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How To Make No Sew Kitchen Stool Top Covers

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How to make fabric stool covers for a plain kitchen stool top using a colorful dishtowel.  No sewing machine is needed. This post has been UPDATED.

No Sew Fabric stool coversHow To Make No Sew Kitchen Stool Top Covers

I am going to show you how I made these flirty stool covers for the kitchen. I made these a long time ago and only have a few photos that I scanned from the decorating book I wrote back in 1994 called, Instant Decorating. It was published by Meredith Press (BHG) back in 1994. To promote the book I was a guest many times on the Our Home Show that was taped in New York and shown on the Lifetime Channel.  These stools were one of the projects from my book that I demonstrated how to make on TV.

The book is out of print, but the projects in it are all inexpensive ideas that are easy to make. The book is dated, but the techniques are easily adaptable with today’s style, colors and fabrics.

I used dishtowels to cover the tops of my stools, but any fabric will work even napkins if you use larger ones. The nice thing about using dishtowels or napkins is that you can use the finished edges on them and not have to sew your own hem.

Jump To Step-by-Step Tutorial

The Story Behind How These Stool Covers Came To Be

3 plain wood stools

The stool with the brown pleather cover in the above photo is what my stools looked like before I added the blue and white dishtowel covers.

I had not one of these lovelies, but three –  I bought them to go around my kitchen island when my girls were little. They fit the bill – inexpensive and they had a cushion, an ugly one, but a cushion.  I figured I would cover them with fabric to coordinate with the kitchen.

I brought the stools home in the evening and set them up around the counter.  It was getting late and I was not in the mood to sew, but I wanted instant gratification. I could not wake up in the morning to the pleather top stools.

Do you know that feeling when you have to have it done NOW!… and won’t rest until you do.  Well, this was one of those times. I wanted to wake up for breakfast the next morning drinking my tea, reading the paper, and seeing pretty stools, but I had no fabric.

Inspiration can strike when you are desperate –  As I glanced around my kitchen in despair my eyes landed on the blue dishtowel by my sink.  Aaaah ha moment- victory was calling.  I quickly went to my dishtowel drawer and smiled.  No more desperation.  I went into action mode and starting cutting the dishtowels into large circles to make no sew covers for them. I stapled the circles onto each of the stools.  End of story – go to bed, pretty stools for breakfast.

Not so fast – they looked like pincushions with legs –  They needed some style… something to give them some panache.  It was getting late and I really wanted to be done, then I remembered I had some iron-on adhesive.  Bingo – I could fashion some peppy little skirts without using my sewing machine. I still had to hand sew some large gathering stitches to make the ruffle, and I did that while watching Jay Leno.  I was done in no time and went to bed knowing when I woke I would have pretty stools and two little girls all excited to know they had pretty new stools to sit on.

I no longer have these stools, but the dishtowel covers lasted for about 3 years.  I gave them to a neighbor when we moved to a new home that didn’t have a kitchen island.

Since I no longer have the stools, I couldn’t take new photos of them for this post. I scanned the diagrams I made for my book for this tutorial.

How to Make Dishtowel Stool Top Covers

To make the stool covers I cut the napkins into pieces, and then used iron-on adhesive and a few hand stitches to create the cover. I have found when working with iron-on adhesive, after you press it with an iron  once, let the fabric and adhesive cool, then press again.  Don’t handle until the bond is cool again.  This extra step creates a stronger bond.

supplies needed:

  • Stool with padded top
  • Three – 20 x 27 inch or larger dish towels
  • Staple gun and staples
  • 3.4 roll of iron-on adhesive or fabric glue
  • Embroidery floss or yarn to match dish towel
  • Large-eyed sewing needle
  • 45 inches of 1/2″ round cord
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Diagram showing how to make a fabric cover for a stool

  1. Lay dish towel on work surface. Cut dish towels as shown in (Figure 1), creating one top piece, two ruffle pieces, two cord cover pieces and two band pieces.
  2. Center top piece on top of stool and staple underneath seat, pulling the dishcloth or fabric taut as you work around the stool. Trim excess.
  3. Turn the two ruffle pieces so the towel’s manufactured finished edge is the bottom hem of the ruffled skirt. Fold raw edges over 1/2 inch, fuse with iron-on adhesive or fabric glue, and press.

Diagram showing how to make a fabric cover for a stool

4. Matching pattern if necessary, fuse together the two ruffle pieces by overlapping manufacturer’s finished edges  with a 1-inch seam to create on long ruffle piece. (Figure 2)

Diagram showing how to make a fabric cover for a stool5. Thread enough floss through needle to go around stool plus 10 inches and knot end. Sew a running stitch across the top of ruffle piece. Gather fabric by pulling dish towel back on thread. (Figure 3)

6. Wrap floss around stool so top edge of ruffle and stool meet. Tie two ends of floss together to hold ruffle on stool. Trim excess threads. Adjust fabric along floss so gathers are spread out evenly.

7.Place the two band pieces right side sown. Fold long edges over 1-inch, fuse, and press. Matching pattern if necessary, fuse together the two band pieces by overlapping manufacturer’s finished edges with a 1-inch seam to create one long band piece.

8. Lay the two cord-cover pieces right side down side by side, with edges overlapping slightly. Matching pattern if necessary, fuse together the two cord cover pieces by overlapping manufacturer’s finished edges with a 1-inch seam to create one long cord-cover piece.

Diagram showing how to make a fabric cover for a stool9. Center cord on wrong side of cord-covered piece and wrap fabric around cord do edges meet. Place a line of iron-on adhesive or fabric glue as close as possible to cord and press excess fabric that extends beyond cord. Repeat along entire length of cord. Let dry. (Figure 4)

Diagram showing how to make a fabric cover for a stool10. Lay band piece right side down and lay cord cover on top of band piece so that cord is above the top of band and excess cord-cover fabric lies on the band. Fuse or glue excess cord-cover fabric to band. Let dry. (Figure 5)


11. Wrap cord/band piece snugly around stool so cord is slightly above top of stool. Butt cord ends together and trim excess. Handstitch close with floss. Put a line of hot glue into crevice between top of stool and cord to help hold in place. Let dry.

If you like easy decor, you will want to check out these other no sew DIY projects:

Cover stool or any chair seat with colorful dishcloths. They are fun and affordable when decorating on a budget.


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  1. Hi – I wanted the covers to looks like they were sewn. So I took a few extra steps to make sure they looked as custom-made covers as possible. Thanks for the comments everyone.

  2. These are impressive. When I read the title I thought you probably just tied the towels around the legs of the stools. These look fantastic!