Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Antique Seed Sack Bench

I was exploring an antique store in a nearby town with a friend, when I stumbled on this adorable little antique bench frame:

It was just like this, with no seat.  I was still in my upholstery class, so I figured I could get some tips from the instructor on how to make this sit-able again.  So I took it up front, and the lady at the checkout had pity on me because it didn't have a seat and gave me 10% off!  Thank you antique store lady! And I didn't have t do a thing to the frame because the finish was in great shape.

Well, it turned out that I was going to finish my chair in class (see that post here) early, so I asked for a supply list and brought in this little guy on the last class.  This time, I was good about taking pictures.  Here is a real tutorial with pictures:

First, I stapled in some webbing.  This is Jute webbing that I bought from Wal-Mart.  I bought 2 1/2 yards, but only used about 1 1/2.  It is inexpensive and all fabric stores usually carry it.  The trick was to staple one end then flip the end back over on top of itself, and staple again.  Then pull tight and staple the other end, then again flip the end back over on top of itself and staple.  This webbing creates the base for the seat, so it needs to be tight and even.   Lots and lots of staples, which is why I was so glad to have this baby:
I love pneumatic staple guns.

 Next I covered that with a piece of burlap.  Again, an inexpensive material you can find in any fabric store.  I followed pretty much the same method as with the webbing, but when pulling from side to side I needed to be careful not to pull very tight, because the fabric would come up off of the curved seat.  With a curved seat or cushion (Like this or with the back of the chair I just did) one direction should be pulled, (front to back in this example), and one direction smoothed (side to side in this one).

Next came two pieces of 1" foam.  This is the one step I don't have a picture of.  We put a small square of foam on first, that sat inside the folds of burlap.  Then a larger piece on top that went to the edges of the seat.  This created a rounded look, instead of flat.  I then stapled down the foam, curling the upper edge down and stapling it to create a rounded edge.

 And in came the fabric.
I had seen some really fantastic pictures of furniture reupholstered in old seed sack cloth.  I love the graphics so I decided to find an old seed sack and use that as my fabric.  I found one at a little antique store in town, the only one we have, called Hidden Treasures Consignment.  I don't go in there very often, but they seem to be my magical "last chance" shop where I find what I haven't been able to find anywhere else.  The same was true with this.

I did need to splice-and-dice my seed sack at home to get the size that I needed and also to include the different parts of the sack that I wanted.  That was a simple project similar to making the top of a quilt.

So here is my seed sack fabric, stapled to the frame and being trimmed out:

Next, all I needed was a trim to hot glue into the crack between the frame and cushion.  I am amazed at the difference that a fabric trim can make.  Cleans it up in a jiffy.

The trim that I used was a thick cotton cord, (again, a Wal-Mart find).  The cord was off-white, but was a little too white still.  The seedsack has gotten a little aged over its 50 year or-so lifetime, but I didn't want it to look dirty.  So in comes a delicious drink, also good for discoloring things: Black TEA!  I steeped some tea in a bowl and soaked my cording in tea Sunday morning during church.  When we got back, it was just right.  I let it dry, glued it on, and here is the little seed sack bench!
I am pretty much completely smitten with the stamp on the far left side.  And I love that it's from Iowa...Des Moines, even!  (also not a competitor of my husband's company, thank goodness.  I had to be careful about that).  In case you are wondering, Joe and I came to the conclusion that this was a wheat sack (due to the hulls still inside the bag!).  And if you're wondering what that green string-thing is in the top right corner of Iowa, it is the original pull thread to open the bag.  It was stitched into a different part of the bag, but I loved the loops and texture, so I took it out and re-stitched it into a place it would be seen.  I love little details like that.
My Mom made my Grandpa a seed sack jacket, and it was beautiful.  That's probably a lot of my inspiration for this project.  And if any of you run across a Dockendorff Hybrids seed sack, let me know.  Just putting that out there... So what have you done or seen done with seed sacks? 


  1. That is amazing!! Beautiful job!
    Was so glad to see this post. I have been searching for information about the bench/seat actually. We have the exact same piece here & was trying to look for details about the era, design, etc. I see no details at all on ours. Ours has old metal rollers on the legs (makes it easy to move around). The upholstery needs to be replaced but never thought of a seed sack. What a great idea! I know you posted this info over 5 years ago, but if you can remember that far back do you mind telling me about how much you paid for the bench at the antique shop? I'm in Ontario, Canada & was so amazed to find the same piece of furniture. I've seen them referred to as a curule seat, vintage wood bench, throne bench & King's Curule Throne.....not really sure what style it is. Commonly referred to as an entryway bench or seat though. Anyway - if you have any details to share it would be greatly appreciated. You do lovely work....I think it looks awesome!! :) Thank you. Have a good day. Regards, Sandy Schleich

    1. Hi Sandra!
      I unfortunately don't have any information about the history of this little seat. I think I paid very little for it, maybe $15? But that was in a small town antique store in Iowa, so prices are lower than in many other places! I don't think I'd get it that cheap in MN where I live now!i hope you enjoy your treasure, sorry I couldn't be more helpful!


    2. Thanks Becky for your kind reply. You did get a real good deal on your's....and by adding the seed sack seat which looks great, you also gave it a unique & more vintage look. We were thinking of just cleaning it up as is, and sell it....but it is truly a lovely piece of furniture & may rethink that and keep it! It was a gift years ago from a family member who loved going to antique sales & garage sales. We just don't have the room for it anymore. Wanted to send you a pic but not sure how to add that in here. Not familiar with blogging at all. :) Anyway - thanks again for your reply & have a great day! Regards from Canada !! Sandra


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