Easy Upholstery Project

Looking around our house recently, I realized that we don’t make very many “new” purchases.  The majority of our furniture and home decor is vintage, and much of it has been “renovated” in some way, either with new paint or upholstery.  Trying your hand at upholstery for the first time can be a bit daunting.  The easiest way to “get your feet wet” for the first time, is to pick up something simple, like a small stool or bench.


On our picking trip to Florida last month, we found this great little antique piano stool.  It had such an unusual design and the top swiveled!  I knew it would be perfect for a very simple upholstery project.

The original upholstery was a very old and worn, reddish colored velvet, which had definitely see better days.


The first step was to remove the old upholstery.  I know some people like to upholster right over the top of the old fabric.  However, I really prefer not to do that.  Sometimes the old upholstery can be pretty nasty and I always feel better getting rid of it.


Start by removing any trim.  My preferred tools for this are usually a flat tip screw driver and needle nose pliers.  I’m sure there are appropriate, specific tools, designed for removing staples and upholstery tacks, however I don’t have them.  Using the flat tip screwdriver, I carefully work it underneath the staples and heads of the tacks to work them loose.  I then pull them out with the needle nose pliers.


Removing the old tacks and staples can be tedious work, especially on a large piece, but it’s well worth it to take the time to remove them. 


Sometimes there are layers and layers of old fabric.  Luckily, this stool only had the one cover, before we got down to the original linen and burlap upholstery.  

Ya’ll know my love of vintage grain sacks, and this stool was perfect to use one of my remnant pieces on.  Grain sacks can be expensive so when I cut one up to use in upholstery, I save all the scraps, hoping to be able to use them for another project.  Thankfully, I had a scrap piece of grain sack that worked for this little cover and I didn’t have to cut up a new sack.

I used the old seat cover as a pattern to cut out the new cover.  I always cut the new piece a little bit larger than the pattern, and then just trim the excess once it is stapled in place.  It’s easy to cut off extra fabric, but hard to add more if it’s not there!



Once the new cover was cut, I centered the design on the stool and stapled it with a staple gun on four sides to hold it in place. And then rotating around the seat, stapled the rest of the cover down.




Taking my fabric shears, I trimmed away the excess fabric.


To cover up the raw edges of the upholstery and the staples, I used gimp trim in a complimentary color, and just glued it down with a glue gun.


I don’t always use nail head trim, but I thought it would add a nice detail to the stool, so I just hammered these tacks right over the top of the gimp.


And here is the final result.  I think she turned out beautifully.



The bottom is very heavy solid wood, that had been painted white some time ago, and had achieved a beautiful timeworn look, so we left the painted finish alone.




So if you’re thinking about trying some upholstery projects for the first time, start with something small.  Small benches and stools can usually be found at thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales for not a lot of money.  They  make for an easy beginner upholstery project.


Then you can move on to larger pieces!  

Now that this small project is complete, the stool is headed into the shop!



Grain Sack Inspiration

Today has been a grain sack inspiration day around here!





I love antique European grain sacks and they can be used for so many different things…….pillows, table runners, upholstery projects, Christmas stockings, tote bags, lamp shades, and much more that I’m probably not even thinking about.





I upholstered my first set of chairs several months ago using some antique grain sacks from Europe and now I am hooked.

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I have renovated a French sofa in them, several more chairs, and quite a few footstools.  I’ve also made several pillows out of them.  I love the way the finished product looks and it gives an instant French look to the home.


My favorite grain sacks are the ones from France and Germany, though if they have graphics on them they can get quite pricey.  The sacks with initials monogrammed on them are also sought after and prized highly, their prices reflecting  that.  Hand stitched with the original owner’s initials, these sacks look beautiful when used in a way that showcases the monogram.






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I was recently asked if the upholstery is “itchy” but it really isn’t.  Unlike burlap, most of the European grain sacks are made of a very heavy, nubby fabric and when laundered, they end up with a very soft feel.  And because they are so heavy duty, they are perfect for upholstery projects.

Miss Mustard Seed

Miss Mustard Seed






Come visit our Pinterest board for more inspirational photos!  We are down to one set of antique European grain sacks in the Edith & Evelyn Vintage shop, but we’re bringing more in next week!  What kind of projects could you use them on?



French Chair Rehab

I picked up this vintage French chair several months ago at an estate sale in Mobile, Alabama.  It was in very sad shape….at least the upholstery was.  The wood frame was perfect as far as I was concerned………old white paint, very timeworn, lots of natural distressing……like I said, perfect!

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 Mr. E&E took one look at it and started his expected eye roll and his usual comments, “You’re not serious?”, “Have you really looked at it?”, “It’s in pretty bad shape.”, “What are you going to do with it?”  



And of course I looked at him like he had lost his mind!  Did he not see the beautiful lines, the curvy legs, the original timeworn paint???  And it was only $38.00!!  Yes, that’s right, $38.00!  How could I NOT buy it?!?  For the love of everything holy…….it was a bergere chair!  Yes……a bergere chair…..hello??  I stood firm and finally he turned it upside down to inspect the springs, sat in it, looked it over…….I knew at that point that he was coming around to my side!  


For some reason, Mr. E&E has gotten it into his head that I am out to rescue all the neglected French chairs in the world………I have no idea where he has gotten that ridiculous idea!

 I don’t see her shabbiness, I just see her with new clothes.  I knew she would be beautiful!  And so she is……..



It has taken me several months to get her finished.  Not because she was difficult to do.  But because I seem to have a million and one projects going at any one time.  I will work on things for a couple of days and then my attention gets grabbed by something else and away I go!  I will eventually come back to the original project, sometimes it just takes me awhile!  



She had some major staining on the back where someone had rested their head for a long time, leaving a nice large stain.  Someone placed a doily over it to try and cover it.  Yuck.  The bones were good though and once all the old fabric was removed, it was easy to start adding the new fabric, which consisted of upholstery grade burlap on the bottom, and antique German grain sack on the arms and back, French toile fabric from Hobby Lobby on the back front, and I upholstered the cushion in a slipcover made of an old antique quilt.  I love the graphics in the antique grain sacks and love using them in upholstery projects, though they are getting harder to find.


I think she turned out so cute!!  It’s easy to update a vintage chair with new upholstery for a new look and I’ve found that a lot of these old chairs are made much better than new ones.  Just be sure and check the “bones” and make sure they are good!



On the way home from this particular estate sale with the bergere chair in the back of the SUV, Mr. E&E looks at me and says, “What kind of chair did you say that was?”.  Love that guy!

It’s snowing like crazy here in our neck of the woods again……major storm moving in.  Snow began falling early this morning and it’s still at it and the flakes are huge!  Mr. E&E is home early and has Italian stew on the stove.  He not only helps me with my junk, but he also cooks!  I think he’s a keeper!

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