Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Prototype Barstool Cover

After some serious sewing room cleaning earlier, I was determined to get some Pfaff-time in this week. First on my list is those barstool covers I have been promising my daughter-in-law since... well, so long ago I do not remember since when. The blog post for cutting them out was posted September 30, 2015 but I think she picked out the fabric back in July. I guess I have been chicken to do them in case they do not fit.  But this week I finally forged ahead. I have spent more time fretting about this than I think it will take me to make the set of five. At least I hope I have fretted longer than it will take me.

  • Front Gusset 
  • Side Gusset
  • Chair Seat Top
  • Seat Back Front
  • Seat Back Back 
This is half of one cover which I left intact as a reference. The other half I disassembled to make my pattern pieces. As a reminder here are the pieces defined. The Seat Back Back is not shown but it is behind the Seat Back Front.

I want this project to go smoothly. Here is my assembly sequence written down for my benefit as much as any one else's who wants to tackle a project like this. The prototype is always more time-consuming as I figure things out.

  • Trim each piece to shape, ½" beyond the seam line as marked by a Sharpie black line, using a ruler and rotary cutter. Cut one layer at a time except for the pieces that require symmetry and cutting through two layers.
  • Looking back at the cutting out post I see I had planned for ⅜" seams. It does not matter since I added the seam allowance based on the black Sharpie seam line I had drawn.
  • Join Side Gussets to either side of Front Gusset. Finger press seams away from Front Gusset and then top stitch. Turn under raw edges at leg openings and stitch.
  • Join gusset assembly to Chair Seat Top. Press seam toward gussets and top stitch.
This seam between the joined gussets and the seat has a straight edge joined to a curve at front corners of the barstool seat. Yes, I want to get good at curved seams in my quilting but this has 3-D effect and involves a heavier weight fabric, so I struggled with it a bit. I've set in sleeves in garments before, but this was a much tighter curve with less pliable fabric - and I am out of practice. But I succeeded. Here is one corner. The seams are finger pressed before top stitching. Topstitching is more than decorative. The second row of stitching should add strength to the seam.

  • Join Seat Back Back to Seat Back Front along the sides of the seat back and across the top of the seat back. 
  • This is the trickiest seam. It has two curvatures at the top corners that need to be eased in and the centers of curvatures are offset from each other as can be seen from the black registry marks. 
  • Remember to disengage the dual integrated even feed from the Pfaff to avoid fighting the ease-in process. 
  • Press seam toward Seat Back Back and top stitch along the Seat Back Back side of the seam.

Here is the serpentine seam line on the original beige linen.

And here is that serpentine seam on my print prototype, not yet top stitched. It will be interesting and challenging maneuvering into those two corners for the top  stitching. I think I will need to turn the pillowcase-like construction inside out to do it and just creep my way around those corners.

I think I illustrated the top right corner as you sit in the chair on the solid linen, and the top left on the print. The seat back wraps toward the front so the solid is looking from the front and the print is viewing from the back. Perhaps the catalog picture makes it clearer.

Then again, maybe not. By now I am so turned around from thinking in three dimensions and getting the lighting tolerable for a photo, that I am no longer sure. I am relieved that I did not introduce any tucks or pleats in that curvy seam that looks deceptively straight on the seat. When I take my technique class on curved flat seams in quilts it will be a piece of cake by comparison. I took my time and just eased my way along this portion of the seam matching the registry points I'd made on the pattern. My seam turned out smooth. Alleluia. I have a whole new respect for those factory workers somewhere who probably zip dozens of these out in a day.

  • Join Seat Back Front to Chair Seat Top, an easy straight short seam. 
  • Overcast or zig zag three edges of 2"x11" lightweight fabric tab that will hold a strip of Velcro. Remember to switch out needle plate to one that accommodates specialty stitches and not just straight stitches.
  • Add this tab to the Seat Back Front to Chair Seat Top seam on Chair Seat Top side. 
Here is the prototype thus far, draped over an ordinary chair from my sewing room. I decided to leave adding the Velcro tabs that are on all four edges of the chair seat until last. Sometimes sewing through that thick Velcro requires a different tension setting and heavier duty machine needle and I wanted to get all the covers assembled and top stitched before messing with machine settings or dealing with a dulling needle.

The next four after the prototype should go faster now that I know what I am doing (sort of ) and have these notes to look back on. I have four chair seats completed, except for the addition of Velcro, and I have four more seat backs to assemble. I will lose a bit of momentum because I goofed up cutting out and was able to cut out only four of five seat backs because I was short of fabric. I discuss my cutting slip in my post for October 7, 2015. Luckily I have the additional fabric now though, so I will need to go back and do that. I am sure glad I posted on the cutting out part of the process, too, to help jog my memory. I will link up now to view others works in progress at this week's Freshly Pieced.


  1. Lookin' good! No, great! Thank you SO MUCH for all of your hard work, time, effort, and money in making these barstool covers. They are really going to help transform our kitchen. You're the best!

    1. You are welcome for the work, time, effort, and money invested. I sure hope they fit and you can be happy with the actual covers themselves! The proof will be in the pudding as they say.

  2. Well done! Prototyping is such hard work (I just had a refresher on this fact myself!), but you're making great progress. They will be beautiful when they are done!

    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting. I see from your blog that you are no stranger to prototyping. Good luck in your endeavors also. Practicing Perfectly Prototyping Penguin Power - say that three times fast.