Back to sewing rectangles

Last week my to do list had “tidy the house!” at the top of it. Seriously overdue and needed as my friend was coming to stay for the weekend. Somehow though, life transpired to stop me achieving this. Oh well, she is a very good friend, she coped.

This week, my to do list has “No really, tidy the house” at the top, as my in laws are coming to stay on Thursday. And to start my week I had an ill boy at home, who was just fine from about 10am onwards.

Anyway, we made a good start on the dining room and he did a stella job rubbing all the fingermarks of the glass door. Then I got distracted by the door stop. It’s rubbish and keeps coming out. I did buy a better one because it annoys me so much, but the kids bedroom door annoys hubby more so it ended up upstairs. So, a while ago I bought some playsand with the idea of making a door weight and it turns out Today Was The Day. Plus it gave me a chance to set the boy an interesting maths challenge, thereby keeping him happy and amused (what can I say, he takes after his mum and finds maths fun) and assuaging some of my doubts/guilt at my decision to keep him off school.

I’d decided to keep the door stop simple and make a cube rather than a fancier shape. I’ve made cube bean bags in the past and they’re straight forward. I challenged the boy to design a net for a cube – the shape you draw on a flat piece of paper that you can cut out and fold into a cube. I gave him a dice* for reference and some graph paper and he came up with a working T shape net, complete with unasked for tabs in the right places to glue it together.

I then explained that when I make a cube from fabric, I prefer to use 2 rectangles, as I can squeeze it out of a smaller piece of fabric and don’t have odd shapes left over after cutting out. I love this method of making a cube, it’s not one you’d necessarily come up with but once you’ve seen it it’s quite elegant.
I didn’t find this method described during my doorstop, so in case anyone is interested, here’s how it works. This works for any kind of cube, so far I’ve used it to make bean bags and now doorstops.

easier to do than explain

easier to do than explain

Start by choosing how wide (and therefore how tall and deep too) you want your cube to be. The boy decided 6 1/2″ would make a good doorstop, so I got him to draw and cut out a 6 1/2″ square on the grid paper. Then I traced out 3 of these in a row and added seam allowance to make my pattern piece. You need two of these.

basic cube pattern piece, 3 squares long by 1 wide, plus seam allowance, cut 2.

basic cube pattern piece, 3 squares long by 1 wide, plus seam allowance, cut 2.

Mine got a little more complicated as I had a remnant of pale green upholstery fabric that toned with the curtains but I was concerned the bottom would get dirty, so I decided to use some salvaged brown cord from some ex trousers for the base panel. Then I decided to make the bottom inch of each of the side panels brown too. But that’s just me needlessly complicating things.

with added handle (mine is in the centre of  the middle square)

with added handle (mine is in the centre of the middle square)

I made a simple handle for the top. I’m sure everyone can do that, but just for the record cut a piece of fabric the length of your handle and twice the width plus seam allowance, fold in half width ways, sew seam, turn inside out (not so fun with thick fabric, don’t make it too narrow), move seam to be in middle of back (so it doesn’t show) and press. I sewed it across the middle of one of my middle squares, but it could go on any square, cubes being quite symmetrical and all.

My other pattern pieces, plus helper

My other pattern piece, plus helper

I thought about appliqueing a basic winter tree shape on one side in the brown cord then adding some leaves with some scraps of green linen I had. However, my companion had other ideas.

my design assistant (director?) doodles an approved design on some scrap fabric

my design assistant (director?) doodled a design on some scrap fabric

In the end he we decided that he would draw a tree on each of the 4 sides for me and then I would zig zag machine embroider over the top in green/blue thread (delete as appropriate depending on your colour vision, but I’m right, it’s green, even if it doesn’t look it so much in the photo’s).

some more doodling and machine embroidery later, the pattern pieces are ready to assemble

some more doodling and machine embroidery later, the pattern pieces are ready to assemble (the tailors chalk is still showing under the stitching)

To avoid having to do right angle turns, I sewed it together one side at a time. To start with, you sew a short end from one piece to the middle third of the long side of another, right sides together.

The first seam

The first seam

After that you just work your way around – it should be fairly obvious what goes where.

3 seams in, starting to look 3 dimensional

3 seams in, starting to look 3 dimensional

When I made the bean bags I made an inner cube shaped bean bag that had the beans stitched in and a slightly larger cover. For that I didn’t sew up the last 3 seams, so I had a flap. Instead I sewed velcro to the seam allowance so the cover could be held in place.

nearly there (hmm, upside down tree with falling leaves now looks like a face)

nearly there (hmm, upside down tree with falling leaves now looks like a face)

It was pretty painless, although not perfect. If I was worried about that I should have taken a little more time and waited until my helper wasn’t around. But mainly I wanted it done, and the only visible annoyance is that my brown base to the sides doesn’t line up in places. I can live with that, it kind of fits in with the simple tree design.

finished bar stuffing

finished bar stuffing

In the end I used a spoon to fill the door stop with sand. Then I sewed the hole up by hand. The hole could go anywhere, I left it on a side seam, so it was slightly less noticable than at the top buy hopefully my hand stitching was under slightly less under pressure than a seam on the base.

all done

all done

The finished door stop works and looks good (hubby really likes it) and so far hasn’t leaked any sand (time will tell). The 6 1/2″ is a good size, it could maybe be a little smaller, but it holds the heavy door well and is still easily liftable. I could have got a little more sand in it, but I thought the sides would just bulge out. Gravity + sand tends to mean it ends up a little bottom heavy (I want to say pear shaped, but that makes it sound like it went wrong, which it hasn’t), but I can live with that.

I’ve decided it’s a bit like this cool mother/daughter artistic collaboration, if you squint.

Now I have plans for one in a more exciting, in a deliberately bottom heavy shape…. But first I really do have to finish tidying the house. And next time, I’ll do it solo (not because I don’t like how this one came out, it’s just sometimes I like to do things my way).

*yeah, I know, technically it’s a die, but no one actually says that.

2 thoughts on “Back to sewing rectangles

  1. Pingback: Prolific Project Starter | In the buff

  2. Pingback: Prolific Project Starter | Making the obvious

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