When I decided to recover our couch in engineer stripe denim, I did not list among my reasons its ability to withstand human excrement, but here we are. In this little loveseat’s first 12 hours home, I was scrubbing a tomato sauce splatter from its seat. Please don’t picture me trilling merrily and tousling the hair of the perpetrator while I patiently coaxed out the sauce. I cursed and yelled and surely had my family at least briefly believing I’d finally lost it. With each rub of the fabric, the indigo stripes bled a bit more into the white. Twenty-four hours after that, I was attacking a series of soy sauce fingerprints. By the time of the poop incident later that night, there was nothing left to do but laugh (and scrub some more).
I have three small children and the only spot for our only couch is next to the dining table. I knew what I was getting into. Indeed, I explicitly asked the gentleman who reupholstered the couch not to add stain protector. The goal was for an old loveseat to be restored to its former glory, but I wanted to do that without adding anything in the way of extraneous toxins or material fussiness. What’s harder-wearing than denim? What’s more fitting for a workhorse of a couch?
The worst of the stains are now mostly lifted and if I squint I can’t see the spots where I made the fabric bleed. To save myself from further scrubbing and my children from further couch-related trauma, I sewed sloppy seams along the edges of leftover yardage and made a simple seat cover. It’s an extra layer to spread over the seat while we’re eating dinner or serving popcorn to humans who can’t help but swipe their greasy fingers on the fabric below them. When we watch a movie and a piece of errant chocolate slips through the cracks of our fingers and melts below the heat of our thighs, it’ll be there to catch it. And if it’s not? We’ll chalk it up to being part of the story.
Over time the couch will continue to transform. The indigo stripes will continue to melt into the white ones. There will be spots that wear and spots that don’t and that’s the beauty of denim isn’t it? We’re not even supposed to wash our jeans. We embrace every mysterious stain on our vintage Wranglers. We wear our indigo long past the time when whiskers and whispers of movement appear etched in the fabric. (We buy new denim that’s been tumbled with stones and ripped apart before we even wear it.) When there’s a tear we don’t want, we patch it.
And so it goes with denim couches: Every patch tells a story. It only gets better with age. Shit happens.
For the curious:
+ If you want to know more about why I chose not to add a spray stain protector, this Earth Justice explainer on PFAS chemicals is a good place to start. (This piece on PFAS in fabric protection sprays from Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families is helpful, too.) There have been some recent industry improvements, including removal of PFAS from Scotchgard products, but I feel like avoiding them altogether is the safest route to take, poop be damned.
+ If you’re local and in the market to hire a reupholsterer, don’t hesitate to be in touch for more information. I had a terrific experience and am happy to pass along the contact information.
+ Details on fabric choice and past upholstery history.