How to Refinish an Ugly Booth Dinette

2 years ago, we were looking at buying a used pop-up camper.

No, we weren’t going to live in it…though we may just do that someday.  I put almost nothing past us.

We looked at older ones, and the price was right. One thing we noticed about older pop-ups was that all the upholstery was ugly, nasty, or dirty.  With zero hesitation, I told Mark that I could recover them.  “It will be easy!!”  He wasn’t sold.  But I’m sure I told him over half a dozen times with the confidence of a lion, I could do it.

We did end up getting a used pop-up but it was newer and the upholstery wasn’t anything either of us felt like we needed to change.

Fast forward to buying this Winnie.  Once again, Mrs. Confident reared her ugly head.  I said I could do it.  “It will be easy!!”

Only this time, we both wanted it done.  So I did what any person with zero experience recovering cushions would do.  I bought a bunch of fabric without taking any measurements and set to deconstructing the existing cushions.  -maybe you can see where I’m going here.

I got about 1/32th through taking the cushion cover apart and I realized it was no fun.  I also had to make 2 more trips to the fabric store to get the additional fabric that I needed after I actually measured the cushions.

Here is the best before and after I have of the booth.

dinette-before-and-after

And here…

IMG_0434

What a stinky picture, but I’m including it because you can most of the dinette in it.

Now I’m going to tell you how I did it.

1.  Measure.

The first thing to do is measure the width of your cushion. I’m hard-headed which is why I did not do this right away.  Save yourself the headache and extra trips to the fabric store.  Measure.

Just so you know, upholstery fabric comes in 54″ widths so it’s not necessary for you to measure the length of the cushion.  A fabric bolt width will more than cover that length.

My cushion width measured 23 1/2″ for the seat part and 14″ for the widest portion of the back part.  The depth of all the cushions was 4″.

How-to-Measure-a-Cushion-to-Reupholster-itcurved-cushion-measurements

So here is a breakdown of the measurements of my cushion.

Bottom Seat Cushion
 23.5″ – length
    4″   – depth
 23.5″ – length
+ 4″    – depth
  55″ fabric for each bottom seat cushion
You will multiply this by 2 for the two cushions.

Back Seat Cushion

  14″ – length
    4″ – depth
  14″ – length
+ 4″ – depth
 36″ fabric for each back seat cushion

You will multiply this by 2 for the two cushions.

End Caps

Next measurement to contend with is the end cap portions.  If you have a directional patterned fabric like I did, you will need to get more yardage.  My ends are 23 1/2″ X 4″ for the seat part and 9″ X 4″ for the back part.

I had enough to piece the shorter back part end caps from leftover fabric.  I needed to buy 4 more inches of the fabric for each seat end cap.  2 end caps were cut from one 4″ wide strip of the 54″ bolt.

Now some of you seamstresses might be wondering what about my seam allowances.  I found that if I wanted the cover to be snug and not loose, I needed to not cut for a seam allowance.  I did sew a 1/4-inch seam instead of the standard 3/8th inch seam.

So the total amount of fabric I needed for my particular booth was 186 inches.  For safety sake, I’d round up to 6 yards.

2.  Cut The Fabric

Now for cutting.  I decided to use each cushion as a pattern piece.  I laid the cushion down on the fabric and cut around it.  My fabric was dark but if you have a lighter fabric, you could trace around the cushion and then cut out your fabric.

For the 4-inch widths, I cut them with my rotary cutter.

3.  Sew It Up

Now you’re going to sew the pieces together.  As I mentioned earlier, I used a 1/4″ seam allowance to have a snug fit.  You can always make your seam wider if the cover is lose.

Below is a diagram that will hopefully help you see what I did.

The first is the back part of the dinette.  Mine was curved and not as angular as the diagram.

Sewing-cushion-pieces-together-curved

This is the seat part of the cushion.  Same basic instructions as the one above.  Sewing-cushion-pieces-together

Just make sure you don’t sew them all together to make one continuous piece of fabric.  You need to leave the 2 end sides open, so you can put a zipper in.  You are most definitely going to want to put a zipper in the cushion.

Now don’t abandon me yet! Before this project, I had never sewn a zipper.  Ever.  I was actually pretty terrified of zippers. Irrational fears of zippers, that’s a new one.

Because of my phobia, I tried to use velcro on one of the cushions.  It didn’t work very well. I found that they puckered and were bunchy.  I decided to repurpose the zippers that were on the orginal cushions.  So I busted out my seam ripper and took them out.

And true to my way of doing things I’ve never done before, I barrelled ahead without watching a single video or tutorial on how to install a zipper.

If you’re the video DIY kinda person, here’s a great one for you to watch.

As good as this video is, I found that some of her steps were unnecessary. I didn’t use tape. I didn’t baste anything. I just kinda winged it.

I simply tucked the seam allowance under and top stitched the zipper on with my zipper foot. It worked great and I had no problems with it.

You can see below, the right side of the fabric is on top and the seam is tucked under.  I ran the zipper along and kept everthing aligned.

sewing-on-zipper

But since I like variety, I switched it up. On another zipper I turned the zipper upside down and didn’t tuck under the seam allowance.  Instead I sewed along the zipper and when fully open, the seam allowance and edge was clean and neat.

alternate-way-to-attach-zipper

Both ways worked wonderfully and I was very happy with the results.

Basically, you should just know that I didn’t follow a bunch of fussy steps, it’s really so easy.  And since I wasn’t sewing a dress, I think the zipper is pretty forgiving.

One last thing about the upholstery zipper.  Mine had a fabric stop sewn in for both ends of the zipper instead of built-in metal stops.  I had to zig zag stitch those fabric stops onto both ends of my zipper so that my pull didn’t slide off all the way or split open at the beginning.  Yes, foolishly, I tried to do with out the stops.

zig-zag-for-zipper-stop

And here is a view of the completed zipper on one of the cushions.

installed-zipper-on-booth-dinette-cushion

The last thing you need to sew on is your end cap pieces since you now have 4 large tubes with the zippers sewn in.

Keep the tubes wrong side out and then pin them on with the right sides together.  Simple sew all the way around the rectangular end caps to complete your cushion cover.

Once you’re done, unzip them if needed and turn them right side out.  Now just put your foam cushion inside each one of the covers and zip them up.

If the fabric is a little loose, it’s no big deal. Just take the cushion cover off and sew a little wider seam throughout.  The cushion is very forgiving on not-so-perfect sewing.

4.  Recover the Trim

old-cushions-&-trim

We decided to contrast our trim pieces with a black fabric. The trim needs to be unscrewed and recovered.  I didn’t even bother taking off the old worn upholstery, I just laid the trim on the new fabric, cut and stapled it.

Marking-for-Hardware-to-Reattach

As I went along I punctured holes where we would need to reattach the hardware for the actual bench.

Here is a view of the hardware that is attached to the booth.

bones-of-the-booth-dientte

We also painted the fake wood, table, & replaced the drawer pulls to finish off the dinette area.

One final view of the finished project.

Reupholstered-Booth-Dinette

I’ll just close by saying, that underneath my over-confident exterior, I was pretty nervous about doing this project.  But if I can do it, you can do.

Blessings,

Julie-Signature

 

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Comments

  1. While I’m excited that you changed the fabric, I’m more excited (likely because I can’t sew) that you painted your rig! How awesome! It really makes the fabric pop!

    • Hi there Monique! Thank you so much! The painting was a huge change and I’m so happy with the results. The cushions really had to go though. I think any remodel ends up being an endless trail because one change dictates that another must be done. 🙂

  2. Charlene Lizama says:

    Love the RV make over!!!! You really are a super mom!!

  3. Julie, how has your cabinet paint stood with the test of time? I’m seriously considering doing this to my manufactured home cabinets as they are very similar to MH cabinets.

  4. I am just getting ready to do this to our camper cushions… so I am thankful for your tutorial! You did it how I was thinking but it helps to have it see someone else do it so I can make sure I am not missing anything! 🙂 I was thinking of putting my zipper in the seam at the edge of the cushion. not sure if it matters or not but it looks like yours is down from the edge a little bit.

    • For one of mine, it was more centered and the other one was more on the edge. I really need to see it to be able to do it myself too. But let me say, I don’t know you but I think you can totally do this! The project was way easier than I thought it would be. Good luck!!!

  5. Kim Brown says:

    Julie,
    WOW! What a great job on the RV dinette cushions (all of it actually). Would you consider making a set and selling them. Our 5th wheel has been stored for about 5 years & we r now going to rehab it & use it again since r daughter & her family just bought an RV. I think I’m going to live with the honey oak but definitely need to reupholster & do the floors. What did U do with ur couch? where will I c the answer to this? I have never blogged b4. LOL. Would love to c ur total RV redo. kimbrown1632@yahoo.com. Enjoy ur new home & time with ur kids. Priceless as they grow toooo fast.

    • Thank you Kim! I’ve been asked to sew cushions before. I’m sorry but I just don’t have the time to do it. We replaced our sofa with an IKEA sofa bed. Here is the link where you can see the sofa wheels. It is a the PS HÅVET, which is a queen sofa bed . 🙂 Good luck to you and thank you for your kind words!

  6. Hey there! I came across your blog today because my hubby and I JUST bought our camper this afternoon! It’s an older model and pretty much has all the same 90s quirks as you have listed. I’m also *so* nervous about the seat cushions :-/ did you use a heavy duty needle on your sewing machine? I’m also bad at sewing straight lines (complete amateur!), can you offer any advice? You have done a spectacular job with your RV!! Inspiration station!

    • Thank you Jenna! I did not use a heavy duty needle for the cushions. As far as advice, take it slow and let the sewing machine pull your fabric instead of you pushing it. Good luck!

  7. Oh, one more thing 😀 So, does the Nuvo cabinet paint only work on faux wood (is that what it’s called?) when you sand it first? Must i sand the fake wood before applying the Nuvo? I thought you mentioned keeping all the doors and what-have-you’s intact instead of removing them. I’m so anxious to start remodeling our new home! Thanks for your blog, Wonder Woman!!

    • Yes, Faux (aka fake) wood does need to be sanded. It has excellent coverage but the sanding helps it adhere better. Hope your remodel is going well. (I’m late catching up on comments)

  8. Mary Beth Guzzo says:

    I just recovered my old Winnebago cushions and followed your instructions (and words of wisdom)!!! I have a little fine tuning to make the cushions (top) fit snuggly, but they turned out great! I would have never tackled this if I had not seen your post…..First time I have sewn in 25 years…..I am on to do the jackknife couch cushions next….

  9. Thanks for this, I just may attempt my trailer cushions. I’ve been so nervous to try on my own, but this helps.

  10. My wife and I are hoping to try this soon. Any recommendations on the type of fabric to use? (Looks like you chose something pretty sturdy.)

  11. Great idea! Can you tell me what you did with your flooring? It looks as though it is different from the ‘before’ also. We purchased an older Pace Arrow and it needs some TLC. I do like the idea of your white paint. Did you also paint the walls? You must have taken down all the window trim also? Do you have other pictures of your before and after in your rig? Would love to see them and what you did.

    • My husband laid down sheet vinyl on the floor. It was a PERFECT option! 🙂 We did paint and it made such a difference. All the pictures I’ve posted are what we have. (other pictures are bad angles or lighting) 🙂

  12. Got a 94 Winnebago and the dinette is the same..got to go. So using your instructions I’m off to the fabric store. Thanks for the tutorial. 🙂

  13. Erin B. says:

    I am so glad I found this tutorial. I have been wanting to reupholster our camper cushions for a year now. This looks pretty doable so I measured my cushions and bought the material last night? I am going to attempt starting it as soon as I get through typing this! Hope all goes well. Thanks!

  14. Hi Julie,

    Thanks for your ideas! I am re-doing some cushions… and I love that fabric… where did you get it?

    • I purchased it from Hancock Fabrics. It was a clearance fabric so it’d be next to impossible to find. :/ Sorry!

  15. Hi thanks for posting this we just bought a used RV and I hate the fabric in there. So this gives me some great ideas. I was also wondering when you painted in there was that over RV wallpaper and if so how did that go. Did you have to remove the wallpaper and paint wood? Thanks in advance.

  16. I have a jackknife couch that I want to reupholster. Any suggestions on what type of material to use. Also what is the easiest way to measure to determine how much fabric is needed

    • I’m so sorry Trisha…I’ve never attempted it so I can’t say but I know I’d be googling like crazy if I were in your shoes.

      OR you could look for a good couch cover that was stretchy would be a good solution for you. Like this one, here.

  17. Thank you for making this tutorial, it’s the first I have found with the dinette bench cushions rounded on top! I’m about to tackle ours and try a no sew method with industrial Velcro.. Hopefully they turn out well.

    • Hope it works for you Samantha! I’d probably try to cover it without taking off the old fabric just to make sure it works.

  18. Diana Browning says:

    That was the photo of my Holiday Rambler dinette.
    I the entire thing and purchased 4 stackable black chairs from Ikea. So much mor comfortable. ripped up the carpet and laid linoleum looks like 6′ wide planks. so easy, I did it myself.

  19. Thank you for your tutorial, I think I have the exact upholstery. I am getting ready to use your tips to redo the booth. Did you change the sofa or recover it. Also did you change the carpet in the cab of the Winnie. Mine is the ugly blue color but even if we change the floor in the living area I didn’t know what to do with the cab. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Hi Carol! We didn’t reupholster the cab or replace the carpeting. I think the carpeting would be doable but we ran out of steam. Sorry to not be of more help~

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