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The Hardest Button to Button: A DIY Tufted Storage Ottoman.

During my recent music room makeover, I found myself looking for ways to incorporate some extra seating. My sights settled on an old cedar-lined storage chest, which was the right height for seating but didn't present the most inviting surface. I considered simply upholstering it, but one day while listening to The White Stripes' song "The Hardest Button to Button," I thought, why just wrap the lid in fabric when I could do something WAY more complicated? Wouldn't that be FUN??
And so, the plan for the diamond-tufted storage ottoman was born.
Time: 2 Days Cost: $50 Difficulty: Medium
I started by removing the lid and all the hardware, then drew out my grid with a sharpie. I drilled tiny pilot holes at the intersections where the buttons would go.
Then I cut a piece of 3" foam to the size of the lid. I used the sharpie to re-draw the same grid on the foam, then used a drill with a 1" paddle bit to drill out the holes for the buttons. I used a super-sharp paring knife to taper the edges of each hole, which made it easier to work with the stiff vinyl I was planning to use.
The whole thing got covered with 2 layers of batting. I used a scissors to cut out the extra batting over the button holes.
This next part was the part I screwed up. Repeatedly. You have to do some careful calculations to figure out how to re-draw your grid on your fabric, including allowances for where the fabric will get pulled down into the holes. I'm can't tell you how I did it, because I did it wrong so many times that I don't really remember how I finally arrived at the right numbers. (Although here's a blog post about the whole experience, if you'd like to try to draw your own conclusions: http://www.sarahsbigidea.com/2015/02/the-hardest-button-to-button/).
Anyway, once you've got your math done correctly, draw your new grid on the back of your fabric.
And here's where I kinda went off the beaten path. Instead of actually threading buttons all the way through and messing around with all that crap, I used screws with washers (and those tiny pilot holes I drilled earlier) to pull the fabric down into the foam.
I started with the hole closest to the middle and worked my way out to the edges. Along the way, I used the flat handle of a butter knife to force the fabric into those perfect diamond-shaped folds.
After securing all the edges with staples, it was time to put the buttons back in "button tufting." I used fabric glue to attach the buttons to the tops of the screws.
After that, I just had to reattach the lid and hardware to the chest, and take a bunch of pretty pictures. I think even a trained upholsterer would have to look pretty close to discover that I short-cutted the whole button-tufting process.
For the whole story and a lot more details about this process, check out this blog post: http://www.sarahsbigidea.com/2015/02/the-hardest-button-to-button/. And let me know if you decide to try this one yourself!

To see more: http://www.sarahsbigidea.com/2015/02/the-hardest-button-to-button/

  • Jycg2006

    Great job for a unique DIY project! My hubby says, "No more items into the house until you organize and clear out some things!!!" This is so great b/c you used what you already had. Love it! That's the sneaky way to do it!!!!!

  • Julie
    Julie Round Rock, TX

    I LOVE it! My vanity bench is waiting to be recovered and I love this trick so I am going to try it today.

  • Donnita Franklin
    Donnita Franklin Philadelphia, PA

    For a novice it looks awesome!!

  • Cool Grammaw
    Cool Grammaw Vandalia, OH

    Wow that is AMAZING! It is so attractive. If an upholsterer looked at it closely, they would wish they had thought of it, if they ever figured it out. You know the old saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention!"

  • Adele DuranGO
    Adele DuranGO Bayfield, CO

    Great Job!. I'm tackling a 12' leather window seat right now -- but I don't think I could go the extra mile of handling the tufting.

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