Saturday, December 17, 2011

Musings from the Junque Pile, or...

Comforter Redux, Part Deux.

I actually wrote this several weeks ago and thought I posted it, but apparently didn't. Oh well, better late than never...

You might think I’m being redundant (redundant) in the title, but I’m not (I’m not).  See, last spring I wrote a blog about my comforter, waxing poetic about how I loved the colors of the fabric, the reversible-ness of it, etc, etc.  Unfortunately it was very cheaply made (as only a $50 comforter from can be), and the quilt batting inside was disintegrating, making for a very chilly and uncomfortable comforter.

But I love my blankey. I really wanted to save it. I got the wild-hair-up-my-butt-brainstorm to re-stuff it. The problem is is that I am not a quilter. I am not even much of a sewer, truth be told.  I’d dabbled in my 20's with making pillows for my grandmother's couch, and once sewed a pair of M.C. Hammer pants (don’t ask). I used to be able to run a sorta straight seam on a sewing machine.  But I’ve since developed an unreasonable fear of my sewing machines. It is probably from carting them all over the country with me as I moved hither and yon, always thinking about using them, but never doing it. They taunted me when we were in the same room alone. No really, they did. I even took videos of them taunting me, but it got lost it in the last move.

(You’re still stuck on those Hammer Pants, aren’t you?)

Anyway, I thought I could maybe just slit a hole in the side of my comforter, shove some poly-fill in there, sew it up and be done. And that’s pretty much what I did.  Then shoved some more poly-fill, and then some more, and more…

(I will just stop here for a moment and answer that *other* question burning in your head.  I didn’t use quilt batting for one reason – I’ve never quilted anything before, I’d never made a blanket before, but I *had* made pillows before.  And that’s why I used poly-fill. It makes sense if you think about it. Stupid sense, but whatever.)

You would not believe how much poly-fill a comforter with very little quilt-stitching to begin with can eat up. 6 bags later there was a very pretty mountain of poly-fill in the MIDDLE of my comforter. There was a veritable moat of under-stuffed fabric around this mountain of poly-fill. And as much as I would shake it,  pat it, and move it around to the edges of the fabric, all the poly-fill would gravitate to the middle again, sitting there looking like a recently fed troll in the middle of my bed.  It made it, for instance, impossible to watch TV in bed at night. Not to mention how cold it would get at the outer edges of the comforter, with no poly-fill there to keep me warm.

However, summer was coming, and I could ignore the problem for a few months by stuffing my comforter into a garbage bag and throwing it into the back of my closet. Unfortunately, all summers come to an end, and autumn was upon us.  I was recovering from hand surgery, not working, and had very little money. But I had time to mull the problem, and 2 very sullen sewing machines sitting around my house, sneering at me.  It was time to teach them a lesson.

I needed to figure out how to quilt an extremely puffy king sized comforter without breaking a needle or jamming the machine.  My wonderful hubster, being engineering-ly inclined, suggested the term “baffles.” Basically, sewing the comforter into tubes and stuffing the individual tubes after sewing.


I set about un-stuffing the beast filling four 13 gallon-sized garbage bags, in case you were wondering, or probably enough to fill one set of Hammer pants (not that I would know this).  After washing and ironing the fabric of the comforter (oh yeah: another reason I don’t sew is that I don’t iron, and you really need to iron things when you are sewing…you really, really do. Trust me on this), I set about dissecting the fabric so that the “baffles” were even along the length of the comforter.  I folded it in half, ironed a crease, folded it in half again, and ironed another crease.  This gave me 4 even quarters after sewing 3 lines.  “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this…” this chant was going through my head often during this project.

(Let me just interject that if you coming back to sewing after taking a decade or two off, you might want to sew on some scrap fabric, just for the heck of it.  You need to check the tension of you stitches, make sure the bottom thread isn’t bunching up in the machine or at the bottom of your fabric, etc.  Yeah, take it from me. You really REALLY want to do that.)

So, I eventually got the 3 seams sewn. I started stuffing the first baffle with poly-fill.  Wow, it’s still too large of an area. The Poly-fill sinks to the bottom of the comforter and lays there like a flopping fish, growing ever more bloated and unwieldy.  I almost cried.  But I bravely pushed on.  My sewing machine is apparently a wee bit out of shape, and the sewing I did made it realize that maybe it didn’t have the chops to consider sneering at me anymore. Take that, sewing machine!

I divided the existing quarters in half, ironed more creases, and sewed those. I have to say that it wasn’t a bad sewing job, running a king-sized comforter through the machine while maintaining a semi-straight line. Even un-stuffed, all that material is heavy!

But it worked! Making the baffles smaller did the trick. With less fabric to move around in, the poly-fill has less place to go, and therefore went where I wanted it to.  The only problem was…

I ran out of poly-fill, and needed to pick up another bag of it to finish the job.  Can you believe it? I’m calling myself the poly-fill queen from now on.

I didn’t take any pictures of me sewing the comforter for the blog, but I will put up an end-product pic.  Just don’t look at the rest of my bedroom…it’s bad. Someday I will repaint the walls, sew up some curtains….QUIT SNICKERING at me. I swear, you all are as bad as my sewing machine…

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