The other day, I was talking to a sewing/knitting friend of mine about how she managed to sew her piping cord so neatly and she said it was down to her sewing machine’s piping foot. I have to admit to being rather sceptical about this, as I have tended to think that a lot of these “specialist” machine feet are gimmicks to increase sales for the manufacturers, but I was so impressed by Jen’s piping that I ordered one that evening. It arrived yesterday and I put it to use straight away on the cushion(s) I am making/have made for my mum (more on those later…); well, colour me impressed! So easy to use but what a difference – for the first time ever, I am very pleased with the way the piping fits snugly into the seam. The foot has a sort of inverted groove on the bottom, which fits over the piping cord and holds it firmly in place as you sew so there’s no chance of it escaping and wriggling away on its own (as mine have done regularly in the past). I am now a total convert and envisage my piping foot and me spending many happy hours together in the future.
Anyway, the cushions. The rather vague reference to how many there are, and at what stage of completion is due mainly to the fact that these cushions are now rather overdue, and I feel quite guilty about this. They were supposed to be for my mum’s birthday which was 3rd February, but they were not finished because of a) my own stupidity/lack of skills in maths and b) a very bad back.
Mum and Dad had their three-piece suite recovered just before Christmas and Mum decided she would like a couple of scatter cushions for the settee. Having absolutely no control over my mouth, I announced that I would make some for her, as a birthday present, by weaving the fabric on my lovely loom, and then sewing said fabric into cushion covers, complete with piping cord around the edges. (Seriously, why don’t I just keep my mouth firmly zipped? I could have just bought a nice vase or something…)
A few days later, Lucy and I found some gorgeous alpaca and silk yarn in the perfect ( and I do mean perfect) shade of green, so I made some calculations and set about warping up the loom…this is where the lack of maths skills becomes apparent. I needed four pieces of fabric 18″ square, to allow for seams etc. and decided that I would use one continuous warp and weave four lengths of fabric, separated by a couple of inches, so my calculation was 4 x 18″ (actual fabric) + 10% (to allow for loom waste) + a bit extra for luck. What I had forgotten was to allow for the couple of inches between each of the four pieces, but I didn’t realise this until I was almost half-way through the last piece, when it suddenly became blindingly, sickeningly obvious that there was not enough warp left to finish the final square. Of course, I did what any normal, well-balanced person would do in the circumstances: ripped the fabric off the loom, flung it into a corner, and sulked for a week.
By the time I had recovered my composure enough to think about how to resolve the problem, I had developed a very painful and debilitating back problem, and was unable to re-warp the loom as it just bloody hurt! I did nothing for a few days but soon realised that action was called for if I was to stand even the slightest chance of the cushions being ready for mum’s birthday, so decided to make one cover and send it off with a note saying that its sibling would follow on soon. My back was able to cope with sitting at the sewing machine so off I went, and a cushion cover soon resulted. Something stopped me putting this first cushion in the post, though, because somehow, it just wasn’t good enough. I mean, I’d have been happy enough with it for myself, but this was for my mum. Nothing less than perfect is acceptable for her (in my view), so I held onto the cushion whilst I tried to come up with ways of improving it. I’d more or less made up my mind that the only way to get it to look as good as I wanted was by hand-sewing all the seams so that I could control the piping cord and set it in exactly the right place, but this seemed rather a daunting task and I put it off.
That is, I put it off until the previously mentioned conversation about piping feet with Jen.
Now I have a piping foot, the first cushion cover is complete and looking pretty damn good (if I do say so myself), my back is better, thanks to some rather ouch-y sessions with an osteopath, and the loom is now warped up and ready to go for the last piece of fabric.
Mum, your cushions will be with you very soon!