Our 5-seater Italian Sofa Set needed help. The springs were broken and it was not possible for a person to sit on a seat without getting sunk in. So we decided to change its upholstery. After a week long research I thought of putting my notes down for those of you might be considering the same.

Choosing the Fabric :

You have a choice of making your sofa look plain or printed. If you choose a printed fabric for the entire sofa it’s safer to select one from the designer catalogues. Otherwise, finally it could look like something totally different from what you had imagined. In line with the recent trend, there is also a mid-way approach of making your sofa partly printed. 

Prints and colors is a personal choice. However, its always advisable to choose dark colors if you have little children at home. Kids tend to drop food or wipe hands on the sofa leading to stains. Even dense patterns can help reduce the visiblity of a stain. In our case, we chose a dense pattern for the back rest and seating area and a light color to contrast the rest of the sofa. Such an arrangement also helps highlight the pattern used. Its like framing a painting.

Also, its best to choose fabrics that are thick. They make the sofa last longer. Thinner fabrics yield easily to pressure over a period of time. Velvet fabrics attract more dust.

Jute fabric has a great look and feel but is eventually very risky to use. If one fiber comes out from one side all other threads could yield.

Buying Raw Material :

One thing is for sure, all materials present in hardware shops have great margins within mrp. It’s possible to get a good discount by picking it up yourself. I bought the foam sheets as well as the fabric from a Haryana Handloom shop. Good options in brands for foam sheets is Kurl On and Rest well

Foam sheets, each of different thickness

Raw material needed :

(foam sheets are all Rest well, 40 density ones)

  • 5 foam sheets 4 inches thick, Rs 334 per pc
  • 3 foam sheets 1 inch thick, Rs 554 per pc
  • 4 foam sheets 15 mm thick, Rs 150 per pc
  • 1 roll of elastic tape,  Rs 480
  • 1 ½ kgs of nails, Rs 180
  • 1 litre of fevicol, Rs 105 per lt
  • 2 litres of special adhesive solution, Rs 120 per lt
  • 9 meters of jute fabric (looks like a gunny sack), Rs 30 per mt
  • 6 meters of marking material (thin, white cloth), Rs 30 per mt
  • 12 wooden legs, Rs 60 per pc
  • 12 meters plain sofa fabric, Rs 120 per mt
  • 9 meters printed sofa fabric, Rs 480 per mt

Cost of Labour was Rs 750/- per seat.

The toughest part was deciding how many meters of cloth we would actually need. I had to make 3 trips to the fabric shop due to the extreme amount of confusion. I guess its always better to buy the cloth and fix a carpenter from the same shop so there is no conflict in opinion.

Changing the upholstery

Removing old fabric

Good carpenters will manage to rip open the sofa in no time. You will soon be flooded with a 6-feet tall stack of dry waste. Save the big covers in which the foam sheets were bought. They will be helpful in managing the dry waste stacks.

Springs secured with elastic mesh work

Once the sofa is opened completely, the springs are held in place by a mesh of elastic tape that the workman knits skillfully through the sofa springs. Measurements are taken of the sofa and the cloth will be taken away for stitching, only to be brought back the next day. Paranoid or suspicious people can number the cloth pieces before sending. The next day he will have to show the stitched pieces with the numbering in place (else he has asked for more cloth than he needed).

Nailing of marking cloth

The next day, after fixing the foam sheet the cloth will be nailed to the sides of the sofa structure. Ensure that the nails are not spaced too far apart as the cloth could then come out easily between the gaps. Once the cloth is nailed you can sit on the sofa and check its comfort.

It’s also a good idea to use up left over cloth to dress the rest of the room. I have managed to make a runner on my TV table and a center piece on my coffee table. You can use your imagination to make table mats, table/music system covers, backdrops in photo frames, small tea coasters, etc. or like my husband you can suggest making a shirt out of the fabric and sitting on the same sofa.

Use of spare cloth in accessories

A 5-seater sofa set will mostly take 3 days to complete. It’s always better to buy the raw material yourself and monitor the work while its getting done. That way you will not only get rid of unnecessary middle-men margins but will also be sure of the quality you will get eventually. Ready-made sofa sets look brilliant but often don’t stand the test of time. Behind the lustrous fabric some of them hide poor quality material and craftsmanship. However, a 3 day effort can create a sturdy sofa that is reasonable as well. Only drawback here is that you can not change the design of your original sofa. Suppose you want removable back cushions or seats it’s not possible to do that. You can only change the fabric and the inner material used to give your sofa new life. It’s like new wine in a newly painted bottle, but the bottle is still the same.