Easy Steps To Make Your Own Japanese Futon Mattress

Japanese futon

Making a Japanese futon mattress is easier than you think! Stick with us to learn more about this versatile bed and how to make your own.

A Japanese futon can be made with three foam blocks, covering them with fabric, and connected the blocks with hinges that also allows the futon to fold away for easy storage.

Do you want to try your hand at making your own futon? We show you the easiest way to do it.

How To Make Your Own Japanese Futon Mattress

A traditional Japanese futon is a pad filled with layers of cotton or fibres. They are also quilted to keep the stuffing in place and the quilting also adds a decorative touch. To make an authentic Japanese futon is time-consuming and not a project for the beginner. 

However, if you are bent on making your first futon then this project is a great introductory step. The project is still not for raw beginners but if you set your mind to it, there is no reason why you cannot succeed! This version takes three foam slabs and uses fabric to cover and connect the blocks.

What Are The Benefits Of Making Your Own Futon?

  • You can fold it away during the day. This is a perk if you have limited space.
  • If you love crafts and DIY, this is a fulfilling project.
  • The mattress is more cost-effective than buying a new mattress.

If you are on the hunt for a new bed, grab our free guide on how to choose a mattress. You will learn how to identify your sleeping needs, find your perfect mattress and avoid getting fleeced.

What Do I Need To Make My Own Futon?

memory topper foam
  • Three foam blocks that measure 68.5 cm x 76 cm. They should be about 13 cm thick. Choose the foam based on your needs (soft, medium-firm or firm).
  • 6.5 meters of 92 cm fabric (or more – a little extra never hurt).
  • A good pair of scissors.
  • Sewing machine and sewing kit.

How To Cut The Fabric

Before the real stuff starts, you need to cut the fabric into the right panels. Take the scissors and separate your fabric into the following pieces:

  • 2 long panels (each measuring 79 cm x 140 cm).
  • 2 smaller panels (each measuring 71 cm x 79 cm).
  • 6 side panels (each measuring 15 cm x 71 cm).
  • 6 end panels (each measuring 15 cm x 79 cm).
  • 2 hinges (each measuring 4cm x 79 cm).

Want some more numbers? Here are all the different mattress sizes in the UK.

Start With Three Boxes

The first pair of boxes is going to cover the two end cushions. They will each require 2 side panels, a small panel, and 2 end panels. 

  1. Sew a side panel to both the 71 cm sides of the small panel.
  2. Do not sew roughly 1.4 cm on both ends (leave this unattached).
  3. Sew an end panel to both the 79 cm sides of the small panel.
  4. Also, leave about 1.4 cm openings at the edges.
  5. Use the 1.4 cm gaps to join all the sides and form corners.
  6. You should now have two partially completed boxes for the end cushions.

How Do I Make A Jacket For The Middle Cushion?

You will use both long panels for the middle cushion. Just follow these steps!

  1. Fold one long panel in half and iron the fold line. 
  2. Open the piece again and lay it out flat.
  3. Iron one of the hinge panels in half (do this lengthwise).
  4. Open the hinge strip again and place it along the long panel’s iron crease.
  5. Next, you need to hand baste the two pieces together (along the iron creases). Learn how to sew a basting stitch.
  6. Using a sewing machine, stitch a row about 0.3 mm on each side of the hand basted line.
  7. Remove the hand basting thread.
  8. Cut a 1.3 cm slit on each end (inside the two permanent lines and through both panels).
  9. Do the same with the second long panel and a second hinge panel.

What Do I Do With The Remaining Pieces?

You are now going to make one of the large panels look boxier. Take an end strip and sew one side to a hinge. Arrange the end strip along the one half of the long panel and sew the two edges together but leave 1.4 cm open at the end. Take another end strip and repeat. You should now have a large panel with an upright hinge and two end strips attached along the top and bottom edges on one half of the large panel.

There should be two side panels left. Attach them opposite each other on the same long sheet. Also, attach them to the central hinge and leave 1.4 cm at the ends. Fold the open ends together to form corners.

How Do I Match Everything Together?

The good news is that it does not take long to see how everything fits together. But here are some pointers to guide you along. 

  1. Place one long panel in the centre.
  2. On its right should be a flap with no panels. Place one of the end boxes on this flap (the flap serves as the final side of this end box).
  3. To the left should be the other end box.
  4. Place the remaining long panel upside down, so that its two halves cover the top sides of the left end and the central cushion (the hinge will insert itself between the two cushions).
  5. Stitch the hinges so that one end cushion folds up and the other one down. 

How Do I Sleep On A Japanese Futon?

sleep japanese futon

The traditional way of using a Japanese futon is to lay it on the floor. But these days, you can use a special bed frame. A bed frame is very useful if your area has a lot of high humidity and you fear that contact between the floor and mattress might cause mould problems. 

A Quick Summary On How To Make A Japanese Futon Mattress

  • Japanese futon mattresses are known for their comfort and minimalistic appeal.
  • These beds are also handy because they fold away. This makes them useful in situations where space is very limited. 
  • You need an intermediate to advanced level of experience to make a Japanese futon mattress.
  • The materials include foam blocks, fabric, a pair of scissors, a sewing kit, measuring tape, and a sewing machine. 
  • The fabric is used to create jackets for the foam and also the hinges. 
  • Moisture often causes mould when there is contact between the mattress and the floor. If you live in a high-humidity region, it might be best to get a special futon frame.
  • Authentic Japanese futons look a little differently. They are made as a single sleeping pad with fillings that include the finest cotton and fibres.