Darcy Lewis Design

Adventures in "Good Enough" Design

Beautiful Wool Plaid Couch Throw

You may be familiar with those upholstery sample books – they look like this:


Well, I acquired one of BEAUTIFUL virgin wools in several designs, mainly plaids, and some jacquards in matching colors.  I HAD TO HAVE IT! And I had to make something with it.  This is the plaids book:


I took it apart (no mean feat – these stupid books are usually held together with an amazing combination of glue and industrial spike staples), but even so, the pieces were small, and the backs were mounted on paper:


I decided I could make a throw blanket for the couch – always seem to be in short supply (Why?  We have enough blankets.  Is there some kind of couch monster that eats them?  Why do I never have one handy when I’m cold???).  Which left me with a usable area that was only about 5″ x 7″…  Really wanted the whole sample…without the paper…. I was really crushing on that plaid wool….  So I searched the internet for tips, and found that the paper backing MIGHT come off if I ironed it – get it hot enough to melt or just loosen the glue….

So I put a movie on, and I ironed for glory…  Less than an hour later, I had a stack of 40 squares, each now 7″ x 10″ – with varying amounts of paper and glue residue on their backs…

Here are two – you can see the amount of variance!


Laid them all out on my design table, and then quickly sewed everything together.  Then I decided (why?!) that I should try FELTING the blanket – make the blanket a little fluffier and less crisp and flat, and also would help remove the paper and glue remains on the backs.

So, tossed the whole thing in the washer (recommend doing this with tennis balls, I couldn’t FIND my special already-dead washing machine tennis balls, and while my awesome husband volunteered to go buy more in the middle of the night (I WANTED IT NOW!!!), I declined and washed it without… ), ran it through on extra-hot, extra-agitation, extra rinse cycle, and then dried it.

Obviously, the plaids and the jacquards did not shrink evenly, but I’m pretty happy with the overall look (also trying to learn to be ok with puckers and shrinkage).  It still needs to be backed (in herringbone wool?), and I may put a border around it to make it a little larger, but I’m pleased with the results of my roughly 4 hours of work and free wool sample book…


My husband finally confessed that it was a little too rustic/homespun for his taste, but I love the colors (and the wool!  and the PLAID!!)…  So, the next time you find one of those books, think about what you can do with them, don’t just walk away from it!!

Have you ever made something from one of those? Or from upholstery samples in general?  I’d love to see it!

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4 thoughts on “Beautiful Wool Plaid Couch Throw

  1. I usually use the small sample books for purses/clutches. I have found a lot of the glued on paper will dissolve if you let it sit in COLD water. Sometimes 30 minutes is enough, sometimes it needs a few hours.

  2. My original plan was to not get this fabric wet (see how long THAT lasted), but thank you, I will definitely keep that in mind since I will be doing this again!

  3. Trish Boyko on said:

    I love the colors. Great way to recycle fabrics too. I have several books I have been slowly working on with apolestry fabric. My idea..to make mondo bags with them. Any other ideas would be appreciated.

    • Trish, I think mondo bags are a nice idea. In addition to the quilt, I have a book of small silk squares I’m going to make into a table runner, some really fancy large (12×14 roughly) embroidered pieces that I plan to make into the front panels of a corset, have also fussy-cut flowers or shapes from them to applique on other fabric for jackets and skirts (including decorative pockets). Other options would be placemats, clutches and coin purses as Carol mentioned, patchwork skirts or jackets, Christmas tree ornaments and other ornaments (I’ve made little stuffed lovebirds that I hung in an old ornamental birdcage – used some velcro to make one of the birds perch on the outside top of the cage.) Small bags for pencils/art supplies or sewing supplies or scrap catchers to keep by your sewing machine. Sewing machine dust cover. Really, the list is almost endless! Also be sure to look on Pinterest and Google, try searching “sewing projects with scraps” or “small sewing projects”. I would love to see what you end up making!!

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