DIY Upholstered Ottoman with Painted Fabric Quilt
Quilts are in style.
I’m glad because truth is for me, they never went out. Quilt designs are a comforting link with our past, and today’s quilt artists are incredible. (If you ever get the chance — drop in on one of the large quilt shows like Pacific International and you’ll see what I mean — awesome artistry and craftsmanship.)
I’m especially smitten with the bold, graphic color play of Amish quilts. Just about the best Christmas presents I ever got were two vibrant Amish wall quilts—straight from Pennsylvania Amish country—that my husband had custom-made for me. They add such life to our great room.
I’ve wanted to create some home decor designs using quilts as inspiration. I thumbed through my quilt books and decided rather than stitch a quilt, this time I’d try my hand at painting one. Painting would allow me to make a more detailed design than I have the patience to sew, and I could mix whatever colors I want for my design.
At the same time, our ottoman was talking to me. Screaming actually. “Hey over here! It’s me with the maple syrup stain on top, from when you let your groggy nine-year old eat pancakes in the living room.”
The idea was born — I would paint an Amish-inspired quilt in contemporary colors, to reupholster and resuscitate my ottoman. Waa-hoo! Fun for me and a fab DIY for you.
Here’s what I made:
And here’s how. I started with this:
I used a white, cotton/poly blend canvas and traced the shape of the old ottoman top on my fabric. I decided on the Sunshine and Shadow quilt pattern. For my ottoman’s size, a grid of 1″ squares would work well, so using a carpenter’s square and pencil I measured and drew grid lines.
This book below provided me great inspiration in Amish Quilt designs. You can also find wonderful designs online. With graph paper and colored pencils, I tried different color combinations that would complement our decor.
I was careful to pay attention to the relative value of the colors—dark, medium, light—that is the key to getting a striking, graphic effect with the Sunshine and Shadows, and other Amish patterns. And for our room in comparison to other dark textiles, it was important that the ottoman still feel somewhat light.
The small sketch is the scheme I arrived at: purples, greens, brown, tan and a nice dose of off-white. I would later tweak the placement of a few colors, but this was the plan.
I bought small bottles of matte-finish, acrylic “soft fabric paint” from the craft store. For my scheme, I was able to use colors straight from the bottle except for two colors that I custom-mixed.
I broke out my good, large, flat-tipped watercolor brush. That was a huge help when painting the colored squares. Here’s the painted quilt in progress:
It took me several evenings to finish the painted quilt. Here it is:
After drying overnight, I was ready to upholster my ottoman. So I laid the painted quilt fabric over the ottoman top’s foam and plywood layers; then I got to work.
This job called for my trusty Craftsman electric staple gun. Bought it years ago when I reupholstered a couch and it’s still going strong. A heavy-duty manual staple gun would probably also do the trick. (Oh and like Norm says, wear your safety glasses.)
I wrapped the fabric around and centered my design. Like recovering any seat cushion, I started by putting a staple in the center of each side, while yanking the fabric taught with the other hand. Then I just continued on around yanking and stapling each side, stopping just before each corner.
I folded the corners and stapled like this.
I trimmed the excess fabric and yippee! Ottoman top complete.
Now all that was left was to screw the ottoman top back to its legs. A nine-year-old can (and did) do this step.
Voila! I’m thrilled with it, and how it sparks up our living room.
The fabric paint seems sturdy, but I might finish the painted quilt top with a protective coat. Can I get a matte-finish, water-based polyurethane that will work well on fabric?? What do you think?
Have you used quilts, or quilt designs in your decor?