From Frame To Fabric: Making An Ottoman From Scratch

From Frame To Fabric: Making An Ottoman From Scratch

Cambria Bold
Jan 29, 2010

Well, friends, it's been quite the ride, and now we come to the end. The final week. The last hours of labor before the big push, the cry of relief, and then that moment when all the pain is forgotten in the face of something so beautiful, so unique, that YOU made. Yes, you did it. You really did. It's your own little ottoman that you get to love and take care of for the rest of your life. And oh, and the moment you take it home and walk through the front door and set it down in its new environment. Are there words to describe such a feeling? No words, no words...(beat)... okay, some words. This is a blog, after all.

The piping.

Week Four:

Prior to arriving at The Furniture Joint for my last upholstery class on Tuesday night, I was on my knees painting tables in our new office. But at 5:45 pm, with sore legs and paint in my hair, I headed out to the final class from which I was sure to leave either flushed from the rush of success or totally despondent. As a class we were all a little behind and, according to Matthew, there was no guarantee we'd finish in time, so we were all primed for a few feverish hours of cutting and stapling and stretching.

Let the games begin.

Step One: Stapling Down The Piping

First up for the night was to staple down a long strip of piping (that Matthew and Antonio had sewn for us) in a straight line around the ottoman, exactly 11.5 inches from the bottom of the frame. It's amazing how confident I've gotten with the staple gun, considering my less than auspicious start. We had about 10 minutes to complete this, and I made it!

Cutting and finishing off the piping.

Step Two: Attaching the Side Fabric and Stapling the Tacking Strip

Once the piping was in place, we went on to begin stapling down the fabric on the sides... bringing us ever closer to the completed-looking ottoman. The first step was to flip the fabric over and staple it on its underside, below the piping. It's at this point that you hope (as Matthew has reminded you) that you attached the piping in a straight line, because everything below the piping will either line up and look professional, or look wonky and lopsided. (This was pretty much Matthew's warning for every step of this process!) Once the fabric was stapled on its underside, we took a long, thin piece of cardboard-like tacking strip, cut the end on a diagonal, and stapled it very tightly up against the edge of the piping, on top of the newly stapled fabric.

The stapled tacking strip. Look at how tight that baby sits!

Peeking underneath the fabric before it's flipped over.

Step Three: More Dacron

Before flipping over the fabric, we needed to add some padding to the sides. Enter the dacron, which was then stapled underneath the piping at the top and on the very bottom edge of the frame. (If I may say so myself, this was the first step of the evening that I needed any help with, and only then because I was going a bit too slow. Antonio came over and helped staple the dacron to the sides of the ottoman for me, but prior to this step I was flying solo, which was very satisfying.)

A little dacron on the sides for padding.

Step Four: Flipping Over the Fabric

The natural next step was, of course, to flip over the fabric, pull gently, and staple to the underside of the frame. At this point my heart started beating a little faster! We're getting so close! The tricky part with this step was pulling down and around all the excess fabric to make a tight corner. I had to pull out a few staples and start over after Matthew came around and pointed out my shoddy workmanship.

The fabric is flipped over now! We're getting close.

Final Step: Attaching the Black Underside, the Feet, and Sewing the Seam

Final minutes in class involved stapling on the black fabric (I'm forgetting the name right now) to the underside of the ottoman, pushing in the small knobby feet on the corners, and stitching down the overlapping fabric crease on the corner. I don't sew, so I didn't get the stitching pattern right away (which was more of a box pattern rather than zigzag pattern). I was the only one in class that broke a needle, too. And I totally fudged the last step of all—tying off the thread—simply because by that point I was too excited that it was done, and I thought I could get away with it. I did some sort of knotting/tying/twisting thing, totally not what the instructions were. But I didn't care! It was done! I had done it!

The big reveal: Week One and Week Four.

Thanks to one of my classmates, Mike, who called out to me and reminded me to catch everyone before they left so that I could get one group photo of our completed ottomans. Everyone finished. And personally, I think all of the ottomans look great. Yay us!

The ten completed ottomans!

My ottoman in its new home.

Like I told Matthew, clearly he's going to ask me to apprentice for him, now that I've walked through the fire and come out the other side alive and new, like a phoenix rising from the ashes. But you know, I already have a job—writing for all of you! So, I had to pass on that offer. He'll just have to find some other ingenue.

Related Post:

Week Three: Topping It All Off
Week Two: If At First You Don't Succeed, Tie, Tie, Tie Again
Week One: Upholstering Is Not For Wimps

Interested in trying out Matthew's classes for yourself? Get more information here. You can also check out Matthew Haly's Book of Upholstery published in 2009 on Random House's Potter Craft imprint. It explores techniques, tips and tricks to producing upholstery projects at home.

(Images: Cambria Bold)

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