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Ottoman Upholstery {The How-To}

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

As promised...I've written up this post detailing the process of redoing my ottoman.  You can go here to see the full B&A.

First and foremost...I recommend being gentle as you remove old upholstery.  Use a marker to label your pieces, then use them as a pattern.  And do any painting to the frame before adding fabric.

Don't hate me for not having a photo of the stripped ottoman.  Basically once the old upholstery was off it was just a wooden box.  The first order of business was to sand the varnish off the legs and paint them and glaze them.  This is my first time glazing, to this is as basic as it gets.
1.  Paint the legs white.
2.  Brush on your glaze.  This is a maple color glaze from Behr.
3.  Wipe off the excess with a damp cloth.
4.  The glaze will settle into the grooves and look awesome.

Once the legs were done it was time to re-cushion.  Originally there was practically no padding on the seat.  I wanted the end product to be comfortable enough to sit on, so I added 4 inches of "Nu-Foam" to the top.
1.  I used a bread knife to cut my padding to size.
2.  I took chunk that was lopped off the cushion to make padding for the sides.  Nu-Foam tears apart easily.  I ripped it into skinny strips.
3.  Tack the skinny pieces to the sides of the ottoman.  Use a staple gun or upholstery tacks.
4.  Cut a piece of burlap to cover the cushion.  Use upholstery twine and a running stitch to attach it.

I love the look of tufted ottomans, so I wanted to add some buttons to mine.
1.  Measure and mark where your buttons will go.
2.  I used a darning needle and twine to cinch down the foam where the buttons will go.  Your string ends should be on the top of the cushion.  Cinch them down with a slip knot, then lock the knot in place.
3.  Add a layer of batting to separate the burlap from your finish fabric.

Now it's time to cover!  I used the old covering as a pattern for the new covering.  So I sewed a box out of fabric to cover the top of the ottoman.
1.  Buy a package of upholstery buttons and follow the instructions.
2.  Slip the top layer of fabric over your cushion.
3.  Use your darning needle and twine to attach the buttons.  This time your slip knot should be on the bottom of the cushion.
4.  Check that your buttons are on nice and tight, then lock off your knots.
5.  Pull the fabric taught and tack in place around the frame.

I had my heart set on using three fabrics to finish my piece.  Here is how I attached the other fabrics without showing seams.  It's easy once you get the hang of it.

1.  Cut strips of fabric long enough to wrap around the ottoman.  I pieced two sections together.
2.  Next, cut 1/2" strips of cardboard {I used a cereal box} to make a tacking strip.  This will give your seam a straight edge.
3.  Hot glue the cardboard to the edge of your fabric.
4.  {Look the the photo above.}  Pound upholstery tacks {or staples} into the taking strip you have made.  Attach it with the right sides of your finish fabric together and your fabric strip upside down.
5.  When it is all tacked, flip the fabric down.  Viola!  A seamless seam.
6.  To attach the green strip at the bottom, repeat the process.

Okay.  Finishing touches.

1.  To finish the seams I folded under the raw edge of the strip and hot glued it in place.  {See the thick edge on the green fabric?}
2.  To finish the whole thing clip the fabric around the legs and pull tight under the base of the piece.  Tack in place.

Then revel in your work.

Here is my cost breakdown:

Ottoman: $0
Upholstery Needles:  $4
Twine:  $4
Paint:  $0
Glaze:  $3 {for a sample size...more than enough}
Burlap: $2/yard {one yard needed}
Buttons: $3 {clearance price at JoAnn's}
Tacks:  $6
Finishing tacks: $6
Cushion and batting:  $15 {on sale at JoAnn's}
Fabric: $20 {clear out sale at Hancock Fabrics}

Grand total...$58  
Which really isn't too bad, considering the twine, needles, tacks and glaze will last through many more projects to come.  I'm happy with it.

I know that was a super basic run down.  But it was my first try.  Maybe I'll get more in depth when I work over that chair...




  1. What a gorgeous ottoman Amy - great job!!
    I've always been too scared to upholster any furniture but I'm hoping to try it in the future!

    (P.S. I just discovered your blog and it is fantastic!!)

  1. Now I know what to do with the old plastic covered ottoman stored in the attic. Thanks for the tutorial! I'll put it to use!

  1. Peggy Jean said...:

    Thank you for sharing such detailed instructions! I have always wanted to try to do more reupholstering and now I might try!


  1. I've done a few stuffed chairs and it's no joke, no simple craft. It's an accomplishment. Thanks for sharing yuu how did it. Linda

  1. This little stool is darling. Love the triple layered fabrics...the cardboard cereal box strips was a good/cheap trick!
    from the Friday Redoux hop...

  1. Love how you did this piece and thanks for sharing it at my party.


  1. Hi Amy! I love how this turned out! I have a nasty old ottoman that I've been contemplating tossing, but was floored when I saw what even the most basic styles out there are costing these days! I've recovered dining room chairs before, but wasn't sure the ottoman would be that easy to do. Now, with your great tutorial, I'm thinking I can definitely swing this ~ Thanks! Stopping by and newly following from Toot Your Horn Tuesday. Have an awesome week! ~Mary

  1. This is gorgeous!!! Love the fabrics you chose! Love everything about it, actually ;)

  1. Connie said...:

    Wow! Love this, please share it! Link it up with me on my Wow Us Wednesday, ok? Over at www.familyhomeandlife.com

  1. Maria said...:

    Thanks for the tutorial! The ottoman looks great!

  1. I love the 3 different layers to this Ottoman. It looks fantastic. You make me think, hey I can do this! Thanks so much for sharing at Toot Your Horn Tuesday :)

  1. Tonia L said...:

    Super cute ottoman! I wanted to let you know that you were featured @The Gunny Sack today! http://www.thegunnysack.com/2012/06/who-was-stuffed-in-gunny-sack-week-40.html

  1. Mac said...:

    The old adage “they don’t make ‘em like they used to”, is appropriate when contemplating reupholstering your furniture. If you’ve had a sofa or chair for several years, or it has been passed down to you from a loved one, it is clearly going to last just as long if it’s properly restored.

    upholstery beverly

  1. Wonderful tutorial!! I might be brave enough for my own upholstery project now! Just wanted to let you know you've been featured at the Tuesday Tutorials Link Party and The Kurtz Corner!! Thanks for linking up :) Stop by and grab a featured button!!


  1. Absolutely gorgeous!! I love the layered fabric. I am going to try and do a small chair next week, and your tutorial is very helpful!! Megan

  1. Upholstery said...:

    You can know how to maintain your Ottoman upholstery with help of the post here

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