Contains affiliate links. Learn more.
Have you got any old furniture that you love, but it’s seen better days? I have been very slowly working on making over my old vintage furniture. I started with our utility table makeover, which you can read about here. My vintage Ercol suite has been on my radar for years. But I just didn’t have the time or energy to work out how I could recover it, with no upholstery skills at all. But I was really over how sad and saggy they looked. So I decided to undertake a vintage Ercol sofa makeover, on a budget.
But thanks to my old friend Pinterest, I have made over my Ercol sofa and matching chair and I couldn’t be happier as it cost under £20. Read on to see my quick and easy Ercol sofa makeover.
My Ercol Sofa Before The Makeover
I bought my Ercol sofa and three matching chairs when I was a student, from a charity shop. They had horrible (but original) cushions and the whole set cost me about £100, from memory. I got the cushions recovered by an upholsterer and some of the cushions replaced. But this was 20 years ago and those old new covers were looking pretty grim.
So in the last 10 years or so I have covered them with old cotton throws, tucked in. I dyed them grey about 7 years ago when we moved into our new house, but they were a bit patchy. So this is how we lived with them for the last few years.
They looked OK, but it was a pain having to rearrange the throws all the time. The throws were too big for the chair but too small for the sofa. That meant it always looked messy, and the tassels were constantly poking out. You can see the the old navy cushion covers showing at the back of the sofa in the photo above. All in all, not very satisfactory!
How I Made Over My Vintage Ercol Sofa
My sewing skills are minimal. I can knock up a basic envelope cushion cover, and hem curtains, but that’s about it. I recently made draught excluders, but basic projects like that are definitely my limits. So I went onto Pinterest and had a look for easy sofa covers. I found one that looked achievable, and thought I had nothing to lose!
Making my Ercol Slipcovers
The tutorial I found is for a rectangular cushion and looks really neat. My Ercol sofa has slightly curved cushions so I wasn’t sure if it would work as well. But I’m pleased with the result. It’s certainly not professional but it works. I like the way it is easily removable for washing – great with kids! To find the original tutorial, click here. I won’t recreate the steps in full as it wasn’t my idea. But here are a few photos to give you an idea.
I started by sewing two throws together, and the spread them on the floor with the cushion on top. Next, I gathered up the sides and pinned them snugly, and sewed the corners at an angle. I cut the corners off using pinking shears. I added a couple of buttons to each corner, folded them up and wound strong cord around them to winch them in, to create neat corners.
I just used any old buttons I had in my sewing box, but I put a pink one at the back, so I would know which way to put it back on, after I dyed it. As you can see here, it’s very rough and ready, but noone will ever see it! You can also see the state of the professional covers below.
I did the same steps as above for the base cushion of one of the chairs. We have one in the garage and my sister has one. So at some point when we get a garden office, I’ll do the same for the chair in the garage.
Dying my Ercol Slipcovers
After I finished my cheats slipcovers, I undid the string, and dyed them using Dylon Machine Dye in Velvet Black. I have used it before to refresh some faded black dungarees, when it worked brilliantly. I didn’t really want black covers, but as they were so faded and patchy, I thought it was risky to dye them grey.
The instructions say it gives the full colour for 500g of fabric and a lighter shade for up to 1kg. My covers were about 700g, so I popped them in and hoped for the best! They came out a little darker than I’d hoped, but really uniform and rich, so I was happy. Here is one of the old ones next to the freshly dyed fabric so you can see how well it covered.
The Finished Vintage Ercol Sofa Makeover
The new cheats upholstery slipcovers look even better than I could have hoped – so much neater and smarter. I decided to do away with the old back cushions as they looked a bit too retro for me. They happen to fit perfectly in the girls’ reading nook den, so have a happy new home there.
I treated myself to three new blush pink velvet cushions for the back – two extra large for the sofa and one large for the chair. I popped the black and white small cushions I already had in front and I think it looks great. It’s also more comfortable too.
This sofa has been the site of many happy memories for me. It’s kept me comfy with cuppas with friends and has seen breakups and makeups aplenty when it was in my student house. I’m so happy to smarten it up a bit. My next project is to strip back the old brown varnish to reveal the lovely oak beneath. But that is a project for another year!
Want to know how I transformed my gold and brown tea trolley into a gold and pink drinks trolley? Find out about my makeover here.
Now I know how easy it is to make these slip covers, I’m considering making some out of pink velvet. I can move these ones onto the back cushions in the girls’ den so they won’t be wasted. But for now, I’m really happy with my vintage Ercol sofa makeover. Why not Pin this for later?