May 13, 2014

How To Crochet A Cushion And Make An Insert Using An Upcycled T-Shirt

Once again, I am doing some crochet for our local school: the crochet class is crocheting cushions that they will sell in a fundraising event next week in the school.

It all started with a bake sale: every year now for a while, the 6th class girls organize a bake sale in order to raise money for the school (don't get me started with why we need to help our schools on top of paying our taxes; I don't want to involve politics or I would need to start a whole new blog and make a lot of enemies in the process! I still want you to think I'm a nice person:)

As the girls' crochet skills have been improving, the teacher decided that they would make 2 cushions each: one to keep and one to sell at the Bake Sale (which should be now called the Bake and Craft Sale).

The teacher had a pattern for the crochet circles, but that pattern just didn't make sense to me, as the increases were not regular and I ended up with a volcano shape when I tried to follow the exact instructions, so I followed my daughter's advice (who does not read patterns and in this case it served her right!) and crocheted 2 basic treble crochet circles.

For the crochet circles, I used 2 colours of DK acrylic yarn, and crocheted flat circle shapes, 16 rounds for each. Here are some quick instructions for the beginners:

For each circle:
Chain 4 and slip stitch in the first chain to join in a circle.
Round 1: chain 3, work 11 trebles in the circle and join with a slip stitch to the top of the first chain 3. (12 sts)
Round 2: chain 3 (counts as 1 treble), 1 treble in the same stitch, work 2 trebles in each stitch and join with a slip stitch to the top of the first chain 3 while at the same time changing colour (if you are using just 2 colours, keep both balls attached to the circle, it will save you cutting and weaving in ends when finishing). (24 sts)
Round 3: chain 3, (counts as 1 treble), 1 treble in the same stitch, * 1 treble in next stitch, 2 trebles in following stitch * repeat from * up to the last stitch, 1 treble in the last stitch, join with a slip stitch to the top of the first chain 3 while at the same time changing colour.
Round 4: chain 3, (counts as 1 treble), 1 treble in the same stitch, * 1 treble in each of the next 2 stitches, 2 trebles in following stitch * repeat from * up to the last 2 stitches, 1 treble in each of the last 2 stitches, join with a slip stitch to the top of the first chain 3 while at the same time changing colour.
For every new round, you need to space the increases (2 trebles in the one stitch) by 1: for example for round 5, there are 3 stitches with 1 treble, then 2 trebles in the next stitch....
Continue in this way until you have reached the desired size (for a medium cushion using DK yarn I had 16 rounds, but you may want yours larger or smaller).

When you have both circles finished, all you need to do is join them: place them both together with wrong sides facing and using a colour in contrast with the last round, first chain 1, then double crochet (that's Single Crochet for people in the US) in both sides together about halfway before inserting the stuffing or cushion insert, then keep joining until you have the whole circles done and bind off.
Weave in the ends, and Voila! Cushion done and ready to ship to the Bake Sale (or cuddle with).

As it's the school children who are buying the goods, the cushions have to be affordable: I spent a good few hours myself crocheting my cushion, and I would be quicker than most of the girls in the class (I am ashamed to admit that my own 12 year old is quicker than me at crochet: she just whips it up with her skinny little fingers and it comes out perfect even though she hardly even looks at a pattern!). As I was saying, a lot of time and effort is going into crocheting these cushions but sadly, we need to compete with cheap mass-produced items if we want to attract buyers for them, so even though I'm not sure of the definite price yet, they will have to be cheap if the school wants to sell them.

In order to cut down on cost, I made my first cushion insert using an old clean T-shirt and some toy stuffing. I had the stuffing in the house so that's what I used but I won't have enough for the 2 cushions my daughter is making, so I washed an old pillow and will open it up to get the stuffing out of it and into her cushions.

Because the cushions are made using treble crochet (double crochet in US terms) which tends to give gaps in a finished item, I decided to cut up an old T-shirt, making an insert from the suffing and the upcycled T-shirt.

First I used some chalk to trace the outline of the cushion on my t-shirt, and then I cut it up: it looks a bit rough because I was trying to do this quickly, I should probably have ironed the T'shirt first:

Then I started sewing it about 3 quarters before starting to insert the stuffing inside. Even though my fabric cutting skills are atrocious and the 2 circles didn't match one another very well, adding to that the fact my hand sewing skills about the same as that of a 7 year old (I don't own a sewing machine, but judging from my home economics class in school, I wouldn't have done a great job either if I had one), I managed to get a nice round shape: a bit bumpy because the stuffing was quite compact, but nothing a bit of thumping can't correct!

As you can see from the above picture, the insert is far from being perfect, but watch what happened when I put it in between my 2 crochet circles:

Not bad for a first!

I will try making another one (I hope I won't have to tear out another pillow) and I'll also have to bake a few quick treats - There will be chocolate involved, but for now, I need to go and make a new cushion insert for my daughter's cushion before she comes back from school or I'll be in trouble!

This blog entry is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies.