Catheryn-stein’s Mattress

Back to van life, with just a few adjustments. The most exciting being a change in my snoozing situation.

For these last six months, I’ve had the good fortune to sleep on a most comfy bed I inherited from a friend. Upon it I’ve enjoyed a sweet night’s sleep and some lovely naps. It’s one of those ‘just right’ things. The problem: the mattress width is 38 inches and the van bed space is 26. The kicker: the idea of going back to using those two bench cushions was so repulsive that I decided to try trimming the mattress down to fit.

I’d never done that before but a mattress is, after all, just a bunch of metal, foam, and fabric. The most difficult part, I figured, would be cutting the 1/4 inch steel framing that holds the springs in place, as it might be hardened (yup).

If I succeeded I could look forward to continued restful slumber. If I failed, I calculated, I’d have to break it down into five bags of trash to dispose of. Turns out, the project was not as difficult as I feared, though not as easy as I’d hoped.

150604_02All it took was seven hours, a small array of tools, and two trips to the local hardware store to rent the bolt cutters for the frame. Well, ‘borrow’ would be a better term. They don’t formally rent tools, but the perk of being a local and regular shopper afforded that I was given their store pair on loan. I’m sure this tool saved me a good bit of hand sawing. Quarter inch though it was, that steel frame was tough.

If you’ve never seen the inside of a mattress, it’s pretty much what you might guess; a spring sandwich. To get to the frame and springs, I cut through and peeled back two layers of foam and some fiber padding. I wanted to have a clean and finished look so I saved the fabric side panel, with a little extra edge for seam allowance. The rest of the soft materials filled a large garbage bag. The excess springs were put out to the edge of the alley for a hauler.

150604_03So, the neighbor’s cat had come by to supervise. She was initially overjoyed to investigate the new attraction. The vast wealth of snug space beckoned, but, try as she might, there was no crawling past the tightly crowded springs. She soon considered it a frustrating rudeness and felt free to complain thereof.

I reset the frame into place on the new, raw edge of springs and secured it with fence wire. Before I did that, though, I put a little duct tape (of course) on the sharp ends I’d made with the bolt cutters. I then closed the opening by stitching together the cut edges of the mattress cover. Yellow chalk-line worked great. It’s tough, doesn’t stretch, and threads beautifully through the eye of large, darning needles.

150604_04I finished the side of the mattress by covering that seam with the piece of side panel. To add a little flair, I’d considered employing some kind of fun and decorative embroidery stitch, however I succumbed to impatience. After already spending such a large portion of my day on the project I was ready to be done with it, so I went with all that was required. A sturdy blanket stitch.

When the last knot was tied, and my tools put away, I stood back with the satisfaction of a job well done. Though I was initially less than pleased with my less-than-straight seams, I consoled myself that they’ll be covered by sheets and the bed will be its comfy self. A few crooked seams didn’t stop Dr. Frankenstein, it shouldn’t stop me.

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