Feb 26, 2010

Make Do and Sew: How Devo Kept Busy During the Blizzard

Last night I was reading a craft blog. This isn't a terribly unusual occurrence, as I follow several, but the following was a bit out of the ordinary: a comment about 'crafting' one's way out of emergencies. While needle and thread, or even paper and glue, won't fix a flat tire in rush hour, needle and thread can transform a stubborn futon mattress into a docile couch cushion.

And that is how I spent my afternoon. See, the contents of my apartment are a hodge-podge assortment of things abandoned by former tenants, things randomly found, and things the three of us have brought in. One such item, a combination of something found and something brought in, is our couch. It isn't really a couch. It's half of a queen bed with a queen size futon mattress sort of folded atop. It isn't a very comfortable or graceful seating situation, but we'd all been kind of politely tolerating it.

We live on the fourth floor of a walkup building, so buying and transporting a new/used couch is what you might call a non-option until we move this summer. Pending the discovery of the home upholstery section of the fabric store, I had been idly considering buying some couch seat cushions and upholstering them myself. But then today an idea struck, unlike any I'd ever had before, and because I had the time (it was my day off from both school and work, plus it is blizzarding outside), I set about making it happen.

The problem with the futon mattress is that it was unevenly bulky when folded in half. But because of its heft, we couldn't simply fold part of it, for the thing would promptly unfold. However, if I sewed the outer edges of the fold together, .... folks, I ran down our uber-long hallway to the kitchen, snatched the first needle and spool of thread I could find, and raced back to the couch to see if such a simple plan would actually work.

*dramatic pause*

It did. The mattress fold is being kept in place by a zigzagging hot pink thread (doubled for strength), and our 'couch' is considerably more comfortable and startlingly less bulky than I can ever remember it being.

And that is how I learned the true meaning of the phrase, 'make do and sew.'

Feb 20, 2010

A pithy update

Life has been interesting of late.

Tuesday, following Nick's interview last weekend, brought the news that Nick was admitted to the CUNY Graduate Center's doctoral program in music composition. Also, he may very well be funded through adjunct lecturing and/or a fellowship, which would be really awesome.

Class resumed the last week in January. I am taking an Ethnomusicology survey class (studying various non-Western musics of the world) and another American history seminar, Opera and Culture Since 1900, led by my academic advisor. Both classes are considerably work-intensive, although both subject areas are quite interesting.

New York had a small blizzard last week, which sort of shut down the city for several hours and resulted in the cancellation of Wednesday class. Snow day! It also gave me the smallest of hints as to what spending the winter in Iowa might be like this year. :)

I've been doing a lot of sewing lately, pending the discovery over winter break that New York not only has a Michael's, but also like a bazillion places to buy fabric and sewing notions. My shop of choice is on the Lower East Side, several blocks downtown from Canal Street. Not only do they sell DMC floss for relatively cheap, they also have piles of yarn and an entire wall of sewing notions-simple things like tailor's chalk, hem gages, buttons, zippers, and thread. Not to mention the fabric. There is a LOT of fabric-the basement is devoted to upholstery fabric and cushions. The main floor has ... well, everything else. Cotton flannels, silks, polyester, cotton, calico, muslin, ginghams, linen .... and so much more. In short, my stash of fabric exceeds my ideas for what the heck to do with it.

So I'm trying some things. I've been reading up on hand applique, and am attempting it as we speak, on a stuffed Valentine bear project. Making potholders is something I've been meaning to try for a year or two. After finding a square flapper embroidery pattern online several weeks ago, the inspiration struck, and so two small squares of olive green Fiesta cotton are being put to use for this purpose.

Not to mention the tea towels. By now most of you have received at least one embroidered tea towel from me. I had been using the flour sack towels from Target: they were relatively cheap, and of good quality. Then the brand changed and so did the towels- the weave is pretty awful now, which means I had been casting about for another (cheap) solution. My first trip in to the fabric store solved it: they had a 2-1/2 yard remnant of this yellow cotton that was PERFECT for towels. So I bought it. And washed it, and cut it and squared it. The result is six nice lengths of fabric which, once I hem them, will make some excellent towels.

Uh-anyway. I got a bit carried away with all that craft stuff. Sorry about that.

Hope you all are well, and surviving the winter weather!