I love a clever DIY project, especially when it uses an unexpected or overlooked material. This project uses a humble orange utility bucket as the base of an amazing upholstered ottoman. The product of a collaboration between Liz and Rachel of Commonwealth Vintage Rentals and Leland of Revive Upholstery & Design, this utility bucket ottoman was inspired by a trip to Home Depot. Looking for materials to build their own furniture, Liz and Rachel stumbled upon this bucket and explained that they were “hesitant and a little embarrassed to even think of using a plastic bucket,” but they were swayed by the (low) price and decided to pick up a few and team up with Leland to create something custom. Using Pendleton fabric, Leland upholstered the bucket (I never thought I’d write that sentence) and created a project that proves, without a doubt, that even the simplest and least expensive materials can be turned into something beautiful with a little hard work. Thanks so much to Liz, Rachel and Leland for sharing this how-to with us! xo, grace
Photos by John Fitzgerald and Braden Spotts
The full how-to continues after the jump . . .
- yardage for fabric
- spray Glue
- 5-gallon utility bucket
- turkey carver
- sewing machine
- tape measurer
- piping foot (The cord we used is 5/32 and is sold by the yard.)
- foam (20′ square of 3” high-density foam and 60” x 1” of foam)
- square ruler
1. Take off the bucket handle and measure the top of the bucket (38″) — the bucket tapers at the bottom, so you need to measure the top and bottom — measure the bottom (33”) and measure the height (17 1/2”). You can also wrap the foam around the bucket and cut accordingly.
2. Mark out the foam with your ruler. Draw out 38”, mark the middle of it and split from the center 33”. Measure 17 1/2” for the vertical foam with the height of the top layer of foam. Cut foam.
3. Spray glue on the bucket and foam, and wait a few seconds for the glue to set and get tacky.
4. Take the lid and trace the top of it onto 3” high-density foam. Spray glue the lid to the foam. Take your turkey carver and cut around the edges of the lid. Snap the lid back onto the bucket. Bring the 1” foam around the lip of the 3” foam.
5. Trim any extra pieces.
6. Take Dacron and spray it with glue to the top of the bucket. Cut off the remaining pieces. Continue to wrap and spray glue the bucket with Dacron. Trim the top but leave extra Dacron on the bottom for finishing.
7. Measure and draw out the longest side of your pattern and mark the center. Take your square and line it up with the edge of your fabric and the center mark. Draw out the height of your pattern on your square. (Note: It is always smart to add 1–2” of extra fabric to your height for fitting; it can always be trimmed down later.) Once the height has been drawn, use your square again to mark the length of the opposite side (remember your height line is at the center, so measure half the length on each side of your center mark). When the two lengths have been drawn out, use your ruler to connect the ends, giving you a nice straight taper.
8. Cut the piping fabric 1 1/2” wide and the same length as the top 46”. Cut the top piece in a 16” circle (allows seam allowance) either by tracing the top or using a string and pencil.
9. Fold the fabric in half and clip the middle top corner. Do the same with the circle piece.
10. Sew in the piping with welt foot. Extend the fabric a small amount past the piping. Sew a 1/2” from the needle. When you start to sew piping on the circular piece, start just in from the cut edge. Cut relief cuts around the perimeter so that the fabric doesn’t pucker when sewn into the side panel. Note: Sew fabric on the piping first, then line up the edge of the piping and the edge of the circle fabric and begin sewing. Make small relief cuts in your piping so it is easier to sew.
11. With side panel folded, sew from the top down with at least 2” at the bottom open, so that it fits over the top of the ottoman.
12. With the seam of the side panel laid flat and the seam of the top panel, start to sew the two pieces together.
13. Test-fit the fabric to make sure it fits smoothly over the ottoman. This requires a little finessing of the fabric to get a snug fit.
14. If fit is smooth, remove the fabric and cut the extra fabric around the edges so the end product has a flush, smooth surface.
15. Pull the fabric over the ottoman again. Rotate it, pulling downward on each side. After the fabric is smooth and in place, staple the fabric to the bottom of the bucket. Start stapling in sections around the circle and then go back and staple in between. If you just went fully around the first time, you would end up with extra fabric at the end and the pattern could be crooked.
16. Take a razor blade and cut off the extra fabric.
17. The last step is a dust cover for the bottom. Voila!