Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How to make Kenbo-san Cushion

The Story of How to Make Kenbo-san Cushion

how to make a Kenbo-san cushion
Kenbo-san - from squiggle to cushion (CH0302)

As I mentioned in Mirror Mirror by the Road - an OMNA project, I thought it was time to pay a wee bit of attention to the state of our home.  And being in a need-to-have-whimsical state of being, this is how the how to make Kenbo-san cushion came about.

Yes, his name is Kenbo-san .. and he started as a rough squiggle. So let's see how he came into being ...

How to make the Kenbo-san Cushion

This is not meant as a full tutorial.  Rather, as is my wont, these are notes that I hope will twig your imagination and spur you to go much further with your own unique rendition.  And it also serves to remind me, years from now, how I made this.

rough outline of Kenbo cushion
rough outline of Kenbo cushion

With chosen material, right side (RS) facing, roughly draw out the outline based on the earlier Kenbo-san squiggle. Remember to leave enough space around outline for seams.

cut out cushion elements with seam
Cut out cushion elements

Next, cut out each of the individual cushion parts - ensure that you leave a leave all round each element.

As you can see, I didn't use a template but rather when with free hand outlining.  Because I wanted something whimsical and quirky, the rough shaping would help towards its final quirkiness (I hoped).

Nose for Kenbo-cushion: 

As with all the parts and elements of Kenbo-san, each step is pretty much trial and error.  Place buttons and elements and try out what feels right.  It is quite important to do this kind of experimentation.  The picture below (left) show that Kenbo might be going to have some red eyes (buttons) and a black nose. But I am sure you can already see that the black nose is lacking something.

In the right photo, you can see it makes quite a bit of difference when there is a bright orange second layer to the nose.  Also move the button for the nose around till you get a look you are happy with.

experimenting with nose for Kenbo cushioinexperimenting with nose for Kenbo cushioin

Keep on experimenting by placing the separate elements in slightly different positions until you are quite happy with it.  I delierately didn't want the eyes to be "normal" - so you can see that I deliberately ended up with eyes and eyeballs that are not in alignment.  As I have done here, you can also choose to add additional elements to give your cushion more quirkiness or points of interest.  The possibilities are endless as to what you can do.
work out the placement of the cushion parts

Cushion Tip:  Note that I have curved the bottom part of the ear parts.  In future I will not do that.  It is much easier later (when it comes to sewing the ears on) if the bottom part was just straight across.

I love it when I can use old pieces of scrap stuff to make something.  The nose bits are like that.  So is the padding I used to give the ears some body.  What I have here is (new but discard) bra padding!  Yup, got it from my favourite store: Reverse Garbage a long while ago.

Cut the padding to the shape of the ears.

padding for ears on cushionpadding for ears on cushion

Do not sew the cushion together yet.  Always prepare and sew all the elements - usually working from upper to lower layers.

Of course you might choose to use a sewing machine as it makes things so much faster and .. ahem, neater.  I would have done so too except I was totally deterred by the thought of having to unearth my sewing machine and clear some working space in an increasing crowded work room.

hidden sewing machine
A snowed under sewing machine!

Continue to sew all the elements on the front side of the Kenbo-san cushion.
back stitching on cushion frontsew down front elements of cushion

Sew the ears with the padding.  As you can see, my hand sewing is not all that neat, but thankfully Kenbo-san is rather forgiving.  Once sewn, trim the padding close to the stitch line to minimize unsightly bulkiness when you turn the ears over.  Also notch all the curves areas to ease the shape.

cushion ears for Kenbo cushioncushion ears for Kenbo cushion

I have forgotten to take photos of the hands but essentially, you do the same thing, minus the padding.  Then turn over to right side, stuff with stuffing (don't you just love how technical I can get?!) and take down the opening so the stuffing does not fall out when you add it to the body.

Cushion Tip:
If you want stiff hands, then cut the body shapes with hands and then when the cushion gets stuffed, you stuff the stuffing (cushion filling) into the hands at the same time.  Here I wanted floppy hands, hence I have worked them separately.

Sew the ear parts and the hands onto the front of the body.  Pin and tack to make it easier. Then sew the back to the front (make sure that ears and hands are on the inside) - RS facing.  Leave a gap large enough to facilitate stuffing.  Turn body over so RS is facing out and ears and hands are on the right side.  Stuff in your cushion stuffing.  Invisibly sew edges of gap together.
how to make Kenbo-san cushion

And voila!  Kenbo-san cushion is ready to grace your home!

Quirky & Whimsical - Kenbo-san cushion
Quirky & Whimsical - Kenbo-san cushion

Quirky & Whimsical - Kenbo-san cushion
Quirky & Whimsical - Kenbo-san cushion
Finally as a good optional to do, protect your cushion again stain and dirt with fabric protector.  Just spray and let dry.

In my next episode, I will talk about how to make Gustave cushion.  I hope this How to Make Kenbo-san cushion was entertaining for you.