It should come as no surprise that I grabbed these two folding tables from Goodwill for some future project I was imagining while in a creative frenzy. That was two years ago. This week was The Week!

Let me show you how I transformed the outdated, drab toteable tables into cushy, upholstered, Swiss Army themed folding camp stools? They turned out quite dandy, if I do say so myself.


Burlap: $5.49 per yard. I used 1 1/2 yards of red and 1/4 yard of ivory

Tables: Goodwill Stores


I had been itchin’ to do something other than a pillow using the red and white Swiss cross design, but wasn’t sure how to sew it so that the white cross peeked through from behind the red fabric. It had to show through from under the red while the edges of the cut out red fabric were tidy, finished and top stitched for a smooth, professional look. I was mentally engineering this project for a couple of weeks. Why I like these kinds of challenges, I’ll never know. Oh, and I almost forgot the biggest challenge of all—-sewing with burlap. Read on to see how I mastered the technique. Every now and then it’s quite exhilarating to feel like you’ve solved a riddle.

Here are the tables right after I brought them home.


I cut out foam tops, used adhesive to secure the pad on the table top, and then attached dacron batting all around. I also added a band of dacron to cover that exposed wood, but no picture was taken of that.


I need to side track for a moment here, and chat about burlap. For a nice change of pace, I found 60″ wide burlap in an array of colors. You may be surprised to know that burlap is a dream to use for upholstery fabric. My new stash includes red, soft slate blue, forest green, classic black and a versatile ivory. For me, plain colors allow me to be more creative in my designs. Right now, I’m all about color block designs.

Burlap drawbacks: It’s scratchy and it’s difficult to keep straight due to the loose weave. As any Halloween costume maker can attest to, it’s tough to keep a true, straight line when stitching two pieces of burlap together. You think you have a straight cut, then, it suddenly becomes wavy. My only hope was that if I cut straight, pinned like crazy and sewed carefully, it just might work. I bossed it around and it worked! I’m kind of (really) proud of how these turned out. (Great source for burlap is listed at the top, as well as washing instructions below, to soften it up.)

1. I cut a piece of red burlap large enough to cover the stool top.

2. With a piece of computer paper, I cut a 9″ x 3″ strip and two 3″ x 3″ squares to make the Swiss cross pattern.

3. Next, I cut out another square of red burlap to be used as the interfacing for the cross. I had a moment when I remembered cutting arm hole interfacing on the bias, so I decided to turn that square on the bias.

4. I traced the cross pattern in chalk, pinned the interfacing piece to the big piece and stitched the two pieces together.




5. Next, I cut out the center of the cross, leaving a 1/2″ seam allowance. Then, I made some inside and outside clips, snips and cuts to allow the interfacing to easily fold under and get pressed in place.

6. After giving it a good steam, I top stitched a line of stitching approximately 1/4″ from the folded edges of the cross.




Then, it was time to sew the striped piece.

7. I cut out two 2 1/2″ strips of ivory burlap to stitch to the red burlap, creating two stripes.

8. After carefully sewing the stripes in place, I steamed the fabric and top stitched 1/4″ from each edge of the red burlap.




Upholstery Time.

9. Measure and make sure the stripes are equi-distance from one side of the stool. Secure in place with staples.

10. Next, attach the top pieces using the basic upholstery technique. Align fabric on top of stools. Secure the fabric in place by placing 4-5 staples in the center of each side.

Start with one side, smoothing and stapling up to about 4″ from each corner. Move to the opposite side and do the same.

Then, you work on the left and right sides. It’s important to check to make sure the fabric design stays in place and is still aligned. In a nutshell, you pull the fabric evenly and snugly out from the centers of each side towards the corners.

TIP: Use your open hand to smooth and pull fabric, rather than using your fingers.


10. Finish up by making nice, crisp, folded corners.


11. The only thing left now is to cover up those staples on the bottom of the side rails. I simply cut cardboard tack strip and stapled it in place for a more finished edge.




Total cost: Under $30.00

I’m going to test a piece to see if I can reduce the scratchiness by washing it.

It’s tricky to wash burlap, but the manufacturer’s directions are to hand was separately in cold water and mild soap and hang to dry. Do not over agitate it or leave it wet.