I don’t know about you, but I always start projects with great optimism and enthusiasm. And most of the time things go smoothly.
This is not one of those times.
Stripping the upholstery was pretty easy, because three of us worked on it in turns…
And painting the frame? No problem.
I added a layer of batting to the back, so it would soften the foam a bit…
And I used the pieces of fabric that were removed from the sofa as templates for the new fabric pieces.
That back piece was huge! I happened to have an antique hemp mattress cover (that would’ve been stuffed with hay or feathers, depending on how affluent the owners were) that was long enough once opened up.
We pinned all of the pieces in place and cut them out. I cut the back piece much larger than the fabric template, because of the tufting, but cut the rest to size.
And I used my new magnetic bowl that a sweet reader sent me for Christmas.
No more spilling my pins! And, as a little bonus, the bowl also sticks to my metal stool.
I spread the large piece of fabric over the back, making sure it was centered from left to right, top to bottom.
Everything up to this point went exactly as planned and expected. Smooth sailing.
And then I started the tufting…
Enter black clouds and ominous music.
I’ve tufted before and it was time consuming, but it didn’t take every ounce of my patience and make me break out in a sweat. It didn’t take me over an hour to make six tufts. SIX!
I was about ready to throw in the towel after two tufts, but knew I just needed to figure things out. It was tufted before and it can be tufted again.
Oh yes, it will be tufted again.
I just could not get that stupid needle through all of the stinking batting under the foam! It’s like 6″ of batting and foam and the needle just would not go through. And the harder I pushed, the more the fabric on the back side would give. I pulled until my hands turned red. I used pliers. I actually sat on the floor, pulling on the needle with the pliers with my feet pushing the sofa away from me. I tried cutting holes through the batting to make way for the needle, but it was too thick to get scissors through.
I kept wandering to our supply closet, hoping I would find something that would help.
I finally figured it out. First of all, I wore gloves, so I could grip the needle and push/pull it through better. Second, I drilled a hole in a small board, so I could press on it as I pulled the needle through. The pressure from the board prevented the back from giving so much. (I’ll have to show a picture of it, because it’s a little hard to explain.)
I actually let out a cackle when it worked and I was able to do one tuft in about 2 minutes instead of 10. Kriste looked over her should at me. Eyebrows raised.
Of course, this all seems totally ridiculous when I see people on YouTube whipping their needles through a sofa as they’re tufting, but they must have some strength that I just am not in possession of. Either that, or I’m missing some crucial step or tool that would make sofa tufting a total dream. (If you know of that, please don’t let me go on with my board with the hole in it!)
Now that I have my system figured out, I am planning to pace myself and do 10-12 tufts each day. Maybe I’ll get in a groove and be able to do more, but I feel like that’s all I can handle in one day. And retain my sanity. (I was cackling at the sofa after just four tufts…)
If I do suddenly go silent on my blog and social media and I’m found on the floor of my studio with a tufting needle in my gloved hand…
…the sofa should be the first suspect.
For more on the tufted sofa series, follow these links…