Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kids' Book Nook: Making a Pillow for a Bookcase Bench

Earlier I talked about my niece's first birthday and my need to provide somewhat practical gifts- something they won't outgrow quickly- as well as the need for it to be somewhat creative and very personalized.

When my sister-in-law mentioned that they'd like a bookshelf for my niece's room, I began searching the internet for just the right one.  I wanted to make it personal in some way.  They had adorable princess bookshelves and really beautiful maple bookshelves.  Then my creative/practical sides (a dichotomy that surfaces in me quite often) started to voice their opinions.  What if she hates the color pink?  What will she think of this bookcase in five years?  In ten?  If I do anything to personalize this beautiful bookcase I may end up ruining it.  She's a climber- is she going to try to climb to the top shelf?

And then it hit me (okay, maybe browsing at Target helped)- what about a bookcase that's meant to be climbed on?  I liked the one at Target, but I was also attracted to the other cube furniture there that could be used vertically or horizontally, thinking it would be nice to give her something that could be turned upright when she got older and inevitably acquired too much stuff (it happens to everyone, right?).  I began looking for bench bookcases, and it looked like Bed Bath & Beyond had something reasonable, but reviews discussed it needing no tools for assembly, and I became concerned about how sturdy something held together by some two-way tape and a few wooden pegs could be.  I wanted to buy a longer one, but Target only had these in stock, so I bought two (and assembled them myself!).

Then I set off to make the cushion. (I made two)  (More split back pillow and standard pillow case ideas here)

For two ~11 x 23 cushions I used:
1 yard patterned fabric
1/2 yard muslin (I bought the very wide, high quality muslin)
2/3 yard batting

Cut the fabric
For each pillow
Cut two pieces of the muslin 1 1/2 inches longer each way than you want the pillow to be (for mine that was 12 1/2 x 24 1/2 inches)

Cut one piece of the patterned fabric (the front) 1 inch longer than you want the pillow to be (12 x 24 inches)
Cut the back pieces of the pillow- each side will need a half inch seam allowance to hem the seam.  You will also want another inch or two to overlap, so my pieces ended up being 12 x 13 and 12 x 14.
Cut two pieces of the batting to the size you want the pillow to be (11 x 23)
You can cut these on your rotary board if you hold the ruler down tight to the board.

Fold under and press 3/8 of an inch on one of the shorter sides on each piece of muslin.

With the folds on the outside (your pillow inside out), pin and sew the three remaining sides together with 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Trim the corners and turn the pillow casing right side in.  Put in both thicknesses of batting.

Pin and sew the folded sides together with 1/8 inch seam allowance.

Tack the pillow to keep the batting from sliding while in use.  This can be done by machine or by hand.

I liked the tacking done by hand better because it wasn't as tight.
Back pillow- machine; front pillow- by hand

For the pillowcase
To make the finished edges of your overlapping pieces, fold under 1/4 inch on a shorter edge of each piece of fabric.  Fold under again and press.

Sew along the inner edge of this hem, about a 1/4 inch seam.

Pin these pieces to the front piece, right sides together and overlapping the back pieces.  Sew all four edges with 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Trim the corners and turn right side out.

Put the pillow in the pillow case and place on bookcase.  Tada!  A bench!

And she finally climbed up on it earlier this week.

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