How to Upholster a Footstool

In this post, I will show you how to upholster a footstool. This is a great beginner upholstery project and I will show you step by step how to upholster a footstool!

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Pinterest graphic showing before and after for upholstered footstool tutorial

how to upholster a footstool

Upholstered footstools can be found in several places. Estate sales and auctions, yard sales, and vintage re-sell stores. I have found many footstools in places like these.

And they are usually not in the best of shape.

Like this one. Worn out red velvet fabric, rusted tack nails, and a bit smelly to boot!

antiuqe footstool showing old fabric falling off

All these antique pieces need is a little love. That’s what we are going to do today! Share a little love with this tired footstool. This is a great beginner upholstery project!

list of supplies:

how to remove upholstery tacks

Removing the upholstery tacks and staples is time-consuming. It isn’t a hard job. In fact, it really requires no brainpower!

I turn on a podcast or audiobook and start pulling out the upholstery tacks and staples.

You will see in the video tutorial below the tools I used in action. Basically, I used spring-loaded pliers and an upholstery tack remover to get the tacks and staples out. This piece is pretty old so I only found rusted upholstery tacks – no staples in this piece.

lady using pliers to remove rusty upholstery tacks from antique footstool to prepare for new upholstery fabric

BTW, did you notice there were two layers of different fabric on this footstool? Yeah, I notice too!! 😉

Be careful when pulling out the tacks, they can fly all over the place and would be on your workspace floor. Wear safety goggles too and pay attention to your hands. They can get banged up while you are working. You can use gloves to protect your hands!

Some of the tacks broke off so I couldn’t remove them. I removed as many as I could and then tapped in the rest with a small hammer.

lady showing how to tap in rusted tacks in upholstery project

how to prep for upholstery

After removing all the tacks I could, I pulled out my shop vac. The footstool was covered in leftover batting and years of dust. The shop vac is the best way to remove all of the yuckiness!

I also ran the shop vac over my workbench and the floor. Those tacks are sharp and rusted and I don’t want to step on them!

lady using shop vac in how to upholster a footstool blogpost

how to attach upholstery webbing

Usually, I do the dirty work of upholstery outside in my workshop. Then I bring the piece into my indoor workspace for the pretty part 🙂

The burlap ‘seat’ of the upholstered footstool was sagging. The burlap itself didn’t need to be removed and neither did the thick upholstery piped edge.

I decided to shore up the sagging burlap with fresh upholstery webbing. I wasn’t able to use my upholstery webbing stretcher because of the framework of the stool. So I just stapled one end, flipped the stool over, and pulled the webbing as taunt as I could with my hands, and finished stapling using my pneumatic staple gun and air compressor.

lady using a pneumatic staple gun to upholster a footstool

I used two pieces of upholstery webbing across the widest part and one piece in the opposite direction, weaving the pieces through each other.

Did you notice I painted the legs on the footstool? I will talk about that in the YouTube video below!

upholstered footstool turned upside down to add new upholstery webbing

You can see below that the sagging burlap will be just fine with the webbing shoring it up from the underside. You can also see that the thick piped edge is in perfect condition. If they had not been in good shape, I would have replaced both.

Pro Tip: if the burlap is musty-smelling, spray it with Febreeze and let it dry completely before finishing the upholstery.

antique footstool with old fabric off and legs painted

what fabric is best for upholstery?

There are so many upholstery weight fabrics out on the market today that it can be hard to choose. I have used many over the years including dropcloth (use at least a 12oz weight!)

Lately, I have been hooked on the neutral, easy farmhouse look of grain sack. Real grain sacks are beautiful but they are pricey too.

We try to keep our prices as low as possible for our local customers so I found an amazing reproduction grain sack fabric that can be purchased by the yard. It comes in several authentic grain sack colors like blue and red. I love the neutral color of the one you see below.

You will notice that I have also added a layer of new upholstery weight batting. Again, watch the video for more details about the batting!

how to upholster a footstool blog post showing how to add new fabric

how to staple upholstery corners

Upholstering around curved details like the gorgeous legs on this footstool can be tricky. The key is to take your time.

Let me say that again: TAKE YOUR TIME!! (smiley face emojis and heart emojies!!)

After the underside was stapled and secured well, I tackled the corners.

I carefully pulled the fabric close to the curved section of the leg and using my fingers, felt around the curve so I would know exactly where to put each staple.

close up of new fabric on reupholstered footstool

I worked slowly from the bottom up towards the center part of the curve and then did the same on the other side.

This creates an excess fold that you will see in the video. I used the fold to create a pleat that I think you will love! I even added a vintage button to the pleat!

Don’t forget to cut away the excess fabric after stapling!

close up of new upholstery fabric on how to upholster a footstool blog post

Here is a look at the underside after all the corners were finished. I double-checked myself to make sure all the fabric was secured to the frame of the footstool.

upholstered footstool turned on it's side to show the underneath area with new upholstery webbing

how to attach upholstery trim

I love easy upholstery projects like this! They move along so well (at least most times they do!) and then I get to this part of the process.

The jute trim. I’m not kidding when I say I love this stuff! It creates such a farmhouse touch to upholstered furniture!

And it is super easy to attach. I use a Gorilla Glue gun and Gorilla Glue Sticks and slowly move around the pretty carved legs of the footstool. I worked in small sections at a time.

You can see in the image how I finished off the ends inside the frame of the footstool.

Pro Tip: add a bit of glue to the end of the jute trim to prevent it from unraveling before your next project!

close detail shot of jute trim on farmhouse style upholstered footstool

upholstery finishing technique

The last step in this how-to upholster a footstool project is to finish off the underside of the footstool. Cambric is also called a dust cover. It is a black (usually) fabric that gives a professional look to the piece.

I cut a piece a little larger than I need and fold over one edge. The folded edge will be inside the frame of the footstool and won’t be seen. I stapled at the center area and worked my way outwards to the legs. When one side was finished, I did the same to the opposite side. I did the same to the other two sides of the footstool.

Pro Tip: Don’t iron the cambric!! It will shrink and sort of melt!!

adding the cambrick dust cover to the underside of the upholstered footstool

upholstered footstool reveal!

So what did you think of this tutorial on how to upholster a footstool? Pretty simple, don’t you think?

If you have ever wanted to learn how to upholster, I encourage you to begin with a small project like this one. Take your time and think through each step before moving on. In no time, you will have a lovely upholstered footstool like this one!

I’m sure of it!! Feel free to ask any questions that might pop up while you work! I would love to help answer your questions!

We have a whole category of upholstery projects. Check out the menu above called Textile Tutorials and you will find so many great posts on upholstery projects!

finished farmhouse style upholstered footstool staged with rocker and wall decor

Here is the video I have mentioned several times. You will find it so helpful! While you are over on YouTube, I would love it if you subscribed to our channel. I have continually added all sorts of reinvented home decor and furniture tutorials and projects for you to learn from and enjoy!

YouTube video tutorial

Let’s look at some of the finished details! What do you think of the grain sack style fabric? It’s such a nice contrast to the black carved legs, don’t you think?

close up detail shot of upholstered farmhouse style footstool

Speaking of the legs, you will notice I did a little bit of distressing to the Fusion Mineral Paint (I used Ash) After two coats of paint, I used my fancy distressing knife (aka thrifted knife!) to scrape off some of the paint.

close up detail shot of button and leg detail on upholsterd footstool

I also added vintage buttons to each corner over top of the pleat we created with the excess fabric. Each corner has a different style of button!

Do you see why I love the braided jute trim??

close up of button detail on farmhouse style upholstered footstool

I hope you choose to tackle an easy upholstery project like this upholstered footstool! Too many antique and vintage pieces are tossed into the trash and filling up our landfills when all they need is a little love.

Let’s be the kind of people who show a little love for a piece of furniture and the craftsman that made it 🙂

staged shot of antique upholstered footstool with a vintage rocker in background

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detail shot of painted leg on farmhouse style upholstered footstool
close up of finished farmhouse style upholstered footstoll for tutorial post on how to upholster a footstool

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  1. You did such a nice job with this footstool. It looks so good and is ready to be used and enjoyed for years to come.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thank you Paulal. Footstools are easy beginner projects. It is headed to my shop and hopefully someone will love it!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Well, thank you, my friend! We all have talents in different areas 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I’m swooning over this foot stool. I love everything about this and it’s in my colors. I wish you shipped I’d buy this in a heartbeat. You did a great job on your video too.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks Cindy! I wish I shipped too!! That task is a beast!! 🙂

  3. Cindy this little project is so cute! You make it look so easy! I have done a few footstools in the past but not like this. I have bookmarked your video and post!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks, Elizabeth! I’m glad you found it helpful!

  4. I just love this little footstool! I have a big project coming up, I am planning to recover a large tufted ottoman. Do you have any tufting tutorials? I’m going to poke around here for a bit looking for tips!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Yay for taking on big projects! I do have a post on making a tufted cushion. And I see that you found it by your other comments! If I can be of any help, just let me know via email!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks! She’s a cutie!!

  5. Fantastic makeover Cindy and I loved the video! I’ve been looking for grain sack for ages but sadly your link to the shop is no longer available; hope it will be back!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      O no! I didn’t know that about the link! I will try to find another source. The fabric is amazing and I know you will love it!! Thanks for letting me know about the link!

  6. Oh my goodness! This is such a great transformation! And your tutorial and pictures are great!~ I am on the hunt now for project to do this with. And thanks for sharing the source for the grainsack fabric.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks for stopping by Diane! I am thrilled you enjoyed the tutorial! Now go out there and find an awesome footstool to upholster!

  7. This turned out great and I love the added touch of the buttons. I have recovered a couple of these, but have never used the upholstery webbing on the bottom. Great tip! I’ll definitely remember that for next time!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      The webbing underneath really gives the piece support. It is unbelievably strong! Have a great day!

  8. You did a fabulous job, it turned out beautifully! Re-upholstering is a hard task!!! This is a great tutorial!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks Danielle! Footstools are great beginner projects!