upholstery repair
January 2, 2017 10:28 AM   Subscribe

We purchased a couch on discount because it had a rip in the arm. How do I fix it?

I wrote to American Leather and they said they can replace the entire arm for several hundred dollars (no thanks) or give me this free fabric swatch. Also pictured, the iron on patch I found at the fabric store in a different color.

How do I actually fix this? Iron on patch on the inside, glue the swatch on the outside? What would look least bad?
posted by latkes to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If the rip is minor and not in a structurally stressed placed the paint on leather glue might fit it.
posted by COD at 10:40 AM on January 2, 2017

It's fabric not leather...
posted by latkes at 10:47 AM on January 2, 2017

You could get a curved needle and use the swatch to cover the rip using a slip stitch (technique here: https://youtu.be/2YNkl8KPPi0). You'll be able to see it, but it shouldn't look too obvious.

Alternatively, you might be able to darn it, the same method you'd use to darn socks, lots of tutorials online.
posted by Helga-woo at 10:48 AM on January 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

It looks to me like you could just slip stitch the rip closed with matching thread - no need to involve patches.
posted by sarajane at 10:56 AM on January 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

That little thing? Nthing the suggestion to stitch it closed by hand!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 11:10 AM on January 2, 2017

A DIY repair not gonna look perfect...

Take the fabric swatch to the best sewing store in your area, and compare all the thread colors in the store with the swatch. Buy a spool of thread that matches the swatch the best. If you can't find a perfect match I would buy something slightly darker rather than slightly lighter. Buy a few needles, some sewing pins, and a thing of iron on hemming tape.

Roll up your fabric swatch and slide it into the rip. Unroll it when it's in the rip, so that the swatch sits flat under the rip. Butt the edge of the swatch to the end of the couch's arm. Now cut some iron on hemming tape to the length of the swatch and slide it into the tear. more or less cover the surface of the swatch with the tape. Now gently tug the material around the rip to start making it narrower. As you do this push sewing pins into the arm going through the couch's fabric, into the swatch's fabric and finally into the padding on the arm of the couch. Repeat the tugging and pinning for a while until the rip is as narrow as possible. You might need to pull some of the pins out to tighten as other parts get tighter.

Now that you've got that all pulled together, curl the edges of the rip under a little bit and use an invisible stitch to fix the tear. I would also make some loops of thread just beyond the end of the tear to keep the tear from getting wider.

Finally follow the directions on the iron on hemming tape, and iron the tear.
posted by gregr at 11:11 AM on January 2, 2017 [9 favorites]

here is step by step to sewing a hole very similar to yours
I don't think you will need the swatch at all--
posted by calgirl at 11:12 AM on January 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

What would look least bad?
A protective arm cover/armrest cover after you've done the stitching.
posted by furtive_jackanapes at 1:29 PM on January 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

I am not a sewing expert, but that rip looks tiny and that swatch looks huge in comparison, to my eyes. gregr's solution sounds like it would be fantastic for a large rip, but with a small one, I'd be afraid of making the thing worse instead of better.

I would take the fabric swatch to a sewing store, find the nearest spool of sturdy thread, then sew the hole closed with the technique calgirl linked. Then, if you're worried people actually using the arm would fray the stitching (which I wouldn't be, not that close to the tip of the arm - most leaning tends to happen in the middle of a sofa's arms or towards the back, in my experience) you find nice protective arm covers, like furtive_jackanapes said, and put them on both arms (only one would make it look like you've got something to hide).
posted by sailoreagle at 3:04 PM on January 2, 2017

I would cut a small piece of the swatch, a little bigger and wider than the tear, and insert it into the tear so it sits under, nice and flat. I would possibly snip away a couple of those threads that from the tear, then put a few dabs of fabric adhesive around the opening, between the swatch and couch fabric, and hold or pin the tear closed until the glue dries. Then apply very carefully, probably with a toothpick or extremely fine brush some more fabric adhesive to hold down any loose fibres, or do some more careful snipping. Using needle and thread might be difficult to avoid puckering, and would probably stand out, with fabric like that.
posted by Sar at 6:03 PM on January 2, 2017

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