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Re-Upholstery But it's just so comfortable...I don't want it to go!

Your favourite armchair or family sofa has seen better days and is definitely showing signs of a life well lived in it, but it's just so comfortable you can't bear to let it go. Provided the frame is still in sufficiently good condition to withstand a few more years' wear, then you may wish to consider the following options...

(or 'tight') covers but, because of the way in which these covers are cut and sewn, require rather more fabric.

Third, fitted or

First, the simplest and least expensive – a throw. If you can cover any areas of significant wear by strategic draping this could prove an instant fix; alternatively buy an oversize throw which you can smooth and shape over the whole piece so it looks like new. If any folds need anchoring in place, arm cap (or upholstery) pins do a great job without damaging the fabric but be sure not to leave any trailing fabric for people to trip over.

Dependant upon your existing design scheme, a carefully chosen throw could be a good start point for a whole new look to your room, introducing colour or pattern; offering scope for different paint colours; or if you prefer, source a throw which blends in so effortlessly, no-one need even know it was there!

Second (and often there is very little price difference between this and option 3) – loose covers can be made to fit over your existing pieces, either in a matching/co-ordinating fabric or a complete contrast depending upon how much you wish to live with or change your current scheme. The advantage to loose covers is that they can be removed for cleaning – the secret to getting the covers back on again is to work with them when still slightly damp; smooth and shape them into place; and let them finish drying in situ.

If loose covers are to withstand the general wear our furniture takes every day, then they need to be made from upholstery weight fabric with a denser weave, similar to cloth suitable for fitted

tight covers – ie the upholstery is fixed to the furniture frame and cannot be removed for cleaning. Fabrics for use in this way will generally be more robust and heavier weight to last under the rigours of regularly being sat upon; have closer or denser weaves to withstand the stress and strain of fabric under the tension of upholstering; and have sufficient 'give' to cope with the pull exerted by peoples' movements when sitting.

Whether you choose option 2 or 3, one of the factors which will not only influence cost but also the finished 'look' is pattern matching of the chosen fabric – although obviously not an issue if it is plain! Some fabrics, even if not completely plain, do not require matching; others look dreadful if great care isn't taken to exactly marry up the pattern repeats. How fabric is pattern matched over a single item or several pieces can alter the quantities required considerably and add to labour costs due to additional time spent planning and cutting; however, it is important if you are employing an upholsterer to discuss

with them at the outset what level of pattern matching they usually include as standard, and what level you are looking for – they may be quite different! This will have a bearing on the amount of fabric to be purchased and the hours to be charged but could avoid your having to live with a disappointment.

Here are a few guidelines when considering pattern matching...

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