Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Refilling a Beanbag Chair

Do you remember beanbag chairs? When I was a kid, it seemed like every home had one. They were so comfortable for reading, watching television and playing video games on the old Atari system. A couple of years ago, I noticed our youngest liked to sit on a pile of throw pillows on the floor. It seemed like the perfect time to make a beanbag chair.

I started with a Simplicity Home Decorating pattern: #5105 Simply Teen Easy Pillows, view B. Next, I selected a heavy upholstery fabric in a dark color — I wanted this beanbag to be able to withstand any and all abuse. Finally, I picked out a zipper, some muslin and beanbag filling.

If I had followed the pattern directions, I would have ended up with a beanbag chair made from a single layer of completely sewn together fabric. I’ve been a parent long enough to know that spills and illnesses happen, so I changed that a bit. I made an outer layer with the upholstery fabric and added a zipper to the bottom panel, then made an inner layer from muslin that was sewn shut after being filled. By doing that, I could remove the outer layer for washing as needed.

Something I hadn’t considered was the filling losing its puffiness. I seem to remember the filling far outlasting the fake leather on those old beanbag chairs. Yet here we are, just a couple of years later, with a deflated one.

Deflated Beanbag Chair Before Refilling

I decided that if I was going to remove the seam on the bottom panel of the muslin layer, I was going to add a zipper while I was at it. As I considered my options, it seemed the best solution was to hand stitch the zipper into place. I didn’t want to deal with removing and returning the filling, nor did I want to wrestle a half full beanbag through my sewing machine.

Zippers on Two Layers of Beanbag Chair Fabric

Hand stitching the zipper in place ended up being much easier than I expected. For extra stability, I sewed two rows of stitches on each side of the zipper.

Full Beanbag Chair After Refilling

Refilling the beanbag also turned out to be much easier than I expected. The first time around, we lived in a dry climate and it took hours to get the filling into the beanbag. Errant bits of filling were stuck on just about every surface; it was not a positive experience. This time, in a humid area, the filling poured right in within minutes.

The beanbag chair is getting a lot of use again. It could maybe use another half bag of filling, but I don’t want to store the other half so I’m going to give it a little time to compress again.

What sort of filling do you prefer for beanbag chairs, and where do you find it?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Arts in the Heart

I have a love-hate relationship with art festivals. I love to go to them to see new and different artwork and support area artists. Too often, though, it seems that half of the booths are full of direct sales products such as makeup, tote bags or kitchen gadgets. I enjoy those products as much as the next person in the right context, but not at an art festival. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the annual Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival this past weekend; I ended up loving it.

Upon arrival, we were each given a special pin to wear that showed we had paid the entry fee. I’m used to art festivals with free admission, or at most a basic wristband or hand stamp, and appreciated that this festival badge was something that some might find worth collecting over the years. (I haven’t decided yet whether to keep mine.) On the other hand, I was disappointed to see people selling the badges to others on social media as the weekend progressed.

The artists’ booths were all full of actual art, including an area for enterprising children to sell their creations. Two dozen food tents offered affordable cuisine from around the globe. And a diverse selection of music and dance performances on four separate stages presented a lively backdrop.

I was excited to see some styles and techniques that I haven’t seen at art festivals in other parts of the country, and came away with business cards for two artists whose work I particularly enjoyed. We haven’t hung any of our existing artwork in our new home yet and need to hold off on making any purchases until we see what space is available. These business cards will serve as incentive to get our current pieces up on the walls!

I’m looking forward to returning to Arts in the Heart next year. I hope that I love it just as much after it becomes more familiar.

Have you been to any recent art festivals that you loved?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hello and Goodbye to Irma

This week, we had the opportunity to learn about hurricane preparedness. Our new home is supposed to be too far inland to be directly affected by hurricanes, but Hurricane Irma didn’t seem to be following the rules. In the end, we had a tropical storm that lasted about 30 hours. Our family and home were unharmed, although some in our area weren’t as lucky.

We knew that Irma would be heading our way, but the severity of the storm seemed to change with every updated forecast. We were preparing for a hurricane, and yet we knew that we didn’t need to prepare on the level of those in Florida. Trying to determine what we might need took a lot of energy, more so perhaps because we had never done this before.

With so much mental energy going toward Irma, I didn’t have much to spare beyond some creative meals to use up food in the freezer. In any down time, I busied myself with nervous knitting.

I added block after block to my sock yarn scrap blanket, almost doubling the length of the blanket. It’s starting to look like the beginning of a blanket now, instead of an oddly long scarf.

Progress on Scrap Blanket Knit with Sock Yarn

Since the garter stitch construction of each block is the same, I was able to keep my hands busy while my mind stayed on the storm. I could easily stop and start at any point to add something to a list or check a weather alert. Choosing the colors for each block was a welcome break for my whirling brain.

Detail of Blocks in Scrap Blanket Knit with Sock Yarn

I typically weave in the ends after every few blocks, but this time I skipped that step. I see a long end-weaving session in my future!

Detail of Scrap Blanket Knit with Sock Yarn

Stay safe out there.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

I Want to Make It All

Do you ever go through a period of time when you want to make everything? I always have a running list of projects that I want to make. Sometimes I have specific plans, and other times I simply have a general idea of what I want to do with certain materials. These days I want to make every project — now.

This has been an unusual year for us. First, a lot of my materials and supplies were packed away in preparation for moving. Then it became a matter of unpacking and reorganizing the lot, which of course meant revisiting items that sometimes I didn’t even remember I had. Now that I have access to everything again, all of the projects have made it to the top of the list.

The project that has done the best job of claiming my attention is cleaning my great-grandmother’s Singer treadle sewing machine and the contents of the drawers, which I introduced last week. That may be in large part because the cabinet is currently sitting in the middle of the living room.

All of the buttons have been washed; they were dirtier than I expected. I’ve soaked the random pieces of string and they’ve whitened considerably. I waxed the wooden cabinet, and am about halfway through waxing the cast iron. I’ve been surprised by how much extra dirt the wax takes off. It’s been a challenge to get into every nook and cranny, but I’m doing my best to access every spot that I can. The exterior doesn’t look much different, but the wax really brought the drawer interiors and undersides back to life — not that anyone else is likely to notice.

The Same Treadle Drawer Before and After Waxing
The same drawer, before and after waxing. Notice the interior on the right has a warmer color.

I was able to download an English version of the instruction book from the Singer website, which will make my life a lot easier when I’m ready to work with the machine itself. I’ve done more research on the model, as well as how to clean the mechanics of the machine.

During the past week, I also made a small project. Many years ago, my aunt passed along some heavy home decorative fabric by Waverly called Purdy. Frankly, I’m not a fan of the print. The selvage doesn’t list a copyright date, but the colors lead me to guess that the fabric is from the 1980s.

Purdy Fabric by Waverly

Over the years, I kept coming back to the idea of making a crocheted rug from this fabric. At some point I even started one, but I seem to recall not having access to a large enough crochet hook and I don’t know what became of that version. I cut the remaining three or so yards into two-inch strips and tied them together. With a US-S (19.0 mm) crochet hook and double-crochet stitch, I was able to make a thick rug that’s about 17 inches wide by 22 inches long.

Crochet Rug made from Strips of Fabric
I had to add a little denim to finish that last corner!

I have to admit, in my head I thought it would end up a lot bigger. But this little rug is the perfect size to go in front of our kitchen sink to cushion our feet and soak up random water drops.

In spare moments, I’ve been going through smaller yarn scraps and knitting squares onto my two scrap blankets. I’ve also been spinning while out and about. While these four items aren’t quite all the projects, they’re a good start.

How many projects are catching your attention lately?