Clip Clop the Wonder Horse is done!

Well, almost done.  I’d like to clear coat it after it dries and cures for a while.  Mode Podge seems like an excellent thing for the job, but I only have matte and semi-matte but figure this horse should stay shiny?

Today I wanted to work on it, but I still hadn’t settled on a plan.  I thought I’d start by using the paints that I have on hand and see how things went.  Obviously I made a decision or two, and it is done.  Gold isn’t really a tone I’m fond of, but my husband is even less keen on it.  It is classic though, and suddenly Clip Clop has been gilded!



The handles needed a coat or two of something dark, and the eyes needed some life.  The other aim today was to add depth to the tail and mane.  By now I thought that the horse already looked splendid and wasn’t entirely sold on messing with it, but wouldn’t the hair look more alive with some shadows defining the moulded strands?  I had to just add a little of the dark iron paint in there…


Then I toyed with the dark and light silver metallics on the the saddle.  Impulsively squeezed out a bit of bright golden paint, dipped a brush into it, and painted the blanket stars.  Well, didn’t it need a bit more gold then?  I hesitated and pondered for a while not wanting to ruin what I liked.  Finally I went ahead and committed to a gilded saddle and bridle.  I didn’t start it timidly with a dull polish or anything.  No, it was to be a fully golden saddle for my little girl!


It is actually a very true and less dull gold in real life.  I guess I need to change some settings on my camera to capture it, and my phone had trouble with the shine which led me to use the camera.  It seems I missed photographing the golden horseshoes, but Clip Clop has those now too!

I can tell you that she loves it.  Already she seems to know that this is her horsey and where to find it.  Although I’ve moved it a few times to different rooms for various reasons she has set off each morning on a rapid crawl directly to her horse.  Then she uses it to stand, slaps and bounces a bit, and smiles back at me.  I’ve lifted her into the saddle, and she surprised me by balancing without trouble and makes it bounce by whipping her torso ahead.  Obviously I’m there with hands waiting to catch her, and I don’t(didn’t) plan for this toy to be used for a while.  Anyway, I suspect she likes shiny things?  And Springs!

I can’t believe the difference Before and after:

During (and really good enough looking) vs done:






In progress: painting a vintage Wonder Horse (Bouncing rocking horse)

Well, that was fast.

After posting this morning I managed to do some chores and spend time spraying the horse.  I started with medium grey (metallic) over the primer covering everything as a base.  Then I used the darkest grey (metallic) focussing on the muzzle, underbelly,  hind quarters and lower legs.  Finally I sprayed pearly white using cardboard scraps to mask the areas I wanted left dark.  Holes were cut to stay the dapples.

The dark layer went well and so did the white initially.  I was really happy with the dapples and look.  Then I thought “I’ll just add a little more…”

Shoot.  I did not take photos at the point, but just as well probably since it would only remind me.  I wasn’t pleased by the time I sprayed a little more.  Meanwhile my little one was getting sick of her play-pen inside, so I rushed on, took breaks, and rushed through.  I believe I’d have had different outcome if able to focus the way that I used to.  😉  Anyway, I left it to dry all afternoon and was somewhat more pleased when I saw it again.  Yes, the dapples were all but lost, but it still looks good if you didn’t know my original vision for it.  The white paint has turned into a very silver metallic that blends too much with the other two shades, and that is part of the dapple problem.  Again, it is pretty enough if you don’t know the intended look.  It seems that a rather aged and then polished iron kind of  style won out despite my plans!

During the afternoon I dug around the mess of our attic (my fault!) to find the little bottles of paint from the Borg Queen costume after not finding them in the basement paint storage area or in the sewing room.  They were in the attic, and I did find them eventually, and that is a win given a poor streak of luck I had the past few days.  (I wouldn’t have purchased more, because I already did that for the last Borg Queen when I couldn’t find the original paints!)  So next I’ll either enhance the details on the mane, tail, and tack with these paints and tiny brushes or I’ll detach the stand and spray that.  Tomorrow we’ll have some rain before clear weather again, so that and life may delay this.

Ideally I’d maybe like some blues or other colours in the saddle, but I have only copper, silver, black (spray,) and gold to work with.  Unless the project is delayed and I suddenly go shopping then those are all I’ll be using.  It already looks pretty nice as is and could certainly stay without any additional work.  Perhaps, but I don’t think I can leave well enough alone.  That would be too easy!  I still might mask off the horse fur area after today’s paint is cured and spray the saddle a flat black first?  I don’t know.

Here it is with the dark layer:


and white:


Dried later on and in different lighting:






See how metallic silver it appears rather than pearlescent grey and white?  Notice that the neck area no longer shows the dappled paint I’d done?  Oh well, I suppose…

Let’s not forget before:



In Progress: Reviving an ugly old “Wonder Horse” bouncing rocking horse

I’ve been working on many projects at once lately, and always the choice is between writing or making some progress (that and the treadmill of my normal chores.)  Tonight I could write about a few different things, but I’d like to take a break from sewing and feel inspired by a painting project that is only in the beginning stages.

When I was a child there was a toy that brought me hours of screeching glee.  Memories of playing with it stick out through the vague mists of about 30 years, and I decided months ago that my daughter simply had to have a springy-bouncy-horse like mine.  Marketed as “Clip Clop the Wonder Horse” in the mid ’80s I was a lucky kid to own this newest version of plastic horse (now with sound effects!) suspended by springs from a metal frame to bounce on merrily like other fortunate children since mid-century.  Mine was named Clippity Clop, and I loved him.

It seems Radioflyer still makes a similar Wonder Horse, but I wanted a fixer upper.  (Shocking, I know!)  After all, the ’80s or ’70s orange and browns of these horses is just not appealing to my design sense, and the new ones look about the same.  For a while I’d check out Craigslist whenever I remembered to but none of the listings grabbed me until a few weeks ago when there was a Wonder Horse from the ’70s offered at the lowest price I’d ever seen and decently nearby.  (When we moved here it was farther away from all the wonderful listings to be found on Long Island to a less popular and overpriced CL region.  sigh.)


The model isn’t the same obviously, but sound certainly isn’t required.  I thought surely Clip Clop was bigger, because I was surprised at how small this horse was when I picked it up, but as a little kid everything seems bigger.  Googling shows that they measure the same.  The downside of the horse I’ve picked up is that it doesn’t have the stepping rail to get and off that mine had.  Perhaps I can add something for that?

I did some reading on painting plastic but ended up grabbing all-purpose spray paint from Home Depot instead of hunting down Krylon.  In the store I was undecided and selected a variety of paints to play with or return once I figured out what colours and effects to use.  Some ideas ran through my head.  First being to use chalk paint or a super matte in greys and whites (typical, I know.) My next thought while looking at a wall of spray paint options was to maybe dive into colour with a little soft sea foam or purple or something (woah!) accenting a pearly white horse.  There was a great selection of metallics, and I always have found hammered finish very forgiving so that was another direction…  Either hammered or a smooth aged iron kind of look blackened in the crevasses.  I still like that idea a lot.  A can of silver glitter paint made me consider that my little girl may think a glittery horse is fantastic, but I couldn’t make the leap.  Lastly is a dappled grey and white horse reserving the metallic for tack.  This is the plan right now; dapple grey and white with darker legs etc and salt and pepper tail/mane.  Honestly I’m a little tempted to do glitter after all, but I don’t have that paint now.  😀  Let’s see how things go when I get spraying…


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First I had to clean the horse, then sand, and prime everything.  Last week I did this.  I scoured the stand too and probably will try some paint on that also but done thinly and using dark metallic just to freshen it up.  The springs polished up nicely to look brushed and silvery.  The horse itself is full of imperfections in the casting.  I cut off some of the worst seams, but I’m not about to fill all the voids and air bubbles so had to quit worrying about it.  The original paint was peeling a bit, besides being a hideous colour choice, and it was very sloppily done.  I’ll have to try to emulate that vagueness to a degree since the detail of the plastic is so rough.  Anyway, I sanded it well and washed it all down before masking the frame and carefully priming on a warm and dry day.  The primer instructs to wait 5-7 days before painting if the object is plastic, so I have been patient.  She isn’t going to use this thing anytime soon anyway, and so I’ll be going slowly and letting layers cure well between work although I’d like to just have it out of the way soon.




With the primer it already looks pretty good!  Almost good enough to be done, heh.

Today I’ll test out the first base layer in either pearly white or shimmering grey.  If it enhances every flaw and looks horrendous then I’ll reconsider glitter or something else.



Baby Clothes… Alabama Chanin Style

IMG_1002So, I have a new crafting obsession.  I’m quite late to the Alabama Chanin DIY party, but I recently discovered Natalie Chanin’s books.  I’ve spent a lot of time gathering inspiration by reading the many blogs posts people have shared over the years about creating their own clothing using her methods.  Now that I’ve made a couple of things of my own I’d like to add to the sea of posts on the subject, and to add something fresh I’ve used the techniques to begin building a unique wardrobe for my baby.  In all my Googling I found pretty much nothing made for babies with the Alabama Chanin hand stitching and embellishment techniques on cotton jersey, so…




I’d actually heard of Project Alabama back in the early 2000s, but it seems that Natalie had to branch out on her own to maintain the made in the USA for fair wages aspect of her vision, and that is how Alabama Chanin came about.  I found an Alabama Chanin wrap dress pattern while looking for inspiration for drafting my own dress, and one thing led to another.  (As far as the dress, I ended up transforming my standard tunic dress into a wrap, and I love it!  Something for another post, I suppose.)  I decided to purchase the AC pattern and then realised it was going to be quite the endeavour.

Normally I do not sew knit fabrics.  Okay, I never do.  Back at FIT we did one project in jersey and used highly specialised machines for it.  I never considered knits after that since the machines are ridiculously expensive, heavy, and huge.  While I saw others using modern sewing machines to make clothing from jersey I never cared to learn about that realm thinking it would be too much a bother when I could just buy the items more cheaply.  After a while I didn’t find so many suitable shirts and did wish I could make things that would fit better, not have such thin fabric, or were more to my taste, but construction still presented a problem since I couldn’t really picture a way to do nice seam finishes or achieve a remotely professional look.  Then I was looking for wrap dress ideas and found the AC pattern, which led to reading blogs, discovering that apparently one can hand stitch cotton jersey, and buying one of Natalie’s books.  Hand stitched knits?!  Who knew!

Of course I wanted to make the dress, and I wanted it long.  I went out and bought 4yds of fabric and it occurred to me that this was a pretty big project to begin with.  Even so I was all set to dive into the deep end and figured it wouldn’t be too time consuming, but I was a bit nervous to cut into the somewhat pricey fabric without doing a toile.  Instead I thought it might be fun to make something tiny for D.

Never doing things in moderation, I went to the thrift store and came home with a dozen or more XL mens T-shirts to turn into baby clothes.  While going through the racks inspiration hit, and my own dress was all but forgotten.  I loved that I could use old T-shirts for fabric while D is still small, and making her clothes solves my problem of building her a wardrobe in the next sizes up.  Besides, I rarely like what I find in the stores anyway.  I used some purchased pieces as reference and drafted little dress, T-shirt, pants, and bolero patterns in a size somewhat larger than needed now.

I began the first piece with a really cool fabric.  It was a garment dyed T in a lovely purple from a jazz festival.  I cut out a simple shift dress and decided to appliqué a few lady bugs cut from the scraps for embellishment.  Note: I actually was starting with a lovely dark green T and the same dress, but when I tried using fabric spray paint and a stencil it was ruined entirely.  The very thin paint wicked instantly into a sad blob.  Instead of spray paint I tried a Sharpie to mark the lady bugs.  I traced them onto scraps and carefully pinned them onto the dress matching grain lines although I see from the photos in the book that AC doesn’t seem to bother with the grain.  It was a fun project, and I discovered I’d underestimated the time involved by a fair amount.  Yup, a dress would be a major commitment, so baby clothes that are “quickly” completed would give a much better accomplishment high.  I wonder when I’ll try tackling a large project for myself knowing now how long it all takes?

The jazz shirt wasn’t all that large, and I was lucky it was made without side seams allowing for creative placement of the pattern.  The sides did have a faded streak, so I centred the back on that line to avoid too much weirdness.




The purple dress really didn’t take awfully long though, because it did not involve cutting and basting two layers or tonnes of decorative stitching.  I was very pleased with the end result and motivated to begin more.  It was time to try the signature AC look with two layers of jersey and reverse appliqué.  I carefully cut out a grey-beige layer and used a thinner dark navy T-shirt for the inside.  I’d searched the local craft stores and bought a few stencils that I liked and which looked somewhat suitable for the process, (but I also have plans to make some of my own with better motifs.)  For this dress I chose the fluffy flowers but also thought it would be cute to add bees.


Instead of spraying paint and ruining the fabric I tried Tulip fabric paint applied with a foam stencilling dauber.  The colours available to me locally were too bright and the wrong palate, but the ugly ballet pink-beige paint actually worked for this.  Next time I’ll see about using Jacquard.  Adding the bees was fun, and I ended up deciding to put one on a sleeve too with a flower on the other side.  My plan was to tie knots on the outside and embrace the handmade look.


After carefully basting the layers together I started by stitching the back, and it went well.  Then I did the sleeves quickly.  My attention had begun to waver by the time I was working on the front, and it had the most stitching to do.  Being able to pick up and drop what I was doing or take the panel to another room made it an ideal project to try working on while caring for a six month old.


Finally it was time to carefully cut out the top layer from the stitched areas.  This is where using smaller and less appropriate stencils makes things tricky.  I started on a sleeve in case I cut through both layers thinking is a less painful piece to re-make.  I did not have any such accidents until the last section: the complicated and time consuming front panel.  I ended up darning those bits to the best of my ability.  Gah!


I didn’t have many chances to work on the dress, and completion took a few weeks.  When it came to construction I first had wanted to use floating seams, on the outside, as a part of the design.  I liked how this looked with the two colours, but I was not keen on the appearance of the running stitch in light thread.  So, I tried the decorative stitching that I used on the purple dress, but I thought the light thread and busy stitch took away from the reverse appliqué.  L agreed, but I was reluctant to un-pick both shoulders and sleeves of work.  First I un-picked one to re-do in dark thread.  I liked it far better and nearly finished the entire garment with it, but L suggested combining both light and dark.  I went with that and am mostly pleased.  I like it, but I also have the original vision in my mind too and would have like it.  Even the decision of where to use which thread on each seam caused some angst over the different directions of look to go with, but I am not unhappy with the choices.  Finally the dress was all done!




I have already cut out some more double and single layer dresses.  The simple single layer one is half complete despite only a few minutes of work, but I’ve discovered that it is more pleasant to hand stitch when using two layers.  Interesting.  Perhaps it is only the particular fabric, but the needly just doesn’t find its way through without a lot of effort.  The plan is to make a decent number of simple shifts and a few fancy ones in a size the might work as a dress and tunic for a while.  I have also drafted a pixie hat pattern besides the pants and bolero, and before the hand-stitching craze hit I’d made a few similarly flexible patterns for woven fabrics that I’ll write about next.




A Fabulous Pram Re-make Part I: ’90s Emmaljunga “Viking” Stroller/Pushchair

So, it has been a little while!  I last wrote just before giving birth to my daughter and was rushing to complete my last project.  Well, I did finish that stroller chair the day after my last post as I’d hoped.  Today’s post is to detail that process.

Unfortunately I couldn’t begin the second portion of the project before Mini’s arrival, because I didn’t have the necessary fabric and wasn’t willing to tear apart the original bassinet.  Now I do have another one to use and the required yardage, so I began the pattern for the pram today Tuesday.  It seems I can only work on things for a half hour or so at a time these days, so I’m afraid it may be a while before I write about it in favour of actually finishing the piece in order to use before she grows out of it. Hopefully.

The timing was off, but I acquired another “viking” pram and stroller set with fabric in poorer condition than the first.  I only wish I’d had it sooner, because the better hood portion was torn apart to re-cover, and the second is very faded. It’s sad, but I’ll either fix the first one somehow or find some way of making it all work to have an original red set as an option besides what I’m about to show you…

This entire project was quite unnecessary but inspired me far too much to let go.  I had some fabulous fabric in mind to make a really unique and special stroller.  Did I need another pushchair? Not at all, but I wanted to show the world (or at least whoever happens to see it) the pretty thing I could make and to have a fancy stroller for my daughter.  Babies do have a tendency to make people want adorable little things, eh?  Reactions to the linen re-make of the Hedstrom pram has been fantastic, so I can’t wait to have the “viking” done!

Here again are the fabric and the stroller seat attachment:

I don’t know about anyone else’s taste, but I love this ikat patterned velvet!  There is a black colour-way that I slightly prefer, but this grey is reasonably neutral besides being fabulously bold.  Whatever colour I’m wearing should go just fine with it, but it makes a statement for sure.  So inspiring!  

Choosing how to use the ikat and plain grey velvet was a difficult decision, and I was very uncertain for days.  I didn’t have enough of the expensive ikat to use it exclusively, and I also felt it was a tad too bold not to tone down with a solid anyway.  It was an easy decision to use the plain grey for the underside pieces of the seat cover, but the hood canopy was a tricky matter.  I was afraid that using ikat as the outer fabric would look “too much.”  I wanted a fabulous stroller and to avoid an unnecessarily busy look in favour of something well planned and eye catching.  To achieve this I began by cutting out the pieces of the seat cover carefully positioned over the portions of the design I liked best and with matching in mind.

Then I tried to settle on the hood design.  I considered using the ikat outside with the inner portion lined with the solid grey.  I thought about doing the front crescent, inner and outer, with the ikat and the lower portion and bag section in the grey.  Then I thought about scrapping the pattern from the original and using a hood design better suited to the ikat!  I could make the bag section less tailored and of one shirred piece, like my Simo stroller, or I could create shaping in my own way with darts or at least make a few changes to the pieces to better frame a large print.  However, I chose to stick with the original, and when I was sure about some of the pieces cut them out to arrange final placement by pinning them to the frame before sewing.

Eventually I settled on the interior being ikat with the grey outside.  I felt it looked more intentional and liked the surprise inside rather than have it look like I was simply saving on material with lesser fabric inside.  (Even now that it is complete I’m not entirely sure I should have gone with this placement, but I do like it most of the time.)

The original cover had a little batting to pad the wooden seat support, but I wasn’t keen on adding a layer like that.  Instead I used a scrap of memory foam (mattress topper) and stapled it under muslin to the boards.  Cushy!

Next I worked on the seat cover.  It was pretty easy except that I mistakenly pinned the flap that secures the cover over the chair frame backwards and had to rip that section out to re-sew.  Due to the velvet and there being many layers I took a lot of time to hand baste each seam before stitching on the machine.  Even so, I managed to catch the edge of one side in a seam.  Drat!  Here you can see the backwards flap and the caught edge before I ripped them out and fixed it:


Very soon the seat was done!

I was very pleased with the results and so tackled the hood.  It involved a lot of pins and hand stitching, and I’m still not thrilled with the way I worked around the riveted bit by slashing the fabric to slide around as best I could.  (This part is making me very hesitant to commit to starting that part of the pram now!)  The shiny metal bit is a distinguishing feature of the “vikings” but it complicates re-covering terribly.  I might have drilled out the rivets, but two are also anchor points for the weather shield, and I wasn’t confident about being able to replicate a secure rivet that would endure a lot of use.  Now I have a tiny unsightly flaw around them though, and it is driving me batty.

One things remains to be done.  I made a pattern for the weather cover, but I haven’t cut the ikat or vinyl for it yet let alone basted or sewed it.  I have time before this stroller will be used, so that is on hold while I try to complete the pram before Mini grows too big for it!


You can see how adorable the red is too and why I wanted to have the option to use it also and not ruin it?

Today yesterday Tuesday I began to pattern the bassinet hood.  It only took a few minutes of pinning muslin to it and tracing the edges, but then I had to stop for other chores and to spend time with Mini and L.  It felt pretty good to finally make even a little progress though.  Today or in the next few days I’ll continue.  I plan to make Tyvek pattern pieces from the tracings, cut pieces from the velvet, and complete the hood section before working on the body of the bassinet.  (I bought a roll of Tyvek long ago to make patterns, because it ends up being much cheaper than Swiss paper but more durable than paper.  I can’t stand the feel of paper anyway. A drawback is how opaque it is.)  The seat of the stroller uses snaps and design to be able to take it apart and even switch out the covers, but unfortunately the hood pieces do not allow for that nor does the bassinet.  Mostly it does disassemble fairly easily by removing three screws, folding away some metal spreader arm things, and it is nearly the same construction as the Hedstrom bassinet.  It will be a fiddly project but hopefully not too bad.  The biggest wild card to deal with are various rivets to replace with something as similar as possible or to adjust the design a bit.  I’ll see.  

Re-making Vintage Prams & Strollers Part I: a Hedstrom Bassinet/Carrycot

This is something I haven’t really found anyone else writing about: re-making/re-covering/re-upholstering old prams.  Although in researching them I’ve found some bloggers using older prams for their kids I haven’t seen anyone take one apart to revamp it with new fabrics.  That kind of surprises me!  Today I’ll talk about the first pram that I re-made, and then I’ll be posting about an ongoing project that I’m excited about.  The new project is unfortunately going to be subjected to delays thanks to lack of materials on hand and the impending arrival of Mini.  (She was due this past Saturday and is being evicted one way or another before this weekend.  While I’m very excited I’m also worried about ever finishing the newest pram!)

Prams and strollers/pushchairs, vintage or not, weren’t on my radar until I spotted an old Hedstrom in one of my favourite thrift stores a few years ago.  I didn’t need it.  I hadn’t known I wanted it, but once I found it; I did.  😀  Sure, I hesitated while the more sane part of my brain tried to win, but I kept pushing around the store as I browsed, it was only something like $10, and soon it was going home with me in hopes that we’d be making use of it some day.  I just liked how it looked, all metal and old fashioned, and I thought it seemed practical with the detachable bassinet and gentle rocking motion.  The fabric wasn’t so lovely and a bit crumbly, but I knew I could either clean or fix it up.  Once home the frame polished up nicely, and I began Googling old prams.  Right away I decided on using linen to re-make the bassinet, because I just didn’t like the knit navy fabric very well or expect it to last much longer.


It was very difficult to select a fabric.  A somewhat lime green was my favourite option with a fairly muted red next in line.  Dusty shades of pink, green, and blue were runners up.  On the one hand I wanted to use a fun colour, but on the other I was afraid to have it clash with my outfit too often and also deferred to L’s preference and used the dull khaki green.  I still have the lime yardage and wish I’d used it instead, because it would have been a much more dramatic change and look, and this has influenced my choices for the new pram project.


Anyway, I have very few photos on hand from re-vamping the Hedstrom.  I tore it apart completely and jumped in with creating a pattern from the old pieces and re-builidng as best I could.  I had to replace the rivets with bolts and cap screw things, and sadly I didn’t make a matching cover to snap on, although I did include the snaps on the body to attach one.  I’m not sure what happened to the remaining fabric to make the cover.  😦  Everything was replaced except the frames and supports.  I used a fancy vinyl inside and to cover the mattress board.  The mattress support has a portion that snaps up into a seated position, which is nifty, and I made a mattress cover and pillow to match with the same green ticking striped cotton as the hood lining.  I was fairly pleased with how it all turned out.

Here are some recent shots:

Since then I’ve seen other similar prams, and I realised that I was missing more than the weather cover.  Technically the Hedstrom was complete aside from the weather cover, but plenty of other similar prams had seat attachments to turn them into strollers.  Shoot.  That’s far more useful!  Some brands and models are prettier, like the curvaceous and velvety Herlag brand I’ve only spotted rarely, some are boxy and less appealing to me, and some have a bit of a following like Emmaljunga’s “Viking” model.  As with most things like this I became a little obsessed, collected a few strollers, and still ended up crossing the river and a state line to pick up an early ’90s Viking frame, bassinet, and stroller seat set after seeing a particular listing on Craigslist forever at a steal of a price.  (I just couldn’t ignore it and let it go.)

Not the best Herlag example, but I saw a shiny one just like it but in better condition that really looked amazing with the curves:

Oh wait, here is another swiped photo but of the shiny one:


I took these photos from an eBay listing.  If only I had unlimited funds and space I’d probably get a Herlag too… polished up it would be soooooo gorgeous!  *sigh*  This brand is by far the most elegant in my opinion, and I wish I could trade the Hedstrom for one.  The corduroy inspired me to use velvet for the Emmaljunga to get a similarly rich look if not the elegance.

Emmaljunga’s Viking is the only somewhat popular old stroller people are using out there, as far as I can tell, aside from hard-bodied varieties like Silver Cross.  They came in navy blue most frequently and sometimes forest green or bright red all with white vinyl accents.  Other models had some funky fabric and vinyl options especially in the ’80s.  While you can still buy new hard-bodied prams that look old the soft upholstered kind turned into a modern take before 2000, and it seems that Scandinavians were the last to do upholstered prams that would pass as more vintage to most eyes.  (Emmaljunga is Swedish, and more common to find, but Simo is a similar Norwegian brand with a few American strollers out there from the ’90s too.)

Here is sneak peek preview of the Viking project…  I made a lot of progress today and should complete the stroller half tomorrow.  The bassinet portion will be on hold indefinitely, which sucks, but I don’t have the time or fabric for it now.  Also, I’d banked on using a $15 “donor” seat and bassinet set in order to save and use the red whenever it suited my fancy, but that fell through.  😦  The carrycot is in better condition, so I can’t bear to take it apart aside from the time and materials dilemma.  Either I’ll never end up making the matching bassinet that I envision or it’ll be with a suitable one in poor condition later.  *Sigh*  It was going to be gorgeous.  So, hopefully I’ll get to write after I’m done tomorrow but for now here is the original red stroller and the fabric I’ve used to re-make it:

I do feel terrible about ruining the original red set.  Gah!  All I can tell myself, and you, is that the stroller seat/hood part of the set was somewhat ratty up close… even with a spot or two worn right through.  It was still super cute though, and original!  And I had a red and pink Haba stroller toy thing that matched it so well, and a quilted seat pad too…  Gah!!!  I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for a replacement if I can ever happen upon one.  (The hood portion is all that I really need if anyone out there has one for some reason.  Well, the bassinet too if I want to re-cover one some day.  Anyway…)

A New Look for an Antique Cast Iron Crib/Daybed: Stripping Paint for a Blackened & Lightly Polished Finish



It was extremely difficult for me to begin this project, because I did not want to go through with it…

See, I found a wonderful little crib or daybed on Craig’s List several years ago, and it had the most perfect, gorgeous, layered chipped paint I’d ever seen on a bed frame.  It is the kind of patina that only time and wear can produce, and I’ve never yet seen a convincing modern finish in person (although online there have been a select few potential examples.)  Back then I had no reason or space in the apartment to set up a daybed, but I loved the frame and looked forward to using it as is.  Although beautifully chipped and cracked the remaining paint was solidly adhered and stable.  I planned to clear coat it for more durability, but alas this could not be done in good conscious now, thanks to lead.  (While encapsulation is one way to deal with old lead paint I wasn’t comfortable with relying on a clear coat.)  Instead my options were to chemically strip every trace off or have it sand blasted.

Sand blasting sounded like a great idea, and it was always the backup plan.  I’d found a few places “locally” to do it, and the cost was not outrageous.  There would be no work for me, and if I’d preferred a pristine finish then they could powder coat the frame any colour too.  Over the past few months I mulled over options for decorative finishes, powder coating in pale grey or some variety of white, or a clear finish over the raw iron.  The decorative ideas were all seen online, and I wasn’t sure they were options from the local places.  Besides that I’m really picky about faux finishes.  Meanwhile, powder coating any shade of white kind of killed me since I loved the chippy white so much, and I wasn’t sure how thrilled I’d be with anything new and pristine looking… even if in a grey. Leaving the metal a raw silver sounded pretty neat, and I did a bunch of Googling to see what it could be like.  However, I saw that this would leave the iron too bright and shiny for our tastes, and I began to prefer the idea of saving a little money by stripping the frame myself in spite of it surely being a lot of work.

It was a lot of work indeed!  I spent several days on it last week, and I was left entirely exhausted and very achey each evening.  As I was working I was full of misgivings, and there was a time that I was afraid I’d never get it to look the way I hoped, but by Friday evening it was done and was close enough to the picture in my head.  (Yes, I’m finally writing this a week later.)  So, here is the process I used to strip, blacken, polish, and seal the old iron…

Once I’d decided to go ahead with stripping and a new finish I had the new look in mind: I wanted the iron to look aged and blackened with freshly polished silver highlights.  The idea was to have it look like armour or metalwork at a renaissance faire and to avoid L thinking it looked like an old jail (too dark) or flashy (too polished.)  He never shared my enthusiasm for cast iron bed frames and cribs although he does like when it is used for other furniture.  (Something to do with it reminding him of old institutional furnishings, I believe?)  He certainly didn’t appreciate the chippy paint, but I thought I could win him over with the armour look.

First I had to strip off the old paint.  With all the crevices and bars I knew this wasn’t going to be the most fun task, but it wasn’t too bad.  The worst part was that I couldn’t complete it in one day, and when stripping the work (and amount of stripper required) completely doubles by starting again even if nearly done the first evening.  Bleh.  When I stopped work the first day there was just a bit of paint to scrub out of the deepest crevices on two pieces, a bit more on the other two, and I was very happy with the silver tone of the bare metal.  Sadly leaving it overnight led to the development of specks of rust allllllll over.  I’d been concerned about rust.  Unfortunately every piece of the frame had flash rust by the time all traces of paint were removed.  This is when I worried that I might not manage to get the blackened look.  Brown or rusty-red wasn’t a good tone for the room, and I wondered what would be the best way to get black.

With Citristrip:

Rust the next morning:


Cleaned up and bare cast iron:

Rusting while I was working:

I’d tried to find a product called Penetrol to treat the metal and rust, but no stores in the area carried it anymore.  I’d found a lot of references to it online as the perfect thing for preserving the rusted look of bare cast iron, but I did wonder if it might not play well with spray lacquer, and it most likely wouldn’t have given the look I wanted either.  (It darkens rust as if it were wet, and with so much rust and not going for brown this wasn’t right for the project after all.)  I took another trip to the hardware store and spent a long time considering various types of paint, primers, and rust converters.  Perhaps spraying on black primer, wiping it away from portions, and polishing would work?  Finally I went with a little bottle of rust converter by Rustoleum which the paint guy and the label assured would turn rust black.  It worked wonderfully.

I brushed and wiped the converter over every bit of the frame.  In areas that were supposed to be dark I left a thicker coating and wiped it thinly wherever I planned to polish.  Overall the frame ended up being darker than I meant, but the main reason was that I had put a second package of steel wool replacement pads back on the shelf.  The few I had wore out and stopped brightening the metal after just one side was done.  Shoot!  I tried using actual steel wool in a few levels of coarseness, but nothing polished as well as the plastic pads.  Sadly the best side is not the more visible one when set up in the room either, but I polished everything as well as I could, one side at a time, and sprayed lacquer before moving to the next portion hoping to keep the finish as I saw it without any more rust.  I didn’t dare leave it long enough to go buy a few more pads, so soon the frame was complete and there wasn’t any going back.  I’m actually very pleased with it.

Meanwhile I also decided to paint the mattress support thing too.  I’d thought to keep it original, but eventually the idea of clean black won over since I already changed the rest of the it anyway.  I only had a little can of black Rustoleum, so I had to brush it on in a few coats.  I think it looks much better than the worn out gold, brown, and rust, and I typed the original markings to leave them visible.  I also had to make new hardware, because the movers lost one very important piece.  Grrrrrrrr!  To recreate the missing piece, and a match for a pair, I bought steel dowels and steel end cap nuts to JB Weld to the top mimicking the mushroom-cap end of the original.  I also had to drill a hole in the other ends for a cotter pin, and I selected shiny new pins and springs while I was at it.  The metal was all extremely shiny, so I scoured it with sand paper to tone down the finish.

The big to-do list has had some very nice progress since my last post:

Mini’s room
-Brush final trim coat on nursery panelling.
-Remove storm windows
-Disassemble, and replace storm screens.  (Update: make new screens to install for summer instead of storms.)
-Scrape and glaze: (One,) (two,) (three.)
-Paint exterior windows.
-Make & install screens.
-Remove old security crap from windows.
-Paint windows (interior.)
-Scrape and vacuum.
-Install sash locks.
-Change light switch and cover plate.
Install shades.
-Have crib sandblasted and finished or do clear coat (Update: strip and finish bare cast iron.) 
-Add more blackening to crib
-Paint the mattress support section?
-Clear coat crib.
-Attach casters or feet to crib.  
-Create replacement hardware for side.
Polish and oil chrome stroller frames, wash Emmaljunga fabric, finish installing new hardware on re-covered vintage Hedstrom pram, make pattern and new seat for Emmalunga?
-Attach casters to walker and assemble.
-Bring dresser from Dad’s and refinish.
-Sew Kirghiz felted carpet to a dowel for wall-hanging.
-Strip rocking chair.
-Sand rocking chair.
-Stain rocking chair.
-Reupholster rocking chair and sew pillows.
-Clear coat chair and touch up hutch.
-Fix leaky sink valve.
-Set up furniture, Mammaroo, and organise.
-Strip new mid-century hutch.
-Patch and sand hutch as needed.
-Stain hutch.
-Clear coat hutch.
-Pack hospital bag.  -self  -Mini
-Arrange furniture.
-Organise, again, and again.
-Hang wall decor, mirror, mobile.

Main living areas and stuff
-Replace certain outlets, switches, and cover plates.
-Paint dining/living windows.
-Scrape messy paint.
-Finish painting kitchen trim and panelling
-Repaint living/dining ceiling.
-Apply sealant on entry and hearth tile/grout.
-Sew back of sofa.
-Staple cambric.
-Sew pillow covers.
-Finish sanding dining chairs.
-Stain and wax chairs.
-Paint and Mod Podge antique travel chest.
-Touch up kitchen chairs and hoosiers.
-Repair coffee table.
-Repair and sand end table.
-Paint table.  
-Paint main bath.
-Reupholster recliner.
-Reaupholster little round chair.

Front of house
-Patch broken front steps.
-Paint foundation a more pleasing shade.
-Buy new light fixture and install with sensor bulb.
-Last bit of patching.
-Last bit of painting.
-Wash exterior windows and skylights (uninstalling storms.  Make screens.)
-Finish glazing windows

Unfinished part of basement
-Finish painting walls.
-Rewaterproof spot on floor.
-Touch up floor paint.

-Organise storage area.
-Organise basement.
-Organise Garage.  Again
-Organise attic.  Sort stored items again before sale.
-Organise kitchen.  Pantry.
-Organise sewing room.  Again?
-Organise baby items in closet.
-Organise master closets: L’s & mine .
-organise master bath closets and vanity.
-organise linen closet

-Have yard sale.

Dressing room and spiral stairwell

Sewing room

Other kinds of non-house projects 
-Stain and make a busy board for Mini
-Sew dresses for myself
-Fall/spring linen coat for myself and Mini
-Diaper and clothing organiser squares
-Dresses, pants, and quilted coats for Mini from scraps
-Small and full sized quilt
-Sew some soft toys
-Crochet or knit sweaters, hats, pants, and booties for Mini
-Make a mobile?

-Paint master ceiling.
-Touch up master bath vanity.
-Recoat walls.
-Properly hang mirror.
-Install tub trim kit and drain.
-Install shower trim kit.
-New switches, outlets, and cover plates.

-Weed garden and path
-Stain east side of house.
-Stain or hire west side of house.
-Powerwash patios and chairs.
-Paint rusty table with hammered finish.
-Stain patios.
-Permanently attach umbrella to deck with bolts.
-Powerwash fence.
-Stain fence.