Instructions to Make a Tufted Footstool

Written by elizabeth sobiski
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Instructions to Make a Tufted Footstool
The dimple created by pulling fabric in tight is a tuft. (sofa image by Clementina Cabral from

A tufted footstool can add elegance to a room, as well as being a usable piece of furniture. Tufting is a classic design technique for adding texture and contrast to an otherwise plain piece of furniture. Create a tuft by drawing thread through fabric and padding and pulling tight. You can use buttons or contrasting thread to make the tuft, adding another design element. This project should take a weekend to complete.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Plywood, 1/2 inch thick
  • Saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Polyurethane stain and varnish
  • Paintbrushes
  • Screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Foam batting
  • Fabric
  • Tapestry needle
  • Upholstery thread
  • Shank buttons
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun
  • Staples

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  1. 1

    Cut six pieces of plywood, four measuring 12 inches square and two measuring 11 inches by 12 inches. Clean up the edges with a bit of sandpaper. Choose one 12-inch by 12-inch square to finish with polyurethane. Apply the polyurethane to one side and all edges of the square. Let it dry overnight. Because the bottom of the footstool is not covered with fabric, it is the only piece that needs to be polyurethaned.

  2. 2

    Choose a 12-inch by 12-inch square to be the top of the footstool. Attach four sides to this square with screws. Make sure that the sides are attached to the underside of the footstool top. Have the two smaller cuts opposite each other and fitted in between the two larger sides. Screw the sides together, as well, with at least three screws per side.

  3. 3

    Cut a 4-foot-square piece of fabric, and a 12-inch-square section of padding. Center the fabric over the padding and place buttons where the tufts will be. Make a mark on the fabric with a pencil or fabric marker.

  4. 4

    Thread an upholstery needle with thread and knot one end. Run the needle up through the padding and fabric. Pull through the shank of the button and back down through the fabric and padding. Pull tight to create the tuft. Run the needle and thread through the button at least two more times, for security. Repeat for the remaining buttons.

  5. 5

    Place the tufted fabric and padding facedown on a work surface. Place the footstool on the fabric and padding, so that the open end is facing up. Wrap the fabric up on one side, fold over the edge and secure with a staple in the centre on the inside of one of the sides of the footstool. Continue securing with staples, working from the centre. Repeat with the opposite side, and then the remaining sides. Turn the footstool into its upright position. When you're finished with this step, the footstool should be entirely wrapped in fabric, with the tufted cushion on the top.

  6. 6

    Turn the footstool upside down, with the opening facing up. Screw the bottom onto the footstool. Since this is a 12-inch-square piece, it should fit like a lid. Countersink the screws to make sure they do not stick out from the wood, as exposed screws can catch on the floor.

Tips and warnings

  • You can attach the padding to the footstool with spray glue after tufting, to keep it in place while finishing the project.
  • Add felt feet to the bottom of the footstool to cover the screws and help it slide.

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