GUEST BLOG: How to make a Tufted Bench

My name is Elizabeth Taylor. I am an aspiring interior designer.  HGTV and The DIY Network are not just television channels, they inspire and dare me to try new projects.


And so one weekend, after watching HGTV and DIY, I decided to try making one of the projects that I’d seen so often, a bench, but not just any bench, a tufted bench… a tufted bench with storage. I researched, read, watched videos and decided that I could do it. 

Here is my tufted bench journey.

Let's begin with my tools: 
(Thanks Commonwealth Fabrics)
heavy thread
pearl buttons

a wooden drawer to use as a base
upholstery needle
wooden legs
staple gun
wood stain and rag
hammer and... 

fig. 1

I bought my bench legs from Kelly's.  Once they are braced they will support you or at least your feet as you prop up your legs to relax at the end of a long day.
fig. 2

I used an old dovetail drawer as my base. I took it apart then added wood glue to the joints to keep it secure.
fig. 3

I stole this foam from my mother (thanks mom).  The plywood was cut to the size of the foam. 
fig. 4
This circle made out of ordinary cardboard was my template to make the holes for the legs. 
fig. 5
Sooooo after progressing so well, my drill bit got stuck trying to drill the holes to insert the bench legs. Little hiccups such as this are bound to happen during DIY projects.  I may need a new drill. (Any suggestions on a good brand?) 
fig. 6
All four legs are installed, now it looks more like a bench. Well,sort of! 
fig. 7
The next day I sanded and stained the base. I love the look of Minwax's Red Mahogany stain; it is soooo rich and dark. 

fig. 8
Don't forget to stain the legs.  
fig. 9

Now that the bench part  was done I moved on to the tufted top.  I marked the design for the holes to make the tufts. Then I drilled each hole so the needle could go through the plywood. 
fig. 10

fig. 11

This was the difficult part. I set up a work area in the kitchen with my bar stools, plywood cushion on top and the fabric on top of that.  Then I threaded the upholstery needle leaving lots of extra thread  and starting underneath, I pushed the needle through the holes in the plywood up through the cushion, through the button hole and back through the cushion and plywood.  This was  the hardest part that took the longest time (forty-five minutes in total) just pushing and pulling the needle. After SEVERAL attempts I finally had all the pearl buttons threaded through the foam and the plywood.

My view from the kitchen floor. 
fig. 12

After pulling the thread firmly through to create the tuft. I stapled  each one and hammered  it tight so it was  secure. Then  I stapled the fabric around to secure it to the plywood. Almost done!!! 
fig. 13

The tufts are created when I pulled the threads through the bottom.  The harder I pulled, the deeper the tuft or dimple.  It is critical that the tufts all be relatively at the same depth to look uniformed, tidy and semi-professional.
fig. 14

Hinges were added so that I could access the storage part of the bench. Yay! It works! I  can actually open and close my bench. But the back of the seat is still rough and needs some finish work. 

fig. 15
fig. 16
Now it's neat, tidy and FINISHED! 

fig. 17

fig. 18
fig. 19
Before, just random parts.
fig. 20

After, a great bench to put extra stuff in, to sit on or to put your feet up.

fig. 21

If I had to rate the difficulty of making this bench on a scale of one to ten, ten being, yeah forget about making this, just go buy a bench, I would rate this project as a seven...a solid seven for a first time project. Without a doubt, the next time I build a tufted bench, my rating will be a three.

For all of my DIY enthusiasts, happy tufting.

Signed a DIY Fanatic,
Elizabeth Taylor


Giavana Jones said...

wow! great job!! not sure I'm ready to take on such a task but it sure inspires me to think about DIY'ing around the house vs buying. btw: love your hair in the picture!

Elizabeth Missick-Taylor said...

Thank you Giavana!! I was pretty intimidated at first especially with the bench being "tufted" but it was a great challenge for me. Just start small, keep at it and remember to have fun. I'm sure that you will be just as successful and rewarded with your own DIY project. (especially the saved money, the bench was under $50.00 total)
Now about the Natural hair is my second passion, trust me I can talk kinks, curls, twists and napps all day. So as a girl who has had almost every natural hairstyle known, I'm glad you like this one, and thank you for hair compliment :-)