Friday, October 23, 2009

The First Step in a New Direction

As you can see, the last couple of posts have all contained fabrics-whether upholstery or apparel.  The first step to recovery is admitting to the "problem" and my admission is that I'm a fabric freak and third generation at that.

While clearing out my fabric closet for some upcoming projects, I decided to put the little scraps of things to use and make some pillows.  Originally, I bought this fabric to use as the kitchen drapery for winter but because of the bulk of it and the scale of the original window, I scrapped the idea. It makes great pillows though!

This is the first one that is complete.  I've only made 3 pillows in my life, so there is some learning curve.  it turned out well, but will be better next time.  I chose a dainty fringe because of the size of this pillow and I like it very much.  There are some larger ones in matching patterns that I'll be working on soon, so perhaps they'll make a nice set.

One down, twenty-something to go.

This one is reversible.  The back is some kind of velvety material.  They make a good pair.

 That's not a very nice picture of the back.  Maybe I'll take a new one if I get around to it.  It's delicious to touch!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dusting Off An Old Hat

The weather has been absolutely disgusting for weeks which has kept me seeking refuge inside instead of being outside finishing up the porch painting.  Somewhere in there I got distracted and found myself ogling Victorian style dresses.  Let me just say, it just takes a peek at something lovely for it to begin to snowball, then to grow tentacles, until eventually, you've just got to have one-ok two-well maybe 3-half a dozen-2 dozen?  And so on. 

Naturally, someone is supposed to take the blame for all things abnormal about one's life and the finger of blame on this one points to my mother (who can blame it on her mother) who introduced me to fabrics by teaching me how to use the sewing machine when I was 8.

I remember going to my grandmother's house when we were kids.  She had enclosed her front porch to turn it into her sewing room, so to get into the house, you had to go through her sewing room with the stacks of fabrics and trims and the sewing machine out with a half-finished project or two nearby.  I always loved looking at all those pretty colors!

During my childhood, I always looked forward to birthdays and Christmas because Mom would always make me pretty new outfits.  We really couldn't afford to buy too many new clothes (with the exception of new Toughskins from Sears at the beginning of the school year) so Mom made most of ours.  As I grew older, she began teaching me how to make my own and how to read a pattern and what the terms meant.  A trip to Hancock's with Mom was more exciting than any vacation I could think of!  Oh! The colors and patterns and textures!  And the choices!   It was like swimming in a sea of dreams!

I remember-and can almost still feel-the velvet flocked flowers on the sheer sleeves of my lavender 8th-grade graduation dress.  This was the first project I did that was a full-length dress-even then I loved them!  They were called a "Granny Dress" back then, although I never saw any of my grandmothers in one.  I was so proud of that dress!  I don't remember what the "pretty girls" wore (you know, the ones with the good hair?) but I don't think they had a dress as nice as mine.

The next dress (as I'm not typically a dress person) was my wedding dress when I was 18.  It was a simple dress, but notice the similarity in style to the one I did at 13?  Hmmm....same high collar, same high cuffs, same modest cover over the the cleavage?  Apparently, I have a style preference. : )   If I remember right, the cuffs on these sleeves were almost to the elbow and satin covered buttons all the way up.  Ooooo, they were pretty.

It was several years before I had the time to start sewing again and this time it was when I was about to leave the military.  I was stationed in the Philippines where fabrics were cheap and different than what we find here in the stores.

My favorite wool pinstripe suit

So, off to the local markets I went to collect fabrics for my new civilian wardrobe with lots of great fabrics and coordinating colors and patterns.  In the end I dragged back a nice wardrobe that I used for years until I finally turned 30-something and became wider than they were.  Oh dear!

One of my other favorite outfits with removable bow tie thingy

So, one to today when I find myself with plenty of time on my hands and a tentacle-growing snowball of a thought that I'm dying to get started on.  This time up, I've got my eye on making a few of THESE!

Or (make that-AND) these:

A few of these? But, of course!

But right now, if I don't get out and paint something-since it is actually a gorgeous day, I'm gonna be in trouble with Donnie.

Have a good day!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pretties for Christmas?

When I went to get the fabric to reupholster the chairs out of the closet, I got side-tracked looking at all the pretty fabrics that were stored in there and decided I might just have to play.

I was thinking maybe I'd make some pretty Christmas mantle scarves, maybe a couple of Christmas table cloths for the occasional tables and perhaps a real cool tree skirt (not that we'll likely have a tree mind ya) and perhaps recover a couple of pillows that we aren't using.

Here are some of the beginnings of some of those projects I mentioned that I will make from some of the left over fabrics from other things.  I think this is just the most festive trim!  It looks like little pine cones and cherries hanging from the swags and ribbon.  I just got a snippet of it until I decided how I wanted to use it and how much I would need.  Since Memphis is 2 hours away I have to make a list and make it an all day affair, so I'll need a plan and a list before I go.  

The fabric is leftover from the settee reuphosleter.  Although Johnson's sells it, I took a scrap with me and was playing with it and this trim in the store.  Another customer saw was looking at what I was doing and kind of-almost-started to drool.  I told her what I was planning to do with it and pointed her to where the bolt was hanging in the store.  I wouldn't be surprised if this combination appears in the Christmas decorating at here house this year too!

I think it's so much fun to get other customers and the staff involved when I go out shopping.  It breaks up the monotony for everyone it seems and everyone seems to enjoy it.  Donnie hates shopping with me cause it ain't no quick trip out to the store.

What was I talking about?  Right, pretties!  Here's another couple of fabric combinations  I might look at as well.  The match on the samples above is SO prefect that it's almost TOO prefect and therefore, can be boring.  I'll have to make something out of it anyway.  Here's another combination:

This fabric was left over from when I  had the headboard of the French bed reupholstered about 10 years ago.  Hey!  If a fabric's pretty, no reason not to keep it forever! :)

Eventhough this one doesn't have any green in the fabric itself, I think it's still pretty and isn't such a prefect match as the one above.  If necessary, other bits of green could be added, but I like it as is.

I thought I had another shot of the same trim with a third sample, but I guess not, so I'll just post some non-Christmas pretties for the second parlor mantle.  There are 2 trims that are neat.  I haven't decided which one I (and Donnie, of course) prefer.

Which do you prefer? Left or Right?

I have some leftover pale blue-green-gray velvet from the drapes that I'll make the scarf from.  I might work on it some tonight, but again will need go to Memphis for the trim.

Will show the completed projects a little later!

What Color is Your Rainbow Tinted?

I don't know how I got to this quiz.  I think it was on HGTV's Quilting board and I clicked on one of the poster's links.  Thought it might be fun to play along. : )

Here are the results:

Your rainbow is strongly shaded gray.

What is says about you: You are an elegant person. You appreciate tradition and wisdom that comes with age. You depend on modern technology and may feel uncomfortable without it.

Find the colors of your rainbow at

I don't know if my personality is actually shaded gray, but I can say that many of my color choices are indeed shaded in gray and that I find very lively colors pretty much offensive except for cobalt blue and aqua, but only for accessories.  While brilliance might be fantastic at other people's places, I can't go there at mine. : )

Well, that was fun.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Miracles DO happen

Well, it's not a real miracle, but it seems like one.  I finally finished something!...well, kind of.

So, a couple of years ago we picked up a set of furniture at one of the local antique shops.  It had been reupholstered at some point and had foam put into the backs to make large tufts and the seats done in box cushion.  It wasn't a look I really cared for but the furniture was pretty and the design was interesting and the price was right, so we hauled them home.  Here they are in the upstairs bedroom in the fabric that was on them when we bought them. 

They look fine from the front, but my guess would be that they sat in front of a window for a long time as the fabric on the backs and the backs of the seats were threadbare.  So, several months ago I stripped one of the chairs and pulled all the staples and it's been sitting in the "wreck room" ever since. Since it's been raining for weeks which interferes with painting the porch I had some time to work on upholstering it.

I put a couple of coats of tung oil on it first since the wood was real dry especially on the back. 

The one on the left has been oiled.  The one on the right has not.  Makes a big difference doesn't it?  Looks like whoever upholstered it last had to rework the strapping that holds in the cotton batting on the back in place.  Very festive wouldn't you say?

I didn't do a step-by-step process on these but I ditched the fat foam on the back and added more cotton batting.  If there was once webbing for under the seats (which there probably was and possibly even springs) it had been removed and replaced with wood under the seat cushion.  I just left that part alone and trimmed a little off the edges of the foam pad that was on the seats then added some cotton batting so that they were no longer boxy.  It worked out fine.

Here are the two finished-well, ALMOST finished chairs.

There seems to be a shortage of the artichoke French gimp I want to use on them.  I liked this fabric because it looked like an older style fabric and thought it would be pretty in this room since this room is scheduled to be pinks and greens.  Here's a close-up of the fabric:

 I still have to do the settee, but that one will have to wait til I get time again.  Here they are in their room:

Here's a settee that Donnie gave me for Valentine's last year.  I had seen it in the antique shop in Trenton and liked the color of the wood and design although it had a large bleach stain on the seat.

I stripped this one down earlier this year, gave it a couple of coats of tung oil, and reupholstered it as well.  It's a beauty, but the camera flash makes it look almost like a Christmas fabric.  I liked this fabric as it also seemed like an older design.  I'm waiting for the same French gimp to finish this one as well.

 This one is more like the real colors:

Here it is in its room:

For anyone near Memphis, I got both of these fabrics at Johnson's.  They have some of the most delicious trims!  I'll post some of the little projects I'm planning using some of the trims tomorrow.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Steampunk Anyone?

The first time I heard this phrase was a couple of months ago when Donnie was showing me some cool computers.  Seems like it's everywhere now.  I'm still not sure what it is, but I think some of the stuff is awesome!

I'd love to have a home computer like this one!

Of course I'd have to sit at it in this dress!

When on the road, I'd bring my laptop!

And scanner:

In there evenings, there might be a party to which I could wear this silk and PVC gown:

And hat:

In case I get lost, I'd better tuck the compass in somewhere:

I hope Donnie brings his watch so we are sure to be on time!

When we get home, Donnie can go back to surfing the internet on one of these!

Of course this one is in my upstairs office.  : )

Then of course, there's the evil game machine.  It's kinda pretty though!

I think it's pretty interesting stuff.  Reminds me of the movie 'Wild, Wild West' with Will Smith.  I wonder if it's the same thing?  Hmmm....

Photos from:
Watch & Compass-Kutulu69-eBay
Home computer &
I think I got everything else

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Donnie's busy trying to get the front porch posts completed and has the turning on one of the last two reconstructed and ready to go.  There is still some work to be done on the bottom run of the post, but the turnings are the tedious part.  Looks fab!  So that's the good part.
The bottoms of some of the posts he worked on earlier needed investigating since they cracked where the new pieces were joined with the original post.  This is what he found behind the paint:
Ouch!  This was a repair that is only about 2 years old!  What we've discovered is that contrary to popular belief, you cannot successfully use car bondo on wood.  It just doesn't work out that well and pops off or cracks within a couple of months.  Part of what we're doing around here is getting an education.  We are eventually learning what works and what just doesn't.  One important lesson learned is that no matter how much more difficult it is to work with, how long it takes to cure, and how difficult it is to mold into the shape you need once it's cured, the 2 part epoxy wood bondo is the only way to go.

So, once this post is dry through and through we know how to fix it to make it last.  Another thing I think we will start incorporating with new wood repairs will be to seal until it won't soak up another drop of sealer, every exposed part of the replacement piece.  This is a mighty big house to have to be replacing the repairs before you're even done with the area that is being repaired.  I think Donnie is thoroughly disgusted.  Ya live, ya learn.

The ugly part is that oil based paint is getting to be really hard to come by.  We've been using high gloss on the trim and green body of the house and all that can be had in a gloss is a metal paint which we have been told is the same as wood paint and will hold up as well.  I hope that's true.  The only problem is that the red we were out of needed to be color matched which of course didn't exactly match what we had been using.  Needless to say, all of the red trim areas that were completed had to be repainted so that everything matched.  All in all, there's a lot of getting nowhere going on.  Such is life.