Friday, May 4, 2012

Tufted Bench Tutorial

This project is probably one of the biggest transformations I've done so far. It is certainly a trash to treasure piece.

This is what it looks like today-

This is what it looked like for the past 10 years-

I knew from the time I bought it that I was going to recover the seat, but it took me a VERY long time to actually get it completed. I had started recovering it, but only got as far as stapling the two long sides, and that was about ten years ago. It sat in my Mom's basement forever, and then in the shed. 
It finally got pulled out, and was ready to be made over.

This project would also work great on an old coffee table with a removable top.

I started with an upholstery weight leopard print fabric from my stash, and a scrap of brown dupioni silk for the buttons and piping. I thought it would go well with the finish of the frame. I thought about painting the frame, but I like the crackles, and touches of gold it has, and it would have taken forever to strip that thing down to a paintable state.

The first thing I did was make my covered buttons, if you've never done this before here's a quick photo tutorial. Let me know if you have any questions. There are instructions on the package, and it's really pretty simple.

FYI: I used two layers of the fabric since it was on the thin side. I didn't want any of the metal base showing through. This also added extra texture. 
I was also really intentional about where I cut my circles from the fabric, I wanted to include the little nubs and irregularities.

After I was finished with the buttons I decided how I wanted to arrange them the bench. I used my ruler, and marked dots on my foam with a sharpie. (I used 2 inch foam)

I used a sharp knife to stab through the foam and I did it in both directions to from an X across the dot. This made it much easier for the button to recess into the hole when I put them on later. I considered cutting holes, but figured this would be less noticeable if I made a mistake, or wanted to change the placement later.

Once I had my slits cut I put my foam in place on top of the wooden seat, and poked my sharpie through the holes in the foam to mark for drilling.

I drilled!  :)

Time to do the tufting!

I used spray glue to attach the foam to the wood. Make sure your holes line up!

Thread your needle. I highly recommend using a 4 or 5 inch needle, but this was what I had, and somehow I made it work.

Stick it up through the hole in the bottom of the wood, and through your foam.

Slide your button on.

Pull the needle back down through the hole, pushing the button as far into the hole as you would like it to go. I like deep tufts!
Staple your thread onto the wood on the bottom. Keep going until it is very tight!
(I like to make an X with my staples, the top one helps push the bottom one even tighter over the thread)

Keep repeating those steps until all your holes are done! You might need to take a break, because this can be brutal on your fingers.

Fiddle with the diamond shaped folds and buttons until you are happy with how it looks.

Now you need to staple the bottom into place.
You want all the folds to go straight out from the buttons to the back of the board. These folds will not form on there own, you need to guide them.

Staple directly on the fold so that it will stay in place. I needed about one staple in between every fold for it to hold together nicely, but this will vary depending on the distance between your tufts, and the type of fabric you're using.

The corners can be tricky. Just wrap them around and when you like how they look staple them!

I originally folded my fabric away from the corners, but right before I added the piping I ripped it apart and folded it toward the corner for a more streamlined look.

Once you have the bottom all cleaned up it's time to add the piping.

I bought regular 3/8" piping at the fabric store, and measured around the bench to see how much I would need. (I added about 8 extra inches just in case) I cut the silk in 3" strips, on the bias (diagonally), and then wrapped the cording, and sewed it as close as possible to the piping.

I used my hot glue gun to apply it, and started gluing on the middle of the back side.

I continued gluing in 6-8 inch sections until I got to the end. 

When I reached the end I cut my piping, with 1-2 inches extra, and glued it down. I trimmed it some more, glued the end, and added a staple for extra stability. I added a few staples around the whole thing.

I flipped it all over, made sure it was perfectly in place, and screwed the top back on to the base!

YAY! A new piece of furniture that was 100% free for me! I had everything I needed around the house, and I couldn't be happier with it!

I just love the curves of the legs, and the crackly patina.

I just need to add that I had the hardest time taking pictures of it, when I was finally finished. My bedroom was a total mess, and every shot I took, had either clothes, tools or wood in it. Oh well, I got it done, and I love it! That's all that matters in the end!

Do you ever have to try to work around messes when trying to take pictures of your projects. I really hope I'm not the only one! 


  1. Great Makeover and tutorial! LOVE the tufting! I've been wanting to do my daughter's headboard like this for a while now. Thanks so much for sharing.:-) Hope you have a terrific weekend!

    1. Thanks Sharla! When you do your daughters headboard send me a few pictures, I would love to see it!

  2. It's absolutely beautiful, Lauren!! You've motivated me, I have one I need to finish!

    1. Sometimes it's so hard to just get a project finished. This one sat for about a week waiting for the piping. I have a round ottoman I'm making, and there are a few complications with it, so I just keep putting it to the side. Hopefully getting this one finished will be motivating for both of us!

  3. Awesome tutorial!!! What a great the transformation!! Blessings!

    1. Thanks Kathy!I'm so glad you stopped by!

  4. that is beautiful! i love the tufting!

  5. Awesome job and great tutorial! I have a little tufting and piping-making in my future, so I enjoyed reading your how-to. Love the leopard fabric choice!

  6. I love this sooo much!!! I'm getting ready to upholster a bench in addition to the coffee table, so your tutorial was so helpful! You gave a lot of great tips that I wouldn't have thought of so thanks!! Love love your fabric choice!

    1. I'm so glad it was helpful! I can't wait to see what you come up with for yours!


I really appreciate hearing your feedback on my posts, and your sweet comments always make my day. I would love for you to take a moment to let me know what you think!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...