Saturday, March 30, 2013

Making a Swaddler

David actually has very few clothes of his own.  My sister Carol has lent me all of her son's baby clothes.  Since Henry is about a year older, this has worked out well. Among the box of clothes Carol lent me was a swaddler, a blanket designed specifically to swaddle babies with Velcro to keep it tight.

This has been wonderful for David. He won't sleep unless he feels pretty cozy and since he can now unswaddle himself, other blankets become loose and present a hazard. Though David can still get his arms out of the swaddler and as of late kick his feet out the bottom, the Velcro keeps the blanket wrapped around his abdomen securely.

Unfortunately, as can be seen in the picture, David is now much too big for this swaddler. He has been too big for a while, but I finally admitted it sometime recently. As I have already fought and surrendered (after about a week of him sleeping no more than 45 minutes to an hour at a time) the battle to have him sleep unswaddled, I decided to make him a new one.

My mother had sent me this bear flannel a while ago and I hadn't had a project for it yet. Though the original was made out of fleece, which is a good deal stretchier, I decided to use this flannel for the swaddler. As we are moving into warmer months, this will help David stay cool and I have swaddled him in flannel receiving blankets on numerous occasions, so I figured this would work as well.

I laid the original swaddler on the fabric and put David on top of that to mark how much taller it needed to be. I didn't actually make it much wider because the problem was length, but I did leave a little room for growth lengthwise. I just cut around the outside to make it just a little larger than I wanted it to be.

The original had darts on the shoulders and by the feet, so I wrapped David in the fabric and made similar darts, like in the picture above. I then cut out another peace of fabric to make the inner pocket he sits in. I folded over the open edge (the edge of the pocket on the top and left side of the picture to the left) twice and hemmed it before sewing up the edge on the bottom to the larger piece.

I then basted the bottom of the pocket to the edge of the larger piece.  I finally folded the entire outside edge over twice and hemmed. I made the darts go toward the outside, like in the picture, and just folded them into the hem as I went.

I then let the project sit for a week (optional step).  Finally yesterday, I got out the fusible Velcro, cut off two small sections, wrapped David in the swaddler, marked where I wanted the Velcro to go and put it on.  It probably took 10 minutes at most. I skipped sewing tabs like the original swaddler as I decided they were unnecessary.

I think he is pretty cute in it, but then I think he always is.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Wall hanging for free

I obtained the picture frame at the left from work. The glass had broken and someone was throwing it out.  I decided that it was still perfectly good for something.  Though I didn't have specific plans, I have a bad habit of collecting things that I think might have potential for something eventually (which is about anything I come across). Then years passed. I moved the frame with us, but it still remained exactly like it is on the left--until last night.

I had been toying with the idea of making it into a piece of art for my living room.  I considered putting some fabric over the frame but I decided against it because I wanted to make a branch.  Unfortunately, for the branch idea, the space I wanted to put it in required it to be vertical, so I decided to do a tall skinny tree with yellow leaves.

I used the same grey paint I used to paint the vase as well as the same white I used to paint the table, both of which were left over from Patrick's work.  The yellow is just some acrylic from an art set I got for Christmas when I was still in High school. I mixed it to match the yellow in my leaf fabric. That made the grand total cost to me $0.

The backing to the frame is some kind of fiberboard. I just painted it with a few grey coats.  I then free-handed the tree with the white paint. I considered drawing it with pencil first, but I know from some previous not so great experiences that I am actually much better at painting than drawing. I then went over the whole thing with the white again to keep the grey from showing through.  I then added the yellow leaves with two coats.  I finally added the white bird.  I went through with some more grey at this point and made a few touch ups, notably thinning down a branch that was too fat for where it was on the tree. I think I like it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

House Plant Dress-up

I used to work as a Custodian in the girls' dorms on campus. The last summer I worked there, we adopted a plant that was abandoned at the end of the summer by one of the residents.  We named it Harold. It was a rather resilient thing as we often forgot to water it for a while and it did just fine.

At the end of the summer, the place where we were keeping the plant had to be unlocked so we just decided to take it home. One of my coworkers took the main part of the plant and I took the random off-shoot it had begun growing from its roots.

Once home, we planted it in a very large, red plastic bowl. The plant looked lonely and forlorn in the oversize container and so I decided that, with the rest of the living-room makeovers, it deserved something new.  I went to the dollar store recently to see if I could find a new container.  I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, but I did find this vase.  It was clear glass. I do have to be careful to not over water the plant since it doesn't have a hole in the bottom to drain. Patrick also happened to have a whole can full of grey house paint.

While the paint will wear/ scratch off eventually with rough handling, I figured it would work fine for a house plant.  I just painted the outside of the vase.  I decided to do one coat and leave some evidence of brush strokes because I thought it gave it character (and David woke up from his nap). I then tied a yellow ribbon I had around it and had a stylish new house plant.

I do have to be careful to not over water the plant since it doesn't have a hole in the bottom to drain.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Building a Bed

I live in a relatively small apartment in a basement. I am not complaining and I actually like my apartment a fair bit.  However, space is sometimes a concern. Still, it is not as much of a concern here as our first apartment.

Our first apartment was in a house that was built sometime in the 1890s. It was one level and that level was divided into 4 apartments.  Our apartment was roughly 365 sq feet and heated by a gas heater in the corner of the bedroom. The heater did a fantastic job of heating the top quarter of the apartment (we had very tall ceilings). We had single pane windows and a poor seal on the door.  I found myself baking a lot to keep the apartment warm.

Sometime in January, I decided I just couldn't take it anymore.  We had no space and I was always cold. So, we came up with a great solution: a loft bed. Since we didn't have a ton of money to spend and queen size loft beds are not exactly really easy to come by, we arrived at the decision to build one. We attempted to design one, but I was not very sure of what we were doing, and as neither Patrick nor I had ever built furniture before, I was uncomfortable with our first piece being something that put us 6 feet in the air while we were sleeping. Thus, I found a website that sold plans here and we purchased them for $10.

The only thing we really did differently was that we built it using cheaper lumber, which meant more sanding, and we didn't screw in the slats, which made it easier to take apart. We built the thing over the Saturday and Monday of Martin Luther King weekend. We used leftover plywood to build a desk for me and some shelves (Patrick already had a desk, which we placed under the loft bed as well. A while later, we decided to stain it.  Because the room the loft bed was in was so small, it is a bit difficult to see what is a picture of it.  This a picture of my desk and the shelves.  We used Christmas lights for extra light, which can be seen on the ceiling.

When I was 6 months pregnant (and having a rather rough time getting up the ladder) we moved to our current apartment and left the loft bed behind for Patrick's sister to use (she and her husband moved in when we moved out). Our bed was back just on a box spring.

Figure 1
In October, I had a baby shower and got 600 diapers (which we just finished using a week ago. Diapers are a wonderful gift). I decided we needed more storage again. Since the ceilings were shorter (and I was still pregnant), a loft bed was no longer a good option.  We also had a box spring, which we had just tipped up against the wall with the loft bed (and I had used it as a bulletin board), that I decided to incorporate into the new bed.  Because Patrick was in school and I was not, I designed this one by myself. The height was decided based on the height of a box of diapers, but you could really make it any height (within reason) by just adding or subtracting the same amount from all the 4 x 4 pieces needed (Table 1). My original plans are in Figure 1 as seen from the side of the bed.
Table 1

I figured out everything for the bed would cost me roughly $30. I got help from a friend, Celeste, to go get the boards and that Saturday, we built it.

I must note at this point that I actually purchased about 7 feet of extra 2 x 4. This was because Patrick told me that my design would not be stable and would need a lot of extra cross braces.  Suffice to say, I was right and he was less right.  We built it almost exactly like the picture.

Something that will help with understanding the instructions for building anything with 2 x 4s is that a 2 x 4 (and a 2 x 2, 4 x 4, and any other board measured like this) is not actually 2" by 4".  It was 2" x 4" and then approximately 1/4" is cut off of each side as it is processed, so a 2 x 4 is actually 1 1/2" x 3 1/2" and so on.

Figure 2
After cutting everything to length and doing plenty of sanding, we glued and screwed  (with screws every 6" or so) each of the 53" 2 x 2  onto a 5' 2 x 4.  This was the one thing we did differently than the original plan.  Patrick wanted to make it more stable by putting the 2 x 2 up from the bottom of the 2 x 4 three quarters of an inch, thus allowing more space to screw the 2 x 4 into the legs. The picture (Figure 2) shows it lined up along the bottom. I don't know if it would have worked that way or not. In any case, if you don't line it up with the bottom, you need to make sure you measure it level and the same on all the pieces you attach 2 x 2s to. The 2 x 2 should be centered lengthwise. A 4 x 4 should fit on either side of the 2 x 2 without hanging off the edge, but there should also not be a gap between the two. In other words  there should be roughly 3 1/2"  between the edge of the 2 x 2 to the edge of the 2 x 4.  We cut the 2 x 2s a bit long and then trimmed the extra to get a tight fit.

 Next, the 4 shorter 2 x 2s were glued and screwed to the 83" 2 x 4s (Figure 3). Each was placed far enough from the edge to allow a 4 x 4 and a 2 x 4 (the short way) to sit tightly next to it and not hang off the edge (roughly 5" from the edge of the 2 x 2 to the edge of the 2 x 4). There was a space in between the 2 x 2s  big enough for a 2 x 4 to sit the longer way (roughly 3 1/2").
Figure 3
Figure 4

 Once this was done, we screwed the longer four 4 x 4s into the spaces we left at the end of each 5' 2 x 4 (Figure 4). The top of the 4 x 4 is even with the top of the 2 x 2 so that the box spring can sit on it evenly.
Figure 5

We used 3 screws (Figure 5) on this side in an L shape in order to allow us to screw in the other side with another 3 screws without the screws potentially hitting one another.

Figure 6

We then screwed the 83" 2 x 4s into the 4 x 4 with 3 more screws and the end of the 2 x 4s with 2 screws to make a rectangular frame (Figure 6).

The remaining 5' 2 x 4 was put across the middle in the space left between 2 x 2s and screwed in with 2 screws.  The shorter leg was then centered on this 5' 2 x 4 and screwed in from the top of the 2 x 4 with 4 screws to make it like Figure 1.

So far, the bed is very sturdy and it has been several months.  It would be very easy to change the measurements on this bed to fit different mattresses.  If you did a twin, you probably wouldn't need the center beam at all.

Monday, March 11, 2013

David's Shirt and Tie

Yesterday, David went to church in a shirt and tie.  I made both, though the tie was a lot less work than the shirt.  The shirt was actually made out of one of Patrick's old shirts.  I used a pattern I got here from a lady named Jessica.  I adjusted it slightly since I was making it from a shirt I already had and, as we have fully established, I am a bit lazy.  I would also note that, when you print this pattern out, it is on several sheets and you have to tape the pieces together.

Fortunately, "Lazy" is Mother Necessity's husband (sorry boys, you get to be "lazy" because the woman in the relationship was already named. This is not a comment on my husband, he is probably a lot less lazy than I am).  Therefore, I just put the piece of the pattern that makes the side over the already finished edge where the buttons are.  There is a handy x that ends up marking where the start of the place where the buttons will be on the pattern, so I just lined that up with my already existing edge when I cut. I cut both sides out from the side with the buttons on it so I could make my own button holes where I wanted them to be.  You just have to make sure to cut one side out with the pattern flipped over. I used the buttons from the shirt.

I also cut out longer sleeves.  I cut them from an edge of the shirt, so they were already hemmed. I roll them up to make it look like there is a cuff. The last change I made is I made the pleat in the back go the opposite way from the plea Jessica made. That is the way Patrick's dress shirts are made. You can do that by just making what she made backwards.

The tie is just a ribbon.  This ribbon is 1 3/8 inches thick and about 32 inches long from tip to tip. You can adjust as you think is best. Both ends are cut into a point, like a tie. We just tied a tie (here is a youtube video of that, it you need it) with the ribbon.  To keep David from choking himself if he pulled on it, we pinned it with a safety pin through both sides ends and part of the knot. This made it much like the collar. I suppose you could also hot glue inside the knot and cut off the loop part, keeping it always tied.  Then, you can glue it to a hair clip or paper clip.

Another note: This ended up getting very drooled on. I used some ribbed ribbon because it was what I had on hand, but it was probably better than the satin ribbon because it  wasn't water-spotted. If your baby doesn't drool, it might not matter.  However, if that is the case, please tell me what you do to get your baby's saliva to stay in his mouth.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Baby Jeans from My Old Jeans

 Today, I took a break from my living room to make a pair of jeans for David. This is not the first time I have done this.  I had this pair of jeans that I absolutely loved before I got pregnant.  About the time I could no longer wear them, they got a hole in them.  I really loved those jeans and I really didn't want to throw them away; Therefore, I didn't.  I got the idea to make baby jeans out of them. I had been making some things for the baby already and just added this to the list.

There were a lot of great things about this idea, but the best is that you don't need a special sewing machine to make the special seams, you just use the already existing hem and seam.  There are problems with this, but baby clothes are so often stained and are almost always grown out of in a few months, so I figure shortcuts are great.

I made the original pair with a pattern and just hopped they would fit; I didn't have a baby yet after all.  I have since decided that basic things like  pants actually fit better if I make them by using a pair of pants that I know fit David as a pattern, so that is what I did today. Today's jeans were much less loved that the first pair, in fact they were purchased as work jeans from a thrift store and then got a hole in the knee. (I can't stand wearing jeans with holes in the knees).On a whim, I also decided to make pockets in the back. I only do this using my jeans because girls' jeans have a bit more stretch to them than boys' do.  It would probably work either way.

To make this, you need a pair of old jeans (I don't know that skinny jeans would work), a pair of pants that fit the baby, whatever thread color you want to used (I use tan, like the stuff they were originally sewn with but not as thick), and enough elastic to fit around the babies' waist (I actually used some of the elastic from my fitted sheet I used for the curtains here).

The first step is to cut along one seam on the leg.  The first time I cut along the side with the thick seam (inside) because I thought it would work better for a baby.  This time I cut along the other side because I wanted to use the thick seam.  The seam you keep does end up on the outside of the leg.  In other words, the jeans I made today are backwards from the original jeans, seam-wise, but I decided I didn't care. I leave the decision up to you.

Once you have made this great moral decision and cut, fold your pattern pants in half and lay the outside seam along the seam you kept.  You can pin it in place if you wish. Cut around the pattern with a seam allowance.  Because the jeans are less stretchy than the pants I used, I actually cut around about an inch from the edge of the pattern, even though I only had quarter inch seams.  Bear in mind in this step that the front and back of pants are not exactly the same. I cut out the front (smaller) side first. Leave an extra inch and a half or so at the top to make a waist band. Then, lay your pattern pants on the other side of the seam and repeat the process, cutting around back of the pants this time.

If you are not comfortable with this, you could trace your pants on paper and add the seam allowance to the drawing.  I was too lazy to do this for only one pair of pants.

In the end, you should have something like the picture to the left, a rectangle that curves out to points on either side. Next, cut the other leg to make it flat and pin your first piece to the newly opened leg with right sides together with the seams matching.  Cut around the edge of your first piece.

At this point, you just begin sewing basic pants. This process has been explained enough times in enough patterns that I shan't bore you with the details. If someone wants me to explain, let me know.

Once I finished the pants, I decided to add pockets.  I just cut out pocket shapes from the bottom of the jeans (recycling the hem once again), and then folded over the three edges without the hem and ironed them.  I pined them in place and top stitched around the edges. In the picture, the right pocket is finished and the left still needs to be stitched.

I think David manages to make up for any imperfections in the pants.

Friday, March 8, 2013

What I learned from Trading Spaces

Confession time: I used to watch Trading Spaces on TLC every day after school in Junior High.  I greatly believed the first host was much better than the second host, who now does RC Willey comercials. Neighbors have a few days, a carpenter, a designer, and $1000 to redo each other's rooms. I can't say I liked every room the show ever did (I don't remember all the designers names, but I remember I thought some did weird stuff), but I liked watching every room they ever did. It was fun to see how they re-purposed stuff.

I think it was around this time I kind of wanted to be an interior designer. I guess I am living out that dream on my own living room.
One of the things that appeared in almost every episode was making slipcovers.  They never went into much detail on this, but I remembered the footage of whatever piece of furniture with the slipcover fabric pined wrong-side out around the whole thing.

I decided to make a slipcover for the sofa we bought out of the same curtains I covered my bench in.  I decided on a slipcover probably for many of the same reasons they did so on trading spaces.  They are actually easier than reupholstering and they require less fabric. In my case, if I were to reupholster this sofa I would have to have enough fabric to cover the fold-out bed which is three times what you see as the seat cushions. I did make the decision to cover the body of the sofa separate from the cushions as one of the big downsides of slipcovers is that they can make furniture look like one big block.  The other downside is that they slip around a lot and bunch up.  I think I still have a bit of tweaking to do, but having separate pieces that are made specifically to fit each part does help this a well. 

In other words, they aren't so bad if they are custom made for your sofa, which really isn't that hard for the sofa I had. If your sofa has lots of curves and such it would be a lot harder, but this one had mostly straight lines.  I just draped fabric over the various parts and pinned the edges, removed the fabric and sewed.  One thing to note about this method is that the fabric I pinned over the left arm ended up on the right are when right side out (and vice versa), so if you are doing something asymmetrical, it will require a bit more work and planning. 

Because my sofa folds out, I decided to make the front panel that goes under the cushions detached from the sides.  It is held on by Velcro.  That way, I don't have to remove the whole slipcover to fold out the bed, buts the front panel and seat cushion covers.  Now to make some throw pillows (the one on the couch is just a pillow I already have with the pillow case from the sheet set folded around it).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A little paint goes a long way.

I got a side table that was going to be thrown away at work (back when I had a job outside of the home). Patrick and I were just getting married and furniture was definitely something we needed.  Unfortunately, the side table looked an awful lot like a motel nightstand.  It may have been in a previous life.  As part of my living room makeover, I decided to give it a face lift.  Though the shape does have something to do with it, I concluded the main reason for the motel look was the fake wood covering.  Thus, I decided it would look a lot better if it were white.

First, I took off the handle and sanded the whole thing down pretty well to make the surface rough so the paint would stick.  Then, I wiped it down with a wet towel, let it dry, and painted it with white paint we happened to have.  I ended up doing three coats.  There was a rather cold wind blowing when I was working on it and the paint dried almost as fast as it was applied, which made the process difficult; there was no going over it a second time as it was too gummy already. The side that was into the wind probably needs another coat for touch-up purposes, but I figured it was best to do that when there was less wind.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Curtains from sheets

Since I was using curtains as a cover for my new bench, I figured it was only right to use sheets to make some curtains.  I cannot claim full credit for this idea since my mother did the same thing in my room when I was about 11. My mom sent me those curtains when she rediscovered them a few months ago and they have since become sheets again, this time for my son's crib (Until I started writing this I never really thought about how many things I make out of other things).

It turns out buying linens is a really cheap way to get a lot of fabric. There is a limit to the colors and patterns, but I feel I got lucky with this find. I purchased a twin set of Room Essentials sheets for around $16 with a grey and yellow leaf pattern.  I really like grey and yellow together. Grey is honestly becoming a favorite color, but I have to admit it is rather depressing on its own. Yellow is the sunshine on a cloudy day and makes a sophisticated but drab color into a cheerful room. I also really like the leaf aspect because it allows me to decorate with natural elements, such as branches, which are something I really like and really cheap (also known as free). Finally, I do like stripes, and this has that look going as well.

Another great thing about making curtains out of sheets is there is less sewing to do.  In my case, my window was quite wide, so I decided to use the whole twin sheet width for one side.  Thus, I cut the sheet in half (the cut going the short way) and hemmed the raw edge. If I had been making a different kind of curtain, I may have just folded the top over into a tube to stick the curtain rod through.  My husband had other ideas.

Patrick is an electrical engineering student (my parents were also both engineers as well as my grandfather, brother, brother-in-law, and soon to be brother-in-law), and like many engineers he values function.  So, when I told him I was making curtains, he asked me to make the kind with the tabs on the top. Evidently they are a lot easier to open and close.  Now that they are done, I have to admit he is right.

Blue lines are sewing lines
Unfortunately, the difference in the amount of time to make tabs on the top of curtains instead of just sewing a tube is considerable. Fortunately, the print on this fabric ended up working in my favor.  Because it makes its own kind of grid, I didn't really have to measure things out quite as much. Instead, I just cut the fabric in the same place in the pattern.

I cut out four rectangles that were four times the size of the finished tabs plus seam allowance from my fitted sheet (it was a lot easier when I cut off the elastic). I folded them right sides together lengthwise (hot dog) and sewed along the long edge.  Then, I pressed them flat, folded the raw edges inside my new tube about 5/8 inch on either side and pressed them.  I then folded these in half around the top edge of the curtain so that each short edge of the tab aligned with the hem on the curtain.

 I sewed one tab to each corner of the curtain by sewing along the curtain hem and over the two sides of the tab (small blue line) and pinned the other two in place at equal intervals.  I then threaded my curtain rod through the tabs and hung it up to assess how many tabs I thought I would need.  I decided I wanted to put seven tabs along each curtain, which left about a 6 1/2 inch gap between tabs that were about 2 1/2 inches wide when finished. I cut out and sewed 10 more tabs and then attached them to both curtains at equal intervals. It took a while, but it made Patrick happy and I kind of like them as well.

My new curtains are much more cheerful than the brown ones that came with the apartment.  I do love a good brown curtain--in fact I have two in the bedroom--but the living room was white walls with a monochromatic brown theme for all accents when we moved in. I am happy to be changing.

In other news, I also made some for the window in the door.  They do not have tabs, just tubes. I am pretty sure tabs would look awful.  Patrick agreed. They are also double-sided so the pattern can be seen inside and from the doorstep. 

Making double sided curtains required matching up the print on the two sides of the curtain before sewing. Otherwise, the leaves would show through the fabric with the sun and you would see double patterns. I made these curtains much like a pillowcase with a tube sewn into what would otherwise be the open end. I top-stitched around the whole edge as well to keep them as a flat curtain. Unlike the original curtains that were on the door, which were the same color as the door in cleaner times, they are made from two separate panels, which means they can open. This was another request from Patrick.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Remaking a couch

On the way back from my sister's, my husband, Patrick, and I stopped at a thrift store and purchased a new sofa that folds out into a bed.  So sparked a massive redo-the-living-room project. Not having a particularly large budget, I set out to spend as little money as possible.  We are only partway through the project, but it is going well so far.

All good renovations start with demolition. As we are renting our apartment, demolition of walls is out. Demolition of the ugly plaid, broken sofa we obtained for free from a friend that no longer had a space after obtaining a new sofa at the thrift store, however, just sounded pretty fun.

I started out intending to make a love seat out of the old sofa that would match the new one.  We also had an old love seat that we found with a "free" sign on the side of the road. The love seat frankly grossed me out and was thus covered in the bed sheets from my bed before I was married. I was looking to replace this love seat with the new one I was making.  But I had a long way to go from the sofa to the love seat.  

On day one of demolition, my husband came home for lunch to the picture on the right.  I had made a great deal of progress, including discovering exactly why you sunk into the back of the sofa and landed on a wooden bar if you were not careful.  However, I still had a long way to go.
When my husband came home for dinner, he decided to help.  He got a little too into the spirit, it seemed, and by the time we went to bed, we had the picture to the left. When I sat looking at this pile before going to bed I started thinking "Heavens to Bessie, what have I done!"  Not to be deterred by the increasing odds of this ending in failure, I pressed forward the next day, Saturday.

At 12:30 that day, my husband informed me that we would be having a guest at 3:30. Since the couch looked scarcely better at this point (I spent the morning engaged in other things that needed to get done), I had a lot of work to do. Fortunately, my baby son, David, decided to take a nap from 12:30 to 3:15. I was able to finish most of the demo except for the base with the springs, which I just put up against the fireplace.  I even managed to vacuum. After the guest left (with my husband), I managed to cut the base down to size for my love seat and shove everything into a closet because we were having some of my husband's cousins over for dinner the next day.

Somewhere in the next few days, I got to pondering on the inefficiency of your average sofa/ love seat.  There was a lot of space in the sofa I had just demolished that was filled with nothing but dirt and some airsoft pellets from a previous life. Since we live in a tiny space, I really wanted to build something with multiple purposes, much like the bed frame I had designed and my husband and I built a few months ago (perhaps I will post about that as well). In the end, I had a brilliant idea: a storage bench. Furthermore, because it wouldn't have arms, I could actually make the seating area as long as the sofa's had been before, increasing the number of people who could sit on it in comparison to the planned love seat.

Thus, from wood from the sofa, some particle board, gorilla glue, and screws, I created the bench to the left. It is just a rectangular frame on eight legs screwed into a sheet of particle board with another sheet of particle board on top for a lid.  I stripped the cushions of their plaid covers and laid them on the top. This part was actually relatively easy. It was just measuring and cutting.  Everything is made of right angles and straight lines, so there were no major problems to solve. I even got to use my husband's drill.

Upholstery, however was another issue. I knew that upholstery fabric was a bit pricey, so I got creative. I ordered Eclipse blackout curtains. I got pewter, which ended up being exactly the color I had hoped for. I then used one 42 x 84 curtain to cover my bench cushion.  I pinned the curtain at the corners wrong side out so that it fit tightly around the edges and then sewed them and trimmed. 

 I then pulled the cover tight and hot glued it to the underside of the lid.  Yes, a staple gun is generally the weapon of choice in upholstery, but I a) don't have one and b) don't really know how to upholster so I was going for less permanent first. It turned out to stick pretty well anyway with the hotter variety of glue gun. On the downside, I gave myself quite the blister on my finger, though who is to say I wouldn't have stapled it otherwise. I might buy a staple gun eventually and firm it all up, but it has been several days now and nothing has popped out. 

I then cut a large cardboard box (If you have never reupholstered,  you would be surprised by how much cardboard is in furniture you buy), and hot glued it to the frame. I then used foam I had saved from the sofa and covered the cardboard. At this point, I noticed how much my bench looked like a coffin and pondered putting on a version of Arsenic and Old Lace in my living room.

I covered my bench by cutting strips of another curtain to fit each side.  I sewed each long side to a short side, put the seams at diagonal corners wrong sides out, and pinned the other corners tightly before shimmying the cover off and sewing it up.  I then shimmied it back on right side out, flipped it upside down, glued the bottom edges to the bottom of the bench, flipped it right side up and repeated the glue job while pulling it tight.  I then put on the lid and had a beautiful new bench with storage.  

I took no time in filling the bench with a lot of my craft stuff.  Not all
 of it fit. The curtains you can see in the top of this picture are a post
to come in the future.
My upholstering could use a bit of work, but I am pleased for a first
project, particularly with a glue gun.