Santa’s Workshop

Courtesy of flupocalypse 2013 (as the professor has taken to calling the 14-days-and-counting of unwellness chez nous) the cushions on our sagging, ripped couch looked like they were harboring germs. So when I found myself in the textiles section at IKEA on Thursday, dizzily steering one of their infamously wonky carts whilst Percy consumed a 75 cent hot dog, I scanned the horizon for suitable replacements.

There were none.

I thought about going to Crate and Barrel, but that would involve another trip to another mall and, put it this way, I’d already been to Costco. (And IKEA.) But the cushions were a health hazard and needed to be dealt with, so I did what anyone else in my position would do: I picked up a Gurli throw and decided to make cushion covers out of it.

Because obviously I was sick. In the head.

As I stared at the beige, knubby, poly-fabric, a thought crossed my mind: this is not going to go well. And then I tossed it in my cart, along with 2 (wrong-sized) lightbulbs and wobbled to the checkout.

Saturday morning came and the blurry numbers on the alarm clock suggested it could be 6; a fact corroborated by the still-black sky and the sound of boys sleeping.

I got up, tiptoed downstairs and tried to remember how to turn on my sewing machine. My sewing philosophy (and skill) can be easily summarized: I get an idea (in this instance, cushion covers) and then I cut fabric roughly the size of what I think I need and then I try to utilize my sewing machine in bringing my idea to life.

Perhaps it won’t come as a big surprise when I reveal that my success rate hovers somewhere in the low teens. As in, maybe – maybe – ten or twelve percent of the time, I achieve a reasonable facsimile of what I set out to create.

The rest of the time? It’s a lot of frowning, a lot of cursing and a lot – a lot – of mess. And, come to think of it, a lot of time.

Complicating the matter of my lack of skill, is my inability to rotate objects in space. Which is just another way of saying I can’t figure out how things work, or, in this instance, I couldn’t remember how to sew a cushion cover.

So I sat and I stared at my old, germ-infested prototype – much like Joey, ‘getting in the map’ – and I thought I had it figured out. (Also since I was already on such a roll, I cut a star from an old pair of pajama pants. You know, to decorate the cushion since it’s Christmas and all.)

I present to you the cushion cover that will have to be cut off its cushion when – if – I’m ever ready to replace it.

Cuz I sewed it wrong.


Having failed at my first attempt, I (mostly) figured out how to sew a cushion cover the second time around.


(Yes, the back looks fine, why do you ask?)

Just as I was getting ready to sew my first (failure) cover, the boys woke up. They came downstairs, and the Gort – upon seeing fabric and sewing paraphernalia lying all over the floor – decided he wanted to sew too.

My nine year old son and I have a lot in common. Sewing (in)ability being one of those things. He decided to make a little sweater for a stuffed bear which, as far as I could tell, involved wrapping a scrap of fabric around the bear and sewing metal snaps on to fasten said scrap.

I told him he was on his own – since I was ‘busy’ with my own project. So he took a (very large) needle, some forest green thread that I’d long forgotten about and went to work. It was a lot like the time I decided to make a quilt. With a needle and thread and random-shaped pieces of fabric.

Except I was 26. And should have known better.

Operation bear-sweater morphed into operation sew-a-bag. Which, as far as I could tell, involved taking another scrap of fabric and cutting it into a rectangular shape with some sort of handle and trying to sew it all together. All day long the boy labored on his various projects, sighing exasperatedly whenever we left the house, ‘but I have to get back to my sewing!’ as if we were living in Little House on the Prairie or something. 

Late afternoon, he came upstairs to show off his handiwork. ‘I’m finished!’ he exclaimed. For a rectangle with a strap on it and dark green stitches at the edges, it looked…..okay. ‘I’m going to put some apples in it!’ he ran to the fruit bowl to test out his product.

One apple. Two apples. ‘Hey, it’s working!’ he yelled from the kitchen, thoroughly pleased with his creation, as he stuffed a third, a fourth and a tenth apple into the fabric pocket. Impressed, I was just about to say ‘maybe you shouldn’t put so many apples in it,’ when his world came crashing down.

The green-stitched rectangle, unable to contain its bounty, imploded. Seams gave way and apples plummeted to the ground. Many, now-bruised, apples splattered everywhere.

The professor – the one who can rotate objects in space – tried to placate, using words like ‘prototype’ and ‘try again’. But the Gort wasn’t buying it. ‘I suck at sewing,’ he wailed and I knew all too well how he felt. I tried to explain that we simply don’t have the skill to support our ideas, but it didn’t matter – his sewing career was over.

As for me, I’ll drive to Crate and Barrel when the holidays are over.

2 thoughts on “Santa’s Workshop

  1. Too bad you didn’t get a picture of the bag before it imploded! As for the cushions, they look good to me. That’s how projects get started – with an idea or as Jason says , a prototype. I wish I could have been there to help Goran. He and Isabelle have a lot in common – she too just snips and stitches and voila – a reasonable facsimile to what she wanted. 🙂

    Sounds like Jason is still not back to normal. :(. Sorry.

    I got some of the spiderwebs made. Now I will have to put it aside to work on Christmas projects and a baby quilt. At least it is started.

    Miss you all. This has been a hard couple of weeks as I miss all the family. Hope things are going well there.

    Twana Johnson
    Serving in Mexico


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