Friday, November 03, 2006

Extra Credit

I have a confession that you may find alarming: I'm kind of a nerd. It's true. I like school. I like being graded. And I especially like extra credit. The trouble is, since I'm not in school right now, I'm feeling a little un-graded. I've tried asking Sam to evaluate my performance, but his estimation of my work is too closely tied to the quantity of sugar I allow him to consume in a day. Not entirely objective.

Anyway, while bouncing around the Internet a few weeks ago, I happened upon this blog. The author is a professional costumer, seamstress and designer who makes really beautiful stuff. I'm talking gorgeous. I know how to thread my sewing machine. That is where the similarities in our talents end. But I LOVE (love!) her Stash Reduction Contest, wherein she awards herself points for using materials she already has on hand to create cute stuff. It saves money, reduces her junk pile, and gives her daughter all kinds of fun, unique costumes and toys. When I realized that I too have a stash I'd like to reduce, (turns out a little bit of junk survived my careful editing before we moved) it occurred to me that this could be just the thing to fill that craving for extra credit.

This comes at a good time for me because, thanks to the fetus, I'm going through some kind of nesting phase that has me in super project mode. So the points are going to just pour right in. Until my nesting phase is over, that is. Or until I get hungry. Whichever comes first.

I'll admit upfront that my procedure for awarding myself points is not clearly established. And don't expect me to be objective. I'm going to grade myself according to my own arbitrary whim. And I've decided to give extra grading weight to frugality, cause there's nothing like the thrill of being crafty on the cheap. Also, a finished project is better than a perfect project. So if you come to my house (and really, what's keeping you?), be sure not to inspect anything too closely.

My plan is to continue reducing my stash until (and maybe even after) the baby arrives. And posting about it will keep me motivated. And also give me a chance to brag about my extraordinary (self-awarded) marks.

To all my crafty associates out there: (I'm looking at you and you and you and you and you, and all the rest of you too. And you. Plus you. And the slackers who haven't jumped on the blogwagon.) Join me! Reduce your own stash! It'll be fun to do it together and share what we're working on. And you can take 1000 bonus points just for starting! No, make that 10,000. 'Cause you can do that when you're grading yourself.

And now, with the introduction out of the way, here's my first entry in the SRC: Throw Pillows

When we moved into this apartment a few months ago, we decided it was time to do something about our threadbare, cigarette-burned, ostentatiously floral hand-me-down couch. (See Exhibit A, above.)

So we bought a couch cover. (Actually, we bought five, and ended up sticking with the first one we tried on.) The trouble was, our couch is oddly sized. All the sofa covers were too big and the love seat covers were too small, so no matter how we tucked and pulled we couldn't eliminate the sagging and wrinkling. I decided we needed pillows--lots of pillows!- to camouflage the poor fit. After all, all the decorating books say throw pillows are an easy and inexpensive way to update a room. But when I got to shopping, I discovered that "inexpensive" meant $20-$30 a piece--definitely outside my budget for the giant pillow pile I envisioned. I didn't even want to pay $6 each for pillow forms. So instead I used some old flattened bed pillows, bought a couple throw pillows from thrift stores, and covered them in fabrics in my color scheme.

And voila!

Here's how the points breakdown:

I'm giving myself 50 points for the leopard print because I've had that material a long time, and because it's two layers, so it's practically like two pillows in one. Twenty points for the fuzzy brown one (made from scraps left over from recovering the rocking chair), and 30 for the brown and beige blocks because I've had the beige fabric forever.

I only get 15 points for the black pillow, because that fabric is fairly new to the stash, and the stitched-stripe pillow is worth 10 because I bought the fabric specifically for this project (only $2 a yard, though). The beige and brown is another 25 points to make the addition easy.

I'm giving myself 100 bonus points for frugality because my total spent on new fabric and old throw pillows was less than $5.00.

I should probably take off points because the seams are horrendous, the stuffing is lumpy, and the corners don't line up perfectly, but I'm sticking by "finished is better than perfect." So there you have it.

The bottom line
One couch stacked with pillows=250 points

And all those points (and pillows) feel so good.


Ben said...

We recently tried to hide our ugly couch under a cover, but had the same problem with being between sizes. Unfortunately, even our throw pillows don't hide the sagging. It's still better than it looked before the cover, though.

B said...

Yeah, ours look better with those covers, but I need to recover the pillows...ours now either blend in or just don't fit. So I guess I try the SRC...stay tuned. I doubt mine will be as fabulous or "point-aful" as yours. What a great comfy looking couch you have! I think you deserve 100 bonus points for how good it looks (and because I siad so!)

Boss said...

ben & b -- that's pretty much what we decided. Cover didn't look great, but it's a whole lot better than the naked couch.

Plus, b, that's the beauty of the SRC. Your projects can be a "point-aful" as you want, cause you're in charge of the points. So I'm going to take your 100 points and award them right back to you!

Peanut said...

I like the couch improvements. Plus, I think I'll take this challenge. Since we got our stuff from AZ I've been trying to figure out how to make everything have a home besides just "somewhere in the other bedroom." So maybe I need to come up with some crafty storage things. Hmmm....

Ree said...

SRC sounds like a useful and crafty idea. And your couch looks great. But I need to work on projects that use the produce I have around the house. Can I get points for canning and baking?

Boss said...

Ree -- of course! You can get points for whatever you want! In fact, I think the pile of dishes in my sink has been around long enough to qualify as "stash." When I finally get to it, I'll probably award myself lots of points for doing 'em.

Tarimisu said...

So I can get points for scrapbooking??? Yay!!!! Because I can't sew. But I did make Chicken Nugget a bean bag to throw around. Does that count? I used some old fabric CN and I had bought to use for jar covers when we were making bath salts. You have to understand that I do not have to sew, and while the bean bag is not beautiful, it is functional and I can give you a guarantee that it will NEVER come apart! Can I get like 20 points just for making the thing on top of the points I get for using the leftover fabric? By the way, will one of ya'll teach me to sew? Can you believe I have never learned?

Tarimisu said...

Oops, I meant to say, "you have to understand that I do not KNOW HOW to sew," not, "I do not HAVE to sew!!!"

Adding To The Noise said...

Okay. This may be too little too late...

I have these couch covers from They're a sand colored faux suede. I'm sad to say that I paid a fortune for them and NEVER used them.

Anyway, i couldn't help but notice that your couch has T-cushions...
Would you be interested in them? No cost to you...except shipment. I'll take a pic of them and post them on my blog tomorrow.

Having said all that... I do love the red couch covers you bought. I've always wanted a red couch!