It’s Harder Than It Looks

This could be called the epic saga of a footstool. I am embarrassed to see how long I’ve been working on this silly thing. Sometimes it’s those tasks that are so simple that go on and on forever, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

I’ve been longing for a big cozy footstool for years, so when we snuggle on the couch everyone can put up their feet. The Mr vetoed that for the old place saying we just didn’t have enough room. One Christmas I received this instead.

It’s cute, serviceable, but not nearly big enough. A one-person footstool causes animosity at best. So you can imagine my joy when one of the “gifts of the house” was a giant footstool. It was really ugly, horribly faded, and falling apart, but it was the perfect size.

First things first, those feet had to go. I was surprised when I took them off to note that what I thought was a beige ottoman had started off as blue. It didn’t really matter, those little, fabric feet were out the door.

Oh, but what to replace them with? I’d just go to the hardware store; it’d be easy. But nothing’s ever easy, right? The hardware store told me to go to the furniture store. That sounded like money to me, so I decided to do some online shopping instead. A week later, I received these eBay beauties. They were less than $20 and free shipping. Perfect–right? Not so much.

I like those curves and the shine, but there was something missing.

How was I supposed to attach these silly things to my ottoman? I was in trouble. Maybe I could just pull apart the old feet and use the screws from them–fail. A trip to McLendan’s Hardware Store in Woodinville was the answer to my troubles. They are really nice, and oh so helpful. At one point, they did get on of my old feet stuck to their display, but they figured it out and took great care of me. I went home with nuts, bolts, and loctite to get my new feet up and running.

I tapped the nuts into place, added a little loctite and screwed in the bolts. Waiting 24-hours to let them set up, they were perfect. Finally, the feet were finished.

Meanwhile, one of my favorite blogs Centsational Girl featured an ottoman in their Best of the Blog series. It was perfect timing, I had to check this out. So I went to From Gardner’s Two Bergers for their Ballard Designs Tufted Ottoman Knock Off. Wow, she recovered an ottoman with a drop cloth, and it looked great. I hadn’t planned on tufting this thing, but she made it look so easy.

Sometimes things are harder than they look. Well, I was game. With its two-tone, faded ugliness, I couldn’t really ruin the footstool. So I got started.

First, it said to remove the old fabric. Well, my footstool has been in this room soaking up rays for a very long time. When I tried to remove the fabric from the base, it began to disintegrate and leave nasty foam everywhere. I decided to skip that step. I forgot to mention earlier that I was going a little Gone With Wind and using some old curtains instead of a drop cloth. They cost absolutely nothing and cleared out space in my sewing room. Unfortunately, you could still see the stripes through them–oops. Well, no worries, I have other yellow fabric from other old curtains–I’ve made a lot of curtains in my time–that I could cover the base with first and then cover it with my curtain fabric. It would be great.

Before I finished covering the base, I decided to cover and tuft the top to make sure it would work. the blog suggested using pegboard as the base for your tufting. I totally loved that idea. That’s another reason McLendan’s is my favorite hardware store. They had a small piece of pegboard in stock rather than just a 8×4-foot section. The Mr cut the pegboard to the right size and all was good… But you know it’s not.

I needed to cover some button’s with my fabric for the tufting, but the ones I had were the wrong size. Off to the fabric store I went for smaller buttons. I made my buttons, and they looked good. It was time to start tufting. My needle was only 6-inches long and wouldn’t got through the cushion and the pegboard. What I ended up with was sore finger, band-aids, and a bad attitude. So it was back to the fabric store for longer needles. Holy cow, this project is driving me crazy.

I had the right tools; time to get back to work. Well, I could get the needle through just fine but once the button was strung on, I couldn’t for the life of me get it back through the right hole in the pegboard. Sometimes, you just have to throw out the directions and wing it. I strung  a plain button on the bottom side, threaded both ends of cord on my needle and went up through the cushion. Next, I strung a covered button and tied it tight to form the tufting. I finally had a process that worked. You can believe that when the girls and the Mr came home that night, they all had to admire my tufting.

After I finished with the buttons, I flipped the cushion over and used a staple gun to tack my fabric in place. I needed a break. The Mr kept asking if the base and the cushion were supposed to be two different colors. Not so much, and no you aren’t supposed to be able to still see the stripes, but I took the weekend off. So Tuesday, I was back at it. I wrapped the base with fabric, marked and pinned the seams and sewed four quick sides to finish it off neat and tidy. With a little ironing, and some more staples, the bottom now matched the top.

It was time to join the cushion and the base. The blog I was reading said to just slip stitch them together. I queued up an old Cary Grant movie on Roku and started stitching. It was ugly; I don’t want to see those stitches. So, I decided to go my own way. I had plenty of curtain fabric leftover, so I made some welting by simply sandwiching some cord in strips of fabric and sewing it up using a zipper foot.

Next, I sewed the welting in place around the top edge of the base, plunked the cushion on top and sewed it again. The welting gives it a more finished edge and hides imperfections.

Finally after months of trial and error. I was done.

So now we have this cozy place to gather. I think I’ll swap out the pillows for a more muted tone that will tie in better with the off-white footstool. If I were to do it over again, I might go with heavier fabric to give a crisper finish. I used the light-colored fabric I had on hand since any fading wouldn’t show, but black dog hair shows up really well. If you’re using pegboard for tufting, make sure you count out your holes before cutting, I had to revamp my design a little, because I didn’t plan ahead.

It’s not perfect, but it’s so much better than where we started. And now little buddy has been very patient; it’s time to go for a walk.

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6 thoughts on “It’s Harder Than It Looks

  1. Oh my goodness, what a great job you did!!!!!!!! And, it turned out fantastic. It looks like light colors are going to be the ‘norm’ in your house, until you figure out how to change the sun. n my lifetime, I have covered 2 chairs and was too happy the results after having a horrendous experience in the process. The first one was fabric left over after our one story and a half drapes were finished in the.living room of the house we built. It was white background with red medallions. Much easier to make drapes, even long ones. The chair was a garage sale find with a scalloped back, like a wing-back only scalloped. So had lots of cording to make the top to bottom back by pulling the cords really, really tight and securing them to the frame. Found out you cannot just cut willy-nilly when you are working with a pattern, thank goodness I had lots of fabric left over. It turned out, but my angst was felt by all those who knew me. The other chair was a big overstuffed one that Linda Birum and I did for Ralph and Irene. It was great, and easy and lasted a long time. Working with my sister-in-law was a huge bonus. Can’t wait to get up there and do some more projects with you. MK.

    • I love a pattern, but centering motifs and matching lines gets so tricky. It was a bit of a relief just to go with a solid. We’re looking forward to your visit; and don’t worry, the list of projects is endless. I will keep you busy. 🙂

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