The Making of a Gold Zebra Ottoman
Yes, you read that right – a gold zebra ottoman!
This month I have an extra MSN project to share – a home dec project in celebration of Mood Fabric’s new space dedicated to home dec fabrics. If you live in or near the NYC area, hopefully you’ve already had a chance to pop in and see it in its full glory. Sadly, since I live 3000 miles away, I’ve only been to Mood’s online home dec shop. The online store is pretty impressive on its own though with thousands of fabrics to choose from.
When Mood approached me about doing a home dec project, my only hesitation was time. I have very little of it these days! But, my little family and I recently bought our very first home, and I knew our old, hand-me-down, slip-covered furniture could use a little sprucing up to aid in our transition from students living-in-the-cheapest-apartment-possible to home owners. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try to recover our ottoman at the very least.
I’ll admit I was a wee bit overwhelmed trying to play decorator. All of our slip covers are beige. All of the walls in our new house are a dark beige-y neutral as well. For the ottoman I wanted to pick a fun fabric that would make a statement while not being too over the top by itself in the sea of beige. I also was hoping to find a fabric that would grow with our family as we continue to decorate. While a solid seemed the easiest choice, after years and years of solid-colored slip covers, I really wanted to try some sort of print. I started paying attention to ottomans in magazines and online, and I started noticing pops of zebra here and there. Crazy, right? We’re pretty much a household of vegetarians, so going full-on black-and-white zebra pelt felt a little bit much for us, but a crazy mythical zebra print? Sure, why not?! After lots of hemming and hawing, I ended up choosing a gold zebra print brocade. It calls itself ‘dijon’, but it’s hard to deny its gold bling when you see it in person.
I used the Upholstery Basics book from the Singer Sewing Reference Library to guide me through the process of reupholstering. All in all, it was much easier that I expected. It was so easy that I’m now dreaming of recovering the wing backs… It’s all just stretching fabric and using a staple gun! The only time I had to turn on my sewing machine or make precise fabric cuts was for the piping!
First I took a bit of time to spruce up the legs. A screw needed replacing and some of the stain needed touching up. My dad is in town, and he used a furniture scratch remover marker to get rid of all the blemishes that had developed over the years.
Next we had to remove what felt like a million staples. First up was a layer of cambric that was stapled at approximately one inch intervals around the entire bottom edge of the ottoman. Then there was a tack strip, then piping, and finally the main upholstery fabric – again, all staped at one inch intervals. Once I freed each piece, I set it aside I could so that I could eventually reuse it. If I’d been planning to recover the ottoman exactly as it was, then I could have also saved the old fabric to use as a pattern. But, I wanted to do away with the pillow top look, so only the piping could be saved.
The original ottoman cushion was made of two pieces since the top was actually a separate pillow piece. To transform it into a single piece, I stretched an extra layer of batting over both pieces and stapled it down to the sides. I hope the tightly stretched batting will help the separate top pillow piece stay put. From what I could gather from the upholstery book, cushions are typically glued to the base of this sort of ottoman, but glue was too committal for me at the time since I was still uncertain how well the resulting ottoman would turn out.
Next up was stapling, stapling, stapling. I’d borrowed my brother’s electric staple gun, and it took me a few tries before I got even a single successful staple. I used hundreds of staples in this project – many of which are now in the trash, not in the ottoman! To cover the ottoman, I stretched the fabric across the ottoman and staple basted (Yes! The instructions are to staple baste – same idea as in sewing!) once in the center of each of the four sides. Then I pulled out the staple from one of the sides, pulled the fabric really taut, stapled again in the center, and then stapled towards one of the legs at approximately one-inch intervals until I got around three inches from the leg, all the while continuing to pull the fabric taut. I then stapled from the center to the other leg. This process was repeated for the opposite side, and then finally for each of the remaining two sides.
The corners were a bit trickier. Loosely following an example in the upholstery book, I decided to fold out the excess fabric, tuck it neatly inside the pleat, and then staple it in place.
Everything was neatened with a bit of piping around the bottom edge. To get around the leg, I carefully cut off the seam allowance and stretched it around to the other side. The only thing holding it in place are the staples on either side of the leg! Just like the main fabric, the piping was also stapled at approximately one-inch intervals.
The upholstery book actually suggested just butting the two ends of the piping together after folding the fabric in a bit to cover up the raw edges. I had assumed it would be a lot more complicated, but who am I to argue?! Reusing the tack strip was probably a bit silly since that stuff is pretty cheap, but I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I wasn’t stopping for another trip to the store!
Finally, with a few more staples to put the cambric back in place, the ottoman was finished!
I’m still debating whether it needs a row of upholstery tacks along the bottom, just above the piping. But, since those will leave holes in the fabric, I’m trying out the ottoman without them for now.
I think the gold zebra is pretty fun. It makes a statement without being too shocking against the beige. And, while I hope this fabric will continue to blend nicely as we decorate our new house, if it doesn’t, I’ve now learned that reupholstering is no big deal. How about you – would you ever consider reupholstering to bring a bit of new life into an old piece of furniture?