Lately, I Have Been So Distracted!

There doesn’t seem to be any ramp up time for me when I start thinking about going back to work. It goes from a fleeting notion to a full blown hunt in a snap. Much of my time lately has been taken up with the construction of a job hunt. I have had a few minutes here and there, but it seems that once I get things organized and ready to work, I am tired or distracted by a phone call.

But, with that said, I have finished a couple of projects. The first one is something I’ve done before, but I never seem to get bored with the idea. The suitcase dresser is a very popular style, especially when you’re looking at a piece that may have damage or isn’t the highest quality. I’ve probably done a half dozen of this style now, and it always comes out great.
Although these are difficult to do, they tend to take some time to complete. Especially when the cabinet requires work as well. The Kid was much more involved in this one, as all of the drawers had to have fronts placed and supports both front and back of each drawer. One drawer had to almost be rebuilt from scratch, the one good thing is that all the pieces were there and just needed to be put back together.

I created a tutorial some time back, you can see it Suitcase Dresser Tutorial. I didn’t take many photos, since I’ve done the tutorial. I will tell you that if you have dedicated space to work on it, it helps. I did most of the work in the kitchen and dining room, and had to constantly move the drawers as I progressed with the work.

DSCN3560I tend to work on it ‘assembly line style’, that is, I glue the fabrics on all of the drawers first, then glue the tucks on all four sides. Since each side needs to be clamped while is it drying, I can only do one side at a time. So I have to find a way to stack them out of the way while the glue dries.

I’ve gotten some things done with the container gardening… if you recall, I am attempting to grow tomatoes on the deck. So far, so good.

DSCN3564That’s The Kid’s one stalk of corn, he wanted to try just one. He also planted corn in his backyard garden.

DSCN3565We’ve had so much rain that everything is so green and the grass around the garden seems to have overtaken much of it. On this side, we attempted to build a small berm; the yard slopes such that when it rains, we end up with a little stream. I call it “a river runs through it’… and we’ve now figured out to avoid it, but with the ridiculous amount of rain we’ve had, it has widened. We experienced standing water around the seeds and we worried that nothing would ever sprout. But it does finally seem to have a foothold and now we have to watch the garden to make sure it gets the proper amount of water.

DSCN3575And speaking of growing… I rescued this little violet when it was on its last leg about a year/year and a half ago. Someone had left it behind when they left their job and it sat for nearly two weeks without being watered or attended to. It was sad. I brought it home and repotted it in a larger pot in MiracleGro soil. And almost immediately this thing started sprouting new leaves and flowers. It has given me almost nonstop flowers ever since. Don’t those little purple flowers just make your heart smile?DSCN3571On the other hand (or should I say knee), I am now forced to ice or apply heat to both knees almost daily. The ice packs that I’ve been using have started to leak and I never really liked them anyway. They never really fit right against my knees, consequently, I did not get the full benefit. I had seen this ice packs using rice and you can both heat them up or cool them down.DSCN3572 I actually had bought two bags of rice awhile back and with so little crafting time, I thought maybe if I just cranked out a few smaller projects, I might feel like I am accomplishing something. The project is simple enough… I would cut some muslin fabric and sew the edges together leaving one open side; to keep the rice from bunching up on one end or the other, I added some baffles. Then using soft fleece, I made each one a cover. I used velcro for the opening – this way if the covers get dirty or wet, then can just be thrown into the washer/dryer.

Front of Denim Hems BagSo, I’ve also attempted to use up some of the denim that I cut up a few weeks ago. The main bulk of the denim is going into one or the other of two main projects: a braided rag rug and reupholstering a wing chair.

That leaves me with pant leg hems (2 per each pair of jeans), back pockets (2 per) and a waistband. So, I took the plastic bag of hems and sat down in front of the sewing machine and started sewing them together. Once I had a sizable piece of fabric, it hit me… this would make a terrific all purpose bag!

Back of Denim Hems BagI have always been a fad of canvas bags – we use them for groceries and I carry them into many places that I shop. I had found one that was about the right size of the piece that I had sewn, so opted to use it as sort of a lining. With it in place, I then used a waistband to finish the bag.

I found an older bag that had a beautiful handle and removed the rivets that were holding the handle in place. I cut four pieces of leather as the support of the handles. I couldn’t get the rivets to hold with my home kit, so I’ve opted to find some place that does leather work. I also want this place to stitch the bag pocket, as there is too many layers for my sewing machine. That is the thing with denim, it gets too thick very quickly. In fact, during this entire process, I broke 18 needles! And these needles were specifically for denim and other heavy projects. It is just as you work, the layers can add up very quickly… especially when you’re talking about seams!

DSCN3570On the other end of the sewing spectrum, I’ve been doing some hand sewing. I just start a with a circle of felt – whatever color I have on hand – and start adding stitches and have been using beads on many of the pieces. I didn’t have a specific project in mind, but while perusing Pinterest, I saw some pin cushions that looked similar. So, violá!

DSCN3569Won’t these be the most adorable little pin cushions?

DSCN3568And the great thing about this, is, this will give me a chance to use up much of my scrap felt. I can sit and watch television and stitch to my heart’s content. (Someday I will get back to working on my My Huge Cross Stitch Project. I just had to take a break from it for a while.)DSCN3567And the last little project… My son built this in his wood shop class a couple of years ago and I never knew exactly what to do with it. But working lately in my home office lately has shown that for the health of my knees, I need to have my feet elevated. And what better way to do it than with this little footstool! I painted it my signature red and I had just enough fabric to cover the foam that I added (material is left over from re-cover my dining room chairs and pillow covers for the couch). Don’t you just love it when things come together?VioletsSo, I am going to leave you with another shot of my happy little violets!

julie

OK, I Admit It… I Googled Myself! Sort of…

Something recently came across my desktop that indicated that one of my photographs that I have included in this blog had ended up on Pinterest without a link back to my site.

That gave me some thought. I had started to design a logo that I could print across photos that I posted, but then I thought it would just mean more work for me to add the logo to each and every one of my photos. And if people love the work that I show and want to re-pin it, I say ‘go for it’.

So, first I googled “suitcase dresser” and I got this:

Suitcase DresserSo my photos showed up three times in the first three rows. Woot!

Next, I googled ‘pink ombre dresser’ and I was not only first and second, but appeared five times in the first three rows!pink ombre dresserSo, back to actual projects! I did finish two more dressers, but to everyone’s credit, it isn’t very exciting. I’ve done this over and over and you know what? They are best sellers. They always are so adorable in any girl’s room, even if that girl isn’t so little!

I had opted to paint a dresser that isn’t up to my normal standards, I had picked it up debating whether to try another style, but it turned out that the idea wasn’t going to work. Since I was painting another dresser in the ombre style, I just did both at the same time.

Before&AfterWhiteDresserApologies for the bad lighting, but we had just gotten the “jewelry” installed and was late in the afternoon. But you get the idea. It was pretty much rote painting and I got The Kid to help this time. Primed, two coats of paint and added the handles.

Speaking of handles, I went online and ordered some new handles. I thought that they were a little bigger in diameter, but they are pretty. And they are appropriate for the intended buyers.

HandleSo, the other dresser was similar. I love when I get a five drawer dresser, then I get to use six shades of pink! So, not much to tell, so I will just show you photos:

Before&After PurpleYou can see that I actually have been getting pieces from a local auction site. They are sporadic as far as including furniture, but when they do, its pretty good quality stuff.2015-04-02 19.54.292015-04-22 18.09.462015-04-02 19.53.47 2015-04-19 13.56.40Most of the pieces need some TLC when we pick them up. Drawers need strengthening and re-glued. Some pieces almost need to be rebuilt, all of them needed sanding and spot repairs. But when the bones are good, it is worth it.

So, they we are. Next up is to finish the two benches we’ve been working on. They are being built using two sets of head and foot boards and painted red with stained seats. I absolutely hate working with red paint – not for the color itself, but for whatever reason this time, is requiring more coats of paint than anything I have done painted before. And I’ve done a lot of projects in red!

julie

Giant Scrabble Letters Spell Out A New Family’s Name

I’m not usually in the habit of doing custom pieces, if only because of the limitation of my creativity. Something changes in the way the project is perceived by me and the recipient. Usually, when I am doing a piece, its because of a spark of imagination, an idea or something I’ve seen makes me want to try a project. If it doesn’t work, or I get the urge to change it mid-way, I don’t have to ask permission, explain the change or worse, ignore the desire to make the change. I do it because I want to and when I am done, if someone loves it too, all the better.

Every great now and then, though, someone will approach me with an idea. Maybe it is something they’ve seen on Pinterest, someone else’s blog or something I have already done and wants to know if I can do it for them. I like to be accommodating, but like I said, my own creativity seems to go out the window. My first experience with having someone judge my creativity (and it was rather harsh) came a few years into my quilting obsession. Of course, I loved everything that I was doing and naturally assumed everyone else would too! And when I had my feelings crushed with some unintentional comments and “helpful instructions”, I swore off doing things specific for a person.

But every once in a while I break my own rule. Tonight’s completed project is one such endeavor. I met Kurt and Courtney when they came to look at some dressers that I had completed. In fact, Courtney fell in love with my version of the suitcase dresser so much she bought two! One even wasn’t complete, but I did have the basic design done and she let me run with it. That dresser was the one used in the tutorial that I wrote about have to re-create that look. You can see the tutorial here.

Here are the two pieces she bought…

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Suitcase3 Before&After

But Courtney and I got to talking, getting way off the mark and I ended up showing her all the stuff that I had in progress. She especially liked the large sized tiles I completed (see the post here) and the large table sized Scrabble game that is in process that had me making yet another set of custom Scrabble pieces, these about 2 1/2 inches square. The board is about 4 foot square and painted official Scrabble rules, just custom colors.

This is when the special request was made. She loved the idea of the large Scrabble letters spelling out the new family unit that Kurt and Courtney would become soon, along with their four children (two his, two hers). Seemed a reasonable request. I think I am going to take the time to create the process in an upcoming blog, but for now I will just show you the results. I finished just a few hours ago and took photos just before the sun set. I am very happy with how they turned out.

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The consist of several pieces, but are not all individual tiles. I routed a shallow square groove between most of the tiles to replicate the space that the tiles would naturally have when placed side by side. The horizontal pieces are made so they fit together but can be separated for easy transport or storage.

About half way through working on these tiles, Courtney wrote and requested a few more sets. Since her two children weren’t getting the new last name, she wanted something special for her and her boys. So, to make them special, they got color. Red and white. The boys names – first, middle and last – were done with white lettering on a bold red, and Mom’s name was done opposite, with red lettering on white. Striking, don’tcha think?

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Again, they come apart into manageable pieces but can be easily assembled.

This was no quick project, let me assure you. These took weeks and many laborious hours of hand painting and lettering. I probably will not do this too often. But I am happy with the final result and yes, look for a detailed instructional post very soon. Oh and in case you were wondering, I used the font “News Gothic MT” in 400 point for a 5 1/2 inch square tile. The numbers were the same font in 100 point.

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 2.00.18 PMOkay, it has been a long week (end of week three – or is it four?) and still trying to get projects done and be the mom of a teenager getting ready to graduate from high school. Whew! I need a nap!

Thank you all for stopping by, it is after all, why any of us crazy bloggers take the time to write posts, so please come back soon!

And keep crafting and making beautiful things!

julie

Creating a Suitcase Dresser: A Tutorial

A couple of posts back, I showed you another of the suitcase dressers that I had completed. I had a comment or two from readers that said they really liked the concept but could find no instructions or tips or any other helpful information on how to recreate the look. Well, I have been working on a short console type cabinet for a client that I decided that I would do a tutorial on how to make the suitcase dresser, or at least, how I do it.

Okay, I have done this about four times (and I have another under way). The particular pieces of furniture that I chose are those sound in structure, but devoid of any real character. Like this dresser.

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I took the drawers out and removed their hardware. This left this odd bumpy pieces that under closer inspection appeared to be attached to the fronts. A little prying and they came right off. They were attached with three very long staples and made of pressed wood. Basically useless.

DSCN1246I discarded those pieces.

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You can see the long one leaning against the front of the drawer.

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So here are the drawers with clean fronts ready to be worked on.

Oh, and speaking of ‘clean’, it is always a good idea to wipe down everything with a clean cloth avoiding chemical cleaners. You don’t want anything interfering with the bonding of glue and drawer front. Wipe out the interiors of the drawers and the inside of the cabinet. Nice to have everything clean to start with.

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Next, I made a couple of trips to my local hangouts; Joann’s and then Home Depot. First I chose fabric. I knew the piece was to be primarily black (cabinet is the ‘usual’ Deep Space black in semi-gloss from Behr). I painted the cabinet and set it aside. I would have to do two coats to get a nice even coverage. Below, you will see the two fabrics I chose. I purchased the width of the drawer plus 4 inches, enough to wrap around the top and bottom edges. This will make sense when we get further.DSCN1253

The type of fabric used is as least considered an upholstery fabric. I like to use styles and colors that mimic what I think of when it comes to older suitcases, something around the 50’s and 60’s. I collected these images to give you a place to start. Let you imagination take you wherever you want to go, who is to say what is or isn’t suitcase fabric? Also, remember you can always use just about any colored vinyl. Let’s you really get a pop of color in there.

SuitcaseExamples

Here you can get an idea of the weight of fabric, it does need to be a heavier type fabric. Working with a heavier and more stable fabric is easier and it will wear longer. Not all upholstery or furniture fabric will work, you have to be careful of glue saturation. More on that later.

Fabric Examples

Here are several examples of fabrics that I have purchased to use in upcoming projects. You can see the wide selection of colors and patterns.

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Next I cut off the selvage. I am also a quilter, so I use the cutting mat and rotary cutting tool and straight edge tool that I already own. You could just as easily use a scissors to cut off the edge.

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Now measure the length of the drawer adding four inches. Now cut the length.

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Now fold the fabric onto itself into about thirds. What you are doing here is to make a crease in the fabric to replicate the lid meeting the body of the suitcase.

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Pin to hold the fold. You may want to pull the fabric back and look (at the right sides together) to make sure that your fold placement looks good. For me, it was trial and error the first couple of times. For the most part, I figure as long as striped or obvious patterns look right and match appropriately.

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Sew about a 1/4″ seam. This doesn’t have to be perfect measurement, again, as a quilter, this is what I normally sew. And I don’t lose too much of the fabric to the seam.DSCN1262

Now open the seam and press. Sometimes, when the fabric is really heavy, pressing helps to maintain a nice flat surface when you apply the fabric to the drawer front.

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Now apply a liberal amount of glue mixture to the drawer front. I use a combination of about 4 parts white glue (good ‘ol Elmers, I buy it by the gallon size) and 1 part water. This makes it just a little easier to work with. Now working with the fold towards the bottom, place the fabric evenly on the drawer front folded… then unfold when the line is straight. Believe me, when you are all done and that seam is crooked, it will jump out at you and you will see it every time you look in its direction!

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Now unfold and smooth the remainder of the fabric. Start at the center and work out to ensure a smooth coverage. Be careful not to pull when you smooth and move the fabric.

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In most cases, I use those big office binder clips, to hold the fabric as it dries. You will only be doing the two long edges now.

Two things you need to be aware of if you leave the clips on too long … one, these clips can possibly leave rust if the fabric is saturated with the glue mixture. Two, you can get a crease line when the glue dries where the binder meets the fabric. These can be avoided if you leave the clips on long enough to allow the glue to ‘set’ but before it dries. Again, this is just a matter of trial and error.

Occassionally, if there is not enough ‘lip’ on the drawer to support the use of a binder clip, I will use a stapler. Just a regular stapler, not a heavy duty one. This is just to hold the fabric in place until it dries enough to remove the support.

DSCN1266 Another view of the fabric drying:

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Once the fabric has dried enough to maintain the connection to the drawer, remove the binder clips. To use these on a multi-drawer dresser, you will need quite a few of them. Allow the glue to dry at least overnight, better if you can give it the full twenty-four hours recommended.

This will be where you will see if your choice of fabric was good. I didn’t plan this, but it ended up working out okay since I am doing a tutorial. After all, a good tutorial will also tell you what not to do as well as what to do.

In this case, this fabric wasn’t a good choice after all. The glue soaked into the fabric to the point that when it dried, it discolored the fabric. It is pretty difficult to see in the photos, but where the glue was too thick, it discolored the fabric.

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I was able to pull the fabric off without any damage to the drawer front. Off to the store for a replacement fabric, this time I dropped by Hobby Lobby to check out their selection. I found a beautiful black and shades of silver/gray with circles to replace it. Back through the steps to get the second drawer caught up to the first.

Once the long edges of the drawer have been dried, you need to repeat the process to the ends. This is usually much easier since they are shorter in length. Again, another 24 hours is recommended to allow the glue mixture to dry.

Now, you need to trim the excess from the drawers. This process is dependent on the specific shape of the drawers and how they fit into the cabinet. I usually chose drawers that lay on top of the cabinet as opposed to being recessed. Perhaps this photo will help clarify what I am talking about:

Drawers Explained

Drawer styles vary, but again, I like to stick to drawer styles that are similar. I trim the fabric under the drawer first, using a sharp razor blade to remove it where the drawer front meets the drawer. Using the inside corner as a guide, pull the blade along to cut the fabric. Trim the edges using the razor blade or a small pair of scissors.

DSCN1322 Pull the fabric away as you move down the drawer. This helps to see where you might need to re-cut; remember, this is heavy duty fabric!

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Once you have the fabric removed, apply more glue to the edges, trimming away errant threads as you go. Be liberal in your glue application, you want the edges to stick well!DSCN1325

Another waiting period for glue to dry. Then it is time to install hardware.

First, let me talk a little about hardware. I think it looks better to have a variety of styles and colors. Otherwise, you are back to looking like it is just another dresser. I keep my eyes open in many places I shop for possible candidates. One place I love to browse through bins is Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. They have some awesome old and unique pieces. Often dirty and without mates or pairs, but all the better. And usually either 50 cents or a buck!

I always peruse the hardware aisles at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace Hardware, but you can also look at places like Michael’s, Joann’s and Hobby Lobby. Occasionally, I will find good stuff at the dollar stores and thrift stores. I browse eBay and Craiglist too. Because I know I will be doing these from time to time, I like to keep an eye open all the time and in the end, this gives me a good selection to choose from.

Here is are some examples of what Home Depot has to offer:

HomeDepot Selection

Position on the drawer front to suit yourself and attach. On one drawer front, I used a piece of a leather belt (picked up at Goodwill for $1.98) and two pipe straps to simulate a leather suitcase handle.

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Next, as clasps for the case I used silver window sash hardware one on each side, about 5″ from the edges:

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The other drawer was treated with a black gate handle, nice and solid:

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And it also received the window sash hardware, this time in black. Also, to vary the hardware location, I mounted these about 4″ from the edge. Just to keep from getting to repetitive and keep things looking different.

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Insert the drawers into the cabinet, take a step back and let out a long overdue and well deserved sigh. You should be done at this point. A few more photos of the completed project. First, a close-up of the hardware, you can see that things don’t line up and that is on purpose.

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A step back to view the whole thing, cabinet included:

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Another shot:

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Whew! About two thousand words and pictures! pictures! pictures! I hope this all makes sense, but if you have questions, please ask! Like I said, I have done this four or five times now and I may have taken a short cut or two without realizing it. Once you do something a few times, you kind of know where you can cut corners but is information that would be helpful when trying to show someone else how to do it.

Oh, just for fun, here are the other dressers that I have done, the first one even had a small matching nightstand:

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and the very first effort:

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This one shows you a before and after shot:

Suitcase3 Before&After

Okay! I will say goodnight! I loved doing this tutorial but had no idea that it would take nearly 5 hours to write. Glad I was taking photos along the way.

Thank you for dropping by! Come back again!

And keep crafting y’all!

julie

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