The bumblebee is complete: an Alabama Chanin inspired toddler Halloween costume…

Version 2

Last time I wrote here I was about to begin making a bumblebee Halloween costume for Mini.  I didn’t get a change to write again while working on it until a day or two ago and opted to just finish everything first instead so that I could try for a photoshoot before the weekend.

IMG_1237

 

It went as planned except for the wings.  Instead of using wire and pantyhose I ended up sandwiching super sparkly vinyl sheets together, and I am pleased with the result.  If making them again I’d probably change the design slightly, but I definitely prefer them to the wire frame sort for this particular costume.  The sparkle is great for bee wings, I think.  Anyway, the vinyl stuff had adhesive, and I stuck it to some Tyvek for extra strength.  I’d have used black craft foam sheets if I’d planned better, but I hadn’t purchased any.  For my own costume I ought to, because larger wings will droop too much otherwise.

The bodysuit and bolero were easy thanks to plenty of practice.  I’m glad I found out about Alabama Chanin in time to use the techniques for baby clothes!  I think that it makes the costume much more special.

 

Inspiration:

 

Details:

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.)

IMG_1152.jpg

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…

IMG_1154.jpg

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 07.17.58.png

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.

IMG_1146.jpg

IMG_1157.jpg

IMG_1162.jpg

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…

IMG_1165

 

IMG_1720

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.

 

 

IMG_3396

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.

IMG_0073.jpg

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.

IMG_3924

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.

IMG_0099

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!

IMG_0081.jpg

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!

 

IMG_0854.jpgIMG_1659.jpgIMG_1658.jpg

 

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.

 

 

 

Halloween 2016: 1918

This year I didn’t take the time available to me to create a new costume, I am sad to say.  Mostly the reason was that there aren’t that many days of good weather left for staining our house.  That is rather unfortunate since, with IVF luck, perhaps next year a newborn might complicate the costume matter?  (I’m afraid to hope so too much, but it is a possibility.)

We didn’t even go out to a goth night on Saturday, because L made reservations at a really neat restaurant for my birthday instead.  I’d already scraped together old pieces to form a costume for going out though, so I wore it to our local haunt on Sunday night.  (They are closed Mondays.)

Versión 2

While I had no great idea for a costume I’ve been looking for an excuse to make something 19-teens-ish.  I’m certain, after watching Downton Abbey this summer, that this is my favourite fashion period in all of history.  Even before the show I was drawn to it and even based my wedding dress in the era, so I had some pieces that I could put together for this Halloween’s look.

I used the old under-bust corset, a thrift store silk skirt that I’ve had for years, the fingerless gloves from our wedding, a leather mask from Etsy, and a silk chiffon wrap tunic that I made some years ago.  I think it has a ‘teens look.

This shot from the trial run shows more of the fabric details:

img_6654-1

At some point I’m certainly going to make at least a few good ‘teens pieces.  A coat is a must too, like one (far right) in this fashion plate?

_bellas-hess-1817-18-catalog12

Meanwhile, I am thrilled about some new shoes…  L has pre-ordered REAL button boots for my birthday gift, and as soon as I have them I’ll be sharing photos and a review.  (I Googled forever, but no one seems to have shared photos beyond those from the actual website or upon first arrival.  I’d like to see what they look like with the buttons adjusted and all broken in, so I’ll have to be the one to put that online it seems.)  I’d wanted to get a pair of my beloved can can boots, but they are really expensive and now only custom made as it turns out.  (I realistically need an entire size larger than the pair that I’ve worn for more than ten years.  They still look pretty good, after tours of Barcelona and NYC, but my feet grew…)  Maybe another time, but I’m seriously excited to get my hands on actual button boots!  Even when I was a little kid I wished I could have a pair like I saw in antique shops or worn by Shirley Temple in The Little Princess.  OMG, the want.  😀  I already ordered a few antique button hooks, and I look forward to a post or two about the boots when they arrive and after a while.  I’ve also gone ahead and received a pair of Edwardian shoes, but I have yet to adjust the buttons or anything.

 

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.  😉

IMG_4956.jpg

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

Repairing cracked marble results: nearly undetectable

Hi!  Today I had planned to begin the sofa reupholstering project, but I realised that I had better wait for the move after all.  It turns out that closing on the house is basically one week away, and I have a lot of moving preparations to make.  So, I did some errands and chores today, and I finally tried to repair the marble tray that I mentioned the other day.

The other day I had a little kitchen accident.  😦  You see, I love marble, and since I couldn’t have a fancy marble countertop I used a tray I found on sale at the local Restoration Hardware outlet as a way to include it in our kitchen.  I really liked the antique/rustic look of the tray and thought it made a great dry sink to place herbs, greens, and vegetables in after washing while in queue for chopping.  Then I fumbled and dropped a full bottle of olive oil.  It hit a corner of the tray as it fell, and the corner cracked right off in two pieces and some crumbs!  :sobs:

This isn’t the first time I had to deal with cracked marble.  When I was moving in with my husband the piece that tops our coffee table snapped in two.  I still haven’t found a suitable replacement a couple of years later and had found the table in my favourite Salvation Army thrift store.  It was quite the find being marked as sold at 150$ yet not picked up after weeks.  Their policy is to allow a day, so I asked about it.  They told me I could have it for 17$ (35, but it 50% off day) if I took it immediately.  Sold!  I planned to strip the base and do a particular finish, but it turned out to be plastic overlay not carved wood (surprise to me!)  So, I did a wash over it with plaster mixed with white paint and liked it very much.  When it cracked I was sad but thought I’d find something nicer.  Eventually hasn’t happened yet, and I wish I had done better than the hack-job glueing that seemed okay at the time.

Now I know better but still didn’t know exactly how to repair a crack.  I did some research and found that epoxy mixed with stone dust is the way to go, but I couldn’t find an exact product.  I’ve ended up with some sort of Loctite epoxy and a piece of marble tile to pulverise.  I’m not pleased with the fact that it is described as translucent yellow, but I hope it will not be too obvious, because it was the best I could find at Home Depot.  If I begin mixing and it looks terrible I’ll keep searching.

…So I crushed a bit of the marble tile.  It wasn’t too hard, and finding a surface to smash it on was the most difficult portion of the task.  Haha.  Then I left everything for a week since it looked passable held together with scotch tape.

held together with scotch tape

The repair actually wasn’t the bother I expected, and it took me only about ten minutes.  I laid out the supplies, read the instructions on the epoxy, and extruded some onto the foil.  I realised pretty quickly that I would need to cut the cotton off of the q-tip, because the fibres were sticking in the mix.  It wasn’t difficult to transfer the mix to the pieces, really.  Then I held it together while it set.  I did my best to line it up well.  Next I swabbed away any excess epoxy with rubbing alcohol.  After the mending layer held I mixed another batch of marble dust and epoxy to fill in the voids.  Applying this was easier than the first portion, and it filled in almost on its own.  I think it was a very successful repair!  Looking at the whole tray I’d bet no one would realise there had been a repair made to it.  Do you agree?

Supplies:

supplies

Mixing:

mixing crushed stone into epoxy

After:

after

Closeup:

side closeup

I hope this post helps other people as a cheap but very nice looking way to fix broken marble items they may have.  🙂

What to do with an ugly sofa? Part I -supplies and where to get them

I meant to write sooner, but I’ve been sick.  😦  Today I slept in again and awoke feeling quite a bit better, so here I am.  (Actually, I began writing this a couple of weeks ago and am posting now that I finished the post.)   I had some normal cleaning to do, like vacuuming, and one thing led to another until I’d organised a very messy (embarrassing) closet and made the living room look a little better.  The closet project was very satisfying and was due to seeing a box of Space Bags at Costco.  I used all of them and shrunk my hoarded linen pile into comparative nothingness.  Yay!  It also eases my concerns somewhat about bedbugs in the building, because Do Not Want!  Anyway, I’ve mentioned an upholstering project that I plan to write about in the coming weeks, so here it begins…

A few years ago I was at the Salvation Army thrift store on half off day, and I saw a great vintage sofa.  It was mid-century-ish with a sleek wooden frame and rather ridiculously was upholstered in a pale blue brocade featuring some sort of blossoms.  (My mother loved the fabric.)  I’ll have to try to dig up photos.  Anyway, wooden frame sofas really appeal to me, and I figured I could re-upholster it.  Myself.  After all I was able to buy it for only $50, and surely upholstering wasn’t *too* hard, right?  Soon I’d bought some supplies, a book or two and tackled it.

It didn’t go too badly although there was a big mess for a while.  The only trouble is that one of my cats is really, really dumb… and she peed on it a few times to protest being left alone too much while I dated my husband.  Ugh!  Now all that work was ruined when the only things left to complete had been the pillow covers and part of the seat cushion covers.  :cries:

My solution for a while, which turned into more than two years, was to remove the cushion batting, wrap the foam in heavy duty trash bags, seal it with tape, and pin a heavy blanket around them as a sofa cover.  It worked very well, but it sucked.  😀

These two years I’ve wanted to re-reupholster the sofa, but my husband didn’t seem bothered by it and wouldn’t agree to fabric and foam as suitable holiday gifts to me.  This year I finally talked him into it, and the pain of having to redo the work has faded too.  My birthday was in November, I have finished sourcing my supplies, and I need to tackle the project before we move (in less than a month?)  In December I purchased new seat foam and wrapped it temporarily with a smaller throw blanket.  The new foam was a joy to sit on compared to the old worn out stuff, and my husband seemed to be happier about the project.

First things first: supplies and suppliers

For this project I knew I wanted to use heavy grey or natural greyish linen fabric.  Last time I tried velvet, and it is of course a cat fur magnet.  It also is trickier to work with due to the direction of the nap, and it requires more yardage.  I ordered a pretty dark grey swatch from a wonderful seller on eBay, but the fabric was too thin for a sofa.  The reason I mention them is that their customer service was excellent, and when the swatch didn’t work out they sent me other options at their own expense.  I feel bad for not ending up buying from them, so here is a shout-out instead.  😉

I did a little research and found several mentions that the Warsa linen line from Gray Line is suitable for sofas and chairs.  I had a colour card of their Judy linen since I use it a lot in clothing, but Warsa has fewer to choose from.  When I finally made it to the store last week the only colour that came close to what I wanted was “dark wheat,” and I bought 16yds.  I’m pretty sure that is enough.  I hope so and know I used less last time, but I’m covering more pillows this time around.  I almost bought extra for a round loveseat thing that I might want to match, but I can always go back for more.  Anyway, if I ever buy so much again I’m looking into the shipping cost, because lugging the heavy bolt home via the subway was awful!!

The cushion foam I wanted was 24×84″ and 4″ thick.  You may not know this, but aside from the fabric the most expensive item you may need for an upholstery project is likely the cushion foam.  Bigger pieces are pretty insane!  (Normally upholstery fabric can be 15$ a yard and goes up to hundreds or more, depending, but you can be thriftier with effort.)  In this case I could have spent more on the foam than fabric!  You don’t always have to buy new foam, but I sure had to.  First I planned to use diyupholsterysupply, but it was soooo much money that I shopped around first.  Joann’s often has coupons, so that was an option, but they didn’t quite have the size I needed.  I actually ended up purchasing it on Amazon even though it wasn’t a prime item and there weren’t many reviews or clues about the quality.  The foam turned out to be perfect and something like 50$ less than diyupholsterysupply.  (Gawd, from now on I’m writing DIY instead, because that is so unwieldily.)

I did order other things from DIY such as cambric for finishing off the bottom of the sofa, muslin to pre-upholster with, and seat decking.  From Joann’s I bought a roll of upholstery zippers and batting.  They didn’t have the invisible zippers I needed, so I purchased them in the city at Pacific.  I already have a staple gun, a roll of tack strip, a tack puller, thread, hot glue, and foam adhesive.  I’m not sure if I’ll end up using cording, but if I do I have a whole reel of it from last time.  As a note on the staple gun, if you will be doing a large item or many over time then try to get one that is air operated as long as you can use a compressor.  Living in an apartment building I couldn’t.

Alright, it is time for me to actually go work on this instead of writing about it!

Just a note, I have decided to give links to products that I use or stores that I mention.  At this point I am writing for myself and not encouraged, paid, or compensated for anything on this blog although it would be cool to become an Amazon affiliate or something eventually.  Anyway, I wanted to link to certain things and figure I better link to anything mentioned, wherever it is online, although it looks kind of weird and commercial .