Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hand sewing

Some people might think I'm a little intense with my time-consuming projects that could be accomplished in 1/100th of the time with a machine (eg: chopping stuff for dumplings, sewing cushion covers & curtains), but I would say that a) I find the slow work to be therapeutic in a way and b) I've been holding off on buying bulky stuff before our move so you all better watch it when I finally get a food processor & sewing machine!

Anyway, I just wanted to put that out there before I share with you my latest creations. For our 4 day drive, we are taking our van, which I.S. has outfitted with a bed, which we plan to sleep on for one or two nights of our trip. The bed was built about a foot off the ground to give us storage space underneath and he made the head of the bed fold up and back to give us a bench and space at the front where the side door opens. I don't have any good photos of the finished result, so I will need to do a follow up post later on so that you guys can see I.S.'s creation.

When I saw the finished bench, I got inspired to make bench cushions for it. I originally thought I'd make one long one, but decided to split it into two so that we could move them around, stack them, etc. I picked up some 2" foam from a local fabric store and went to IKEA for my fabric.

I chose the pattern shown above because it was mostly dark, so it won't get dirty as fast, and I loved the leaf/bird motif. I also figured this pattern wouldn't be too frilly for I.S.'s tastes. I got 2 yards of it and managed to get 2 cushion covers and a curtain out of it. The curtain will go behind the driver/passenger seats to give us some privacy when we sleep in it and 1 yard of fabric was just large enough to span the width of the van.

I hand sewed all of it since I lack a sewing machine and it actually didn't take me as long as I'd thought. It took me about 2 days of solid work to sew 4 sides on my cushions and hem 3 sides of my curtain, which I thought would take me all week. All that's left to do is sew on a strip of velcro for the cushions, hem the flap that folds over to close the cushion, and hem the top of the curtain with space for the rope that we'll use to hang the curtain. I anticipate it'll take me one day of solid work to do all that.
You might notice my hemming was a little wonky and that I was very generous with the stitch length, but let's remember I did it by hand! For the cushions, I cut the fabric so that it was two times longer than the cushion so that I could just fold it in half and sandwich the cushion, saving me time on having to hem 4 sides. It also saved me quite a bit of fabric in that I didn't cut it into 6 pieces for each side, as many cushion cover instructions I found said to do. You'll see in 2 photos up that I sewed the side to fall in the middle of the cushion and then just folded the corners in. I sewed the corner on the inside out to give it a bit of structure. Getting the corners perfectly square was a bit difficult because the hems on each side weren't perfectly parallel, but oh well. It's good enough =) For the curtain, it's just a long rectangular piece of fabric that required hemming so that was relatively straight-forward. I just had to be sure I ironed it straight. I was pretty nervous sewing the cushions because I was worried it wouldn't turn out straight and that the seams on the side wouldn't be centered on the cushion, but I'm quite pleased that all my measuring and pencil marks on the back side helped ensure everything went smoothly!

I'm still not sure how I'll finish the 2" edges on each end of the cushion cover because the velcro will only help seal that long edge and not the ends and thus potentially exposing the foam, but I think once I get the velcro, I'll know what to do (though I am open to any suggestions as to how I can finish the ends to ensure my foam doesn't get exposed!).