Much brighter

My sister decided yesterday that she could no longer live with the curtains she inherited from the previous tenant when she moved into her apartment.

It is not hard to see why she turned against them.

Crtains before

She is very far from a brown and red plaid person.  I don’t know how they lasted as long as they did.

Here’s a closeup.  I think they would maybe work in someone’s hunting cabin in the woods?

15E056DA-0D5E-4AE7-A884-7F7723571C8E

There was a lot of agonizing at the fabric store because she couldn’t find a print that matched what she saw in her mind.  She wanted bright, but not too busy.  She also didn’t want to pay a fortune for curtains when she isn’t sure how much longer she will live in this apartment.

And then we hit on the idea of ombré color block curtains.  Kona cotton rainbow of options to the rescue.

After a bit of math confusion at the cutting counter, I handled the cutting and sewing, and she handled all the ironing.

 

I made French seams to encase the raw edges, as they will show from outside through the windows when she is on her patio.  We didn’t line them as she needs all the light she can get in that living room.

On her way home she went to Lowe’s and got a can of silver spray paint to turn the rings and rod from black to silver.

Such a vast improvement after a morning of work!

Curtains after

The teal/turquoise is also in the quilt that I gave her when she moved.  (A camera shy niece is hiding under there.)

Quilt a d curtains.

Next we need to make some pillows for the gray couch that will brighten up that too.  It is so satisfying to be able to make such a difference with a few yards of fabric.

Chaos in the kitchen

I’m trying to think of an explanation of why I thought it would be a good idea to do a kitchen remodel during the last crazy busy weeks of school.  There has to have been a reason, but now that it has actually started, it escapes me.

But there is no going back now.

On Sunday, my kitchen looked like this:

36161D96-365C-44C4-8752-CFAB53474E138579CA88-3B0A-4830-9D41-32F35C398478

On Monday afternoon, it looked like this:

55EB116F-1091-4E6D-AA01-3941E6BDCE7A5B8DBDAF-DA5C-4E4F-A405-4A8418E1CA5263959B62-443C-45F9-8F7E-E9D78CE7208B

I’m taking a lot of deep breaths and reminding myself that change is a good thing.

 

Box shelves

20180520_113919

Nearly a year ago we moved to a new house, a decision that made my commute to work much shorter, but my sewing space a lot more cramped.  Instead of a small dedicated room, I have the end of the family room for my crafting space.  At least it is the end with the window!

Storage is the main issue.  If I need a lot of work space, I can take over the dining room table, but that doesn’t work for storing fabric, yarn, fiber, and all the millions of doohickeys and whatsits that I accumulate.  So things are scattered in various parts of the house, and too many of the smaller items build up in the work space and get in the way.

In an effort to improve the situation, I made box shelves.

part2

It took a number of days.  Once I got the right wood (5″ wide hemlock boards) I went to L2’s house to get a refresher course on using a table saw.  I have a small, portable one – like most of my larger tools, it is the result of a visit by my brother.  He sees home improvements that can be made, always resulting in me owning tools that I may never use again.  (I have two jigsaws now, because I forgot I had the first one when he swung through town and needed one to work on a kitchen project for me.)

part0

Then L2 taught me that there are corner clamps.  I’m a fan!  And we used her air compressor (though my brother had me get one of those too) to shoot very fine nails into the secured corners to create the boxes.

part1

Out of two eight foot boards I got three boxes and a 4 inch left-over.  Once I was home again from my power tools seminar, I did the finishing work.  I needed to fill in a few spots – the wood putty was a bit dried out, but it worked OK – and sand.  Stain I had on hand, and I bought a small sample size of limeade colored paint for the inside.

20180520_140158

340174AE-48E9-43E8-AEA1-6E079939DFE7

20180520_161655

They aren’t perfect.  I need to remember next time to put the nails on the tops and bottoms, not on the sides where they are going to show more.  I taped the edges when I was painting, but they still aren’t perfect, so I’ll need to go buy a razor blade to clean that up.  And I haven’t yet tried the keyhole fasteners for the back that I intend to use to hang them.  (Mostly because I can’t figure out where I put them.)  But the shelves match the picture I had in my head, so I’m happy with them.

3871C58B-A3D1-446E-89EE-6C42A525A8F0

I need to make one more, for symmetry, as they are going to hang in pairs on either side of the window, making space for button jars, thread spools, and other items that accumulate on top of the cutting and ironing surfaces.

Odd patches

FDF603FB-2340-4815-AC4C-16BA404D4057

No finishes this week – unless settling on a kitchen remodel design counts? – but I did make a new start.

I’ve been sewing lots of little squares together in spare bits of time.  There hasn’t been a lot of spare time, because spring means getting to the neglected yard work and we’re also been spending a lot of time looking at cabinets and countertops, but I have gotten some sewing done.  The dining room table is lost beneath all the scraps and cutting boards and irons.

BE0EB742-D2B0-4986-AAF0-18527DC1B951

For quite a while I’ve been cutting up leftover fabric after each project into whatever square sizes will fit.  Five inch if possible, some 4 1/2″, and the rest become 2 1/2″.  The littlest ones were really starting to pile up, although for once they were piling in neat little stacks instead of a mound.  Some effort to be organized is going on, though my family would deny it.

I found an online pattern called Growing Up Odd that uses up a multitude of squares – 2,425 of them in the original pattern!

A4D3EEC5-9699-43C6-8B82-B95125DAEA97

I separated out the lighter and brighter fabrics for the most part and stuck to the darker tones, but other than that it is very eclectic.  There are batiks and 30s style little florals and the occasional giraffe.  Everytime I pick up a square I remember the quilt or bag or basket that came before it, which is what I love about scrappy quilting.

75D980BA-64A9-43DC-AB9E-0EC9E53C557B

The original calls for 2″ squares, and mine are 2 1/2″, so I’ll be making fewer blocks or it would swamp any bed we have.  I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to try for a king size, which would mean quilting it in pieces and then attaching them so I can handle it on my home machine, or if I’ll scale it down to the usual generously sized twin.  We use those so much around the house, but I really need a king size quilt for the summer months when the down comforter is too hot.  I’m just not sure this is the pattern I want for the bed – I have a picture of giant flying geese in my head for that one.  On the other hand, I don’t have all the fabrics that I want for the geese, and we could probably stand to have more than one large quilt as an option.

0D19001A-0453-4471-978F-D4F21837172D

Not a decision I have to make at the moment, which is good because my head is stuffed with kitchen backsplash tile options with little room for anything else – why are there So Many Choices!?  I can just keep mindlessly chain piecing little squares when I can’t look at tiles anymore.  It is soothing.  I have 50 9-patch squares done, and a lot more little 3-patches to join together.  Chain piecing goes so quickly, but I’m going to need a lot more.

 

Redecorating

Some back story:

We moved into this house in July. It was built in the 1970s, so it was a little tired. We knew we were going to have to do some updating.  One of the least pleasant parts was the carpet – an already stained off white that my sons fairly quickly turned rather gray.  It had to go, especially in the living and family rooms.

943C2ADC-CBA2-4283-8DB9-702F0DFECB06

Six months later, all new windows, gas fireplace inserts, solatubes, new bamboo flooring, and a whole lot of new living room furniture, and we finally have a useable, attractive front room.

3029EFF1-6C89-40C9-A66B-2102183CF8AE

All this furniture was new, stored in the garage until the new flooring came.  We unpacked and assembled and set it in place 5 minutes after the workers left.  We’d waited months and couldn’t wait a minute more.

6D2E6384-1105-4DB4-9C90-64D3280AA948

But no new room can be complete without a quilt! (Pictures, paint, and a rug would also help.)

After an unplanned shopping spree at the fabric store, I combined a lot of warm and cool toned grays and browns, added in golds, and mixed half square triangles, four-patches, and solid squares.

5AEEE393-64CD-44FF-8896-E331504D2F80

I got a lot of use out of my triangle square up ruler.  My half square triangles are never perfectly sewn, so I cut the squares at 10” to get a slightly bigger than desired square and then trimmed the slight extra edges to 9 1/2” after the blocks were pressed open.

69A30111-D5AA-445D-9A4F-5D7A755EE3AE

The finished quilt top is 7 x 9 blocks, 63” x 81”.  The colors will really pull the room together once it is quilted.  Perfect for naps on the new couch.

968B6A06-467D-4D28-928C-30EE0543B7D7

This needs work

My sewing set up since we moved is not ideal.  I’ve gone from having a dedicated room – small but with lots of shelves and several table spaces – to a corner of the family room.

IMG_9206

I swing the gate-leg table leaf up when I want to cut or iron, sliding the boards back against the wall by the desk when I’m done.  It is a tight space, and looks messy when even a few supplies are out.

The storage space is also problematic.

IMG_9207

I’ve got a hall closet nearby, with more stuffed in the coat closet, a couple of shelves in the office, and more still packed up in the garage.  There is no hope of a full quilt sized design wall that I’ve been able to figure out yet.

It will improve.  A few more shelves can go in the main closet, and I can definitely pare down as well.  Some shelves above the sewing area will help as well.

But nothing is going to turn it back into a separate sewing room, until a kid goes off to college.  And that is a good seven years away.

Still, I can sew, even if I can’t find all my notions yet.  (Maybe the good scissors are still in the garage boxes?) And I have a couple of finishes to share.

In July my cousin and I made small fused fabric quilt tops,  and this week I finished the two fish I made then.

IMG_9165IMG_9195

The top one is about half the size of the lower one.  I added top stitching details on the bodies and fins and tried to make creek bottom pebbles and water lines with varying degrees of success.  The small one is going to my nephew who is crazy for fishing, and my Mom got the other one because she’s my mom and has to appreciate my sewing projects.  Also, her condo walls are still quite bare a year after she moved in, so she can’t claim she has nowhere to put the things I give her.

The first one I did I didn’t think through well enough and I had a multitude of thread ends to bury.  The second one I wised up and did the stitching with just the top and the batting so I just had to pull the thread through to the back but didn’t have to knot them all and bury them between the layers.

You can see what I mean in the pics below.  In the first I had all those ends to knot.  In the lower one, I just left them loose and tangled and covered them up when I added the backing.

IMG_9208

The area works OK for these small projects but it is going to be interesting to see if I can wrestle with larger projects in that small area.  I may need to move to the dining room table for real quilting.

Much better!

IMG_9144

The focus  in recent days has been continuing to unpack boxes – the china cabinet is now full – and bathroom improvements.

The bathroom in the master bedroom was clearly designed for someone who  didn’t share the room. While there was a door walling off the tub and toilet area, the sink area was open through an archway to the bedroom, as well as having an open space high in the wall, probably to let in some natural light.

The effect, however, was less light and airy, and more “Oh, let’s wake up the spouse trying to sleep in while the other one gets ready for work.”   I happen to be on summer vacation, so I don’t need to wake up very early most days. My husband on the other hand gets up around four in order to get to work on time.  The lights shining into the bedroom, not to mention the sound of the water running as he got ready . . . things had to change.

I think I’ve mentioned before that we are not handy people. I live in awe of my brother’s ability to remodel houses from the ground up. But we do want to improve our skills, and some things look doable even to us. So we decided that we could fill the upper wall hole ourselves, but that we probably needed a handyman to help install the door.

IMG_9155

Other than a fairly bad job taping the edges of the new wall board on one side so I have some extra sanding to do, it all went pretty well. We were even able to figure out how to solve the issue of two different thicknesses of wallboard being used in the original  construction.

I still need to do the sanding, and we need to put the trim on, but having the door on the other side of the sink is making all the difference! Eventually we are going to take away the wall that is now in the middle of our bathroom, but that will wait until we can get my brother into town to help.

Next up was completing the hall bathroom.  My younger son has claimed this one as his, so he got a lot of say in how it turned out. Originally this was a very metallic gold room. The wallpaper was really strange, torn into odd shapes and overlapped. When we stripped it all away, it was actually worse as we found dark turquoise paint and a black pink and turquoise border that screamed 1980s.

The left corner pic is from the house listing photos.  Not a hideous bathroom, but not the right style to make a 10-year-old boy happy.

IMG_9156

Who just papers over an electrical box?

Plus, this fixture had to go.

IMG_9157

Friends, who will probably no longer stop by to say hi, helped me strip off all the layers of wallpaper, and then my sister came and painted the room a nice blue that my son picked out. (Actually I had to talk him out of gray – not a good color choice in a windowless bathroom in the Pacific Northwest where we get enough gray six or seven months a year.)  He also picked out the more modern light fixture to go over the sink, and we put up the world map shower curtain he loves.  (We all now know the capital city of Mongolia.)

The last thing my son and I did was go towel hunting. This was more difficult than I had realized it would be. Forty-seven shades of blue, much pondering, and several stores later, we brought home a stack of bright white towels. Not sure white towels is smartest thing with the 10-year-old boy, but it stopped the apparently agonizing choice of which was the right blue.  Not great with decisions, that boy.

IMG_9154

Someday we want to change the vanity and the flooring, but for now I think it looks much better.

There was some sewing in between all the bathroom work.  I took down the practical but unattractive vertical blinds that covered most of one wall in the master bedroom and replaced them with purchased curtains. However, they were a little transparent, and that room gets some pretty intense sunshine in the afternoon. Since today it’s projected to be 103°,  more was needed. I got a three dollar cotton sheet at Goodwill and used it to line the curtains over the sliding glass door. Unfortunately Goodwill only had one white sheet, so the window curtains will wait until I get a chance to visit a different thrift store soon. But I can already feel the difference in keeping out the heat, and it looks much better than the vertical blinds did.

IMG_9159

We still don’t have any living room furniture, and there are more boxes waiting in the garage, but it is starting to feel like we are making real progress on the to-do list.