Saturday August 23rd 2014, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Life

So, one of the things that happened this week.

We refurnished our living room and family room with heavy-duty futons sixteen years ago from a local chain that makes their own mattresses: local hands, green materials including wool and rubber and a far cry from the flimsy, thin-padded hand-me-down we palmed off on a starving grad student before our order arrived. My mom once called this queen-sized futon the most comfortable hideabed she’d ever slept on.

And the armrests lift up to show hidden storage compartments. Great fun, especially to small grandsons.

But when we were ordering, I said to the salesman that I just didn’t love any of the fabrics they had to choose from. He said no problem, for $80 each they would sew to order whatever fabric I might buy somewhere else. The factory was in San Francisco and the company truck went back and forth from there to the store once a week anyway so no big deal, just a little bit longer of a wait for me.

That took me on a hunt far and wide for the most perfect upholstery fabric; I knew I was going to have to live with it a long time day in day out and I wanted to like it.

I found a large, independent fabric shop in a rather dicey area of San Jose, the parking lot a memorable slalom course between deep potholes (that strip mall has since been torn down) and they had a lot of mill remnants and a lot of upholstery fabric.

I really liked a particular one and bought all that they had, I think a bolt and a half: that gave me enough for the two couches and the two chairs and a footrest cushion and one more chair should we ever want to go back and buy another. (We didn’t).

Once we finally got the furniture delivered and set up, after all that money spent for top of the line everything…

…I didn’t want to admit to disappointment. The lighting is always different in the store. I expected more vibrant colors in the covers, a little more peach and not at all mustardy like how they are in low or indirect light–which is, like, almost always. Oh well, it was what it was and hey, I’m the one who picked it out. And Richard likes it.

Fast forward to two days ago. I’m not going to be able to get that one carpet replaced before the kids come next weekend which is just as well because that means I’m going to take the time to get the color I want, not just what the flooring guy had in stock right now.

Or you know, I could redo floor and furniture all in blue/greens, right? A little variety? (As if. It’s been an expensive month already.)

Part of me flinched at cutting a sample off the end of the old bolt that is still tucked away behind the futon but c’mon, fer cryin’ out loud, I’m not going to order a new chair now and certainly not in that.

So I cut.

And I looked at that seven inch square.

And I looked at the couch.

They did not match.

What do you mean, they don’t match? This is what it was MADE from!

The couch was lighter. Well, okay, it’s been exposed to light for lo these many, you’d expect it might well fade some by now.

The pattern didn’t match.

How could the pattern not match?! I went over to a chair. Nope. Still didn’t, not turned this way or this way or this way…or………

(Slowly…) *wait*

I flipped it over and put it up against the furniture again.

And suddenly all was clear. The trapunto pattern hadn’t been stretched out flat by being pulled across the mattress. The color hadn’t become faded. The pattern did match.

They had sewn every single one fabric wrong side out. And it had taken me sixteen years to figure it out.

All those years, all that suppressed disappointment, it didn’t have to have been. I was staggered. It was funny, I knew it was very funny, and I walked away from it into the other part of the house where I didn’t have to see it and fought tears for about five minutes. All that I’d wanted that fabric to be, it had been all this time just where nobody could see it. The seams had surely been serged and were long since made unrecoverable.


The other thing? That fabric shop had also had a bolt of Christmas-y fabric on total closeout, pretty and sturdy and nice enough not to be (too) kitschy. (I hope.) Festive for kids and all that. Although, I dunno, I haven’t looked at it for a long time now. That bolt’s been behind that futon too, unseen, not in the way even when you pull the futon out for a bed, so it was easily forgotten.

We had spent all the money we had to spend that year and those mattresses were crazy-heavy to deal with, much less twice per holiday, so I just never did get that second set of covers sewn. I remember every year about mid-January that oh, yeah, well, maybe next year.

Nobody gets Santa inside out. I mean, they don’t. Right?

(Edited to add after this morning’s 6.1 North Bay earthquake, we’re fine and I hope those most affected will recover quickly. Didn’t even drop a book out of a bookcase here, as far as I can tell.)

9 Comments so far
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You can hope! Santa’s a pretty clear image.
Seriously, it goes to show that what ‘goes without saying’ needs to be said sometimes. Just to make sure, just briefly.

Comment by Marian 08.23.14 @ 11:55 pm

There needs to be a word that describes the emotion one feels when one realizes the perfect fabric has been sewn inside out. “Downholstered” might describe that verge of tears sensation, too.

Comment by LynnM 08.24.14 @ 1:55 am

Oh! But, maybe….are they mostly just giant pillows? Another seam right over the first, like French seams? Would make them just a bit smaller, but possible?

Comment by DebbieR 08.24.14 @ 7:29 am

hmmm, well, for me every piece of fabric is actually two because I use both sides for different “look” in my art, but I’m amazed that the “professionals” that did this didn’t notice the difference!

good to know though that your eye was exactly correct in what you thought it should be

is all well with you this morning? we’ve obviously heard about the quake, and we’re thinking about all of our friends in Northern California

Comment by Bev 08.24.14 @ 9:17 am

I find it an odd feeling to realize that something in your home isn’t as you thought it was. Nope, I’ve been telling people for years. I didn’t see that tv show; I don’t get HBO.

A grand-daughter who loves HBO has come to town so I thought I might sign up for it. Upon investigation, I learned that I do get it.

Not the same as upholstery. But oh. I thought I knew what there was to know about my home.

Sorry about the disappointment.

Comment by RobinM 08.24.14 @ 11:58 am

I think this would call for a Don comment, somehow.

Totally amazing. Inside out. Is there nowhere you can slit a seam open to see how it’s finished in there? I’m assuming it doesn’t have zippers so you can take it off, wash it, then replace it. If it had, you would’ve know this many years ago. So amazing that the experienced sewing people wouldn’t have recognized the right side. The fabric is THAT reversible?

Comment by Susan (sjanova) 08.24.14 @ 5:08 pm

Ouch. I’ve cried over upholstery before, just for the record. Puppy Mugsy destroyed a new sofa that was a tremendous extravagance. Only… he didn’t. Before I could muster the gumption to call about a repair, the furniture store called. The material was recalled; it was flawed and was shredding under not even normal use…

Glad the earthquake didn’t toss your house around much.

Comment by Channon 08.24.14 @ 5:59 pm

It could happen to anyone! and I admit to looking a little more closely at my recently re-covered sofa. And it’s comforting to know there are other people on this Earth who keep bolts of fabric behind furniture. In my case, it’s mostly old rolled up carpets that, you know, we might need someday. But the principle’s the same!

Comment by Beth in Maryland 08.25.14 @ 11:19 am

I keep coming back to this post, shaking my head and, sometimes giggling… Life is full of surprises, huh? Right under your nose too, apparently.

Goes to show you knew what you had bought, even after all this years.

And yes, I think Don would have had something to add to this. 😉

Comment by Suzanne from Montreal 08.29.14 @ 4:33 pm

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