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Soft Furniture

Creating alternative and cheap furniture from basic materials and hand sewing.

By DamilolaPublished 3 years ago 6 min read

When I first moved into my apartment, it was completely empty. I was attracted to its very cheap monthly rent as it was in the outskirts of Sheffield. I also loved the slanted architecture and the fact that it was tiny. Just enough for me to sleep, cook, dance around, and spend some quality time by myself.

The apartment was unfurnished, which meant I could add my own spin and create something true to my aesthetic. And so I was really excited like I always am, whenever I have a chance to create or transform a space.

Before furniture

As attractive as that sounds for a single woman trying to escape from the hustle and bustle of London, in addition to its ridiculously expensive rent, an unfurnished apartment posed its own struggles.

Whilst I had previously lived in a self-built van, asides from some baskets and some books, I didn’t have enough possessions to transfer into an apartment. And so I knew I would have to spend a bit of money to make the space somewhat liveable. Like I always do, I wanted the cheapest option possible. Whether it’s by picking up freebies from the internet or by visiting charity shops, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t spending thousands of pounds on furniture. I believe there are already so many things in the world that could be recycled, so if there’s a way to avoid buying new things, I would always take that route.

This philosophy worked for a DVD player stand (Repurposed into a decorative piece), a set of coffee tables and a couple of cheap paintings I found in charity shops around town. But when it comes to the main things an apartment needs to function, i.e., a bed to sleep on and a sofa to sit on, things became complicated.

At first, I considered picking up a used sofa and mattress on gumtree, but the problem is I’d have to spend quite a lot on transport. There’s also the fact that I’m on the top floor in a building with no elevator, and it would be physically impossible for me to carry the furniture into my apartment. Except I hired handymen, which again would cost me money. And so I decided to come up with an idea that involved the least costs and would be an authentic and creative option for me. This is how the idea of soft furniture was born.

I have had the privilege of watching a couple of Japanese style apartments on YouTube, and one thing that always stood out to me was the use of the floor as a bed. Having lived in Nigeria, this is also something we practised, putting a fabric on a mat and laying on it. This might sound like a crazy idea to some, but it’s actually pretty comfortable and somewhat therapeutic.

With these in mind, I decided the best option for me would be to create my own bed, pillows, cushions and sofa using just fabric and fluff as an alternative. I had picked up some used cushions from charity shops, but I wanted to create new shapes and big fluffy pillows. Surprisingly, the whole process was actually quite easy and it took me just under three hours to complete the whole thing.

The first thing I did was go on eBay. I had initially planned on getting some hard foam but I decided against it as I wanted the soft look without edges. Hard foam is also pretty hard to manipulate and would require a special type of equipment to shape it into something functional. Instead of this, I picked up some fluff which is used in teddy bears and cushions, and about 3 kg of it was enough for me. This cost me about £15.

Cheap foam

I already had some fabric at home, but I supplemented this with some white bedsheets I got from Argos and set to work. I have no sewing machine, and I wouldn’t consider myself someone who knows how to sew. In fact, I had bought at least two sewing machines in the past but failed miserably at the somewhat complicated threading process. I remember deciding sewing was too much for me and putting my fashion ambitions to the side till I can get some much needed professional training.

Despite my pitiable sewing skills, what I know how to do is cut basic shapes with scissors. That in addition to knowing how to use hand sewing to adjust rips in my clothes made up my skill set for this venture. This means pretty much anyone can transform an empty space into one with a level of functionality using everyday objects and a basic skill set. All in all, what I used was; fluff, fabric, a pair of scissors, thread and a needle.

Required Supplies

As you can already imagine, the process was pretty simple. I cut all the fabrics into rectangular shapes of different sizes. I laid out the fluff and spread it into the shape of the fabric. I wouldn’t say there’s a specific way to do this, you can add how ever much fluff to it to make it comfortable. I then removed the fluff and kept a rough mental image of the dimensions and then began to sew.

Add fluff to fabric
Sew around

I sewed around the fabric in a rectangular path for the bed and the “sofa” and turned it inside out after sewing and then filled it with fluff. After this, I simply sewed the remaining opening and voila, it was done.

As you can see from the photo, I failed and didn’t actually end up with a sofa but more of a bean bag of some sort. Nonetheless, I could sit comfortably on it and also be able to turn it into a hammock by adding some ropes to the side.

Bean bag

For the cushions, the process was slightly different and a tiny bit more complicated. I used two different fabrics for this. The first was a curtain-type white fabric that followed the same steps as the bean bag and the bed. They were pretty functional on their own, but because I had a more interesting-looking fabric I decided to create cushion covers out of them.

I gauged the dimensions for the covers by measuring them with the white cushions and then proceeded to sew. The only difference is, this time I sewed all around and then cut a hole in the middle, folded it in and then inserted the white cushions I had made earlier. What I love about this is the fact that with or without the cushion covers, they still fit nicely with the aesthetic I was going for!

Cushion cover one
Add in fluff
Sew cushion cover two
Add in first cushion
Set of 4 cushions made
Alternative style

So there you have it, soft furniture that allows me to sleep and sit comfortably, costing me around £50 in total. It’s not perfect, but it worked well for me.

All done!

Now you might be wondering, are they comfortable and can they actually replace wooden or metal furniture? The answer is yes! For the level of comfort I require, these work perfectly for me. There’s also something about laying on the floor that really appeals to me. It’s also pretty easy to throw them in the washer and clean in the case of stains. Which is something you can’t do with a mattress or a sofa. I have also learnt that it can help with back pain and your sleeping posture. I am incredibly happy with the overall look of my apartment. What makes it even better is, it was a very fun and creative process!

So if you’re like me and you’ve moved into an unfurnished apartment and you don’t want to spend too much money on furniture, or perhaps you just want to undertake a very easy sewing project and create an alternative living space. All you really need is a pair of scissors, some fabric and of course some fluff!


About the Creator


poet, wanderer, writer.

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