Monday, February 7, 2011

The Adventures of Making an Ottoman

Obviously, my blog is about recipes and cooking but for this one I wanted to share with everyone a little project I decided to take on... Let's just rename the blog for the time being "The Workshop of Melissa Fallis"...

I think that everyone has a "vision" of how they want things to look... and I definitely had one for what type of ottoman I wanted in the "woman room." I looked high & low and could not find "the one." When I finally found one that somewhat resembled "the vision of my ottoman" the price tag was $800... and that is just ridiculous!!! SOOO I decided to make my own ottoman! It can't be that hard right???

I started out on a mission to find a coffee table with "cute legs" and that would be a good size for a "cocktail ottoman." My mom is a craigslist pro so I recruited her to assist me in my search for a coffee table with "cute legs" that was under $80. What defines a coffee table with cute legs you might ask yourself... well not just plain boring straight legs, not metal legs, not stubby legs, but legs with a little personality and detail.. ridges and a little flare would be nice! Well... mom found a fabulous coffee table in Raleigh for $75! (When making an ottoman out of a coffee table, you do want to make sure you find a coffee table that is all wood b/c you will be drilling and stapling it!) Her & dad negotiated with the guy and somehow fit it in the backseat of my little car while I was in South Beach... so I could bring it home to begin work on it! I wish I had a photo of it in my backseat b/c it was definitely strategically positioned!!
Once you have your coffee table you need to remove the legs and sand & paint them your color of choice. This was easy enough...

Next, decide what you want your "tufting" to look like. Do you want it to be straight & square or do you want it to be "diamond" shaped. I really like the "diamond tuft" look so I started measuring off the top of the tabletop and marking where I wanted Andrew to drill holes for me... Make sure you get them even because it will be obvious once you start tufting!

Get the correct # of buttons made that you will need for the tufting. I made the mistake of buying button cover kits at JoAnns and trying to make my own buttons.. this was a painful and LONG process... and they all ended up falling apart. My suggestion is go to Mill Outlet Village.. they have a Button Making Machine! (who knew??) and it was less expensive to get 24 buttons made there and it only took me about 20 minutes to make them!

Once all of the places you want buttons/holes are marked... get your fabulous husband to drill holes in the table top.

Once the holes are all drilled cover the table in foam. I bought 2" foam from JoAnns and an adhesive spray helped to hold the foam in place. Cover the top of the table in foam and fill in with foam on the sides.

Once the foam is in place, cover the table with batting. Cover the top completely with batting and then wrap the sides.

Now place your fabric of choice over the batting and make sure you have equal amounts on all sides, and enough to tuck under the table to fasten.
It is time to start tufting! You will need (2) Upholstery Needles 8" to 12" long. They typically come in a pack of (4).

I set the ottoman across two barstools so I could get under it to begin tufting. The first couple I did by myself and used a set of my hand-weights to push the button down to create the "tuft" look... It is my easier when you recruite your husband or a friend to help you so they can be pushing from the top while you are tying the knots underneath!

After a little bit of "trial and error" here was the process that worked best (for us) for tufting.
1) Attach button twine to your button securely leaving equal amounts of twine on either side (to be tied under the ottoman) and affix to upholstery needle. (Tie onto needle in a way that it will stay secure so the twine can be pulled through the fabric, batting, foam and table to be secured underneath.)
2) Push an upholstery needle STRAIGHT up through one of the drilled holes so it pokes out the top of the fabric.
3) You now know where you need to push the upholstery needle through that has the button attached. Pull the needle up/out that is used for a "guide" and push the needle with the button attached straight down through the hole.
4) Using a washer, tie secure knots with the button twine to keep the button in place. Make sure you keeping the tension on all the buttons/button twine the same so tufting is even.

After you are finished tufting, it is time to staple the fabric down. Turn the ottoman over and begin pulling the fabric and using a staple gun to create equal resistance/tension on all sides of the ottoman. DO NOT do the corners yet-leave these for last. Check frequently to make sure the creases you have created look equal on all sides.

To do the corners, you need to pull the fabric neatly to the right side first and staple and then neatly pull back to the left side and staple to make a nice folded look on the corner. I then cut the excess fabric out of the way so I could re-attached the legs and then pulled the fabric tightly straight into the coffee table and stapled on both sides to finish. Re-attach legs and flip your new cocktail ottoman over to enjoy!! =)

Wahhhlaaaa! You are done!!!
Good Luck!

Ultimately, here is a list of supplies I ended up using/needing:
  • Wood Coffee Table
  • 2.5 Yards of Fabric
  • Sand Paper
  • Paint/Paint Brush
  • Self-Adhesive Spray
  • Buttons (go make them with your fabric at Mill Outlet Village)
  • Button Twine
  • 1 Package of Quilt Batting (JoAnns)
  • 2" Foam (JoAnns) enough to cover table top & sides
  • (2) Upholstery Needles (Mill Outlet Village)
  • Staple Gun & Staples
  • Patience! =)
Let me know if you have any questions if you will also be making your own ottoman!
Melissa =)


  1. That's it. I'm convinced I'm adopted. I would NEVER make anything like this. Zero desire or talent to do so. But, it looks really cool sis!!!!!!

  2. Impressive! :) Love it!

  3. I have officially been inspired. I can't wait to make one of my own someday soon!

  4. Awesome job! Love it... I may actually be inspired to try something like this!