Wednesday, November 23, 2011

... appearance on another blog

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Laura from Fore Front Fashion, a very hip blog that chronicles the innate fashion sense of us Mainers - Bean boots and all. She ended up stopping by the apartment to chat about my little clothing venture Filia and take a few pictures of my sewing room and inventory. You can check out the results here, here and here (as usual, I think my cat steals the show). I was super flattered that Laura wanted to feature Filia on her blog and am still blushing at all the kind things she said in her write-up!
If you’re not already a regular reader of Fore Front Fashion, I would totally recommend that you add it to your list. It does a fantastic job of spotlighting modern Maine fashion without veering too far into what a friend calls “lumberjack hipster”. It also has great info on local fashion-related events, local shops and vendors. Flag your favorites and patronize them this weekend on Small Business Saturday!!
In other making-things news, my sister Erin and her friend September helped me rephotograph a lot of my Filia items for my Etsy shop. Thanks to them, it looks a whole lot brighter and attractive! There are a few new pieces, too, so check it out here if you’d like to see the fruits of that labor.
*Noted* fashion photographer Erin.

I’m also in the middle of a chair-refinishing project that has unexpectedly turned into a bit of an odyssey. I’m hoping to finish that up and have something to show for it this weekend. After, of course, eating myself stupid. Hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving!! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

... fabric-covered roller shade

The fixing up of our new apartment continues! And while I never feel like a room is ever really “done”, I’m getting pretty close to “done for now” with my sewing room. In fact I’m almost ready to do a whole before-and-after post about it, but in the meantime here’s a quick little project I knocked together for the lone window in that room.
First I should say that I really have a thing about mini-blinds, and that thing is deep dislike. They are ugly, insanely irritating to clean, and it drives me absolutely nuts when the bottom is crooked after you pull them up. So of course there are mini-blinds in every single window of our new place, and I will be systematically eradicating them one by one.
The mini-blinds in the sewing room were particularly bad in that they were broken - some of the strips were snapped off on one side. This left an exposed hole when the blinds were down and when you pulled the blinds up, some of the strips would hang diagonally below the bottom. It looked like the mini-blind had a hernia. 

To replace it, I wanted something clean and simple - no drapes that I would bump into or get caught up in when I’m moving around the room working on sewing projects - but would add a shot of color to the room. Privacy isn’t much of an issue for that window, because it looks at the side of the building next door about four feet away. For the same reason, light quality really isn’t a big issue either. So I decided to use a simple roller shade and cover it with a colorful fabric - done and done.

This was a super easy project to prep for - just unrolled the roller blind and washed it, measured it, and cut the fabric to fit with a rotary cutter (adding about two inches to each side). The I ironed the fabric, took everything outside, and used my trusty spray adhesive to adhere the fabric to the shade. The one issue was how to finish the sides. I initially thought I’d wait for the adhesive to set and then use a rotary cutter to trim the extra fabric right to the edge of the shade, but I was concerned it would eventually start to fray. So I decided to wrap the sides around and glue them on the back, thinking no one would see the back side, anyway. However, I totally forgot that you see the back side of the shade on bit that’s rolled up. I don’t hate the look of the fabric on the sides - because the fabric I used has a white background, it kind of looks intentional, like a border - but I do wish I had trimmed the excess so that the sides were even. Right now one side is wider than the other. But it’s not driving me crazy (YET). So if you use this method, make sure to trim the edges even before you glue them down to the back. Or, you could cover the roller up with a valance or something (I’m just not a huge fan of valances).

Then George took down the hated blinds, installed the roller shade hardware, and we hung the shade. That’s it! I will say, the fabric makes the shade a little heavy, so it doesn’t spring up as quickly or enthusiastically as a shade normally would - but this doesn’t really bother me. I love that this was a pretty dirt-cheap project, which is my favorite kind. The fabric was from Marden’s and I think was about $4/yd, and I bought two yards, so that’s $8 for the fabric. I actually got the roller shade from my parents, who had a few leftover after changing some window treatments in their house, so that was free. And I already had the spray adhesive. So all in all $8 and about 2-3 hours (including drying time and installation) and I’m up one unique, colorful window treatment and down one nasty set of mini-blinds - I’ll take it. Only 13 more windows to go!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

... baby gift and a characteristic mistake

Lots of my friends have been having babies lately, so I find myself making my fair share of baby clothes as gifts. I mostly enjoy it, because baby clothes are so small that they work up quickly - it’s like instant gratification sewing. Plus I think it’s generally accepted that things that are smaller versions of regular-sized things are magically cuter, like kittens and Smart Cars.
My friend recently had an adorable baby girl, so I was excited to make something ruffly and pink. I decided to work off of a pattern (Simplicity 2572), which I find relaxing every once in a while. Making my own designs usually involves a lot of agonizing over the measurements and details, whereas working off a pattern is just following the directions. It’s like playing with Legos - clearly the best part of Legos was throwing all your sets together and making whatever you wanted, but sometimes you just want to follow the directions and end up with a giant pirate ship, you know?
For this project, I found this adorable printed pinwale corduroy at Joann’s that matched some solid pinwale corduroy I had leftover from another project. I wanted to make the jumper and matching hoodie, so I got right down to it. I had my fabric, my pattern - so far, so good.
Here’s the jumper:

Cute, right? Kind of a pain to have to put in a zipper - I usually try to avoid them on baby clothes - but otherwise straightforward. And here’s the hoodie:

Have you spotted the problem? That’s right, I cut out the entire hoodie UPSIDE DOWN. All the owls and the trees and the hearts are wrong side up. Such a silly, easily avoidable mistake!! I didn’t notice until I had already cut all the pieces, and then I didn’t have enough fabric left to start over. Plus it would have seemed an awful waste to toss the upside-down pieces and I really didn’t think my friend would mind all that much. But it was a good, albeit aggravating reminder to slow down and double-check all my fabric and pieces before I cut - basically to measure twice, cut once. Classic advice for sewers and carpenters everywhere!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

... lined jewelry drawer

I am so in love with this project! It was so fast and easy, it almost feels like cheating to call it a project at all. And credit where credit is due - it was 100% George’s idea.
Here’s the background: our new place doesn’t have a linen closet or much bathroom storage, so we bought an old dresser at a yard sale that tucks perfectly into a little alcove by the bathroom door. It has three deep drawers and two shallow drawers at the top. The bottom three I filled with towels, sheets and bathmats. I filled one shallow drawer with facecloths and hand towels, but didn’t really have enough of them to fill both shallow drawers. So the question was, what to put in the top shallow drawer? 
The other half of the background story is that I have lots of big necklaces and bangle bracelets and have never found a good way to store them. I’ve kept the necklaces in a jewelry box, but they get all tangled - hanging on the inside of a door, they get banged around every time you open it. And bangle bracelets take up lots of space. So George’s awesome solution was to line the inside of the top shallow drawer with some kind of fabric and store the big jewelry in there - out of sight, untangled, and easy to access.

Come on, isn’t that such a great idea?! And it was so easy to do. I bought some velvet at Joann’s - about a half a yard, so not very expensive, plus I think I used a coupon. I decided to go with royal blue, as a bit of a joke - like the crown jewels! Except that the priceless items displayed on this royal blue velvet are mostly from H&M, Forever 21 and flea markets.

After I cleaned, lightly sanded and measured the drawer, I used a rotary cutter to cut the velvet into a piece about 1” larger than the drawer bottom on each side. Then I took the drawer, velvet, and some spray adhesive outside (this was before it snowed(!) this weekend), sprayed the inside of the drawer (I stood it up against the side of the house) and adhered the velvet to the drawer. Then, back inside, I used a combo of an Exacto Knife and little snippy scissors to trim the edges off the velvet to fit the drawer bottom perfectly. Then it was just a matter of cleaning up the sides of the drawer with a little Goo Gone to remove any stray spray adhesive. That was it! Less than an hour. And this is the result:

It works perfectly - everything stays in place when you open and shut the drawer, it got all that stuff off the top of my dresser, and frankly I think it looks really cool. A really elegant solution to the jewelry storage problem, my favorite kind.
Now what to do with the outside of the dresser is still up in the air. When we bought it, I assumed I’d paint it and change out the hardware, and I had a color in mind. Now I’m not sure about painting it, or at least not about the color. I think I have to live with it for a little bit more before I decide.