Thursday, July 21, 2011

this is the story of a stool

I got this stool for my classroom as I started my first year of teaching & she's been with me all along. This past school year marked my 15th year!

My friend and I each got one at an unfinished wood shop. We decided to paint the legs and rungs red, yellow, green, and blue. Hello, Bob Marley. We didn't do a great job at all. In fact, if I remember correctly we lost interest in finishing the job {happy hour was calling our name} and her father finished them for us.

During my second year of teaching, Greg made me a cool paint rack for my craft room, which he spray painted a pretty shade of blue. Bored of the rasta look, I asked him to spray my stool tool.

And so it has stayed that color since then. It started to show signs of wear. Just a little bit at first, then it got out of hand. I kept saying I was going to redo the seat. I even brought it home over a few long weekends only to take it back to school in the same shape. Last year I didn't even bother bringing it back to school because I was a little ashamed of how it looked. I went an entire year without her. I sure did miss her.

One of my missions this summer was to repaint her and give her a new seat.

Greg asked me if I was going to sand it down to the wood and start all over. "Why would I do that?" I asked him. Silly boy, too much work.

Oh, all right. But only part of the way down to the wood. I figured the surfaced needed to be a little bit prepared for repainting. You can see all the lovely colors it was painted the first time around.  You can also see how Greg neatly taped off the seat when he sprayed it for me.

Next, I painted two coats of Antique Ivory.

It wasn't necessary to have the ivory coat be perfect because that is the underneath color that will show when the stool is distressed in the end. The main color of the stool will be black.

Rub a bent-because-it-was-in-the-heat candle where normal distressing might occur over time or any place you will want to sand the black away to reveal the ivory underneath. The candle wax acts as a resist so sanding to distress takes minimal effort. Remember, I didn't take it down to the natural wood and don't really want any of the primary colors showing though which could happen with too much elbow grease put into sanding later.

Of course, with any project, snacks are always nice. It's a good thing I have kids so there are occasionally Cheetos in the house!

Paint a coat of black. After the first coat of black, I pulled the vinyl seat cover and the batting off. This was pretty easy because it was really only held on by a few of the staples after all the years of wear. The foam was still in good condition, so I used it again in the recovering process later. I did decide to leave all the staples where they were.

After the second coat of black was applied and the underside of the seat was painted, I used this sanding pad to lightly sand the legs and rungs along the areas where I had applied the candle wax. I ran it lightly over most of the areas to add to the distressed look and give the wood a final smoothing.

Then I applied a brown antinquing gel over all surfaces so the ivory wasn't so stark. I started using a brush to apply, then wiping it off with a rag like I do when the entire surface is a lighter color. I ended up just applying it with the rag and rubbing it in a little.

Let that dry well overnight and apply a varnish of some sort. I used a satin finish applied with a brush, but you can find it in spray form as well.

Now for recovering the cushion. I traced the wood seat onto the back of my fabric. I picked a heavier weight fabric since it will see lots of action. I prewashed the fabric as well.

Then I added half an inch marks all the way around the circle for a seam allowance.

Carefully connect the dots to create the outer circle which is the cut line.

Cut out the circle.

I decided to get all fancy and add piping to my cushion. Cut strips of fabric on the bias to make bias tape to encase the piping cording. I needed to cut mine 1.25 inches based on the cording I had on hand. I used this tutorial to determine how wide my bias strips needed to be. You will need a finished product that is several inches longer than the circumference of the stool seat.

To attach your strips to make one long one, place them right sides together at a right angle with pointy parts hanging over a bit.

Stitch together using a 1/4" seam allowance. When you have enough strips sewn together, press the seams open and trim off the little triangles.

Place the cording inside the bias tape, wrong sides facing, and stitch as close to the cording as you can get using the zipper foot.

On the right side of the circle, pin your newly made piping, matching raw edges. Stitch, following the line of the stitching on the piping as closely as possible, still using the zipper foot. The same tutorial also shows two different methods for finishing the piping since this is a continuous loop.

For the band that goes around the side of the cushion, cut a strip that is the circumference of the stool top, plus one inch. For the width, measure your foam (mine was 2") and add 2.25" to 2.5" for seam allowances and room for it to tuck under the seat. That made mine 4.25" wide.

On one of the short sides of the band, make a mark at 1/2" and then 3/4" from the first mark. The 3/4" section will be left open for the casing. With right sides together stitch the 1/2" section and the longer section as shown. You are creating a tube.

Press the seams of the tube open. Then on the long side with the unsewn portion, fold and press at 1/2", then again at 3/4".

The section you left open for the casing should be on the wrong side of the tube at this point.

Stitch close to the edge, completing the casing.

Pin the tube to the circle, right sides together. Use plenty of pins. Stitch using a 1/2" seam allowance, using the regular foot at this point.

This should be the result. We are almost done! Snip the seam allowance every inch or so all the way around the circle.

For the drawstring, I wanted something that was thinner than the cording I used for the piping, but without a shiny finish so it would stay tied. This decorative trim I found at Hobby Lobby was the right size and the right finish. I cut a piece that was about 18" longer than the circumference so it would be easier to tie.

Using a safety pin, thread the drawstring through the casing.

Turn the cover right side out. Place the foam on the seat and then fit the cover over it. Pull the drawstring tight, making sure the cover reaches to the underside of the seat. Tie in a bow and tuck it all under the cover to hide the strings. I did end up cutting the length of the drawstring a little once it was tied.

All done. Isn't she pretty? A little bit fancy and a little bit distressed.

Here you can see where I tucked the drawstring back underneath the cover.

The best part about this cover is that if it gets dirty, I can take it off and wash it real quick. I can also make more covers easily without redoing the whole stool again. Maybe one for Halloween? Christmas?

One of the reasons I decided to distress the stool now is so when any wear happens from my feet resting on the rungs or from it getting jostled about in class, it won't look out of place. It will look like it was meant to be.

Here she is all gussied up with her first day of school outfit on!

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1 comment:

blesid said...

WOW! That is one stool that has had an interesting life. first all drab and unpainted, then rasta, then a blue period ... only to end up a fabulous shabby black! I love the cushion cover, you did a great job explaining how you did it! I can't wait to see the covers you make for the holidays! You were an inspiration to me... you actually did piping!!! Beautiful! jules