Stella and Me

26 03 2010

My sewing machine’s name is Stella.  Today, we got to have our first “real” date.

One of the reasons why I wanted a sewing machine was to sew meditation cushions.  Not so much for meditation but for general sitting.

When I birthed, I decided that poor posture was not something I wanted to model for little A and decided to put effort into having correct posture.  However, our North American furniture, designed mainly with middle aged boomers in mind (who generally have horrible posture), are not at all capable of promoting correct posture.  Take, for example, the POANG by Ikea, a super popular chair:

For one, it supports you so that your sit bones are lower than your legs. Then, it has a curve in the upper back that pushes your shoulders forward, instead of back.  Just about everything about this chair supports you if you have poor posture.  If your goal is perfect posture, however, this chair is a nearly impossible to sit in.

I have yet to discover a piece of modern furniture that offers good support for sitting.  There is always Chris’ super chair, but at $1500 a chair, it is hardly “household” furniture.

So, I’ve decided that in order to promote good posture and still have some sort of semblance of furniture, I would make meditation cushions, in abundance!

E was supposed to help me, but sometimes our schedules just don’t mesh.  This week was one of those times. I took the pattern that I found online for a zafu and made it myself today.

I photo-documented the whole thing for your enjoyment with my personal experience of the pattern.  This pattern was SUPER easy!  It only took me about 2 hours from start to finish, even with a steep learning curve.

To make a very comfy zafu (meditation cushion) you first need to cut a piece of fabric 59″ by 6-9″, depending on how thick you want your cushion.  I went with 7″ because it seemed like a good idea.  However, the piece of fabric that I had bought from the thrift store was only 56″.  I will let you know now that it still worked perfectly, just had less pleats in it.  You also need two circles of 11-13″ in diameter.

If you look at the instructions, it will say you need “two circles of cloth”.  So, my first question, of course, was “how do sewers make circles in cloth?”  While I am sure that there is some sort of fancy way that seamstresses do it, my first answer was to trace something circular.  Where do I find something with a 12″ diameter though?  After measuring every salad and mixing bowl I had, I came to the strange vegetable steamer that I found at Value Village.  I just so happened to be 12″.  🙂

I traced everything with a bright pink sharpie pen, as that was the only thing I had available.  Projects like this remind me of my resourceful super powers.  This project let me know that I do not have to have either the knowledge of what I’m doing nor all the tools to do it, in order to attempt and succeed at something.  I’m quite grateful for that.

The instructions then describe how to make the pleats (14 in all supposedly, though I only had 11).  You draw three small marks, each 3/4 of an inch apart.  I recommend doing this at the top of the fabric, as the next step is folding the outer two marks to touch.  The first time I measure them all I put the marks in the middle….

There is a great saying that was on a friend’s fridge, who I stayed with while at the Anarchist’s bookfair in Montreal.  It said “I have never failed; I have only tried 10000 things that didn’t work.”  This meditation cushion certainly reminded me of that.

The instructions then go on to say that you need to fold and iron all your pleats, then pin them.  Though E counseled me earlier that I may need an iron, I didn’t feel, at the time, that it was very important.  So, no iron.  I think the ironing would’ve made the pinning easier, as my pleats kept coming undone or skewed.  But, we work with what we’ve got, and I did not have an iron.

After pinning all the pleats, my long piece of fabric looked like this:

“You may find it easier to stitch the ends of the pleated cloth strip together on the top and bottom.”  says the instructions.  To me, anything that starts with “you may find it easier” is worth doing.  So, not only did I sew the ends of the pleated cloth strip together, but I sewed around the entire top and bottom, so that the pleats were firmly in place (as I had no iron) and wouldn’t be wobbling about when I added the circles.  I found this easier, but it was an extra step, so if you’re the kind of person who is remotely confident of qualified to sew, you could probably skip that step.

Then I turned the loop inside out and pinned the circles to the top and bottom.  The instructions were a bit confusing, but I just kept pinning and unpinning until it looked right:

and sewed each circle on to the sides (a hot shot of Stella in action!!):

Then I turned it inside out.

Now, as you may recall earlier this week, I talked about the lost platypus.  Every Friday Chris takes little A and I have the day to myself, all day!  So, as promised earlier in the week, Chris took his little girl to get a new, little white platypus.  Little A, Chris and the platypus arrived just as I was pinning the circles on and of course, all of them wanted to check out the action.  This is platypus inside the empty meditation cushion:

Little A and I had a great time stuffing the cushion.  We used some sort of polyester (?) stuffing that we got from the thrift store for $2.50.   Then, the whole family tested out the new meditation cushion:

After everyone had tested it, we decided it was time for a dance party, in honour of the new cushion.  Luckily, our neighbour and dear friend S had just arrived, so much tossing of the cushion, dancing and laughter ensued.  Somewhere along the way we picked up our neighbour’s five year old, who wanted to have a meditation cushion dance party instead of running errands with her mom.  Makes sense to me. 🙂

In all, this was a success!  I am going to learn how to embroider so that I can embroider patterns on my next ones.  I have plenty of material left over and figure I can get at least another two out of that piece.  Hooray for Bibles for Missions thift store and it’s super cheap, great fabric!  Now that I know what I am doing, I think the next one will take me much less time and effort.

In the new place I’m moving into (May 1st!!!) I will not use chairs, but cushions, to encourage good posture!  Though, I will probably keep chairs around for when my parents come to visit, so that they can still be comfortable at my house.

It was great to have a cold, sunny day to spend an afternoon sewing on my new machine!  I know she and I will make great friends and allies.

Til tomorrow!




One response

26 03 2010

that’s great! so easy and so awesome!

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