Renovating Grandmama’s Footstool

Beginning Refurbishment

Beginning Refurbishment

Having been working on the Heart, I was still thinking about Grandmama, and noticing that one of the footstools she made was getting a bit shabby and buckled, I decided to renovate it…

It’s worked in tapestry wool on binca (that strange cotton matting fabric that stitching happened on at primary school – does anyone else remember it?). I think I still have, somewhere, Grandmama’s draft of the pattern on squared paper, but the best I can do for putting my hand on it is to say it is Somewhere In The House! Since I don’t have a workroom, I put the footstool in a plastic tray, which I seem to remember is sold for cleaning oven trays. I use it for wet felting and to contain messes when I’m doing things like this. The blued-steel flat-headed nails were very hard to get out, and indeed, some of them lost their heads (!) and didn’t come out. In due course they were hammered firmly back in, instead!

Repaired Stitching

Repaired Stitching

The binca around the edge was badly mauled by the nails, so I knew I would have to do something about that, but in the meantime, there were sections of the canvaswork that needed to be reinstated. First I washed and dried the whole thing (by hand) and then spent some time looking very hard at the stitching. More than fifty years of use have worn a few small sections, and the stitch took some identifying, but in the end, I decided it was Rice Stitch, and found a pale oatmeal tapestry wool that didn’t shout its’ newness too loudly.

Attached To Calico

Attached To Calico

Then I attached the binca to some calico and covered the join with one of the long-armed cross stitches. I wasn’t absolutely sure I had enough of the plain oatmeal colour so I alternated a needleful of each all the way around.

In the end, I had plenty left over, but I’ve said many a time before that when ekeing out assorted supplies, the trick is to Make It Look Deliberate!

Finished Footstool

Finished Footstool

I had to do that with the trim as well. Nothing in our local needlework shop was even remotely suitable so in the end I took some bobble fringing, a length of ribbon and some ricrac, and made my own!

There are one or two infelicities in the details, but it’s certainly got a good few years left in it now.

Thank you, Grandmama.



  1. What a lovely result, Rachel! The new fringe is really creative. My cats would love the pom-poms :)…

  2. Carolyn Foley says:

    It looks like it is brand new but you know all the memories it holds.

  3. Mrs G says:

    Looks great and the new trim gives it an updated slant. The first piece of embroidery I ever did at primary school was on a large piece of binca. I seem to remember that it was purple, took ages to embroider, and was then hand-stitched into what was termed a lap-bag to hold my subsequent (school) knitting of a pink scarf and then a pair of socks both of which put me off knitting for decades, whereas the delights of sewing and embroidery continue to enthral me!

  4. Lin Tarrant says:

    What a great makeover – I love the bobbles. Nice that you were able to reuse the sitching, that sort is so hardwearing. And yes, I do remember binca! xx

  5. Sheryl says:

    Lovely makeover, looks really good and I like the bobbles too. Bet those fifty year old nails were difficult to remove.

  6. Sue Jones says:

    That looks so fresh and new. Shows how well stitched it was originally, doesn’t it? Rice stitch is a very good choice for upholstery because its got two layears almost everywhere. The Victorians liked it because it wore so well and had no longer threads to catch on things. I imagine they would thoroughly approve of your excellent ball fringe, too.
    Binca: the mat I made in kindergarten was dark green binca with running-stitch borders in wool. There might even have been a row or two of cross stitches, but no cross-crossed-corners. There are a couple more Berlin work stitches that out-crisscross rice stitch: leviathan and double leviathan. There’s even a treble leviathan, but that fills a diagonal square. All work well for upholstory.

  7. susan says:

    I’m simply amazed it looks so good after so long! Your family has taken good care of it, and this latest renovation is proof of that. What a lovely thing to have.

  8. Lady Fi says:

    Love the pattern and colours!

  9. I am sure Grandmama says: Thank you, Rachel!
    She made a very nice woven pattern, and the Rice stitch has proven to be perfect for a footstool that obviously has got a lot of wear and tear.
    Now with the TLC you have given it and the charming bobble fringing you added, it can go back to letting someone put their feet up.

  10. Deborah says:

    That really is a great makeover. It is so lovely when you can keep something so precious!

  11. Terrie says:

    It’s always good to keep memories with things used by love ones. You saved this and enhanced it so beautiful.

  12. Karen says:

    I am sure that your Grandmama is smiling because her work has been so well thought of, so well cared for, and so well restored. Bravo!

  13. Catherine says:

    What a great way to give a well loved piece of treasured furniture a new lease of life. I love your trim and Pom poms. I’m sure your Grandmama would be very pleased with your work.

  14. Karen says:

    Oh it’s gorgeous Rachel….