I Made Ottomans!

Ottomans always come in handy as they can serve many purposes and can be tucked into just about any corner of the house. The origin of the ottoman is uncertain, (No, I’m not referring to Suleiman the Great, I’m talking about the footstool here)  It is believed that the idea was brought to Europe from Egypt by the returning french who, under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte, invaded Egypt in 1798.  Egypt was then part of the Turkish Ottoman empire and so these nifty little uhpolstered tuffets came to be known as ottomans. Now that we’ve gotten the history lesson out of the way, I want to share the how-to’s of a couple of Ottomans that I made earlier this year. I started out with two tacky and frankly quite ugly little upholstered coffee tables that had originally been part of a living room set. They were kind of flimsy and didn’t look like they’d hold anything heavier than a teacup, so I reinforced them by nailing down a piece half inch thick plywood to the top, cut in exactly the same size as the top of each little table. Once the plywood was nailed firmly into place, I put a piece of one inch thick foam on top of it and extended the edges of the foam down over the sides a few inches where I secured it down firmly with small nails. I then covered the foam with a piece of thick and sturdy gabardine which extended over the sides where it was tacked down as well. This was so that the rough edges of the plywood wouldn’t poke through and damage the top cover. Then I covered the whole thing in a fancy fabric.  I wanted a fabric that was  really colorful and that would go with the rest of the living room set, but I didn’t want to have to go downtown to the fabric stores (as that implied searching for a parking space for two hours and then fighting tooth and nail for it) so I ordered a nice large remnant of bright paisley print fabric that I found on Ebay for about ten dollars and within a week it came right to my door.  Online shopping rules! Now admitedly, there are a gabillion ways to cover an ottoman but I found that the easiest way for me was to wrap it pretty much the same way I’d gift-wrap a present. First thing I did was to center the paisley fabric on the top of the ottoman over the gabardine. Then I smoothed out the fabric and pulled it down taut on both of the long sides first. I extended the fabric all the way down to the bottom edge of the ottoman, turning the raw edge of the fabric inwards and stapling it into place. The first side is fairly easy and it”s just a matter of stapling the fabric neatly along the bottom edge of the ottoman frame. The second side however, requires that the fabric be pulled taut before stapling it down. It’s important that the fabric not be loose so that it won’t wrinkle or sag with continued use. Tackling the short ends was next. I made a pleat in both corners and folded the fabric neatly towards the center, gathering it evenly and securing it into place with a few quick stitches. I then found some large fancy un-matching decorative buttons in a button jar and I sewed them over the stitching, one on each end. Lastly,  I Elmer-glued decorative cord all around the bottom edge to hide the staples and I wrapped a thicker braided cord along the top edge, securing it at each corner with a few quick stitches so that it wouldn’t slip down and then tied both ends in a knot.  I like to think that even Mr. Bonaparte would have been satisfied with the results. Yeah.

A piece of foam on top of the 1/2 inch plywood secured with tiny nails

The thick gabardine fabric went over the foam. A pleat was made at each corner and then everything was tacked tautly into place.

Another view. Did I stress the word TAUT?

Covered in the paisly fabric. The red cord around the bottom edge was glued into place to hide the staples. The braided cord on the top edge was stitched into place at each corner to prevent them from slipping down.

Side view. Recycled fancy buttons cover the stitching that holds the gathers into place.

They can be used for extra seating or to actually *gasp* put your feet up on

With Moroccan cushions

A moroccan inspired corner



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