Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mark's First DYI (Drive Yourself Insane) Project

Living in a small 450-square-foot studio apartment in Manhattan, I acquired very little in the way of furniture. My queen-size sofa  was too big, bulky and costly to ship, rests disassembled and in pieces in a storage unit in New Jersey. So there were very few pieces to ship to Maui.

After getting settled into the house I am renting in Pukalani, I obviously needed furniture. The house is almost 4-1/2 times as big (okay... including the garage) and I had decided that although I wanted to keep with the island style, I didn't want it screaming Polynesian tiki bar. I did want a piece - preferably a chair - made out of elephant bamboo, and as luck would have it I found what I was looking for quite by accident.

My yellow lab (my VW beetle convertible, license plate LAB 838) needed servicing, and I took it to the auto center. Once there, I discovered it was going to take 6 - 8 hours repair, and without alternate transportation, I was obviously going to make a day of it. Luckily the shop was located in an industrial area, and the nearest town, Wailuku, about half a mile away.

So my wanderings to wile away the hours began. 

I found myself on a street that was a loop, and I started at one end and anticipated ending where I began, at the repair shop.

The first few buildings were of no importance to me -- storage units, an animal clinic, post office -- but then I saw one building with the sign BAMBOO MAUI. I knew as luck would have it, I was on to something.

The showroom was mainly bamboo flooring and bamboo used for commercial purposes, counter tops and wall coverings mostly; a surfboard, and a few pieces of furniture. The sales rep, who had entered as I was meandering around, told me the furniture was reduced half price as they were eliminating using this space as a showroom, and going forward would be used strictly for warehousing stock (their store in Kahului would have the furniture in the future). I knew I was looking for such a piece as was displayed in front of me, and to end this quickly, I  bought the chair and had it delivered.

As it is, I find, with most pieces of furniture, little attention had been given to the cushion covers. I had been amassing heavy-weight fabrics - denim, khaki, linen and ramie remnants  which were the bottoms of pant legs cut off to repurpose old trousers into shorts -- and home dec fabrics for such a purpose. I wanted to sew a patchwork of fabric into usable yardage and then make cushion covers from the pieced cloth.

After measuring and calculating the number of triangles -- I had chosen to patch triangles together -- I started cutting. I found that my collected stash was insufficient for the number of triangles needed. So I bought some new fabric.

I then laid a few pieces out and realized I had miscalculated the number of triangles I need by less than half... I had cut approximately 150 pieces, and my reupholstery endeavors required that I have at least 320.

I scrounged... an old bandana backed with interfacing for stability. The sleeves of a shirt -- almost any little useable scrap I could find... and another trip to the fabric store. 

Finally I had cut enough triangles. All in all I gathered 29 different patterns of fabric, some of which numbered as many as 21 pieces of a design and as few as 2.

I then laid out the pieces on the floor: top cushion 54 pieces each front and back; bottom cushion 80 pieces front and back with the bottom sides at 14 pieces times 2 and the back at 12 pieces. The piping was made from scrap, pieced together.

So, single triangles were coupled into pairs. 

Pairs became strips.

Two strips were sewn together to make a set of 2.

Depending upon the layout -- 1, 2, 6 or 8 strips became a panel. And the panels are pinned to the design board awaiting the next segment in the process of making the cushion covers.

To be continued...


  1. Wow that looks fantastic!! find more Commercial Office Furniture from Casamodern.

  2. I sat in that chair! It's comfy! Dana