Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tutorial-How To Make A Tufted Doll Bed Mattress With Piping

Aletha & Miss Jane are looking forward
to snuggling down for a good nights sleep in their
new bed.  It's a comfy spot for reading too.

The mattress has been tufted & the
bedding is finished.

 When I was a young girl & spent time at my Grandad's
cabin, I slept in the screened porch on an old iron bed
that had a feather mattress & one large feather
bolster pillow.  I have to say, the best sleepin' ever, is bein'
on your Grandad's porch, swallowed up by a feather mattress,
with a cool summer night's breeze blowing & not a care
in the world!

I stitched some simple warm flannel sheets
& pillow cases.

My "first" quilt fits well enough for now.

Aletha & Miss Jane love the little English cottages,
it reminds them of their favorite author's home, Hill Top.

Learn more about Beatrix Potter's life here:
  Peter Rabbit 

Making the mattress was really very simple.
To get the appropriate size for the top and bottom pieces,
 I measured the length and width of the interior of
the bed.  I added a seam allowance on both sides and
 both ends for the final measurement.  I cut 2 pieces,
 the top and bottom of the mattress.
 I measured all around the top piece and doubled
that to get the length needed for the piping.  I added
a few inches for overlapping the ends together.
 I cut a long strip of fabric for the piping.  I actually
had to stitch a couple pieces together to get the
length needed.  I basted the cording inside the strip.
(Use cording appropriate for the size of mattress).

To make the "side" panel of the mattress, I decided how
 tall I wanted it to be, then added a seam allowance to the top
and bottom.  I then cut enough strips to go all around the
top panel adding a seam allowance at the ends.
I had to stitch together a couple pieces to have
enough.  I matched the stripes.

I marked my stitching lines on the top
& bottom pieces of the mattress.  I cut out a
small cardboard template to mark my
curved corners.  Much easier than
a square corner.
I pinned, then basted piping to the right
 side of the mattress top. Be sure to attach the
piping right next to the drawn stitching line.
 Large basting stitches that don't need to be
neat and pretty.
This is how I butted the ends of the piping
strips together.
Fold the end of the bottom section toward the inside
about 1/4 inch.  Lay the other end on top, butt the 
cording together, fold over and pin.
 I couldn't exactly match the fabric pattern,
but I got close.
I clipped all curves throughout the entire process.
Piping basted to the top.
Next step, I pinned then basted the side panel to the top.
Right sides together.
Then I pinned and basted piping to the bottom
 of the side.  Right sides together.
Top and sides with all piping basted.
I pinned then basted the bottom of the mattress to the
bottom of the side panel, leaving a large opening
for stuffing.  Again, with right sides together.
I stitched the seams with off white button hole thread
 in a back stitch.  Then removed all the basting stitches.
Ticking is a heavier fabric, regular thread just
didn't seem strong enough.
I nearly stole my hubby's feather pillow for the
stuffing, but I thought he might not appreciate the
importance of feathers in the dolly's mattress, so
 I used polyester stuffing.  I turned it right side
out and I stuffed it full, then closed the opening
with a ladder stitch.
How To Sew A Ladder Stitch 
This is the placement of the buttons I
used for tufting the mattress.

I marked the top and bottom panels with X's.

I covered 8 shank buttons for the top and
chose 8 smaller red shank buttons for the
bottom of the mattress.
Covering small buttons with heavier ticking
fabric was a chore, I gave up after 8!!!!
I used a long length of button hole thread doubled
to tie the top & bottom buttons together. I used
 a very long upholstery needle with a big eye.
I started by inserting my needle into the bottom X.

Coming out in the corresponding X on the
top of the mattress.  (Don't pull the thread
all the way through) 

I threaded the button, re inserted the needle
next to the first thread, coming out in the X
on the bottom.

 I threaded the bottom button.
 (Slightly off, but it won't show!)
Then I pulled the 2 buttons closer together, to
get the tufting look.
 I tied several knots under the bottom button.
Then re threaded all 4 lengths of thread onto
my needle, inserted the needle just underneath
the button and buried the thread ends inside
the mattress.  I repeated this with all the
pairs of buttons.
This is the bottom of the mattress.
It's lump bumpy, but so was the
feather mattress I slept on as a child.
The covered buttons look really nice, so it
was worth all the aggravation.
I had hoped to sew this on the machine, but my
piping foot wasn't big enough for the size cording I chose, 
even by hand it wasn't difficult.  
My mother once told me that sewing was lots & lots of 
planning, measuring, cutting, fitting, pinning, & basting,
with a little bit of sewing thrown in at the end.  
Oh, so true!
 Happy Sewing


  1. Excellent explanation!! And oh so cute! I remember making a pillow in Home Ec class with cording, and I know square corners are hard to do, so the rounded corners are a perfect solution. These are lucky girls!

  2. Just wondering if I might be invited to the cabin for a sleep over. Surely Aletha and Miss Jane would let me sleep in their bed! Wow, did you ever nail the task of making a the tufted look. And, your "first" little quilt is the icing on the cake. Your telling about sleeping in a feather bed on your Granddad's porch could well be me. What a delight it was to sink deeply into the big feather mattress and listen to the whip-poor-will's outside the windows.

    1. Aren't we lucky to have grown up in such a wonderful place!

  3. Incredible. Is the ticking fabric regular people-size or doll size? It looks perfectly proportioned.

    1. Good question. I purchased this red at the quilt store. It was on a long roll like upholstery fabric & that weight too. I would say that true old time ticking would be heavier than this and in a larger scale. The same goes for the blue I used. I got that at Joann's and it was a little bit heavier than the red. Both fabrics look the right size on the doll beds, so surely true ticking would be in a larger scale.

  4. Your mother's words are so true and you certainly have made beautiful pieces from that statement!

  5. Oh my, how cute! Those girls are so lucky. And I love the quilt.

  6. Just what I've been looking for, unfortunately it's not printable (that I see), sure wish it was, this would make a great winter project. Would so love to make this for my granddaughters.

    1. Cindie, Sorry it's not a printable PDF. Frankly, I do well to take photos and publish a post, I'm not that good with the computer....! I will say it's a very simple project that can be used for any size doll bed. I've actually used this same technique for another doll bed and dollhouse beds too. Basically it's a top, bottom and side panel in measurements appropriate for the bed and enough piping to go around the top and bottom. If you have a piping foot on your machine it would be a quick project. I sew by hand but even with that, it didn't take too long. It was a fun project. II must say it looked great on this antique bed! Part of it's charm is having that home made old fashioned look. The difficult part was covering the buttons, I think a larger button would have been easier on my old hands. I hope you give it a whirl!

  7. Hi, I've been looking for a mattress for my granddaughters brass doll bed for quite some time when I stumbled upon this site. I don't know if this is possible or not, but since I'm all thumbs when it comes to crafts, I was wondering if I could pay you to make one of these fabulous mattresses for me (or could give me the name of a person who would make it for me). Thank you.

    1. I think it might difficult to do without having the bed. Look for someone in your area that sews and share the tutorial with them. Someone who sews would not find it hard to do. Check with your local upholsterer, this would be right up their alley!


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