Friday, October 19, 2012

Button-Tufted Bench

We got our trim up!!
A huge "THANK YOU!" to J&S for their willingness to help us out.  You are the best.

I am so excited that our house no longer looks like it's under construction.
Sure, we have the closet doors to paint and hang.
Sure, we have to put putty in all the little nail holes.

But the trim. is. up.
And I am a happy girl.

Today's post comes courtesy of a friend I'll refer to as...Lucille.  Because that's a fun name.

Lucille had this little bench that had been a part of her family, and it needed...some love.
Or a whole bucket full o' love.
Here's how she looked when I picked her up (the bench, not Lucille):
Did a little tear fall from your eye?
Well, not to worry.  I told Lucille I'd take good care of her little munchkin and bring her back with her love tank on "full" (book reference, anyone?).
And I have.
Though I haven't actually returned her yet, as she is still sitting in my living room.
 Much better, right?
Lucille picked out a fabric that would match her decor and we decided to go with an off-white for the frame.  Super cute.

And in case you have a sad little bench with an empty love tank that needs filling, here are some upholstery tips and details on button tufting!
If you're looking for a basic upholstery tutorial without tufting, check out the Baby Piano Bench.
A couple other good ones to check out are The Little Chair that was Oft Misunderstood, or An Upholstered Chair Fit for a Princess.
The first step of any reupholstery project is to tear the piece down.  Take off the fabric and remove staples.
And try not to give yourself too many blisters.
Since I was repainting the frame, I also took off the padding.
Joe spray primed and then painted the frame.  Because he's just that awesome and helpful.
...and he wants a healthy baby :)
I usually use spray paint on chairs and such because it goes on SO much smoother than brushing.
And it's faster, so it's a win-win!
I then gave the frame a light distressing around the edges using sandpaper.
 The padding was a sort of synthetic "horse hair" type stuffing, covered with cotton batting.  Unfortunately, over time the fabric had torn along the front and some of the stuffing had fallen out.  I beefed it back up with some Poly-Fill, tucking it under the existing stuffing to keep it smooth.
Then, I used some leftover cotton batting from the Hollywood Regency Chair to patch in where the original cotton batting had been lost.
Now, I don't usually use legit' upholstery materials like cotton batting, because you HAVE to buy it at full retail.  However, in this case it was needed because I needed the new materials to mesh smoothly with the old ones.  Cotton batting is perfect for this, because it pulls apart easily and creates really smooth seams.  Just pull on it to tear and smooth it out with your hands.

Once I had the padding all back in order, I covered my buttons.  I just used button kits from Wal-Mart.  It worked fine...except that my fabric was REALLY thick and it just about made my thumb fall off trying to push the pieces together.
But I won out in the end.
And my thumb feels much better now, thank you.

Here is how to install the buttons in your button tufting:
First, cover all your buttons.
Then, lay out your piece of fabric onto your project, giving yourself plenty of extra fabric on all sides.
I used the holes on the old fabric to show me where to put the buttons, and marked the new fabric with little pieces of tape.
Which worked fine.
Until Jip decided to pull them up and chew on them.
    He pretty much thinks that since he played with the tape balls from painting the windows,
    All hail the tape master.
Anyway, once you have your button locations marked, follow this handy little picture chart!
 Sorry about the small print, I'll explain it below in case you can't read it.
Hmmm...well, that doesn't look as nice in blogger as it did in Gimp.  So here are the steps if you can't read them above:
1.  Loop thin string through button backs--(large string in pictures is for illustration only)
        I actually used 12 lb test fishing line and it worked really well.
2.  Thread string onto needle and push through upholstery.
      Push it through from the top into one of your marked places.  I had to use pliers to get my needle to go through.
3.  Tie string under the seat around a piece of cotton.
      Tying it around a chunk of something keeps it from pulling back through.
      You could use a cotton ball or wad of fabric for this, too.
4.  Finish seat as usual.

Once the buttons are all in place (smooth the fabric as you go to make sure you have even "tufts"), the staple gun comes into play.
Have I mentioned lately how much I stinkin' love my staple gun and air compressor?

Unfortunately, I have to let you know that without a staple gun with an upholstery nose on it, I could not have completed this project.  I know that's stinky for people who don't want to go buy an expensive gun just to complete a few projects, but I don't know how I would do it without this gun.  It has a nose that's skinnier to fit into grooves for upholstery.  And no safety catch.
I live on the wild side.
If you have questions about the staple gun, just leave me a comment :)
Next came the fun part.  I basically just stapled the fabric around the edges into the grooves.
However, sometimes you have posts and arms and such that you need to work around.  For that, just follow the pictures above.
1.  Cut a wedge out of your fabric that will fit around your post.
       BE CAREFUL NOT TO CUT IT TOO BIG!!  Start with it too small, then cut slits until you can   get it nice and snug.
2.  Tuck it around your post and get a good fit.
3.  Fold under the raw edges
4.  Pull the fabric to exactly where you want it and staple it into the groove.


Now, if your piece has grooves like this, you'll want to trim the excess fabric as tightly to your staples and the groove as you can.  Then, you'll want to sew up some cording to clue into the gap and cover your raw edge.
Once you have your cording sewn, carefully hot glue it into your groove, being careful to cover up all your raw edges.  Go slowly.  This can be trickier than it me :)

Is it weird when a random internet snob tells you to "trust me"?  Yeah, I think that qualifies as creepy.
UNLESS I'm Aladdin and start singing and swooping you around on a magic carpet.  That would qualify me as awesome.

Okay, let's tone it down a bit.
And I'll show you a "Whole New Bench" Hahahaha!  So flippin' clever!
Here's where we came from...
 And here's where we ended up!!
The adorable little buttons that about busted my thumbs.  Worth it, by the way.
 See how the cording cleans the edge up so nicely?
 I can't get enough of these buttons.
Awww, doesn't it look so nice in that little niche?

I suppose I could just not call Lucille for a few days, huh?
Actually, I'm picking up some dust cover for the bottom tonight, so it might be a couple days.
Just covering my bases.
Lucille, are you reading this?

Is grand theft bench a federal offense?
Good luck catching me on my magic carpet.

~The Doodle Bug

I'm usually partyin' at these hangouts:

Friday Feature @ Redoux
Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage
Furniture Feature Friday @ Miss Mustard Seed
Show & Tell Friday @ My Romantic Home
Flaunt it Friday @ Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
Frugal Friday @ The Shabby Nest
Simply Creations Link Party @ Simple Home. Life
It's a Hodgepodge Friday @ It's a Hodgepodge Life
Spotlight Saturday @ Classy Clutter
Trash 2 Treasure Tuesday @ Kammy's Korner


  1. Oh my! You are a brave soul to tackle that project! But, Oh my! How beautiful it turned out.... Great job!

  2. GREAT job! soo....Lucille would that be a potential baby name? It was your Great Grandmothers name.

  3. ...and Jip makes the final picture. Go Jip! Oh, the bench looks much better in the living room than the basement.

  4. Your friend's bench turned out so beautifully--what a project, but you really did a fantastic job on it, and tufted, too--wow!

  5. What a lot of work, but worth it! It looks totally professional!

  6. I love this bench! And I love your blog name! It is the nickname I use for my my doggie :)

  7. I have this same bench. I'm also tackling it as a project but I only have the frame and the springs. What would you use as fill? Thanks!

    1. Hi Melissa!

      I loved this bench and am so happy to hear that another one is getting new life! I did a chair project a while back, and it had a similar upholstery method as this bench, but I started with nothing and it didn't have springs. I would follow the steps in that post, link below, but skip the jute webbing (step 1) and start with a burlap or fabric cover (step 2), followed by foam and then batting (I didn't use batting in that post for some reason, but I would use a nice thick cotton or quilt batting and attach it over the foam pad just like you did with the foam). The bench I did had a lot of crazy stuffing in it, but you can just use a two inch piece of foam (or maybe two one-inch pieces would be easier to work with), followed by batting and fabric and it should give you a nice seat! Good luck, let me know how it turns out if you get the chance!



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