Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Home Made Futon Mattress

We recently built our own loft bed to save space in our new place (more to come on that later) and since it is high off the ground, we couldn't use our old straw mattress. It's heavy and requires fluffing every couple weeks and sometimes flipping, and that just didn't seem feasible with the mattress being between 4 and 5 feet off the floor.

Of course we didn't want to buy a new mattress, and then again we didn't want a used one. We also needed a firm mattress because we like it that way, it's better for your back, and we plan to co-sleep with our baby (firmer mattresses are safer for babies). All of this led me to decide on making our own futon type mattress. This way, we could decide just how firm and thick we wanted it and also we'd know exactly what materials were used in it. Read on for pictures and brief instructions.

First, I considered measurements for a full size mattress (54"x75") and thought about stuffing materials. At first I thought we would use cotton upholstery batting, but I couldn't find that used and it would have been around $80 to buy enough for just a 4-5" thick mattress. We ended up going to this big rummage sale at a local church and found a bunch of thick cotton comforters, full size cotton mattress pads, and a thick mattress topper. All of this cost about $25 and would be the filling for our futon.

Next I asked on Freecycle (search for your local group  at Yahoo! Groups) for heavy tick material and a very nice lady gave me some great cotton canvas material, it was even much more than we needed. I used this to make a mattress cover.

I debated on what kind of closure to use for the cover, or if I should sew it up all the way around. I wanted to be able to remove it for washing, so I thought I'd use either velcro, a zipper, or buttons. Then I thought of ties. This was obviously the easiest method and would be hidden by the fitted sheet anyway.

But before I could get started, I got some upholstery thread and upholstery needles from the fabric store for about $10. We started by simply laying out the comforters and stacking them up while making sure they stayed within the full size mattress measurements. As always, click pictures to enlarge.

Then we started putting on the fitted mattress pads. This really helped hold everything together. I suggest putting one on the top, then one on the bottom, and alternating like that until you use them all. We had 5 mattress pads total I think. This really gave the mattress extra fluff.

The cabinet thing with green doors beside me is a makeshift dinnerware cabinet we put together from a used wooden bookcase, some old shutters and a little bit of hardware. Cost $45 total and looks very original!

Now I tufted through all the layers about every 9" with the upholstery needle and thread. This ensures that none of the filling comforters or mattress pads shift around. At this point we have a 4" thick, firm futon.

We put the mattress topper, where else, on top! This gave us a total of about 6" thickness. It's also nice because if we ever want to, we can add extra thickness using more mattress toppers stuffed in the cover I made. I did not tuft the mattress pad in with the above picture. It is simply laid on top.

For the cover, I took the cotton canvas material and laid it out flat. Then we put the mattress part (minus the topper seen above) on it with there being a little extra material sticking out from under one edge of the mattress. Then we put another piece of material on top, smoothed it out and cut to size, leaving extra for pinning and making seams. The left picture shows the material pinned around the mattress, which we carefully slid out from the end leaving the pins in place. The right picture shows a seam I made on my antique 1960 model Singer that I learned how to use that day. This project could also be done by hand though. I used the upholstery thread for the seams. It did not come out perfect but good enough.

Last I made the ties out of strips of the material doubled over and seamed for reinforcement. I used the sewing machine again to attach them and there you have it. We turned the cover right side out (I sewed it inside out so seams would be on inside) and put it on. Not half bad, I think! This is the complete mattress minus the mattress topper we put on top, and it shows the end where the ties are. 

Total cost was around $35 and it took a few hours of work to make. We've been sleeping on it for a few weeks now and it's just what we wanted. This project could be done in a variety of ways. This is just the way that worked best for us given the materials we had. Happy mattress making!


nevonne said...

how to you clean it?

futons pittsburgh said...

wow! what a great job you have done, i would love to try it at home..its very cool and i bet its very comfortable..

Marcus Wheeler said...

You may be required to apply a certain amount of cleaning product urine stain and let stand for a stipulated time. Then rub the cleanser with a washcloth and warm water. Cleaning with baking soda or Borax: Using baking soda or borax is a safe way to remove urine smell from the mattress.

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Maryam said...

I've come back to this post a bunch of times over the last week—I love it! Thanks for the awesome idea, especially as organic futons are crazy expensive!

Siya Kumar said...

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ROSE RENEE said...

What a great blog, thank you for letting me comment on it.
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Futon Mattress said...

All of this led me to decide on making our own futon type mattress. This way, we could decide just how firm and thick we wanted it and also ...

Zahid said...

it looks really comfy. good job.

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