Reupholstering a Tufted-Back Couch


Tufting adds a vintage look to any piece of furniture. This method of drawing in fabric with a button to create pleats generates a clean look on an old couch. You can personalize the look of the piece by choosing the fabric, the buttons used for tufting and where you want the pleats to land. Use a fabric that matches or complements the other pieces in your home.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Blade
  • Scissors
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Upholstery thread
  • Needle
  • Buttons
  • Pen or pencil
  • Stapler
  • 3/8-inch staples
  • Decorative trim
  • Remove the old fabric with your blade, working to keep the foam underneath the fabric intact. You should be left with a bare-back sofa that has the foam or padding showing.

  • Mark the areas on the foam where you’d like the tufting to go. This is where you will place the buttons. Normally tufts are designed in a diamond pattern, but you can place them wherever you’d like. On the back of a couch, one simple tuft, or one on each side of the couch, will be enough to give the back the tufted look you desire.

  • Place your fabric over the back of the couch. Center the fabric over the back area that needs to be reupholstered. You can ask your fabric or upholstery store to cut the fabric to your specified length, or you can cut it yourself. Before ordering or purchasing your fabric, measure the back of the couch to determine the size you need your fabric to be.

  • Place a button over the fabric on top of the area you marked earlier to designate where the button should go. Sew the button onto the cotton or foam underneath the fabric using a needle and upholstery thread. Make sure you sew through several times to make the button tight.

  • Cut the string and sew any other buttons you need to on the area until you have put one button over the fabric of all of your marked areas. The pushing in of the buttons is what will create the tufted look on the back of the couch.

  • Staple the fabric to the edges of the couch, making sure you maintain your pleats. Use 3/8-inch staples.

  • Cut off the excess fabric. Hide the rough edges with a decorative trim. Use fabric glue to hold the trim in place.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you’re working with an old couch or one that’s been reupholstered before, consider adding another layer of cotton under the fabric.

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