I decided a couple of years ago that hand-making gifts was, for the most part, not for me. After one year of spending literally hundreds of hours lovingly creating a dazzling array of quite lovely things to be met with shrugs I came to realise that many of my family and people who I know, even the ones that specifically requested a pair of hand knit socks or knitted and needle-felted hot water bottle cover simply didn’t get the scope of effort that making these things takes. I do not blame anyone for that, but it was simply too much of my time to spend when (as is the case) most people would be equally as happy with a bottle of wine or a woolly hat from the supermarket.
Nevertheless, when you have someone sit next to you every evening for years, they grow to appreciate the sense of investment that something lovingly handmade represents, and I think in the most part they can very much appreciate the work and skill that goes into a hand-made gift, and I believe that Mr Awesome is especially tuned into this.
I didn’t want to make Mr Awesome something twee or overly involved this year, however. I just wanted a little something made by my own hands to go along with his other gifts; something that I had invested the time, effort and love into making myself, and I wanted it to be something that suited his personality (which is that of a bit of a computer and video games geek). I eventually settled upon a new cushion as the ones that we have are looking a bit sad and abused and are probably due for retirement any day now, and I decided that I would appeal to his geek side by making a cushion designed around one of the most iconic video games ever produced.
I had a look around to see if I could perhaps find some fabric that was styled to look like either the Pac-Man character, the characters of the ghosts or even the video game play screen before finding the perfect design. The actual in-game screen was perfect due to the size and dimensions of the cushion I wanted to make, and I found a UK based Etsy seller who had the perfect fabric for sale.
I booked a day off of work just before Christmas to prepare for the few days off we were due to have and also as it would provide an hour or two in which I could make the cushion. As it happened, it was the day after my grandmother sadly passed away, so when I came to actually sit down and make the cushion I did not find the joy of sewing that I perhaps might have otherwise experienced. I would not say that it felt so much like a chore to make the cushion, but rather something that I wished I could have left for a few days, which I perhaps would have if Christmas wasn’t due to follow on so closely, but once I had washed, dried and ironed my fabric I decided that I might as well get the sewing machine down from the cupboard and try to keep myself occupied.
As a cushion cover is essentially a square sewn around all four sides it is a very simple project to make, and the only complexity comes in the way the sewer chooses to make the opening in the back. A simple slip cover need not require any closure at all, or the back can be envelope-styled, buttoned, zippered or possibly a hundred other things. I decided to use a zipper for this cushion, which I decided to place half way down the back of the cushion. This was perhaps a bit more work that I really needed to give myself, but it did look really good once it was complete and the finished cushion looked great.
I was happy with the finished cushion, and the fact that the finished project went quite smoothly meant that I felt the accomplishment was worth the effort and I felt quite certain that Mr Awesome would in fact love his only hand-made gift of this Christmas, and that made it all a bit more special.
As I started tidying up around me and eventually came to struggle lifting the great white monolith that is my sewing machine back into the cupboard, to hide the signs of my industrious afternoon from Mr Awesome when he arrived home from work, I noticed it looked as if my sewing machine had been run through forensics, as there were dark black fingerprints everywhere. So I looked down at my hands.
Now, the picture above was taken after the cushion was washed a further two times and this is what happens if I run my fingers over the surface a few times. I have not rubbed the print hard or vigorously, just swept them over the surface. Every time the cushion is washed it looses so much dye or paint (I am not really sure which it is) that the sink looks like a particularly wet Glastonbury Festival. To make things worse the print gets more and more faded and what were the original colours get muddier and muddier. The cushion is unusable as if it does this to my hands it will wreck every piece of clothing that comes into contact with it and ruin our sofa into the bargain.
So, Mr Awesome didn’t get a hand-made gift this Christmas in the end, and the time I struggled to make the cushion, that I had decided was worth it, turned out to be wasted after all, and I feel generally quite disappointed with this failed gift.
I have contacted the seller who says that the fabric panel (which is printed specifically to be made into a cushion) was treated with a special spray to prevent colour transfer and that they will re-send one that has been extra coated. When this arrives I shall make a few extra tests before spending the time sewing it together.