Making Mattresses Step by Step
by Valerie Towers
I cut a piece of card to support the mattress because there is no firm base. This also serves as a Template to cut the ticking.
NB. You can use any firm woven fabric not just ticking.
Antique Bed I bought at Cobham
Fold fabric in two with right sides together, cut to size of bed plus ½ inch seam allowance all round or 2.5cms if you speak “centipede.” You can either cut two oblongs of fabric, meaning 3 sides to machine, or one long oblong, folded in half and just machine the 2 long sides.
Keeping fabric right sides together, pin around three sides ½ inch in, or two long sides if you chose the folded option.
Machine or hand-sew around three sides (or two sides), and fasten cotton off securely.
Cut across the corners to reduce bulk, trim seam allowance off close to stitching, not too close or it will fall apart!
Turn to right side and use the point of your scissors to push the corners out.
Check that the mattress fits your bed with enough length at the open end to turn in a small hem.
Now for the stuffing! You can use bought stuffing, cotton wool or chopped up pieces of scrap fabric, it doesn’t matter which. I filched the stuffing from my dog’s Christmas toy as she had chewed a hole in it and it wasn’t worth mending as she’ll do it again! A word of warning - don’t fill it too full unless you have a VERY deep bed. If you need an extra thin mattress, use a piece of flannelette or winceyette material, three times the finished width of your mattress, fold into three, sew the layers together to keep them flat and slide it inside the mattress cover.
Turning in the rough edge, pin the open end and over sew to close.
Additional Note: You can just check at this stage that it will fit the bed:
Now comes the fun part! Measure where you want the tufts, I always start in the middle and work both ways. Mark positions with pins. Don’t worry at this stage if your mattress is a smidgeon too narrow- the tufting squashes it down and adds a little width and you will be adding bedding later and that will need a bit of room to tuck in.
Starting with the middle tuft, using a slightly thicker thread than sewing cotton, I’ve used 1ply wool but crochet cotton is fine, with the thread double, but do not knot, stab through the mattress from the top side to the back and pull the needle through leaving a tail on the top side, push the needle back from underneath to where you started, pull tight and tie both pieces of thread together in a double knot. Still leaving the ”tail” on top, take the needle and thread back down through and up again, tie off again in a double knot and cut the threads leaving a tuft. That should ensure the tufts will not unravel.
Repeat with the two tufts either side of the middle, then mark the positions of the rest of the tufts at equal points along the side, and tuft still working from the middle out towards the end. If you start at the end and work towards the middle, you might find more stuffing in one place than another! If you want less tufts? It’s your mattress, do it the way you want.
Optional, put the kettle on or pour yourself a celebratory glass of something and Congratulations, you’ve made a mattress! Now that wasn’t too difficult, was it?