Jenny: Popeye’s Nemesis Bluto

Krissie has dubbed The Chair “Popeye” because it only has one button on its back (so far), so I’ve started calling the other things around The Chair by other names from the Popeye cast.  The easiest project so far: Bluto, an oversized footstool that competes with Popeye as major seating (that sucker is big).  Bluto entered my life as a very old black leather-topped ottoman  that my next door neighbor had put out for a porch sale and failed to sell.  I put a four-inch-thick piece of foam on top, covered that with batting, and then stretched some upholstery material over that.  Why I liked that upholstery is beyond me; it’s butt ugly.  But Bluto is now reborn and here’s how I did it using the Crusie Non-Professional Really Sloppy But Oddly Soothing Upholstery Method.  (Hand-sewing makes me calm.)




First I painted the legs white to brighten it up.

Then I stretched some nice bright blue fabric over it, wrong side up.   I pinned the corners so they lay flat, all the extra material pointing out.

I basted the corners in place (just a running stitch, nothing fancy), and trimmed off the excess fabric.












Then I turned the cover right side out and pulled it over the ottoman top again.  I pinned the basted corners tight against the ottoman and then with needle and thread, stitched down the corners so they were sewn not only to each other but also to the ottoman top.  You want to take small stitches on the outside and let the longer stitches run behind the fabric, so you come up with your needle and then move it over an eighth of an inch or less before you go back down behind the fabric (that example in the photo is probably too big of a stitch.  Do as I say, not as I do).  You’re trying for tiny stitches that bind the edges on the outside.  Or just take long stitches; anybody who looks that closely at your furniture probably shouldn’t be invited back.

Finally, I folded over the bottom edges to make a hem and, using a staple gun, stapled the edges to the wood frame of the ottoman.  I used lots of staples since people are going to be sitting on this thing and pulling on the fabric.









For trim, I made a chain using cotton yarn that was long enough to go all the way around that stapled edge and then worked three rows of single crochet on top of that.   Then I stretched the crocheted strip over the staples, sewed the top edge to the upholstery, and glued the bottom edge down using clear tacky glue.  The blue I was using for Popeye’s gimp did not match Bluto, but they’re both blue so it was close enough.









And Ta Da!  Bluto.




Yes, I know it’s not a professional job.  I don’t care.  I like it.

And now on to Sweet Pea . . .

44 thoughts on “Jenny: Popeye’s Nemesis Bluto

  1. What do you mean it’s not professional? It looks more professional than any commercial furniture I’ve got in my house! Very nice. And thanks for the tutorial – now i can redo stuff in my house!

    And I’m seriously thinking of painting stripes on drawers now that you’ve alerted me to the masking tape method. Why didn’t I think of that?

  2. My technique for reupholstering things is pretty efficient, but more costly than Jenny’s.

    I go to the upholsters in town, pick out some fabric and have them do the work. Laziness is not my motivation. I severely suck at sewing crafts. My Bluto would look like I’d done the work while blotto.

  3. It has become a stunning ottoman. An invitation for bums and tired feet.

    It’s strange, but when I’ve made or covered something, it’s don’t sit on that. Just look at it. Or created a dress, no you can’t sit down. I just made it. Inevitably, a few days later everyone’s using it for what it was meant to be used for. 🙂

  4. oneoftheotherjennifers says:

    I love, love, love this!! It’s wonderful. Thank you so much for the directions. Life is too short to live with boring furniture.

  5. After what? Blutto’s finished. He’s what Alastair sits on to give sub-q to Lyle and where the rest of us put our feet.

    Swee’Pea is about half done. I”m cogitating about what to do with the center seam. Simple is good, but . . . .

  6. I like it! Cannot see the crochet trim from the large photo, but I know it’s there and I, too, enjoy creating my own crochet trims for things. Mom and I upholstered a simple wooden footstool for my Gram one year for xmas and we were so damned proud of that thing! And pissed as hell when some kids in the family (who had never even visited before) broke it and never mentioned it — we found out when they’d all gone home across the country. 🙁

    It’s so fun to make something, especially making plain or ugly into fantabulous. I’m now considering painting and recovering all my Ikea furniture (that’s most of what I bought when I moved to Houston — I needed a fair amount of furniture for very little money and didn’t know the 2nd hand stores).

    Have you tried the fabric painting after one of the commenters told you about the medium that turns any paint into a fabric paint? I’ve known about that for years but have never tried it. I may have to, just because it’s there.

  7. Fab makeover. Much cheerier.

    Have to say, though, I’m distracted by your floors in the after shot. They’re gorgeous!

    But that’s the thing about painting things white–like the legs here–they make whatever’s next to them pop too. It’s like you got a two-for-the-price-of-one makeover deal. Fun to see the whole room when you’re done. Hope you took a before pic.

  8. Color me inspired. I need to do something about the platform of my platform bed. I had my brother make it for me. I seriously love it but it’s unfinished wood with sharp corners.
    Never thought to attempt to cover it in anything until I saw this.
    You’re such a good influence. Here on refab. Where you don’t talk about sex scenes. Oh wait. You do talk about sex. Still…

  9. Reb says:

    An after photo of the whole of Bluto in all his glory please. I’m no good at imaging the whole thing from that last very pretty photo.

  10. You crocheted the trim? I’m seriously in awe over that bit — and the ottoman just looks so bright and cheery! I actually liked the original fabric as well but the new effect is happier.

  11. Melanie says:

    Love this! More tutorials, please. Also, do you ever shop for fabric online, or is that not do-able? And when you shop at places like Jo-Anns, do you work from swatches or pics or what?

  12. I have a stash. When I put up Swee’Pea’s stuff, I’ll put up a picture of my stash, now vastly diminished because I kept handing boxes of it off to Krissie, but still a closet full. Most of the time I look for colors I like on the theory that they’ll all end up together anyway. That’s what happened with this set of fabrics. I think I’ve bought two new patterns, a pale yellow and a rich rose; the rest were in my stash.

  13. If you click on it, you get a bigger photo.
    But sure, I’ll take a picture of it with Swee’Pea and Popeye (still tragically unfinished) when I put the next one up.

  14. Nobody will ever see the before pic for the room. We kind of let it go to hell, which is why everything is now getting painted and reupholstered.

  15. It’s definitely on my list of things to do. But first I have to recover all of this stuff and then there’s more wood furniture to paint. ReFab is keeping me on the job.

  16. Melanie says:

    Thanks! Would love to see a pic of your stash. And makes sense to go for colors you like in theory they’ll end up together anyway. But you know, that takes courage. Weirdly enough, I have more color courage when dressing myself than my house, which is pretty much fleah-colored. Pale gray, beige, just awful and depressing. And I love color. Still, you say pale yellow and rich rose and I just get all freaked out, like it’s not permitted or something. So stupid! Fear of turning into my mother, perhaps. Someone who loves color just a leetle too much…

    Anyway, please keep posting these wiz-bang furniture (and any other) transformations. Am loving it.

  17. Ylva Hedin says:

    Im amazed… It looks just wonderful and I love the blue… Thing is when I do it people wondering why I let my nice or nephew do the funitures…. when I tell them I made it myself they wonder how old I was when I did it…

  18. You could start with easy accent pieces. (Listen to me, the Martha Stewart of Squalor on the River). Pillows, vases, flowers, etc. in colors that make you happy, stuff that’s not expensive and easily removable. Baby steps. See if you can tell if your grays and beiges are warm or cool at base, and then play off of that, greens and blues and purples if they’re cool (blue-based) or reds and oranges and yellows if they’re warm-based. Then when you’re used to the little things being colorful, you can move on to bigger things.

  19. What kind of thread do you use for upholstery? I am hand quilting right now with hand-quilting thread and it seems to break appallingly easily. Is there a particular weight / fiber that works better for upholstery projects? I would hate to go through the process and have a bunch of stitch pop the minute someone sat on it!

  20. Rooms can be like plants that way. After a while they start growing things you didn’t expect. But after a little pruning they perk right up.

    I find a lot of life is about maintenance–of our bodies, our kids, our relationships, our homes. I figure God thought if were kept busy we wouldn’t have time to get into trouble. Probably like a lot of plans, it sounded good in theory:)

  21. Looks great (you are a marvel) but I would have used a glue gun, no hand sewing for me. I did a couple of outdoor chairs last summer (brilliant green cotton) with a glue gun and surprisingly they are holding up great. It was a kind of practise for the easy chairs and sofa, otherwise known as the cats’ scratching posts. And I am thinking that I like the sofa material so I am going to remove the back panel and replace it with something then use the back panel to recover the damaged arms. And I am going to sray them to death with lemon juice to keep the cats away.

  22. There’s upholstery weight thread, but it doesn’t come in a lot of colors. Quilting thread doubled works, and for things that won’t get a lot of stress, regular thread doubled does a pretty good job.

  23. Jen Wyatt says:

    Was I hopped up on Kool Aid as a kid or was Bluto also known as Brutus at times? What was up with that?

    Back to upholstery….I can’t wait to see what fun piece of furniture will be named after Olive’s niece Diesel. 🙂

    Keep those photos coming.

  24. That is quite awesome, babe! Big fan of redoing furniture to suit my taste of the moment. I love painting the wood trim too – I’d have probably spent more time doing some design on Bluto’s base than you spent on the upholstery. And I had no idea how to make the upholstery fit like that. Woot! Learned new thing! Thank you!

  25. Yep, Bluto was also known as Brutus. At least, I think it was the same character. I don’t know what the reasoning behind the name change was.

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