Today, I am going to teach you how to make an ottoman. Let me start by saying that I am by no means an interior designer. My mom and sister toss around words like “baseline trim” and “French country appeal” as if I get what they are talking about. I don’t even watch Chip and Joanna (apparently, that’s unheard of for 25 year old woman).
The truth is, I am not a huge fan of house decorating/design. Don’t get me wrong, if you need a nice drape or accent throw pillows, I’m your gal. But when my sister asks me if I can tell that there’s different paint color on her kitchen window’s trim (“eggshell” instead of “whiteout”) and “does it look ok, or clashing with the outside door’s paint?” I can only nod and mumble something incoherent.
The truth is, I only made this because a student of mine wanted to redecorate her room. I thought “oh my word she would love to make an ottoman!!!” My impulsive, ENFP self decided to shop for supplies without asking her mom’s permission and without a budget.
Long story short (not really, I just don’t feel like rehashing it), I ended up with wood, foam and those precious wooden feet at my house.
Obviously I had to create!
I took photos along the way because I wanted to justify the cost of the supplies with “well I’ll post about it on my blog.”
Of course, after making this project, I went to a huge peddler’s mall and found tons of wood and old furniture for around $20. I could have salvaged the legs and frames and saved lots of money. Isn’t that always the way?
I would say, you could make this for under $50 if you took the time and searched for cheaper options.
Optional Button Tufting
Although incredibly rewarding, keep in mind that the button/tufting process was the headache inducing part of this project. You need to mark where all the buttons need to go beforehand, and use a long doll making needle (which is unruly and intimidating). It is also very difficult to sew through foam. If you do decide you want to tuft, take your time and try to enjoy the process. Remember, it’s actually worth it. (You may need to constantly remind yourself of that fact the entire time).
Somehow, this whole process was worsened for me, mainly because I used this thread donated to me by someone’s great grandma. It looked nice and thick and I wanted to “save money”, so I disregarded my advice I give to all of my students and went the cheap route. After sewing on three buttons, one popped (just like in Corduroy! Please tell me there’s people reading old enough to remember that cute book). The rest of the buttons followed. That thread was so ancient! Never again.
I also purchased these buttons to cover, which took time but SO worth it. Of course I painted the legs of the ottoman a sky blue, and I didn’t have a drop of sky blue fabric in my studio.
I am not going to outline a tutorial on button covering; you’ll find that on the back of the packaging and it’s simple. 🙂
Ok enough with all of this chatter! Let’s make furniture that’ll blow Chip and Jo away.
- Square or rectangular piece of plywood- ½”-¾” thick and cut in the size you’d like your ottoman to be. (Mine was 24” x 24”)
- 2”x 4” wood piece (you’ll be cutting this in 4 lengths and nailing around your plywood, so allow enough length for this process!
- 4 wooden legs (these are in Lowes. They should have a screw sticking out of them)
- 4 leg plates (these are next to the wooden leg area. Each size should fit all legs)
- Heavy weight Fabric (think upholstery, tapestry, duck cloth, canvas… etc.), large enough to fit your wood piece plus at least 6”of overhang all around.
- Foam- 2”-3” wide. I used a square piece of 3” wide foam for the top, and 2” wide for the sides. This is up to you, though, and how poofy you’d like your ottoman to be.
- Batting – large enough to cover the entire ottoman, plus an additional 6″ overhang all around.
- Nail tacks and cotton fabric for underneath the ottoman (this allows it to have a nice clean finish!)
- Button making kit and extra buttons to cover if you’d like to go with the tufted look.
- Heavy duty thread (for sewing the buttons)
- Long doll making needle (for sewing the buttons)
Heavy duty staple gun
1. Prepare the wood
- Cut the 2×4 into 2 pieces- each the length of your 3/4″ plywood piece. Cut another 2 pieces to fit on the inside of the two cut 2×4 pieces (so around 4″ smaller than the length of your square).
I found out that I am in no way a wood maker. I was stressing about how to cut the 2×4 piece into 4 sections. My dad has this big huge saw thing:
Which I ended up using at 11 pm (a girl’s gotta finish her DIY project!). Thankfully my boyfriend was up and he talked me through how to use it. He wasn’t a huge fan of the fact that I closed my eyes every time I pulled down the lever… I thought it would help keep the sawdust out of my eyes. Basically y’all, if I can do it, you can do it.
- Nail the 2x4s on to the 3/4″ plywood piece.
- Add some wood on the other side
If you want to add buttons to your ottoman, now is the time before continuing on with the rest of the steps.
- Cut a piece of foam the size of the top of your ottoman.
- Cut the batting to be big enough to cover your finished ottoman, plus at least an additional 6″ all around.
- Spray the foam lightly with spray glue and then glue the foam right in the center of your batting.
- Mark where you want the buttons to go on top of the batting part.
As you can see, I forgot to add my batting before marking the button positions. But you all can just imagine batting is on top of this, and mark your button positions the same way. 🙂
- Use a pencil (or eyelet hole puncher) to poke holes through where you marked.
- Cover the foam and batting with the fabric, keeping it centered.
- Cut a long piece of heavy duty thread. Double it and knot well. Starting from the bottom of one of the marked positions, thread through the foam, batting and the fabric. Add a button when you reach the top. Bring the thread back down, pull it tight and knot well. (You could do this twice if it’s not too difficult. This keeps the buttons nice and strong.)
(So the layers go like this, from top to bottom: fabric, batting, foam and lining fabric.)
- Your button tufting should look like this when you’re done:
It does take a while, but the finished result is so worth it!
2. Cover the wood with foam
- Measure accordingly, and cut the foam to the correct size. The foam is a little tricky to cut. A rotary blade makes it easier, but scissors still work!
You’ll be covering the top and sides of your wood piece, so 5 pieces (unless you have done the button tufting, then only cut out the sides).
- Use this spray glue to adhere the foam to the wood piece. Spray liberally over all the foam, and push onto the wood.
It isn’t going to be like, superglued, to the thing, but it should be tacky and the foam won’t be falling off when you do the next step. (Disregard those black dots on the foam in the above pic.)
3. Cover the foam with batting
(If you are doing button tufting, just place the completed top foam piece on top of the wood and continue on to the next step.)
- Cut the batting so that it will cover your ottoman with an additional 6″ of overhang.
- You’ll be pulling your batting under and stapeling it to the wood.
4. Cover the batting with fabric
- Place your ottoman on top of the center of your fabric’s wrong side.
- Pull one side tight, and staple to the wood.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Continue until all the sides are stapled.
- How to staple the corners is really hard to describe in words. Pictures should help, but basically you pull one side’s edge, staple it, and then repeat with the other opposite side edge.
5. Optional step: cover the bottom of the ottoman with fabric
This step will make your ottoman look much more polished, and I highly recommend taking the time to complete.
- Cut a piece of fabric the size of your ottoman’s top, plus 1″ bigger all around.
- Fold the fabric’s raw edge to the wrong side and press. (Like you’re hemming all around).
- Staple in place.
6. Screw on the leg plates
I didn’t get too OCD about measuring exactly where each corner was perfectly, because honestly it is easy enough to just eye it. You got this!
7. Screw on the legs
Look at that! It holds him (and his muscles).