I made furniture! (Heart eyes for the Atomic Ottoman)

A few months ago, I was contacted by the Maaike Pullar, furniture designer extraordinaire.  She had noticed my fantastic re-upholstered stool on Instagram and wondered if I was interested in producing my own piece.  You may remember that this marvellous piece was reupholstered and painted by my Mum who is a soft furnisher.

I know upholstery is for me, it’s a skill I have always wanted to master.  Over the years, I have watched my Mum reupholster pretty much every piece of furniture in our house.  I am, therefore, fully versed in the skill required for furniture making…the skill of swearing!  Yes, I can swear with the best of them and I am sure Mum will never admit it, but so can she! My theory on craft, whether sewing or upholstery is that you swear A LOT when you start out and that tapers off the better you get. So to test this theory out, I committed.

Maaike proposed her Atomic Ottoman workshop as my first dive into the world of furniture.  And really how could I refuse? Have you seen how cute these ottomans are!  Here are a few from her collection.  Check out her @studioMaaike for more.

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Photo: @studiomaaike

The workshop was held at Happenstore in Sydney.  A place I have never visited before but definately a place I would visit again.  Beautiful space, full of super creative yummy things.  I was greeted by Maaike and what a joy, she’s so warm and friendly!  So good to meet in real life, often my creative life is very much online.  Love putting a face to a name.

We started out with a little info about the kit and her vision.  So basically, Maaike wants to spread the furniture making love by providing a DIY Atomic Ottoman kit.  It’s a box of all the supplies you will need, along with professional video tutorials. I think this video explains it all better than I could.

What I love about this concept is that, of course, workshops are brilliant, but it’s not always possible for students to visit a workshop.  Delivering a kit to your door AND using very basic tools is so clever.  It also means you can take the ‘virtual’ workshop in bite size pieces, at a time that suits you.

Getting started

All I needed to bring to the workshop was the fabric for the ottoman.  Everything else was supplied.  I was given some information about the type of fabric required and the sizes needed for each piece.  So to begin.  I chose a dark blue/grey marl outdoor fabric from Bargain Upholstery Fabrics in Seaforth.  This store has some great quality fabrics and it’s really good value.  I chose possibly the most expensive fabric in there at $50 a metre.  I feel OK about this.  It’s outdoor fabric and it’s hardwearing.  I need that in my house (errr… boys!)

Fabric sorted, time to take it up a level! I decided to Sashiko one of the panels. Feeling slightly overwhelmed by the concept, my studio buddy suggested I super-size the pattern.  Yes, that makes sense!  I settled on the triple persimmon flower stitch.

This is my Ida Clutch with the standard size stitch compared to my supersize version.

It’s a fairly big piece required for the side panel which of course was the panel I decided to Sashiko.  That’s 1.6m.  Lets just say it took me a while, but it was so worth the effort because it is beautiful.

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The Workshop

I really enjoyed the workshop.  It was great fun and of course I was surrounded by inspiring and really lovely makers.  Everyone had a very different vision which was so fantastic.  The results were incredible.  Here are some photos of me in action.

New tools for me!  I was taught how to use a hammer properly (been doing it wrong for years!)

Of course glasses are required too!

Maaike is really hands on and gives such clear instructions
Feeling at home for just a moment, sewing some piping.
There were also moments to chat to the other makers.  This is Georgie of Little Crow Designs, she is an incredibly talented textile designer.  She made such a beautiful ottoman. She worked into the fabric that she had printed with embroidery and adding strands and fringing of the base fabric.
Having a quick cuppa with Lisa from We Are Scout, the creative lifestyle blogger.  She has such an incredible eye for design, check out her blog, it’s beyond beautiful.

So here it is, in all it’s glory.  I could not be more pleased with it.  Mum also sent me a message saying how wonderful she thought it was.  High praise indeed for the Queen of Upholstery!


A thoroughly enjoyable experience all round.  It’s a rare event for me, to spend the day crafting, so I felt replenish and inspired.  To walk away with something so professional looking too.  It really does look like someone with years of experience made it.  That’s what happens when someone who actually does have years of experience creates a kit like this.

The other surprising thing, it really wasn’t that difficult!  There are many steps to achieving this finish but we were guided through them with ease, lots of small and important steps, it was very achievable.  And you know the best bit… not one swear word was uttered.  Not one!!


If only the little meerkat would get off it and let me put my feet up!


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