hassock re-upholstery part 3: stuffing, stapling, and tufted buttons of doom
This is the fun part! I filled my hassock with anything and everything, as long as it was soft… and then I got to play with the staple gun!
I started the filling process by laying down a large sheet of thin fleece interfacing. I wanted a “buffer layer” since my wool has some stretch tendencies and this thin layer of fleece helped guarantee that the outside wouldn’t turn out lumpy.
I started by using polyfil to fill in the corners to make sure they’d be well-defined.
Next, I filled the cushion with fleece scraps, as you can see in the top picture. I picked this for multiple reasons.
1. I had a giant bag of the stuff, since I like to save it to stuff arthurs, and I had a ton of scraps from making all ten of my pink stars
2. It’s free and it’s soft
3. It was something I would have thrown away, so I was being un-wasteful
4. I wanted it to be something squishier/rounder than just a block of foam, since my foam fit-test was a very unexciting, flat cushion.
5. Most importantly… it’s dense enough that I knew it would keep its shape and last over time, unlike Poly-fil or foam that can sag with age if you aren’t really careful at the beginning!
So fleece scraps formed what would be the top layer of “squish” in my cushion.
Next came a huge amount of these foam french fries! These are from that super cool packing foam that is about 3″ thick but comes perforated, so you can tear apart what you need to protect your item during shipping. Even though it’s packing foam, it’s very high quality. I had a whole sheet of this perforated foam and I just tore each french fry away from its neighbor to make this mountain of squishy goodness.
Click on to see all the staple-gunning and tufted button adventures ahead!
The final layer of squish, what would end up being the bottom of the hassock, was a 2″ thick foam sheet. As the picture above shows, I had to cut the foam and glue it together to get the size I needed… but since that surface would have a ton of fill on top of it, nobody would ever feel that glue seam.
This foam, again, was packing material. I think it’s actually higher quality than some of the upholstery foam I’ve seen in fabric stores. That’s why you should be an engineer, kids – so you can work on robots that have parts so expensive that they’re shipped wrapped in upholstery-quality foam.
Finally, the cushion was all filled up – filled to bursting since I wanted it to be “overstuffed”.
I gave it squish tests as I went to make sure it was as densely packed as I wanted it to be. This picture, with the foam bursting out of the cushion before the 3/4″ plywood piece was even added, shows how much I expected the cushion to compress once I began stapling.
Next, I stuck in the plywood base. I kept the wood base from the original hassock, but I had given it a quick sanding to remove some of the old adhesive dust, and I flipped it over so that ugly side is now on the inside.
With all the stuffing complete, it’s staple gun time.
In order to keep my fabric sufficiently taut, I developed a good strategy for staple gunning. I put the cushion on the floor and used my knee for pressure to squish the filling so I could pull the fabric as taut as possible.
I stapled in a cross-pattern, catching the center of one edge, then the center of its symmetric edge… then turning the cushion 1/4 turn and doing the same. This was a good starting point.
Once I had a few staples in, I was able to pull the fabric even tighter so I removed my first few staples while adding more. I used the edges of the wood to prove to myself that my cushion was seated properly, and then I stapled all around.
Even though my underflaps weren’t perfect, and I had to staple down some wrinkles, I am really happy with how the underside turned out. I think the underflaps were a very successful invention and one of the easiest but best looking ways to solve this particular problem.
On some of the wrinkles, my staples didn’t make it very far into the wood, so when I was done stapling I went around and hit every staple with a hammer a few times to make it that much more secure.
Finally, this little lady’s looking like a real cushion.
I found my baggie of buttons from the original hassock, and I really liked the idea of reusing them as a reminder of its past self.
And then, once I cleaned up the buttons with Brasso, they were so shiny I knew using them was the right choice. That stuff is amazing! (if stinky!)
To make sure my buttons would end up symmetrically placed on the top of the cushion, I made a square template using the holes in the wood from the original buttons as my guide.
I then centered this square template and used a pin to mark the location of each button. Next, it was time to use my gigantic upholstery needle.
I didn’t take any pictures during the button process because it required lots of hands and lots of patience. Since my holes were drilled in the wood already, I had to go up through that hole with the needle, find the “straight-through” location where the pin was, slide on the button, and then – the nearly impossible part – go back down through the filling and find the tiny hole in the wood again. Then I took my threads (I double-threaded to be on the safe side) and tied them to the anti-button on the back side, squishing the foam down as I tied it so that it would be tight and the button would be recessed in the top surface.
This was made even more difficult because of my “recycled fleece” fill – trying to stab through all those layers of fleece at once was not easy.
The most important thing when doing tufted buttons is to use nylon thread. Nylon thread is nearly impossible to break. Any sort of normal thread, or even “heavy duty” cotton thread, will snap without a doubt under that tension load.
Finally, after some frustration and a lot of perseverance, all my buttons were attached. It wasn’t impossible, it was just really difficult. One of those tasks where I had to say, “okay, I can’t stop until all four of these are done” because I knew I wouldn’t want to come back to it for awhile.
But those shiny buttons are worth it. I think the tufted cushion looks far more “real” than a cushion without any buttons, don’t you? And I managed to teach myself an important upholstery skill, as well as some useful lessons to use next time.
Almost done! In the next post, I’ll show you the finished hassock. Here’s a hint: she looks great.
This post is the third part of my mini Hassock Reupholstery series. Next time you get to meet the finished hassock!