Sometimes you find something that's just perfect for what you need - but, it just needs a slight alteration. Sometimes making that slight alteration yourself can get you exactly what you want, and save you a lot of money.
Case in point: I had this apricot fabric on hand, but needed it to be just a couple shades lighter for the ruffled pillow shams I was making. I set out to see if I could fade the fabric myself to the shade I needed.
Here's how I went about it:
TOOLS & MATERIALS:
- Rubber gloves
- Apron (to protect your clothes)
- Measuring cup
- Bathtub or other large wash basin
I mixed 1 cup of bleach with 10 cups of hot water and fully submerged a small scrap of my fabric in the solution for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes was up, I removed my scrap from the bleach solution, rinsed it thoroughly with cold water, wrung it out in a cloth, and laid it flat to air dry. Once my scrap was dry, I checked it against the rest of my fabric and found that it had worked perfectly, and was just the right colour!
If you don't get lucky the first time like I did, leave the scrap in the bleach solution for a longer period of time until you achieve the shade you desire, or increase the amount of bleach in the solution. However, I wouldn't use more than 2 parts bleach to 10 parts water because if the bleach is too strong it can eat away at the fibers of your fabric and decrease it's quality.
2) CUT YOUR FABRIC:
I was working with raw fabric, not a finished product (if you are fading a finished product you would just skip this step), so I decided to pre-cut my pieces before fading them. I probably could have just left the fabric in one piece, but I was worried that I would have difficulty fully submerging a larger piece of fabric evenly in the solution (might create air-pockets, or folds that would absorb the solution differently in different spots). My worst fear was that the fabric might fade un-evenly, and would not end up all the same shade, so I took this extra step to try and avoid that.
3) MIX YOUR BLEACH SOLUTION:
Using the same recipe from my test, I mixed 1 part bleach to 10 parts hot water in my bathtub. When I was certain that I had it mixed well, I quickly added my pieces of fabric 1 at a time, making sure each individual piece was fully submerged in the solution (if you do it this way, you want to be quick about it so that the first pieces you put in aren't in the solution for too much longer than the last ones). Once all the pieces were submerged, I set my timer for 15 minutes and let it all sit.
*Note* If you want everything to be the same, you'll want to do all of your fabric or items in a single batch. Slight variables can make a difference in between batches, so if you want it all to be exactly the same, do it all at once!
I drained the bleach solution from the bathtub and squeeze out as much of the solution from the fabric as possible. Next, I turned on the shower and rinsed the fabric out under cold running water as well as I could, and squeezed out the excess water from the fabric when I felt it was sufficient.
Next I filled the bathtub with cold water (fully submerging the fabric) and swished the fabric around in it for about 10 minutes.
Then I drained the water and squeezed out the excess water from the fabric.
*Note* I have read that it is a good idea to submerge your fabric or item(s) in a chlorine neutralizer solution before this step to make sure the bleach stops fading and to eliminate the bleachy smell- however I didn't find this to be necessary.
I debated whether or not to just throw my fabric pieces in the dryer, but instead I decided to roll each piece in a towel and air dry them. It probably would've been fine to dry them in the dryer - but again I was worried about uniformity and wanted all the pieces to dry evenly just in case that somehow effected the fading process.
When all my pieces were dry I ironed them and proceeded to sew my pillow covers with all my fabric just the right shade!
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Most often we don't pay much attention to our closets. We just stuff them full of junk and close the doors. Usually we complain that we don't have enough of them, or that they're not big enough, but lately I have been thinking about closets in more unconventional ways.
It started with a brilliant front-entry closet to mud-room style nook conversion that I saw from House of Smiths and replicated for a client of mine who had a very narrow entryway, and didn't really need a front closet, but did need a place for visitors to sit and shed their coats and shoes.
|Click here for tutorial|
One of the things that really bothered me when we first moved into our house was the upstairs hallway. It was straight, narrow, dark, and full of doors. 30 years ago the builders of my home sought to try and include everything a family would need into the space available and for the most part I am happy with that, but in the hallway, it just felt like they were trying to cram too many things in. My small hallway contained: 3 bedroom doors, 1 bathroom door, 1 small coat closet, 1 narrow broom closet, and the most ridiculously undersized linen closet I have ever seen.
|Broom Closet BEFORE|
Functionally, these 2 skinny little closets just weren't working for me. Sure they existed, which I guess was better than nothing at all, but the narrow size coupled with bi-fold doors limited what could actually be stored in the closet in the first place and made it very difficult to put things in and pull things out. From a design perspective, I had a rectangle full of rectangles. It was too much repetition. It felt crowded. I couldn't stand it. But what to do about it?
|Kinda-Custom Storage Cabinet|
First, I needed to create a different storage solution that worked better for my linens and cleaning supplies. This is when I came up with my Kinda-Custom Storage Cabinet which gave me all the storage I needed and more. With my stuff out of the way, I could concentrate on improving the aesthetics of my hallway. I had 3 main goals in mind for my hallway: light, space, and variety.
In order to create some more breathing room between all those rectangles crowded together, I took out the broom closet. I dry-walled over the existing closet opening in the hallway, but didn't eliminate the closet all together (because, I do need some closets).
|(New tutorial coming soon: How-To Drywall)|
|Broom closet AFTER|
Next I replaced the trim and doors with brilliant white, which automatically lightened and expanded the space. I chose a 3 panelled door, instead of the pre-existing flat doors, which brought more lines, shapes and interest into the space creating more variety.
|(New tutorial coming soon: How-To Replace Doors)|
We had a fair number of books that had no official home. My children's bedrooms didn't have space for bookshelves, so their books just got tossed into their closets with their toys. My husband and I ended up keeping our books in our nightstands (which we were increasingly running out of space). My empty linen closet was looking more and more like a built-in bookshelf.
It was a super-simple conversion. The shelves were already in place. I just removed the doors and hardware, filled the holes, and painted the closet interior white.
I could have just re-used the existing shelves by painting them white, but I wanted them to come all the way to the edge of the opening, so I bought some slightly wider shelving material, cut new shelves and put them in.
The only part that was a little tricky was the bottom. Without addressing the bottom, it did just kind of look like a closet with the doors removed, and I didn't really want to put my books right on the floor. So, I built a 4" kick out of scrap lumber and custom fit the bottom shelf around the closet opening.
I eliminated another blank rectangle from my hall, added variety, and solved my book storage problem. Win, win, win. Love it!
Friday, March 22, 2013
|Image from: thisoldhouse.com|
Crown molding is the decorations on the icing on the cake, and finishes off a space or object with beauty and elegance. It looks like it should be simple to do - but it's not. I painfully discovered this the first time I tried to do it myself to finish off the kinda-custom storage cabinet I made awhile back. The problem is that unlike baseboards or other trim you may use in your home crown molding involves cutting compound angles which gets, well . . . mathy. Some people try to avoid this by cutting simple casing or baseboard and place it around the top of a room the same way they would the bottom - but it's just not the same. The beauty of crown molding is not only the way it caps off the top of a wall or object, but the way it projects outward creating beautifully extending lines and shapes.
Crown molding should lean out from the wall or object as illustrated in this diagram from rockler.com which creates a "spring angle." You have to keep this angle in mind as you cut the angles to get around the corners of your wall or object.
I wish there was a really simple, fail-proof way to cut crown-moulding, but as far as I know there isn't really. I've heard that a more simple way to do it is by creating or purchasing a crown molding jig which will hold your crown molding in it's angled position while you use your mitre saw to cut it, but I've never been able to get my hands on one of these, and really don't know how to use it properly.
|Crown molding jig.|
I had to figure it out the mathy way. Now, I've never been much of a mathy person, but luckily I had my Dad (a math teacher by profession and DIY carpenter on the side) to walk me through how to do this as we installed some crown-molding around the fireplace pop-out we recently created in my living room.
TOOLS & MATERIALS:
- Crown Moulding (enough for what you will need plus extra for test pieces)
- Mitre Saw (that can cut compound angles)
- Measuring tape
- Angle measuring tool
- Brad-nailer & air-compressor
- Sanding block
- An extra pair of hands
- Lots of patience
You'll want to pick up an angle-measuring tool to help you precisely measure the angles - here's 2 we used:
STEP 1: Measure
Hold your angle-measuring tool around the corner your need to cut around in order to measure it.
Once you have identified the exact angle of your corner - you'll want to find it on a chart like this one from woodweb.com:
In this instance the corner on my wall was measuring as a 89 degree angle - so in the left hand column of the chart we located 89 degrees, and then we read across the row to discover the mitre angle (35.73) and the bevel angle (30.28) that we needed to cut an 89 degree angle.
OK, so what does that mean?
The "bevel angle" is the angle at which you are going to set the top of your saw (the blade part), the "mitre angle" is the angle at which you are going to set the base of your saw (the bottom part).
So, to cut my 89 degree angle, we set my mitre angle (bottom part) at 35.75 like so:
|To get 35.75 did require a little bit of estimating, because the settings on my saw aren't quite that precise.|
|Again, a little bit of guess-work had to happen here.|
So with my saw now looking like this:
STEP 2: Cutting
You're going to want to cut small test pieces first to check all your measurements before you do the real deal. Make sure you have extra crown molding for this purpose.
With your saw blade locked in position, hold your piece of crown molding firmly against the saw-bed (making sure that it is flat and flush with the back edge) and make the cut! Put this piece to the side.
To get the opposite piece - leave your saw blade in it's position and flip the crown molding over so that it is back-side up. Hold it firmly against the saw-bed (making sure that it is flat and flush with the back edge) and make the cut!
Check your pieces by holding them together to make sure that they fit and are lined up the right way:
STEP 3: Making Adjustments
Check your test pieces on your corner:
As you can see - it's not quite right! If this happens to you - first double check all of your measurements and settings to make sure that you didn't make a mistake somewhere along the way. Also check to make sure that you are holding the pieces of moulding so that they are perfectly flush with your edges (because that will make a difference too) If everything is right - why do you have this problem like we did? Because cutting crown moulding is a pain-in-the-rear, finicky business and there is not a huge margin of error to work with! Remember how we had to do some guess work to find the setting on my saw? That probably made the difference!
How to fix this:
In order to get the tips of your crown-moulding together on the corner, re-adjust your measurements to cut for a smaller angle.
In this case we cut for a 89 degree angle, so we're going to readjust our measurements and cut our test pieces for a 88 degree angle and see how that works. If you've still got a gap at the corner, readjust and cut your test pieces for an 87 degree angle and so on until the corner fits together like so:
STEP 4: Cutting The Real Deal
Now that you have just the right angle worked out with the your test pieces, you're ready to cut the real deal!
A) First measure the length that you will need your piece of crown moulding to be (again preciseness is imperative!):
B) Make your first cut at the end of a length of moulding the same way you cut your first test piece, using your saw which should be left in the same position.
C) Mark the base of the angle with a pencil and square and use this as your point to measure from:
Measure and mark the appropriate length on the moulding, remembering to be as precise as possible!
D) To cut the other end, flip the moulding over so it is back-side up, and cut the angle about 1 inch over your mark.
E) 1 cut at a time, very carefully gradually shave away at the excess until you are right at your mark:
Why bother with all this fuss? Why not just cut it right on the mark the first time?
If you are super-skilled and you think you can do it perfectly on the first shot - go for it! But, again, because crown moulding has to be done soooo precisely - if you cut it too short even by the tiniest amount - you will have wasted your entire length of moulding, so it is much safer to do it this way.
F) Check to ensure that you have cut your piece accurately by holding it up on the wall where it is supposed to go.
G) Repeat this process with the other pieces you will need:
STEP 5: Dry-fitting
All your pieces have been cut, and they should all be right - BUT, just to make sure before you secure them in place you'll want to hold them in position see how they fit together:
STEP 6: Secure In Place
If everything fits just right - go ahead and secure the moulding in place with a brad-nailer.
You can use a sanding block to gently sand down the protruding edge to the shape of the moulding like so:
STEP 7: Finishing off
Fill any cracks and nail-holes with DAP (see my post on "Painting Furniture" for more on how to do this), and finish off with a top-coat of paint!