While yard-saling with Alison this spring, I spied this adorable retro vanity stool
and thought it would make an instructive upholstery project for me. I had heard of using a canvas dropcloth
as fabric and saw this as a great opportunity to give it a try. The canvas provides the look of linen without the cost. Since I was teaching myself how to reupholster, I didn’t want to use expensive fabric for experimentation. However, I think you’ll find the canvas provides an excellent result.
What follows is an overview of how to approach an upholstery project, not a super-detailed tutorial. I promise a finished product at the end of the post.
Tools and Supplies Used
- Digital Camera
- Electric Staple Gun
- Flat-head screw driver
- Upholstery Fabric (I used the Canvas Dropcloth)
- Piping Fabric (you could use pre-made piping)
- Cording for Piping (you could use pre-made piping)
- Cutting mat and rotary cutter
- Sewing Machine
- Nail heads
- Antique Gold Rub ‘n Buff
Analyze Your Subject
This stool was made of 4 parts: the back, seat, apron and legs.
Deconstruct and Document
My best friend on this project was the camera on my iPhone. At almost each step of the deconstruction of the stool I took a picture. This was essential to remembering how to put the stool back together. If you retain only one thing from this post, this is it! Also, as you take apart your “before” item, save all the fabric parts and hardware. You will need the fabric parts to make patterns, and re-use the hardware where possible to save yourself a time and money.
I won’t bore you with photos of the seat and apron deconstruction. The back of the stool just described was the most complex piece.
Now that my stool was deconstructed, it was time to measure and cut the fabric, batting and make the piping.
Using your old fabric pieces as templates, cut the new pieces of fabric. Shown above is the front (left) and back (with batting) on right.
I chose to make my own piping, so using the old cording (left), I cut enough trim fabric (on the bias, or 45 degree angle) to make the piping.
Connecting the bias-cut fabric end-to-end (left) and using the zipper foot, I enclosed the cording inside the fabric (right), stitching as close as possible to the cording.
Now all my raw materials are ready, and it’s time to reassemble.
Using the staple gun, attach the fabric to the front of the the seat back.
Next, attach the piping around the edge of the back of the seat back, then lay the outer fabric lined with the batting over the piping. Secure with the brass nail head.
I removed the old batting, put a new layer over the existing felt. Then folded the cut canvas into quarters, matching centers and attaching on the underside with the staple gun.
Attach Back to Bottom
The seat back is ready to attach to the bottom. Three simple screws hold it in place.
I inverted the back over the screws and tightening them. I decided an additional layer of batting was needed at the joint between the two pieces to mask the gap, so I cut and placed the batting in place, then pulled the “tail” of the back cover over and stapled in place.
The apron needed new batting, so that was stapled in place. Then the fabric was laid in place and stapled on the underside. The ends were folded under to make a finished look. Then the piping was stapled in place.
Piecing the piping ends was tricky, but I opened up the longer end, inserted the shorter end, and folded up the longer ends around it. Then I stapled the piece in place.
After both the top and bottom of the apron were covered with piping, the apron was reattached to the seat. I didn’t like the way the piping wasn’t totally covering the bottom of the apron, exposing the staples and not looking very neat at all. So I improvised a brace out of cardboard, then glued and stapled it into place. It was trimmed after drying to allow for the rotating mechanism and legs to be reattached.
Last came the Rub ‘n Buff for the legs. Applying the finish took about 30 minutes, and dried nearly instantly.
And now . . .
This reupholstered stool will find a new home in my daughter’s post-grad apartment.
Next time you spot an irresistible find in need of new fabric, keep this post in mind and make it yours!
August 7, 2013