Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chair cushion

I finally got around to making the cushion for the chair I found out by the dumpster a month or two ago. It's not perfect, but it's way cheaper than the not-quite-the-right-size-anyway ones I found online, and it only cost $11 for batting and about an hour of time. Here's what I did:
1) Procure batting. I got low loft polyester quilt batting that was 81x96 inches. Lay batting over the chair (mine is folded in half once) and use a Sharpie to trace the rough shape you'll want the cushion to be. Make sure batting is flush against the back of the chair so the cushion won't be too small.
2) Cut batting out. Lay the remainder over what you cut out and cut again if there's enough for another layer.
3) See if your batting is thick and comfy enough to be the chair cushion. Mine wasn't, so I also used an old nylon blanket folded over twice.
4) Find an old sheet or other fabric for the outside of the cushion. Spread it in two layers and lay batting over it. Trace with tailor's chalk a couple inches from the batting to leave ease for the seams. Cut sheet out. Mine was borderline on width, so I left the fold in on one side.
5) Sew the two sides of the cover together for about 3/4 of the perimeter of the cover. The open part is for stuffing.
6) The hard part: Stuff the batting and blanket in and try to get fairly flat. I didn't do a great job at this. For one, the batting and blanket both have textures that like to stick to other things, so it was hard to get them to move against each other without folding. In the end, I decided I had gotten it as good as I was going to and moved on. I think sewing the padding to one of the layers of cover would be good, but it was so thick that I don't think my machine could handle it.
7) Sew up the hole. I did it on the machine, but a more patient person could get it to look better by doing it by hand.
It's not beautiful, and since I like beautiful things, I might try to make it more beautiful in the future. For the time being, however, the addition of the cushion has made the chair usable for something other than a coat rack, so I'm happy about that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Purple twist dress

I love this Vogue dress I made in the fall of 2009, but it has not gotten much wear. It's backless and very shiny, so I don't think there's a way to dress it down much. It makes me feel sexy and fun, and I sometimes wear it around the house. It was pretty easy to make, and I think the twists make it very flattering. It only has a couple pattern pieces, and even though I was a little confused about the topology of the twist details, following the instructions in the packet made it work perfectly. I did make a small error in choosing the size of the pattern. It is a multi-sized pattern, and my top half is in a different envelope than my bottom half. I should have gone with the envelope that had the right bust measurements because it's easier to alter waist/hips, but I went for the one with the right hip measurements and had to extrapolate the top part of the pattern to fit my upper torso. It ended up working fine, but if it hadn't, I would have been kicking myself. The first time I wore this dress for real was to a friend's wedding in July. I paired it with some delicious arm candy.

The only other time I've worn it out of the house was to a Halloween party a few days after I made it. I went as a lady who made herself a dress she liked a lot. I engaged in questionable pursuits like beer pong and taking a picture with my office-mates. The Jolly Green Giant and I were beer pong champions, even though I had never played before. The wrap is a rectangle of fabric that was left after cutting out the pattern. It came in handy for the chilly Halloween night.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I am not great at sleeping. At our last apartment, the ambient light that came in our window was a real issue. Even though we lived there almost three years, I never got around to getting curtains. With this apartment, I wanted to get on that early. It also turned out that we had quite a few twin sheets that we won't be using, since we have no twin beds. One day when I should have been packing for my trip to Minnesota, I made curtains instead.

Here's how I made my curtains. First, I took a navy blue twin sheet. I cut it in half. (Actually, I cut a slit at the top and tore it the rest of the way, which is always fun.) Except for the top few inches (where the deep hem is), I sewed a line of stitching down 1/4 inch from the raw edge. Using this as a guide, I turned under a narrow hem by folding on the line of stitching and folding the raw edge under. (I'm not sure if that makes sense, but I'm having trouble describing it. I guess that's why I don't write pattern instructions.)
Then I cut the closed sides off of the deep hem at the top of the sheet so I could stick the curtain rod through. I didn't bother finishing those raw edges since they're so high up and no one will see them.
The project took longer than I thought it would, about an hour and a half, mostly because the sheets are so long and the seams just took a long time to do. It was easy and cheap (free old sheet, $10 curtain rod), and the curtains do a good job of making the room darker so I can sleep better. They are not very thick curtains, and they let light in during the day, but I don't sleep during the day, so I don't mind that. It's actually a bonus because then I can start to wake up as the sky gets lighter.

I was going to add a valence at the top because I have a really pretty one (it came with a quilt I have). But there were topological obstructions to having the valence up there and still having full range of motion of the curtains without adding a second curtain rod, so I decided the top of the curtains is attractive enough and left it at that.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

September 30th

I wanted to end Self-Made September with a bang, so I wore these crazy pants. The fabric belonged to my mother in the '70s, and I used the same pattern as these pants, but took them in at the knees to make bell bottoms. The print reminds me of a Mondrian painting, so they have most frequently appeared as part of a Halloween costume. (I have gone as a Mondrian painting multiple times, solely because I have these pants.) There is the slight detail that Mondrian didn't use green, preferring primary colors, but I don't let that get me down. The pants are so loud and crazy that it's hard to wear them much in everyday life. The black shirt subdues them a bit, but they are a bit costumey anyway. My mother-in-law was in town on Friday, so she, Jon, and I walked over to the lake so she could see the great views we get of downtown. It was terribly windy, so the waves were huge and awesome but also sprayed us and made us cold.

These pants are not the most comfortable things I own. The fabric is a bit scratchy and has absolutely no stretch, so the waistband, which is very snug when I'm standing up, kind of bisects me when I sit down. Shortly after dinner, I switched to PJ pants.