Grain Sack Wicker Sofa … Before, During & After

There is something really rewarding about tackling a project you’ve never attempted before, and this antique sofa was definitely a first for me.
Let me preface this post by saying that my grandfather was a professional upholsterer…I am not.
My mother is a retired professional drapery seamstress…I am not.
I have marginal sewing skills and no upholstery skills, other than recovering a few chair seat cushions.  I’m not a restorer of antique furniture.  I’m more of a “try to make it look better than it did before” kind of person.  So, it’s far from perfect and I don’t want my mom or Aunt Lillian inspecting my work too closely, but I’m still really happy with how it turned out.
Here’s how the old gal looked when I brought her home.

Given my limited skills, I’m not sure exactly what I was thinking when I brought her home from a thrift store…but I just felt compelled to.  She was affordable, so I felt it was worth the risk and wanted to see if there was any way I could do something with her.

She was missing tacks and the fabric was very weak.

Her poor cushions were totally worn out.

She was loosing what I believe was horse hair out the back of the cushion.

The twine that tied the springs together was broke in many places and the jute webbing was getting torn and weak.

I appears someone worked on her at some point, and replaced some of the broken wicker, but they didn’t finish the job.  There are other small broken sections under the arms as well.

I begged my mother to come back to visit me, so she could help me make new cushions, but since she was just here for a visit, I knew I was on my own, so I figured I better just dig in and try to figure out what to do.  I started by going through my seed bags, to select some to use for the back cushion.

I laid the original cushion out and traced around it on brown paper to make a pattern.  Then I cut out the grain sacks using the pattern and cut a back piece from large canvas drop cloth (which I pre-washed).

Amazingly, I got it all sewn together, only needing to use my seam ripper once.  Even though the original back pad was extremely worn, I decided to reuse it inside my new cover, because:
a)  it was cheaper than buying something new for padding
b)  it was easier than cutting new padding
c)  I knew I could replace it later if need be

Once I had the back pad finished, I used new twine to retie the springs together.  I remind you, I’m not a professional upholsterer, so I just did a 4-way tie, which is what the sofa originally had anyway, although a professional upholsterer probably would have done an 8-way tie.

Then I painted the frame and added new jute webbing over the springs.  I did a base coat of paint with my homemade chalk-style paint, but it was difficult to get in all the nooks and crannies with the brush, so I went over the whole thing again with spray paint.  Over that, I put on a coat of lacquer, which left a bit of a yellow tint in some spots, so I put another coat of spray paint over that.  I believe she’ll now be held together for many years, just because of all the paint and lacquer!

Since I only pull out my sewing machine about once a year and even then, I usually only do small projects, I doubted my ability to make new cushions and covers, so I decided to create a large cushion out of a long piece of foam.  In retrospect, I wish I would have attempted 3 separate cushions and covers, but I really didn’t think I could do it.  If I ever attempt another project like this, I think I’ll try to do the separate cushions instead, but here it is with the foam cut to shape.

The bonus of having those 3 original cushions left over was that inside them was what looked like a honeycomb of old springs, wrapped in fabric, sewn together.

I now have LOADS of springs for future projects and have them available in my shop in sets of 10.
Because the front had broken wicker, which I can’t fix, I opted to create a “skirt” with the leftover canvas drop cloth.  I used pinking shears to make a zig-zag edge along the bottom, following the shape of the bottom front of the sofa.  The large cushion just seemed a little too plain to me when I was done, and it seemed to blend into the “skirt” covering the front, so I added some pleated grosgrain trim to the top of the “skirt”.  It added just a little extra something, so the two didn’t blend together so much.

To make the arms more comfortable and to hide the broken wicker under the arms, I made some cushions with more leftover canvas.  I’m spoiled by having a mom who is such a great seamstress, so she’s always made my pillows in the past, but my mom isn’t here, so I decided it was time to learn to do it myself.  I made envelope closure pillows and felt absolutely dumb when I realized how simple they were to make and had been having my mom make them for me all these years.

I had an old monogram table runner with a stain that I couldn’t remove, so I decided to salvage the crochet lace trim to use on the edge of the pillows.

I just trimmed the edge of the fabric, about 1/2 an inch away from the lace.

Stitching it up was a breeze, but if you’ve never done it, HERE are some great instructions from Martha Stewart.

Well, she isn’t perfect by any professional’s standard, but I totally love her now and am so glad I decided to stretch myself a little and work with her.

At first, I wasn’t sure where I could use this sofa, because there isn’t space inside my house, but I have a plan for her now.  It’s at least several months down the road, so she’s taking up residence in my son’s room until then.  He is only home for a little while, between finishing his Army training and returning to college in the fall, so he doesn’t mind.

His room isn’t the best spot to take a photo, so he helped me load her up and we drove 13 miles away to a State Park, so I could take some beauty shots of her.  Totally worth the effort, drive and time.  It was a gorgeous day and this old lady (the sofa, not me) deserved special treatment.

Too bad I didn’t think to fix myself up before we left the house, but I wanted to get a photo of myself on her too.

Blessings,

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Comments

  1. Awesome job Angie. Looks great!

  2. Wow!!! That is a junk to treasure if I have ever since one.
    Simply & Beautifully Perfect 🙂
    Have a great weekend,
    Your blogging sister, Connie 🙂

  3. oh wow! That turned out great. I love the skirt in the front and the way the curve follows naturally to the seat.
    How old do you think this wicker couch is? It looks pretty good to so old.
    Can’t wait to see what you finally do with it.
    Pat

  4. WOW! I’m completely impressed by what you did to transform it. It looks beautiful. Great job.

  5. You may not be a professional, but you certainly muddled your way through to a fabulous finish! I had no idea there were covered springs in sofa cushions. An added bonus for you! Well done, Angie!

  6. Angie, this is impressive! Absolutely wonderful transformation. You obviously inherited genetically the upholstering and sewing skills. You are just now realizing them. Again, this wicker sofa has been given such a lovely new lease on life. I’m eager to find out how you plan to use the old girl in the future.

  7. This is one amazing piece. these are so rare to see a 3 seater. LOVE how you brought her back to life!

  8. Angie- THAT was a big job. You did a wonderful job on it and it turned out great. You really gave it a whole new life- xo Diana

  9. Nothing short of Ahhhhh Mazing!!! What an incredible before and after – I love it!

  10. absolutely amazing, you have done an awesome job!

  11. I love it, you did an awesome job! Di@Cottage-wishes

  12. awesome!!!

  13. wow, I’m so impressed! I wouldn’t have even tackled that project and you managed to ace it! great photos too!
    Lauren

  14. Wow Angie, you did an amazing job! That was quite an undertaking! She so deserved her beauty shots!

  15. You did a SUPER job! So, are you keeping, or resale?

  16. For someone who does not sew, does not refinish antique furniture and does not upholster, you sure did one heck of a job. You could have taken it in its original shape out to that special spot for photos alone and won enough points to win the prize for that. Kudos to your son for being a sport and helping you lug it out there. I don’t usually even have the gumption to take my stuff out the bacj door, across the patio to the decent part of the yard. Amazing, Angie. Love the look you got with those seed bags and all the special touches! Really impressive.
    Liz

  17. No matter what you say, from here she looks great!

  18. Amazing. I am in love! Wonderful job! Pat yourself on the back. You deserve it…

  19. Angie, she is just incredible! I love that you were willing to just TRY and see what you could come up with. Now you have a gorgeous piece with a whole new life. It’s wonderful that you could take her somewhere special for those “beauty shots” too 🙂 Just gorgeous!

    Jeanette

  20. Wow Angie, what an amazing transformation! This was quite an ambitious project and she turned out gorgeous. Love the special photo shoot.

  21. She turned out beautiful, Angie. You did such a great job! What a lovely idea to take her to the park to get those wonderful pictures. Your son is quite a sweetie to help you with that.

  22. GREAT job! Absolutely amazing!

  23. What a fantastic sofa. Love it. You did a great job.

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. That is just fabulous!! One of the best make-
    overs i have yet seen!! Excellent work!! 😎

  26. That is just gorgeous. I’m sharing it on my Facebook page later today and linking back to you so they can see the whole process. Love it. And love that you took her out to get beauty shots.

  27. It’s wonderful to see such a great “save the life” of an old grande dame. Great job.

  28. Just WOW Angie !!! You did an amazing job to bring this old gal back to life. Love your choice for the photo shoot … nothing better.
    Blessings,
    Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

  29. Angie, you found a gorgeous very old sofa to which you gave an awesome make-over. She looks fabulous!

  30. Beautiful! Great job!!!

  31. Amazing transformation. Love this. You are terrific in all you do.

  32. man girl….I want to go yard saleing with you some day. you find the best stuff. lol it turned out amazing!
    Debbi
    yankeeburrow

  33. Hey Angie- I’m dropping in from our Hometalk FB page and I just HAVE to say– you are simply amazing! I have never seen a transformation like this! I am blown away! Great, no excellent makeover!!! SO glad I choose yours to pin and tweet!!
    xoxo Becca

  34. LOVE this sofa! Your skirt really makes her. Kudos for stretching your skills!
    -Revi

  35. That turned out super cute! I always just wing my upholstery projects too. Usually no one notices the little details that are off. 🙂

  36. That’s a sweet wicker sofa! Is that lawn protected by an landscape lighting or irrigation sprinkler system ?

  37. Absolutely love this! Visiting from blogtalk and sharing on my fb page!

  38. For a girl who can’t, you certainly did!!! She is gorgeous! I love it that you tried and succeeded! I use my son’s room too…it’ll always be his room, when he is home, in between I overload it with projects. Very inspiring post! Best, Vicki

  39. I’m gobsmacked at such a fantastic transformation and with repurposed materials too!

  40. LOVE it!! Great work…she’s a beauty 🙂

  41. OK – SO many things to comment on here LOL
    First of all it’s gorgeous Angie – amazing job for a first time!
    Second of all my Mother did draperies professionally too – I can remember helping her measure the fabric on a huge work table
    and I never learned how to handle a needle and thread properly lol
    AND Thirdly – I was gasping that that was your backyard deck – and then laughing my head off that you drove 14 miles to find the perfect spot –
    I can just imagine the conversation that would be going on in this house if I asked John to do that for me LOL
    But it was the perfect idea ( and perfect setting )
    XOXOXO

  42. What an amazing “new” wicker sofa you have! You did a wonderful job refinishing her and making new coverings!!! Enjoy!

  43. Simply beautiful! You should be proud and I am inspired for a chair re-do myself! Love

  44. I am in awe. Since I don’t sew either I know what it is like to attempt to make things. A pillow is one thing, but a whole settee is another and you tackled both!
    Bliss

  45. Beautiful! I love it!

  46. Absolutely gorgeous! You did an amazing job.

  47. Oh, Angie, it’s fabulous! I love your use of grain sacks on the back. Awesome job, lady!

  48. Brilliant, fabulous, gorgeous, you’re so talented. I LOVE IT!!!!

  49. This is just beautiful, Angie! **LOVE**

  50. Wow! I love it! Great job!

  51. WOW! I’m sooo impressed! Great difficult Job!! It looks beautiful!
    Faye @ The Shabby Cottage Home, I’m a new follower!

  52. I think the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. You did a fabulous job very creative in many ways. I love your thought processes especially repurposing the lace from the stained runner.
    The beauty shot is perfect. Such a pretty setting and a proper debut to your newly styled piece.

    I hope you have confidence now. You outdid yourself. Funny, your mother probably won’t do anymore work for you.

  53. I love, love, love it! I would welcome it in my home any day of the week.

  54. Wow. Gorgeous! And what a sweet son to help you with all that staging stuff.

  55. Wow a fabulous job you did. I love the new look.
    Have a wonderful week,
    Bev
    @ Eclectic Red Barn

  56. Congrats on this gorgeous piece. I love the idea of taking a after shot in such a beautiful place.
    Traci

  57. I love, love, LOVE it!

  58. Adore it- absolutely darling!! Thanks for linking up at Feathered Nest Friday!

  59. Angie this is absolutely gorgeous. I love how you shared all the details of the remaking of it too. Your son looks very handsome on this old beauty. What a gorgeous scene you have just 13 miles from your home!

  60. Beautiful! What a transformation!

  61. Oh my goodness this makeover is fabulous! I wish I had this on my back porch! Thanks for linking up to ITS PARTY TIME — featuring your greatness tomorrow. xoxo

  62. Angie I think this is my favorite piece yet! This transformation is gorgeous!I am like you and would have bought that and figured out what to do with it.But I don’t think my idea would have turned out as beautiful as yours!Why do we live so far apart!A shopping trip would be fun!
    xx
    Anne

  63. LOVE this redo angie! lots of work, but totally worth it… and those springs? a bonus!

    catching you!

    gail

  64. Wow that is quite the change! Love the vintage fabrics and the springs are going to be fun to use.

  65. Amazing look on a really worn piece. Great job.

  66. I think this is one of my absolute favorite makeovers. You did a fantastic job and I think you might have your parents sewing DNA after all!!
    Kim@reposhture.blogspot.com

  67. That was a pretty amazing makeover and what patience! I don’t think I would even consider it! LOL…great job!

  68. Amazingly awesome work!

  69. Hi Angie, WOW amazing transformation, great tutorial and LOVE the pics of you and your son!! Beautiful. Have a great day, Lisa

  70. Very nice! Now I’m kicking myself for passing up a settee that was similar to this one thinking it was too big a job for “me” to tackle! Silly me……on well. Probably gone now so now that I “know” it can be done and that it can turn out so lovely….next one I find is MINE to work on. I only hope my wicker settee will turn out as lovely as yours did. LOVE the way you stage your pieces too. I have only a small backyard but, am setting up an area back there for photos for this year…2015.
    Happy New Year and keep doing what you are doing! Your creativity is amazing and I love seeing each new piece you create from what some would call “junk”.
    Renee
    Treasures by Renee

  71. And once again you’ve proven inspirational for me. I love seeing what is possible.

  72. Heather says:

    I think that you did a wonderful job. I wouldn’t have known how to do any of what you did but I can see that it is doable. So next time I see something that I want to try I will stretch myself and see if I can come close to the beautiful job you did here. Thanks for sharing her.

  73. I think you need to change your greeting . . . from “hello! I’m Angie” to “hello! I’m Angie and I work miracles!
    Because that is exactly what you have done!

    The transformation is stunningly, jaw droppingly gorgeous. And, you look lovely sitting on ‘her’.

  74. What a beautiful save. Brilliant use of the fabric to hide the faults in the wicker.

  75. Great work, Angie.

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