Posted in Life

It’s Just a Rug, Right?

In my intro post for this series, I mentioned our goal was to go vintage, pre-owned whenever possible. So imagine my emotional letdown when I realized we were going to have to buy new rugs. Why? Because a 1982 open floor plan house isn’t suited in size and scale for rugs to work with our furniture and size of room. How is that?

Plan

 

  1. We wanted square and BIG I knew our lovely hand-me-down rugs from Turkey were too small (they were too small for some rooms in our old house built in the 30s). But, I didn’t realize that the rug sizes we needed to fill the space correctly were considered ‘extra large’ or ‘mansion rugs’. LOL at ‘mansion’. This is America! What was once a mansion rug is probably a standard size for much of this country.
  2. Square rugs rarely come standard in 10’x 10’or 12’x 12′. Period. I thought it would be easy, but even my searches online didn’t turn up much. My designer said at that size, we’d need to look at custom.
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Inspiration rugs, but none come in the sizes we need. So, we’d have had to get a 12×15 and cut it down.

We needed to choose the rug first because it’s easier to match colors to a rug than match a rug to your furniture. We eventually settled on using custom rug startup Boundless. And I got over ‘needing’ a wool rug after seeing it would cost several thousand for each and STILL need to be cut down to the right size. 

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Here’s our palette. I was SURE Jordan wouldn’t like it. But, he looked at it and said, “That looks great.” Honestly, that’s more progress than we made in nine months. Look, he doesn’t even think we need to paint since the walls *are* painted, that’s a story for another time.

Enter Boundless Rugs. Boundless has a set number of designs and 22 colors to chose from. I found them from much googling on custom size rugs. What’s great, is any of their nylon rugs are customizable by size and color. PERFECT.  Each rug was going to come in at our budget. As of this writing, they are going to add more designs. But, I couldn’t let FOMO stop me from moving forward with our project.

SamplesFrom Boundless, we ordered a FREE sample rug to see the colors and textures in real life. I actually put this on the ground, stood on it, propped my ankles on it. The pile is 1/2″ thick and far denser than I would have thought. The material is nylon which is stain resistant and durable for high traffic areas. I do wish there were more color choices, but they are also a ten- months-old start up! I’ll give them some time.

Original

Here are our final rug choices: the Miles on the left, Hendry on the right. This is where I found the designer help extremely useful. She was able to pick two rugs that are cousins, not twins. She chose colors that worked well together too (we went through several tonal iterations before settling on this). I couldn’t even wrap my mind around getting rugs that had a print and needed to be in the same room. She showed us these two and we were sold.

Miles

Boundless was fantastic to work with. They digitally edited the rug so we could see how they would look in the dimensions we needed. They also made some tweaks to the design to fit our space and our designer’s vision. For the Miles above, they showed several iterations until it worked for us. For the Hendry below, they added an additional repeat of the design, keeping the same scale (we had the option of enlarging the print for a more bold look too).

Hendry

The rugs are milled in the US and will arrive in a few months. I’ll check back in when they get here! But, so far, I think Boundless is a great option if you have odd sizes. Or need specific colors. I would of course prefer wool vs nylon, but I don’t have $8,000 for rugs, lol.

Next… Upholstery. Now that the rugs are chosen, we can actually move on to FABRICS!

Posted in sewing

Cashmerette Holyoke: Strappy, swishy maxi dress

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Making the Cashmerette Holyoke Dress was an easy decision for me. I was lucky enough to model the pattern envelope. When I tried it on the first time, I knew I had the fabric and the complete and total will to sew it up.

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Image from Cashmerette Website

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My fabric is a cotton lawn purchased on our trip to San Francisco in 2018. Because the fabric is see through, I underlined the bodice with cotton batiste  and lined the skirt with Bemberg rayon lining.

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If you find that you need to line the skirt, I’d recommend sewing the lining first, attaching it to the front facing. You’ll need to remove that 1.5″ or so of facing from your lining. It went smoothly and give the skirt a wonderful structure while keeping it airy. I did choose to omit the pockets.

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I sewed a size 14 E/F which corresponds to my bust measurements and graded to a 16 at the hip. I did need to shorten the straps about 1/2″ to help with bra coverage and shoulder strap slipping. There’s also ZERO bust gaping.

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Jenny, the owner of Cashmerette has another winner on her hands.

Posted in Life

Working With an Interior Designer

Since I lived in one home the last 15 years, it hadn’t occurred to me that my furniture might not ‘work’ in a new home. Our rugs were the wrong size, we went from two living room type spaces to one, and I realized just how much of what we had came out of my parent’s house.

I never thought we’d want to work with an interior designer. I think I have a pretty good eye and decent taste. But, I found after we moved into a new place together that Jordan and I couldn’t agree on anything. In addition to not liking the same things, I learned Jordan couldn’t “see” something. I.E. I bought home two chairs to be reupholstered, and he was solely focused on how ugly the fabric was. He just could not see the lines. I realized I got totally overwhelmed by choice and was best when given parameters of what to look for or limited options. I also just really dislike trying to mix prints, patterns and colors. I don’t think it’s my forte. I like how things look when it’s all done, but I don’t’ find it interesting to put together for myself (or quite frankly with other people).

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I decided to blog this process because I had NO idea what to expect and thought it might be helpful for others who are considering hiring a designer. Originally, I thought interior designers were for rich people in fancy houses. But, I asked what people on Instagram and got a lot of support for working with a designer at any budget, that I decided to go for it.

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Listing Photo of Living Room

Enter our **designer. I selected our designer for a couple of reasons. I wanted to work with someone local, she had a great eye from what I saw on her IG, she had an actual working website that was extremely well written, she was very responsive to my initial email, and we got along well. Full disclosure: I went out of my way to make sure African Americans were heavily represented in the pool of people I reached out to and hopefully also lived in Baltimore City limits. I can talk more about that in another post.

 

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What came with us after our moving purge

First Steps:

The Designer had Jordan and I create a joint Pinterest board with rooms and details we liked. As expected, we were all over the place. He liked dark rooms I’d liken to a wooden clad games room. I liked bright colors and prints and a LOT of pink.

Before we started working with our designer, I replaced the dining room light with that modern sputnik influenced fixture. I also bought the Acacia wood table (seats up to 10) and china cabinet, but the dining chairs belonged to my parents. Rugs are 30+ years old from my parents, sectional was in our basement and belonged to Jordan’s aunt from 1976, yellow floral chairs from a second hand shop.

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Current state of living / dining room

Our main goal is to get our living room and dining room set up. We wanted to reuse as much furniture as possible, buy vintage and recover whenever we could and keep costs under budget. We can’t afford to do EVERYTHING decorwise we want in these spaces, so we had to focus this year on what the most important things were: recovering furniture, and getting rugs that fit– with the right size and scale. Yes, we need to paint, get new dining room chairs, and do ‘something’ about our mirror heavy / dated fireplace unit. But, those things will have to wait until 2020 or even 2021.

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So, I’ll stop here. Next update — picking rugs or what I call, “The one thing I knew I needed help with.”

**I’m choosing not to use our Designer’s name until after the project is completed.

Posted in sewing

Semi-Custom Curtains: IKEA ANNAKAJSA Hack

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Maybe my blog is just for IKEA hacks now? Heh. In our new home of nine months (six months when I finally decided I had to get some bedroom curtains), we have no curtains. I grew up in a VERY Caribbean house where curtains were the first thing that went up over many military moves. I remember buying lace with my mom when we lived in Germany and my grandmother sewing those into curtains for our home when we moved back to the States. In my first house (how funny that is to say after 15 years in said house) my mom hung curtains on almost every window my first night there.

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Above, the day we settled on our new home.

So, it was a surprise to me I went six months in our new home without them. We are lucky enough that there are blinds of some sort on almost all the windows, but I am an incredibly light sleeper and need room darkening curtains or blackout shades to sleep past the crack of down (also a dead silent room but have given up on that since getting married).

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Bedroom before we got furniture, lol

There’s definitely been a downturn in window covering interest the last decade or so. Partly the Scandinavian / MCM popularity. But, I also think because curtains are expensive. At least good ones are. I wanted something blackout, heavy, lined and a natural fiber. I gave up on the natural fiber when I started calculating the cost for curtains 244″ wide and 99″ long!

After reading this article in The Wirecutter, I decided to go the IKEA route. The IKEA curtains were just about the length I needed, already have a form of stiffener sewn in at the top and come hemmed. From IKEA, I could buy three packs of ANNAKAJSA two-panel curtains  (on sale for $60 a pack) to get the amount of fabric I needed for a fraction of the cost to buy SIXTEEN YARDS OF FABRIC, plus lining and make new. Besides, at 98″ long, I wouldn’t even need to hem them! In comparison, Pottery Barn had similar curtains for $74 PER PANEL. So, I spent half at IKEA in the end.

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I didn’t want them to look like IKEA curtains from a first apartment, so first I upgraded them with a tuxedo stripe grosgrain ribbon and weights at the bottom hem so they wouldn’t flare out.

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I read on Em Henderson’s blog to at least double the width of your windows in curtain fabric. So, I sewed three panels together and used the ‘drapery pleat calculator’ to help me figure out how big to make my pleats and spaces. I can’t do math. I hate to say that because it’s so “Math is HARD”. But, math is hard for me. My brain doesn’t work like that so I welcome the internet calculator to do the work for me.

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After sewing together the panels and my pleats, I made a ‘Euro Pleat’ at the top and tacked them in place and got them hung.

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I did ‘train’ the curtains for about a week and steamed the folds into place (no photo). But, found the top pleats weren’t as smooth as I wanted because the stiffener wasn’t AS stiff as custom curtains.

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So, following a tip from the internet google search, I clipped them, steamed, and let them sit a few days.

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Much better below.

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If I were to do something differently, I’d not trust the IKEA measurements and measure myself. They were both longer and slightly wider than the package said. When first finished, they were dragging on the floor.  I’d also plan a much bigger ‘set back’ (that’s probably not the right word, I don’t remember it) for the curtains when open. I could have put the ends of the traverse rod about 20 inches past the end of the window vs 12.

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Because of the curtain length being a little bit too long despite careful measuring (seriously, measure your IKEA curtains, I didn’t) I switched to longer drapery hooks that lifted them off the floor about an inch. You can compare how they look on the traverse rod below.

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Obviously, you don’t need to be Team Extra with your curtains. I really wanted the height, fabric density and thick pleats. I also plan to live with these for the next ten years. I do wish there were lighter / brighter color fabric options. They do match our fabric covered headboard and when we get around to painting our bedroom the grey-blue I have in mind, I think these will work well. I eventually plan on installing roman shades too which can have a print and some color.

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There are multiple ways you can install your IKEA curtains, including drapery hooks that will make a kind of pleat, but I really wanted a Two Finger Euro Pleat (well, I really wanted box pleat curtains but those are better for stationary drapes and I need mine to open and close). The staff at G Street told me to just shake or vaccum drapes once a week to prevent dust from setting in.  But, if I ever wash these, I didn’t want to sit down and have to attach all the hooks. I also wanted this specific pleat which those hooks don’t do

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I love how they look. They make the windows look enormous and the ceiling super high. Best of all, I can sleep in on the weekends and not wake up with the garbage truck on weekdays. It’s a funny thing to say, but I think my mom would be really proud of me. And ask me when I’m getting curtains for the rest of the house 😆.

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And if you’re curious, yes! We eventually got bedroom furniture. The dresser and nightstands are vintage (John Widdicomb) with a gorgeous burled wood front.  I found the dresser locally and purchased. I then googled it and found this lovely set up from a fancy local interior designer. I’m taking that as a validation of my taste, because Jordan was NOT sold when I showed him the dusty photos, lol. I am REALLY into Campaign / Hollywood Regency as of late — and he just is not. We still need a rug to center the room and some paint. But, after months of living out of paper boxes, this feels luxurious.

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Posted in sewing

Ikea KALLAX Cutting & Sewing Table Hack

Hey Franz!

First time I’m using ‘hack’ in a public space. I know language changes, but I kind of hate the word. Some people hate ‘purse’ or ‘moist’. I don’t really use “hack” or “make” as it relates to sewing.  ::shakes old lady cane and adjusts reading glasses::.  Long post to follow, but I also have construction photos, tips and video on my Instagram story highlights.

IKEA KALLAX cutting sewing table hack

Today I present my sewing loft cutting table! My new sewing room is a loft on the third floor of our house. It’s long and narrow and my old, beloved orange sewing desk didn’t fit the room. I was also blessed (a word I do not take lightly) to meet and become friends with fellow maker Elizabeth, who works professionally as a commercial interior designer. She was generous enough to design a sewing room for me. Won’t lie, I was going to move the cutting table to a different part of the room. But, as I started to build it, it totally made sense where she put it.

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Skipping ahead, lol. Option 2 is my favorite. This layout from Elizabeth gives me a long sewing table for my four main machines (sewing, serger, coverstitch, blind hemmer). I also get a large cutting space and pressing staion (on wheels so I can move them out from the wall), and I still get two 4" wide storage units for my 17 bins (and counting) of fabric. I may look for an L-shape desk that fits this corner, shortening the longer side. And, since I'm now scouting used office supply stores I can perhaps get one with a built in memo board. This is the design I'm going for! Many thanks to my design guru friend @bluesatinstiches! I think it'll take me a good year to finish kitting out this room. I'm excited to have a plan to work from. #interiordesign #sewingroom #sewingroomideas

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I settled on the Kallax Craft Table hack from Family Handyman specifically because it could house my 10+ years of Burdastyle magazines. If this isn’t a consideration, check out Closet Case Pattern’s cutting table or Brooks Ann Camper’s or Rowley’s professional work table (with detailed instructions).

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Lucky to have Liz and Jordan help me!

After some fantastic feedback on Instagram, I decided to use Homosate from Home Depot for a pinnable layer on the table top. At first I thought I didn’t have anything I needed to pin to my table top. But, folks told me all the ways they use the pinable layer and I went for it. It’s covered with butcher paper and just taped down with packing tape. I got this idea from Brooks Ann Camper’s blog. I’ve since done my first FBA and bicep adjustment with this pinable table and it is LIFE CHANGING.

IKEA KALLAX cutting sewing table hack

Now, the knitty gritty of what I wish I did differently and what I was thinking in construction.

Early considerations:

I wanted my table top to be at least 45″ wide so I could easily have the bulk of the fabric on the table if I single layer cut something. I NEVER want to have to cut from the floor again. My back is 42, not 22 and it yells at me for days when I cut on the floor.

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Storage is paramount. As noted above, I wanted to keep my Burdastyle magazines organized. And, I needed someplace to store longer bolts of things (muslin, batiste, linings, silk organza).

IKEA KALLAX cutting sewing table hack

The table needed wheels because access to the roof is in the sewing loft and if there was a problem. I needed to be able to move the cutting table easily. I also wanted something I could walk around. So, I didn’t want it pushed up against the wall all the time.  My wheels are 4″ high. This also helps get the cabinet to a comfortable cutting level for me. Total table height is 39″ and perfect for 5’6″ me.

What I would do differently

I used three KALLAX in a row which comes to about 46″ wide and 58″ long. Pretty much exactly what I wanted the finished table top to be. Jasika suggested I determine my countertop finished measurements by what mats I’d be able to buy in stock. I did! But….

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I didn’t account for toe clearance (thanks, Beth!) and I didn’t think too much about the countertop edge coming off of the base (thanks, Carly!). Apparently, you want 3.5″ to 4″ toe clearance so you don’t stub your toe when getting right against the table. And, you want that top overhang so you don’t bang you knee against the base of the table (mine is 3″). Once I finished assembling the base and these above issues came to light, I realized I was going to need to make a much bigger top to my table than I planned.

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Yes, I could have used two cabinets and cut my top to to the size I wanted. But, I’d already assembled the three, so one wasn’t returnable. And, I *could* use the extra storage provided by the middle piece.

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Because my countertop was now bigger than I planned, I had to buy more plywood than I budgeted for in order to cut pieces to the right dimensions.  If I’d known / thought about these things before, I might have stuck with two KALLAX as my base and made my countertop as wide as I wanted. But, with three next to each other, the KALLAX base required a top that was 60″x54″. That’s just too big to get out of one 4’x8′ piece of plywood. That added $50 to the project. Plywood comes in 4’x8′ sheets. Plus, the interior KALLAX was $60 more. And, now the custom self healing mat I need for this table top will be near $300. OUCH.

I will still be buying a custom self healing mat for my table. But, honestly not until next year. It’s going to be expensive and after this project, I need to sit on my credit card for a few months. And, my old cutting mat from Joann’s works just fine for now.

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There she is! I LOVE this table. Like, sometimes I come up to the room just to look at it. It’s so comfortable to cut on. Alterations are a dream with the pinable top. The width allows me to lay out fabric easily. The storage is EXCELLENT. Everything is at my fingertips. And, my beloved Burdas are in easy reach. Oh! That’s the MOSSLANDA picture ledge. I added it to have a place to hold scissors or pins — things I’m using at the moment.

I have a lot more work to do on this room. But, just this table and getting most of my boxes out of the room have seriously improved my attitude and mood. I was so depressed coming in here. I could never find anything and continually digging through boxes for thread, chalk, etc.

Next up: Thread racks on the wall and pegboard for tools! I also need to look into my sewing table / desk situation. But, want to work in the room a little more to figure out what meets my needs best. There are no ceiling lights in the room, which makes nighttime sewing miserable. Hopefully we sell our old house this year and I can get the electrician in to do some wiring for me. More to (slowly) come!