Welcome everybody. There is a wealth of information and guidance available for this process, but I still thought I would do my own version.
I’ve graduated, master upholsterer, from the University of YouTube based on all the videos I watched and information I absorbed.
Medium density foam: cut to the shape you require. This stuff is expensive. There are more savvy ways to acquire foam, like foam mattress or other end products made of foam from big box stores like IKEA or target and cutting it down with an electric bread knife. I have a history of getting stroppy with a D.I.Y that doesn’t go to plan. So my personal philosophy is to start off on the right foot with the right products. Just pay the money and get exactly what you need. I bought the foam at the Foam Booth in Surry Hills. You can also get Foam at Clark Rubber and I am sure there are others. I needed 2480mm x 380mm and this cost me $80
MDF/ply wood/peg board: I used 3mm mdf which I believe was too flimsy. Hence why I braced it which you will see later.
Batting: I bought it on a roll from Spotlight. I needed 3 metres
Fabric: Thickish in weight and upholstery grade. You will need more fabric then you think. I cut 3.2 metres for my 2.5 metre long banquette. Because my projects had really long rows of buttons, it just ate the fabric up
As she casually mentions that it doesn’t take up much more fabric. To be fair, I had a lot more buttons on a row then she did and I should have realised. It left me to sew on more fabric on either side. I had the half tufted banquette on the floor and the sewing machine on the floor while my husband pressed the pedal and intermittently moved the 2.5 metre long piece through the sewing machine.
I bought my fabric on clearance from Bargain Upholstery in Seaforth. I wanted a light blue grey fabric that was a linen look-a-like and not a fabric that they needed to order in (So I could get started right away and If I needed more that it wouldn’t be a drama) I also wanted it to be easy to clean and have stain reducing properties. Like my couch. I am not a fabric expert or anything But it has 2 colours in the fabric. So one direction has the first colour of treads woven and in the other direction it is the second colour of threads woven. It helps to mask stains. (Well, in my experience) In a perfect world I would have loved glazed linen. I am into that so hard right now. But this fabric has man made properties and it gives the fabric a nice sheen, so I was happy with that.
And I will be scotch guarding the crap out of it on completion too. You have worked too hard to have it ruined by a wayward glass of red with a girlfriend or a naughty rugrat.
So because I had the diamond tufting bit half done and it was just leaning there and the bare base seat cushion foam there and I haven’t got around to finishing the project because I needed another set of hands and free time with my other set of hands (husband) doesn’t come around often and when it does, he sure isn’t helping me with this project. It was sitting there for some time. Unfinished. I was trying this new thing. Not leaving anything on my island bench. So I picked up my paint palette from doing calligraphy with highly pigmented MAGENTA gouache paint. And I went to place it on the foam base cushion and right before my very eyes the paint just LEPT! LEPT I tell you out of the palette and make a big splash on the diamond tufted part and then dribbled down. MY LIFE FLASHED BEFORE MY VERY EYES. Why God? Why me? I’m a good person. I tried. I’ve sincerely tried. What have I done to deserve this? F***ing panic town. Population ME!
ANYWAY. Blah Blah Blah. I got the stain out the best I could after 1 hour of frantic scrubbing and it is only just visible. . . to me. I can live with it. I died, but I have been revived. Then after my daughters party there was another stain. But I got that out too (on the base cushion). So yes. I need to scotch guard it.
Upholstery Twine: This is a nylon twine that is quite thick. I looked for it at Spotlight and they only had upholstery weight thread for your sewing machine, for when sewing covers. This will not be strong enough. I bought my roll from here. LINK I am sure there are cheaper places to get it. But this was what I came across and was easily accessible to me.
Upholstery Needle: I bought a packet of Doll needles by Birch from Spotlight. In Hindsight I should have bought a proper upholstery needle from an upholstery supply shop as the eye of this needle was still a bit too narrow for the twine to pass through. I soldiered on and managed though.
Self-cover buttons: The consensus is that you can make them yourself, but it will be the most monotonous and annoying part of the project. I didn’t want to lose momentum or enthusiasm, before I even got to the tufting part. One blog post mentioned that she outsourced them. So I did too. I couldn’t even find the self-cover button packs at Spotlight. They sold 2 self-cover buttons in a pack for $6 and that seemed very expensive. So I took my fabric to this place and got Number 36 buttons made up for me.
They did it in a few hours.
Staple gun: I own a staple gun and just as I was gearing up to start, I asked my husband where it was. He has been pottering in the garage recently and he said that he has never came across it. So I had no idea where it was and part of the garage had blocked access. I wasn’t going to go and look through boxes. So I scooped up my kid to go and buy another one. You could put a regular staple gun for $20 to $50. But this job requires doing a lot of stapling and will be taxing on your hand muscles.
We have the RYOBI One power tools with the interchangeable batteries and I was looking at that brand to buy an electric one, but they currently don’t cater for it (And besides, I am not too keen on all this cordless get up. I would hate to run out of battery when I am full of steam, how annoying to have to stop prematurely)
So they had a cheapy OZITO branded electric stapler that is corded. SOLD.
(Bosch had one too that was $99 but it was cordless and the battery would have needed charging before I could start and I wasn’t waiting for that)
Batons, liquid nails & screws: For bracing and forming around the bottom architrave of my window. Not necessary if what you are attching to is flat.
Scissors: Dressmaking shears. For snipping the batting and trimming the fabric.
Mark out where your tufts will be on your mdf. I had 2 rows of 14 buttons and 1 centre row of 13 buttons. They were 17 cms apart horizontally and 8.5 cms apart vertically.
Drill through the mdf where you marked for the holes.
Brace your mdf with your batons, by gluing and screwing them. Making sure not to place them over any holes. (You don’t need to do this if you use thicker wood. The stuff I used was pretty flimsy, plus I need to brace it and pack it out to go around the bottom window architrave that I didn’t want to remove.)
Put your mdf on top of your foam and with a marker push it though the holes to mark the foam. Remove.
With a knife, cut out channels in your foam for the button to go down deep when you tuft. I used a serrated steak knife. Stuck my fingers through and yanked out the foam.
Place the mdf on the bottom. Then the foam. Drape over your batting over the foam and mark where the holes in the foam are and with scissors. Snip the batting in a x shape to make a hole.
Drape your fabric over the batting.
Now you are ready to tuft.
This is what I did, which If/When I have my time again, I would do some things differently, which I will mention throughout this. Start with your centre button and work out from there. Doing the one above, the one below the one to the left, the one to the right and out you go. From the front, use your thumb to push the fabric into the hole. Pass the needle through the foam until it pokes out the back of the mdf. I had trouble doing this, as it was hard to keep the needle straight and was going in blind and found it difficult to find the hole. What I ended up doing was from the back, I passed the non-sharp end of the needle from the back through the eye and up through the foam and the fabric. My fabric wasn’t a tight weave. So if your fabric is, I don’t think you would have had much luck with it.
Thread the needle with the twin and then pass it through the back of the button and tie and double knot. I used my teeth to make sure it was nice and tight. Then I pulled the needle back through to the back. Only when it was all completed did I realise I had done this step a bit funny as I was pulling the knot through the fabric. Again, if my fabric was tighter I would have had buckleys chance of doing this. It also at some points caused my fabric to snag. But I smoothed it out with my hands from the centre and it wasn’t visible. And some times because I was pulling on the knot, the knot would come undone, causing the button to pop off and for me to start the process again.
What I should have done was. Thread the twine through the back of the button and tie a double knot onto the button. And then with the 2 tails of the twine, thread the needle. This would have been very difficult for me as I had trouble just threading the needle with one length of twine, let alone two.
Then from the back, you have the knotted twine poking through. From the front side, fold the fabric, by rubbing/rolling it in between your thumb and forefinger to make nice pleats in the fabric. Then from the back, you pull with all your might to make a nice diamond tuft. You staple the twine in a zig-zag like pattern. Give it about 4 to 5 staples.
And that is one button done. Move on to your next button
Once all the buttons are done.
Staple the excess fabric right around. Trim it off and if you wish. You can cover the back with inexpensive fabric for a professional look.
I didn’t do this, as I would like to still be able to access it if I ever need to repair it.
Last step. Outsource the base piped box cushion to an upholsterer. I can bring myself to diamond tuft, but not sew a cushion cover. Let it go and call it a day.
The only thing that needed improvement was the depth of each button is inconsistent. But as a first timer, I am happy with it and I will do better with my next diamond tufting jaunt if I so chose to take one upon me.
I wish I had centred the banquette with the window above it. The reason I didn’t do this is in case we wanted to put a heater to the right (their is a gas outlet) or a tall narrow cabinet in between the 2 windows. But I think it would have looked really flash and we could have made a feature of the window (that still needs repairs and painting) with a nice roman blind and trim tape and flanked it with Oly San Fransico candle sconces. Always in hindsight. . . .
Another thought I had was finding a really nice demi lune table to go in between those 2 windows and placing a nice piece of art above it. But I always suffer from cramming so much furniture into a room.
Next thing. I think I am gearing up to do a headboard. But probably not diamond tufted. I just can’t settle on a shape.