Want to Make a Chair/Ottoman/Settee Out of Foam Rubber
January 5, 2017 11:20 PM   Subscribe

So I want to make a chair/ottoman/settee - square layered with a whole lot of good foam rubber repurposed from a mattress and cut into the size and shape I need. It's a pretty big-sized piece to be - approximately 3x3. Google fu fails and pinterest as well, what I'm looking for is the outer-enveloping material ideas and plans to keep everything bound well, nice, tight and together. Any leads - appreciated!
posted by watercarrier to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The place I've seen instructions for things like this were craft books from the 1970s. Books on 'furniture construction' or household crafts that haven't been properly weeded from the library are probably the way to go.

Fabric wise, you'll want to use something heavy, like denim, duck cloth, or outdoor/indoor upholstery fabric. Using something like vinyl or another non-woven or knit fabric is very unforgiving. In some patterns for sack chairs, a smaller, thin cotton/cotton-poly inner liner is useful so that the outer liner can be removed for washing and the inner one is completely enclosed.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:36 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd suggest gluing the layers together with a spray adhesive. Then make a cover out of quilt batting--just to cover all the sides, the edges basted together just to keep things tidy. Then sew a cover out of muslin, reasonably tightly. This one doesn't have to be neat. You can then use upholstery fabric for your real cover.

What you're doing here basically is making an oversized box cushion.
posted by mchorn at 11:38 PM on January 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: It is a box cushion - but it is a HIGH box cushion with about 6 layers of foam - TOGETHER. So I would need a design to keep it all together. I don't want to glue. Think framing with fabric.
posted by watercarrier at 12:35 AM on January 6, 2017

Best answer: Can you clarify why you don't want to use glue?
posted by jon1270 at 3:08 AM on January 6, 2017

Best answer: The glue will prevent the layers of foam from shifting. If you've got 6 layers, and it's it's gonna be that tall, i would reconsider not wanting to use spray adhesive.

If you really don't want to use adhesive, follow every step mchorn lays out. Cut and sew the muslin the exact size of foam layers without the batting on, then compress the batting wrapped foam into the muslin skin, the tension should hold everything in place. The batting surrounding the the inner foam will give your project a nice full professional look and evens out small lumps and bumps. i tend to use fatter polyester batting because I like the loft it gives.

If it's going to be very tall (or even if it's not), I would suggest cutting a piece of thin plywood (even the 1/4 stuff would work) to use as a base for more stability. You can also use this to attach the outer cover you've made with industrial strength velcro for easier changing or washing (or as in my case, to avoid sewing on a zipper). Otherwise you can staple the fabric onto it. I'm sure there a plenty of youtube stapling technique tutorials. It's pretty simple.

Fabricguru.com has great qulity upholstery remnants at a fraction of the price you'd normally pay. If looking for a very specific color or pattern, I'd highly recommend taking the extra step of ordering a sample first. I tend to order a lot of samples at a time whenever doing a project, and the one I usually end up choosing is not the one I would've thought just by looking at the pics.
posted by newpotato at 4:01 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Would you be able to cut one or more cores out of the individual pieces to allow the insertion of a foam stabalizer? Think of a rod running through the material from top to bottom, but the rod instead of being solid is made of the same kind of foam so it compresses the same way.

The concern for me would be that cutting the core would result in the foam splitting but if the outer casing is firm then that would not be dire.

Anything hard such as crate structure surrounding three sides would be likely to result in bruises or bumps on the butt when the cushion compressed as well as being a full new construction challenge.

If you don't want to glue the layers, would you consider gluing fabric to the sides?

Before making a durable outer upholstery fabric casing for it, you could start with some inexpensive knit fabric (for stretch) and make a very tight casing for it that would be able to stretch and expand at roughly the same rate as the foam. The thing to watch out for with the inner casing would be that the knit fabric might burst.

This knit inner casing could be held together with BIG basting stitches, or safety pins even, since it wouldn't show.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:22 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Even without the spray adhesive, the successive layers of batting and muslin cover and upholstery cover will help to an extent. Maybe piping at the seams would provide some structure as well. But spray adhesive is really the way to go here.
posted by mchorn at 4:35 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: jon - the fumes - can't do the fumes.
posted by watercarrier at 4:41 AM on January 6, 2017

Best answer: Ah, yeah, spray glue can be particularly nasty that way. You could wait for a day of decent weather, work outside and stand upwind.
posted by jon1270 at 4:57 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For the outside covering, if sewing it yourself isn't part of the brief, you could get a slipcover from IKEA and then conform your piece of furniture to the dimensions of the thing it's meant to cover.
posted by lakeroon at 6:28 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not to keep jumping in (sorry) but you probably realize how difficult it is to cut foam exactly, and that you're likely to end up with weird bumps where the layers vary in size. THAT is why you want the batting layer plus the muslin layer--the batting in particular evens things out. Then you need the muslin so you can get the real cover on (otherwise it'll stick to the batting). Don't skip it!
posted by mchorn at 9:09 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: They're making great double-sided tape these days. You can hold almost anything together with this stuff. And here's something just for fabric.
posted by sixpack at 9:24 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The last time I cut lots of foam I used an electric carving knife that I picked up in the kitchen section of Goodwill. Presumably a saber saw type tool would also work well. Any hand-tool approach where you cut each piece to size individually is likely to result in unexpected lumps, there's something really cool about getting everything stacked together then carving the whole thing smooth like you're trimming topiary hedges.
posted by aimedwander at 10:01 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

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