I have been working on a sewing project since April. My friend Becky decided that she’s going to expand her view and travel the country in a 15-foot Casida camper trailer. So she went out and bought a truck and bought a trailer and she and Julie (her roommate since college) have been living in that all summer in order to save up money. And, skipping to the end a bit, Julie is moving into her own apartment today and Becky has a camper-friendly job set up in Kansas and she’s heading out of town in the middle of September.
So! Back in April, we went to Walmart and picked up fabric to use to cover the cushions around the dinette and for curtains. And I’ve been working since then to get these silly things put together. I figured it wouldn’t be a problem! Sew a couple of rectangles together! How tricky could that be?
I am not familiar with zippers. And zippers, it turns out, are TRICKY. Not as bad as their reputation makes them out to be, probably, but this project had surprising twists with the zippers.
The first cover I put together, I put a 23″ zippper on it. The cushions are 25″ wide, but I figured, they’re squishy, right? WRONG. Not squishy. No matter how much I tried, I could not get that cover to squeeze over the cushion.
And then I put one together without a zipper but the opening all the way open on the spot where the zipper would be one I found a 25″ zipper. (23″ is the longest Walmart carried.) And I still couldn’t get the cushion to fit!
So I thought maybe I was making the cover to narrow, so I expanded all the sides by 1/2 inch and tried again. Still didn’t work.
Finally we figured out that the problem was that the opening for the cushion would have to be not just on the length of the cover, but also spilling around to the sides as well. So the zipper would go across the long end and then turn the corner and go down the side for a ways, making a much larger opening. Which meant that I needed a 30″ zipper.
Guess what I couldn’t find anywhere?
Yeah, 30″ zippers are hard to find.
But know what you can find by the dozen on Etsy? 16″ zippers! I bought a dozen or so zippers in a batch from a seller on Etsy (K & C Supplies). I then put the zippers so they both started in the middle of the cushion cover and opened outward. (It was Justin’s idea.) It worked perfectly! The problem was figuring out how to sew the zippers on so it actually looked nice. That was not something I succeeded at doing very well. But the zippers do work and the cushions do fit and they look fantastic!
I learned a lot of things about sewing while working on this project.
- Don’t assume it’s going to fit before you test it
- Make sure you have a sharp seam-ripper
- If the fabric is woven, make sure to overstitch the seams to keep the whole thing from unraveling
- Don’t stitch on top of the zipper or you will break the needle on the sewing machine
- Sewing machine needles are easy to replace
- Clean out your sewing machine now and then
- Thread the needle in the machine with the foot UP — this and cleaning out the bobbin reel fixed all my thread tension issues
- The bobbin will always run out earlier than I expect and often at an unfortunate moment
- I am much more picky about the project than ANYONE ELSE. No one else cares if the lines aren’t exactly straight
- Most people glaze over when I start to talk about zippers
- People who don’t glaze over when I talk about zippers all also agree that zippers are tricky
- It does get easier with practice
I feel bad that it took me so long to finish it — I had to un-stitch that first one so many times to try to get it right. And there are things that I wish I could fix — they don’t fit as nice as I would like and the sewing around the zippers isn’t at neat as I would like. But I don’t think I could actually do much to change that at this point, so they’re going to stay as they are. And Becky didn’t notice any of those things (and glazed over a little bit when I started talking about zippers :)) and so I’m going to guess that it’s going to be okay.
And now: Curtains! You’d think that’d be easy, right? NOPE. Gotta figure out how to hang them first, and then figure how to keep them close to the wall. The walls are curved and there are windows right above her bed, so if the curtain hangs straight down, people could look in the window and see part of her bed. And that’s just creepy. And the windowsills get too hot for sticky-backed velcro, making that not a good option. So we’re working on ideas how to make this work.
But at least the cushion covers are done!