Upholstery: Calah made cushions! And wrote about them! (Part 4)

HELLO! This is the last installment of my cushion adventure.

Step 4: This week I’m going to show you how I secured these two beautiful cushions to two beautiful chairs that Matt beautifully refinished. You can see that journey here.

I had successfully made two fitted cushions for two chairs at this point. This is how I wanted them to sit on the chairs:

I wanted to use the secondary fabric to secure the cushions because 1) the seconday fabric is super strong and does not stretch, 2) it made sense to use the same fabric that covers the back of the cushions for continuity purposes, and 3) it was a benign color that I felt would blend in and be less visible. You’ll notice that the cushion is a bit wrinkled as I placed it up against the chair? Yeah, that’s expected. The back of the chair is a bit curved, and my cushion is very much not curved, so it’ll wrinkle a bit. I didn’t mind.

So now comes the part where I attach the darned thing. I wanted the method of attachment to be functional, reliable, and look decent. Sounds reasonable, right?

I mocked up how that should look with scratch paper:

Mock-straps to secure the cushion.

The zig zag design was my first idea… but that turned out to be much harder to make each “v” precise, and I got frustrated.

I still went ahead and made the straps out of the secondary fabric because I knew that they were going to be incorporated no matter what. Turns out that I measured them too small and so when it came time to turning these little tubes inside out, I darned near lost my mind (I also lost a chopstick in the process). It was not a pretty scene.

I stabbed myself with a wood chopstick trying to make this work. This is when I realized that the tube is NEVER going to be turned right-side out.

Ok, so now what? My tubes are TINY and impossible to turn inside out to hide the seam. I set out to make the same length tubes (11″) and a new width. I think I just added 0.5″ to the original measurements?

Here are those new and improved tubes!

MUCH BETTER.

I had given up on the zig-zag design for the straps to the cushion so I tried a cross-cross pattern:

I measured and re-measured the spacing between each strap and this is what I ended up with!

Pretty intriguing, right? I kept my annotations on a scratch piece of paper that I slipped between the straps and the chair. Once I was happy with how each strap was placed, I needed to pin them on the cushion.

I put pins on the top edge of the cushion where the straps would line up with the criss-cross pattern. Then, by some miracle, I was able to preserve the spacing and criss-cross pattern after I had pinned the straps to the secondary fabric on the cushion. This step took a while and some creativity (and MANY reattempts).

I almost forgot the strip of secondary fabric where these straps would attach to! In my head I would add a long strip of fabric at the bottom edge of the cushion to house the velcro that would grab onto the tips of the straps when securing to the chair.

These pictures are of me adding those two strips:

Now, maybe you’re already ahead of me on this… did you wonder how the heck I was going to sew all of these things onto the cushion? Well once everything was neatly in place, pinned to the cushion itself, it was only THEN that I realized I still needed to SEW things down!

Great. *slow clap*

Ok don’t panic…

… this is me thinking…

With a flash of brilliance I decided to sew my straps all onto a second-secondary fabric panel and then just hand stitch that panel onto the cushion. Smooth finish, sufficiently secured straps with the sewing machine, and that’s that. Here’s what that looked like:

I prefer this finished clean look.

Let’s check to see that I haven’t messed this up too badly:

Wait. Where’s the criss-cross? What am I missing here? Why is there that icky situation where the straps are not flat against the top of the chair??

My guess is that somewhere between the point at which I meticulously measured out the spacing and placement of my straps against the scratch paper and the moment when I moved the straps onto the second-secondary fabric panel, things went awry.

Here’s what it looks like from the front.

I mean, I did do a pretty kick-ass job on THIS measurement… so… there’s that…

I decided that I was ok with the parallel design instead of the criss-cross. *sigh* Honestly, I didn’t want to do the whole thing all over again, especially after I hand stitched that secondary panel down.

Seeing how things went to heck on the first cushion, I intentionally spaced the straps on the second cushion so that they WERE lined up to be parallel. That looked like this:

Yeah… that’s pretty… different…

BUT no puckering! Just nice and flat. I didn’t want to go back and fix the first one. Maybe one day, when I’m REALLY bored I will. For now, it works.

LAST STEP: VELCROOOO

Pro tip: Don’t sew with the velcro that has adhesive on the back. It’s impossible to get any needle through (even on a powerful sewing machine). Plus, things get all gunky-sticky and messy. Get yourself some non-adesive velcro and be done with it.

And now, for the final reveal…

OOOHHHHH BOOYYYYY

And it’s comfortable too!

Thank you for adventuring with me through this experience! Stay tuned for Matt’s weekly woodworking blog every Tuesday at 10 am. You can also check out his entertaining daily Spelling Bee blog here.

Upholstery: Calah made cushions! And wrote about them! (Part 3)

If you recall from last week, I had successfully made the cushion cover. It was just lacking the thing that makes a cushion a cushion… the foam. So, that’s what I’ll be talking about today!

Step 3: Somehow put the foam into the cover I just made. Sounds pretty simple… right?… anyone?… hello out there?

My plan was to use the sewing machine as much as possible to secure those seams before I had to hand-stitch anything because I knew that whatever the machine did, it would be 10,000,000 times stronger than whatever my two hands could do… and especially since the cushions will face a future life of constant sitting, leaning, shearing, and other inevitable forces, I wanted them to have the best chance of surviving at LEAST 10 individual buttocks interactions before I had to fix them/replace them. So that’s what you will see in the first picture below. I kept the two ends open for hand stitching, thinking that those areas would experience the least amount of stress (Is that factual? I haven’t the slightest clue. But it sounds good, right? If you do actually know the answer, comment below and set me straight.). As we speak, they are still intact and holding their own! Time will tell, but I have a good feeling about their longevity.

Cushion-tube right-side out and ready to stuff! That’s my arm wearing the tube like a sleeve to help facilitate the foam-shoving activity.
Just a few adjustments here and there, but the foam is pretty much where I want it to be.
Do you see that wrinkling there in the corner? I don’t like it.

Once I adjusted the foam to be exaclty lined up with the corners and edges, I folded the two open edges and began to hand stitch them closed. It was here where I learned the value of thimbles. I had never used them before, though, I was aware of their existence. I had to hand stitching the thick bulk of secondary and fancy fabrics all rolled up on the ends of the cushion. This can get to be pretty tough to push through with just your bare fingers. And even though there was a decent amount of swelling at my J&J injection site (I’m like the Hulk now, but just in one arm because J&J is a one shot deal so I list), my rippling bicep didn’t stand a chance. Trust me, get yourself a thimble… your fingers will thank you.

The wrinkling you saw in the previous photo bothered me a lot. All of my other corners were smooth and lovely, but that one darned corner would just not do. Honestly, I am not 100% certain where I went wrong, but I suspect that I didn’t fold and close the ends as nicely as I could have when I was hand stitching.

My first cushion’s carcass.

Just to be sure, I performed a cesarian on the cushion, freed the foam from the wrinkled case, and made a brand new cover that fit JUST RIGHT.

BEHOLD:

Pretty darned cool, right? I thought so too.

And here are both cushions!

That wrinkling in the bottom cushion’s lower right-hand corner was resolved with a slight adjustment to the placement of the foam inside.

And then to see if I actually made something worthwhile…

Wait for it…
Boom.

I placed the cushion against the back of the chair to see how it looked, and man… it looked pretty sweet. At that point, I was pretty darned pleased that what I had envisoned in my head ACTUALLY looked like what I had made in reality. That doesn’t happen often for me. So after my victory lap around our one bedroom apartment, I started to brainstorm ideas on how to make my beautiful (and comfy) cushions stay put on the chair.

Join me next week for part 4!

Lessons learned: Thimbles are very helpful, and needles are still pretty sharp.

Upholstery: Calah made cushions! And wrote about them! (Part 2)

Last week I talked about HOW the idea came about to make cushions for the top panel of the chairs that Matt brought back to life.

Now I need to show you exactly how I tried to do that.

Step 2: Making the actual cushion.

FYI, that one janky edge over in the top left-hand corner was all me.
But, have no fear, it won’t matter once they’re covered.

Matt cut the actual foam with a Turkey-carving-knife-tool according to my measurements with the added 0.50″. You’ll see one of two cut foams in the picture above.

Now I’m thinking, great! I have the foam…now I just need to cover them and… BAM! Cushion made! It’s that easy, right? So, I went about cutting, sewing, and stitching a cover to wrap them: in the front with the fancy fabric, and around the back with the secondary fabric. See below:

This is my machine. I have had it since I was a little girl. My mom and I used to go to the art and craft expos and bask in the DIY glow. One year, while walking around the vendor tents, mom and I decided that we wanted to learn how to sew. So, mom bought this machine and we signed up for sewing classes at Michaels (or Jo-Anne Fabrics(?)–it’s been so long). Since then, we have made pillows, skirts, pajamas, curtains and more. We used to go to the annual bird expo too… but that’s for another time. At one point in my childhood, we had over 50 birds.

Ok enough chit chat. Here is how I went about making the cushions:

Foam, fabric, and template! Lesssgooooo
Traced the shape of my cushion onto the fancy fabric. (This is with the template that is 0.5″ smaller which will compress the foam and fill out my soon-to-be cushion cover nicely.)
I cut the fancy fabric to shape in order to wrap around the foam. That arrow there is to remind me which way is up (remember that the top edge of the panel is longer than the bottom edge).
A perfect fit (I hope)

This is the secondary fabric that will be up against the panel and hopefully not too visible once the cushion is attached. In this picture, I’m just making sure that I have enough fancy fabric to reach the secondary fabric. I probably should have done that before I went and cut up the fancy fabric… but it looks like I have enough! *high five*

Check out that gorgeous corner! I sewed the cover inside out so that my seams were nicely tucked inside the cushion. All of the seams were 0.25″.

I mean… can we just take a moment and look at that seam!!!

Me: Calah, you did good.
Also me: I know right?!

This is the fancy fabric cover inside out after I finished sewing the corners down. 1 of 2.
And now this is the fancy fabric cover, right side out.
If it fits, I can hopefully sits.
Oh boy! It’s looking like I’m really going places now!

I turned the cushion over to see if I was on the right track. It’s a bit baggy, but that should resolve once I sew on the secondary fabric because the fancy fabric will be pulled taut against the foam.

Checkpoint: So you can see that the fancy fabric was measured, cut, and sewn into shape to wrap around the foam. I intentionally left extra material on the fancy fabric’s edges JUST IN CASE. It’s always good to have some wiggle room.

The next part was to add the secondary fabric to the back part of the cushion. It was at this point where I needed to make a decision: Do I, essentially, sew the foam into this fabric cover or do I do something else that is different and likely nicer looking but a method that I also wasn’t sure would work?

So I got to work sewing the foam into the fabric cover like so:

Also, pins are sharp. Be careful.

The secondary fabric is pinned into place and ready to sew!

Check out that lovely seam.

Same seam but right-side out. GORGEOUS
Ok, this is looking good…
Peek-a-boo

Now I am at the step where I needed to actually close the cover and encase the foam. My brain told me to go like this: sew the top and bottom edges (parallel seams) so that I could then gracefully shove the foam into the cover from the smallest possible hole. Make sense, right? I thought so, too.

Parallel seams done. The two ends are still open.

Lesson learned in this step: Pins are sharp.

I went ahead and did the same thing for the second cushion. Now that I had both covers, I just needed to get the foam into them and secure the finished cushion to the chair.

More on that next week.

Upholstery: Calah made cushions! And wrote about them! (Part 1)

Hi! Calah here! I am going to be sharing how I made cushions for the first time ever… from scratch… like a boss.

First, let’s talk about WHY I took all of this time to make them (total time = 3 weeks).

Matt resurrected two previously really ugly and orange Craigslist chairs (if you don’t know what I am referring to, check out the earlier posts in his weekly woodworking blog. They drop every Tuesday at 10 am PT.

Ok, so, Matt finished the chairs a few weeks ago and they are delightfully comfortable–EXCEPT for the top wooden part of the chair’s back–you know the place where your spine hits as your sitting in the chair? Maybe it’s because I slouch (my mom was always reminding me to stand up straight), but whatever the reason, if I could just have some cushion on that area I’d be able to sit in those chairs for forever. So Matt suggested that I make some cushions. I thought to myself, I never made cushions before, but how hard could it be?

Here’s that adventure divided into multiple blogs for your entertainment.

Step 1: How TF do I make a cushion??!

I had to decide what these cushions would look like–fabric, size, how they’ll attach to the chair, etc. For consistency, I wanted the cushions to be the same fabric as what Matt used for the seat of the chairs. To make things easy, we are going to call this particular fabric fancy. I will be using a second fabric, and we’ll call that one secondary (creative, I know). I didn’t need to have the entire cushion covered in this fancy fabric mostly because it is a bit too stretchy for my taste, and I was concerned that it might sag in the long-run after consistently being pulled taut (you’ll see what I mean)… and also, why have it up against the back of the chair where no one gets to see it?

Enter: the secondary fabric! Matt and I have a massive tub of our combined fabric remnants, scraps, and old clothes that might come in handy one day for patching and such. A deep dive into that tub produced the perfect fabric for this role! I don’t know what kind it actually is… feels like denim but isn’t… it’s durable… does not stretch… and it’s brown. Perfecto.

Excellent!

THEN, once I chose the fabric, I got measurements on scratch paper of every length, width, height, of that top board. I must have measured and remeasured those panels a million times to be sure that I had it right.

Here is what that looked like.
(I took scratch paper and taped them together to make sure the template was long enough)

So, in case you can’t see the notes on the paper, the actual sizes of the panel are: bottom edge length = 17.5″, top edge length = 18.25″, height = 4.75″ (see top paper in this picture). But, according to this YouTube video by SailRite, I should add 0.25″ to all sides of the foam when I cut it (I assumed this allowed for foam compression). So, the foam’s measurements would have, essentially, 0.50″ added to the length and width (see middle paper in this picture) . We were working with 2″ deep piece of foam, so that part was not going to change.

I decided that since I had the measurements and the fabric, the next best step was to make the actual cushion. Premature? Likely. I still wasn’t sure how I was going to attach the darned things to the panel.

But, more on that next time.

First blog post ever

I don’t even know how many people are going to be reading this, but I was convinced by my fiancé that I should give it a go…so…here is my first blog post. Ever.

I suppose I should introduce myself first: Hello internet. My name is Calah (pronounced like Kayla). I am engaged to Matt. I am currently studying for my dual MSN and DNP degrees for my AG-ACNP license (nurse practitioner).

In case you’d like to see me figure out how to operate a Twitter account, you can click here .

Also thanks to Matt, I have recently started working on the NYT Spelling Bee (he has a lot of good ideas). I’m not very good at it, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t have fun with it (double negative FTW). For example:

I had a good laugh with this one. I also got Matt to chuckle, so I’d call this a win.

Or this:

Then there are times when my medical training helps me pick out some real words, but they aren’t accepted. THE NERVE!

They DID accept aorta, so I wasn’t THAT mad…

Or this:

This is the acidic-enzymatic-partially digested food bolus that moves from your stomach into your duodenum (small intestine). Yummy.

Since I have started working on the Spelling Bee, I have yet to find more than 22 words. I feel like I should be better at this?

I’m finding that I am more entertained with making ridiculous words up or finding medical terminology…maybe that’s what I’ll share here from time to time?

Have a good night internet.