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DIY Footstool from an Upcycled Plastic Tub!

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I love making useful things out of proper rubbish that would otherwise end up in the garbage or recycling bin. This DIY Footstool is one of those projects.

I used a large empty plastic tub (previously used for Epsom Bath Salts), lots of fabric trimmings, and a William Morris Fabric Remnant to make a functional footstool to match with my living room decor.

Total cost? About £8 for the fabric remnant, everything else was upcycled and would have otherwise been thrown out.

DIY Footstool: Materials Used

Step 1: Attach Quilt Batting to the outside of the plastic tub

diy footstool from a plastic tub
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Above is the tub I started with. It was a 5kg container of Epsom Salts.

I removed the handle first of all just by popping it out of the slots it was attached by. I might use the handle for another project in due course!

diy footstool from an upcycled plastic tub
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Once that was done, the first proper step in my DIY Footstool project was to give my large plastic tub a bit more of a padded look by attaching some leftover strips of quilt batting to the outside of it.

These leftover batting strips are basically the bits you cut off after you’ve quilted a quilt and before you but on the binding.

diy footstool padding
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

To attach them I used some regular craft glue on the outside of the tub, around the sides and on the lid, and pressed the batting down firmly.

diy footstool from a plastic tub
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I attached the batting on the lid and the batting on the sides in separate steps rather than all at once as I hadn’t filled my tub up yet (see Step 2).

diy footstool - plastic tub lid
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I used 3 or 4 layers of this leftover batting. After the first layer I didn’t need to keep using the glue as batting kind of sticks to other batting naturally so I just pressed it down firmly to hold it in place until I put the cover on.

diy footstool from a plastic tub
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Step 2: Fill your Plastic Tub

Next you want to give your footstool a bit of weight so it actually feels sturdy enough to rest your feet on!

You could fill yours with any manner of unwanted items from old clothes to towels or even rocks if you want it to be really heavy!

diy footstool full of upcycled fabric scraps
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I used a whole bunch of fabric trimmings from all my recent sewing projects as my footstool filling. My filling included bits of thread, thin slivers of fabric from squaring up and even bits of old jeans and men’s shirts from some of my other upcycling projects.

I filled it as full and as densely as I could before putting the lid back on the tub.

Step 3: Cutting Fabric for your Footstool Cover

I love William Morris fabrics and wallpapers so when I saw a Red Strawberry Thief Fabric Remnant on Etsy over a year ago I snapped it up for a future project (without knowing what that would be).

william morris footstool
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Meanwhile, I was given a Navy Strawberry Thief Footstool for Christmas from my husband.

So I decided for this project I would make a coordinating red footstool for the same room – our living room.

The cover for this project is made up of three parts:

  1. The fabric around the sides of the footstool
  2. The fabric on the top of the footstool
  3. The bottom of the footstool

Fabric for the side of the footstool

diy footstool - william morris strawberry thief fabric
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I started by measuring for the piece that would go around the sides of the footstool. To do that I simply wrapped my fabric around the footstool until it touched. Then I over measured by a 1/2″ either side (for the seam allowance) and cut my fabric there.

Fabric for the top & Bottom of the footstool

footstool - cutting fabric
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

My plastic tub is round. So the fabric for the top and bottom needed to be too.

To measure I simply placed both pieces of fabric down on a table and put the tub on top. Then I left a margin for seams around the edge and cut in a circle following the shape of the tub.

I made sure to double check how the pattern for the top fabric would come out and positioned my fabric underneath just so in order to cut it out where I wanted it. I made the top a bit bigger initially just to make sure and trimmed it down later.

upcycled footstool - cutting fabric
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

The fabric I used for the bottom of my footstool was actually an off-cut of some waterproof fabric I used for an outside garden bench. The right side of the fabric is a teal blue colour but the reverse side is black so I turned it over and used it wrong side out.

fabric for bottom of footstool
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Step 4: Sewing the Footstool Cover

I started by sewing the fabric I had cut for the sides of the footstool together – right sides to right sides – to form a little tube.

I ironed open the seams so it would lay flat.

diy footstool - william morris strawberry thief fabric
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Next I carefully started sewing the top fabric onto the tube (again right sides to right sides). I decided to use up some leftover piping at this point too. This is totally optional.

footstool piping
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

To attach the piping make sure the bit of the piping you want to see is tucked in between the two right sides of your fabric and feel with your finger as you sew along that the piping is right at the edge of your stitch line. Most people would pin the piping on first but I just find that fiddly so I just sewed very slowly re-adjusting as I went.

I’ll say right here I’m not an expert at sewing curves. I stopped to clip my seams every so often as I am under the impression that helps with curved sewing but I still ended up with a bit of a pucker at one point.

So realising that (unless I wanted to unpick the whole thing and start over) I was going to have a bit of a pucker somewhere I decided to strategically place it at the bottom of the strawberry thief design under the two birds and try to make it a kind of ‘design feature’ – as you should always do if something isn’t going 100% to plan!

footstool - sewing curves
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Once the top and sides of the cover were sewn together, I gently slid it down over my batting. It was a nice snug fit so I breathed a sign of relief at that point!

Step 5: Sewing the Footstool Bottom

The final step was to sew on the bottom of the footstool. I did this part by hand.

First I placed my bottom fabric where I wanted it, tucked the spare edges in under the footstool cover and then folded over the patterned cover fabric to hide the raw edges.

sewing footstool bottom
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I then sewed it in place using an invisible ladder stitch. You can find a tutorial for that here if you don’t know how to do it.

needle turn stitching for footstool bottom
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Learning a lesson from the puckering at the top, I sewed first a section on either side and then stopped and sewed a section on the opposite sides.

Finally I sewed in between the sections to join them putting small gathers in the fabric here and there to sort of spread out the puckering so I didn’t have to gather it in one place.

hand sewn footstool bottom
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Finished DIY Footstool from an Upcycled Plastic Tub!

diy footstool from an upcycled plastic tub - after
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

I really like how this turned out. I know the sewing isn’t perfect, but it cost almost nothing and was really quick to do. I had it made in an evening!

diy footstool with william morris fabric
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

Below are some pictures of my ‘new’ upcycled footstool next to the inspiration footstool & also one of my cats giving it the necessary inspection!

DIY footstool william morris strawberry thief
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff
footstool - cat inspection
Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

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diy upcycled footstool
diy footstool from an upcycled plastic tub - after

DIY Footstool from an Upcycled Plastic Tub!

Active Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: 10

Make a William Morris Footstool using fabric remnants and an upcycled plastic tub!

Materials

  • Empty plastic tub with lid
  • William Morris fabric remnant
  • Leftover fabric piping(optional)
  • Leftover quilt batting(sometimes called wadding)
  • Fabric scraps and trimmings from the thread catcher bin

Tools

  • Craft glue

Instructions

    1. Attach quilt batting to the outside of the plastic tub using mod podge or glue
    2. Fill your plastic tub with fabric scraps
    3. Cut fabric to fit around your tub and for the bottom and top circles.
    4. Sewing a tube to form the sides of the footstool
    5. Sew the piping (optional) and top on by machine
    6. Hand sew the base to close your footstool.

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Want to make more fun home decor items out of rubbish? Check out our Home Decor Upcycling Archives or have a look at some of the posts below:

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