Wednesday, November 4, 2009


IMG_5378 (by Ateupamateur)
So last Saturday while S changed out his mother's brakes...

IMG_5379 (by Ateupamateur)
...and after I admired the changing redbud leaves...

IMG_5362 (by Ateupamateur)
I decided to get started on this project.

IMG_5363 (by Ateupamateur)

This project is a little footstool or bench that I purchased at a rummage sale at the end of September for $5. I thought it had good lines and could be refurbished, so I bought it.

Now, mind you, I don't have a lot of experience in this area. And I really have no idea what I'm doing. But I thought I could give it a try. I took it out to the garage on the beautiful day and started disassembling it.

IMG_5364 (by Ateupamateur)
The cushion was attached by four screws to the base.

IMG_5365 (by Ateupamateur)
So that part was easy.

IMG_5366 (by Ateupamateur)
I wanted to paint the wood, so I set out to rough it up for painting.

IMG_5368 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5371 (by Ateupamateur)
I used this sponge covered in sandpaper for the grooves.

IMG_5386 (by Ateupamateur)
After a while, (and some muscle from S) it was ready for paint.
Now to the cushion.

IMG_5374 (by Ateupamateur)
Initially I thought I was going to be able to reuse that board...

IMG_5375 (by Ateupamateur)
So I carefully removed all the staples.

IMG_5377 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5376 (by Ateupamateur)
I remember thinking, "Man, they used a lot of staples!"
Wait until you see how many I used...ahem.

IMG_5380 (by Ateupamateur)
I found this underneath - I thought it might have been recovered once before.

IMG_5383 (by Ateupamateur)

The old nasty stuff was stuck to the board. And, as I got into this part of the project, I saw how the board had some splits in it and how it had obviously taken on some water at some point. So, when I had a completely clean old board, I took it to S and asked him if he could replicate it. He said he could, and even had a board of the same thickness in the garage.

IMG_5384 (by Ateupamateur)
So he rustled this up right away! A new base for the cushion!

IMG_5388 (by Ateupamateur)
Then we set out to paint the body of the stool black.

IMG_5389 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5391 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5393 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5398 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5401 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5406 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5408 (by Ateupamateur)
And we also painted the bottom of the base of the cushion black for good measure.
Then we left that outside to dry for at least one hour.

IMG_5415 (by Ateupamateur)
Luckily, Ellie...

IMG_5413 (by Ateupamateur)
...and Echo were up to the task of watching paint dry.
Yes, we still have the crappy fence...

IMG_5416 (by Ateupamateur)
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I started working on the cushion.

I chose that fabric, which is a more traditional fabric than I would normally choose, for a few reasons. First, the stool's lines are traditional in nature. Second, I plan to place it in my den, which is the most traditional, albeit still transitional in style, room in my house. Third, I wanted to paint it black but still put it in that room that has a lot of reds and browns, and I thought this fabric would bridge that divide. Fourth, I did find it to be a lovely fabric.

Anyway, I washed and dried it to get out any sizing or anything else.

IMG_5419 (by Ateupamateur)
Then I ironed it flat and hung it up until later.

IMG_5430 (by Ateupamateur)
To replace the cushion, I purchased this two inch foam cushion.
It was the smallest size that was "large enough" for the final size I needed.

IMG_5432 (by Ateupamateur)
Once the paint dried, I brought in the base...

IMG_5436 (by Ateupamateur)
...traced it on the cushion...

IMG_5437 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5438 (by Ateupamateur)
...and cut out the right size.

IMG_5442 (by Ateupamateur)
I used scissors.

Scissors worked, but they are not a clean cut in a cushion this large...I am sure there are probably ways to come up with a cleaner, more exact cut, but I had no idea what I was doing, and I think it worked out OK.

IMG_5446 (by Ateupamateur)
I took out some fiberfill with my fat little arm to round out the cushion.

IMG_5449 (by Ateupamateur)
See? Rounded out. In a very precise way.

I should also mention I used glue dots to glue the main cushion to the wood base.This allowed me to move it around to and fro without worrying about resetting it at every turn.

IMG_5457 (by Ateupamateur)
Then I took the fabric...

IMG_5459 (by Ateupamateur)
...and I played around with where I wanted it to sit on top.

I had way too much fabric - when I purchased it, I bought a yard. I really only probably needed a half of a yard, but I wasn't sure about where the pattern would be cut, etc, so I went for the large piece.

IMG_5461 (by Ateupamateur)

So I cut the fabric down once I knew what part I wanted on the cushion. I was still a little worried about cutting it down too much, though, and really should have cut off even more. You'll see the results of this decision later in the process. Suffice it to say, I had plenty of fabric. Ahem.

You might ask - why didn't you use the old cushion fabric to measure what you needed? Well, I thought of that, and actually saved the fabric for this purpose, but then I realized my cushion was going to be "more full" than the old cushion so that wouldn't really work either. I am sure there are ways I could have been more precise - like oh I don't know, MEASURING, but you know, I didn't know what I was doing, so I just moved on.

IMG_5460 (by Ateupamateur)
But then, as I was placing it on the bottom of the cushion...

...I noticed this frayed edge. The next step was to staple this to the base and stretch on it to make it taught on the top of the cushion. The frayed edge didn't look like a good thing to me...I thought, heck I could get this whole thing put together and that frayed edge could fray more and come apart. So I called my mom, who knows everything, of course, to ask her opinion. She agreed that I should put a "zig zag" stitch around the edge of the fabric for good measure. This was not a step I was anticipating, but that's OK. I didn't really know what I was doing anyway! So I went to get out the sewing machine.

IMG_5466 (by Ateupamateur)
Luckily, it was already threaded with black thread!
And plenty of lint, apparently...

IMG_5471 (by Ateupamateur)

I don't sew very much. I wish I sewed more. I love using my sewing machine but don't very often. So, I know just enough to be dangerous. Zig zag - OK, I thought, that #1 brown A stitch (bottom left) looks like a zig zag, so I set the machine to make that stitch and sewed one side.

IMG_5467 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5471 (by Ateupamateur)

But then I got to thinking, no, that's not the right one - that's a stretch stitch. I think what I really should be using is the #3 red A stitch (top, third one over) - not stretch, still zig zag. So, I switched over to that and sewed the other three sides on that one.

IMG_5469 (by Ateupamateur)

IMG_5475 (by Ateupamateur)

Here you can see the two different stitch choices at one corner. I have no idea which one - or if either of them actually - was the right stitch, but I decided, for this exercise, it would give the fabric enough of a barrier to do the trick either way, so I moved on.

IMG_5481 (by Ateupamateur)
So I began stapling the fabric to the base and stretching it in place.

IMG_5483 (by Ateupamateur)
Trying to staple to accomodate those inverted corners...

IMG_5484 (by Ateupamateur)
My hand is in this photo, under the fabric.

Then, when I had only one side left to staple, I turned it over and stuck my hand in there, sort of like dressing a turkey, and smoothed out the fiberfill to make the cushion even and attractive.

IMG_5485 (by Ateupamateur)
Then I stapled the rest of the fabric in place.
Notice how many STINKING staples I used!

Um, yes, this is where you can see I had WAY TOO MUCH fabric, but since I had sewn the edges to prevent fraying, I didn't want to cut again. I have decided I'll make a "fake bottom" with black felt or muslin or something to put under stool to finish it out, so no one will see this mess. Except all of you looking at it now...this is what happens when you don't know what you're doing!

IMG_5488 (by Ateupamateur)
That said, I think the "important side" turned out alright!

IMG_5494 (by Ateupamateur)
I placed it in the base to check it out. It looked pretty good!

IMG_5497 (by Ateupamateur)

Here is where you can see what is still undone on this piece that I'll finish up next weekend - the base really needs another coat of paint, especially to cover the bottom side. The cushion needs to be screwed into place onto the base, and I need to construct that "fake bottom" to make it look finished out.

IMG_5498 (by Ateupamateur)

But if you didn't know that, it looks pretty darn finished right now, doesn't it? I was pleased with the transformation, and feel it is a fairly useless, but pretty little item to sit in my den. And, all in, I spent approx. $20 - $5 for the original stool, $7 on fabric, $5 for cushion and fiberfill $3 on paint. Then, we had the sandpaper, wood and screws in our garage. But, if you had to get that too, maybe a few bucks more. A fun and worthwhile endeavor, I have to say. And, it proves you can probably figure out a project like this yourself without knowing a thing and it will turn out alright!

final collage 4 photos (by Ateupamateur)
And quite a transformation!

OK, that's it for today. Over and out. See you tomorrow.


  1. What a fun project! It looks good and I love the fabric.


  2. Your bench looks great. You guys did a good job. You asked if there was an easy way to cut foam I found that if you use an electric knife it works great. Smooth lines all the way. Keep up the good work what is next?


  3. I am impressed as well


  4. Being handy apparently runs in the family. Nice job. You've inspired me to get around to that black chair I've been saying I was going to redo.... Maybe. -Steve

  5. good work!


  6. Great job! I like it! And thanks for making me laugh with your explanation. That's how I feel with many projects I set out to do with little to no knowledge of how to actually do them.


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