Thursday, August 4, 2011

Step One---Strip It!

Getting back to my couch, (please see this post for the beginning of the story) obviously the first thing that needs to be done is to remove the old fabric.  This is usually the hardest part for me.  The labor isn't hard (as long as there aren't a zillion staples in the frame) but it's the least fun part of the process. But it is necessary.  So out with the old!!

Here's how I do it.


Gather up your tools.  These are my favorites. I have a tack puller, a staple puller, a nail puller and a pair of needle nose pliers.  The one with the plain yellow handle is the staple puller and it is the best tool EVER! It has skinny points on the end which are excellent for getting under small, embedded staples. It will also really hurt if you stab yourself with them (or accidentally sit on them) so be careful! You can never go wrong having a pair of scissors handy either.


First, if there is a bed in your couch, take it out! Believe me, you will be happy later that you took the time to do this now!  The beds aren't usually hard to remove, mine was held in with 4 bolts, and once it's out, you will be able to move the couch really easily and there is plenty of room to work.  So, take the bed out and set it aside somewhere. The whole couch now looks a little less intimidating, right?

Next, remove any feet or other "hardware" from the couch frame that is on top of the fabric. My couch had some rubber tap in feet on the upper corners to help protect the wall (that's my guess anyway) so I pulled them out with the tack puller, tipped the couch onto the front face and began with the back piece.
(As a general rule, when reupholstering, the first piece/fabric/cushion etc... that you remove from the piece will be the last thing you put back together. Put simply, first off, last back on.)


Begin with the bottom edge and pull out all the staples, then at the sides, use the tack puller (a flat head screwdriver will also work) to pry up the tack strips. A tack strip is a long thin strip of metal with a row of tacks or teeth on it that helps to finish an edge. (I will get into greater detail, and use a better photo, when it's time to talk about reassembling) So, pull these out, be careful, they're sharp, and pull the fabric forward exposing the inside of the couch.

Once you've exposed the inside, take a minute to look at everything. If you want to, take some photos to help you remember where everything goes. I do this all the time. This comes in really handy when you have to walk away from your project for a few days, or are like me and can't remember anything for longer than 5 minutes!


Now, looking at this photo, the next step will be to remove that row of staples. There will most likely be some on the sides near the arms as well. Once you've taken all of those out, you should be able to pull the whole back piece off the couch.


Like so. Set the fabric aside and start on the arms next. On this couch it doesn't matter if you start on the inside or on the outer arms, so I started with the outer arms.


Tip the couch onto it's back and again removed the staples from the bottom of the couch. Then using the tack puller, pry up the tack strip on the front side of the outer arm. When I pulled that back, I found another tack strip along the upper edge, just below the curve of the arm.


It looks like a plain piece of cardboard. It is. This is another type of tack strip, also used to make a clean, finished edge. It is stapled in, rather than having tacks embedded in it. (This is another thing we'll get back to later) Pull the whole thing out, staples and all, it's not necessary to try to save the cardboard, you'll use a new piece for the new fabric.  So, once all of the outer arm is loose, go back to the inner part and start pulling out those staples.  


Let's talk about the black and white fabric in this photo. It's called typar.  It's use in upholstery is mainly to finish the underside of a piece of furniture. In this case, the black piece is covering up the raw edges and staples on the inner arm. The white piece is actually sewn to the fabric of the arm and attached to the frame. The purpose of the white typar is to help reduce waste of your good upholstery fabric. You could also use muslin or canvas in it's place.  So pull all of that out. Set the black typar aside, we can reuse that later.


Peel back the fabric of the arm and pull it all off. Set this aside if you want to use it to help make a pattern for the new fabric. Sometimes I do this and sometimes not. In this case, because there is a sewn piece on the back, I decided to keep it and look at it again when I start to put the new fabric on.


We're almost done!! This is the long piece of fabric that goes across the front of the couch. Tip the couch onto it's back and pull the staples from the bottom. Then remove the batting and pull out the staples. (By now, you should be sensing a pattern) You can either save this batting to reuse or use new, it's up to you. There was so much dog hair (ick) in this that I decided to toss it. Pull off the fabric and set it aside.


Congratulations!! You are now the proud owner of a naked couch!

Are you seeing possibilities?

Are you imagining the lovely new fabric on the couch?

Good, now stretch, give yourself a huge pat on the back, the hardest part is done.

I'm going to clean up now and reward myself with some cookies!

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