Adding Padding: Giving a Pew New Life {Guest Post}

Adding Padding: Giving a Pew New Life {Guest Post}

Anna and Jon portrait

By Anna Heisterkamp

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” -Titus 2:11-14 ESV

                    The past three years of my life have represented a new era of adulthood. The era of getting engaged and then married, graduating college, moving away from my childhood home and beloved family and across the country. Getting my first “real” job, plugging into a new church, and eventually buying a house in a very small town. I’ve always been a person to dive into change headfirst and think about it afterwards. That’s when doubt hits hard! “Was I supposed to be doing this?” “What was I thinking?” “Did I even pray about this beforehand?”

                    These phrases of panic are working on me again, as I dive into a new ministry at church. The past two years I helped as a youth leader, particularly with our middle school girls. What a blast! I seem to fit with middle schoolers. I loved that time in my life; right before I started to worry about being different than other kids and whether or not I should be popular among my classmates. It was a time I felt free to be me, and I was brought back to that time when among the girls at youth group. There were differences, but the girls learned to understand one another, and just be silly, and toward the end of the school year together they formed accountability among themselves and wanted to live lives more pleasing to God. Incredible!

                    Now my husband and I have been asked to move up to the big kids: adults. We will be facilitating conversation and study in a ministry our church calls Growth Groups. The hope is that the group gets people involved at our church and digging into the Bible on their own. Most groups provide the opportunity to split up between men and women, so we can gab about our husbands encourage each other more deeply. Intimidating, right?

                    How am I supposed to interact with these guys? (Can I call them “guys”?) Some of them are long time wives and mothers, two things I am not. “Am I supposed to be doing this?” “What was I thinking?” “Did I even pray about this beforehand?” Mister Doubt is camping out.

                    But I did pray about it, and think about it, and sleep on it, and confer with wise church leaders about it. And I’ve tried to live by the mantra, “Love God, and do the next thing.” So at this point I have no need to doubt, only to trust Him and do the next thing.

                    A friend suggested that I commit Titus 2 to memory. At first I thought that it wouldn’t make sense, because I’m 24, I’m not the “older woman” in scenario of my small group. But she mentioned that, having been saved for many years, I may be spiritually older than many of the women involved and this is a chance for me to practice those teachings charged to the older women. And my hope is that the literal older women of this group will teach me the practical lessons of growing up.

                    My even greater hope is to see us come together as a group of believers, renouncing the desires of the world, and learning to live godly lives in this crazy present age, as we wait (anxiously! longingly!) for the appearance of Jesus Christ, who surrendered Himself to death for our lives, to make us more like Himself. And that we would live the calling of purity and be zealous to do the good He has planned for us.

Let’s do this!

Church Pew Clean up and Makeover

My father-in-law is a pastor, and actually my pastor, so naturally someone gave him an old pew. It’s a bit large and at a slight curve, so my in-laws willingly gave it to us to help fill up our new house. It made its way from their garage into ours, and once I was ready to work on it, it was covered in dust and home to numerous leggy critters.

Pew 1

But I had big dreams of adding cushioning and pseudo-upholstering the pew in vintage fabric, so I put most of my fears aside and dug in. I attacked it with the vacuum, using the long hose attachment to give the spiders plenty of room, and even then I had to grab my husband, Jon, to kill some of them instead. Let’s just say I didn’t realize just how many different (note: deadly) kinds of spiders lived in our garage.

Pew 2

We decided to remove the attachments on the back of the pew, as Jon wanted to see if he could put them to use in the garage. I used a recipe I found online from One Good Thing by Jillee’s blog to make a natural cleaner that would cut through all the dust and grime and not damage the wood any further.

Pew 3

You can find the Cleaner Recipe here. I used water, vinegar, olive oil, and a few drops of lemon essential oil. And I will say it worked quite well!

Now, if you grew up going to a church with old wooden pews such as this one, did you ever chew a big old wad of gum, and stick it to the bottom of the seat below you? If so, now is your opportunity for regret. Likely, some poor lady just trying to make a nice seating arrangement has bore the brunt of all your gum chewing! That’s right, I had to get out a chisel and chisel old gum off of the bench. Being that I can’t even chew gum myself because it grosses me out, this was probably more challenging than the spider situation. But I persevered. Let’s hope this is a James 1 kind of deal.

Pew 4

Finally, the bench was all clean!

Pew 5

Once Jon and I moved it into the garage, we noticed in the shadow that there was a good sized gap between the bottom and seat back. My husband is Mr. Solution, and he quickly applied a strong wood glue and all the clamps in our garage.

Pew 6 Pew 7

Pew 8

A few days later, he got some help (read: not me) to bring the bench into the house and downstairs, where it currently resides.

Now, onto the real work!

Here she sits, just dying to get an upgrade.

Pew 9

(Candice wanted me to make a side note about the valence hanging above the window here. I “constructed” two of them for my family/media/whatever room out of insulation foam and fabric. When I got this wild idea I went to Home Depot in search of something to make the base sturdy, but lightweight. You can imagine the looks on the faces of older men at Home Depot, trying to help the lady find just the right thing for her Pinterest project. I attached fabric to the foam with tiny straight pins and attached the whole thing to the window trim with nails. Easy-peasy afternoon project!)

My chosen tools were upholstery foam, just 1-inch thick, cotton batting, spray adhesive (I checked to make sure it would not disintegrate the foam), scissors, and my boss of a staple gun.

Pew 10

This process has been entirely guess-and-check based on advice from YouTube and internet tutorials. And truth be told, I waited a few days after I finally got my fabric in the mail to actually get this project going. I like the bench, and my fabric and have been terrified to mess up!

I cut my first piece of foam, and needed to patch on a little extra at the end. After I cut it to size, I adhered my batting to it, using the spray glue. Worked like a charm! Using the glue again, I attached it to the back of the bench seat. Later on, I added staples to really ensure staying power.

Pew 11

I then moved on to the bottom half and followed a similar procedure, adding some staples for security. Had I really been using my thinker, I would have sprayed this cushion seat down as well. But I got ahead of myself and wanted to move on.

Pew 12

I tucked the batting underneath the top cushioning and nabbed some help in flipping the bench to its back. We’ll call my getting help injury prevention, rather than weakness. I pulled the foam and batting down tight and added staples. I tried not to add too many, as I will be stapling my fabric on top later on.

Pew 13 Pew 14

I asked Jon to snap a picture of me using the stapler (“JUST my hands!”) and later found many photos of my concentrating stare. Thanks, Babe.

Pew 15 Pew 16

I decided to call it a wrap for the night, but couldn’t wait to finish up!

This project has taken a lot of thinking. And since it’s been difficult to find this type of project online, I’ve done a lot of sitting and looking and envisioning. I laid my fabric on top of the bench to visualize (and get excited!) and see where I’d want to start attaching it.

Pew 17

After ironing the fabric, I laid it over the top of the bench wrong side out, and began adding staples through the batting and the fabric. I didn’t plan it this way, but the batting make a nice covering over the staples so you can’t feel them when leaning against it. I also made a fold on each end of the fabric to create a clean line on each side.

Pew 18 Pew 19

I flipped the fabric back over, and voila, a secure top! I wanted to be able to see that small detailing along the top of the back, so I was sure to start everything (foam, batting, fabric and staples) below it. Someday I might add piping, but, for me, stapling > sewing, so we’ll see.

Pew 20

Wrapping up was not hard, but it was a little touchy. I love the vintage fabric I bought on Etsy, so I didn’t want to damage it with glue! I tested a leftover piece first and glued it to a small piece of batting with no repercussions. So I proceeded. I glued the fabric on my bench to the batting with the same adhesive spray. This was the touchy part, as the bench is slightly curved, I had to smooth down any wrinkles and make sure my pattern was going in the proper direction. As I did with the top half, I made a fold on both ends of the fabric to ensure a smooth line.

Pew 21

Similar to the batting, I flipped the pew over (this time by myself) and stapled on the fabric. I didn’t pull too tight because I didn’t want to make any abnormal bumps in the cushioning. I trimmed off the extra fabric so it didn’t hang down when the bench was upright, and that was it!

Pew 22

Here she be! With a strange man sitting on it.

Pew 23

Pew 24


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