I haven’t quite had the gumption for some of my regular projects lately, but I covered a pillow and started a rag rug. The rag rug turned into a bag, but at least it was a moderately satisfactory bag.
I’ve always admired those big square foot stool pillows one sees in places like West Elm, but they cost like $300, so that ain’t happening. But of course there are cheap imitations on the market and those imitations get surplused (I suspect from Target) to Goodwill. So I found one for 7.99 or something and brought it home. My children admired it, but then it started leaking little styrofoam balls. The nice thing about these pillows is that they are basically cubes, so I could make a cover. And I happened to have handy a lurid orange and pink throw or table cloth thing that I got from the Goodwill of Bins. The Bins are where goodwill items go to die. What is too battered, stained or questionable to be sold in the stores goes to the Bins where it gets tossed about in big blue wheeled bins by every rag picker and scavenger in the city. But they sell by the pound, which means this thing cost me about $0.50.
a Side Note about the Goodwill. I have mixed feeling about the Goodwill. The CEO of our regional Goodwill makes millions of dollars and there are plenty of tales of how the disabled workers are exploited. And they’ve gotten very hoity toity about their pricing, considering they get their wares for free. On the other hand, I have a strong magpie gene, and I can find all sorts of things at goodwill. And more importantly, I don’t want my money to go to new stuff. If I’m going to be buying clothes, lamps, toys, shoes and household linens made in China and heaven only knows what all other junk that left a carbon footprint at its creation, I’d rather it go to stuff that has already been bought and used once, and not have my consumption contribute to the perception of demand for new stuff. So most of my kids’ and my clothes come from goodwill, as well as the majority of their toys and a lot of our household goods. And all of their and my craft supplies. Which brings us back to the orange pillow cover.
It was basically like assembling a box. I plotted out the geometry and cut out the squares and rectangles. And for the first time in my life I put a zipper in something. I had a little nest of zippers (from the goodwill). And somehow I managed to match the design back to itself. The tassels came with the original cloth. One of them came off within 24 hours.
Another thing I picked up at Goodwill (while on a quest for an end table) was a rag braiding kit, consisting of a plastic bag containing a badly thought out instructional booklet, a skein of cotton cord, three little metal trumpet shaped things, a spring clip for holding the work and a flat metal tool much like a needle.
My grandmother always had rag rugs (although I don’t think the ones she had at the end of her life were home made). I remember sitting and staring at the spreading whorl of braided cloth in rag rugs at her house, and at various relatives houses when we went on Sunday afternoon visits. I knew it couldn’t be that hard to braid the strips of fabric, I’d just never tried it. Now I had A Kit. So I found some chunks of flannel sheets and other scraps that I’d had sitting around for years, tore them up and set to braiding. The little trumpets, which are supposed to keep your strips folded neatly proved to be useless. Mostly because I don’t give a crap about neatly folded strips. The flat needle was great for lacing the braid together though.
I hadn’t gone far when I realized that the coil was curling upwards in a bowl shape, instead of lying flat. I was tying the loops together wrong and the tension was forming a basket instead of a rug. So I went with it and made a bag. I used up the cord that came with the kit and finished with some old crochet thread that I’ve had since the 80s. The bag looks very folksy, and is a bit too heavy for carrying as a purse, but my kids immediately decided it was a good hideout for stuffed toys.