Thursday, February 2, 2012

At least five years overdue

We moved into our house in 2003. In that time I have started a multitude of projects and finished a handful of others. Sometime between then and now (but much, much closer to then), I picked up some upholstered stools on clearance at Target with the thought that they would be good overflow seating for the living room. (We're fortunate that our old house has a traditional living room up front and another, smaller and informal, living room in the back-- a half-assed addition courtesy of the former occupants.) The room in question is large enough for a couch, a coffee table, a TV table, the cat condo lovingly referred to as "The Projects," and little else if we want to be able to actually move freely through the space.

The footstools are perfect, not only because they were less than $10 apiece but because the legs fold underneath in a way that enables them to hang on the wall when they're not in use (ideal for such a small space). The downside: they were upholstered in cheap, loud corduroy fabric that indiscriminately collected cat hair as though it was the most precious object in the history of EVER. They were marketed to college students originally-- I'm not sure if Target still does the whole "You're moving into the dorm!" late summer/early fall nonsense-- because evidently only college-aged kids would love a shade of blue that falls on the spectrum somewhere between navy and Smurf.

 At least five years ago (although, in all honesty, it's probably been longer), Cathy of Cloudspun showed me how to re-cover one of the footstools. She even taught me how to make my own custom piping. It took the better part of that afternoon, but I was able to finish it with a lot of her help... and frequent use of the seam ripper. Upon its completion, her prediction was that it would take me two years to re-upholster the other two stools.

I was determined to prove her wrong and knocked out the second in a matter of weeks. Mere weeks! The sewing wasn't nearly as tidy as the one I worked on under her guidance, but it was still done. I went ahead and hung the pair of them on the living room wall above the couch. They were off-center, but that was only to act as inspiration to keep me on track to finish the project.

You can see where this is going, can't you?

The third and final footstool sat in the corner of the living room, quietly collecting cobwebs and cat hair until yesterday morning. I finally made up my mind to finish the project, if for no other reason than to have something to cross off of the endless list of things that need to be done. So I got out the sewing machine, the fabric that coordinates with the other two footstools, a standard screwdriver, and the staple gun before moving the party to the dining room table.

Project Foreman Walter Kitten
Unlike the headboard project, I had a crew of helpers this time. Walter Kitten was the most enthusiastic of them all; he made sure to verify the structural integrity of the project in addition to closely investigating the millions of staples that had been holding the upholstery in place.

He came to the conclusion that everything was completely kosher with the project about the same time I  forcibly removed him from the table for the hundredth time. Not one to be deterred, he helped hold the fabric as I cut the pieces I needed for the new cover.

Instead of using any sort of official pattern, I just dismantled the old cover and used it as a template to cut new pieces-- just like Cathy had shown me to do the first time around. There was some pre-made piping in my sewing stash, but I decided against using it because I'm not a fan of dealing with pulling pins as I'm trying to round a corner with the sewing machine. Since I'm more than a little bit rusty with any stitching beyond a straight line, I figured the path of least resistance was probably the better one to take.

This stool is constructed differently than the others, which are identical to one another. The good news: there were only three pieces to sew together, versus the five pieces (plus wrangling the piping) of the other two. The even better news: sewing the first two pieces together went without a snag, and the cover fit perfectly.

I sewed the last piece on backwards twice, made friends with the seam ripper, and got it right on the third try.

I was able to get the freshly minted cover stapled in place without incident and even trimmed down a piece of muslin to finish the bottom. [Drum roll, please!] The finished project:


A few detailed shots:

Rounded corners...

...and a layer of muslin to hide the guts.

"You have done well, human."
 As with everything else in the house, the cats had to give their hair-covered seal of approval. It only took a few minutes before Flash installed himself onto his new throne. Heaven help me, I'm never going to be allowed to hang this thing up if the critters have anything to say about it.

(Look at the size of this cat; do you really think it's a good idea to anger him? He is an expert at holding a grudge and I'm almost certain that he's devised at least 14 ways to kill me in my sleep.)

Here's to one more project completed and crossed off of the list, feline shenanigans aside.


  1. I don't remember predicting that it would take you 2 years to finish them. The final product looks awesome! I'd like to see a shot of them all hanging on the wall together... that is, if you can it away from Flash without drawing back a bloody stub.

    1. I'm aiming to get it up on the wall ASAP. First I need to figure out the best way to attach a hanger to the underside, as the legs on this one stick out a considerable distance. Picture wire, maybe?

      I'll post a photo when I hang it up.