How To Reupholster An Ottoman

I purchased this ottoman at Ross about a year ago for like $60 which is a pretty great deal considering it’s a tufted ottoman.  While it was cute, my living room looked like a 3 ring circus with all of the fabric going on…see below… (I’ll post the evolution of the living room at a later date… I think it’s also more important to note that it’s still evolving…)

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Here’s another picture of it when I actually tried to sell it on Craigslist 🙂

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I had been drooling over  a tufted ottoman like this, but I knew that was never going to happen for me so I set out to recover this little number!

With all that is going on in my living room, I decided to go with a solid fabric to tone it down a bit… I also decided that I wanted to do the curtain in the same fabric.  So I ordered 17 yards of Richloom Solar Outdoor Fabric.

Why would one order outdoor fabric for inside?  Great question!  First, our big beast, Lucy, lays on this ottoman with us while we watch TV.  The fabric must be able to withstand her drool, claws, and whatever else a 200 pound dog brings.  Also, the windows that I want the draperies for are on the south side of the house.  Meaning, that side of the house gets a lot of sun exposure.  My poor antique couch already baked in the sun last summer and I need something that is going to withstand the heat and sun and not bleach out; this outdoor fabric cures all of these problems!

Supplies needed:

  1. 13 buttons with a button maker (if you plan to do the same diamond tuft pattern I did)
  2. 3 yards of fabric
  3. hemp twine
  4. 10 inch upholstery needle
  5. 36′ x 36′ block of foam
  6. cotton batting
  7. staple gun
  8. staple remover
  9. pliers

I started by making 13 buttons.  These buggers are HARD to make!!!  You cut the fabric from the form on the back of the button box.  What I found, or what the instructions lacked in explaining clearly (or I didn’t read them thoroughly) is you need to line the fabric up on plastic mold and shove the button top into the mold (pictured below).  Then you fold the excess fabric into the bottom side of the mold and place the back of the button over the folded fabric (sorry no pictures, I needed all hands on deck for this process).  Grab the blue press that  came in the box and face it hollow-side down over the button’s back.  Press down on the blue press HARD, I mean REALLY hard I ended up using a mallet and pressing all of my weight into each side.  To be honest, I really was not happy with these buttons, they did not with stand the process of tufting and I ended up having to hot glue them onto the ottoman…  I think it was because the molds were tin and I would recommend finding steal button molds for a project like this one!

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As you can see Lucy is already trying to figure out how to ruin my fabric!

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Next, I started disassembling the ottoman.  I flipped it over, unscrewed the legs, and started by removing all of the staples from the bottom of the ottoman.

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Once I removed all of the staples I pulled off the black dust cover then started to remove the fabric from the ottoman.

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I got the fabric all pulled off but it was still attached from the 5 tufts.  At this point I started to panic because I realized that I had no access to the back of ottoman and the tufts…

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No worries, cheap engineering proved chintzy nails that I was easily able to ply the top off.  This is the point in the project were you go rouge, you have no idea how something is going to be constructed under the fabric and you have to use your imagination a bit.  Each upholstery project will present it’s own unique problems so you have to have some imagination!

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I ended up just ripping out the old tufts out of the plywood!

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Rip all of the seams from the old fabric as you will use this for your guide making the fabric new pattern.

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I gave about 3 more inches on the  long side of the large piece (which almost proved to be not enough)!  I would give 4 inches on each side just to be sure!  With the two wings, I would give about 2 inches more than than the old fabric; one inch for sewing the pieces together than an inch (on each side) for the the deeper tufts… You want the sewn edges to match up with the sides of the ottoman.  Center the “wings” then pin and sew them together.

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Now to make the pattern for the diamond tufts.  I started by making little marks at 6″, 18″, and 30′ inches around all 4 sides of the plywood.  Then I lined them up with a yard stick and drew lines across the box.  Next you will need to make “X”s inside the 4 squares in the middle then mark a dot in the middle of each intersection!

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Then I used the 5/8 drill bit to drill holes into the 13 dots I made above.  These holes need to be large enough to pull the upholstery needle and hemp through but not so large that you can see through the hole.

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Next I placed my green foam on top of the board (be sure to place diagrammed side down so you can see your holes!)… Nice make shift saw horses, huh?!  A quick note, I purchased the green foam at Joann’s (it’s expensive but dense and really nice so be sure to use your 50% coupon!) and they have an electric turkey carving knife for cutting foam.  If you’re nice and you smile a lot, you can ask them to cut all of your pieces in store and  charge you for one piece of foam so you’re not at home trying to hack at it with a scissor!  for extra padding, I went ahead and placed the old foam on top.  I stapled just the edges of the green foam to the plywood so they wouldn’t be swimming around while trying to tuft.

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Next you want to lay your batting down over the foam.  I just “eyeballed” it but you should probably measure to make sure you have an even amount on each side.

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Next, I laid my sewn fabric over the top of the batting.  This should be lined up and you should probably measure your sides to make sure they are even, but I didn’t 🙂 and I ended up being okay by eyeballing it.  You want to fish the upholstery needle with hemp up through the middle tuft (make sure it is centered beforehand because you can’t move the fabric now!).  Pull up one end of the hemp through the fabric, thread the button, and fish the needle thread with the excess hemp back through the fabric and foam.  Once you have the needle back through, pull the excess hemp tail end through, remove the needle and pull down really hard on the tail of hemp on the backside and staple it down.

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So you just start working your way from the middle tuft out.  To create the deep tufts, I tugged really tight while I was laying under plywood.  I put about 4 staples in 2 inches from the hole the hemp came back out of.  Later on, I pushed on the tuft a little more from the front side and the hemp would gap a bit on the back then I would staple it again closer to the hole…  I think it’s important to mention that a lot of folks cut/ drill holes through their foam.  I decided to skip that step and I was able to achieve the deep tuft I was looking for!

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The pleats will naturally create themselves but if I wanted it to fold a certain way, I went ahead and formed them myself.  It’s important as you’re working to pull the fabric as tight as possible before you stick the needle through, this will help keep the fabric taunt and your folds in place.

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So I just worked my way from the middle out until I created all of the tufts.   This is what the backside will look like (first picture).  I cut some of the excess hemp off then set the board on top of the frame (second picture).  Next I stapled the tufted plywood to the bottom box so it would be held in place.

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I was feeling like champion at this point!  I stapled down the sides that were not sewn on the sides first (the long wings).  I almost did not have enough fabric (I about had a breakdown at this point) but I ended up pulling it REALLY, REALLY tight and made it work.  For the corners I used an iron on stick adhesive.  I tucked the fabric with the sewn seam into the fabric already stapled down then folded that edge the stapled edge of fabric in so the lines looked smooth.  Next, I tucked the iron stick adhesive in between the two folds and ran the iron down it to adhere the fabric.

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 So I have to admit, earlier in this project, I decided to crank the iron on, full blast linen setting might I add and iron down my pleats at the top… Not even thinking that the fabric was Olefin… I set the iron down on the fabric and it felt a little weird and I removed it to find I melted the fabric on my ottoman.  I could have cried, no, I did cry!  I took a break to eat dinner and Ryan encouraged me and said it didn’t look too bad.  I ended up remedying the situation by sanding it with a fine grit sand paper.  It doesn’t have the glossy sheen anymore but you can still tell the fabric is messed up in that place.  Oh well, after all, my blog is called “My POLISHED Imperfections” for this very reason 🙂  A total JV move but one that I will be aware of during my next project!

Anyways, I stapled down and iron stitched the rest of the sides and here is my finished product!

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Doesn’t it look fantabulous?! Burn mark and all!

Thanks for looking!

Best

             — Jessica

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Hello there, my name is Jessica and I'm so glad you've dropped by! I am a weekend DIYer, a die-hard antiquer, and a lover of all things vintage. Join me on my never ending journey of turning our house into our home!

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