Doe Fabric Makes A Couch: Part One.


doe couch and fabric swatches_carolyn friedlander


Time to talk about my new couch.

This was a fun project to think about–and I thought a lot about it!

For months.


+ Base goods acquisition:

Finding the right couch to recover was certainly not an easy part of the equation. I’m always a fan of finding something old to fix up, but my local market for good finds can be a bit tricky. Luckily, one of my local quilting buddies tipped me off to a couch and two chairs that she drove by at a yard sale, and sure enough, they were exactly what I was looking for. Score!

Sadly, this is my only before picture. Oops!


doe couch before_carolyn friedlander


As you can see, it’s a couch and two chairs with removable, two-sided cushions. The wood part wasn’t in the best of shape, so my mom and I stripped and refinished it before moving on to redoing the cushions.


+ Technical strategy:

I wanted to cover it in my new fabric, but what I was mostly challenged by was thinking about a way to stabilize and add body to quilting cotton so that it would look a little more polished. You certainly can use quilting cotton to do it–my mom and I have recovered many things with just quilting cotton before and it’s worked out great–but I knew that I wanted something a little more sturdy. So I decided to make it like a quilt to add structure and thickness.


My biggest concern with doing this was that I worried whether the many layers involved in quilting would make it too bulky to sew up easily. I really had no way of knowing, and so I’d just have to see by doing it.


+ Design strategy:

I liked the idea of incorporating patterns from my pattern line, and the plan was to use fabric from Doe and all of the coordinates. Many of my patterns work from strips or scraps, so I went ahead and cut strips from all of the fabrics that I had to work from, and I laid them out. I’m one of those people who needs to see everything in order to work with it, and so this is how I did it. My cutting table was very full!


doe fabric and kona cotton solids_carolyn friedlander


After a thorough survey of my pattern line, I chose to work with Aerial, Totem, and Focal. To me they worked well together, and they’d each give me the right opportunity to explore using all the different fabrics that I had to work with in the way that I wanted to.


carolyn friedlander blocks in doe fabric


Since all of the cushions are two-sided, I also had to decide on a design strategy for the second side. For that, I decided to go with a project from my book, called Circle Lattice. Choosing this particular project for the second side was a breakthrough for me, because it made me realize that instead of treating each individual cushion as its own canvas, I could treat one entire side of the cushions as a giant canvas to cut up into smaller sections. Because the Circle Lattice block is so large, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of wasting any of it. Building each side as a unit would make better use of the block, and it would also make it much easier and efficient to make.


Here’s the start to the Circle Lattice side. (The near matchup of the two Doe prints was completely accidental, but much appreciated!)


doe fabric_circle lattice quilt_carolyn friedlander


+ Piecing:

To figure out how big each side needed to be, I simply added up the cushion dimensions laying side by side with the back cushions above the seat cushions. That resulting shape was a rectangle that I then mapped out onto my floor with painter’s tape. I did the painter’s-tape-on-the-floor approach, because I wanted to physically audition the layout of each side. I needed to see it.


I struggled quite a bit to figure out the layout for the AFT (Aerial-Focal-Totem) side…


doe couch quilt making_carolyn friedlander


The CL (Circle Lattice) side wasn’t as tricky to lay out since it was mostly a matter of how to float the one large block…



doe couch_circle lattice quilt top_carolyn friedlander


+ Quilting:

Then I layered and quilted each side separately with straight(ish) lines. With all that was going on with the piecing, I wanted the quilting to be simple and a unifying factor.


doe couch quilting_carolyn friedlander


Here is the AFT side after quilting.


doe couch quilt_aerial totem focal_carolyn friedlander


doe couch quilt_aerial totem focal detail 1_carolyn friedlander


doe couch quilt_aerial totem focal detail 2_carolyn friedlander


doe couch quilt_aerial totem focal detail 3_carolyn friedlander


doe couch quilt_aerial totem focal detail 4_carolyn friedlander


And here is the CL side after quilting.


doe couch quilt_circle lattice quilted_carolyn friedlander


doe couch quilt_circle lattice detail 1_carolyn friedlander


doe couch quilt_circle lattice detail 2_carolyn friedlander


Next, in part two, we’re hacking it all up…
















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22 Responses to Doe Fabric Makes A Couch: Part One.

  1. Corinnea November 11, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    This is truly stunning.

  2. Leanne November 11, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    I love this sofa and sure wish I had been able to see it in person. Thank you for sharing the process, I might have to try it one day too.

  3. Allison November 11, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Absolutely brilliant! I have to say, for me this was the highlight of all the quilt market recaps that I saw this year. Some how “love it!” just doesn’t seem strong enough.

  4. Kat Scott November 11, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Absolutely Stunning!!! and brilliantly executed. Can’t wait to see the rest of the process. 🙂

  5. Donna Brunner November 11, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    Your couch is fabulous. I once did the same thing with a antique love seat and foot stool. Hard work, but so worth it. I love it. Only wish we could see the other side cushions on the couch.

  6. Rachel November 11, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing your process! I loved seeing pictures of your couch at market, it certainly was a surprise ending after seeing you cutting up your quilt! Also I love the combination of your three patterns! I might have to look out for a new chair! 😉

  7. SewBertie November 12, 2014 at 5:19 am #

    This couch was my quilt market highlight!
    Thank you for sharing your process, I’ve just inherited a chair in need of a makeover, this is going to be my starting point!

  8. Jenni November 12, 2014 at 7:38 am #

    This turned out so beautiful!! I love the modern mid-century feel of it. Thank you for sharing your process!

  9. SarahZ November 12, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    That sofa is a real show-stopper, eye-catcher! It is beautiful! This process is fascinating to see….thanks so much for sharing!!

  10. KAITLYN November 12, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    How do you make everything seem so simple? This gives me major heart palpitations (in a good way) and makes me want to try something like this. Or at least hand it over to my mother in law to do for me. Your stuff is just always a slam dunk.

    • carolynfriedlander November 13, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

      Thanks, Kaitlyn! It definitely isn’t easy at times, and I have to remind myself that without taking a risk you don’t get the reward. I also try to remind myself that it’s just fabric, and you can always take a second chance! 🙂

  11. Rachel at Stitched in Color November 12, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    Wow, thanks for breaking down the process like this. It’s so interesting to hear about how you made decisions. I’m glad you chose to use the cushions like one big canvas. Super effective!

  12. Brigit Dermott November 13, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    This is such an amazing project. Quilting the cushion covers was a great idea–looking forward to part 2. It’s so interesting to read about your process!

  13. Latifah January 16, 2015 at 12:21 am #

    I’m still trying to figure out a way to steal this. XO

  14. Corey T May 19, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    Just Wow.


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