Colorful patchwork couch.

DIY Patchwork Couch

Originally contributed by • last updated 5/3/2021

DIYcozyHome
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DIYcozyHome

There are a variety of reasons one may want to know how to recover a sofa in patchwork fabric.

It could be a way to revitalize that comfortable couch you adore, but that has seen better days due to spills, stains, and just life in general.

Or you’re looking for a cost-saving approach to furnishing your space.

Perhaps you just like the way it looks and relish in the fact that you can customize each aspect of a DIY patchwork couch until it’s wholly your own and reflects who you are as an individual.

Using a 7-part video series made by Joquena from Modern HomeMakers, we’ll demonstrate how to transform your couch from drab to fab and recover your sofa through the magic of patchwork re-upholstery!

Let's Make It

Equipment

  • Pins
  • Sewing needle
  • Upholstery needle
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine

Materials

  • Fabric/patchwork material
  • Thread

How To Recover A Sofa In Patchwork

Here you’ll learn the basics of how to reupholster furniture in general.

Then with some basic sewing skills, you can patchwork together your fabric first, then begin the reupholstering process.

DIY Patchwork Couch Prep

01/20

Measure

Marta Longas
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Pexels

Measure all the areas of your couch that you plan to cover with your DIY patchwork.

Keep in mind that the fabric, or whatever materials you plan to use for your DIY project, needs to cover all the visible areas and have extra material so it can be attached to the couch.

Info: The extra fabric allows you to make the stitches in areas that won’t be seen wherever possible, creating a much refined finished product.

Tip: If you are purchasing upholstery fabric, buy everything you’ll need at once and acquire extra in case you need more than you thought or make mistakes. This can save you having to search high and low for a match should you run out!

02/20

Create DIY Patchwork Material 

Dinh Pham
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Unsplash

If you're recovering a sofa in a single fabric, you would need large pieces of the fabric to match the sections of the sofa being covered. For a patchwork sofa, you probably have many smaller fabric pieces.

Sew the pieces together to create large, patchwork "fabric" pieces the right sizes to match the sections of your sofa.

If you plan on adding embroidery or other hidden touches, now is the time to do it.

Sew the different materials together until you have enough to cover the section of the couch you’ll be working on.

Tip: DIY patchwork couches take time, so there’s nothing wrong with working a few stitches at a time and seeing it more as a labor of love rather than a race to the finish. 


If you just want to do a cushion at a time, it’s up to you! Slowly but surely, it will all come together.

03/20

Remove Old Damaged Material From Sofa

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

The method that Joquena uses and the one we’re going to share with you, involves reupholstering by stitching new fabric on top of the existing material.

This method uses the fewest number of specialized tools and is more dependent on sewing skills rather than being an expert upholsterer. It also means that you don't need to strip all of the original upholstery from the sofa first.

However, if there is any loose fabric on the couch, rip it off or cut it away so that there is a sturdy foundation in which to sew on the DIY patchwork.

DIY Patchwork Couch Cushions

04/20

Cut Patchwork For Sofa Cushions (Top)

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Take off any cushions that you are able to remove from your sofa. It's far easier to reupholster removable pieces separately.

Lay your patchwork fabric upside down on your work surface so the back faces up. Then place the sofa cushion upside down atop it.

Cut the patchwork fabric around the cushion, using it as a template, with an extra inch of fabric around all of the edges. You won’t see the cut edge, so it doesn’t have to be perfect.

The extra inch of material around the edges is your seam allowance.

05/20

Cut Patchwork For Sofa Cushions (Sides)

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Use the sides of the cushion to figure out how wide and long a strip you will need to wrap around the entire cushion. The strip will need to be as wide as the cushion is tall, and long enough to cover all four sides.

Once you have the required size, add a few inches to the width and length measurements of the strip.

This extra material in the width is where the patchwork will be attached to the cushion from underneath. It won’t look the prettiest, but you won’t see this portion, anyway.

Once you know how much fabric you need, cut out your strip.

06/20

Pin Together Top And Side Pieces For Cushions

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

For this step, the fabric should be backwards, so that once sewn, the cushion cover can be flipped right-side-out with no seams showing.

Use pins to hold the side and top pieces of fabric together while also laying out where you will have to sew. The final seam should line up with the size of the cushion, with the excess seam allowance providing some wiggle room.

Pin as much as you can so your seam is as accurate as possible in following the lines of the cushion.

Tip: When at a corner, pinch your fabric, turn it, and continue pinning along the seam line.

When finished pinning, slip the patchwork on top of the cushion to make sure it fits, making adjustments where necessary.

Once the patchwork fabric fits snuggly over your couch cushion, trim any excess length from the longer strip, leaving just the one inch seam allowance.

Tip: Fold the fabric at the ends where they meet so that there is a nice crisp line rather than the cut line left by using scissors. 

07/20

Sew Top And Side Pieces For Cushions

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Now take the patchwork off the cushion and use a sewing machine to stitch where the pins are holding the fabric together. Remove the pins as you sew the seam all around the cushion cover.

Flip the cover right-side-out and slide onto the cushion. Smooth out any wrinkles or bunching.

Tip: If you notice any gaps, fix them now because it will be harder to alter later once the cover is attached to the cushion.

08/20

Pin Patchwork Cover To Couch Cushion

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

With the newly fabricated patchwork cover over the top of the cushion, it’s time to pin it to the bottom for sewing.

Fold over the excess material at the corners, pulling tightly, until it creates a nice line, and pin it in place. These areas will be hand-stitched later on.

Staring with the front, pin the excess material to the bottom of the cushion, pulling the ends snug, and keep going until all the fabric is pinned to the bottom.

Make the patchwork material underneath the cushion as flat as possible by folding it and tucking it where you can.

09/20

Stitch Cover To Cushion

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Using an upholstery needle, stitch the bottom portion of the cover to the underside of the cushion.

Stitch the material at the corners of the cushions where you have pinned them.

With that, you’ve just completed a DIY patchwork couch cushion and are well on your way to knowing how to recover a sofa in patchwork!

Repeat this process until all of your couch cushions are covered in the new patchwork material.

DIY Patchwork Couch Arms

10/20

Measure Material Needed For Couch Arm

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Just like with the cushions, lay your material out over the top of the existing couch covering. In this case, we're focusing only on the arms of the couch.

Tuck material into the couch’s creases at the sides, and ensure there is enough fabric to cover the front of the arm, inner wall, and the side of the sofa.

Leave a little extra material so that it can be stitched to the bottom of the couch.

After pushing the fabric into the creases, pull it out and mark where the end of the crease is with pins. This will mark out your cut line.

11/20

Cut Couch Arm Material

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Use scissors to cut along the pin lines and tuck the material back into the couch creases.

Once tucked into place, pin the material on the left and right sides of the arms to hold it in place while you work.

12/20

Fold The Front Of The Arms

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Fold the excess material at the front of the arms to mimic the shape and curvature of the front.

Info: Since each couch is different, how you fold will depend on your couch’s particular shape and how ornate you want the fabric to look. Think of it as wrapping an awkward-shaped present in the nicest way possible.

Once the patchwork material is folded around the arm, pin the folds into place, pulling towards the bottom to hold everything nice and tight.

Finally, fold over the remaining flap from the side of the couch, which will cover the majority of the folds. Mark this flap line with pins.

13/20

Cut Away Excess Material From Couch Arms

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

The reason for marking the final flap that covers the folded areas of the arms is because anything that is behind that line and will not be showing can be removed.

Removing this material will make the couch smoother and give it a cleaner profile.

Joquena does a great job demonstrating this technique in part 2 of her YouTube video about how to recover a sofa in patchwork.

14/20

Stitch The Folds In Place (Arms)

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Use a thread and needle to hand stitch the folds made around the curved section of the arms in place.

Tip: Every inch or so, tie a knot in the seam. This way, if a stitch pops, the whole section won’t come undone. 

Once the folds are in place, take the remaining large flap from the side and pull it over, across the front of the arm, and stitch it to the other patchwork fabric.

It’s almost as if you were creating a tailor-made slipcover for the arms.

15/20

Stitch Arm Cover To Couch

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Along the creases, use an embroidery needle to fasten the patchwork material to the existing material on the couch.

This stitching doesn’t have to be perfect, as you won’t be able to see it because it will either be covered by cushions or in an area that isn’t seen anyway.

Following the stitching of the creases, sew the patchwork to the side and bottom of the couch’s arms using an embroider needle.

DIY Patchwork Couch (Backrest Cushions)

16/20

Assess Material Needed For Backrest

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Tuck the fabric into the creases on the backrest portion of the couch and cut off the pieces that are over the arms.

17/20

Sew On Backrest Portion

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Using an upholstery needle, come up behind the fabric and attach it directly to the sofa wherever there are creases to hold the patchwork in place.

Then fold the sides, pin in place and stitch the sides, keeping in mind that the side panel will mainly cover this fold.

DIY Patchwork Couch (Side Panel)

18/20

Sew On Side Panel

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Using the previously mentioned methods, measure, cut, fold, pin, and sew the side panels to the couch.

Remember to leave extra material around the back of the couch. The back panel will eventually cover this area.

DIY Patchwork Couch (Front)

19/20

Attach Front Panel

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Cut the material to size to fill the section underneath the cushions at the front outer edge of the sofa.

Pin it in place, and fasten the patchwork to the couch with an embroidery needle in the areas under the cushions and under the sofa itself.

Using an embroidery needle, create a seam connecting the arms and side panel fabric to the front section.

DIY Patchwork Couch (Back)

20/20

Stitch Back Panel

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Just like you did with the side and front panels, sew the back panel onto the couch, leaving extra material at the bottom to be fastened to the underside of the sofa.

Once in place, stitch the remaining fabric to the underside of the couch with an embroidery needle.

If you wish, you can add a final panel to the underside of the couch to give it a cleaner finish.

Modern Homemakers
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YouTube

Tip: Use any left over material to create DIY patchwork pillows!