Making a Tufted Bench


I scored this awesome bench for free!  A neighbor (Hi Heather!) gave me the heads up that a bunch of stuff was getting dumped and I could see the potential the minute I laid eyes on it.  I had originally thought of a non-storage bench with curvy legs, but I couldn't beat the price and actually really like the way it all came together.  


And wa-lah, the vision has come to life!  This was a fast project and I did it right in my bedroom (for the most part).  The fabric for the bench was a leftover Ikea Ritva curtain panel - the other one I used for my Tufted Headboard.  You really can't beat $25 for fabric that covers two significant projects!




First I unscrewed the lid from the storage bottom.  There was also an attached chain that I unhooked.  Easy.


The legs were each screwed on and came off simply.  I needed the fabric to tuck under them and I needed to spray paint them.  They went from dark brown to black.


The pillow-top cushions got cut off the top of the bench, saved for my Bolster Pillow.


Total cost for this project = $30.  I had to buy foam for the top.  Thank you 50% off coupon.  I did the same thing to tuft this as I did for my headboard.  You can go to that tutorial for more in-depth instructions.  Follow the same steps to drill holes (although I used a larger drill bit to make it easier on myself this time), cut the foam, adhere the foam, and put batting around it all.


The fabric I had left for this didn't quite reach around the whole bench bottom.  But it was wide enough for two strips, so it still worked just fine.  I stapled it on around the inside edge and under the bottom.  For the back of the bench, I just stapled on the outside.  I figured that no one is probably going to be pulling it out to check out my staples. 



And now for some tufting.  From my headboard experience, I really wanted to see if there could be a better way this time.

First, drill large holes.  Use the smallest squarish drill bit rather than the largest straight one (wow, that was really technical lingo).

Second, doll needles work great because they are so long.  Definitely a must.

Third, I used embroidery floss to tie these.

Here's a step-by-step of the improved method.

#1 - You should have your fabric laid over your piece.  Start in the middle, pushing the fabric into the hole you are starting with.  You can control the pucker of the fabric as you go.

#2 - Thread doll needle with embroidery floss, thread into hole, through foam, through batting, and through fabric.


#3 - Thread on your button.  I bought a large button kit (actually I had 2 on hand) and covered them with the same fabric.  You could get creative and cover them with different fabric like this chair and it would turn out great, too!


#4 - The back should look like this.  Strings on one side and the needle on the other.  I didn't even cut the string until a couple more steps ahead.  (You can see my chalk lines from drilling holes earlier).


#5 - Because your holes are drilled bigger, it's much easier to poke your needle back through to the underside.


#6 - Not pulling tight at all, put 2 staples over one side of your embroidery floss.  Cut your string piece with generosity.


#7 - This takes some time and hand coordination, but definitely doable.  Push on you button with one hand, making it go the depth you want it on top.  At the same time, have a single knot pulling on the other side.


#8 - Once the single knot is tight and holding the button in the right place, double knot it there.  The staples are being your anchor.  Why 2?  Just in case 1 isn't enough.  It would be annoying if one popped out.  I would triple or quadruple the knot to be sure it isn't moving.  You could also use double embroidery floss if you were concerned about the holding strength.


#9 - This is what it should look like.


#10 - Cut your ends.


#11 - Admire the beginning of your tufted bench!  


At this point, I was ready to wrap the fabric around the underside of the bench.


Once again, I used the same method as my headboard.  I gathered the fabric from around the tufts into a gathered line.  I made the pleats point to the outer edges on both sides to make it uniform.  I know they aren't going to stay all taut and pristine since this bench will be sat on, but gathering this way will help it look more um... professional.



I began by stapling on the pleats under the bottom edge of the bench lid.  I pulled tight as I went, making sure it looked uniform (as much as possible).


Once I went all around the outside, I stapled the extra fabric to the inside framed-out edge.  I'm leaving the ties showing, just in case I ever need to fix one (you never know with young children in the house!).


The corners can be tricky.  Go slow and trim your fabric (and batting) as much as you can without compromising the look.  Experiment with folding until you get it just like you want and secure with lots of staples.


Does it look wrinkly, yes.  Should it, yes.  I'm going to sit on this every day to put my socks on.  I want the fabric to have a little give so the buttons don't pop off.  Remember how I gathered the pleats by the buttons to make the wrinkles more uniform than they would otherwise.

I attached all the hardware again and screwed the freshly spray painted feet to the bottom.


And there you have it!  A matching set!  I love it and making it myself was and is so fulfilling.  A little time, yes.  But only one night in front of night tv with my hubs and then one nap afternoon.  The frames above my bed were from the same free pile that the bench was.  Seriously, Heather gets major props for all these finds!


And now the bedroom can feel more complete!  Click if you want to see my Bedroom Transformation and if you want to see how I made my huge bolster pillow go here.

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