Friday, June 29, 2012

Should I try out for Project Runway?

Yesterday morning, I checked sometehing else off the to-do list for the office/craft room! One step closer, baby! Using your context clues, try and guess what I did.

Sew I decided to buy this fabric from the appropriately named Sew after I bought the fabric, I anxiously awaited the arrival of said fabic. I got 5.5 yards for just over $60 (with a 15% off code from and free shipping because I was spending more than $40). 60 bucks isn't too bad for home decor fabric. Most of the home decor fabric is at least $24.99 per yard at JoAnn Fabrics. This was $12.49 per yard. Sew once the fabric arrived, and after I did the happy dance, I tore open the package (really I carefully sliced it open with a knife) and out came this:

Sew I did the happy dance again. Are you seeing a pattern here? I sewed curtains!

Anywho, here's what I did:

First, I folded the fabric in half like a hamburger. I hope you get that reference, because if you don't, you're no longer my friend. Just kidding! If you don't know what folding like a hamburger is, just let me know and I'll explain using visual aids next time I see you. Essentially, I folded the fabric in half lengthwise. I bought enough fabric to reach from the curtain rod to the floor twice.

Next, I cut the fabric at the fold. Then, I ironed the fabrc...wah wah waaaaaahhhhhhhh...I hate ironing, but my sewing sensei -- I call her Mom -- insists that ironing is a part of sewing. Iron I did. In fact, I had a conversation with my cousin on the phone whilst ironing. It must have taken me at least 30 minutes. Moving on...

Next, I ironed some more. What? This part wasn't so bad. I ironed the hem for each side of the fabric. I just used the edge of the fabric (where they advertise -- I don't know what it's called) as a guide. 1 inch or so is fine for this step. I turned the fabric up once like this:

Then once more like this. According to Sensei Mom, it helps give the hems a more finished look. She's right. She's always right.

Before sewing, I pinned along the edges (about every 6-10 inches).

Then, I sewed along the edge of the inside of the fold like sew:

I repeated these steps for the top and bottom, except I created much wider hems. Although for these hems, you really only have to make the first fold about a half an inch. The second fold should be the length you want the hem to be. For the top, I went with nearly 3 inches. For the first panel, I just folded without measuring, but for the second panel, I had to match them up. Before creating the hem, though, I had to check what the circumference of my curtain rod was. The top hem should be big enough for your curtain rod plus at least 1/4 of an inch for clearance and moveability. Mine was only 3/4 of an inch, so my hem was plenty big enough. For the bottom, I went with a 3.5 inch hem. I like a nice wide hem at the bottom of curtain panels. Plus, I had plenty of room to spare since I bought enough fabric to account for these hems. Here's what they looked like finished:

Sew, they looked pretty much just like they looked before I started sewing.

I was finally finished sewing, but I still had to install the curtain rod!

Because Rich wasn't home, and because I'm impatient, I took out the power tools. Actually, only one power tool was involved. The one with the drill bits and the screw driver bit (I'm not sure what it's officially called). It took me a bit to figure it out, but I got the hang of it eventually. I just followed the directions in the curtain rod package and hung that baby up. I'm so self-sufficient. I can't stand it! Here they are, in all their glory:

What do you think?! I'm thinking of hanging them using drapery rings like this, but I'm not sure. Do you have an opinion one way or the other? I feel like it might give me more control over where the pleats land. One step closer to a finished office/craft room! Here's what's left on the to-do list:

1. Stain that round table in between those sweet chairs.

2. Stain the craigslisted 1940s library file cabinet.

3. Begin officing and crafting.

I don't think I'm ready for Project Runway yet, but maybe one day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Free? Sign Me Up!

I've been busy since school got out. I revised some wall art that didn't live up to my standards and I painted, filled and hung some frames that have been sitting around the house for a year and a half.

Two Christmases ago, I received some custom frames from my aunt, Mary. This is what they looked like before I pushed up my sleeves:

Okay, so I had already pushed up my sleeves a little. I tend to get a little impatient and forget to take pictures along the way. That blue one in there wasn't always blue. It didn't stay blue for very long. I ended up painting all of them white:

I simply sanded each frame just a bit then used some leftover white trim paint to coat them. If I would have used spray paint, the process would have been much quicker, but I didn't have any on hand. I ended up having to coat them all about four times to get a good even look.

After painting them, I arranged them in a way I liked (which can also be seen above). Then, I traced each frame on construction paper. I cut out each square and taped them to the wall in the same orientation that I chose earlier. I put a nail right into the wall through the construction paper. This was sort of an arbitrary process. I just estimated about half an inch from the top in about the middle of the paper. I figured I didn't need to measure since the frames were sort of randomly assembled anyway. When I was finished, I tore off the paper to leave the nails exposed and ready for service.

Finally, I cut scrapbook paper to fit each frame. Here's what happened:

I'm ultra happy with the results of this project. It was especially satisfying because it provided me with (almost) instant gratification. The painting took a while since I had to use real paint, but the tracing and the filling took little more than a half hour. Plus, it was free! I had had the frames for over a year, I have a zillion pieces of scrapbook paper on hand, and I already had the construction paper, nails and tape. Free is always good -- especially when you feel like you've been spending a lot on a certain office/craft room project.

Just a couple more steps before the room is complete! What do you think so far?

Hello, My Name is Katie and I'm a Perfectionist

Remember those canvases I painted a couple weeks back? I was pinspired and I think I rushed into it.

I liked them (a tiny bit), but I didn't like them for the room. I probably could have lived with them (unhappily) for at least a while. Then, one Saturday morning I checked out The Estate Sales Network. I came across these gems here:

Online, they looked promising. I enlisted the help of my cousin, Kim, her boyfriend, Eric, and Eric's bigredtruck. When we got to the house, we had to take off our shoes. Thoroughly weirded out, we entered the expansive ranch. Based on the photos online, I knew they were in the basement. After a little searching, I headed down. I was welcomed by these babies. Just like most everything else in the house, they came right out of the 1970s. While they're well over 30 years old at this point, they are in wonderful shape. They show little signs of wear and tear, and the cushions are still very firm. The color made me smile. After much debating, and a little bit of haggling, I bought them for $50 a piece.

Once we got them home, they went straight into the garage. I was afraid to leave them outside for too long, but I didn't want any mustiness finding its way indoors. Finally, I borrowed a carpet/upholstery cleaner, cleaned them, and brought the new additions inside. Once inside, my artwork definitely didn't jive.

I don't have a picture that features the art and the chairs, but you can probably see that they just don't look right together. However, the chairs do look pretty snazzy, don't they? I think so too.

Anyway, after days of thinking and stewing over those darn paintings, I finally settled on an idea. I considered covering the canvases with fabric similar to this:

Design Dazzle

I also considered painting the canvases white and using metal repair tape to create something special like this:

Metal living room
Better Homes and Gardens

I really like the way that one looks, but I wasn't sure I could pull it off well enough to be happy.

Very briefly, I considered purchasing something in a store. I found some pretty cool mirrored accents at Pier 1, but at $40 a piece, it wasn't really an option. Plus, I really enjoy the DIY process. I love the feeling of gratification I get when a project comes to a close and I really love it. Buying something was off the table.

Finally, I took a trip to Michael's and bought some Martha Stewart stencils, a couple of tubes of craft paint that would coordinate a lot better with the room, and some decent brushes meant for stenciling. I have always avoided stenciling in the past because the paint always seems to bleed. Because this was my last ditch effort at a DIY miracle, I decided to give it a try. I think the decent brushes made all the difference. Sponges are cheap, but they collect so much paint that it makes it hard to maintain a clean project.

After several hours of work (about 4 total), I ended up with this:

Holy cow, am I a happier camper! You might be able to pick out a couple of bleeding mistakes here and there, but overall, I'm satisfied. I used Martha Stewart's Aquarium in pearl finish, Green Olive in satin finish, and Gray Wolf in satin finish. The blue one looks so much better from the side. Because of the glare from the window, the luster catches the light and it's hard to see. Part of me wishes the green one had the same pearl finish as the blue or that the blue one had the same satin finish as the green, just for the sake of consistency; but variety is the spice of life, after all. I'm considering taking a trip back to Michael's to see if they have a clear-ish color in the pearl finish so I can go over the green canvas completely. I'm afraid I'll ruin it. We'll see. For now, it'll do.

Our office/craft room is coming along. Here's what's left on the to do list:

1. Sew curtains. There's always the option to buy, but I'm into the DIY lifestyle these days. Plus, putting a hem or two in a panel of fabric should be easy as pie.

2. Hang curtain rod and curtains.

3. Stain the table in the middle of the chairs darker.

4. Stain the 1940s library file cabinet I Craigslisted (yay!) darker.

5. Fill the shelving units with more TJ Maxx froo froo, as my mom likes to call it.

I can't wait until it's all finished so I can take pictures of the whole shebang. I hope y'all are excited too!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Just Call Me Jean Dujardin

This weekend, I felt summer vacation nipping at my heels. Even though I still have a whole week left, and even though I'm teaching summer school (starting the Monday after school gets out), I can already feel the cramp in my grading hand starting to loosen. In the spirit of the season I took on a project. Because I figured I'd miss the hand cramp, I chose a painting project that would help to ease it loose gradually.

My inspiration came from Sherry @ YoungHouseLove. She took her cue from a print she found online. You can see my pin here. Anywhoo, this DIY artwork is the newest addition to our office/craft room redesign (BTW, there have been some furniture changes/adjustments since last we met...updates to follow).

Here's my Pinspiration:

Pinned Image

I've been inspired for several months, but because of life, I wasn't motivated until yesterday morning. I wasn't certain of the colors I would go with, but I knew I could get some small paint samples at Lowes for a couple bucks a piece. I drove to Lowes with a loose color scheme in mind. When I got there, there wasn't a huge selection. The paint expert told me that they could mix a sample of any color they offered, but I was happy enough with the ones that were already bottled. I chose Lincoln Cottage Black, Indigo Streamer (I didn't end up using this one), Desert Hotsprings, and Gypsy Teal, all by Valspar. I still had some Benjamin Moore Mountain Peak White left over from the office trim which I used to create new colors by mixing. The paint cost $12 total. I got the canvases (two 24" x 18" and one 24" x 12") and the sponge brushes at Michael's for $27 total. All the items were on sale and I had a coupon for 20% off my entire purchase, including sale items! I already had some sponge brushes on hand at home, but I decided to buy a large package of better quality ones (mine were from the dollar store) because of the nature of the project. Plus, knowing that the project might take a while, I wanted to be able to throw them away liberally as they dried out.

I started out by penciling lines to guide my way. I chose 1.5 inches for the spacing. I guess I didn't take a picture of that. Then, I filled in each narrow section with randomly alternating colors. My inspiration said she used the corner of a plastic card for the peaks of each shape, but I just free-handed it. I was using 1-inch sponge brushes, so the angle made it easy.

The process was looooooong (about 6 hours on Saturday plus 3 hours on Sunday counting snack, tv and stretch breaks), but fun and relaxing. Even though it was long, it was as easy as 1:



Here's where I school you guys. I've seen things all over the Internet about how to hang stuff on the wall. One of the best tips I've seen is to trace whatever it is on paper and tape the paper on the wall. That way, you can readjust before you actually mount. You can hammer the nail right into the wall, right through the paper, then rip the paper free. The nail remains and you should have a pain-free hanging experience. I did sometehing similar. I used wrapping paper. I happened to have good quality paper on hand that has grid marks in 1-inch intervals. This made it really easy because I didn't even really have to trace. I just counted squares and cut.

As you can see, I did make a mistake cutting. The piece of paper on the far right is a bit longer than the rest. So much for pain-free hanging, huh? It didn't really matter, though. The top of each piece and the spacing between were the most important factors. 

Below is what it looks like on the wall. I have to say, it looks way better in person. I used some of the wall paint on the pieces, so it  blends in a bit. Plus, I took all these pictures with my phone, bad lighting and all. Anywhoo, there it is in all its glory.

I ended up spending about $39 total on the project. I'll keep the paint on hand for future projects (I've already started painting some picture frames for another wall) and I still have a few sponge brushes left over. I figure I would have spent the same or more on something from a store. I'm not 100% thrilled with the color scheme, but it's growing on me. I'm going to let it sit for a while and see how I feel a bit later.

Do you like them? Any suggestions? Should I space them out a bit more or keep them exactly where they are? Once I take pictures of the entire, finished, room, it will be a little easier to tell what they actually look like in there. Tell me what you think. Be brutally honest. The artist in me can take it.