Dollhouse Reveal: The Sewing Room (#1)

I wasn’t going to necessarily write about the rooms in order, but this was actually the first room I worked on and the first to be finished.

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The key to any good sewing or craft room is lots and lots of storage space. I give the illusion of that in faux cabinets across the length of the room. I made it look like four doors covering, each with “hinges” which were the bottoms of very small Christmas bulbs glued to one edge and then the “knob” which is a sewing pin with a “pearlized” head (pushed all the way in).

When we first moved to Kansas City almost 13 years ago, my craft/sewing/quilting room was the first one I really set up as well. Of course we set up beds and filled the kitchen with food, but the first one to get extra attention and cabinets and details and “finished”. Made perfect sense to me!

DSCN4968Here is an overall photo of the room. It is a tad dark, and I had trouble with photographing all of the rooms even though I tried to bounce light off large white surfaces.

You can see that I’ve set the room much like my own, with two tables: one for the sewing machine and one taller for the cutting table.DSCN4969Many of the objects in this room are also in my sewing room. The sewing machine is set up with fabric and scissors and a pin cushion. Up against the back wall is a cabinet designed to hold lots of fabric, and a couple of antique irons on the floor (just like my real sewing room)!

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I have a cutting mat and a rotary cutter. Scissors are nearby as well as some patterns and buttons. There are stores of ribbons and patterns neatly lined up on the back cabinets and a dress form.

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The wall behind the cutting table has a cork board, on it some helpful instructions and patterns, and s small shelve  which boasts has a nice display of colorful buttons. On the other side of the door we have a calendar and a small chest filled to the top with ribbons, buttons, lace and other wonderful materials.DSCN4972A quick shot of the floor. This particular room is made up of sample tiles from Home Depot which were cut to make squares. I like the randomness of the stripes and colors.

Come back soon for more rooms to be revealed!

julie

Want to see all of the rooms? Use these helpful links:

Deconstructing A Pair of Jeans With the Least Amount of Waste

I recently found instructions on how to create a rag rug. Of course, I want to try to make one with denim. And not new denim, but the soft, broken-in denim, like your favorite pair of jeans. And the best place to find that is, in fact, an old pair of jeans. Or rather, in a lot of old jeans.

So I started collecting old pairs of jeans. Off to my favorite thrift stores and second hand shops. Actually, I wanted a nice variety in the colors, so I picked some that looked new and were dark blue, and I picked out some that had wear and fading and were almost white in some cases. Then there were pairs in the middle, a nice hue of blue, some with fraying and some with spots – like the thighs or knees or butts. I started looking for the larger sizes and the lower priced pairs.

Side note: Even thrift stores have sales! The stores that we visit seem to have a color rotating method. It keeps stock fresh and making room for new arrivals. Always check at the front for which color is discounted.

So, The Kid and I had hit a GoodWill store on a different side of town while we were out delivering a dresser. The colors of the day where white and yellow -50% off – so I headed to the men’s jeans section. I found ten pairs of jeans in sizes larger than 42″ waist sizes marked at $2.48… so I walked out of there with lots of denim material and only spent about $12! Couldn’t buy that much new material in a store and this was soft and had a variety of colors.

Then it was time to take apart the jeans. I searched the internet for instructions, but I either found ways to do it that were inefficient (taking the seams apart with a seam ripper – yeah, right) to those that wasted too much fabric. I had instructions for using other portions of the jeans, like the waistband and outside seams, so I didn’t want to waste anything.

So, I decided to write my own instructions as I took apart the pants. There are a couple of terms that I will use that might not be obvious to all readers:

a. I will refer to the thread as gold, although it may be a different color.

b. If you’re not comfortable handling a single edge razor, a seam ripper could be used, but it will dull very quickly. In fact, the razor blades that I use are really only stay sharp through two to three pairs of jeans. Once I find some resistance in pulling the razor blade, I switch for a new one.

c. I will refer to seams as “inner seam” and “outer seams”. Inner seams are folded in and have no outside stitching, while an outer seam has the bulk on the outside and will have decorative gold stitching:

Inner:Outer SeamsOkay, let’s take apart some jeans:

1. First up is removing the brand label. Not all jeans have these, although I have found that most do. I found a cute use for them, by re-attaching them all to a denim pillow. May or may not do this, I guess when I’m done with the rug, I’ll see if I have enough.

DSCN34752. I have found the fastest way to take apart almost everything related to the jeans. Slide the razor blade at a corner and carefully pull towards you. Continue all the way around.

3. Jeans are tough. And one of the things that make jeans so long lasting is the reinforcement at stress points. Like the back pockets and belt loops and bottom of the zipper. The key to making it easier to deconstruct a pair of jeans is in tackling these reinforcements. Cutting through the reinforced seam is the most straightforward and easiest way to loosen the remainder of the seam.

DSCN34744.  I start by cutting through all of the belt loop reinforcement – just the bottom, where it actually connects below the waist band. Then, one by one, pull the belt loop away from you and using the blade, cut just the gold threads.

5. Next, we’re going to remove the waist band. I actually have a project that will use the waistbands and the belt loops attached (at the top), so it is important for me to cleanly cut the seams.

6. I find a spot where the seam isn’t reinforced or that it has more than one row of stitches. And then it is just a matter of cutting all those seams. I find this to go pretty quickly, the two areas you will find that need more attention is at the the ends – where the button hole and button come together. Just keep pulling back on the seam to reveal the stitches.

7. Next we’re going to remove the zipper and all of its components. I know some would like to keep the zippers, but in my case, I know that I would never reuse them. I rarely use zippers, but when I have, they have been much longer than the ones that come from these jeans. This is the first waste product.

Using sharp scissors, cut as close as you can to the outer seam.

DSCN3515Continue all the way down around the curve to the seam.

DSCN35168. Then repeat on the other side of the zipper.

DSCN34909. Now continue cutting to the side of the ‘out’ seam. This will continue around to the waist in back (between the pockets).

10. Now you have essentially two separate legs. Now you want to split the seams to capture as much of the fabric as possible. Start by cutting along the outer seam all the way to the bottom hem. Cut through the hem.

DSCN349311. Now cut off the hem and set it aside. I actually have used all of my hems in a very special project. It is SO cool! Just because I keep and use something, doesn’t necessarily mean you will, so keep only what you want and can use.

12. Now, lay the pant leg out. Then fold it in half, right sides together based on the inner seam. Now, cut off the inner seam, keeping as close as you can to the seam.

13. As you cut the inner seam, you will fun into the pocket as it is incorporated into the seam. Translation? Many layers of fabric! So once you have reached this point, open the fabric and cut with as few layers as possible. You also may have to contend with rivets at the pocket site. These can be heck on scissors, so be careful!

14. On the front (with the pocket) cut the outer seam to remove the pocket. I have a project in mind for the mini-pocket (or change pocket) so, I cut away most of the pocket construction and the white portion. I try to leave some fabric around the smaller pocket, so I can accomplish this other project.

15. Now time to remove the back pockets. You could actually do this at any point in the project, but I like to have everything already done and then sit down on the couch with my box of razor blades and remove the pockets while I watch television.

2015-05-12 21.11.10Again, pull the sharp edge across the reinforcement at the both corners, once or twice. Once you’ve gotten past the reinforcement seam, the remainder of the pocket is pretty easy.

I’ll share with you my little secret. Some of this fabric is going to be used to upholster a wing back chair. And removing the pocket reveals a darker fabric underneath and adds more visual interest. Even if you are cutting the fabric for use in a quilt or some other project, the difference between the faded and not-so-faded fabric.

16. Steps 10 through 16 as necessary to complete the deconstruction. When you’ve done, this should be the total pieces from a single pair of jeans to be discarded. I save the outside seams but the not the inside seams.

DSCN3518And here is my bounty. This pile represents about 30 pairs of jeans, ranging from size 30 all the way up through 54″!

IMG_4209The fabric shown in the photo above, is to be cut into strips and then braided into the denim rag rug.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 4.19.00 PMI actually have much more that I am deconstructing slightly different as I am using it for a upholstery project. I got the idea from the photo above. I just love the juxtification between the formality of the chair yet informal fabric of salvaged denim. The small hints of pockets and seams just adds to the overall delight.

My chair is a little different than the style above, the back has a tufts rather than a flat surface. And this is where the different shades of blue will bring such a uniqueness to it.

Here are some other images that influence me:

Okay, that’s it for today. If you have further questions, comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

julie

A Lull in the Madness

Do you ever find yourself in one of those places? Where nothing seems to energize you or interest you or gets your creative juices going? That is where I have been for the last week. Scattered and wandering around aimless.

I have a number of projects in the works; the benches being constructed from head and foot boards, which I hope to pair with a long table and a couple of ladder back chairs. Next up, two more dressers awaiting priming and painting. Along with those larger projects, I am still working my giant cross stitch.

I’ve been doing some purging in the meantime. I’ve listed a ton of my china collection on eBay. While trying to find a place for my latest collection (cut glass sugar bowls) I’ve realized that I am on the verge of becoming an honest-to-goodness hoarder. Only my hoard is for wonderful stuff (don’t they all say that?).

Over the last ten years I have collected dinnerware that both my grandmothers had, my mother’s china and of course, my own china (you know, the good stuff that never is used). I collected cookie jars, cookie cutters, cake pans (these were more for making The Kid birthday cakes, but once you have them how can you get rid of them?), buttons, beads, Lego mini-figs, PEZ dispensers (the count somewhere near a thousand), apples, old computers (with The Kid’s help), Monopoly tokens, Diet Coke stuff… heck, I could go on and on. Sometimes in this day and age of computers and eBay and Craigslist and other sites, collecting is so easy and what once starts as a harmless little collection soon becomes a huge pile. And then what do you do with it?

I don’t know if I mentioned that I have a dream of moving to Europe for a few years, but that is becoming closer to a reality every day. I look around at all the ‘stuff’ I have and try to figure out what I could do with it, and every once in a while I get sick of seeing all of it and list a bunch on eBay and start selling. Let’s just hope that there is someone out there would thinks my stuff is worth buying. 🙂

Thanks for dropping by and I promise to have something good to share soon.

julie

Sewing Room Update: Finally Finished!

2014-10-27 19.52.50Well, I say “finished” but is anything ever really finished?

So, way back I showed you the new cabinet added to my sewing room. Because it came with a plain front – rather than the beadboard finish that is on every other cabinet in the room – I attempted to change the doors on this new cabinet to match.

At first, we tried to use the thin sheets you can get from any hardware or big box store.

First we cut them to size for each panel:

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Then we slathered on the glue, placed the beadboard and then weighted it down with whatever we had in the garage. You can see we used paint cans, a small anvil – even boxes of Diet Coke.

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2014-10-12 13.38.30After leaving it overnight, I came out the next morning to find that the glue hadn’t ‘stuck’ to the door panel, only the beadboard. Back to square one.

I did some investigating and ran across a wallpaper that looked like beadboard. It couldn’t hurt to try, right? I ordered one roll and waited. It finally came and attempt number two was started.

Since I wasn’t using much, I opted for premixed wallpaper paste. Using a four inch roller, I slathered it on heavy.

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Rolled the wallpaper on top and smoothed with my hands. Then using a sharp blade, I cut the piece to size using the edges of the trim.

2014-10-22 18.36.30Wiped up any excess paste…

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…did all three panels the same way…

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And here’s how it looked. Left it to dry overnight and went to sleep with my fingers crossed.

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Here is both doors (three panels):

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Came out the next morning and it looked great! Yay! However, as I kept looking at them, I felt like something wasn’t quite right. The bounding trim was very glossy but the paper had a matte finish. I thought I would just set them up and spray paint them glossy white.

Good idea, except the paper never really dried. It was just sort of sticky. In a room where dust and material fragments and threads would be everywhere, I knew this wouldn’t be good. I opted to spray it with a glossy clear sealant. Now, there was a chance here that this would only make things worse and not resolve the issue. But I figured I could just stick The Kid in the truck and point him in the direction of IKEA and get him to buy replacement doors. It was worth a try.

And it worked! Next morning the stickiness was gone and the doors were all shiny! Next step, installation.

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Doesn’t it look like we bought it that way? I love this idea and may be looking for more ways to use this!

A couple more pics of the new cabinet and some of the other changes as a result:

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Added some more “buttons” and one still not up yet:

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New shelf along the ceiling line… those boxes hold so much! I have completed quilt squares and lots and lots of cut pieces just waiting to be turned into more quilts.

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Had to turn the button board vertical to fit. Had to move some other pieces, like the tack board, to another part of the room. Added some new things as well to the mix, such as this “puzzle box” of sewing attachments made by Singer in the early part of the 20th century.

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Here is where the tack board went. The top is a photo of The Kid when we had just adopted our puppy.

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Here is an older shot of the cabinets along the back wall and turning up to the window. You can sort of make out the beadboard fronts.

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Okay, now that this is done… I need to turn my attention to the third stall of the garage. It is where my sports car needs to be housed during what we expect to be a pretty snowy winter. I need to get the STUFF either done or out of there. I really just want to play in my sewing room… I just bought that new embroidery machine and can’t wait to get started. But first things first.

Julie

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