December 8, 2008 6:42 AM   Subscribe

How can I fix a hole in my couch for cheap?

It's a hard to describe type of material, but it looks very similar to this. I guess it's micro-suede, and it's more of a love-seat but with sharp armrests...other than that this pic is pretty accurate. (This pic also somewhat descriptive.)

Very classy, I know (1997 called and they want their furniture back). Anyway, a dog chewed a hole in it about 3 years ago (about the size of a bread plate in the upper corner of the seat part, stuffing visible through the gap) and I used to cover the entire bottom half with a piece of cloth but it would be cool if I could either:
1. patch the hole with the same material
2. patch the hole with a totally different but cool material or
3. attach some kind of nifty patterned cloth to the entire seat bit to make it look slightly purposeful (I don't mind it looking Frankensteinian).

Given the material and shape a slipcover is not really a favorite option.

Some instructions or links to how exactly one patches this kind of material would be very super helpful as I can't find much on google about the process and I can't afford no upholsterer.

TIA for helping me move slowly into not living in a crackhouse.
posted by Potomac Avenue to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are the cushions removable? The couches you linked to have non-removable cushions which would make the situation tricky. If the cushions are removable, it would be very easy to create new covers for them. Here they reupholster an entire couch, my guess is you could find many similar links online. I've recovered cushions before, it is pretty easy -- you'll need a sewing machine, but it is basically like making a snug-fitting pillowcase for the cushion. If you don't have a sewing machine maybe you can borrow one from a friend or a community college or something.

I would also contact the couch manufacturer, they should have that model on file and maybe they can find the same or a similar fabric from when you first bought the couch. If not, shop around on the internet or in craft stores (many will have heavier upholstery type fabrics towards the back) and see if you can find something coordinating. That type of couch does not seem like it would lend itself to a slipcover.

Since the fabric on the couch seems to be more of a continuous piece, you'll probably end up spending more to buy a larger piece of fabric, but even on the red couch you link to it seems you would be able just to reupholster part of it. Also, you could always try removing the fabric and seeing if there is a piece you could salvage from a part that is not usually seen (maybe the back?) and replace the seat with that section and a random fabric on the back. You'll probably need a staple gun, and a needle nose pliers to carefully remove the existing staples.
posted by sararah at 7:38 AM on December 8, 2008

What does the upper corner of the seat part mean?
Pick one of these -> cushion, arm rest or back rest. Or better yet take a pic.
(Pics of couches that don't have holes in them give little indication to your dillema...)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 7:55 AM on December 8, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks sararah! I forgot to mention specifically that, like the pic, the cushions is a single unit, part of the whole body of the couch, unremovable.

It's sitting in the middle of the room so removing a piece from the back will create another hole, dagnabit.

The couch was picked up from a small store in baltimore. (this one) many years ago and they don't carry them anymore.

In terms of the fabric matching I'd rather have anything there than nothing, so my priority is more on covering it seamlessly with any kind of material rather than trying hard to get it to match. I could just sew a random piece of sheet or something but I was hoping there was a more elegant solution, espeically given that I have no idea how to sew either.

mu~ha~ha~ha~har (nice name!): I photoshopped the hole in here.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:05 AM on December 8, 2008

Best answer: Go fabric shopping. Get 1/5 yard of a beautiful fabric that coordinates with the couch. If it's that red, shapely couch, get purple velveteen, or black/white damask, just something beautiful. If you got damask with a strong pattern, you could cut out 3-4 pieces following the pattern and applique them to the couch, covering the hole, and maybe also on arms. It would look decorative as much as functional. There are different stitches you can use.

The other option is to remove fabric from the back of the couch to make a patch, then finding fabtric to re-do the back of the couch.
posted by theora55 at 8:11 AM on December 8, 2008

Response by poster: theora: Cool fabrics and sewing tips...are there any other ways to attach the bits of fabric (glue, tacks, pieces of chewed up gum?) besides applique? The answer may just be "Learn to sew dummy" but I have tried before and am singularly bad at small motor skills.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:29 AM on December 8, 2008

There are quite a few interfaces - basically a piece of heat-activated adhesive that will attach fabric to fabric. I have used this on jeans and t-shirts before, but I don't know how well this will work on a microsuede type of fabric: A) it is probably acrylic fabric (plastic) so the high heat required to activate the adhesive may also melt your couch and B) you'd have to iron on your couch would may result in a non-uniform application of the patch because you won't have a hard surface to press down on. This type of product goes by the brand name Wonder Under, among others. But I'm going to suggest sewing, even if it means practicing ;)

Also: excellent photoshop job. :)
posted by sararah at 11:25 AM on December 8, 2008

I find the problem with those heat activated adhesives (like Wonder Under), is that they can fray and the fabric can come loose, especially since the hole is on the seat where people's behinds will be rubbing on it. I think sewing is the best way to ensure that it stays, esp since you can't lift the bottom cushion up and do the attachment underneath. I was also going to suggest purple velveteen!
posted by bluefly at 12:23 PM on December 8, 2008

Best answer: Since the sofa already has a kind of loopy PeeWee's Playhouse look about it, why don't you cover the hole with a round piece of contrasting fabric, and scatter more round pieces of fabric all over, and make it polka-dotted? This doesn't solve the not-wanting-to-sew problem, but it will look intentional and avoid the obvious 'this is a patch covering up a hole' look.

As for the sewing, get a curved needle, some heavy thread (the thicker the thread, the fewer stitches you'll need), and just take your time. The most professional look probably would be an applique stitch around the edge of the patch that will completely cover the raw edge of the fabric, but if that seems like too much work you could also just do a single line of careful, even stitching around the edge of the patch, leaving the edges raw, for an intentionally crafty, slightly messy look. Either way, if you can Photoshop a hole on the sofa, you can sew a patch on the sofa! Or lots of patches!
posted by cilantro at 2:00 PM on December 8, 2008

Go to a fabric store and ask for advice. They make fabric glue, but it will be stiff. If you use glue, be sure to "hem" the edges of the patch, turning them under, to make it look less unfinished. Sewing would give better results, but glue would be quick-n-easy.

Given the location, you could make a stripe across the side of both cushions. Another ploy to make it seem more intentional is to make matching pillow. Pillows aren't hard, but it helps to have a friend with a sewing machine.
posted by theora55 at 1:56 PM on December 9, 2008

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