How to Build an Ottoman with Inside Storage

Add foam to the top panel

I’m using a 2.5″ thick furniture foam to cover the top of the Ottoman. We got this measured and cut in the craft store for an exact fit. I recommend that versus trying to cut this with normal garage tools. Even a half inch or so short is okay, as you can manipulate the foam to fit to the edge. It sits on top, and is glued in place with spray upholstery glue available at your craft store. Start with one edge, and stretch the foam to fit evenly all the way around. As the glue sets, you’ll be able to pull more, and you’ll have perfect edges.

Wrap your Ottoman with batting

In order to provide a softer feel to the finished piece, I wrapped the entire exterior with batting. This is easily available at your craft store or fabric store. I applied spray glue to the side panels, secured it there, and then rolled it over the edges and secured with a few staples on the inside and bottom.

Cover with flannel

Depending on your chosen fabric, you may want to add this step. You can buy flannel or simple “t-shirt” material from the fabric store that serves as a smoother between the batting layer and the final outer fabric. Below you’ll see that in the pictures. It creates a nice smooth finish on the piece before you do your final upholstery. Simply wrap the piece, stretching as you staple all the way across. The corners get tricky, so take your time and don’t worry too much here. Remember, this will ultimately be covered with fabric. Just make sure it’s as secure as possible and you don’t create large irregularities in the thickness.

Cover your Ottoman with fabric

This is the area you want to be the most careful with. I am not a furniture builder, nor am I an upholsterer, so each staple and cut for me had to be absolutely right before proceeding. On a side note, I learned the hard way that using plaid as a beginner was the worst idea possible. Since this is a three-dimensional object, matching the squares all the way around on each surface of the Ottoman was an impossibility (without buying double the fabric needed normally).

Start with the lid, and wrap the top, stapling one of the long sides, then make sure your pattern is square, and staple the other long side, stretching to a nice finish as you go. If you chose a large pattern like me, you need to make you’re stretching evenly, or your squares can turn into rectangles or worse. Once the long sides are down, repeat on the short sides, leaving a little room at the corners. Again the corners will be tricky, but with a couple of V cuts and careful stapling, you can make them look nice, with no need for sewing.

For the main box, we chose to cut 4 pieces and sew them together to make seams at each corner. (If you choose to not follow this method, you can simply make one long piece that has one seam.) This decision was because of the plaid pattern. We wanted to keep the squares aligned as much as possible all the way around, knowing that it still wouldn’t be “perfect.” We wrapped the box with our 4 pieces, positioned, and pinned them in place. Then turned the pieces inside out, and sewed the 4 corner seams from the inside (Thanks Lesley). After the seams were in place, we turned it back around, put it over the box, and began attaching it at the top first. Finally, stretch the fabric down and staple on the bottom.

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