Category Archives: projects

Dude, I Re-upholstered a Chair.

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IMG_1029  This is the chair. I got it for thirty bucks at the massive consignment sale in Charlotte, NC I went to with my older sister when I was pregnant with Cade (at the time “Potato” because I didn’t know the gender). It’s a kid size recliner and there were two of them. I LOVED the idea of a child sized “grown up” chair, but the fabric and obvious wear and tear was a huge turn off (which is probably why nobody was rushing to buy them). I don’t know if you can tell by the picture, but the fabric itself is like burlap which although durable is rough and scratchy and, well, boring.

Now, I have a “thing” for chairs. They are my all time favorite piece of furniture. Brian is going to build a small dining room table and I’m going to insist that each of us pick out a different chair to go with it. No matchy matchy for me, thank you, I want some furniture with personality! Or, basically, I would like funky bright dining room chairs and Brian will prefer neutral squishy ones. He’ll get a neutral squishy one that makes him happy, I’ll get a cheerful oddball one to make me happy, and Cade (when he get’s big enough) can help pick out his own, too. A win win all the way around.

I digress. Back to the chair. After much dithering back and forth I took a deep breath and finally decided to try my hand at re-upholstery-something I have wanted to attempt for several years now. So I bought one of the forlorn little chairs, and went to a fabric warehouse (deserving of far more attention than I can give it in this post-it was awesome!) and bought some fabric and a staple gun.

2013-02-26 18_50_44  I promptly took apart the chair, labeling the pieces and hardware as I went and saving all the screws. I have never re-upholstered anything before. I’ve never seen it done. I was totally making this up as I went, so I figured I’d just take everything apart, document all the pieces and use them as a pattern, and put it all back together.

Challenge 1: Staple removal

I had a flat head screw driver and a pair of pliers. It took a very, very long time to remove the staples…and staple pieces where the staples broke apart…ugh.

Challenge 2: Cushion replacement

I was planning on keeping some of the original foam until after several wash treatments I realized it was so stained, and so flat, and so worn out it just wasn’t worth it. So I ended up replacing everything.

Challenge 3: Sewing

This actually wasn’t really a challenge, just the next step. I used my mom’s new sewing machine (thanks mom!) and using the original pieces and chalk pencils I steadily made all the necessary fabric pieces out of the new fabric. It took awhile, but it was surprisingly problem free.

Challenge 4: Re-stapling

That staple gun I bought was a JOKE. Well, at least for trying to staple into seasoned hardwood. I ended up using my father-in-law’s electric staple gun (thanks Mr. Keefer!) which was a considerable step up, but still not great. I mangled more staples than I managed to get usable ones into the wood, and I still have a couple of staples to hammer flat before it’s Cade ready. Next re-upholstery product I am getting a pneumatic staple gun. One of those would have saved me over half of the time it took to reassemble the chair.

Challenge 5: Buttons

Holy cow, the buttons. First, I didn’t know how to make buttons out of my fancy new fabric. I took my problem to a re-upholstery guy and he kindly made me a handful of buttons with his handy dandy button press completely free of charge. He was laughing at my enthusiasm for the button press, but seriously, I want one. Screw jewelry, Brian needs to buy me a button press. SO much fun!

It was all downhill from there, however. I broke three needles (Upholstery needles!) trying to get the buttons on the chair. I had to thread the needle through the foam that made up the back cushion, and the foam kept making hard, immovable knots around the needles. It was awful. I can’t describe in words how I actually managed to get the buttons in, but it took Brian’s assistance and it wasn’t pretty. Stupid buttons.

Challenger 6: Foot rest

I broke a screw in the wood attempting to get the foot rest back on, so I had to unstaple the fabric, flip the foot rest around, restaple and rescrew. Grrr. I was ready to chuck the whole thing out a window at this point.

Challenge 7: Tack strips

The very last part of the chair is the backing which uses a thin piece of cardboard stripping and then two parallel tack strips on the back length of the chair to cover up all the stapled bits and make it look finished.tack stripI thought this was going to be a bear to get done and it was the very last step. The nice re-upholstery guy had given me two pieces of tack stripping (again, free of charge. They were too small for him to use on all his normal sized furniture) and I lined up the last piece of fabric with some trepidation…

Turns out this was the easy part of the whole darn thing. I took my time measuring and aligning and BAM it was done!

TA DA!!

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I am SO HAPPY with how it turned out! I love the fabric, it’s wild enough to appeal to my sense of fun (this is a child’s chair after all) but the colors are muted enough that Brian doesn’t wince when he sees it, haha. All of the dark brown is actually a raised velvet, so it’s got different texture’s for Cade to feel, and the rest of the fabric is tough but softer than the original burlap.   This project took a lot longer than I had hoped-I wanted to get it done before Cade was born, but I got to big to be manipulating the chair during my third trimester. Then just when Cade finally started sleeping through the night and I got caught up on sleep, I got pregnant again and first trimester pregnancy fatigue hit me hard. It’s taken me a little over a year all told from when I purchased the chair, but I feel like it was totally worth it! I’ll give it to Cade for his 1st birthday, I can’t wait to see him sitting on it 🙂

Pregnancy Prayer Request…and Whining

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“Dear God, I am very thankful for this little miracle growing in my belly (even though it seems a little bit like the movie “Alien” when it moves) and I know I once prayed for some additional curves when I was in middle school…but I’m now feeling just a bit overwhelmed with my new, er, abundance. Could I maybe not go up yet another size?”

Seriously, that request has been fervently prayed in various forms daily for the past week.

I feel large and off-balance, which I know is normal for this far along in pregnancy, but it’s really frustrating because I like to be active and I can’t. I can do small things, like little weight exercises and walking, but those things are so booooorrrriiiinnnnggg! Especially because I’m constantly limited due to being pregnant. I’m not supposed to “over exert” myself. I can’t stretch my stride when I run because of the pelvic issue. I’m not supposed to use heavy weights because my ligaments/tendons are all loose. I’m not supposed to STRETCH too much because my ligaments are loose. Not supposed to lay on my back, can’t lay on my stomach, the only abdominal exercise I can manage is planks and pelvic tilts which are right up there with using a treadmill on enjoyment level. Not to mention, I see no progress and I feel no progress, because I’m fighting a losing battle so to speak. I don’t want to exercise “too much” and risk the Potato not getting enough nutrients or going in to pre-term labor, so instead I have to do all these lame non-challenging exercises that really don’t seem to have much effect on anything at all.

What running and walking I CAN do is even limited because of the pelvic pain my stride is so small and unnatural, it makes me even slower and I still don’t feel like I’ve actually accomplished anything. I walked 6 miles yesterday and it was great. As in, it didn’t bother my muscles in the slightest. Which is actually not great at all. I am chafing at the bit here, this is so not normal for me!

I can’t wait till Potato is here so I can be active again. I NEED to be active again. I feel lazy and gross.

END WHINING

In other, slightly contradictory news, I’m really excited about how quickly Potato is growing. 🙂 I try to focus on that more. At the ultrasound this past friday (28weeks 4days) Potato opened his/her eyes!

IMG_20130208_092534  Also, I never got around to posting this project on here. I made a potato sack for Potato 🙂 The outside is burlap, I stenciled the “POTATO” on with fabric paint, and then the lining is a soft white flannel. I handstitched button holes and threaded both color ribbons around it, so when the big day arrives I just have to remove a ribbon to leave the appropriate color for gender. Don’t worry, the sack is just for photo purposes, I’m not planning on leaving the munchkin in there for any extended amounts of time.

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Thats all I’ve got! Sorry about the photo quality, they’re from my phone. I hit 29 weeks yesterday and the Potato is 3lbs 🙂

 

DIY Jean Dress

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Every time Brian leaves for any sort of extended period, I plan an outfit for his return. Cheesy, I know, but it’s true. When he comes back from a week in the field, it’s usually little things like a cute top with his favorite pair of my jeans he likes on me. When it was bootcamp’s Family Day, OSUT Graduation day, Airborn Graduation, getting back from BNOC, PSYOP selection, Iraq, etc…I wear some sort of dress/skirt outfit. Well, I’ve been planning what to wear for his return on Friday ever since he left two weeks ago and it turned into a fun (read “time-passing”) DIY project. 

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Ta Da! Fun facts, my mom bought me that shirt from JC Penny’s as part of an outfit for my 16th birthday (yup, that makes that shirt 10 years old on Wed). It was fraying pretty badly along the bottom, and it still looks a little worn but I love the shirt anyway. I don’t know where I got the dress, but it fit really poorly. Let’s just say it was designed for bigger busts in mind. It angled so sharply from bust to waist that the arm holes stuck out almost two inches from my body and made me look like a Star Trek reject. I’ve been wanting to “fix” the dress for awhile, and Brian’s recent training has been the perfect excuse. Here’s a brief “How To”.

Ok, nix the picture tutorial, my internet is too crappy, it would take hours, (seriously, HOURS) to get three more pictures to upload. Here’s what I did, words only.

Cut off the top of the dress right below the bottom of the arm holes.

Took in the side seams of what was left of the dress (or, really, continued the seam STRAIGHT instead of flaring outwards at a ridiculous angle like whoever made the dress had done). I did this just so it’d actually fit me.

Used a chalk pencil to draw a straight line on the RIGHT sides of both the shirt and the dress where I wanted the two to join.

Placed those RIGHT sides together, matching up the chalk lines, pinned in place.

Sewed together. I don’t have a serger so I just did a straight and then a zig zag stitch to hold the seam together.

Flip back the right way, check that it fits, cut off excess.

Add scarf as belt. I was originally just going to tie it around, but I ended up tacking it to the actual dress to get it to stay in place.

The End!

And I have the perfect pair of pink flats I got in Lynchburg shoe shopping with my mom the last time we went up. I might wear it to Charlotte when I visit the Vincent clan, but if I actually get to see Brian on Friday (ie if he gets home before I have to leave for work) then thats what I’ll be wearing :)…well, unless it’s RIGHT before I leave for work and then I’ll probably be in uniform. But thats ok, he will be too.

Inspired by “The Hunger Games”

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I really enjoyed “The Hunger Games”, both the book series and the recent movie, and after finally getting to watch said movie I really wanted to try a hand at the braid Katniss wore.

 

So here is my first attempt.

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A good first attempt I think, especially with my slippery stick straight hair. Next time I’m going to try and braid a straighter diagonal instead of having it curve close to the base of my scalp. I tried twisting a few strands before braiding them in to provide some texture over the non braided areas so I didn’t have that plastered look. Next time I also might try curling my hair first, it always braids easier when it’s been curled.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I recommend it. I recommend reading the books first, but I always recommend book before film adaptation.

Mini Painting Epiphanies

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It’s not very reassuring when you are working on a painting and your husband glances over and goes “Ohhhhhhh THATS what that is!” but I guess it is a testament to the fact that eventually whatever I am painting does end up resembling what I want it to resemble. In this case it is a very small canvas where I am informally painting an image stuck in my head from one of the suicides we went to back in February. Not pleasant, I know, and I’ve actually typed up a brief description of the scene but have refrained from posting it on here because I don’t think it’s something people will want to read. However, writing and painting are both good stress relieving outlets for me, and this particular call was higher emotional stress than some. The painting is coming on nicely for it being impromptu and hurried, it’s done less for any sort of artistic reason and more as a way for me to constructively deal with the mental images. The moment of recognition for my husband came when he realized I had painted a room and a hallway, not a bunch of abstract geometry.

My other painting-the ADD painting- is coming along really nicely if I do say so myself. I had a brief epiphany last night as I was painting that this was MY painting so I could paint whatever I wanted. I get sucked in to the people pleasing attitude so much that I was worried about adding things that people wouldn’t like. Silly, really, when you take the time to consider that as a painting reflecting my interpretation of ADD it is entirely my interpretation and what people think about it doesn’t matter-they can paint their own. So yes, I did add butterflies, lightening bugs, and a cluster of tiny mushrooms at the foot of the tree dividing the picture. I also touched up the moon and am contemplating adding clouds. Once it dries enough (I’m guessing in about a month) I’ll start the last, overarching part of the painting and then it’ll be FINISHED!

I don’t know if you truly understand how big of a deal it is for me to finish a project, but it’s a pretty big deal. I will be posting pictures of at least the ADD painting on here, though it’s such a large canvas the pictures I’ve taken so far really miss out on all the detail work I’ve done which is a little frustrating.

Time to go find something else creative to do 🙂

Tulips and Braids!

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I love my tulips! I am so excited that my bulb planting was successful 🙂 They are the results of my first real garden. I’ve planted and messed around in my mom’s gardens at home with interesting results (the phlox are still out of control phloxing last I checked, though a bit weedy) but this time the gardens are all mine in front of my own house. Somehow that makes them extra special. I planted tulips because they’re big and bright and Brian’s favorite flower. I planted these in October of last year while he was in Iraq, and I was a little nervous about his reaction because he’s a bit OCD and a little protective of our yard. Me deciding on a whim to construct two gardens at the end of the driveway without his direct supervision was probably a little nerve wracking for him as well, BUT without further ado here are the pictures of my success.

These are around the mailbox.

   
   

These are on the other side of the driveway. Notice how there is only one yellow tulip? Yeah, Brian sprayed weedkiller around my beds. I tried to warn him that weedkiller is indescriminate but he promised me he had been carefull…well, only one of the bordering yellow tulips survived.

  

The other half of my post is on a hairdo I’m a little bit proud of. After scrolling through all the pinterest do’s and thinking “I can do that” the creativity bug finally hit with a vengence one night before work. We have to wear ugly, boring uniforms on the ambulance, the pants are way to short and snap at the belly button and the shirts are plain grey polos which are way too big for me. Ugly, and uncomfortable. So last Saturday night I decided to dress my hair up a little bit. Basically I did three French Braids and then bundled the loose braids into a bunch on top. I added some sparkly clips for fun and called it a night. Viola! 🙂
   

 

 

   I think the upsidedown french braid might be a little crooked, but my normal perfectionist self cut me a little slack since braiding upside down means I have no visual clues to direction and being bent over upside down kinda throws off my orientation.  I still think it looks neat 🙂

  

Top view! Next time I think I’ll be a little more exact with my bundling of braids on top, but I was running out of time before I had to leave for work and I wanted to be able to take pictures.
It took me half an hour-forty minutes to finish, parting my hair actually took the longest. It is really tough to evenly part your hair when it’s long, and wet, and you can’t see the back of your head. I have a much easier time parting other people’s hair, but braiding other people’s hair is actually harder than braiding my own. The upside down braid took the longest, I’m still working on getting comfortable braiding like that, it’ll take a bit of practice, I was lucky this one turned out so well. 

 

Thats all for now! Oh, except since I last posted I’ve had two STEMI calls 🙂 (heartattacks)  I never get tired of being able to help people.
 

Puzzling

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THIS is what has occupied all of my time since coming home from the beach. Brian thought this was a cool puzzle. Brian thought this would be a neat puzzle to complete, glue together and frame. Brian thought it would be a good idea to break out said puzzle after we got back from the beach. Guess what Brian’s been doing since the puzzle has been opened?
Yeah….The most help I’ve gotten from him was at the very beginning. He picked up a piece, stared at it for awhile, and promptly told me it was broken.
The reviews of this puzzle on Amazon were likewise useful. The first one is an example of a review that I at first thought was stating the obvious and I couldn’t understand how it would be helpful. However, I then read the second review and realized if the second lady had actually read the first review, it could’ve saved her some considerable brain cells, and judging by HER review-she doesn’t have a lot to spare on puzzles. The third review is probably the most helpful.
This is most certainly an expert level puzzle, and requires the most patience of any puzzle I have seen to this point. Shades of gray and hundreds of solid black pieces add to the difficulty in addition to the obvious large number of pieces. –OK, I thought this stated the obvious, but thanks for the warning.
I must say it was VERY challenging because there are only 3 colors: white, black & gray. (Um, yes, there are only three colors, thank you for listing them since I couldn’t figure that out by looking at the PICTURE) You’d think that’d make it easy, but no, maybe if it were a 1000 piece puzzle yeah. (???? NO I would NOT think fewer colors would make a puzzle easier. Seriously lady? Why don’t you try one of those “all white” puzzles, I bet they’d be SUPER easy because there is only ONE color. And it’s white, in case you couldn’t figure it out by looking at the box.)
This one is a tuffy. …Really? A 3000 piece monochromatic puzzle of a painting by Picasso? I thought it’d be a breeze…
So yes, I’ve been puzzling. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to it. Saturday night I stayed up puzzling till 5 am and thought Brian was lying to me when he told me what time it was. I stood up and literally could not walk because my knees had SWOLLEN from staying bent for that long. The puzzle is on the floor, it is too big for the coffee table we own (which is currently in the garage anyway), it doesn’t even fit the puzzle mat we have, I had to use an additional one to get all the pieces to fit.
…And this is all I’ve managed to accomplish. I can’t even get the border completed yet because, just to make it even MORE fun, multiple pieces fit with multiple other pieces. So sorting out the minute differences in shades of black edge pieces just hasn’t been a priority for me.
Honestly, I really do like puzzles and this one is actually kind of a fun challange, not to mention a neat way to examine Picasso’s work. I’ve liked Picasso since I first started art classes and the closer you study this picture the more it seems utterly bizzare and yet some how makes sense. I’m also a decent puzzler-I’ve been addicted to them for years-so I can actually look at a piece, examine the picture on the box, and then place it in the area it should go (at least for the pieces that aren’t just a solid color). I used to think looking at the box while puzzling was cheating, but there is no way I could complete this puzzle otherwise. So hopefully in six months or so I’ll be posting a picture of the complete project on here. Also, hopefully, my knees will still work.

Creativity Burst :)

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I’ve finished 5 more scrap book pages and have the last 2 of year 2010 already partially mapped out 😀

Also, I have a great idea for a childrens book. I’ll probably never get around to doing anything about it, or if I do, I’ll never finish it, but it’s fun to think about in my head. I like taking my imagination for a good brisk jog now and again.

I moved my current “oil painting in progress” into Brian’s room so I can pick up on painting it. I’ve relegated Brian’s room for the oil painting, the living room for scrapbooking, and my room for all other DIY projects. The house is well and truly messy.

Although I AM trying to clean the kitchen. It goes it bits and bursts. I’m also doing laundry even as I write this. I know, thats not so much a burst of creativity as it is a burst of doing ANYTHING around the house since I have been highly unmotivated to even get out of bed since Brian left, but I figured I’d add it in.

Oh and on a more depressing note. Don’t talk to me about Afghanistan. Don’t talk to me about the SF guy who got killed by a sniper or the Chinook that got shot down and killed all those men. Don’t talk to me about ANYthing Middle Eastern war related. At all. Period. Yes, Brian is in Iraq for this deployment which is considerably safer. But then he’ll be home for HOPEFULLY a full 6 months before getting deployed again with a 99.9% chance that he’ll go to Afghanistan. Just, don’t mention it. I do not have enough coping power to watch the news, I don’t want to think about the escalation of violence, I don’t want to talk politics. I have my own guns, don’t push me on this.

Notice any wild mood swings? Yeah, me neither, amazing how stable I am for this deployment….

More scrapbooking time! Yay!

This post is more of a pointless ramble. I apologize, I had hoped to keep this blog a little more focused and organized. But right now, I’m pretty unfocused and chaotic so rambling is just gonna have to work. I’m pretty sure what little function I had in the left side of my brain has completely shut off and I’m running on full right sided power at the moment. I’ll return to normal posting in a few days when I get pictures of the aquarium and then today’s beach trip loaded to the computer. Thanks for reading.

Hoarding…

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When I was younger, I could’ve been a candidate for the TV Show “Hoarders”. My bedroom was a disaster some of the time, but since I shared it with my sister I actually did have to keep it semi clean every once in awhile. However, the bedroom had two closets, one was a long shallow closet that we actually used, and the other a narrow walk in closet. I claimed the walk in closet as my space. It was a fantastical mess. I say fantastical because it was like a magic treasure trove. I’d be sitting on a heap of junk, shift my weight, and voila! A toy I hadn’t thought about in 6 months would appear! It was wonderful. And also a disaster. My mom called me a pack rat because I had this irrational fear that if I threw anything out I would instantly need it within the next 24 hours for something exceedingly important and crucial. I had all these grandiose plans for my stuff that never actually happened-usually because I forgot about the grandiose plans as the stuff sunk slowely deeper into the abyss and out of my immediate view.

Well, I’d thought I’d kicked the hoarding habit, or at least contained it within reason, as I grew up and faithfully purged wherever I was living from accumulation every few months. But this weekend, I realized in shock that I hadn’t kicked the habit at all, I had just organized it.

My sisters and I gleefully brought our scrapbooks for viewing this weekend, swapping the stories of our lifes and ooing and aaahing at the clever uses of hole punches or the cut out collage of pictures. We then shared stickers and quote packs and fancy paper, commenting on how our husbands now saved ticket stubs and programs and all manner of receipts to satisfy our scrapbook piles. I very happily shoveled my newly acquired stuff into my uncompleted scrapbook and happily unloaded it onto the floor when I got home. It wasn’t until later when I was cleaning my room from scrapbook scraps and trying to decide what stubs to save and what to discard that I had my epiphany.

Scrapbooking was no more than a socially acceptable method of organized hoarding.

I SITLL have piles of junk in my closet, saved against the day when I just might need them for that scrapbook page I was working on. They are better organized piles, neatly tucked into a giant trunk, some of it also sorted into seperate shoe boxes or plastic containters, but they are still piles. Not only that, but what is a scrapbook but a careful hoarding of memories? Forever perserved in double sided tape and stickers. Decades and decades from now they will literally be junk, old faded paper and yellowed photographs of people nobody knows.

That thought almost had me throwing in the towel on the whole scrapbooking institution. But then I realized, what does it matter if they DO become worthless piles of trash in the future? I’ll be happy in heaven with the people who made up those memory pages in the first place. But right now, they do have value. One, they allow me an outlet for my hoarding addiction; and Two, I can’t explain how nice it is to have all that concrete evidence of my memories and to open someone elses book up and explore theirs. People have been collecting and perserving momentos of their lives for years, stored up for sweet remembering and tale telling. I scrapbook because it makes me happy, and keeps my desire to save things from growing into uncontrollable compost heaps. Bite me.

So to conclude; I am a hoarder, but I don’t have a problem, I’ve figured out the solution.

And I say, hoard on fellow scrapbookers! May your double-sided tape never crinkle and your glue stick never dry out. Keep your scissors sharp and your memories sharper and I’ll join you at the Michael’s clearance rack whenever I may.