My Life as a Cannibal…or How I Recycled My Sofa

After living with a less than satisfying sofa for 15 years, my husband and I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy a new one. The existing sofa was a well-known, name brand piece of fine furniture but the fabric did not stand up to all the love and attention my husband showered on it daily. When contemplating the possible ways to get rid of the old sofa, I decided to “cannibalize” it. I looked at the components of the sofa and figured I could re-use the seat cushions, pieces of fabric, and various padding and fiberfill for other upholstery needs around the house. So, one day, the day before the new sofa was to be delivered, I started to take the old one apart. From the accent pillows I saved the zippers. From the seat cushions, I saved the zippers also and planned to use the foam for a new back cushion for our loveseat. So far, so good. This project will be quick and easy. Then I turned the sofa over and started taking out staples. And kept taking out staples. And still more staples. I think the staple guy was new on the job and didn’t want to be accused of not putting in enough staples! Now I could have just cut the fabric free near the edge but I wanted to rescue the piping and reuse it. So I started prying out the staples. First the layer of black fabric covering the bottom. Then the layer of paper tape. Then the staples holding on the piping. Then finally the staples holding on the actual fabric. But, wait…there’s more! Staples, that is, holding on the batting underneath! And on the back and sides of the sofa, not only were there copious staples but a strip of metal with medieval spikes holding the fabric on! Who knew you could work up a sweat just pulling out staples!

My pile of scavenged pieces from the sofa.
My pile of scavenged pieces from the sofa.

After a few hours I had reduced the sofa to a sad little frame of wood with odd pieces of batting still stapled to it like a bad haircut. Now I was faced with getting the back springs out. Hmmm, I tried prying up the brackets holding them on but ending up using the brute force of hammer and pry bar. So far, so good. I now had to face the seat springs but couldn’t get to them because of the framing. So more muscle power, hammering, and prying and I slowly took the doweled, glued, and stapled, back frame and arms apart. Now on to the seat springs. These guys were more robust in springiness so I was hoping to get them out without having them take off around the room like a cartoon character. I began to use my same technique as with the back springs but they didn’t budge. Ironically, I was able to easily pry up the cleat and staple holding them in (I never want to see another staple!). The key was to pry it loose and hold on to it at the same time. I didn’t want any pieces to fly into my husband’s prized TV. No amount of savings on foam, fabric, and batting would make up for that. Once the last cleat was pried up, the spring gave up its fight and just let go all along the other edge. After some more hammering and prying, the sofa was reduced to a pile of lumber. I would have felt sad if I hadn’t been so tired and feeling the pain of several knuckle scrapes. So here’s what became of the pieces I scavenged.  I used the seat cushions and the piping, the zipper, and some fabric from the back to make a new back cushion for our loveseat.

The old, floppy back cushion
The old, floppy back cushion

 

The new, firmer back cushion
The new, firmer back cushion

 

More fabric and padding made a new ottoman for the sofa to hold the all-important remote controls.
More fabric and padding made a new ottoman for the sofa to hold the all-important remote controls.

 

Made some cushions for my porch swing using the fabric, zippers, batting, and a floral scrap that matched the existing rattan furniture on the sun porch.
Made some cushions for my porch swing using the fabric, zippers, batting, and a floral scrap that matched the existing rattan furniture on the sun porch.

But wait, there’s more! Now I was on a mission to reuse every possible scrap. I decided to make a cushion to top a little chest I kept on the sun porch and turn it into a footrest. So I dug through the scrap pile on the dining room floor, pieced together some blocks of foam, and wrapped it with batting. For the cover, I took the leftover tiny piece of floral fabric and bordered it with sofa fabric. Add in a little muslin and some piping,  Velcro it to the chest, and I had a cute little ottoman!

My foot rest
My foot rest

 

And I discovered why the sofa had so many staples. I put a thin piece of wood on the bottom of the ottoman on which to staple the fabric. I tried using my staple gun but the staples wouldn’t go in all the way. So I decided to pull out my nail gun and air compressor. After putting in the first air-powered nail, I realized the sofa maker must have had one of the sweet tools and that’s the reason for the copious staples that vexed me to no end. I will curse myself if I ever decide to recover the ottoman. I also used the batting to plump up seven more pillows and made a large accessory pillow for the swing.

In total, I made three seat/back cushions, two ottomans, and eight pillows from pillaging my sofa.  This was all I had left.
In total, I made three seat/back cushions, two ottomans, and eight pillows from pillaging my sofa. This was all I had left.

I saved a big bag of fiber fill (never know when a pillow will go limp) and discarded the little scraps.

It was a big project that took me seven solid days of hard work and cost me sore fingers and several scraped knuckles but I think it was worth it. The only downside was the plethora of strings and fluff that were everywhere, even in the car, and the fact that my overfull pin box turned over twice, spilling into a woven chair seat and on the floor. Even after a thorough vacuuming, I’m still finding pins on the floor. Oh, and I suppose I should warn any guests who sit in the aforementioned chair. I think I got all the pins…but you never know!

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6 thoughts on “My Life as a Cannibal…or How I Recycled My Sofa

  1. For a week or so we had stuff everywhere. I may say when every thing was done it was worth looking and stumbling the mess to open the blinds in the dinning room. Pam did a great job on all her projects and she has more stuffing left for other items. She saved several hundred dollars by recycling the couch. Great job. No more strings.

  2. I have never heard of a project like this! You should have your own show. HGTV needs a LOT of help with their current line up.

    So, how’s the new sofa? Have you had a chance to sit in it?

  3. The new sofa is receiving lots and love and attention! I agree…HGTV has lost its focus and should be called WBTV (whiney buyer TV)!

  4. Hi Primla, I really enjoy your blog and thought you deserved a nomination for the Liebster award. If you need more info on the award please check out this web site: http://wordingwell.com/the-liebster-award-the-official-rules-my-first-blog-award-and-a-few-personal-secrets-revealed/ And here are your questions to answer for the award:
    1. What is the one thing you like to do most? Why?

    2. What is your favorite tool. Why?

    3. What is your favorite thing you made or repurposed that cost very little? How?

    4. What do you do to relax?

    5. What is your favorite quote?

    6. What is your favorite place to visit?

    7. Who is the one person (dead or alive) you would like to meet and what would you ask them?

    8. What is your favorite season? Why?

    9. What is your favorite flower? Why?

    10. Why did you start a blog?

    11. What new skill would you like to learn?
    I fully understand if you don’t want to try for the award, and hopefully my post will bring you more visitors.

  5. I love reading your ponderings. You should put them in a book. You are a very good writer. One more talent to add to your many. I wish I were half as clever and energetic as you.

    I am too lazy to try to figure how to change the margins.

    I have been planning to call you to see whether you would like to ride to corrolla one day this summer? Stay in touch. Will Call.

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