While not the first thing I finished this year, my banana seat cushion is the first thing I got photos of, so it gets the dubious honour of getting the first of my 52 moments of satisfaction posts. Once again, it has terrible photos, due largely to the fact I had to take most of them with my cell phone.
I made a giant cushion. Yep, a giant cushion.
You see, I have a giant cane banana chair. It rocks. It swivels. It’s super comfy. And it’s huge!
We really didn’t have room in our home for it any more. But being so comfy, I was loathe to get rid of it. So we decided to take it up to our bach in Whangarei, where it can be comfy while we’re on holiday and enjoy a lot more spacious surroundings. It also suits another one of our bach requirements. Because we don’t go up there very often, all soft furnishings get locked away in cupboards in case of rodents. So all furniture must have cushions that can be removed completely. This chair fit the bill.
So we loaded it into our seemingly Tardis-like van (along with a 2 seater couch, folding table, double futon frame, a sewing machine, assorted motorcycle equipment, and enormous Christmas presents) and took it with us up north at Christmas time.
But as well as being comfy and huge, my chair is also old. I got it off my Nana 10 years ago. She’d had it for at least a decade. And she might have bought it second hand! So unsurprisingly, the cushion on it was in dire need of replacement. The stuffing was decayed and had no sproing left, the ties and buttons had all come off, and the fabric, fashionable 20+ years ago, was hideous and faded. So I decided that I’d replace the cushion while on holiday and leave the new one behind.
G dropped me and the cushion at my mum’s and took the seat with him to our bach and after lots of other fun things were out of the way I got into it.
First was removing the stuffing. It was stuffed with foam chip which had all perished, leaving it crumbly and yuk. Even so, getting it out was a hilarious three person exercise resulting in 2 big rubbish bags of foam chip, and little bits of foam stuck to our clothes. For days. Every now and then a little foam ball would blow past outside as well.
Then I unpicked all the sewing to get the original pieces, analysing the construction as I went, and harvested the original zips (which I didn’t even realise it had!)
Then at this point it occurred to me I should take photos of the process but by now was unable to get a Before shot. Grr. Blog fail again.
My mum kindly donated some op shop fabric for the cushion, a soft sage green with fine navy pinstripe denim and a heavier weight blue denim. Both of them had minor fade lines in them, enough to prevent Mum from following through on her original sewing plans, but fine for a cushion for a chair for a bach. There wasn’t enough of either fabric to do both sides, so I decided to put the heavier denim underneath where it’ll run against the cane, and the softer denim skin side. I cut directly around the old pieces, and was amazed at how perfectly the fabric fitted – I had barely anything leftover.
Sewing it together was pretty easy. The front is unsurprisingly a giant oval. The rear is three pieces, two half ovals with a strip in the middle that goes between the two zips. The zips go in, the whole thing is sewn together, and then it is bagged out through a zip. After bagging, a seam goes through both layers, in the middle of the strip between the zips, which ends up with two hinged pockets. I added three ties to the top (sewn onto the back before the cushion is assembled) and two in the middle on the back (caught into the horizontal “hinge” seam). The trickiest bit was putting the zips in, mainly because of the size of the pieces I was working with and the thickness of the denim, but I’m actually pretty happy with them – I’d wear them that way on a garment. I did use the original zips so the colours don’t match, but hey, free or cheap right?
When G picked me up from Mum’s to go spend a few days at the bach with him, the new seat cushion was all good to go except for stuffing and buttons. Kerikeri, being a small town, didn’t have anything to suit so we stopped in Whangarei on our way out to our place to pick up the necessities. Foam chip was surprisingly easy to find. But disaster! The store G dropped me in for buttons did not have any that suited in sufficient quantities! (On a side note, this was unexpected. Arthur’s Emporium has more buttons in one location than I’ve ever seen in a NZ shop. I consoled myself by buying vast quantities of other, uneeded, crafting supplies.) I picked up a few button options though. As our bach needs some work to make it habitable again (like a new long drop and water tank) we actually stayed in the workers cottage on the farm. So that was where we were when we stuffed the cushion.
G and I had great fun stuffing the cushion. The foam chip was crazy static and there may have been one or two foam fights that resulted in us trying to pick foam out of our hair, off our clothes, and in G’s case, off his arm hair (hehehe). We realised when we stuffed the new chip in how much bouncier and sproingier it was then the old cruddy stuff and were almost tempted to bring the whole thing home again! We weren’t sure if we’d overstuffed it and the chair itself was in the bach but it looked ok and was so comfy! We spent a couple of days with it on the floor where we used it for napping. G banned me from getting a photo of him curled up like a cat on it though!
So now it was almost done! The only thing left is the buttons.
The buttons are not for a closure. They go through both layers of the cushion, helping to control the foam and particularly to stop the foam in the vertical pocket from slumping into the bottom. What I really wanted was a shanked button with a smooth domed surface and reasonable diameter. The selection I bought were much too small a diameter to be much good, as I’d suspected in store. And I hadn’t bought any larger diameter ones as they were all textured, decorative things. I had bought some for fabric covering, but I’d bought all they’d had in store and it wasn’t enough. We were half an hour away from town and far too busy (swimming, sleeping, eating) to go back and try Spotlight, so what to do!
In the end we decided to leave it there unbuttoned. As I probably won’t be back until next Christmas, over the year I’ll find the right buttons and then next year I’ll take them with me and sew them on.
Finally, we took it to the bach in its unbuttoned state and tied it on the chair. Eek! It might be a little overstuffed! But the buttoning will help control that so until I can button it, that’s how it’ll stay.
So yes, you could argue that my first blogged finished object of 2013 isn’t actually finished. And you’d be right. But it’s my challenge and I feel that I met the spirit of it. I was so very pleased to get it done (even though I will only get to enjoy it a couple of weeks a year!) and the reason I didn’t finish it was outside of my control, for now. So I’m awarding myself the point and actually, there’s nothing you can do about it.