Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An Upholstry & Zipper Tutorial

You may have seen our front goucho in the Ambassador already.  I upholstered this last year when we gutted the entire thing.  One of the things that I had done was measure every angle of the goucho and then took the measurements and drawings to the fabric store to figure out my material needed.  I always buy an extra yard just in case, especially on big projects like this. 

Well, after figuring my yardage, there were just a couple of yards left on the bolt and it was the only bolt with this material, so I bought it all.  I think I only had about four extra yards, but it is the wider, upholstry fabric on the big rolls.  I found my new fetish - the Mill End Outlet Store, which has the nearest store in Rochester, MN from us.  We made a side trip on our way out to South Dakota last year to pick out upholstry.  I was able to purchase all of the fabric for the curtains (including lining) and the goucho. 

As it turned out, I had enough fabric left to upholster the wall behind the twin beds in the middle too.  Needless to say, I still had a stash of the stuff in my closet, so when we started to talk about adding benches, I thought I MIGHT have enough to at least do the tops of the cushions with my fabric from the goucho.
Here's the finished bench.  I love the piano hinge that was used to lift the lid to the storage.  Mr. Airstream found that purchasing the hinge in the largest size and then cutting it in two to the size that we needed was less expensive than buying two different hinges.
Just a view of the open bench that we added.  (Those are the pedistals for the new table that will go here.)  Plenty of storage space for Mr. Airstream & I to put rubbermaids with our clothes in it for trips.

The first thing  that I did after finding the foam on the internet was to get Mr. Airstream to cut it the correct size for the space.  We purchase very firm 6 inch foam in two pieces (one was the exact size we needed and the other had to be split in two.)  We bought it from at the lowest prices we could find.

I then laid it down on the material to get the main top pieces cut correctly.  Some of the things that I try to do is to make sure that the fabric runs in the same direction as the rest of the couch.  In this case, I just was happy to get the top and then the side also going in the same direction.

I actually don't measure this part out.  I cut about an inch away from the foam.  Then I turn it to the next side down and cut another piece for the same cushion.  I was very excited to be able to get three side pieces and the top of the cushion cut out of my leftover fabric from last year!  I literally only had a few scraps left over.

I then laid the top and one back side of the fabric down on top of a coordinating vinyl for the bottom and back side of the fabric.  These sides won't show in the camper, but will come in handing for turning over for young kids to sit on!

Next, I took one side from each cushion to put a zipper on it so the cover can be removed for washing.  I chose the shorter side, because zippers can be costly and hard to find in really long sizes.  These two sides, I cut in half and then sewed back together using a basting stitch, leaving a half inch seam.  Press the seams open.

When I did the original goucho, we found this zipper by the yard and zipper slides and stops at the Mill End Outlet store.  I again had purchased just enough to put these two zippers into the cushions.  You just put the zipper slide on the zipper and add the stop at the  other end.

Next, pin the zipper down the center of the seam you just made.  You have to be real careful, becuase where the seam is will be cut open to reveal the zipper on the other side.  Be sure to put the right side of the zipper towards the back side of the the fabric.  (I know seems backwards, but trust me, the zipper will be revealed on the other side in the end!)

Using the zipper foot on the machine, sew along the edge of the zipper on both sides.  I like to leave about a quarter of an inch gap, just in case I am too close to that seam.  Now the fun part!  Turn the fabric over to the front side and use a seam ripper to take the basting stitches out.  Voila!  You have a zipper that works and is hidden!

To finish the cushion, I put the pieces I cut upside down and pin the sides on.  I take each pinned section to the machine and sew where the pins are placed.  There's no real science to this, you just want the fabric to be straight and tight on the cushion.  When you do the last piece, be sure to leave the zipper partially open, so that you can turn it right side out.  There is nothing more frustrating than having to rip out a seam because you can't open the zipper from the wrong side! 
Here's the new benches with cushions!  (Don't worry, that little hole by the drawers got a false front added later to make it look finished.   Oh  - and because I had all the materials for the cushions were purchased last year and left over, these two cushions cost me nothing.  Stay tuned for the table!!!

I am linkin up to:


  1. Uncle Bill and Aunt MaryApril 28, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    We were on pins and needles through the middle of this installment, but the commentary kept us in stitches!

  2. Ok Love it- Thanks this post is going to be printed-saved on to my computer- you must go read about my experience with sewing a gown for my daughters first -only pageant-and not knowing how to do a zipper- or at least willing to give it a try again-and using velcrow.
    I will read this many times as i attempt again .
    Love the blog

  3. P.S. will have to be a FOLLOWER so i can find you again and your knowledge with sewing..

  4. I've never seen any instructions to do a zipper backwards of the "normal" way, but I LOVE it! I need to recover some cushions very soon; I'm going to try it your way! Thanks!