This vintage footstool had springs busting through the bottom and needed new upholstery. It belongs to a friend of mine who asked me if I could help. Little did I know what I was about to uncover when I took it home. I spent an evening taking apart a bit of history. I’ve never done anything with upholstery quite this old and it turned out to be a treat; albeit a messy treat. I did a little research and if I’m correct, this upholstery dates from the mid-19th century (don’t slay me if I’m incorrect). The type of padding, springs and knots indicate a style utilized between 1830-1860. Here’s a link to almost exactly what I found under the original upholstery. I just found this very interesting to see what has been hidden for so many years, to see the material used, how the knots were tied, etc. A little nerdy, I know. Here’s how the footstool looked initially. So sad! The springs are knotted together with the “eight-way tie” (I just learned that!)
This was the first layer I peeled away. It could have been animal hair but I am hoping it was coir, a fibre extracted from the husk of a coconut. I was actually expecting foam or something similar – silly me!
Underneath that was a burlap fabric woven with a leather-type cord in crisscross stitches.
And underneath this was more coir – or whatever it was.
Finally! I uncovered the base. I think I removed at least 100 or more tacks too!
It wasn’t absolutely necessary to fill all the tack holes on the sides because they wouldn’t show after the stool was re-covered but the underneath would show and since I was patching the bottom I decided to patch it all.
I used wood filler and layered it over the holes then sanded it down after it was dry. Two of the legs were cracked and I filled them with wood glue but the new seat I was making would secure the legs better than the glue.
Here are the holes on the side all patched and sanded and the footstool ready to paint.
I used Annie Sloan’s chalk paint in Old Ochre, which was very close to the old color of the base.
I covered it in clear wax first and then added dark wax in the grooves. I used a Q-Tip to apply the dark wax in order to get into the grooves. Normally I just use an old rag.
I used a Jigsaw to cut a new seat from plywood, cutting it to match the shape of the base. I cut the new padding out and then screwed the new seat to the base. This is the primary padding used which is about 2 inches thick.
I wrapped “quilt batting” over the main padding to hold it in place and then stapled the quilt batting to the base. The quilt batting is much thinner to work with as far as stapling and easily wrapped around the edges of the seat, softening the edges so the upholstery, in this case a beautiful red leather, wasn’t rubbing against bare wood. I really should have taken a picture of this step – sorry! I’m covering some more seat cushions soon so I will make sure to take more pictures as I secure the padding. I sparingly stapled the batting in place to hold it and then put the leather on, stapling more securely as I went. I re-used some of the original tacks to better secure the leather where it gathered on the corners. Then I trimmed the excess very closely just beneath the staples. The final touch was applying the trim to cover the staples and tacks which I did with hot glue. I feel a tad guilty about not being able to recreate the original padding technique but the footstool is functional again and will get some use so I suppose that’s the main thing.