I am out of sewing practice.

At least that’s my excuse: yesterday I managed to make a botched job of things . .

I bought this tweed when visiting Harris a couple of years ago – I love the bright blue, green, and orange flecks sitting in among the herringbone.

My idea was to turn this cheap and cheerful Ikea footstool . . .

. . . into this glorious work of woolly art . . .

I have lusted after these Anta tweed cubes for years (this one is my favourite) . . . but neither my budget, or my sense of crafty pride would allow me to acquire one . . . surely I could make my own? How difficult could it be to upholster a cube?

But my cube confidence was misplaced!

Having measured up the stool, I cut out five squares from the tweed with a generous seam allowance, got out the iron and sewing machine, and began to stitch everything together, as per the layout above. The sun was shining in the kitchen, the machine was purring away merrily, Debussy was on the radio: all was well. Then, half way through the seam between squares 2 and 3, the power suddenly cut out. Had I blown a fuse? I looked outside. A hole had appeared at the corner of the road. The hole was accompanied by machinery, and a small fire. Some men were in the hole, who blithely confirmed that they were responsible for the outage.

There was nothing I could do, so I took Bruce for a walk. When I returned, a couple of hours later, so had the electricity. I got back to my seams, but things were not the same: the light was poor, I was tired from my walk, and, quite simply I was not in the zone (I am not a natural with the sewing machine, and have to be in precisely the right frame of mind to deal with pins, bobbins, threading and all its other general gubbins). I should have put my cube aside and gone and done something else, but instead, growing increasingly grouchy and frustrated, I ploughed onward, stitching up my wonky seams, and trimming my crappy corners. I got the footstool out for a fitting. All was not well.

Now, this is the footstool after extensive repairs conducted this morning: it still looks rotten, but you should have seen it yesterday. So many things were wrong: I gave myself a far too generous seam allowance, (which meant that the corners of the cover didn’t sit properly in those of the footstool and the sides flapped about like a badly fitting skirt). None of the seams were straight, and the corners were really messy and bulky (because several layers of fabric met there) . . .

. . .actually pretty much everything about the cover was wonky, including the Harris Tweed label, which I sewed on last of all.

Annoyed with myself, I set the stool cover aside, and returned to my knitting (how soothing! No electricity! No fiddlinesses! Just me and the wool and the needles!). Later last night it occurred to me that the first problem lay in my pattern layout. I should have cut and seamed the pieces like this:

or this:

or this:

. . .the final layout, which could be cut on the fold, uses up more fabric, but it also makes for less bulky corners, fewer seams and layers, and a design that is much easier to fit and adjust . . .Of course, when I examined the Anta cubes again, it was immediately obvious that the fabric had been cut and seamed in like fashion . . .

Kate, you choob, why didn’t you have a proper look in the first place?

I had settled on my first layout after examining the cover of the Ikea cube, and deciding that the seams between the squares were necessary to give structure. But I hadn’t considered how much more bulky Harris tweed is than Ikea furnishing fabric. A well-fitting cover, cut from a single piece of fabric, would have been far better than one with sticky-out corners and multiple, wonky seams.

looks botched, doesn’t it Bruce?

I find it curious that, while I can immediately visualise all sorts of 3 dimensional seamless knitted constructions – I find it much more difficult to think naturally about fabric layouts. It is probably just that knitting is my metier, or that I have made it such by doing an awful lot of it (I have done very little sewing over the past couple of years).

Ultimately, there is no excuse, quite simply: I made a shite job of it.

This morning’s repairs have made the cover look a little better, yet I still think I will have to cut it up again, use that tweed for cushions, and sew up another cover.

But not today.