Monday, November 19, 2012

Night and Day

the "Day-to-Nighters" before restoration
The journey begins...the movers were here all day packing up our stuff. Until tomorrow when they come back to load it, we are living between towering stacks of boxes. We certainly seem to have acquired a lot of stuff since we arrived. I'm not really sure how that happened! We did have one child's birthday here, so we got even more toys than we came with! I had to label everything with Post-It Notes that we want to take with us so they wouldn't cart off my parents' stuff. It took almost the whole day yesterday. We definitely have too much! Maybe we should become Franciscans or Buddhists and divest ourselves of our earthly possessions. I am starting to have my fantasy again where I find a deserted hotel on an empty beach and I just sit in a room by myself looking out the window, only in this version the room is empty too except for the barest bed and chair!
In college I dated a man who had been raised by diplomats and had grown up all over the world. He was a champion mover. He just left everything and started anew wherever he went. This turned out to be quite a burden on those he left behind. After we broke up I found myself swamped the possessions he'd left, and that was before the days of Craig's List. It wasn't so easy to get rid of stuff back then! I learned from him, though, and when I went to Italy to work for the entire summer I took only one suitcase. I rented a furnished apartment. I dream of those days sometimes! Oh, to be that person again who could (and did!) hop on a plane and just go live anywhere, even just for a couple days!
I told Jerry that we should just sell everything we own and only rent or buy furnished houses from now on. He said, "Oh yes; that will be so easy...and cheap!" We couldn't really do that anyway, because so many of our possessions are heirlooms. We hardly own anything that wasn't handed down. None of it is worth anything, except in our hearts. One such example of this is the "Day-To-Nighters" I wrote about in my last post. These were my grandmother's, the 1950's version of the sleeper sofa. When you remove the back cushions on these couches they become long Twin sized beds. You can push them together to make a Double bed if you wish. The memories these hold...I can't tell you! To my mother, they are the rec room furniture where she and my father and their friends would hang out in the basement. For me and my sisters and cousins, they are the holiday sleepover beds and where we sat to open our Christmas presents. There were recliners in the basement along with these and I can still see my dad and Uncle Jim laid out after Thanksgiving, snoring away in front of the game on T.V.! I couldn't throw them away, even though the original "Herculon" covers were literally rotting off them after years in my sister's attic. I decided to recover them.
To start the process I first picked apart the cushions and made a pattern. The seam allowances had been trimmed after they were sewn, so I had to re-draw each piece with the seam allowance added back in. I saved the zippers when I picked the covers apart and re-used them. I use regular old chalkboard chalk to draw the pattern out directly on the new fabric. Since the edges of the original fabric pieces were uneven I measured from the stitch line to straighten the grain and draw the pattern.
Making a pattern from the original pieces.
When I finished cutting and sewing the new covers I wrapped each piece of foam cushion in new batting and sewed it into place by hand. I really wanted to replace the original foam but it was just too expensive. The batting adds a surprising amount of loft and comfort. These always were surprisingly comfortable, both as beds and couches.
Each cushion was wrapped in batting.
I just used regular polyester quilt batting that comes on giant industrial-sized rolls. I started the couches less than a week ago. The first ones took the longest, since I had to draw the patterns and learn how to sew them from looking at the original covers. The first cushion took me several hours, but after that each one only took about 40 minutes or so.
The covers in progress.
Jerry was kind enough to spray paint the metal frames for me. I asked him to do a brushed nickel finish with chrome feet. Originally they were black metal with brass feet! I think they turned out really well. A couple of the cushions have places I am not happy with and which I want to re-do once we get to Denver. The curved edges of the back cushions are really hard to sew so they lie smooth. The couches have an amazingly contemporary look now that the fabric and color is up to date. My Facebook friends were commenting on how modern my grandmother must have been! She was really stylish. People would always say, "The only reason I went to church {back in the 1940s and 50s} was to see what kind of hat Margie would be wearing!"
Grandma's house was also very fashionable and so clean it was like a dream. She was one of the only people I knew to have air conditioning when I was growing up, and when you would walk in the door it was like stepping onto a glacier, so cold and fresh and everything upstairs icy blues and greens. The basement retained its bright colors from my dad's infant playroom days. The yellow couches had primary colored throw pillows on them. In my time the room was all decorated in sophisticated red, yellow, and black, but I have seen photos from my dad's childhood and back then Grandma had painted a mural with cartoon characters all around the room.

The couches after restoration
So I am really proud of myself. In less than a week I went to Denver for two days to close on the house, recovered two couches, cut out a Queen sized quilt, and sorted and labeled all the clothing and possessions we have here at my parents', besides my regular chores! I plan to make some throw pillows for the couches, so when I get those done and get them in the bonus room I will post more photos.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Crazy for You, Quilt

Quilt Blocks
Today finds me writing another post rather different than usual. I am not working on dolls this week. I did start this blog as incentive to work on any creative projects, though, not just dolls, so I think this is acceptable. I also need some writing therapy. My blog makes me feel like I have someone to talk to, and I really need that right now. I feel like I've taken leave of my senses a bit.
All this started about a month and a half ago. You might remember from the Upheaval post that we found we had to relocate to another city within a very short time frame. So, Jerry and I spent several days house hunting in the Charlotte area the first week of October. We settled on a house in the little town of Denver, NC. When we returned home we found all of our children had become ill in our absence. I had them all home that week and Jerry, who is already commuting between Charlotte and Raleigh, went back to Charlotte. Then, Jerry went to Cincinnati for about a week and we continued with at least one child sick. Jerry got mad at me around this time and didn't speak to me for a week. The children got sicker. Two got bronchitis and my oldest son's toe got infected again. Then Jerry came home from Charlotte with a terrible stomach flu. He was home for almost a week but was too sick to talk to. Then I caught it, but not nearly as bad, thank goodness. But anyway, the upshot is that I have been trapped at home with sick people and no one to talk to for over a month. I love my children, but I do really long to talk to other adults, and I haven't been able to much at all lately. I have been really lonely. There are a lot of people here, but they are either in need of care, or they are people who talk AT me, but not with me. Sometimes I feel like all I really am is a glorified cook and maid.
We are closing on the house in Denver this week, so we are ridiculously busy. I should not be taking time to write any posts, but I feel like I'm going to go crazy if I don't find some sort of outlet for all these thoughts banging around in my head. I do also have a couple big projects in the works. I was "talking" electronically with a friend recently who asked me if I ever make quilts. I have made baby quilts and wheelchair quilts, but not any bed quilts. This made me feel somewhat guilty. I do, after all, have piles of scrap cloth everywhere, leftover from all my various dolls and other stuff.
Just a few of the scraps I have lying around.
I also remembered a lot of quilting I used to do back in the early 1990s. Around here these sort of upholstered photo albums were very fashionable. I had a pattern for one that had a crazy-quilted cover and I made them for everyone. I love crazy-quilting. Regular quilts are way too precise for me. I get terribly bored cutting out all these tiny shapes over and over. I also can't see the economy or sense in buying a whole bunch of fabric just so you can cut it all up in tiny pieces and sew it back together. But crazy quilts aren't supposed to match or even have uniform shapes so you can use every scrap you have. I loved doing the photo albums because since you weren't sleeping on the quilt you could add all kinds of embellishments like charms and buttons. I love doing embroidery too. I apologize now to any of you who still have one of those terribly out-of-date, dust-catching books. You have my permission to throw it out!
But, I decided to go through my scraps and cut crazy blocks. The finished blocks are shown above. I adapted a pattern I found on Pinterest for a His and Hers quilt. So it wouldn't be so stripey I added a square made of two triangular blocks. I have enough blocks to make a queen sized quilt now. The thing is, I don't really NEED a queen sized crazy quilt. So, maybe I'll make several throws and sell them or give them as gifts. Last night on my run I asked my best friend, Cherre, why she thinks I would decide to cut enough blocks for a queen sized quilt right when we are moving and when I have another HUGE project underway. She doesn't know. Clearly, I am deranged!
Cherre and I were gone so long on our run and then talking afterwards that Jerry sent me a text that said "Running to Utah?" (because Cherre is my friend from LDS church). Then I came home and worked on my other project until after midnight. I had some time to reflect. I think I feel the need to add all these big projects because I am scared. Denver is a very small town, and I don't know anyone there. Jerry is away a lot of the time on business. I already feel really lonely much of the time. I guess I just feel the need to cram as many projects as I can into my life so I have something to do at night when the kids are in bed and I'm alone.
My other big project is a nostalgic one. My sister inherited two couches that can double as sleeping cots when our grandmother died. At the time I wanted them but didn't have anywhere to keep them. Yesterday, my sister moved to Asheville, NC. Since my brother-in-law hates the cots they just stuck them in the attic for years, so she gave them to me. My grandmother called these the "Day-To-Nighters".
Cots, or couches called "Day-To-Nighters"
There are two of them, but they are all stacked up here so you can't really tell. Besides being filthy from spending about a decade in an attic, these were last re-upholstered in the 1960s. I decided to redo them. The original plan was to make entirely new cushions, but when I went to buy the foam (half off and with coupons) I found it was totally unaffordable. So I settled for getting batting. I plan to just wrap each piece of foam in new batting so the old foam makes a "core" inside for support. I found a pretty green chenille called "Lichen":
I want to paint the black frames to look like brushed nickel with chrome, rather than brass, feet. I am trying to talk my step-dad into doing that for me while we are in Denver this weekend. All in all, each couch with two new throw pillows (besides the original cushions shown) will cost about $200. This is very upsetting to Jerry, but I pointed out that we would be much more in the hole if we had to buy a new bed or two new couches and we need to have somewhere for people to stay now that we are moving so far away. Besides that, this WOULD have cost about $800 even without new foam if it hadn't been for my discount-shopping prowess! And imagine if I sent them out to be done!
So, all day yesterday and well into the night I picked apart two of the cushion covers to make a pattern. I also picked out the zippers so I can re-use those (another cost-saving measure). My sister brought by another of our grandma's things she decided not to keep. It is a little turquoise stone mushroom. My grandfather used to say, "Margie (Grandma) loves any color, as long as it's blue!" The little mushroom next to that old yellow fabric looks so familiar it makes my heart ache. I wish I could walk into that house just one more time and find her there. I definitely inherited her love for blue. Turquoise and robin's egg blue are my favorite colors!
So now I just have to start. I am writing this post in part because I'm scared I will mess everything up and I am procrastinating. Wish me luck!