Sunday, June 26, 2016

Making it Pretty- Another Transformation

I am in the middle of a huge transformation.  No, I haven't lost lots of weight, unfortunately, so I should change that to say my HOME is in the middle of a huge transformation.  My son moved out recently.  This broke my heart, especially since he moved so far away.  But, it also left me with a space I thought I'd never have... and empty room...a blank slate ready to be formed into the beautiful creative space of my dreams.  So, after years of crafting and sewing in my bedroom, my dining room, and my living room, I will have a dedicated space to call my own.  Now I will be able to consolidate all of my work in one area.  I can't tell you how much my husband is looking forward to no longer finding pins in the carpet with his feet.  That has been a regular occurrence.  He's suffered through not eating at the table because it's covered in fabric or projects, having crafting supplies and project remnants on every surface of our living space, and having our bedroom as a work area instead of the sanctuary it should be.  This has been a long time coming.  
So, we are hard at work transforming the bright green bachelor pad that belonged to my son into my pretty, pink, shabby chic studio.  In the process, I have been finding more projects to work on.  
Have I told you I love bargain shopping?  Yes, I think I have.  I also love taking broken or beaten-up finds and turning them into pretty and useful things, especially if I got them for a steal.  I have a dear friend who gave me her late mother's stash of vintage patterns dating back to the 1940's. Three large containers worth, to be more specific.  I had no idea what to do with them or where I would fit them in the very detailed plans for my room.  Searching Pinterest, I found a great idea, one that I had actually used in the past.  A filing cabinet.  And I need a big one to hold all of my patterns  These are not easy to find for someone who doesn't want to spend any money.   I searched my local Facebook buy/sell/trade pages and found an old listing for a file cabinet.  It looked pretty rough, but the guy had talked himself down to asking only $10. How could I pass this up?
When I got it, there were rust stains all around the bottom and one of the drawers was bent inward a little bit, making it stick.  
Now, I cannot have an ugly gray file cabinet in my beautiful new studio.  Nope, can't do it.  So I scoured Pinterest for pictures of file cabinets that were actually pretty. (Have I told you how much I love Pinterest?)   I found this beautiful makeover made by While They Snooze.  It was exactly the look I was going for.  So here's what I did:

First, I cleaned the file cabinet completely.  I was thrilled to find that the rust around the bottom was actually just dirt!  There were years of caked-on dirt in the bottom.  I'm sure the drawers had never been taken out before.  Personally, I was more afraid of the spiders that might be waiting to attack, The dirt was no problem.  So, I scrubbed away.  

Next I began to remove the hardware from the drawers.  One screw on each drawer handle came out beautifully, but the left screw of each one would NOT budge. Not true...actually they would spin and spin and spin, but would not come out.  I don't have pictures of this process.  In fact, I almost just threw every drawer off my porch and went inside and washed my hands of the whole project.  Well, it WAS over 100 degrees outside and I wrenched my already injured wrist.  So, I had to stop for the day and pout and wait for assistance so that I wouldn't lose all use of my hand.  
In the meantime, I went to Walmart and purchased four 8"x10" picture frames.  They were $4.00 each. 
 I also bought 2 cans of  Krylon Maxx white spray paint.  They each had 25% more, so I thought I would have plenty.  I ended up going back for more later, so I suggest three cans for this size file cabinet. Including the extra can, I spent $11.58.  
I took out the glass and backing of the frames.

I had leftover beadboard from when I customized my bookcases, so my dear sweet husband cut pieces of that to fit the frames.  

I glued these in using Gorilla Glue epoxy.
After my dear, sweet husband once again saved my wrist by tackling the stubborn screws on the drawer handles, I finished removing the hardware. I measured the drawer fronts and marked the placement of each picture frame.  I then mixed up more epoxy.  You have to work pretty fast with this.  I used an old craft paintbrush to apply this because the rim of each frame was actually pretty narrow.  After I attached the frames to the drawers, I stacked whatever I could find that had some weight to help hold them down. I ran out of heavy things by the fourth drawer and ended up improvising with a cutting board with a glue gun toolbox and a full bottle of peach schnapps on top.  You do what you can.   

While the glue dried, I went back outside to paint the cabinet.  I had already primed it and it took less than one can of Rustoleum Clean Metal Primer. ($3.86)  I have found that I am lousy at spray painting large areas.  Small things, no problem, but I just felt like the results were poor before the third layer.  Someone else who is more skilled at this might use only 2 cans of spray paint.  The end result was nice, though.  Maybe I'm just impatient.  I want it pretty NOW.  
This is the second layer.  Still splotchy and uneven.  
This is the final layer.
After the epoxy dried on the drawers, I primed and painted those as well.

The drawer that was stuck would not straighten out no matter how hard I tried.  So, the result was that the frame would not glue down completely.  I decided that this would be the bottom drawer.  Who will see it in my studio anyway?  
The next step was to attach the new drawer pulls.  I wanted to get some at Hobby Lobby because they have the most beautiful shabby chic drawer pulls, but with them not being on sale, I just can't bring myself to spend $6 for each one.  So, I found some less shabby but still cute ones at, of all places... Walmart.  they came in a pack of 6 for $13.47.
My dear, sweet husband offered to help me out, so I measured and marked them and had him drill the holes for the handles.  I could have used the holes already in the drawer, but they were too low, and I wanted them centered on the drawer.  

The screws were too long, but fortunately we found some that would work in our tool chest.  
And here's the final result: 

And after a few hours of organizing, my patterns fit in perfectly. I have them organized by decade, pattern company, in numerical order, and by type of pattern (i.e. women, men, children, accessories.) Eventually, I might make a catalog with each of the patterns.  Then again, this may never happen. Will I ever have time for that?

So my file cabinet looks somewhat better, wouldn't you say? 

 For $55.00 I got the exact storage I needed.  And it's pretty enough for my new studio.  Yay!

Let me know what you think!


Friday, November 13, 2015

My Venture into Costume Making

Have you ever thought that you would never get the opportunity to do the work that you love the best? Personally, I never thought I would get to work with a theater group as a costume maker and designer.  I have dreamt of doing this, but the chance never came along.  Last spring, I got a call from a friend who wanted to give my number to her former employer who needed someone to make a costume for a local musical.  Of course I accepted.  My job was to design and create a tunic for a player in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I also had to embellish a jacket and make an outfit for his daughter.  Little did I know that this would lead me on the path down the road to the work I have always hoped to do.  
Mr. Tom, as I'll call him, was pleased with his costume.  He passed my cards around to his fellow players and soon I was getting calls for the next production- Beauty and the Beast, Jr.  I tend to take on more than I can sanely handle and that is exactly what I did.  I not only said "yes" to everyone who asked, but I offered to do more.  That is how I got the opportunity to do a more complicated costume duo.... Mrs. Potts and Chip.  
Here is the process of making them, from conception to birth:
My initial sketch.

The bare bones of Mrs. Potts. I used pipe insulation and duct tape.

Fitting the batting to the skeleton.  Notice I am working in the evening.

Getting the satin skirt fitted.  Night has fallen.  I do my best work in the wee hours of the morning.

After adding the gold strip.  A new day.

Here, I've added the appliques.  I used Heat n' Bond to apply them.  Later I found that a fabric adhesive would have been better.  The satin and the gold lame had issues adhering and had to be reglued.  This is because you cannot super-heat the tissue lame and satin.  Cotton holds up fine and stays put.  

The teapot lid hat. I used a straw hat as the base, along with foam core board, styrofoam, and lots of spray adhesive and fabric glue.

Here you can see the inner skeleton of the teacup.

I glued and hand-sewed the fabric around the brim.

Almost finished.
Close-up of the appliques.

Here is the dress that goes under the teapot.

And the suit under the teacup.

And here are the finished products and the talented actors that brought them to life.  You'll notice in the pictures onstage that I remade Mrs. Potts' spout to a curvier and fuller style.  Much better!

And here are the other costumes I made.  
The children really carried them off so well. 

What a fabulous experience I had working with these children and getting the opportunity to design and create for them! 

I want to give a shout out to Beth Glisson Photography for the stage pictures.

Dressing up is so much Fun!

I love making costumes. When my children were growing up, I made all of their costumes for parties and school dress-up days.  Every year of elementary school, Red Ribbon Week (say NO! to drugs) consisted of five days of dress-up.  One year my oldest son, who was in kindergarten, had to dress up as his favorite book character.  It just so happened that his favorite book was about snakes.  So, he decided that he wanted to be a cobra.
I got busy and 
this  is what I 
came up with.

                       The next year, he wanted to be Captain Hook:
My daughter once had to be the explorer Vasco deGama.

And then, a colonial woman.

Later on, she was on the Flamenco Dance team in high school and I made her costume for that, as well.

My youngest son wanted to be Pinocchio in kindergarten.

Later on he was
 Leif Ericsson....

                  ...Chief Tuscaloosa...

...and General Grant.

These are but a few of the many costumes I have made throughout their childhood.  In all of my years of sewing and designing, I have dreamt of doing this for a theater group.  I finally had the opportunity to do just that.  Check out my next post for pictures from my latest venture.