Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why I Should Get a Seam Ripper

Just a few weeks ago I finished up all my school projects, took my exams, and went home for the summer.

Well, I walked home. I must admit, I was a bit depressed to watch everyone else packing up and moving across the country. School doesn't really feel like it's over if you go back to work at school the very next day. Oh well, that's life. It is still very nice to have no homework. 

Then, my living room became a craft explosion:

And yes, it still looks pretty much like that. I'm such a good housekeeper!

I had been collecting projects that I want to complete to add to our house, and I finally had time to complete them. A month or so ago I made living room curtains just in time for my parents to visit. I had purchased enough fabric to do our living room and our bedroom, but I didn't have time to do both. I also got fabric to make a cushion for our cute mid-century coffee-table-turned-bench by the front door. 

So far, besides the living room curtains of course, that's the only project I've finished. 

Here's the naked bench (in its normal messy state; keeping it real!) before:

And here's the finished project (sorta): 

Now, it's not officially finished because I want to add button "tufting" to it, to give a bit less of a homemade feel. Not that anything I make is polished enough to look not homemade. 

Now, with this cushion, I made the mistake of not following a pattern or a tutorial because really, how hard can a couple of straight seams be? 

Figuring out the sizes of the pieces wasn't too difficult. The bench is 12 inches by 50 inches, and the foam that I used for the cushion is 1 inch thick. So I took those measurements and added a 1/2 inch seam allowance on all sides (this means I added one inch to each measurement on every piece).   

This is what I cut out:

Two 13"x51" rectangles
Two 2"x51" rectangles
Two 2"x13" rectangles

Then, I ironed all the pieces to make sure all creases were gone. A pressed piece is a pretty piece!

I started by sewing one of the long skinny pieces to a long side of one of the big pieces. To do this, I put them right sides together (pretty sides together) and lined up the edges, then pinned every few inches to keep them together. I sewed a straight stitch a 1/2 inch from the edge all the way down. 

Then, I did the same thing with a short side, the other long side, and the other short side (I just worked my way around). 

Here's where my first problem came in. While I knew how to make a basic cushion (sew three sides together, leave a gap on the fourth side to stuff the pillow through, whip stitch the opening closed) I hadn't thought of the fact that I wanted this cushion to be boxy. I didn't know how to make the corners! Now, I'm going to tell you how I did them, but I want you to know that I still haven't researched it and I have no idea what the best way to do it is. I just know mine worked, and while it was a pain to work with, it looks fine now. 

I pinned the short sides of the skinny pieces, right sides together. Now, since I'd already sewed them to the first big piece, this wasn't the easiest thing in the world. I then sewed them together (with a 1/2 inch seam allowance), being very careful to keep all the other fabric out of the way. It made a boxy corner. Yay me! Tricky, and almost definitely not the most efficient way of achieving it, but hey, it worked!

I did that to all four corners, then sewed the top big piece to it. That was tricky too, but not nearly so bad as the corners. Unfortunately, I still ran into a problem. Well, two problems.

The first came when I measured the side to double check that it was the right size. Remember the foam was 1" thick? That means that I wanted the side of the cushion to be 1" thick.

The red lines are supposed to show you the seams. They are wigglier than the origional seams, but not much more. Boo.

Anyway, what I was trying to show you was that the side is actually 1 1/4", not 1". Double boo.

So, I did what my mom trained me to do when i screwed up like this: I ripped out.

Unfortunately for me, my mom owned a seam ripper. I did not. So I spent 40 minutes with my eyebrow tweezers and a pair of scissors. And my teeth. And Dave's brute force. And eventually I got that seam ripped out far enough to fix it and tried again.

Now, this Fat Side Syndrome was partly caused by the fact that I set my seam allowance at 1/2". With my machine, it's easier to do a 1/4" seam allowance, because then I can follow the edge of my sewing foot, instead of trying to follow a faint line on the plate under the foot. So, next time I'll do a 1/4" seam allowance.

The other problem I ran into was when I was trying to get the cushion into the case. I had left a little space on one end to shove it through, but I hadn't thought about the fact that it's difficult to make square corners when you bunch up a cushion. So, the opening wasn't big enough. I tweezed the seam out here, too, and stuffed the cushion in. Actually, I was frustrated, so I talked Dave into stuffing it in. Yay for hubbys!

Then, I had to whip-stitch the opening closed. Oops. Whip-stitching isn't particularly beautiful to begin with, and it's less beautiful when you only have cream-colored tread, and your fabric is dark brown. Add that to the fact that I had to do most of a side, and the results weren't show-stopping.

Actually, maybe they were. Would something good really stop a show? I think a show is more likely to stop if the set falls down or somebody gets hit on the head with a sand bag. My seam was that kind of showstopper.

See? Oh well. I didn't feel like fighting it anymore. Maybe if I ever get around to buying brown thread I'll go in a fix it. Or maybe I don't care.

Anyway, 1,100 words later, the cushion was done. Except for buttons. It looks pretty cute.