How to Reupholster a Mid-Century Modern Sofa

Do you have a run-down and tattered sofa hidden away somewhere? Germarie had one just like it. The sofa stood in her grandfather’s study when she was a little girl, and even then the beautiful lines and asymmetrical design caught her eye. This iconic modern couch simply had to be brought back to life. Luckily, Ideas Magazine asked us to create an interior project for them, which gave us an excuse to restore this piece of history. And in no less than emerald green velvet sofa glory! Read on to learn how to reupholster a mid-century modern sofa!

Ideas Magazine 2019
The latest Ideas Magazine!

Recovering a sofa may seem like a daunting task, but take your time. If you follow our guidelines, you will have a fabulous new sofa to be proud of. Remember, you can adjust the instructions below to suit any couch form.


Difficulty: medium

Time: 2 days

You will need:

  • Fabric of your choice * (we used Hertex Magical in Emerald)
  • Matching zipper if your sofa has a loose seat pad
  • Foam and batting as required
  • Piping Cord
  • Webbing
  • Cotton Lining fabric
  • Upholstery needle and matching thread

You will also need:

  • Sewing Machine
  • Electric Staple Gun with U-shaped and brad staples
  • Electric carving knife
  • Scissors
  • Contact adhesive
  • Flat Head Screw Driver
  • Hammer
  • Pliers

Your furniture item will likely be different to ours. So adjust your material requirements as needed. You will see how to reupholster a mid-century modern sofa, but you can apply the principles to any form. 


How to Reupholster a Mid-Century Modern Sofa

Carefully remove the legs of the sofa. Then remove all of the existing fabric and foam or batting, keeping the pieces intact to use templates. Make a simple drawing of your sofa and mark the corresponding fabric pieces to help you remember where they go. Take pictures as you go – this will help you to reupholster the sofa.


How to Reupholster a Mid Century Modern Sofa with Steps

Using the old fabric pieces as templates, cut out the new fabric panels. Use chalk to mark the panels with the corresponding numbers. Make sure that you unfold any seams on the old panels and cut to the same size.


How to Reupholster a Mid Century Modern Sofa

Use the old templates to measure the amount of piping required. To make the piping, you will need 4cm wide strips of fabric. Join the strips with a diagonal seam to prevent the joins from being bulky. Fold the fabric strips in half, placing a length of piping cord in the fold. Use a zipper foot to stitch the cord in place. Sew the piping to the panels where required.


How to Reupholster a Mid-Century Modern Sofa with Photos

Repair the webbing where necessary. The webbing has to be installed in a criss-cross fashion to ensure maximum strength. Fix the end of the webbing on one side of the frame and then wrap the other end of the strip around the shaft of a screwdriver to help you get a better grip. Then pull the strip as tight as you can before securing with the staple gun.


How to Repair a Mid Century Modern Sofa

Using the removed pieces as a guide, replace any foam and batting where necessary. You can have foam pre-cut with a foam supplier, or you can easily cut it with an electric carving knife. Secure the batting with a staple gun. You can use contact adhesive to fix the foam in place (allow to dry before covering with fabric).


How to Repair a Emerald Green Velvet Sofa

Sew the panels together as required and then start to attach them to the sofa. It is very important to attach in the same sequence as you removed them in, usually ending with the back panel. Use the U-shaped staples to secure the fabric to the underside of the frame, and brad staples where they will be more visible.


How to Repair a Mid Century Sofa with Photos

Finish any open seams with the upholstery needle and thread. Then attach the legs and admire your work! Well done, you’ve learnt how to reupholster a mid-century modern sofa, and any other style too!


  • An electric staple gun is a worthwhile investment for a project like this. You will be surprised at the number of staples required!
  • Cardboard tacking strips help to give a clean, straight edge to seams. You can get this from your foam supplier.
  • When using a printed or striped fabric, carefully plan the position of your fabric to ensure that the images or lines are central to the sofa and that they line up.
  • You can use a pair of pliers to get a better grip on the fabric when fixing it to the frame.
  • For larger areas, like the back or front, fix the centre of the fabric to the centre of the frame first, and then work your way out toward the sides.
  • Fabric can be remarkably forgiving, so don’t be afraid to pull things into place to avoid creases.
How to Reupholster a Emerald Green Velvet Sofa with steps

So, if anyone asks “what is an emerald green velvet mid-century modern sofa?” you’ll know the answer: suave luxury in the most comfortable form, an interior-lover’s dream!

Cheers to learning how to reupholster a mid-century modern Sofa! If you’re ready for more check out the mid-century modern TV-stand DIY.

Happy Making!