How to DIY a French Tufted Mattress

Create foam core, cover with fabric.
How to DIY a French Tufted Mattress
Tom Greenspan
December 21, 2022

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It is not just any mattress. It's decorative and stylish, bringing that french je ne sais quoi to your home. The french style tufted mattress is both traditional and contemporary, and if you have some basic sewing skills, you can make your own easily.

The french mattress is versatile, used for floor cushions and replacing old bean bags or day beds. They make great cushioning for bench seats. Follow this article for a complete guide on how to DIT a french tufted mattress.

Let's get started.

Shopping list

Before you get started, you will need the essentials to complete the mattress. We choose foam as a filler. It's convenient and gives a uniform appearance to the mattress. However, the filling is your choice, and some of you may prefer to use natural fibers like a wool filling.

  • High-density foam (I used 4-inch foam, but you may use less; this type of cushion looks best when it is big and substantial)
  • You'll need enough batting to cover the whole sheet of foam on all six sides, which should be between 3/4" and 1" in thickness. Dacron works well.
  • The fabric cover of your choice. Linen works great.
  • Aerosol adhesive
  • Thread (preferably upholstery-grade)
  • Sewing needle, 3 inches
  • Upholstery needle, 6 inches
  • Sewing machine

Diy French tufted mattress

Step 1

Cut the foam to length.

Prepare the mattress base size. You will need to trim the foam to the length required for the mattress. Using a sharp knife, cut the mattress halfway through.

Flip the mattress and complete the cut, ensuring the dimensions are correct for the mattress.

It's advisable to use a straight edge for cutting and to leave some excess that can be trimmed later in the project.

Step 2

Attach the Dacron or batting.

Cut the dacron to size, ensuring you have allowed enough to wrap all of the edges of the foam mattress. If the dacron has creases or is puckered, you are going to feel this through the covering. Ensure the dacron is flat.

Using the spray adhesive in a well-ventilated room, attach the padding to the foam, and be liberal with the adhesive. The dacron should be secure when it dries.

Step 3

Measure and cut the fabric

Cut the covering fabric to length, leaving a 1-inch overlap for each edge of the mattress.

Lay out the side edges and clip them together, head to the sewing machine, and attach the side pieces together, ensuring the fabric is the correct way around for each side piece. You can use a ½ inch seam allowance at this stage.

Take note the fabric edges need to be parallel to each other.

Clip the side walls together and attach them to the top section of the fabric by sewing around the perimeter of the mattress cover.

Pin and clip the base of the mattress fabric, leaving an opening for the foam mattress to be inserted.

Turn the mattress right side out and insert the foam.

Sew the opening shut with an invisible stitch if you don't know how. There are many tutorials online for invisible stitching.

Step 4

Tuft and sew

Mark the mattress where you wish the buttons to be located, there is no set formula to this, but it should be uniform by dividing equally, and then you can add a center row if needed to finish the project.

Thread your preferred button onto an upholstery thread and then thread the button onto an upholstery needle. Push the needle through where you have marked on the mattress's cover.

Once all the way through to the other side of the mattress, thread another button onto the upholstery needle.

You will need to tie a slip knot on one side of the thread. Once you have the knot in place, you can tighten the button to the precise indentation you prefer for the mattress. This process should be uniform across all of the buttons.

You are now ready for tufting.

Mark the mattress for tufting as below.

The image uses 1-inch spaces, but it is your preference. Don't go less than an inch if you want an original look.

The marks on the top of the cushion and the side panels should be inline. If they're not, you have mismeasured and will need to start over.

Thread your needle through the mark on the side panel, pushing up towards the mark on the top panel, and keep the depth of the needle uniform. Continuity in stitching is essential.

Using a curved needle makes life much easier for this job. Once you have returned the needle back through the first needle puncture, you will need to tie another slip knot and tighten it for the desired effect and then continue to sew.

Your tufted mattress should look like this once you have stitched it all the way around the mattress.

The tufting space can vary depending on your style and the mattress size. More significant mattresses can have up to 7-inch tufts that provide a loose bohemian style mattress which is very cool in the right environment for a day mattress.

But, if you are looking for a more formal cushion, say for a window seat or a bench in the kitchen, the smaller tufting stands up better to the rigors of being used frequently.

Do you need help making a DIY french tufted mattress?

It depends on the mattress and its thickness. If you are making a bench seat mattress for a window bay, then it is unlikely you will need help other than for moral support and making the coffee.

But day mattresses that may have dense foam do require some force when sewing and generally manhandling the mattress around.

Apply the finishing touches

If you have chosen a very nice cover fabric, it may be worth investing in waterproofing so spills mop up quickly.

Something like Scotch Guard will work incredibly well on most fabrics which will extend the life of your new french tufted mattress.