It's been a while since I've had the time to complete a sewing project. The key word in the previous sentence is "complete," because I have started many projects. In fact, Josh looked around the house this weekend and said, "There are piles of fabric everywhere!" This was true, and I also have plastic sacks full of matching spools of thread and invisible zippers and yards of trim. My sewing is progressing at such a slow pace in part because I refuse to pay full price for anything from the fabric store. By the way, pillow forms will be on sale for 54% off (good price!!) at Hancock's Fabrics starting this Thursday, so I will hopefully get around to making a few throw pillows this weekend.
In the meantime, I did (finally!) complete this little bench makeover. I already had some green tweed-like upholstery fabric, so I decided to make a slipcover for a bench we already had and use it in the living room for some additional seating. Here are a couple before and after pictures. In case you're interested in the step-by-step process, I'll post pictures below.
The "how to" steps:
Materials: foam (I used 2-inch foam), fabric, and piping. See how bored the dog is by my ongoing projects and the photographing of these projects?
I ended up using three packets of this pre-made piping, although you could easily make your own if you want to do self-welt or want something more custom-looking.
To cut the foam, use a serrated knife or (if you have one) an electric carving knife.
Here is the foam cut to fit the top of the bench. I also added a couple layers of light batting just to bring in a little more cushiony feel. (And in case you're wondering, yes, my son is wearing a long-sleeve thermal shirt that says "Snowy Peaks Mountain: Fresh Hot Cocoa." It was 90 degrees outside at the time.)
Cut all your pieces of fabric: one for the top, and a few to piece together for the skirt of the slipcover.
I cut the top of the bench out first, leaving an extra half-inch all around for seam allowance. I pinned the piping to the top, carefully keeping it right at the edge. Then sew this piping on to keep it in place.
After sewing on the first piece of piping at the top of the seat, I sewed together four panels to make a box around the top of the foam. I sewed this band to the top of the seat, then pinned on another piece of piping, again leaving about a half an inch at the bottom for the seam allowance.
Next, I sewed together the skirt itself. Unless you're using a fabric with no discernible vertical or horizontal pattern (in which case you can just run a length of the fabric all around the skirt without seams--called railroading), you will probably have to sew together a few pieces of fabric to make the skirt. I pinned the skirt fabric to the bench before sewing to make sure that the seams would be hidden within the corner pleats. Then just sew them together in one big band and iron your seams open.
Once the skirt has been sewn together, pin it to the top of the slipcover and fold in pleats wherever you want them. Carefully sew the two pieces together, making sure to stay as close to the piping as possible to get a nice, clean look. Once everything has been sewn together, hem the skirt by folding up some fabric, pressing, then folding again to get to the correct hem length. (You can hem the skirt before sewing it to the rest of the slipcover, but I like to wait till the end because measuring isn't my strength and I'd rather not have to correct a mistake at this point!)
The finished slipcover has two lengths of brown piping running around the top and bottom of the seat, with a pleat on each corner. I may sew some strips of fabric with velcro underneath to make the top of the slipcover more taut, and I'm thinking of adding some sort of tie at the corners just to reign in the heavy upholstery fabric.
And here's the final look: the bench neatly fits a spot in the corner of the living room. Right now we're using it to hold magazines and books, but we could easily pull it out to seat one or two people when we have company. Also, what do you think of the chairs? I decided to use the ivory slipcovers for now because I don't think it will be a huge pain to remove them for cleaning periodically. Do we like the ivory/tan/green/brown color scheme going on here or not? I think we need a new lamp with a darker shade, but we had this floor lamp already so it will do for now.