Yarn Addiction Thursday: Noro Kama Cushion Fever

I’m back with a cushion project for Yarn Addiction Thursday.

Noro Yarn: Kama in Emerald. (no longer produced)

Noro Yarn: Kama in Emerald. (no longer produced)

I originally bought Noro Kama yarn for a Christmas scarf project for a friend. This beautiful green yarn was on sale because it was no longer produced. It’s a loose-twisted aran-weight yarn  made from alpaca, silk, mohair and angora. I planned to use alligator crochet stitch and make a dragon scarf for a Welsh friend. I thought by using a thick yarn using a large hook, the project would go more quickly. It didn’t work. The yarn was just too bulky too look good in the proportion I wanted. I soon noticed how much yarn and how much time Alligator stitch took. I only had two balls and I’d been targeting quick and easy. After doing ten cm I bailed. I still made the scarf for my friend but I used a new stitch and and bought different yarn. Now I had two large soft balls of soft bright green happiness taking up space in my house. With only two skeins, my future Noro kama project had size limits.

I decided to knit a cushion. I was inspired by Naomi, in my stitching group, who makes the most amazing blankets for the home. I didn’t have a pattern but a cushion is two squares sewn together, right? I decided I would knit one side and sew on fabric for the other side. Maybe I’d use buttons or a zipper. I wanted a largish pillow so I knit out a square about 60x65cm based on an odd-sized zabuton (Japanese flat, square cushion) I have. The knitting went well enough. I cast on a couple of times, knitting a few centimeters trying to get a size I liked. I eventually settled on eighty stitches and stocking-stitched my way to a satisfactory squarish shape. Then the knit square languished in the to-do pile for a while. I couldn’t find fabric I liked. The square did make a lovely background for another Yarn Addiction Thursday post. It was tempting to leave it for a photography background but I wanted a cushion, so I needed some fabric.

I wanted something simple but graphic, either in black and white or greens I liked. I kept getting stuck between something too cartoony or something Liberty cotton. Something Marimekko-like would have been great if not at the Marimekko price.

20140418-095757.jpg

I checked out Spoonflower.com. A person could get lost looking at all the great designs but I didn’t see one I liked for the cushion. I decided to try my own design. I drew a few sketches then played around on Adobe Illustrator. This was the result. I don’t mind it at this size, but on a larger piece I found I didn’t like the way it striped. I was trying for a more wavy organic pattern. The greens aren’t quite right for the yarn. either. Someday I will play with this design and get it right. But that unfinished cushion was really nagging at me and my design inspiration was at low ebb.

Then while shopping with friends at Shinjuku’s Okadaya (fabric store) I found a polka dot pattern I didn’t mind. I liked the idea of contrasting the striped knit fabric and dots. The dot colors were similar to the yarn–bonus! Still stuck on earlier ideas, I got the idea of painting the fabric.  Thank goodness for friends who tell you when to stop. I grabbed a green zipper and was excited to get started. Except… I don’t know how to sew a zipper. No worries. Two YouTube videos later  and way more confidence than I should have had, I was ready to give it a try.

This first video was good for an overview of the process. It’s about making cushions for outdoor furniture but it’s great for concepts. They also cover measurement concepts.

The second video, by Anna Bartlett applied more directly to what I made. It’s part 2 of a series but I skipped part 1. Part 1 is about piping. I don’t have piping. Below is a task list I made from watching the video. It’s worth watching the video. She has many useful tips. My list is very generic.  This video gave good visuals about positioning with the zipper foot. I found that surprisingly difficult.

Inspired by  decided to be ambitious and try for an invisible zipper. I used XXX’s method for laying out the fabric. I wasn’t too concerned about matching but I tried to make the fold so that circles aligned and that both pieces were on the same bias (thanks for that tip, Mom!). Sewing the knit material to the fabric was not too hard. But I pinned it a lot and I used a 2 cm seam allowance. My mom gasped when I told her, but I found if I was too close to the selvedge of the knit material the edges got caught in the pressing foot or the material pulled funny. Two centimeters in made everything flow just right.  I’m really glad I was ambitios. My original plan was  to do the zipper on an edge. I’m glad I didn’t. I think it would have been tricky to sew the knitting to the zipper fabric.

HOW TO ATTACH A ZIPPER (as I learned from Anna Bartlett’s video.)

  1. Cut to pieces of fabric on same bias to same width. Don’t worry about length. Trim later.
  2.  Sew around edges to prevent unravelling
  3. sew one side of the zipper to one side of the fabric
  4. sew on the other piece of fabric to the zipper
  5. do zipper up, fold fabric over to cover zipper and iron flat
  6. sew another line down the zipper to fasten the flap
  7. Pin the knit material to the zipper side, right sides together, cut off the excess length from zipper side of cushion. If you wait to cut the length you have more freedom to place the zipper. (Learned that trick from the video) NOTE: she doesn’t pin as much as I did. I had fussy wool. And I need all the help I can get.
  8. BIG TIP: MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE THE ZIPPER PARTLY UNDONE SO YOU CAN TURN IT RIGHT-SIDE OUT WHEN YOU ARE DONE SEWING. I heard the tip and understood it, but still, I caught myself just in time.
  9. Sew the edges together
  10. Turn rightside out.

I got lucky and didn’t have to take the zipper sewing apart more than once and that was soon after starting. Once I figured out the zipper foot is was… fairly painless. Here are some shots of the finished cushion.

Finding a cushion to fit ended up being a bit of a challenge, but I found one at Franc Franc in Jiyugaoka for ¥2600. I love my new cushion. It’s soft and surprisingly good back support.

 

 

 

 

 

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