DIY Reupholstered Ottoman (and all the mistakes along the way)

The world of the internet likes to make us think that DIY is so easy. I mean often we only see the beautiful end result so it’s no wonder that so many feel super intimidated to take on a project when they have really absolutely no idea what they are doing.

As someone who considers herself a DIYer, I have to admit that projects do not always go as planned. Most of the time, I’m figuring things out as I go, and on occasion I screw up royally right in the middle of a project and have to come up with a way to make it work. That is exactly what happened hours into this reupholstered ottoman job that I was doing for my mom. Quitting or starting over again would have cost me a few hours of my life, not to mention a good chunk of fabric. Good news is that we made it work! It isn’t perfect, but I’m pretty sure only her and I (and now all of you) would ever even notice.

So in order to keep it real, today I’m showing you that even those of us who do lots of projects mess up. As long as I learn something from each project I consider it a success, even if it isn’t fun.

So get ready for a diy reupholstered ottoman tutorial that will show you both what to do and not to do!
diy reupholstered ottoman

Little back story.

My mom found this ottoman on craigslist when they lived in their last house. It was that ugly fake leather that was peeling off, but the shape is just fantastic! So she took it to an upholsterer and had it professionally reupholstered in this blue fabric.

Fast forward 4 grandkids and a dog later and there are definite signs of too much fun. Her color scheme has also shifted a bit so it was time to freshen this bad boy up, but the fancy (professional) reupholstery guy wasn’t in the budget this time around. Afterall, those 4 grandkids still exist, and are still going to have lots of fun on and around this ottoman. And since I had repholstered or at least slip covered an ottoman before she called on me for my help and we took on the job together.
how to recover an ottoman

I was pretty impressed that we were able to still do piping around the edge!

If you’re planning on redoing an ottoman, of course every one will be a bit different, but here’s what we did (and also what you shouldn’t do.)

How to reupholster an ottoman:

how to reupholster an ottoman

We decided to remove the existing upholstery so that we could use it at a template. Math is not my strong suit, and it isn’t my mom’s either.

We removed the staples with a flat screwdriver. This is a long process, so be sure to have some good music, or a show on. We did this for each piece and then took the top and sides apart too. We also saved the piping and reused it as well.
how to reupholster an ottoman

Once we were done disassembling the last upholstery job, we used each piece as a template to cut out our new fabric. We cut to allow for a 1 inch seam.

Now here’s where we went wrong, and I’m still not sure how we messed this up, but the part that goes around the sides of the ottoman ended up being about 10 inches too short. In hind sight, we should have measured that portion and used the top as a template. Who knew right?
how to recover an ottoman

Once all of the pieces were cut out and I had my piping sewn, I pinned everything in place. I laid the circle (top) out flat then carefully took my piping and the edge of the side piece (one long piece) and pinned it in place. It ended up looking like a giant baked brie cheese in a puff pastry by the end. mmmmmm….brie cheese.

This is also when I realized that my side piece was too short and that it didn’t reach all the way around the circle. Ugh!

I wasn’t about to start all over again. I had been working on this for awhile, my kids were going nuts-0 and so was I. Not to mention there wasn’t that much fabric to spare, so here’s what we did to fix it!how to recover an ottoman You see in the picture above (top left) how the original sides don’t come all the way together? I just added in an extra little panel to make up for the difference and sewed it right in place tucking the two edges of the original side piece in so that when I put it on the ottoman and pulled the fabric tight to staple it underneath the edges laid flat and looked finished. You can see what I mean in the picture (top right.)  This is the ottoman now upside down.

Once that big mistake was remedied I was able to continue pulling the fabric tight and stapling it in place. The only thing to be super careful of, is that you don’t pull the fabric so tight that the piping around the edge gets distorted.
diy reupholstered ottoman So there you have it! A freshened up ottoman for the cost of a few yards of fabric and an afternoon of frustration. The result is one happy mom/Uma (my mom), so it was all worth it!

Have you ever been half way through a project when you realized you really messed up? Were you able to fix it and make it work?

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About Corey

Corey is the creative behind Hey There, Home where she shares easy-to-follow and beautiful home decor and entertaining ideas. Her mission? To make home decor accessible to everyone, even if you don't consider yourself crafty, and to empower people to decorate their homes in a way that they can actually be lived in, not just looked at.

25 thoughts on “DIY Reupholstered Ottoman (and all the mistakes along the way)

  1. Amy Woodard says:

    Your post made me laugh! How many of us have started a “simple” project only to screw up several times, swearing alot and spending more time, money and effort than if we’d just purchased a new one. But I have the same “simple” project…….an ottoman that has seen way too many cat-claws on all four corners and I’m going for it!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      You go, Amy! I’ll be rooting for you 🙂 I’d love to see a pic of your finished ottoman – please email to [email protected]

  2. PattyP says:

    Great job on the ottoman. I like that like me, you tackled a job that you had to figure out as you went along. I found a “perfectly good” but very dirty ottoman at a curbside for trash pickup in my townhouse community. I could tell it was durable older hardwood despite the cheap fabric used. I took it home, removed the cover and used the fabric for a template like you did. I even made a paper pattern for later use (just in case) so I would not need to keep the filthy fabric. I removed the cushion and washed it over and over with shampoo, dish detergent, etc. in the laundry sink. until I finally got it as clean as new. I put it in front of a large fan to dry. I had to go online to find proper upholstery webbing to replace the tattered remnants left on the old frame, and purchased new batting. That was a challenge as I am allergic to jute and had to find a polyester type webbing that would work. After days of searching, I found it. I spray glued the batting to the top of the now dried clean foam seat. I think there was one later first exactly the same size as the foam, then a larger piece that overlapped the sides as well. I lightly spray glued any batting layers together where there was more than one layer. for the sides. The new cover was tight but fit perfectly. The piece went from ugly red chenille to a pastel canvas look with tiny dragonflies. I had to get the hub’s help to staple the webbing tight, the cover tight and the new dust cover underneath, but it all fits tight as a drum where it should, is very soft and inviting, and looks and smells brand new! *gives you high five*

    1. Caitlyn says:

      I want to be you when I grow up!!!! 💖 as much as I love a good DIY, ya girl would’ve been lost halfway into it!

  3. jen says:

    i wonder if it was short because the circumference was bigger due to new/thicker batting around the outside? just a thought!

  4. megan says:

    would love to know where you purchased this fabric!

    1. Hi Megan. I found this fabric at a local store called We R Fabric. They don’t have many locations and aren’t online unfortunately.

  5. tess says:

    i can remodel hammer, drill, lay tile, hardwoods, you name it but crafty stuff NOT so much. Finding your blog has been a God send. In just a week I’ve saved hundreds. Hopefully I can share some pics of our 1942 remodel.

  6. Suzy says:

    Fabulous! Mind sharing the name and maker of the fabric you used for this project?
    Thanks so much!

  7. […] Once the sofas were in and the not quite white drapes were gone and replaced with those DIY beauties, we had a definite color palette going and  knew we could revamp the ottoman with a new fabric. It took a bit of searching (and patience) but the perfect fabric did come to us and we were able to save a ton of money by reupholstering the ottoman ourselves. […]

  8. Shannon says:

    I love this fabric!! Where did you find it?

  9. […] How to Reupholster an Ottoman at Tiny Sidekick / Farmhouse Kitchen Makeover at Noting Grace / Wood Scrap Wooden Heart at Lake Girl Paints / Yellow Table with Vintage Storehouse Chalky Paint Powder at Brepurposed /  Industrial Cart Coffee Table DIY at Kleinworth and Co. / Reclaimed Wood Headboard at Elizabeth Joan Designs […]

  10. […] her blog, Little Sidekick, Corey shares an upholstering project.  Corey’s mom had a comfy, round ottoman that had […]

  11. Sam says:

    I love it! Now if you’d just pan out so I can see the rest of the room because I adore your colour scheme.

    1. I’ll be posting this room very soon! It wasn’t quite finished but I did take photos the other day, so now it is just a mater of getting it posted!!!

  12. Lynn says:

    Hi, I found your blog via Pinterest ! You are my kind of DIYer ! Fix it as you go that’s my motto LOL. some reason I can set and draw put plans to the T and it will always mess up ! If I do it as I go it tends to work out a lot better. I too have done this when reupholstering some thing and too I fixed it the same way. It just looks like the finished edge was an overlap which gives it more strength for the material. Other then the fab Job you done here wasn’t that a fabulous find for your mom to find !! It’s always an awesome feeling to find some thing Made good enough to be able to use it for years down the road and through kids and animals (4 kids here & too many animals I lost count LOL ) love the fabric you ladies chose it’s beautiful !! So glad I found your blog. I have read a couple of your sewing projects and love the way you do those also 🙂 !! Looking forward to seeing more of your fabulous re-do’s !!

  13. Love that fabric! And great save with the extra fabric, you can’t even tell it was a mistake! It looks fab!

  14. Delisha says:

    Beautiful job. Now can you help me with upholstering my camel back sofa and wing back chair? Some people think I should just give it up and purchas new furniture. I am comparing prices, labor, and expense.

    Love the patteren you choose for your ottoman. Beautiful job well done. I would have never known you have made any errors. Now how do I make a cheese brie? Lol!!!

  15. It looks so pretty, Corey! I love that fabric you chose. I mess up ALL the time! I tend to just jump into a project without thinking every piece through. What can I say, when I get excited about a project, I just want to DO it!! Your fix looks amazing and flawless though, great job! 🙂

    1. Ha! So glad I’m not the only one!

  16. Mmm… brie is so good… But your makeover, is GREAT! Way to work through the mix-ups. Gah! Can be so frustrating at the time, but it turned out wonderful! Great fabric!

    1. Brie is good! hahaha. Thanks for coming by!

  17. Thanks for the great tips and for sharing what you learned from this project! I have a big rectangular storage ottoman that is upholstered in the faux leather and after 8 years, two kids, and a dog, it looks awful! I want to give this a shot!

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