Friday, April 29, 2016

Work in Progress

This is not the update I hoped to have for this week.  It's also not the day I hoped to update for the week...I try to aim for Mondays.  It's now Friday.  $#!& happens, I suppose.

Anyway, last weekend Rich and I went to Ikea.  For us, it's a three hour trip each way, so it pretty much takes a whole day.  We managed not to get too lost in the showroom and only spent 50% more than we planned on, so yay?

We got a LOT of stuff, though, including but not limited to all new storage for our bedroom, and several days' worth of assembly to complete.

Fortunately for me, Rich is very good at deciphering Ikea instruction pamphlets.  Fortunately for our marriage, I recognize my limitations in this matter and am content just to follow his lead.  So, on Sunday, we got two nightstands, a dresser, and these assembled:

The cutting table (about which I am SO freaking excited!) actually served us very well in the garage for a while as an assembly surface for our bedroom furniture.

I can already tell that I am going to want more of the cube shelving units, probably a swivel desk chair, and eventually I'd like a computer desk that goes with the sort of birch/white color scheme I've got going on, too.  But until then, this works for me.

My computer was at the doctor for a bit over the past couple weeks, too, which is partly why my new and exciting content has not yet made an appearance on the blog.  It's so good to have it back, and to be making the space my own!  As you can see, I'm experimenting with some decorating ideas (hence the frog tape temporarily holding up the paper fans).  I also purchased some art to go somewhere in the room.  I'm not usually one to just go buy random art, but this just speaks to me on a deep, visceral level...

You got that right!

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Swearing Seamstress' Sewing Space, Part 1

When Rich and I moved into our very first house together, we made a deal.  He wanted the basement workshop for his hobbies.  In kind, I got to claim my first pick of the bedrooms as my sewing room.

I've mentioned before that while the house is really cute outside, it wasn't anything special in terms of decorating on the inside.  It was all perfectly livable and in good repair, but definitely not done in colors or trims that I would have chosen.  Slowly, I've been working on that!

From the original listing.

We did not buy this house for the decor

I chose one of the two upstairs bedrooms for my space, which was very beige to start with as you can see from the photos above.  Not terrible, but certainly not exciting.  And based on the evidence I've uncovered while renovating, it looks like at one point this room was BLUE.  Like,  BLUUUUE.  TARDIS blue?  Royal blue?  Some sort of really bold blue.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, since it's been beige-d over) not a very attractive blue, but I imagine a very young boy might have found it a nice color to grow into?

No, actually, it's just ugly.  But thankfully all that remains of the BLUE paint is some shadowing through the beige in one spot, and some spots behind electric switch covers that didn't get painted.  Which begs the question...who doesn't remove plate covers when painting?

The painting in this house is a bit DIY meets WTF.  I'm sure my efforts aren't much better, but...WTF.

Anyway, the first thing I wanted to do something about was the popcorn ceiling.  Does anyone actually like popcorn ceilings?  I mean...I get why they were popular.  Getting drywall 100% flawless is difficult, and doubly so when you're working overhead.  But c'mon...there's got to be a better solution that popcorn ceilings.  Sadly, in 1979 when the house was built, popcorn was common.  And, guess what?!  So was asbestos.

Asbestos was outlawed in building materials in 1978 in the US.  However, the ban didn't force everyone to immediately dispose of all asbestos-containing supplies they already had, so it's possible to still find asbestos building materials in houses built after 1978.  For this reason, it's very important to make very very certain that anything you're going to rip out of your 1980s house does not contain asbestos.

That all sounds really intimidating, right?  Well, it's not.  You can get asbestos testing kits on Amazon, of all things.  For like $7 plus the $40 testing fee, you can put your mind totally at rest about whether or not you're giving yourself cancer.  Worth it!

This is not a DIY home improvement blog, so the only thing I will say about the process of removing popcorn ceiling is that it. is. MESSY.  I would totally do it again.  But it is messy as all hell and the dust WILL get on everything, and your husband WILL think you are crazy.  Or maybe that's just mine.

Mask definitely needed.

No...I am your father...

It was so damn messy I only took these two photos.  This isn't even the half of it--this was MILD mess compared to where we were at by the end.  Also, I'm not going to talk about all the things I did wrong in patching the drywall underneath, or how much sanding drywall sucks.  In the end, I decided that perfection was the enemy of progress and stopped obsessing about my newly naked ceiling's flaws.

Subsequent photos from this phase of doing the ceiling all basically look like this, in varying shades of white.  Two coats of sealer/primer, two coats of Dover White in flat finish.

Trim primed!  I used a chemical sander/deglosser, followed by a bonding primer that was very much like painting with Greek yogurt.  Except for the part where it doesn't wash off when you get it on your skin.  Or in your hair.  At that point, all my coworkers suddenly knew I was in the midst of a painting project.

The trim got two coats of Dover White in semi-gloss and will probably need a third coat.  Mehhhh.  The walls are the same soft yellow I used in the kitchen and dining room, Compatible Cream.  They're actually two colors on the same Sherwin Williams swatch card, and I love how they look together!  Dover White is very warm and creamy but still reads as white, rather than ivory, and Compatible Cream is just a really nice soft yellow without being baby-y or lemony.

Lit from inside

Lit from inside

Natural light

Natural light

And done!  The cats are so glad to have all the plastic and drop cloths up off the floor, although the kitten did enjoy tunneling underneath the drops and trying to swat our feet.  They moved right in as soon as all the ruckus died down; I'm sure I'll end up putting a cat tree or shelves or something in there for them!

Lucie exploring the "new" digs.
Wait...what is that behind you, Lucie?
Of course the first thing that happened after re-opening the room to the public is that our long-haired kitty, Lucie, horked a hairball up on the carpet.  I suppose we say with sewing, it's not a real project until you've bled on it...this is the same idea, right?  *sigh...*

Monday, April 11, 2016

I Could Have Danced All Night

The Regency Ball in Lansing happened again this year!  It was cold and gross outside, Rich's car got a flat tire that morning, we got lost on the way to a venue that we've been to a million times, and I got snow in my shoes running through a field after a great blue heron.

It was wonderful!

Doesn't regency suit Rich so well?  He just looks so very dashing!  He says without his normal beard his face feels cold, though.  Interestingly, Rich is wearing more me-made clothing than I am in this photo!  I made his jacket and trousers, but the dress I've got on is one I bought from a friend.

My mom is adorable as always.  She made her own dress from a B&T roller print but with the long sleeves she usually finds it too warm at our summer events.  It was perfect for a chilly April evening, though!

I was so happy with how my hair turned out this time!  The decorations are my favorite part--I used an antique lace bonnet veil as a simple turban with the heavily embroidered end hanging over my shoulder, and shoved in a couple of absolutely magnificent velvet roses from A Pink Swan on Etsy.

I have some trouble with regency hair because of how determinedly straight my hair is normally.  Also, I've been keeping it quite short, which can cause lots of flyaways.  This time, I used Lottabody setting lotion diluted 1:1 with plain water, used toilet paper squares as end papers (to minimize escapees), and rolled it in the morning with flex rods (foam tubes with wire in the middle).  The Lottabody seemed to add texture without being overly greasy or heavy (cough pomade I am looking at you), and the curls were very flexible and touchable.  But they lasted all night long with minimal wilting!  I will definitely use this method again!

The best part of the ball is always seeing friends!  I spent more time yakking with people than I did dancing...which was almost a pity because Glen Morningstar, the caller, is so fantastic.  But it was worth it to catch up with so many people!

Mom debuted her new reticule...some of you may recognize this.  It started life as a sleeve, taken from an example in Costume in Detail.  I embroidered 1.5 sleeves before I realized how much I hate embroidery and gave up, and the poor orphan sleeve has hung around in my stash for years.  It represented so much time and effort I couldn't just throw it away, but we all know I'll never embroider a whole dress.  Fortunately mom solved my dilemma by adopting it and turning it into a nice roomy bag that hides all sorts of things, from cameras to car keys!

By the end of the night, Rich was ready for me to stop taking pictures!  But for real, this event is really fabulous and fun every single year.  If you're interested in attending next year, definitely follow the Regency Exhibition Ball FB page!

Monday, April 4, 2016

One-Hour Watch

Sometimes, you really just need a quick and easy project. I’ve been slogging away on trousers for Rich…which are coming along just fine, but I have three more buttonholes to do and I don’t want to do them. No reason, just me being pouty!

So, for a change of pace, I decided to dedicate a little time to making a fun accessory for Rich’s gentleman’s wardrobe. Ages ago, I bought him a tiny antique watch fob with his name on it and everything. Since then, it has sat in a little padded box in my box of cute small stuff I don’t want to lose, not being used or seen. Well, that doesn’t do anyone ANY good!

A quick trip to Hobby Lobby yielded most of the supplies I needed to put together a nice little watch fob…ribbon…thingie. I don’t know what it’s called, really. But I purchased ribbon crimps, heavy duty jump rings, and lobster claw clasps. I also cannibalized six links of jewelry chain off a bracelet I already had, but smaller jump rings or jewelry chain of any sort would have worked just fine.

The ribbon is actually a strip of silk taffeta sewn into a flat tube, with the seam at one side so it’s not very visible. The ends were turned inside for a little added thickness, since I was paranoid about the crimps having enough fabric to “bite” into. Other than that, it was just a matter of busting out my pliers and squashing some metal around!  And now Rich has a lovely personalized accessory...and I got to avoid making buttonholes for an hour or so.  Win!