrics. I knew that their inventory is mostly cut pieces that are ideal for reupholstery, especially if you don’t need a lot of yardages. For example, if you need 6 yards for a chair, you can easily find it there. I needed 18 yards for my sofa altogether.
It had to be feminine and curvy, classic but modern, bright but elegant, whimsical but simple. Modern Fabrics is my favorite online source for fabrics, so I went searching there. Ewa at Modern Fabrics always helps by sending all the samples right away, she listens, she finds the best options. After I scrolled through the options I came across cut velvet commercial fabric that had dimensional modern scrolls in hot pink and burnt orange.
It was just $19 per yard vs. retail $79.
Here it is:
Cool, right? But it was too busy for the whole sofa.
Then, after ordering the whole bunch of samples from Modern Fabrics I got lucky and found this:
I am not sure if you can see but this fabric has the white, orange and pink thread in it but it looks cream. Also, the quality is very nice wool and nylon blend
Because it was remnants the price was only $21 per yard at Modern Fabrics! I called my upholsterer and he confirmed that cuts are okay. Modern Fabrics had three cuts: 4 yards + 4 yards + 4 yards of the main fabric and 6 yards of the one with orange and pink scrolls. That was perfect!
No more viscose, thank you very much. I took a chance and decided on the bi-fabric reupholstered design.
Here is How Elle Looks Now:
Welcome, Elle! I’m So Happy You are Back!
If you have a dear old sofa that you love and consider reupholstering it here are some good examples of tastefully made dual fabric combinations.
- Kit Kemp– is a design legend in terms of the artistic use of pattern, dual fabrics, reclaimed and revamped old finds, and giving them new life with stitching and embroidery. I admire her work wholeheartedly.
How cool is their deconstructed, boho chic artistic style! The embroidery, the stitches and the selection of fabrics and textures are imaginary and artistic. Casamento is located in South Africa, so it’s not easy just to call them and place an order. However, you can use their work as an inspiration.
3. Meredith Heron is a wonderful Canadian designer who uses color and fabrics creating unforgettable designs. Her work is whimsical full of unexpected elements.
4. Wild Chairy
Wild Chairy is a company that I truly admire as well as Andrea Mihalik who keeps on surprising the design world with her talent and creativity. She is one of the top authorities in creative upholstery and reupholstery. Please take a moment to read about her work.
Of course, you don’t have to go so exotic with your sofas and chairs. If you like more simple furnishings but looking to save up some money here are some more examples of dual fabric:
Do you have an old sofa or a chair that needs a new life? Tell me!
I also have vintage velvet Dialogica that needs a cleaning but I never asked what the fabric was made of so I was excited to see this article. Do you know how it is supposed to be cleaned? I’m about to reupholster a couple of Dialogica pieces too so your article is incredibly helpful. Thank you!
Marina Klima says
oh, how cool! The fabric on the sofa I reupholstered is 90% wool, 10% nylon, it’s commercial heavy duty, so I will just vacuum it and if any stains I will clean with cold water and mild soap. Show me a pic when you are done!
thanks for replying. I was also curious if you remember what the Dialogica velvet was made of so I could clean a couple of pieces. I haven’t yet reupholstered some other pieces but pictures coming when I do.
Wonderful examples! Thank you for the inspiration.
Marina Klima says
Thanks for the comment! Please come again!
Nancy Peotter says
Please help me furnish an open space dining, living area. Unable to find comfortable furniture in the Green Bay WI area. I have has back and other painful issues and need higher furniture for ease of sitting without lowering. Also looking for higher back dining chairs that can be fabric upholstered for comfort.
After viewing todays article you submitted, I am wondering if we can find some used or vintage furniture and get your take on reupholstering and refinishing? We have a used Drexel Heritage set with cained backs which are comfortable enough, but the table top is not repairable and the design not really right for the newer home with high ceilings. Amish furniture is not the right style and the chair seats in our area are quite short, too short.
Looking for quality but not outrageous designer very high prices. Your suggestions please?
Will appreciate any tips. Thank you for this most welcome article and ideas.
Marina Klima says
Sorry, but I am not in your area. This kind of work needs a hands-on touch. I would start with a new sofa if you are uncomfortable. Depending on your budget I could refer you to a source. You can contact me at email@example.com
What a fun post! Thank you, very enjoyable and inspiring — educational too!
Marina Klima says
Thank you, Elizabeth! I’m so glad! Have a wonderful Sunday!