i know ottomans aren’t the most indispensable piece of furniture in the house, but is it criminal to say they bring me the most joy? i think upholstery maven shelly (aka ModHomeEcTeacher) would agree with me; she’s made a whole collection of smart looking ottomans using a range of found fabrics and materials. i am so excited to follow her instructions and craft an adorable plaid ottoman of my very own, just in time to welcome fall. click here to see more of shelly’s amazing work, including her tutorials on everything from upholstering with rugs to aligning atomic legs. thanks, shelly! -kate
CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!
When Lowes stopped selling the pre-cut wood circles I used to construct my ottoman frames, it was a dark day. I soon discovered that cutting perfect circles with a hand-held jigsaw wasn’t easy, or even really possible. Weeks later, while roaming the store searching for an alternative, I discovered the empty electrical spools that are routinely discarded. Two perfectly cut round pieces of 5/8” plywood with a removable cardboard cylinder in the middle? Now we’re talking. With a tiny bit of carpentry, I came up with a way to easily re-work these into frames for my upholstered ottomans. I would label this as a mid-level DIY project that you could complete in a weekend. Once you get the hang of it, you these would make fantastic handmade gifts for friends and family. -Shelly
-1 20” diameter empty electrical wire spool (hardware stores usually throw these out, so ask about picking them up instead)
-8 pre cut 1”x 2”x 6” pieces of wood (a hardware store will cut these for you)
-32 1 ¾” screws
-A piece of foam (anywhere from 3” to 6” thick and at least ½” larger all around than the wood)
-Spray adhesive (Elmers makes a spray adhesive available at the craft store)
-Scrap fabric ( this to attach around the ottoman frame measuring about 8” x 65”. An option would be to use a bendable piece of cardboard)
-1 ½ yard of cotton or dacron batting
-1 ½ yard of 54” wide fabric
-¾” yard of scrap fabric to cover the bottom of the finished ottoman
-Thread and straight pins
-4 screw on leg plates (hardware store)
-4 fabulous ottoman legs (look around for good legs on cruddy, inexpensive Goodwill furniture)
-3/32” drill bit and a 3/8” drill bit
-Flat head screwdriver
-Pliers (crescent or needle nose)
Making the frame:
1. Take the spool apart and make a pattern by tracing the circle on a large piece of paper, adding ½” all around for the seam allowance. The pattern will be used for cutting out the foam, batting, fabric and a dustcover for the bottom. Lay aside.
2. Glue and screw 6-8 posts evenly around the outside edge of one wooden circle, then add the other piece of wood on top of the posts and attach. Be sure to keep the wood circles aligned.
1. Use the staple gun to attach the long piece of cotton muslin around the outside edges of the top and bottom circles. Keep fabric pulled taut. The fabric serves to fill in the open spaces between the support posts. Cut off excess fabric. (Option: use bendable cardboard)
2. Trace the pattern onto the foam and cut the foam using the electric knife. Keep the knife blades perpendicular to the foam to get a crisp, even cut.
3. Use spray adhesive to glue the foam to the top of the ottoman frame.
4. Trace the pattern onto the batting, cut out. Also, cut out a long strip of batting equal to the total height of the ottoman, from the top of the foam to the bottom edge, plus two extra inches.
5. Pin the batting strip to the batting circle, starting 1” from the short end of the strip and ending 1” from the other end. Stitch in place.
6. Remove from under the sewing machine and stitch the open seam closed and go back and complete stitching that section of the band to the batting top.
7. Trim off the excess seam allowance, turn the batting covering right side out and pull it down on top of the ottoman frame.
8. Measure and mark the batting band (all the way around the covering ) so that it will be stapled evenly from the top seam to the bottom EDGE of the frame. Do not attach the batting to the underneath side of the wood. Attach it to the edge and cut off the excess batting.
Sewing and Upholstering:
1. To make the fabric covering, which is a bit like a snug slipcover, trace the pattern onto the fabric and cut it out. You’ll need to cut a band of fabric 3” longer than the height of the ottoman and 5” wider than the circumference. If you need to stitch two pieces together to get a long enough piece for the band, split the circumference measurement in two and add 3 extra inches to each piece.
2. To prepare the fabric covering for stitching, fold one short end of the cut fabric band over 1” with wrong sides together. With the right side of the band to the right side of the fabric circle, patterns matching, pin and begin stitching at the folded short edge all the way around to the other short end. Overlap the excess fabric 2” past the folded short end. Cut off any excess fabric beyond the 2”. Pin and stitch the overlapping fabric to the seam.
3. Turn the fabric covering right side out and topstitch the folded seam closed from the bottom of the band to the top seam.
4. Pull the fabric covering down over the dacron covered ottoman. Adjust the fabric pattern and straighten so the pattern or plaid is aligned.
5. Pull the fabric down firmly and staple in place evenly and snugly.
Upholstery Tip: It works best to start with one section and attach with a few staples, move to the opposite side and do the same. Then repeat for the other sides. Attach the fabric between the set staples by smoothing and easing in the fabric.
1. Measure and mark the bottom of the ottoman base for leg attachment. Place the leg plates on the marks to make sure they are equidistant from each other. Mark the center hole of the plates. Use the 3/8”drill bit to drill out the center hole. You can also do this step prior to putting the fabric on (as shown below).
2. Cut out a dustcover from scrap fabric and attach it to the bottom of the ottoman by folding the edge under ½”.
3. Locate the drilled holes, line the leg plates up, screw the leg plates on using a Phillips head screwdriver or the drill. Attach the legs to the plates.