After months of sitting around, waiting for spring, and planning… I’ve made some progress on our RV remodel! Since the weather has been cold, and the nor’easters relentless… getting work done on the RV has been pretty difficult.The intermittent rain/snow has kept us from fixing the leaks and water damage and plans to paint the interior have been put on hold by the cold temperatures. BUT! Despite all of this, I have been able to solve two major problems: covering the ugly couch and chairs.
Original Furniture Before RV Remodel
When we first bought Yoda, the couch and chairs were still original in all their 1985 glory. I don’t know about you, but I do not fuck with modern beige floral print… never mind 33-year-old crusty beige floral print. So it had to go. The first idea I had for the camper remodel was to cover the couch with Mexican serape blankets. I’ve always been really obsessed with Mexican and South American prints, so this was a natural choice. The blankets I chose are so bright and colorful… just being in their presence makes me a little happier!
I spent a really long time researching how reupholster my RV couch… but it turned out to be super easy! Our couch is not like a normal jackknife couch - it’s made up of two separate pieces. The bottom of the couch is a wooden bench with a cushion attached, and the back is just a long rectangular cushion.Since I had a hard time finding anything about how to use Mexican blankets for upholstery, I wanted to share how I accomplished it without the blankets unraveling.
RV Remodel Materials: Reupholstering the Couch & Chairs
Diamond Blanket from Yogaoutlet.com
I was super nervous to use actual Mexican blankets (as opposed to printed fabric) for this project because I knew they would unravel when I cut them. But, this iron-on adhesive worked SO WELL! I just ironed this stuff on both sides before I cut and had no issues! I would 10/10 recommend.
While I was covering the couch, I decided to also add some extra padding because it was really flat and uncomfortable from decades of use. Tim’s parents had an old foam mattress topper that we cut up to match the sizes of the existing couch cushions. This was a game changer because padding at the craft store was waaaaay out of our budget.
Black Cotton Fabric from Walmart. (Only $2.97 a yard!)
The blanket on the bottom wasn’t long enough to accommodate the extra padding, so I needed a little extra fabric. Better planning and measuring could have avoided this.
I used velcro to close up the ends of the backrest because I wanted to have the option to remove the cover to wash. Also, not completely necessary
A sewing machine isn’t technically necessary if you have a lot of patience. I don’t, so the machine made this project super easy!
Covering My RV Couch: Part 1 - The Seat
I started with the seat of the couch because it seemed easier, and I was excited to use the staple gun!
Since we added padding to the original couch, the blanket I bought was just a little too short to stretch all the way around the cushion and staple into the wood… so I bought some black fabric to cover the ends.
I started by laying the fabric over the cushion, evenly on both sides. Then I wrapped the fabric around, pulled it tight and stapled it to the plywood on the bottom. There were legs on the bottom, so I cut and stapled around those parts.
Once I was done, I flipped it back over and centered my beautiful rainbow blanket over the couch and made sure everything looked right before I started repeating the stapling process.
I didn’t cut around the legs with the blanket because it definitely would have unraveled. Initially, I was planning on using the Heat n' Bond in that area, but after stapling the blanket down in other places, it would have been pretty difficult to do correctly… so I just tucked in the excess fabric in that area and moved on.When I got to the ends, I just tried to tuck and fold the ends over as much as possible to make sure they were as tight as possible when stapling to the wood.
Reupholstering My RV Couch - Part 2: Backrest
The back cushion of my RV couch is just a long narrow rectangle. I attached the extra padding with masking tape (I taped into the grooves so you can’t feel it). First, I just wrapped the blanket around the cushion and pinned down the length of the cushion. I made sure to give a good amount of extra room when pinning. I didn’t want to accidentally cut the piece too small and have to order another one.
Also, I made sure to line up the stripes when pinning! This saved me a lot of headaches later when I went to sew it.
Next, I slipped the fabric off of the cushion and laid it out flat. Since I needed to cut down the length of the blanket, I had to first apply the Heat n' Bond, so it wouldn’t unravel. It comes in a roll, so I just placed it right next to the pins, and then used an iron all the way down to melt the adhesive. Then I flipped it over and repeated on the opposite side of the fabric. **I highly recommend taking this step if you’re working with woven fabric like a serape or other blankets. I cut a test piece without the adhesive, and it started fraying immediately**
After ironing, I cut down the center of where I just applied the adhesive. It’s easy to tell where it is because it’s shiny and leaves a plastic feel on the fabric.After I finish cutting all the way down the blanket, then it was finally time to start sewing the long seam.Before doing this, I double checked my work by measuring the circumference of the cushion and then comparing it to the amount of fabric I was about to cut. I added 2 inches to the measurement for some extra wiggle room (removing 72 inches of stitching would suck).I just sewed in a straight line following the pins I’d placed earlier.
I used a zig-zag stitch and made sure to backstitch at the beginning, end, and randomly throughout. (I know nothing about sewing, so I’m not sure if backstitching that random points is actually necessary... But I was worried that I’d run out of thread and all of the stitches would unravel. Better safe than sorry.)Once I was done, I flipped it inside out and was left with a tube a little longer than my cushion.Once I had the cover flipped inside out, I slipped the cushion into it.
The cover was a little bit big, so I took it off, turned it inside out again… and sewed another seam to make it about 1.5 inches smaller. The second it fit almost perfectly. **I did not cut off the extra fabric outside of the seams I made because I didn’t want to have to use Heat n' Bond again. It adds a little bit of bulk to the cover, but it’s not noticeable on my cushion.**
After the cushion was inside the cover, and I had it centered properly - it was time to close up the ends and complete this RV couch remodel! (Confession: I finished everything up until this point a couple of weeks ago for a photoshoot we did for a local magazine… and procrastinated finishing until now. This type of procrastination is textbook for me, I'm great at starting projects, but not at finishing them.)
I spent a long time researching the best way finish the cushions, and I initially intended to sew in separate pieces for the ends to make it a legitimate cushion cover. However, then I realized I had the perfect amount of fabric overhang to just wrap the ends like a present, and avoid cutting the blanket again. First, I cut off all of the fringe on the ends, because it was getting in the way of a clean closure. Then I folded the ends, in the same way, I would if I were wrapping a present. I tried to pull the blanket as tight as possible to get the smoothest ends.
On one end, I hand sewed velcro onto a few strategic places using a craft needle. I wanted to create a velcro closure because it would allow me to remove the cover for cleaning when it gets dirty. This was actually a lot more difficult than I anticipated because the velcro I bought was a semi-hard plastic with a thick adhesive on the back, so it was really hard to pull the needle through. This resulted in many puncture wounds and some blood-stained thread. (Only appropriate since I’ve already donated my sweat and tears to this RV!)
To finish it up, I folded the opposite end the same way, but instead of velcro, I stitched up the seams where the fabric overlapped. By the time I finished, I couldn't have been happier! Actually finishing this project took far too long, but I couldn’t be happier with the finished product!!
Covering my RV Captains Chairs
Along with the couch, I wanted to cover the chairs, because they were honestly so ugly and crusty that I couldn’t stand to even look at them. My first idea was to remove them, and build another couch with storage underneath… but it was Tim's “favorite part” of the RV, so I lost that battle.The chairs don’t come apart at all, and there was no easy way to remove them to try fabric paint… so I just ordered a couple of 72 inch round tapestries from Amazon. They were the perfect size and color, and really change the feel of the space.
So now that I’m done, and the small space in my RV is completely transformed by a few pieces of furniture… I wanted to break down the cost!
Blankets & material: $66.00
Bonding Tape & Velcro: $10.00
Staple Gun & Staples: $18
RV Couch Remodel TOTAL Cost: $94
RV Chair Remodel Cost: $24
Between the couch and both chairs, it cost a total of $118.00. Considering the Mexican blanket couch was something I was set on, I think the amount spent was reasonable. I could have found cheaper fabric, but I definitely wouldn’t have been as happy with the outcome. I’m also really excited about the chairs, they cost almost nothing to cover, required zero effort, and look really awesome.Since no good remodel story is complete without a few before & after shots… so here they are!
Before RV Furniture Remodel
After RV Furniture Remodel
Stay tuned as we continue on the RV remodel! With our planned departure date quickly approaching, the repairs should hopefully become more frequent (weather permitting!) Our next major steps are to remove all of furniture and linens (again) so we can replace our AC and roof vents, fix the water damage, and paint the interior! If you have any questions or if you’ve been through an RV remodel before, feel free to drop a comment below! I’d love to hear from you.