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.

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