Part II: Reupholstering & Refinishing a Rocking Chair

Before I get to the chair…  I’ve been busy and working hard!  Yesterday I gave the mid-century Bassett hutch a couple of coats of satin polyacrylic, and it is done.  Yay!  I updated the post with completed photos, but here they are too:

I wanted to apply the protective coat as soon as possible to let it cure well before things are placed on it.  Next I tackled the rocking chair.

Earlier this week I had reluctantly removed a good portion of dracon and supportive layers which had been made disgusting while in storage or from my friend’s cat acting out.  The other day she told me that she had spotted the chair kerbside!  I’d just told her about scoring the Bassett hutch, and she shared the joy of found treasures.  😀  What brand or store it came from is a mystery, and I think it may have had some moisture damage before she acquired it 18 years ago given how rusted away the lower staples were.  Her cat sure did a number on it too!  (Honestly, I saw the vinyl and figure how bad could it possibly be?  Yeah, bad.)

Here is a reminder of Before in the photos she sent me to see if I was interested in taking it:

Cleaned up a bit after she brought it over to our house:

After stripping the frame and sanding:

Earlier this week while removing layers that would have been nice to be able to keep:

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Besides removing anything nasty I also used a bunch of enzyme scent remover stuff on it.  It helped a lot, I think.  Next I stained the frame:

I love the carbon grey stain and how well all the wooden pieces are going to match!

Yesterday I set about removing more layers and staples from the rocking chair.  What an unpleasant part of the process!  It is messy, gross (when dealing with this particular item anyway,) takes a lot of hand strength, and is tedious.  Luckily I’d done most of the hard part already and by early afternoon could begin the fun part of transforming the piece into a nice newly upholstered chair.  Unfortunately my second sewing machine, with the high shank and all the attachments that can be used for upholstering, had problems.  It’s a Necchi BU that has never seemed to work 100% as well as it should ever since I bought it.  I wasted several hours messing with it before finally getting things to work sufficiently, and I was very irritated.  Thus I never go to begin applying the linen velvet to the chair yet, but I did leave off with a muslin base for the seat deck:

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The muslin gives a smooth base and allows the batting to be basted down temporarily (after covering with the velvet the threads are cut to let the foam spring back into place and this prevents sad, saggy, excess fabric on the seat after use.)  I find the tidy muslin layer is nice for feeling like I accomplished something and gives a good sense of “I can do this” before cutting the precious final fabric too.  It lets you get a better idea of how to handle fiddly bits, so I don’t recommend skipping it although it is tempting to save the time and fabric.

On to the gorgeous linen velvet…  I never unwrapped it in the years since it was purchased, without any set project in mind, back in 2012.  Of course I had forgotten how much yardage there was, but there was plenty for this chair, even with planning extra pillows and dealing with the nap, with 8 or 9 yards on the roll.  As I recall I spent about 80$ on it thanks to eBay, and that is a complete steal.  I don’t think L would have been very pleased if I told him I wanted to spend $600+ on fabric if I were trying to get the same sort at the store.  😀  Anyway, I love, love, love the colour and feel of it too.  I always hesitate when about to use a beloved fabric, because there is always a “what if I end up with a better project for it?” or “what if if I screw up??”  I must say that it goes so well with the frame though:

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As you can see, it isn’t easy to capture the true look in photos!

So, the last thing I did yesterday was to plan out the pieces required, double check, and mark the yardage:

I have a couple of yards left over for making pillow covers.  I’m planning on a lumbar pillow and will make a neck roll sort of thing too, and there is more if I want to add some throw pillows for the living room sofa or anything.  Actually, I may make a chair pad to cover the seat and save it from cat or baby messes?  I don’t know.

That’s it for now, because I need to go get to work on sewing and upholstering this thing!

 


On to the continuously updated to-do list.  I’ve completed quite a bit since the last post with it and have colour coded the remainder with red as high priority projects and orange for want to do but maybe/likely will not:

Mini’s room
-Brush final trim coat on nursery panelling.
-Remove storm windows
-Disassemble, and replace screens.  (Update: make new screens to install for summer instead of storms.)
-Scrape and glaze: (One,) (two,) (three.)
-Paint exterior windows.
-Install screens.
-Remove old security crap from windows.
-Patch.
-Paint windows (interior.)                                                                                                                             -Scrape and vacuum.
-Install sash locks.
-Change light switch and cover plate.
-Buy and install shades.
-Have crib sandblasted and finished or do a DIY clear coat.
-Attach casters to crib.  Create replacement hardware.
-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.  
-Fix leaky sink valve.
-Set up furniture, wall art, and organise.
-Strip new mid-century hutch.
-Patch and sand hutch as needed.
-Stain hutch.
-Clear coat hutch

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.
LATER:
-Reupholster recliner.
-Reaupholster little round chair.

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

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.

Organisation
-Organise storage area.
-Organise basement.
-Organise Garage.
-Organise attic.  Sort stored items again before sale.
-Organise kitchen.
-Organise sewing room.
-Organise baby items in closet.
-Organise master closet.

-Have yard sale.

Dressing room and spiral stairwell
Done!

Sewing room
Done!

Other kinds of non-house projects 
-Remake lamp shade for hanging lamp in Mini’s room.
-Remake a play mat and arches for hanging toys?
-Stain and make a busy board for Mini
–Sew dresses for myself; light coat for myself and Mini; dresses, pants, and quilted coats for Mini; a small and queen sized quilt; sew some soft toys; …
-Crochet or knit sweaters, hats, pants, and booties for Mini
-Make a mobile?

Pushed to later:

Master
-Caulk.
-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.

Storage room (now office)
-Remove stored items from storage/office.
-Rip out carpet and pad.
-Remove panelling.
-Patch and caulk.
-Prime.
-Brush paint.
-Roll walls.
-Paint sewer pipe with hammered finish.
-Paint ceiling.
-Change light fixtures.
-Change outlets and cover plates.
-Frame the two cinderblock walls
-Install foam insulation panels
-Drywall or panelling…
-Prime and paint newly insulated walls

Media room
-Get rid of giant speakers and console.
-Mount TV and sound bar.
-Rip out crappy laminate.
-Remove trim.
-Install DryCore.
-Lay insulating underlayment.
-Install vinyl planks.
-Reinstall trim.
-Paint touchups.  (I did re-paint a lot but need to finish since I ended up using a new gallon that doesn’t match perfectly.)
-Arrange furniture.
-Paint or replace stained ceiling tile.  (or ideally change to 2×2′)

A Mobile for Baby

Today I was supposed to work on the rocking chair.  (It has been stripped another time, sanded, and dragged up into the house.)  I was going to tear off more upholstery, sand a little again, stain, and clear coat it, but I guess that isn’t what I really felt like doing with the day after all.  Instead I spent the entire afternoon making a mobile!  I really didn’t expect it to take so long.

finished baby mobile

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The other day I spent far too much time in the craft store selecting items that might make a nice and somewhat eye catching dangly thing for the baby to gaze at from her crib.  For months I’d had a vague idea to make a mobile after seeing a few cute ones at Pottery Barn Kids or someplace, but the idea was very hazy.  Googling gave too much inspiration.  I suppose I meant to sew little things our of linen scraps, but in the store I saw sea urchin shells with a hint of purple, and I knew I had to use them.  Then I went to the bead section and chose a bunch of interesting white ceramic and glass beads.  As for the hanger part there were so many directions to go with.  I grabbed a foam wreath form to wrap with strips of pale grey linen, a wire ring for a second tier, and then spotted a galvanised plate that I really liked.  Hmmm.  There were other forms that I decided against or I could have used sticks or driftwood, but I had a feeling that I’d go with the platter.  I just hoped it wouldn’t look odd to have used a plate.   😀

Supplies:

mobile supplies

…and a close-up of the beads:

closeup of bead supplies

I used a ruler, grid, and marker to evenly space marks for punching holes.

Then I spent a long time stringing things onto jute cord.

closeup beads 1

closeup sea urchins and beads

It doesn’t really show, but the strings of beads at the top are a pretty iridescent purple:

top of mobile

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In Time for Halloween: Borg Queen Cosplay

I still find the term “cosplay” a bit odd.  Didn’t we used to just say “costume?”  😀  It seems I have to add the word to my vocabulary permanently though, so here is my Borg Queen cosplay that I did for the Star Trek Mission New York convention last month:

Star Trek Missions New York cosplay contest Borg Queen.jpg

Unfortunately I don’t recall where I pulled this photo from, and when I tried doing a Google image search just now it didn’t bring me to the source.  (Perhaps I didn’t search correctly?  Google only led me to the definition of “female.”  Weird.)  I expect it was from the Mission New York event itself?  Sorry to whoever ought to be credited, but thank you so much for taking the best shot that I have of the costume!  Once again I failed to take decent photos for myself.  😦  This is a serious problem when I want to show my work and have crappy mirror selfies only.

So.  I made this Borg Queen costume at the end of August after vowing never again to wear such a costume after last Halloween.  I’d made my first rendition for Halloween 2014 and thought it turned out great.  I even won a contest for the first time!  However, I barely had any photos of it.  When Halloween rolled around last year I decided that I could re-use it easily enough, but I still didn’t end up taking great photos!  Wtf?  (The problem seems to be that L. rather dislikes taking photos, or taking the time to properly take photos, and also it always gets dark before I’m done putting everything on.)  Anyway, the weight of the headpiece caused a massive headache, and the adhesive was unpleasant to remove, so I vowed never again.  Then L. asked if I wanted to go to a Star Trek convention, and I simply couldn’t not try the Borg Queen again.  At least I had enough experience that I knew I’d have just enough time  and mostly which materials I needed.  Even with the bald cap I knew what I was getting into.  This post is going to be extremely long, but I hope you’ll enjoy seeing so much of the progression of this costume.

First of all, the Borg Queen is a character in Next Generation and Voyager.  This is what she looked like:

In general the Borg seem like really fun costumes to tackle, but L. suggested I go straight for the queen saying that I resemble her enough to pull it off well.  It would be really neat to do a drone costume, and perhaps easier in many ways, but I went into the unknown territory of bald caps and makeup.  Yikes!

For Halloween 2014 there was so much trial and error.  I probably spent twice as much as I needed to by trying materials and finding they didn’t work as planned.  I also re-made several things over and over too.  For example, I first attempted to sculpt with silicone from the hardware store, and it worked decently well… until I discovered that nothing would stick to this material (liquid latex in particular.)  Another dead end was using bits of latex gloves for sculpting rippled skin.  It looked good but wasn’t functional.

2014:

I’d hoped to do a really cool body too, but that did not work out.  Generally I thought that the neckline and head were iconic enough not to require an amazing body anyway.  These were the best photos (and pretty much the only ones.)  :shakes head:

For this costume I used beads and picture hanging hooks for the neckline attachment, and I sculpted the pulled skin with liquid latex and bald cap sculpting ended up being done with latex painter’s caulk.  Bottle caps made great neck bits, a cap from teflon tape, and some cable management coils were wonderful for the headpiece.  I did research and purchased Prosaide (normal and a thicker formula) besides the liquid latex and bald cap as far as real FX supplies.  Great stuff!

 

2015:

Last Halloween I only bought a bald cap, cut the sculpted portions off of the old one, and adhered them to the new cap (with Prosaide.)  I re-used the neckline hooks, and I added a corset (that I made some years ago.)  The makeup was not as smooth nor were the edges and transitions of latex.  These are my best photos.  :sigh:  I wore it to hand out candy and then we had a few beers at our favourite neighbourhood bar.

 

 

Okay, so now that I’ve shared all of that backstory, on to 2016:

This time I wanted to go all out.  I had to do something better for the torso and planned even on the legs and footwear to be amazing.  However, time and creativity did not allow for as much as I dreamt.  L. told me to expect all sorts of awesome costumes and competition at the convention and in the contest, so I tried really hard with this costume.  I am proud of it although I see plenty of things that could have been done better.  This time I can most likely even wear it again, but I do not have plans to.

I began with some print-outs to refer to and these basic materials:

The Golden’s iridescent paints were an old friend by now.  I absolutely love what the coarse stainless steel paint has let me do for previous costumes, and I tried out a few new ones too.  InstaMorph was new to work with, but I found it to be very useful and versatile.  Colouring the InstaMorph with this for a metallic look worked out very well.  I did give a coat of the stainless steel paint for an even better look.  Another new material that I hadn’t tried before was Worbla.  I’d seen it used in wonderful costumes online, but before this I hadn’t bothered to buy and try it myself.  If you look on Youtube there are people creating amazing things with it, but they made it look much easier to work with than I thought it was.  😉

The first thing I worked on was the Borg Queen torso.  Since I was using a new material it was the part I was most concerned about having time for, but it did go faster than I’d anticipated.  To make her torso I laced my old corset onto my dress form to use as a base.  I wanted to be certain of measurements, and this made the perfect sized form.  My plan was to wear the corset underneath the costume also, because I didn’t want to bend and break something!  It was not too difficult to sketch out a general shape on pattern paper, pinned onto the form, to use as a template to cut craft foam.

I bought two large pieces of black Worbla on eBay, and I sandwiched Worbla over craft foam to make the torso pieces.  The process ended up killing my cheap heat gun (RIP) and was very uncomfortable for my fingers.  Perhaps I am particularly wimpy in that regard (I have circulatory issues) or maybe I wasn’t patient and should have held the heat gun farther away?  The Youtubers looked much happier when moulding it than I was.

When the Worbla portion was all sculpted I began to work on the headpiece, because it must be done in layers and left to dry for days between.  First, I glued a teflon tape cover in place with latex caulk and let it dry.  Next, I hot glued the cable management coils into it, the other ends onto the cap, and filled the void with more caulk.  Caulk is perfect for sculpting the skin where the coils enter the skull, but it has to be done in two or three layers before doing the detail.

You can see that I began sculpting the plastic parts with InstaMorph while the layers of caulk dried.  It was nice to work with but also made my fingers somewhat uncomfortable.  I wished I had tried this product long ago, because it was so perfect to use.

To attach the neckline stuff to the leotard I only had to heat it up and stick it on.  It was really easy, but I accidentally melted a hole through the fabric in the back… so an extra bit was added not inspired by the real Borg Queen to cover it.  The only other problem was that the plastic did not stretch to fit over my hips when dressing.  I encountered the problem when in a rush to get ready!  My solution was to keep pulling until it broke enough to put on, and then I contorted with the heat gun to re-stick the pieces that separated… while I wore it.

After making the torso with layers of Worbla and craft foam I wasn’t too certain the Worbla layers would stay together, and I saw a tutorial that advised brushing a layer of Elmer’s glue onto it before painting.  Instead I used several thick layers of Modge Podge.  Then I gessoed them, with black gesso to save steps, before painting the metallic effects.  The shipping time for the iridescent paint caused worry, because it might arrive too late for the event, so I tried one with mica instead.  I didn’t like it for this costume though.  It was too shimmery rather than metallic, so I ended up coating the back section with gesso again and sending L. to Blick for the proper paint since he works nearby.  The irritating thing is that I have plenty from past costume but could not find it ANYWHERE.  I spent an entire day sorting through every box in the storage room and unpacking some that were still unopened from our move a year and a half past, but the paint is missing.  L. saved the day by going to the store for me, and I also asked for a bottle of the copper paint too, because I’d noticed that the Borg Queen had bronze-red accents too that I now felt could not be ignored.  Adding some warmer tones would really bring things to life, I thought.

completed-borg-queen-torso-piecesAll done, aside from the makeup and assembly of course.

I’d really wanted to make the legs look good too and bought a few types of metallic and black pearl fabric paint, but I couldn’t really figure out a way to apply it and not have problems.  Finally I chickened out of trying, because I was afraid to ruin the leggings too soon before the convention.  It is a shame though, because I don’t like that portion of the ensemble as a result.

The convention was really something else.  I did not realise just how much attention this costume would attract.  It was surreal and amazing to experience.  When we first arrived to the Javits Centre area I was almost worried we had the wrong place or day, because we didn’t see anyone dressed up at all.  Even inside it was a bit echoey and empty when we entered, but we met up with our friend and found seats at the back of a panel event.  along the way I received some smiles and stuff, but it wasn’t until the panel audience exited that I experienced the full effect.  We were some of the first out of the door, being so close to the back, and before we could figure out where to go someone asked for a photo.  Suddenly it was several people, many people, tens of cameras and phones ringed around me in a swarm.  I wasn’t prepared at all, so it was really bizarre and overwhelming for a bit.  I couldn’t decide how to smile, or not smile, and I’m sure the photos taken then showed a very awkward Borg.  This kind of thing continued all day though, and very soon I was admittedly enjoying every second.  😀  L. and our friend S. kept joking about the fact that we couldn’t walk more than a few steps before being stopped again for more photos.  I’d hoped to snag a bunch of them online, but only a couple popped up that I could find.

A highlight was that when we went for autographs the actors were really kind and impressed.  I’m going to totally pat myself on the back here and forget any semblance of modesty, haha.  😀  It was really neat to exchange a few words with Armin Shimerman, for example.  Wearing all the bald cap and all made me better appreciate how hard it must have been to act while wearing such uncomfortable and limiting things.  The reactions from him, Jonathan Frakes, John de Lancie, and Robert Picardo really made me proud of the costume although I did not win in the cosplay contest.  Speaking of, I do believe that Terry Farrel thought it was pretty cool, because she asked me tonnes of questions about making it and really checked out the details while she was judging.  😉

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Borg Queen cosplay contest onstage.jpg

Federation Trump cause me to giggle far more than I should have when I first saw him, by the way.  Khan-ye West and Kim Cardassian really cracked me up and had hilarious presence on the stage.  The Enterprise dress was a cool idea too, and I wouldn’t have come up with it ever.  The Khann that won did a really great job too with all sorts of details, and I think the holodeck duo would have won if Khan-ye and Kim weren’t there, because they did really well too.  There was a very good Garek too, but she wasn’t in the contest.  Actually, I saw plenty of fun costumes out there all day.  🙂

I asked on the convention app if anyone would share photos since I took too few, and here are two I found:

I will not lie, this is the coolest thing that happened that day… Robert Picardo asked if he could take a photo with me and Tweeted it!  😀  So, here is that:

Borg Queen with Robert Picardo.jpg

A Big Project: Staining Wooden Siding (what have I gotten myself into?!)

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I got myself into a bit of a mess of a project, and there is nothing to be done except somehow complete it.  😀  With luck there will be enough dry and warm days to do so.

Our house has wooden siding.  The newest section was a kitchen addition/expansion off the back, and there is plenty of life left in the stain on it.  However, the rest of the back is only passable, and the front is weathered badly.  Many spots are silvered wood instead of stain, and somebody was too aggressive with a power washer before we bought the place.  Time to stain!

Foolishly and optimistically I decided to DIY.  Last week I power washed and even lugged the washer up onto the roof to get the worst sections cleaned up there.  So far (and I’ve only put in about five hours, really,) it isn’t awful, but I am pretty sure already that next time this will be a pay-a-professional sort of job.  😀  Honestly, it has been perfectly pleasant so far, but realistically I expect severe regret to hit at some point in the next week or two.  I’ve only finished one section completely and a few boards in another.  The going is slow.  I’m also waiting for a 32′ ladder that will not arrive until next Wednesday.  Drat!  I have no way to transport one, so I went with Amazon for the quickest shipping and best total price, but this Prime item required more than the usual two days… and I’d not counted on that fact.  It really sucks, because this week until Saturday is the best weather for staining.  I can only hope more dry groups of days will be in the forecast.

Once it became clear that I’d really be tackling this project my husband asked me “what colour?”

It was an easy choice to go with the current stain colour.  The previous owners had left us a handy reference can, and I always thought that the colour was pretty great.  I’d describe it as a red: a rusty-orangish-terracotta-slightly-brownish-red sure… but basically a red.  It perfectly fits the house which is a 1960 “contemporary,” according to the real estate listing.  With a large grid of windows, some brick; too many front steps, stone, and masonry “features” in the front; and two major additions that transformed it from some sort of mundane ranch to something less easily categorised: the interesting but somehow neutral brown-red worked.  To the eye the siding colour and brick melded attractively, and nothing competed for attention except for the sad expanse of foundation  lifting the structure above the hillside.  (The cinderblock steps and front foundation were enhanced with a parge coat and topped with bluestone.  It looked gorgeous but wasn’t done properly, and now is it spalling and crumbling apart most hideously.)

Why change such a well chosen colour?

We like to take walks around the neighbourhood and judge discuss what we like and don’t like about the houses and landscaping that we pass by.  Sometimes there is a detail that I’d like to copy, and sometimes we laugh that you just cannot account for personal tastes.  Near us there is a stunning home.  It’s a stuccoed Tudor style probably built in the ’30s, and it is painted a vibrant red.  The area has quite a few similarly styled homes, but the colour makes it shine like a jewel set in the towering dark pines of their yard.  It is cheerful.  Even on cloudy days it seems there is more sunlight there, and we both love the red.  So, when I went to the local hardware store to have some Arborcoat mixed up, the old can’s tint formula in hand, I hesitated.  Instead of having the lady there send me on my  way with a few cans of the terracotta hue I said to her “you know, I had planned on keeping this the same, but I think my husband would really like a brighter red, but I don’t know…”  She replied that men usually do seem to prefer louder colours and eventually she sent me home with a couple of sample jars: Redwood and Barn Red.

Immediately I liked the old terracotta when I brushed a fresh swatch of it near the front door.  The barn red seemed… really red.  Wow.  Okay… Lastly, redwood struck me as far too orange without a second thought.  Later L. came home and didn’t hesitate to exclaim that the red was awesome, and that barn red it would be.

Oh.  Uh…  I wasn’t so sure.  His selection caused me a lot of angst over the next day or two.  I brushed more samples in other areas.  I sent photos to my mother for her coworkers to vote on.  It was driving me crazy.  For the record, my mother was also leaning toward the terracotta, but all the votes were enthusiastically for the barn red.  I went back and purchased a few gallons mixed as barn red, and the guy who mixed it responded that it was a nice colour and “welcome to 1950” when I expressed concern at the change and brightness.  That night I actually had bad dreams about the decision!  On Sunday we went sailing with some friends, and at some point I asked their opinions as I related the dilemma.  After seeing photos they voted barn red, and I was glad when they began to tell us about a really stunning red house up the block… the same one we’d been so fond of too.

So, I began staining on Tuesday.

I haven’t gotten terribly far yet, but I’ll admit that it does look quite nice after all on the end of the kitchen with French doors that I did complete.  I’m really enjoying the Arborcoat solid stain and how well it goes on.  It is my first time using a Benjamin Moore product, but I always appreciate a stain or paint that is a pleasure to work with, and luckily the Aborcoat is very nice indeed.

Now I have to get back to work on it.  I’ll report back with progress (or when I’m done,) and about other things that I am working on.  I’ve also been fixing up our windows with fresh paint, re-glazing, pretty new sash locks, and re-furbishing/removing the old storm windows.  Any days that aren’t suitable for staining have plenty of other work to fill them. Oh, and I did a temporary facelift on that crumbly, ugly front foundation and steps.  That isn’t complete but already looks much better.  I just don’t know if it will last until spring or whenever we can have a professional repair it solidly.  For that I cleaned the crumble, patched with Quickcrete (until I ran out,) and rolled on a coat of Behr foundation paint.  I still have to finish the patching, paint the edges and corners, and roll another coat, but it looks so much better.  The best part is getting rid of the pale, bluish paint that clashed jarringly with the rest of the place.  The clay taupe-grey that I selected in-store worked out great.  I took a risk in grabbing two gallons without seeing a colour chip at home, so I a pleased it worked out.

Here are a couple of shots that show how nicely the terracotta matched the reddish slate stepping stones:

And here is a reference photo of the front of our place from the street.  It was taken last fall:

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And then the masonry mess:

And a bit after with the paint.  I think the darker shade is far better:

 

Compare:

DIY Re-upholstering a Sofa part III… Taking it Apart and Replacing Foam

Hi!  I know that I haven’t been posting enough, but that is changing.  The freelance thing that made life entirely insane for three months has come to an end (just in time for me to enjoy some of the summer and take a vacation to my husband’s birth-country to meet his father for the first time.  W00t!)  I have a lot of projects in the works, and today have finally been able to transfer thousands of photos onto the computer from my phone.  (For several weeks this was not working, and it was the reason I never ended up being able to post when I had found time.  Very frustrating!)  Today I want to accomplish as much as I can, but there a some topics you can look forward to: a lot more garden and flower photos, installing a functional clothesline, completion of the sewing/work room, refinishing chairs, fancy accent pillow tutorials, basement/garage moisture remediation and waterproofing, more improvements to the master and main baths, and re-upholstering several items.

For example, yesterday I jumped into the very messy and very involved project of reupholstering the vintage sofa which I wrote about this spring.  As of this morning it has been torn apart, and I have all the materials required to make it a sofa again, but I’ll admit that it is a daunting task given how it looks.  This morning: foamless

I had to tear out the the seat deck padding and foam, which I hadn’t done last time, because of a pet problem.  This meant an unexpected trip to Joann’s in the afternoon to purchase some 1″ foam.  Luckily it happened to be 40% off!  (Upholstery foam is rather expensive.  Not much about upholstering in cheap, to be fair, but DIY is still far less than sending it to a professional.)  Now with the new seat deck foam in place, and the new cushion temporarily there too:

this morning new seat deck foam

Still quite the mess, but sweeping the hundreds of sharp staples and dust out of the way made for a less tiring view.  Today I’ll sew in a muslin seat deck and upholster a base over padding with muslin before cutting the real fabric.  I’m using a heavy linen, but I suspect that a muslin base will be wise.  It will also let me decide if I actually like the look of certain changes I am making, like using a one-piece inner arm instead of a corded and more tailored two piece style.

Yesterday I wrapped the new seat cushion foam in batting.  It isn’t too much of a pain.  Just lay the foam on the batting and spray both with upholstery adhesive before smoothing them together.  Trim the edges.  You only want the batting to cover the top, underside, and front edge of the cushion.

wrap the seat foam wrapping the foam

I took this as a before photo.  Sorry it is not much.

end before

Then I started by taking off the cambric underneath:

beginning to take apart, yikes

Next I tore off the welting, unstapled the back, outer sides, inner sides, and finally the seat deck.  I cut and left the front portion from some previous upholstering to make life easier, and I left my and other previous upholsterer’s work on the arms too.  Don’t mess with anything that is doing just fine.  😉

Then I sanded the frame some.  I have to continue that now.  Afterwards I’ll use wood glue to strengthen any wobbly joints.  I want to stain and wax it to match the coffee and dining table.  I still need to hand sew the cushion cover closed.  Then I can do the muslin base and eventually cut the linen.  When I bought the linen I allowed for a couple of extra yards over my calculations, but the yardage is very little according to charts.  I figured it carefully, but I only bought 13yds, as I recall.  This sofa is 8′ or 9′ long and all charts advise somewhere around 20yds for a large sofa.  Luckily this one is short, sparing in use of fabric, and I have the experience of already doing it once before… with a velvet of all things!  I eeked it by with 12yds of velvet, so I am confident with the easier to place linen, but I still must be cautious in cutting without any silly mistake and must have a plan for the layout.  The linen was super inexpensive as far as upholstery fabrics go, but no one wants to waste, eh?

Next time I’ll show how to construct and stitch down the seat deck.  While I am here writing let me share photos of some pretty fabrics I saw at Mood.  I used a similar velvet ikat styled fabric in greys for our kitchen chairs a couple of years ago.  The damask style teal velvet is one I used on a settee going on ten years ago and my desk chair.  I really love it an how well it holds up to use and cat fur.

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Here are swatches of some that I have been dreaming of for future projects.  Too bad they are far to costly for me have used for the sofa!  I’m tempted to yet again re-do the big circular chair (that I already upholstered twice in a few years) with one of the really fancy fabrics.  Actually, I have to re-do a recliner too, but I must keep in mind the sofa it will be near (for a while,) annoyingly.  It is so hard to choose!

ikat velvets desk chair teal and awesome black pretty, pretty

The velvet ikats are fun, but I already know I will not use them.  What is super difficult to decide on are the others.  I always intended to use the damask teal, but now I am unsure.  I adore the black and grey one pictured with it.  That is more forgiving in colour too.  I really like the purples in the other velvets, but those are not good choices for the round chair.  Maybe the darkest one with the large design, and the light grey one?  I suppose I’ll decide after the sofa is complete.  As for the recliner, it will be in the basement with the rust colour-way sofa.  Purple and teals aren’t compatible with it at all,sadly, and even the neutral colour ways aren’t compatible in style.  😦  That sofa is slated to be replaced some day, according to the husband, but it may be years.  I’ll have to keep thinking, because I’d love to use the lighter purple!  They are all so pretty.

Basement Improvements

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So many projects, and so little time.  Each weekend I am trying to tackle something.  However, a few must be devoted to seeing family and friends, and the to-do list is longer than ever.  About a month ago I had a few days off and used them to work on as many home improvements as possible.  The ugly unfortunate looking finished part of the basement was something I’d really been looking forward to making some changes to.  Truly it was the most un-apealling area of our home, and it needed some help.

First of all, it still had a pile of unpacked boxes in the corner (soaking up water too, I found, yuck.)  Then there was the tangled nest of cords that irked me.  (Right after moving my husband wanted the TV set up, and he did it himself since I was otherwise occupied.  He and I have different takes on cable management, so there was a nest of unknown wires clumped behind the console for months until I got around to beautifying the basement.)  😀  Aside from these eyesores close to half of the walls had somewhat white paint that was very dingy and marked up.  The remaining majority were vintage wood paneling.  The floating floor has a bit of a moisture problem and is bouncy and uneven with rot underneath, and I have plans to eventually rip it out, waterproof, and install tile.  The baseboard trim was very beaten up, scratched, and generally looked bad.  Some wasn’t even stained, clear coated, or painted at all.  It still isn’t, actually.  There is a drop ceiling, which I don’t prefer but understand the need for, but it has the big oblong kind of tiles with the institutional worm-eaten finish that just doesn’t scream cosy or anything pleasant.  With the moisture and their size they sag unattractively too.  My plan is to replace them with square tiles that have a smooth and recessed finish, like this.  Oh, and there were dark luan doors with chipped, shiny-brass handles and really old vertical blinds blocking the casement window.  Sounds great, right?

Here are my before photos:

blinds computer corner stair area

Funny how it doesn’t look so bad in photos.

So, I took down the blinds and changed the door knobs to my preferred brushed nickel.  Much better!  At first I thought that a cheerful yellow would liven up the space and go well with the tone of the Pergo, the panelling, the sofa fabric, and so on in spite of it being out of character and my husband detesting the idea.  I tried it anyway, and didn’t like it at all either. Probably I chose the wrong yellow, but I went ahead and wasted a few hours only to decide to repaint immediately.  Our favoured grey was yet again the answer, I thought, but it took a moment to settle between the lovely paint, “polished limestone,” from the hallway upstairs and master bath or “silver tinsel” from my sewing room and the flat I lived in before moving into my husband’s.  Note: I should come up with something to call him on this blog, because it feels really odd to keep repeating “my husband!”

Afterwards I painted the worn out trim and one of the doors with “coconut ice.”  I think it was the biggest and best change.  Now I am considering to paint the panelling as well in the grey and the rest of the trim.  It could look nice and sort of like the New England seashore, but I’m nervous to make such a permanent alteration.  I’ll hold off on that decision a long while.

Yellow:

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… and the grey:

IMG_1160 IMG_1163 IMG_1177 after paint

Last weekend we were near a Restoration Hardware outlet when visiting family and had a nice time browsing and dreaming.  My husband really liked certain heavy and sort of Spanish-medieval styled stuff that I think is a bit much, but we also found some things to agree on.  I prefer more simple and rustic things mostly.  We are searching for a media console, and I might try to transform a thrifted one if I can, but it was helpful to discuss what we like and don’t like.  Besides this he has found that he loves leather chesterfield sofas and ottomans, and we are dreaming of replacing ours.  It is all fun to contemplate: the floor tile, furniture options, and such.

I want to mention and link to two wonderful things that we have in the media room.  First of all is Litter Robot.  It is hands down the most amazing appliance I can think of besides refrigeration.  I’ve had cats all of my life, too many cats at once according to most standards, and Litter Robot has been a wonderful change.  It is really expensive (Jebus, I think they raised the price a couple hundred too!,) but since it actually works and doesn’t bog down or break like the other automatic litter solutions that I’ve tried I have to recommend it highly.  I do save a lot on litter compared to a regular box too.  Unfortunately, my husband’s cat never adapted to it, and I need to provide a normal litter too, but my four were much less work thanks to it.  I love it.

The next item is a cheaper dehumidifier.  I knew we needed one, and when I saw that they generally start at well over a hundred dollars I was annoyed and didn’t know which to choose.  I opted to try out this cheaper unit since it was less investment but actually looked nicer than the more expensive ones, and I highly recommend it too.  I ended up buying another for the unfinished part of the basement too, and it works just great.  Hmm, I should mention that we have a Roomba in the media room too, and even though I don’t consider it a vacuum replacement it does help the tracked litter situation tremendously well.  (I would have a litter capturing tray with carpet if the problem-kitty didn’t think it was an extended litter.  Those work too otherwise.)

So, there is a post.  😀

The BEST Wallpaper in the World!

Today I reluctantly moved boxes, bolts of material, sewing machines, and tools out of the room designated for sewing and projects.  Why?  …Because wallpaper.

guest room and sewing room before IMG_8241

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It wasn’t the most hideous and a part of me could even find it cute, but I really didn’t want a busy pattern in the workroom to interfere with visualising things or clashing as a background in photos.  Once again I felt a little bit sad and guilty to make the change, but I had decided to go ahead and make it the space that I wanted instead of working with the paper.  Except, I was dreading the wallpaper removal.  Over the past couple of months I put off purchasing any supplies required or paint.  I asked my mother, my friends, and Home Depot employees if I could just please get away with painting over it against all my and their knowledge.  Nope.  It had to go if I wanted to paint, and I do always like to do a job correctly if I’m putting in the effort.  Finally I bought paint and removal tools.  Still, I dragged my feet.

Today turned out to be the day to begin for a few boring reasons.  (I will not have as much free time in the future and with any luck that will be soon.)  I’ve also been distracted with many sewing ideas in the past weeks, but every last implement is still boxed up.  Nothing can be made until everything is unpacked, organised, and set up.  😦  So, I put myself together and spent half of the morning moving the boxes and such into the guest room (making an unsettling mess in there.)  I’ll sure be motivated to finish this room quickly!

Then I opened up the scoring tool and scraper packages, found a spray bottle and a sponge, and read the stripper instructions.  Before saturating anything I tried prying up a corner of the paper, and OMG!!!!  The corner came up and I was able to peel the entire sheet off in one piece!  Not only that, but in under three minutes I’d peeled off half a wall!!!!  It only took half an hour or so to remove all of it.  I’ve rolled up the paper to re-use as drawer liners.

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I can hardly believe how lucky I was with this wallpaper, and I am thrilled that it did not take days.  I’ve already patched the many holes and few sections that pulled away.  I guess I’ll sand today as well before other chores since one is vacuuming and mopping.  Tomorrow I’m busy but perhaps I could begin painting Friday?  I believe I’ll need to start with the ceiling, much as I hate to bother, because it is a bit dirty and messed up.  😦  Also, I wish I hadn’t opened the scoring tool and could return it along with the stripper stuff, but I can’t really complain about this project too much.  I might manage to have the room done and organised next week, and that would be great!