Saturday, October 29, 2011

Terrifying Stuff I'm Doing

Hey guys!

Today, I cut up some super antique family heirloom linens.  I was freaking out about it the whole time, but now that I'me done and i've had some wine, I am feeling much better about the whole process.

Let me tell you what actually happened.
big ol' pile of family treasures

These are some linens my husband's grandmother gave me.  To be honest, I am not entirely sure why she is giving her things away, but I suspect it has something to do with paring down a bit and wanting to see people taking and using and knowing where stuff came from that she has.  I kinda get that, but it makes me sad, mostly because Jeff's grandmother is the most grandmotherly person on earth.  She is basically perfect.

But in any case, when we were visiting in the late spring, she unpacked a chest of linens and asked everyone to please take whatever we wanted.  I gotta tell you, I find it really difficult to, like, take things from people.  Even when they ask me to.  Jeff told me that she probably wants people to use them, which I understood.

Another shot

So I tried to look for things that were pretty colors and most importantly, things that were already damaged.  The pretty lady at the bottom of this pic was apparently part of a tablecloth that grandma's mother and her sisters embroidered and some things I think gramma herself worked on.  Eventually, it got used enough that someone cut them into handkerchiefs.  (The bottom left one you can barely see was also a tablecloth->hankie transformation.)

The magenta flowers at the top were a table runner.  You can see in the bottom right corner, someone had already cut or torn the runner.  So basically, I took some things that were

  1. beautiful
  2. had interesting family history
  3. were already damaged so I could not really mess them up

For reference, I also asked Gramma if I could take them to cut them up and turn them into a quilt or something else.  She was totally on board.  I pointed out that I took the ones that were kinda marred, but I honestly don't think she would have cared if I took more nice things and cut them up.  (Thank God for awesome Gramma-in-laws.)

Isn't she pretty?  
So then I found some fabric I liked that went with the embroidered bits, but felt kinda modern and cheerful.  This yellow and fuchsia quilting stuff was from joanns, as was the teal-ey blue you'll see later.  The first thing I did is put all of it, old and new, in the washer and dryer together.  If it's gonna be in the same quilt, it prolly needs to be washable together.  I was TOTALLY FREAKING OUT.  Especially because I went with the fuchsia.  But it came out perfect, so I folded it up and put it on my desk to look at it and work up the courage for stage II.

Here's the thing: Nothing was a regular size.  So I measured everything to figure out what my size options were.  Eventually, I figured out that with some strips and scraps, I could turn all 5 bits of embroidery into 12.5" squares.

Starting to add some borders

Some could just be cut to 12X12, some needed lining, yeah.

I decided that I wanted a 5X5 foot grid would work well and i measured my fabric to make sure I could actually do that.  To be honest, I am not much into tiny fussy patchwork.  I think it's beautiful, really, but I do not have the patience or the time to do that, and I kinda like my crazy quilting.

I made a kinda map for myself to use as I was putting things together.
my scribblings that turned into a quilt top.  with colored pencils to make sure I don't mess something up.

The end result is a little different because I made some changes as I went, but it was super helpful along the way to keep me from making super crazy mistakes.  I am a really lazy quilter, people.  So doing a quick head check helps me make sure I am not totally messing up my stuff.

Here's what I ended up with.  These colors look a little brighter than in real life, but not much.  I wanted happy, quirky, and featuring the slightly damaged embroidered bits.  (Soon my new camera will arrive and I will be able to learn to take better pics!(

Some things I learned:

  • Don't try to use something else as a seam ripper.  Also, just don't try to seam rip the hem on a hankie that is embroidered and is also probably 75 years old.  It's just not gonna work.
  • The old fabric?  It's a little brittle.  There are also some places where it's starting to wear, but I did not want to cut it out.  I am probably going to do something that I assume is like darning over top of the one big spot.  I have some stitches on my sewing machine that look like they would be darnalicious.  I haven't actually quilted it yet, so I can still do that.  
  • Stop trying to make everything perfect.  This is not the christening gown that 3 generations of boys have worn and that I think was made from someone's wedding gown.  This are pieces that were probably going to be thrown into a drawer.  Plus I got explicit permission because I am paranoid.
  • Cutting anything this old is basically going to completely freak you out.  Measure twice, cut once, walk away for five minutes.  Take deep breaths.  It's OK.
me with quilt top

So I think I'm done babbling about this.  I waver between still a little freaked out that I cut it, and totally happy with how crazy and bright and happy it came out.  Sure, I did not keep the integrity of the original work.  But it had already suffered the indignity of being turned into a hankie.  I did get a good chunk of work done on something that we can cuddle on the couch with our son and tell him about how his great great gramma and great gramma made parts of it, and so did mommy.  *snif*

Tomorrow, I am considering taking it to a quilt store (if I can find one open) and see if I can get some help with the thimbles I'll need to hand quilt it.  (I wanna hand quilt it.)  I am a little nervous that the quilting ladies will look askance at my totally not matching up, not well measured, and totally sewed crazy quilt top, so that will take some courage on my part.  I may bail and go to Joann's and order the thimbles online.

I'm pretty happy with it.  And I did it all today (except for the washing)!  Very exciting!  

Now to work up some courage for tomorrow and the store. Wish me luck, ya'll!  

Floor Planner

So hey, I have been playing with, which I learned about on YHL.  (Thanks to those guys!) 

It's only slightly maddening, which is really pretty high praise for a design tool you use in a web browser. Man, do you guys remember actual desktop clients?  How crazy was that?

Anyway, I have what I think is a decent approximation of our house's first floor plan.   On the right, is the living room, which you enter from a porch (not shown).  Below center is the dining room.  Above the dining room is the old kitchen.  I turned it into a powder room and a laundry/mud room, but that's wishful thinking.  Plus they do not have the furnishings necessary to make "unfinished room full of junk" on  

All of that is the original house.  On the far left is the kitchen.  Woo Kitchen!  The colors are not quite right, but the floor is brown tile and the countertops are a greyish white granite.  

top down view of our first floor
Minor criticism of floorplanner: I could not find anyway to put in stained glass windows.  I get that they can't really make them have the same design, so yeah, prolly not.  I also can't figure out how to make the bookcases in the living room short.  (In the 3D version, they are over top of the windows, which is not the case in real life.)

the 2d version
I also can't figure out how to make the breakfast bar show up right.  I tried to make it higher, but it looked like it was floating in midair in the 3d view, so I just took it out.

sideways view

All in all, I thought it was pretty neat.  I might even buck up for the pro version.  


Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Doors

Not the band.  My doors.

So, I had a custom door built.  I tried to find one that I liked, and I tried to make one of those jenn-weld aluminum ones that look like wood customized, but ultimately, all that was going to be like $5k.  A bit spend for a front door, doncha think?

So, custom.  My father in law found someone, or some company locally who could do what I wanted.  We ordered a fancy handle set from the hardware store we can walk to from our house (yay awesome neighborhood!) and my contractor-father-in-law stained it a pretty english chestnut color.  (says the min wax)  It's douglas fir, and it's fab.
pretty, right?  i loves it.
But I am continuing to obsess about it . Why is that, you ask?  The freakin' storm door.
Not loving it.
Seriously, all you can see from the street is the white monstrosity.  I have it half glass/half screen so you can see how neither of them is really any better than the other.  Dislike!

bigger pretty
bigger monstrosity

You can't see my lovely, painstakingly selected and finished custom door!  What a waste!!!

So I'm unhappy.  Unhappy because no matter what, I've wasted money.  Wasted money on the screen door because I want to take it off completely, or wasted money buying a gorgeous wood door that no one can see except me when i'm bringing in groceries.

(For the record, btw I am also so so so over those lights and I want to ditch those and replace them with something pretty, as well.)  

I am kinda torn about what to do here.  The cheapest and easiest solution is to just take the monstrosity off and call it a day.  (If you don't remember because I post so infrequently, I don't know how much it will matter, since our door is protected by a relatively deep porch that's windowed in on two sides.)

We got rid of those awful yew, btw.

I am kinda torn about what to do here.  The cheapest and easiest solution is to just take the monstrosity off and call it a day.  (If you don't remember because I post so infrequently, I don't know how much it will matter, since our door is protected by a relatively deep porch that's windowed in on two sides.)
My dad told me that I could put a light in between the door and the screen door.  Illuminated door would be much more visible, and I could keep the screen door. 

I started obsessing about doors on Pinterest and found a HEAP of examples of "pretty door with no storm or screen in front", so that's apparently a thing.

I also started wandering around my neighborhood and looking at everyone else's door situation. I will refrain from posting pictures of my neighbors houses because that seems like a neighborhood faux pas, but it's about split evenly between "has an aluminum or plastic modern looking door" "has their original or similarly lovely door and no storm door" or "has original door and original wooden storm door". So I started thinking, hey. I could have gotten a salvage front door. That would have been less painful that going to all the effort with the custom door. I looked around, and it would have cost about the same amount. But wait! Perhaps, there exists salvage or antique storm doors! 

We have a wooden storm door at the lake house, which I love to pieces. It's wooden, stained on the outside and painted inside. I wish I had a better picture, but it has a panel in the front that's glass with some stiles that you put in for the winder, and then swap it out with a similar screen one for the summer. I want THAT!!! 

So I googled and found some things. Nothing that would be the right size, and nothing where we live, but apparently all hope is not lost for the idea of an antique/salvage storm/screen door combo platter. This one is even douglas fir! Too bad it's too small. I am also assuming that it has a screen. It says removable panel, but who knows. I will continue to obsess about this for at least another six weeks, on account of how that's what I do. What do you think? No storm door? Hold out for an antique? Suck it up to not hurt contractor-father-in-law's feelings?