Minnie’s Face Lift Continues—The Dreaded Jack Knife Sofa


Deciding what to do with the jack knife sofa in our RV wasn’t easy. We had several options. First, we could replace the sofa with another jack knife sofa to fit into the same frame covered with a modern fabric, microfiber, or leather. The RV furniture sites had lots of pretty models of sofas in stock but zilch in the size we needed—66”. Yes, there were sofas in other standard sizes, but apparently our size was not standard, so if we wanted new, we would have to have it custom made. That put a replacement sofa out of our budget.

The next option we had was to replace the jack knife with something else. We could put recliners in place of the sofa, but if we resold the RV to a family, passengers would have fewer places to travel and sleep. The jack knife has two spots equipped with safety belts for passengers. A recliner is not made to carry passengers in a moving RV. So we eliminated that idea.

Another option was to reupholster and recushion the sofa. Unfortunately, the gaudy fabric was attached to the bottom of the steel sofa frame with wire hooks. Indeed, the entire wire frame would need to be removed from the assembly and each hook tediously cut before even beginning to reupholster the cushions and fabric attachments which held the whole thing onto the original frame. The thought of doing all that and then reupholstering with my existing sewing skill set was just too overwhelming.

I finally decided to slipcover the entire thing. Without detaching the sofa from the frame, I measured its dimensions and rethunk the bestest way to assemble a slipcover specifically for this type of sofa. I came up with a slipcover in two easy pieces which would allow a break in the center of the sofa for safety belt access.

Here are the plans:jackknifeplan

I originally thought I’d pick something artistic for an upholstery fabric like deep plum. At the last minute, I whimped out and settled on something neutral—and on clearance. I found 3-5/8 yds of a solid mustard yellow fabric which was light enough to sew in my serger. With this design, there were few seams, and the advantage of a slip cover was that it could be removed and cleaned and then put back on at any time.

Once I sewed the thing together, I assembled the top and bottom. The bottom took some fiddling with and alterations. I found the following tools at Joann’s in the upholstery notions section:


The slip cover top is simply slid on like a sleeve and the front flap tucked into the crease of the sofa. However, the bottom slipcover had to be secured in place. I used nine upholstery pins on the back inside crease to hold the slipcover securely. (Be careful to hide the needle points back into the cushion so no one pricks themselves grasping for a safety belt.) I then used the twist pins (the squiggly tacks) and screwed the bottom cover in place under the bottom edges of the seat cushions.


Here are views of the finished slipcover:

I was actually quite proud of how it turned out—a well-fitting slipcover at a minimal cost. Once I pretty it up with a few bolsters and throw pillows, I think it might soften the look and feel a bit more homey.

The existing sofa has storage space underneath with a long hinged door with the old fabric stapled to the outside. I will unstaple the fabric and decide at that point whether I should replace the door and stain it a honey oak to match the existing cabinetry or reupholster with a different fabric. Until then, the jack knife sofa part of this remodel has been tabled.

Here is the cost break-down for this portion of the project:

Fabric 3.625 yd @ $9.00 yd….     $32.63

Upholstery pins…                            $ 5.99

Value Pack Twist Pins…                 $ 5.99

4- Bone Serger Cones @ $3.49   $13.96

TOTAL FOR MATERIALS                 $58.57

Note: I used a serger and serged the fabric ends (they are tucked in and not seen) but you can do this project with a standard sewing machine for the seams. (Make sure to double stitch the corners.) The exposed ends are then tucked under and screwed down with twist pins. You will also need standard sewing supplies: tape measure, markers, pins, and a good pair of fabric scissors.

Thanks for visiting,



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