Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bench Makeover

When I left Toronto, I abandoned most of my furniture. I kept the few things that I had strong feelings for (my bed, the kitchen table, an old tea cart from G's grandfolks), but the rest of it got passed on. When we sublet, and when we lived in the apartment, this wasn't a big deal. We didn't need a lot of furniture. But then we bought the house, and all the empty space became a little overwhelming.

Of course we can't afford to furnish the entire space with new things (who could?), but nor would I want to (who would?). I immediately adopted grand schemes involving me trawling antique stores, used furniture shops and yard sales. I visualized myself refinishing junky crap into absolute treasures (on the cheap!).

There are a few problems with this.

  1. Do you realize how early you have to get up to make yard sale visits worthwhile? Do you? I have yet to find out.
  2. The antique stores in my neighborhood are a bit more 'high-end' than I was hoping. They have beautiful things, but the refinishing work has already been done, which means the prices are jacked.
  3. Shops in my neighborhood have ridiculous hours - they all close at 5:00 pm and aren't open on Sundays or Mondays. COME ON.
  4. I do not know how to refinish furniture.
  5. I not own any tools.
Not to be completely deterred, I managed to pick up a few things the last time I was at Value Village:

The chair and the bench are destined for the sun room, and the foam head I could not be convinced to pass up (G tried)
. The chair is in decent shape and feels sunny, plant-filled room appropriate. The bench, however, is fugly. It's hard to tell, but the bench itself is an awful dark brown paint, and the seat an equally-awful burgundy vinyl. It could not be allowed to continue its existence as-is: and so my first refinishing project revealed itself.

I should mention that I am not a 'doing' person. I am an 'ideas' person. I began this scheme (and this post) back in June. It's now mid-October (ohmyGodit'smidOctober), and I've only just gotten it finished (sort of). But it IS finished (sort of).

I had intended to take pictures of the process (I bought a staple gun!) - but I got caught up in the excitement (staple gun!) and forgot - which means you will have to visualize the process on your own. Though it may have looked a little something like this:

Anyway. Without further ado - The Final Product:

It's not perfect, but who was expecting that, really? Have I mentioned that I am not a perfectionist? I decided to use fabric that I already had in the stash, which is fine because I love this fabric. So bright and cheery - and not ugly burgundy vinyl!

Don't look too closely at the staples, I implore you. Just notice the fact that the fabric is firmly affixed to the wooden frame. I decided not to put the hinges back in as I would have had to punch holes in the fabric, which would make me sad. In time, you won't be able to see the staples at all. I plan to trim the fabric edges with ribbon or chunky rickrack. Fun!

So there you have it. Not perfect, but kinda better. That's how I roll.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Duvet Cover

Remember that duvet cover I was making, that one that I posted about ages ago? It's still not done. In fact, it currently looks like this:

Zero progress. Zilch. That's it, on top of all the other rag-tag projects that I've started and never finished. You may recognize some from earlier posts, actually. In all honesty, I've gone backwards: I want to redo the whole thing.

The more I think about it, and the longer I leave the project, the less enamored I am with the patchwork style I was using. I've begun craving something simpler- much simpler. I want to really make good use of the beautiful, crisp, blue polka-dot shirting fabric I stocked up on in Toronto, for the specific purpose of duvet-cover making. I love this fabric - some days I want a wardrobe made from it, but realize just a duvet cover might do.

You can see the fabric on the bottom of the below photo. The picture doesn't really do it justice, of course - you have to feel it to experience it's cool crispness.

Luckily for me, I found almost exactly what I want to do on Design Sponge the other day
. Look how simple that is, how lovely. I have plans to make it my own, of course. I'm planning a strip of patchwork just off-side of centre, to keep some of the charm of my original plan. And just in case I don't have quite enough lovely polka-dot fabric to do the entire duvet cover, I purchased a simple white top sheet to use as backing. Just in case.

I still don't have my sewing area set up (hey - we've only been in the house for three months. Cut me some slack!), so it may be some time until I actually finish the project. The important this is that I am excited about it again.

You can hear all about it in the next thrilling installment of
'Project #5 - Duvet Cover'.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In which I inch ever closer to being a grown-up.

It feels like a long time since I wrote anything (ok - so it has been a long time). It's not that I've forgotten, and it's not that I've been holding back all my wonderful projects out of meanness or shyness. I simply haven't made anything, or done much creative at all, in months (MONTHS!). I have no projects to blog about. Thankfully, I have what I think is a good reason. I bought a house.

This house, to be exact:

Glory in it's cuteness, Internet!

So the last few months have been spent packing, unpacking, arranging, shopping, and trying to tame the lawn. Yes - poor me, I know.

Thankfully, things are almost in order and I will soon have a a little craft room/dressing room in which to get some crafting done. I'll give you a tour once it's finally actually set up (don't hold your breath). No excuses now, no sir!

I'll be back in track any day now.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bluebird of Chumpiness

I am hereby declaring my fondness for the word 'chump' and all its possible variations - chump, Chumpington, chumpiness, chumpion. Love it. I also love Sublime Stitching patterns. It was only a matter of time before the two came together in glory.

Turns out it was an adorable bird and banner pattern from the Stitch-it Kit, which I had for years before actually stitching it on anything (shame on me). It was a few years ago, and I can't quite recall if the desire to use the pattern or to create a door hanging came first - but it hardly matters now. I couldn't very well just write 'Welcome', could I? Of course not! And so the first Welcome Chumps bird was born, and it was a hit.

A friend was so taken with the little fella that she requested one for Christmas, and I obliged. Honestly, I really wasn't thrilled with the colour choices on the first version, and felt there was a little sloppiness (or bulkiness, maybe?) to some of the stitches, so I welcomed the chance for another shot. I decided to to simplify things in the to-be-gifted version, going with blues rather than multicolour, and was extremely pleased with the results - and i like to think that the recipient was, too.

So, where does this bring us? Well, we just bought our first house and will be moving in at the end of April (I'll save the gushing for another post - you've been warned), and of course the door requires it's own Bluebird of Chumpiness. How else will my chumps know they are welcome?

Obviously I can't copy my friend's version exactly - though I do love the blues. I was debating reds, but Cardinal Chumpington doesn't quite have the same ring to it. What do you think?

I will post the finished project when it's ready.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Beauty of Embroidery

FACT: Embroidery is awesome. It's a beautiful, simple and rewarding pursuit. Did I mention I love it?

A friend of mine recently decided to try embroidery for the first time and, like me, has fallen for it hard. I hadn't completed a project in a long time, but he
r excitement reminded me of all the reasons I fell in love with embroidery in the first place.

And it's easy to love embroidery! It really, really is.

It is incredibly easy to learn. Yes, there are some more complicated stitches that I can't seem to master (I'm looking at you, Chain Stitch), but most of them are very simple. Like most people, I began with split stitch and was off like a rocket. Stem, lazy daisy, back stitch and even occasionally-dreaded french knots were an easy progression from there.

If I can learn it, anyone can. In fact, over the Holidays, I taught G's nephew Josh to embroider. He'd been admiring what I was working on, and asked me to show him how to do it. Look how well he did - all by himself! I did the star on top, and drew the tree outline for him to follow, but the rest is all him. He was so proud, as he should be.

Embroidery is so cheap compared to many other crafts. Yes, I splurged on Sublime Stitching's beautiful Stitch it Kit when I first de
cided to learn embroidery, and I certainly don't regret the investment. Occasionally I buy craft treats - like some beautiful variegated floss - but for the most part cost is incredibly reasonable, especially when you consider the results! For $5.00 I come away with a rainbow of floss, or a couple of hoops. Can knitting do that? Scrapbooking? Sewing? Certainly not!

I also love the quick gratification that can come from embroidery. Pick a simple design and a back stitch and you have a lovely complete project in no time. It's so satisfying!

When searching for a creative hobby, I quickly realized I needed something that I was going to be able to pick up for awhile and put down again, and something I could easily do in front of the television or while talking to friends. Again, embroidery completely fit my personality. I did the first half of this unicorn while hanging out with family at Christmastime, and the second half while watching Pride and Prejudice (the BBC miniseries, of course) with my friend Maggie. Lots of distraction, and yet I got it done in good time and think it still turned out beautifully (in my opinion).

Now, if you'll excuse me, my floss and hoop are calling.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Danse Danse Resolution

Ah yes. The New Year. Time to think about becoming a better person and to pretend, for a little while, that I have the will power to make it happen.

In 2010 I will . . .
  • Accept more invitations to social events, even when it involves being surrounded by people I don't know. I've made a few friends since moving to Halifax, but mine isn't what I would call a particularly robust social circle. The only way I'm going to start meeting new people is to move a little outside my comfort zone (ie my sleep pants and living room). So - who wants to be my new best friend!?
  • Explore more of the city. Halifax won't embrace me unless I embrace it first. I've been pretty downtown-centric so far, as my life tends to exist in a walking-distance radius from my apartment. I love downtown Halifax, but realize that it's not the 'be-all, end-all'. I'd like to get familiar with some of the other neighborhoods, especially since I intend to buy a house in one of them in the near future. I have yet to explore the Hydrostone, or much of the North End. And there's always deep, dark Dartmouth (I suppose).
  • Embrace the Year of Health. At the start of 2009 I proclaimed it the Year of Change, and it certainly was - new job, new city, new friends, new skills. Hoping for similar results in 2010, I have decided it will be the Year of Health. Contrary to my pre-moving plans, I have put on even more weight since moving to Halifax. This trend must be reversed. Weight-loss will be awesome, but it is not the sole focus of the YoH. I am making plans to eat better, find a doctor and dentist, and just make healthier choices for living my life.
  • Become a more careful sewer. I am a lazy sewer, I admit it. I 'eyeball' things that should be carefully measured. I don't press nearly as much as I know I should. My lines aren't always super straight, but I rarely go back and try again. Taking just a little more time would really show in the finished projects, and likely help with my frustration levels.
  • Revisit my former thriftiness. I used to be great at finding deals - really, really great. I was an excellent used clothing shopper, and somehow managed to find weirdly awesome stuff at dollar stores. That changed when I moved to Toronto and used (or 'vintage') stuff was suddenly cool. Having no desire to elbow hipsters over plaid shirts, I gave up. This year I will make a go of it again - particularly when it comes to sourcing cheap fabric. Also included in this category: use more coupons and take advantage of sales.
  • Become more organized. I love to organize things - papers, toiletries, files, lists, groceries, books . . . . but somehow I still end up feeling scattered and -well- disorganized. I will remedy this, or at least reduce its awfulness.
  • Be less dependent (or 'addicted', or 'obsessed' with) the internet. I am on the internet a lot. I email, I facebook, I tweet (therefore I am?). 'Google it' is my answer to most dilemmas. I am not saying I am going to give it up, but I feel I need to restrain my use a little. You know, call someone rather than writing an email, pick up a reference book rather than Googling. At least I'll give it a try.
  • Get a library card. Why haven't I done this yet? Because I'm lazy, that's why.

All right, folks - hold me accountable.