Reupholster a Very Old Footstool




About: Furniture, fabric, architecture, building, painting. I specialize in upholstery design, restyling, repurposing and writing all about upholstery. I teach loads of upholstery classes all week long and also te...

You have to treat a little antique footstool just like an old person, gentleness and kindness.
It turns out, after a little local research, this stool belonged to a prominent Indianapolis physician in the early 1920's and it cost $5.00 to make.  A little TLC updated, refreshed and turned this old, tattered stool into a sparkling  gem. Notice the snazzy flat welt cord made out of fabric, adhesive and cardboard tack strip. If you'd like this little stool for your home, you can buy it right here at my etsy shop, FliptStudio.

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Step 1: Take Stock

This covering is just too threadbare to try to salvage.

Step 2: Unhitch the Old Cover

Carefully remove the tacks and unhook the old fabric. Be careful not to damage the wood.

Step 3: Clean and Sand

Use some sandpaper to clean up the legs and base.

Step 4: Apply New Wood Stain

Gently rub a little wood stain on the legs and base coating all scratched, sanded and dinged up wood. Let dry for 30 minutes and then wipe off with a clean cloth.

Step 5: Fresh Padding

As long as the old padding is not smelly and musty, just add a fresh layer of cotton batting to the top of your stool, gradually pulling off the excess cotton as you near the edge.

Step 6: Staple Fabric

Begin on one side stapling the fabric and move to the opposite sides, pulling fabric tautly and staple in place, smoothing as you staple.

Step 7: Staple All Around

Make sure the fabric is stapled on with your  desired pattern placement.

Step 8: Cut Off Excess Fabric

Using a sharp razor knife, cut off the excess fabric that hangs beyond the staples.

Step 9: Edging

Use small, sharp scissors and cut off loose threads around the edge.

Step 10: Fabric Strips for Flat Welt

Cut enough 1 1/2" strips of fabric to go around the circumference of the stool. Stitch ends together on a diagonal. Clip the excess seam allowance and place wrong side up on a flat surface.

Step 11: Make Flat Welt

Gather cardboard tack strip, spray adhesive, and sharp scissors to make the flat welt.

Step 12: Adhere Fabric to Tack Strip

Spray the adhesive on the fabric strips and wrap the fabric around the cardboard tack strip.

Step 13: Trim Excess Fabric

After tack strips are covered, trim off excess fabric for a clean edge.

Step 14: Glue on Flat Welt

Use a hot glue gun to attach the flat welting.

Step 15: Join Ends of Flat Welt

Carefully work the two ends so that they overlap each other. Hot glue the ends in place.

Step 16: Look Underneath

You can tell this is OLD by checking out the under side.

Step 17: Enjoy!

Wow! This little, colorful stool is fresh and clean.

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    25 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I wish you had bothered to photograph the needlework design some lady spent weeks making on the original upholstery fabric. I think it would have been better to try to reproduce the original design in needlepoint. Did you throw it away before taking a picture? Makes my heart ache seeing that tossed like it was nothing. The doctor's wife or mother obviously made it, perhaps in the 1920s from an older design. (From what I am able to make out. it looks like a classical needlepoint design.)

    2 replies

    Reply 2 months ago

    I kept it and used it for a pillow. I hope you know how much I appreciate handmade textiles of all kinds. I save what I can.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Just so you looks like you (cleverly!) uploaded all of your pictures in one shot, when you wrote the Introduction.  Unfortunately, that had the side effect of attaching all of your pictures to the Intro, which is probably not what you intended.  You might want to Edit your I'ble and remove all but the final-product image from the Intro.  They'll stay attached to all of the other steps (and stay in your library).

    5 replies

    Very nice.  This is a great Instructable, with enough detail that even a scissors-impaired engineer can follow along.  Thanks for putting it together!

    Wow! You're so brilliant, you could probably turn it into a rocket. I feel like a numskull even posting such a simple project.


    Question 1 year ago on Introduction

    How high is the top from the bottom? It cannot be too tall for an old lady like me to step onto!

    2 answers

    Answer 1 year ago

    You would not want to step onto this. It's to rest your feet on while sitting in a comfy chair.


    Answer 1 year ago

    It is a footstool, not a step-stool! You don't step onto it. It isn't designed for that. It's to elevate one's feet when one is seated in an easy chair.


    Question 1 year ago

    Is it upholstered by you or do I have to do it myself?

    1 answer

    3 years ago

    I inherited a footstool just like this one. It belonged to my husband's grandmother. She was born in 1902. I am guessing the stool was a wedding gift. Thanks for the info. I am in the process of refinishing it.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Beautiful! Thank you for information.

    Don't be silly. This was the perfect project. I googled "how to reupholster an old foot stool". Voila there you were. I found one in an antique mall for $25.00 but worn like yours. Now I have the courage. Thank You.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I like the flat welt!  I just recovered a rectangular footstool and I wish I had seen this first!

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, awesome project and great pictures!
    I'm inspired to try it out myself.

    BTW, you should put the link to your Etsy shop in the intro so people know where to go to buy it.  That's totally OK. ;)