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tufted sofa progress


I have a lot of “business-y” things on my to-do list for the month, so it’s important that I balance it out with creative work…projects that are fun for me to work on, take pictures of, and share here on the blog.  I’m trying to resist the urge to buy new things and, instead, work on pieces that have been hanging out in the studio for a while, waiting for a makeover.


So, Kriste, Katie (I’ll tell you about her in a minute) and I have been picking away at the sofa for a couple of days, stripping off the circa 1980’s blue and mauve fabric that is reminiscent of fabric you’d find on dentist office chairs.


It looked okay at a quick glance, but it was stained and the cushion fabric is worn in several places.  It’s a fantastic Belgian-made sofa with a sturdy frame and good guts, so it’s definitely worth the time to save.


She’s all in her skivvies now and ready for me to start the fun part.  Well, I don’t know if any part of upholstery can really fall in the “fun” category, but I do love when the transformation can start.


I decided to paint the frame in MMS Milk Paint Linen.  It’s a creamy off white that I felt would work nicely with the fabrics I selected for this piece.  I brushed on a somewhat sloppy coat, because I had plans to heavily distress it to allow some wood to show through, highlighting the carved details.


I didn’t use the Bonding Agent or sand prior to painting.  I just brushed it on to see what happened.  I did get some random chipping, which fit perfectly into my plan.


I distressed it with a mix of a heavier grit paper (80) and a medium-fine (120).


I’m going to apply some Hemp Oil to hydrate the exposed wood and make it look a bit more finished.

In typical miss-mustard-seed-fashion, I am upholstering the front and cushions in antique hemp sheets.


Instead of trimming it in gimp or double-welting, I am going to use a braided jute trim…

mms-4002 mms-4000

…and I’m going to back the sofa in some tightly woven burlap…


I think it will add a nice texture and contrast and it’ll balance out the cost of the hemp sheets, since it’s less than $6.00/yard.

This project is going to be a beast, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

I’ll share some tutorials along the way, specifically on the tufting, which isn’t as complicated as it might seem…


About Katie…  she lives down the street from me and we’ve e-mailed before and even had the same baby sitter, but we’ve never met.  A few weeks ago, she knocked on my door and expressed an interest in working with me.  She just wanted to be around creative people to awaken her own creativity.

We’re trying to list more in the online shop and make more of our ideas happen, so an extra hand around the studio would actually be helpful.

Katie started this week and I threw her right into the fire, dissecting furniture.  She joked that it was her hazing.  I figure if someone can have a good attitude while stripping a piece of upholstery, she’s going to be awesome to have around.  And we didn’t leave it all in her lap.  Kriste and I worked on it, too, which was definitely the way to tackle such a large piece.  None of us got to the point where we were totally sick of it.

Katie has a background in decorative painting and fine art (she showed some of her samples and paintings today) and I am really excited about the ways we can use her skills to complement our team.  She has never used milk paint, though, so I have the treat of introducing her to it, which is a fun thing for me.


Tomorrow, it’s back to organizing and cleaning out the basement, which is really coming along…

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  1. OOOh Katie is a lucky lady ! I was in the Gettysburg area on Sunday for the PBS screening of Mercy Street at the Majestic Theatre and I kept wishing I lived closer and how I would love to knock on your door ! Welcome Katie and Happy New Year to all of the MMS gang ! xox

  2. Teresa Ross says:

    I LOVE the jute trim!! Where did you find it? It compliments the piece so perfectly. And a big welcome to Katie! I agree, she is a lucky lady. ?

  3. I really enjoy your DIY posts and especially the upholstery. Thanks for taking this project on.

    And thanks for using the word ‘complement’ correctly in this sentence “I am really excited about the ways we can use her skills to complement our team.”

  4. Marian,

    Curious how you know this is a Belgian made sofa?

    • I was wondering about that, too. Also, what do I look for when buying a used sofa of this style? AND how do you date these sofas?

      Love the jute trim.

  5. Ohh looks like fun! I’m excited to see the finished result, and that’s so great to hear you have another helping hand :)

    Lauren Baxter | Lovely Decor

  6. Connie says:

    Welcome Katie you lucky stiff! Can you please share your source for that awesome gimp and the tight burlap at $6 a yard!

  7. Laurie says:

    I love the vicarious sense of accomplishment these upholstery posts give me!

    Remember that other people are cleaning out their basements too right now and that you might find a lot of good deals on furniture! You gut may be telling you to look!

  8. Wow…I guess Katie won the lottery because she gets to work with the two of you! Lucky duck.! :)

  9. Connie J Harbor says:

    Am looking forward to watching the ‘rebirth’ of this sofa. I noticed the two hemp sheets were faggoted together (in the photo showing the braded jute trim. Did you use your machine to do that, or did you do it yourself? What a great way to join the pieces…

  10. Victoria says:

    Ooooohh that is one piece I really hoped you weren’t going to paint! I loved the tone of the raw wood. I know that’s your job an’ all but I let slip a little wail when I reached that photo ?

    • marian says:

      Ha! I really debated it, but if you could have seen the finish in person, I don’t think you would be so sad about it being painted. The finish was flaking in an unattractive way and there was black speckling all over it. I liked the tone of the wood, but it needed to be spruced up.

  11. MARIE PARSONS says:

    I would love to purchase this sofa if you are selling it.

  12. What a job to tackle, but it will be all worth it once you have completed your labor of love. Can’t wait to see the reveal.

  13. Alicia says:

    I’m so glad you’re going to demonstrate how to handle tufting. The living room furniture I inherited from my parents is tufted and I simply made a slipcover to bring it into the 21st century but ignored the tufting. One day I’d like to re-upholster it and look forward to how you accomplish this. You always make it look so “doable”.

    If you lived in my neighborhood (Ontario, CA) I’d have been knocking on your door by now as well. What an incredible way you’re “staff” is growing…and without you even advertising! How God does provide.

    I’ve said this before…”when I grow up I want to be like you” and I’m 68!!! Seriously though, you are an inspiration to so many women of all ages to be creative and even begin a “small business”.

  14. OMG, that jute braided trim. LOVE!

  15. Martha says:

    I’m waiting with bated breath for your post about tufting. I have a sweet little Eastlake chair that I want to reupholster but I’m afraid of the tufting!

  16. Love the trim can you share where you found it? Thank you!

  17. Joanne B. says:

    Ditto on where to find the tighter weave burlap. The burlap available at Joann Fabrics is quite “rustic” and STINKS! Please share where you found this nicer quality burlap…

  18. The sofa looks amazing Marian! You are really inspiring me to try my hand at re-painting some of our things, rather than feeling like I need to replace them!


  19. Robin Koch says:

    How many hemp sheets do you think you will need for this? I have a similar couch and would like to use them, but am clueless at how many to order, and at $90 a pop, don’t want to go over too much. Thank you for tackling this, it is helping my confidence!

    • marian says:

      They way I did mine, I ended up using three sheets, but this is a really long sofa. I did supplement the hemp sheets by using burlap on the back and an inexpensive canvas for the underside of the cushions and the decking.

  20. Sally Gee says:

    Wishing you could show how to do the “guts” of the sofa as well. I was recently gifted one, that has sagging and cushion issues, and have no idea how to start.

    • marian says:

      Sally, I really don’t work on the guts on the pieces I work on, except to repair the wooden frame or reinforce with webbing or replacing foam or batting. I haven’t gotten into retying springs, etc.

  21. Tracy says:

    After painting frame then sand then hemp oil last? Anything to seal it after? Looks great.

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