Remember the ugly little ottoman I picked up at the thrift store? Well it has been given new life!!!
Here is a step by step tutorial on how I did it. Any little ottoman could be re-upholstered by following these steps. And an ottoman is a great first project---before you try to do a couch!
Plus a sewing machine, upholstery thread, cotton cording, spray paint, and some new fabric. I was able to get by with only one yard of decorator fabric!
Step 1: Taking the old fabric off
Use a screwdriver to start prying the old fabric off the ottoman.
A pliers can help get you started.
But an upholstery plying lever will be your best friend! It reaches in and under those staples and then you can pry them all up. I started by taking off the skirt.
When I was done, I was left with something that looked like this! This is the shape I want when I'm done...but not this fabric!
More prying. From the bottom this time.
Use a pliers to pull out the staples that don't come off with the cloth. Count on getting scratched and poked a bit. ; )
The ottoman now looks like this. But there are a lot of staples left to pull out....
I used the prying tool with my right hand....
And the pliers with my left.
Sometimes I used the pliers to twist the leftover material off in a roll. Whatever works to pry, pull, or yank the material and staples out and off of the frame!
Eventually, I had removed all the staples from the bottom of the ottoman! Whew!
But I still had the top of the ottoman to take off. More staples!
Finally the staples were all pried loose and I could pull back the material. Yep! Nice old upholstery cotton!
And below that, nice old upholstery horse/hog hair. I'm not sure if it is really from a horse or hog---or if it is some other kind of substance that just retained the name. But it is stiff and poky. But is what gives upholstery it's stability.
Be careful pulling back the old fabric--you don't want to take all of the cotton with you!
And here the ottoman is---completely void of it's old ugly green fabric! Just a wooden box, some springs, a piece of burlap, some horsehair and some cotton. Pretty simple design, really.
At this point, I'm tired of sitting on the floor and being so intimate with this piece of furniture. My hands are scratched and sore and I need a break!!!
Step 2: Spray the legs
It's a good time to take the legs out in the garage and spray them. I gave them the once over with a little sandpaper and then primed them and later sprayed the topcoat.
Back to work!
Step 3: Re-upholster
It's always good to add a little new fluff to a re-upholstery project. I didn't have any cotton, but I did have some quilt batting. Which is what is more often used today. It doesn't hold up like the old cotton, though. Tends to smush down more quickly.
I cut it to size and just put it over the top of the old cotton.
Now comes the fun! I get out my new fabric and lay it over the top---centering the design I want on the top of the ottoman.
After cutting it to size--leaving lots of extra to pull around the sides, I begin to staple it in place.
The rule of stapling is to put one staple in the center of one side. Then stretch the material around to the opposite side and put a staple in there. Then you do the other two sides--making sure you pull and stretch it evenly. When you have all 4 sides stapled tightly in the middle, you can go back and staple all along the edges, pulling taut as you go.
You may need a hammer to pound in staples that don't go in all the way. You won't want anything metal poking out later.
When I get to the corners, I lift the material and cut off extra batting. This makes it easier to pull the fabric down tightly across the corners.
There are many different methods for doing corners, but I wanted mine to be all bunchy looking, so I just gathered them in and stapled them.
Now it is time to get your cording out!
After cutting some strips of material wide enough to cover the rest of the ottoman (about 9 inches wide for my project) and sewing them together to make them long enough to go around the ottoman, I then cut some thin strips to cover the cording (mine were 3 inches wide.) Ideally, these should be cut and pieced together on the bias---but since I only have 1 yard of cloth to do this whole project, I don't have that luxury. The cording won't look as good or curve around the corners as well, but hopefully it won't be too distracting!
When I've sewn those thin strips of fabric together to also make a long enough piece to go around the ottoman (and a little extra), I slip the cording into the strip and fold it over like a sandwich.
Using the zipper foot, I sew right up next to the cording, going through both layers of fabric, but not catching on the cording.
Then it is time to sew the covered cording to the wide strip of material that I will use to finish covering the ottoman. Lining up both the raw edges of the cording and the raw edge of the material, I use the zipper foot to sew all 3 layers together. Some people do this all in one step, but I find that covering the cording first makes it easier to hold everything together.
When I am done, I have a piece that looks like this.
The raw edges will be stapled to the ottoman from underneath and only the piping and material will show in the end.
At this point, I remember a trick I learned for making the piping lay flat. I unpick the piping from the fabric a few inches on either side of where I pinned it to be sewn.
Then I sew just the wide fabric strip together. Sewing a bit inside the pins, so that the material will stretch tightly over the ottoman when we go to tack it down.
The cording will need to be cut down to exactly butt up next to each other.
But you will want the material covering the cording to overlap.
I carefully cut just the cording to be the exact right length. Remember that most of it is still sewn to the wide fabric tube we've just created. Lay it out flat, open up the cording cover fabric and you can see just where to cut the cording. The covering fabric is left about an inch longer on either side. One side is folded over and the other tucked inside it--butting up the actual cords exactly.
Now tuck the cording back inside it's covering and see how the folded fabric just comes over the adjoining cording and leaves a nice finished join.
The cording can now be sewn back down to the wide fabric tube. Everything should be the same size. The fabric strips that are sewn together. And the cording that is held together with one folded edge overlapping the other. When sewn, it will all hold together now. You should have no tucks or folds if you measured accurately before cutting and piecing the cording together.
The finished join of the cording. Very smooth and unnoticeable.
Now stretch the tube of cloth you've just made over the ottoman--inside out. The piping (cording) should lay above where the staples are from when we attached the top piece of fabric.
What we need now is some upholstery cardboard. The old green fabric still has some attached to it....but it is in sorry shape, and I would have to remove all those staples one at a time! I could go buy some, but don't really need to.
Cereal Box to the Rescue!!!
Measure and cut nice straight-edged strips of cardboard. Cereal boxes are a perfect cardboard for this, as they are not very thick, but retain an edge.
Staple along and when you come to a corner, just wrap it around and keep stapling. I started my piece in the middle so that I wouldn't have a break in the cardboard on a corner.
When you do need a new piece of cardboard, just butt it up against the old one and keep on stapling until you reach around to where you began. Cut off the extra cardboard so that it just butts up with the first.
Then pull the material down over the ottoman so that it is now right side out. You should have a smooth, straight line where the piping meets the top fabric.
Now it is time to do the underbelly! Use the same strategy as before. Stapling in the middle of all 4 sides, while stretching the material taut in all those directions.
When you come to a corner, lap one side underneath the other and staple down--while pulling in both directions. It might be helpful to have some extra hands, but I did it by myself and it turned out pretty smooth.
Underneath each corner is the little metal plate that the feet screw into. I will have to cut away some material later, but I've just enough room on the edges of the metal plate to staple everything down.
The underbelly with staples all around.
I now carefully excavate the metal plates that the leg screws go into.
Now it's time to add a dust cover. Usually this is some sort of black fabric that has no weave---and usually it gets torn and ugly and sags under couches and box springs and the like. I've chosen some sturdy navy blue fabric that I already had. Just measure around the ottoman, cut it a little bigger and tuck under the edges before stapling it neatly all the way around. Obviously, stretching as you go like before.
This is how it looks when the dust cover is completed. But how will we get the legs screwed on now that I've covered up the metal plates?
Handy Dandy pencil poke! Just find where the hole is and poke a sharp pencil through. This gives enough of a hole for the screw on the legs to get through but not any ragged edges.
Ta Da! All reupholstered! Now to see if the spray painted legs are dry!
Yep! Legs are dry and with a little coaxing, screw right on in. I chose a light teal color that just peeks out from under the upholstery! Kind of like a bride wearing bright colored heels under her wedding dress, don't you think? ; )
Now we have extra seating in the living room. Especially for a certain little 3 year-old that frequents these parts! He'll have his own little parrot chair!