Couch cushion - can I repair it without sewing?
November 1, 2018 7:25 AM   Subscribe

I have an old sectional fabric covered couch. Zippers on a couple of the seat cushions have broken and the cushions can no longer be zipped closed. Without replacing the zippers, is there anything I can do to keep these cushions closed ? I thought about using velcro, but I can’t overlap the fabric enough for that to work. I am hoping to get another year or so out of this couch which lives in the family room and is used regularly by large dogs and people. Thanks in advance!
posted by walkinginsunshine to Home & Garden (21 answers total)
You could get a bunch of safety pins. Pin it every inch or so.
posted by trbrts at 7:26 AM on November 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I might not do pins with the dogs around, unless the zipper end can be shoved enough to the back of the couch that they can't see the pins. If so, totally pins.

If not, you might try going to a craft store and getting some permanent fabric tape. I know you can't overlap, but you could stick the cover to the cushion in an appropriate spot.
posted by wellred at 7:35 AM on November 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Use upholstery "twisty" pins.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:36 AM on November 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

You could hand stitch them closed with a simple stich and just rip it open and redo it as needed. It's hard to know exactly what to advise without pictures, though.
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 7:37 AM on November 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

I also suggest tape, especially if the burst area can be put at the back where it won't be seen. Gorilla tape is also pretty strong and won't let go. Run a few strips across the gap, to pull it together, then one strip the length of the closed gap, then a few more across and it should hold just fine. I've repaired a few office chair cushions this way to get some more life out of something that's ripped otherwise perfectly functional.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:38 AM on November 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

I also suggest stitching them closed - it won't look great but it will be sturdy and won't take all that long. Use a long needle (curved upholstery needle if you can find it) and heavy thread marked "upholstery" or "denim." Take lots of smaller stitches.
posted by mskyle at 7:42 AM on November 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Pictures would really help -- it's possible the broken zippers can be repaired at a shoe repair place for $3 or so. (And I know you don't want to replace the zippers, but in my experience, wholesale zipper replacement at a shoe repair places is like $10-$15, like to get a suitcase zipper or a kid's jacket zipper completely replaced.) It might be worth taking the cushion cover to a local cobbler and getting their thoughts.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:52 AM on November 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

Another option would be a ‘sew’ zip ties, putting one in every few inches.

(And I just spent $35 for a zipper to be replaced on a jacket at an alteration/tailor place, maybe I got ripped off but also maybe $5 is a bit optimistic)
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:56 AM on November 1, 2018

Depending on the structure (and of course if it's in a visible location), staples might work. (That's how I repaired a cushion my dog gutted from the underside.)
posted by metasarah at 9:02 AM on November 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Another vote for hand-sewing it shut. It will be less of a PITA than you think it will be to do, as opposed to attaching some other sort of fastener to it. Also, no dogs or humans will be harmed with pins and the like.
posted by sarajane at 9:09 AM on November 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

When this happened to us, we just got a fitted couch cover for the whole couch. We had a dog that had destroyed the middle cushion, but the couch cover made it invisible. (example)
posted by jillithd at 9:11 AM on November 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

When my couch cushion zippers broke and wouldn’t zip the last couple of inches I stapled the zipper pieces together, with just a regular office stapler. I used a lot of staples but it totally held up for another long while! I made sure to get the zipper pieces as close together as possible and sent the staple through the fabric edges of the zipper. The zipper was well fastened to the upholstery fabric but there wasn’t any extra to over lap. I don’t think this would work well for a long section, but if you can get the zip to work part of the way and just need the ends secured, the staples worked well for me!
posted by Swisstine at 9:16 AM on November 1, 2018

If hand sewing, I would tie a knot every so often (like you do when you've finished) so that if the thread breaks under tension from use, you only have to redo the part that gave way.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:19 AM on November 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Put the loop side of velcro on each side of where the zipper used to be and get a strip of fabric to act as a patch and put the matching strips of hook side of velcro on that.
posted by itesser at 10:34 AM on November 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

If sewing isn't part of your skill set diaper pins lock shot and so are a safer alternative to safety pins.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 10:34 AM on November 1, 2018

I use a whip stitch for to sew them shut. Strong. Easy to do. Easy to undo. Sometimes I use dental floss for it because it's strong but maybe that's a bad idea- I don't know. So far it's worked, though.

I'd get one of those large, curved needles to make it quicker.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:42 AM on November 1, 2018

Safety pins. Really big safety pins.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:09 AM on November 1, 2018

Sewing this is going to be easier than you think, and not harder than dealing with pins or velcro. It will also look nicer than my second suggestion, which is of course duct tape.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:28 AM on November 1, 2018

Staples and pins have been mentioned, so I'll link fabric glue.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:33 AM on November 1, 2018

Depending on how visible and structural these zips were - I have been known not to do anything and hope there‘d never be a reason to lift the cushions in company
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:33 AM on November 1, 2018

Hook and Eye closures might work (picture a bra clasp) but will take a few stitches each. There is also snap tape, but that would be just as much work to attach as a zipper.
posted by soelo at 3:09 PM on November 1, 2018

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