How do I go about finding a seamstress to re-cover cushions?
November 30, 2012 7:13 AM   Subscribe

How can I find a seamstress to do some moderately difficult work, specifically re-covering foam cushions with provided fabric, and is this the best way to go about doing the job?

We found some great old mid-century furniture on Craigslist (an armchair and a daybed), but the cushions need re-covering.

As is pretty standard with mid-century/Danish modern furniture, all the cushions are removable foam, so re-covering them would barely count as "reupholstery" as I understand it -- more like a heavy-duty sewing job, especially since we'd like to pick out and use our own upholstery fabric.

We've gotten some quotes from upholstery businesses (in NYC, where we live) and they're saying around $300 labor for the armchair and more for the daybed.

It seems to me that it'd be cheaper to find an independent seamstress or tailor to do this work (let me know if I'm wrong!), but since this is about as far away from my area of expertise as possible I don't know where to begin.

How can I find a capable seamstress to re-cover some foam cushions for me?
posted by maxreax to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would venture back onto craigslist for this, you could also make an alchemy request in etsy and request someone local.
posted by euphoria066 at 7:20 AM on November 30, 2012

My sister does decorating/painting/seamstress work, and depending on the complexity of the job $300 seems really fair to have it done right, with rolled seams, etc.

I'd rather use a professional, who will guarantee work, than someone from Craigslist who will take all your things away, and....

I dunno, some things are worth it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:29 AM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

There is no more Etsy Alchemy. There are people offering custom slipcovers, though, so I'd consider one of those. Plow through the listings and find someone with good reviews.

You don't need someone local, by the way. You can take very careful measurements of your cushions and give them to the seamstress. She'll tell you how much yardage you need. You then mail her the yardage and she'll mail you back the slipcovers. You pay all postage.

FWIW, the upholstery guys in the shop around the corner from me would totally be able to do this, too, and I'd certainly get quotes.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:35 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I know a great and cheap upholstery guy in Harlem if that's at all convenient to you. Memail me if you want his details.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 7:44 AM on November 30, 2012

You might not even have to do the measurements, you might be able to just send them the old covers and have them make measurements from that.
posted by mskyle at 8:07 AM on November 30, 2012

> they're saying around $300 labor for the armchair

That sounds reasonable. I had some cushions made recently and paid $25 an hour for labor, as I recall -- and that was a friend-of-a-friend working out of her house in Seattle, not a professional in NYC.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:34 AM on November 30, 2012

I've made cushions for a midcentury couch myself, and honestly, $300 is reasonable given the labor involved, particulalry if piping is involved. (Getting piping to be even and look good/making the piping yourself to match the cover precisely is a bitch and a half.)

Because midcentury furniture relies on clean lines, you really need precise work to make it look good. I think you may be able to get it done for $200-250, but probably not less.
posted by larthegreat at 10:13 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Upholstery fabric is heavy, and requires a more powerful sewing machine. Normal seamstresses might not necessarily have the "monster truck" sewing machine. Also, Upholstery is a different kind of sewing skill-- square corners and straight seams.

altogether-- stick with a professional in the field. Hopefully you'll get several decades of usage from the cushions.
posted by ohshenandoah at 2:31 PM on November 30, 2012

Response by poster: We ended up using Elusive Architeuthis' upholsterer, Orin Brown (646-238-7229)—he did a fantastic job making brand new cushions with the provided fabric at about half the price of everyone else we talked to.
posted by maxreax at 2:35 PM on November 11, 2013

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