Nellie Will-Do, Part I

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 4,690 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—6,500 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life

This is a beginner level Stitching and Crafting Merit Badge that made my living room smile. Hello dolly!, did my living room need a makeover, stat. The problem? My furniture all had good bones (after all, it’s been handed down for generations, mostly from the original Dream House), but the upholstery was …

a little outdated, worn out, old, and coming apart at the seams. Actually. Also, I’m pretty confident bright-neon-green-colored shag carpeting and pink, flowery-patterned couches were never meant to live in harmony. And don’t even get me started on the wallpaper! Actually, please DO get me started on the wallpaper—just hand me a scraper and don’t take no for an answer … seriously!

The carpet, though, I’ll have to live with for a while. It’ll be its day soon enough … evil laughter. Is there a hardwood floor refinishing badge? Cuz you better believe I will rock that one. I already have the money set aside for one of those riding sanding machine thingies. What do you mean, you aren’t supposed to ride them?

But anyway, back to the furniture. The furniture’s day had come. I bid a fond farewell to the pink stripes, remembering the days of tracing them with my pencil eraser while doing homework after school, or staring at them, following the pattern, while taking naps when I was sick as a kid. Boy, there are a lot of memories in one couch cushion, aren’t there? Who knew?

I started with gathering my supplies. Well, actually, I started with watching YouTube videos and reading articles about how to reupholster anything, and after that, I gathered my supplies.

What you’ll need to have a living room makeover worthy of What Not to Wear (or What Not to Sit Upon, as it were):

-a staple gun (with staples). Handy hint from me to you. You’re welcome in advance.

-yards and yards of a strong fabric (Going out on a limb here and suggesting anything that is not pink and geometric patterned. Your grandkids will thank me later. Just sayin’.)

-hot glue

-handy, dandy sewing machine with plenty of thread

-measuring tape

Snacks (this is a long badge, Madge. You’re going to get hungry. I chose blueberry muffins with plenty of butter for their rib-sticking power. Great. Now I want ribs).

I decided to start with the easiest piece of furniture: the ottoman. Circles are my friends. I also have a smallish footstool, but it’s going to have to wait its turn. So, there.

The day before I had cleaned all my old furniture. Don’t want to cover over old coffee stains, after all. Also, I washed and dried all my new fabric—mostly because the cat had thought it was a new cat bed. Of course, the cat thinks everything that is on the floor anywhere in creation is her new cat bed. And don’t even get me started on the dog. Is there a badge for dog and cat bed-making? Dog and cat beds stuffed with their own fur? That’s not inhumane, that’s recycling, girls.

Anyway, back to reupholstering. Just getting everything all together and turning the ottoman upside down got me a bit rumbly in the tumbly, as Pooh would say, so I took a muffin break. Naturally, muffins are a bit dry without something to wash them down, so then I needed a tea break. Good thing this badge has a 25-hour time commitment. I’ve used two and haven’t even busted out the staple gun yet.

Continued tomorrow …


  1. Elizabeth says:

    Oh how this is perfect timing, again! Just so happens that I took a large piece of furniture apart yesterday (the first time I had ever done such a thing). Had no idea what I was getting myself into, seeing how much labor goes into disassembling a heavy piece of well crafted furniture. This part of a mechanically operated chair is brand new~out of the box & never been slept on; sat in or exposed to dust bunnies.

    Very happy to report that I accomplished this task of staple strip removal in only three hours! And I didn’t even damage any of the material (my main concern). It was such a learning experience to see how this particular piece of furniture was put together. I was so proud of the person/s (or manufacturer) who put this piece of furniture together as so many things now days are slapped together in such a shoddy & careless fashion that it did my heart good to see that someone really cared about a product they probably worked on a long while.

    It must sound odd then that I should be taking apart such a fine piece of furniture but don’t despair as I plan to use ever piece of it…except the flexible strips of heavy duty staples:-)

    Not long ago, I was inspired to try the above project after reading the upholstery chapter in your Idea’s Book. Your books have had a profound effect on me as I’ve tried so many new fun (& sometimes frustrating) projects since you exposed me to so many new idea’s. Thank You!

    Hope you share pictures tomorrow of your part II project.

    • MaryJane says:

      I know the excitement when you discover the bones of a piece are sound and the workmanship good. And use every piece? You’re awesome Elizabeth. Your post made my day, er, I mean MBA Jane’s!

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