Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thomas Edison said it best...

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

It's been well over a month since my last post. I got bogged down with work and visitors and parties and the holidays and... and... and... I started taking the couch apart about a week before Halloween. After many tedious hours pulling out staples and only getting the skirt off, I realized that I would not be able to get the couch done before a weekend filled with wonderful people coming to see the house. So I stopped at the skirt, leaving the couch functional, swearing to press on once the holiday was through.

After Halloween I did start tearing apart the couch again. I do have high hopes that taking the couch apart is much harder than putting it back together. The process of pulling out all of the staples is rather difficult! I severely underestimated the time and effort that it would take. On more than one occasion my hands were cramped and scratched from all of the tugging and pulling.

In fact... as more time was spent taking the couch apart, the more I thought about taking it to a reupholster to have it finished. I had made it most the way through the couch but couldn't figure out how to get the base removed without destroying everything. Surely it would be significantly cheaper with all the work I had done and the fabric already purchased... Right?

I'm happy to tell you that I don't know the answer to that question. Tonight I had no plans but to attack the couch. Much to my surprise, once I figured out how to take the bottom off it was actually really easy. My couch had been sitting mostly unfinished for weeks. Had I realized that all I had left was about two hours of work, then I would have cracked down much earlier and gotten through it.

I'm glad I didn't quit when I was so close to finishing. Granted, I still have a lot more to do, I'm quite happy that I made it over the first major hump of this project. Here is a slide show of the process of taking the couch apart. Each time I removed a piece of fabric I would take a picture and put it in the slide show. Here is my little demolition show:

Now some reflection for taking apart a couch...

#1 You won't know, but you will learn as you go.

Before I started this project I did as much reading online as I could. One thing that really hated hearing was that each piece of furniture will tell you how it's put together. I wanted to know and be prepared going into it, but I wasn't and anyone else that is contemplating doing their own upholstery, you won't either. As you take each piece of fabric off, you see how your individual piece of furniture is put together. There really is no "way" to do it. You just sort of have to take the plunge to see what you are getting into.

#2 Use leverage to work smarter instead of harder.

Removing staples is a total pain! All I can say is that leverage is your best friend. Don't try and pull a staple straight out. Don't try and put a flathead screwdriver straight under it to pry it up. Remember to use your angles. Use a corner of the screwdriver to get underneath the staple and shimmy it until it lifts. Use some needle nose pliers to pull it the rest of the way out. Instead of pulling it straight out, twist one side out and then the other. It will save you a ton of energy... promise.

#3 Ripping isn't illegal.

The next thing I had read in blogs was not to rip the fabric off the furniture. This seemed pretty self-explanatory, so I took great care in removing every staple in the beginning. One thing that I learned is that you don't want to rip the fabric, but once you get a good amount of staples out, you can pull the fabric and it won't rip. In fact, there were many staples I couldn't get out with the tools, but when I gave the fabric a nice tug they came right out. Once I figured out how many staples I could take out and then rip the rest, then I really started saving time! Just be careful, because this fabric is the pattern for your new couch and you want it to remain as intact as possible.

Some other things...

Another thing that I did was keep a vacuum close by. There is a lot of nasty crap that falls in couches and I was often ripping into something and having a mess fall out. Keep a vacuum close by and clean up as you go. I wouldn't make a rule out of this or anything, but I'm OCD and think it's kind of gross not to...

This part is going to take time, so just remember to be patient and not give up on yourself. I probably put in around 15 hours to take this couch apart. Plus I got a lot of slivers and scrapes in the process. It's not always pretty, but it is completely doable by anyone with some will power.

I do have a couple challenges ahead of me:

(1) There is one board in the back of the couch that has some damage that will need to be fixed. I'm not sure how I will fix it, but it is something that I will have to address before I recover the couch. I may or may not have to actually seek out an upholster for some professional suggestions.

(2) I absolutely do not want to put a skirt back on the couch. Not only are skirts kind of dated, but they really make taking a couch apart super difficult. It was one of the most time consuming things I had to do and it was a decoration. However, there was black fabric on the bottom that was covered by the skirt. So basically I will have to reinvent a new pattern for some pieces of the couch so that I don't have to do a skirt.

(3) Sewing... I am going to have to sew for the next part of this project and the last time I sewed was in 7th grade. That was half my life ago so that is kind of scary right now. I have faith and youtube videos, so I'm hoping I will make it :)

To conquering my first baby step,


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