After what feels to me like a very short time, I've finished the sewing aspect of the storage bench for Gina's office. I didn't actually take very many progress shots because sewing doesn't really lend itself to that that well, but I did take a bunch of videos (very jankily) that I stitched into a timelapse of me making a pillow for the bench. I'll add that towards the end. If you haven't seen the woodworking portion of the project, head over to the prior post.
To start the project, we took a trip to Lorraine Fabrics in Pawtucket to pick up the foam, fabric, batting and thread. We also went to Joann's to pick up the zipper since we needed just over two yards worth and Lorraine's didn't have any that long. We bought way too much material, but it worked out since we made two pillows out of the leftovers.
These are pretty much the only "progress" shots I have. This one is from just before sewing while I was pinning the first panel on. The first sew is always the hardest, just like any other project. After the first one, it all moved along pretty quickly. The only thing that really slowed me down were the zippers.
The zippers were a complete show stopper for me. Zippers require using a different foot for the machine to actually get close enough to the stitch line. Fortunately for us, the machine we own came with one. Unfortunately, I had a bit of difficulty and hadn't practiced before the real thing at all. After watching a few YouTube videos, I just decided to go for it. I kept having issues with the thread tension, the bobbin, running out of thread on the bobbin, or the zipper just slipping off the center of the seam. The idea is that you sew the zipper over prior sewn seam and pop the stitches on that one to reveal the zipper with nice seams. Since the zipper we bought had a bit of fabric on the back, it kept slipping away from the zipper foot. After a very upsetting night, I woke up the next morning far more motivated, finished the zipper... and found out the panel was too short. Since the zipper didn't move as much as the fabric (feed dogs don't help with thick fabric and zipper), it was bunched up throughout and useless. I ran down to Joann Fabric's, cut more panels out of the scraps and re-did it all. The panel was again(!) too short, but this time rather than re-do it, I just added a gusset on one end. The zipper is on the back side where no one can see it anyway.
After the double mess up on the zipper, I almost ran out of thread. I ran to the store (again), and was able to finish the sewing.
The foam pad had hard edges, but we didn't really want that look. We also wanted the cushion to always be pushing slightly against the cover so it didn't look loose. We added and glued the batting onto the foam pad so it was a bit thicker and didn't slide around underneath. We had some 3M 77 Spray Adhesive lying around from a cat furniture project, and that worked well. It was gross outside, so we did it in the house on some cardboard, but ended up having to open the door anyway to get rid of the smell. After letting that air out and dry, we put it in the finished cover.
With all the pieces together, we could finally see how it all looked. The fabric color really went well with the wall and valance, so we were very happy. Cow (one of our cats) also really likes hanging out with us on the bench. One of her new spots to terrorize!
Here is a extremely (50x?) sped up video of me putting together the big pillow for the bench with the left over fabric. We did actually buy new fabric from Lorraine's for the back to change it up a little, but it was remnants, so only cost us $7 for two and a half yards of fabric. Cut from this version is the ten minutes of me trying to find the start of that first spool of thread! Please ignore the mouse cursor early on.
After a very long time, I've finally finished the woodworking aspect of the storage bench in Gina's office. Between the start and end of the project, we worked on a couple small projects, I played a lot of videogames, and we got married. Some of that was procrastination, some of it was just being overwhelmed with other stuff to do. Over the end-of-year holiday I finally felt relaxed and free enough to tackle the remainder of the project.
While mocking out this project, I started exploring some of the plugins that exist for SketchUp, and took Twilight Render for a whirl. The goal of the plugin is to create photorealistic renders of your models. With a lot of tweaking, getting the lights in just the right places, and adding the necessary textures, you can get a much better idea of what the finished product will look like. A lot of the process was ramping up on new software/settings, and it's much less painful with models I draft now.
The bench is essentially just a box with a wainscoting on top, similar to what some people have in a dining room. The box is constructed out of MDF for it's smooth, consistent appearance, but after two large and very heavy projects, I think I am done with MDF. I could imagine it for small projects, but the amount of dust it produces, having to use oil-based primer, and just the sheer heaviness of the wood is all pretty frustrating.
With a built box, now I could frame the "windows" on each side. When I went to Home Depot, all they had was the thicker of the inner trim moulding, so I used 3/4" MDF here as well. This only added more to the weight of the bench. I didn't do anything fancy other than butt joints here for each piece since it was going to be painted (obviously). This did result in a lot of plastic wood to fill in the gaps though.
Since Home Depot was also out of the natural trim, I grabbed the pre-primed stuff (this probably actually saved me some time). I primed the box, and then attached the trim so I wouldn't unnecessarily prime the trim. I probably should've done a better job here sanding the end grain of the MDF since it was a pain later on to not let that show in the finish coat.
At this point, I had already painted one side of the "top" for this, but was really nervous it was going to sag over time with it just being MDF. I picked up some poplar and ripped it down to 1x3/4 and used that as an edging for the MDF top and also gave it a bit of rigidity. I'm still pretty nervous it'll sag in the middle, but ideally it won't be as bad as with just MDF. There (hopefully) won't be much consistent weight on the lid like shelves, so I'm betting it will be alright. I used the Benjamin Moore Advanced series paint again on this project. I really love how the paint looks when finished, but it takes an extremely long time between coats and has a really long cure time. Since I'm so slow at these projects (:D) it tends to work out alright for me, but if I could do more than a single coat of paint per day, that'd be awesome.
The bench in action! We opted to use bench hinges versus something like a piano hinge since they come with springs that reduce the overall weight of the lid considerably. Back to the reasons not to use MDF, that lid was almost too much for me to carry around by myself. We were able to fill the bench with bins from Home Depot that (luckily) managed to just fit with a little extra room for small boxes that we had previously. The project, again, took far too long, but there was a lot going on the last year and I did manage to build the planter in between stages.
Now that the woodworking is done... time to try my hand at another craft. We visited Lorraine Fabrics in Pawtucket, RI and picked up a foam pad and some fabric. As a little test, I sewed a pillow cover using the fabric. Where woodworking (for me) is simple 90 degree edges, working with fabric is a whole different thing. I haven't sewed anything since I was probably thirteen, so I'm optimistically terrified of the remainder of this project.
I mentioned in my last post that I would be working on something near Gina's desk, but instead took my next project outside. We had a raised garden bed on the ground a couple of years ago, but after having our yard completely re-done and building the desk, we didn't put it back in. I like the grass, and didn't want to rip it all up, so I wanted to building something completely elevated. After watching a few YouTube videos, I had my inspiration.
This was my first time ever building with cedar wood. Everything online suggests it's the best thing to use for a garden bed given it's natural rot resistance. It was definitely pricier than my recent plywood or 2x4 based projects, but it seems like it'll be worth it. The smell of cedar is refreshing when I allow myself to smell it without a mask on.
The first component to build is of course the least intensive. The legs are a 1x4 and a trimmed 1x4 butt-jointed to keep the same dimensions on either side. With all four legs built, I could assemble the short sides. The sides are just four horizontal planks screwed from the back. To ease the transition between boards that are warped or curved, I routed the edges with a very small round over. I tried to use a chamfer bit, but unfortunately it's about a quarter of an inch too big to fit in the router! The round over bit ended up working out just fine.
With both sides finished, time to work on the front and back. This was a bit harder since it spanned such a long distance (~5 ft). At this point it had a bit of a rock to it from warped boards, but that was essentially gone once the second long edge was affixed. The last step was to put the bottom in. I needed to use a thin strip secured to the bottom side board and screwed slats into that. The boards were roughly an 1/8 to a 1/4 of an inch apart to allow drainage.
Finally we could get it outside. I didn't take a picture (because it looked horrible), but we lined the planter with both plastic, to prevent leaching, and landscaping liner to keep the soil in. We mixed top soil and potting soil to keep the soil more akin to an in-ground bed versus a pot. The two plants in the center are bell peppers, hopefully we get some!
As always, this is the model picture I built off of. I originally intended to have a shelf on the bottom to help with stability and have extra space, but after building the rest of the planter, it seemed very stable and didn't need the bottom. Overall things went fairly according to plan. Now that the dust has settled in the basement, time to work on my original project!