Sunday, April 11, 2010

Becky Home-ecky

I never took a "home-ec." class in high school. I think I was too busy learning about animal body parts, farm business management and snapping photos for the school yearbook.

I wish it had been required, then I would have learned how to sew, cook and care for a newborn.

Mostly sew. I think the others can be self-taught with experience.

Every few years I've tried to dabble in sewing by making blankets for dad, Grady, Kait, Kenya and Ben for Christmas; helping with my patch-work quilt wedding centerpieces and a few random craft projects here-and-there.

This time, I set out to make new "springy" pillows.......I picked out the fabric, see below.

I purchased a cutting mat, rotary cutter, thread and pins (all equipment I've seen my grandma or mother-in-law use for their projects). They, along with Ben's sisters have taught me some basics about sewing and I thought I could give these pillows a shot. I might also mentioned that I decided to fore-go the pattern I found to help me because it cost more than my fabric and thread........I have a master's degree, I can surely sew a couple pillows without a skinking pattern.

Using some of the algebra skills I've learned over the past 16 years in school, I deduced for a 18" square pillow and the pattern I picked, I'd need 18" square inches of the red gingham (for the back) plus an extra inch on each side for the seams, 2 - 6X20" inch strips of yellow material and 1-11X20" inch strip of the flowered material for the focal point.

Ben taught me to use my rotary cutter including a quick safety lesson including the switch, much like the safety on his shotgun that should hopefully prevent an emergency room visit. Since I'm an amateur sewer, I realize that my medium-sized cutting board was a mere 2-inches shy of the 20" goal, so I spent alot of extra time 'guestimating' the actual dimensions of the pillows.

The extension office has three small BROTHER sewing machines that were used to teach sewing classes to 4-Hers - so I borrowed the machine to get a test run before I made the investment. It took about 45 minutes to thread the small bobber and then get it back in the bottom of the machine - - - - small challenge, but I managed without looking it up on the internet, calling home or asking Ben to do it for me.

I first sewed the front panel, making sure to get the seams ironed and pinned down so they all laid in the same direction and away from the light yellow side. Somehow I managed to keep all fingers intact and only minor puncture wounds from my encounters with the pins.

After I finished the first pillow (way past my work week bedtime) I launched myself (pillow in hand) through the bedroom door, up onto the bed screaming at Ben, "Monkey, look........I did it! Do you like it?" Much to my dismay - I was greeted with a dirty look, half-hearted slap across the arm and a quick turnover with a snide 'I'll look at it in the morning' rather than the "Wow dear, that awesome" that I was hoping for.

The whole project took a few hours, maybe less but my attention span never lets me sit still long enough to do the whole project in one stretch. Plus, it was my bedtime.

The only thing to finish on these pillows is the small hole you leave open to stuff the pillows. I can't quite remember the stitch Grandmas taught me - so each pillow has a small 1" hole that I cleverly disquised by turning those corners away from the immediate view of the camera.
I originally thought the new pillows would complement the old suede brown ones but they don't match the way I intended. Thankfully, I bought a full yard of each material, so I have plenty to make matching pillows and store the suede ones until the fall.
It's not that hard to make pillows, but I think I'll gradually transition into harder projects like curtains, quilts and re-upholstry.
I have a few other home-improvement projects to share, but I'll save those for later.

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