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the dining room

This recent project of mine required more than the usual strength I am accustomed to needing when I make couture draperies.  The inspiration for this banquette came from my client when she saw one in a room designed by Candace Olsen.  I jumped at the chance because I love new and exciting challenges.  Having done this on a much smaller scale, I thought how hard can it be?
 When all was said and done, it was easy, just a little cumbersome for a 5′ 2″ 120 lb gal making a 63″ tall x 80 1/2″ wide piece of upholstered board.  I will share with you how I approached the project.  Feel free to share your tips too!


What you are seeing above is the finished frame I constructed using 1 x4’s on the back to reinforce the sheets of Firma Flex on the front.  Firma Flex is a product that is so much more lightweight than MDF or plywood and I use it to make my cornices too.  It doesn’t warp either!  You will see that I drew lines horizontally every 7 1/2″ from the top because I had a space of 15″ between tufts.  My scale drawing determined the spacing and the number of tufts I wanted.  After making my marks, I then drilled a hole so that the cord of the button could be laced through to the underside and stapled down.

holes cut out in foam

This picture shows the frame with the foam attached and the holes cut out for the buttons.  You’ll note that at the bottom, I did not put foam because this area was just getting covered with fabric so that the 6″ cushion I made would fit in nicely as a unit.  I used a 4″ soft foam custom cut in one sheet from Albany Foam in New York.  Love their next day service!

mockup in lining

Perfectionist that I am, I made a mockup from lining to decide how far apart I wanted to make my markings on my fabric.  This spacing determines the amount of fabric needed to get a nice tufted look and for the fabric folds.  A dear friend who is an upholsterer reminded me to “don’t catch crumbs” when I make my folds!  Genius!   You also see that I have added a layer of Dacron to soften the side and top edges and give it a plush look when covered with fabric.

marking fabric for tufts

This picture shows the fabric after I seamed it together horizontally.  I railroaded the fabric for this project so I could hide the seam in one of the folds.  I am also in the process of marking the amount I need that gets pushed down into the foam holes and secured with a button.

on the table

Much time has lapsed since this photo and the one above as well as physical energy!  What you are now seeing is that I have stuffed all the fabric through the holes, threaded the button from the front to the back through the fabric and then secured the cord by stapling on the back 3 different directions to hold. 
How was this accomplished?  I had my mother and neice help me.  It went like this:  I got on top of my worktable to push the fabric through and arrange folds where I wanted them while my neice threaded the long upholstery needle with the button.  Then handing it over to me, I blindly felt for the hole I had drilled to place the needle so the cords could be caught by my mother underneath.  While she held the cords, I got off the table, grabbed the pneumatic stapler and got underneath and stapled! 
The conversation went like this:  ME:  Got the needle through, do you see it?  MOM:  yes, I got it!  ME:  good, hold tight till I get down off this table.   MOM:   ok.  ME:  let go now, I got the cord.  LET go now, I got it!  I. Got. It!  MOM:  Oh, ok, I was just trying to get out of your way! 🙂  (as she crawls out from under the table!)
Yes, it seemed like a very “Laurel and Hardy” moment and we had a good laugh but it sure was exhausting!

ready for delivery

This photo shows the finished product waiting for delivery.  You get a good shot of the bottom 6″ without any foam covered in fabric.
  Can you guess where my seam is hidden?
closeup of cushion against tufted wall
This photo is a closeup of the finished installation and the seat cushion in place.  Interesting thing about the pillows:  they were not made for this area but for the family room.  Client wanted to get an idea of what it would look like with pillows as I told her we should wait until the banquette was installed.  We decided we liked the orange because it pulled out the orange undertones from the rock wall.  So now pillows are being made to finish up the space. We’re also incorporating several other fabrics we used as well to tie everything together nicely!