Thursday, February 28, 2013

Stencil Cutter?

Just when I say I don't want to spend any more money, I may have found something I need to buy. Today, on craigslist, I ran across something that might cut stencils for me. It's called the "Silhouette CAMEO." From  the company's website: "It is an electronic cutting tool for personal use. Like a home printer, it plugs into your PC or Mac® with a simple USB cable. However, instead of printing it uses a small blade to cut paper, cardstock, vinyl, fabric and more up to 12" wide and 10 feet long. The machine also has the ability to register and cut printed materials."
Coupled with their optional design software, you're supposed to be able to import images. Then I could easily make some of these awesome old stencil images I've found. Forget the razor blades.

Someone blogged about making pillow stencils with their Cameo here. Hmm, my mind is racing with the possibilitles.

Have any of you ever used or heard of one of these machines?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Shopping Again

After our binge last year, I've been trying not to spend money on the house this winter. But this month we've been looking around our main floor and we had a few glaringly modern items we really wanted to replace with more traditional style options.

The first to arrive was this Pyle music player. I looked far and wide for a player in wood that could handle iPods; this was the only one I found. It's a little larger than I wanted because it also has a record player (though we don't own a single record), but it was the best value I found.
The iPod plugs in over on the side.
The main drawback of this player over the Apple Hi-Fi system is it doesn't charge the iPod so you can only listen so long, and then you need to go find a place to plug in and charge your iPod. This is what the old system looked like, so I think it's a bit of an improvement.
I also bought this neat phone based on a 1911 design.
But I have now detected a slight oversight in our remodel planning—phone jacks. We use remote phones, so phone jacks just weren't part of the planning. In fact, this house used to have quite a few phone jacks, but they were those big, ugly plastic boxes tacked onto the wall, so all of them, but one in the den, were removed during the remodel. Oops. I think we need to put a phone jack back in just for this phone. Hmm, wouldn't it be fun to put in an old fashioned phone nook . . . like this one. Maybe someday.
I also found a neat wastebasket made from recycled lath boards. Compared to many of the other handmade wastebaskets I've seen, this was a bargain ($10 + shipping). I bought it from a local person, so I've written to see if they've got more. Now I'm trying to decide what to do for a liner; perhaps a washable fabric sleeve that fits inside.

Dreaming of a Pretty Yard

Last year when I was looking for fence designs, I had a real problem finding any in modern sources. This winter, I sort of hit a bonanza in antique books. This post is pretty heavy in pictures so  I'm going to insert a page break. If you want to see them all, you'll have to open the post. Sorry.

These three fence designs are from the Morgan Woodwork Org. catalog (1921). The catalog also included the following pergola and arbor.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cut Out a Stencil

I started on my new craft project this afternoon. I'm making linen runners for tables and dressers throughout the house. As usual, I try out color combinations on paper before I apply them to fabric.

I cut out today's stencil with a craft knife. While the edge on the mylar is much nicer to clean after stenciling, cutting the stencil was not fun. I may have bought mylar a bit too thick for hand-cutting because it was a significant effort to cut this stencil out. Also, it was difficult to cut a smooth curve so some of my edges are a bit rough. Since stenciling, I've tried to smooth out some of the curves so hopefully the next round will look better.
I tried this stencil in a couple of color combos. The purple is fun and I may use it someday, but for this project I'm going to go with the navy-green-yellow because it matches the dining room rug better.
I had been planning on cutting a few more stencils to try out for this project, but now I think I'll try harder to use stencils I already have.

Here is what I'm going to use for the master bedroom. This particular stencil was purchased from "Bungalow Borders" by Helen Foster a couple years ago, before she sold out to Fair Oaks. I poked around their website, but this design seems to have been discontinued.
I'm going to make a curtain for my closet door with this panel.
And I'm going to use this arrangement for the dresser scarf. These colors match the iris quilt and they should go well together.

Now that I've got these two rooms figured out, I can get started cutting and hemming up linen strips.

Jeff's Quilt Done

I actually almost finished it on Friday night; I just had the two end pieces to finish, but they were being difficult to get lined up properly and I was tired. And we had to get up early Saturday morning to go off to an event in Eugene, so it waited until this morning for the finish.

For a nice change, daylight for photos, though they're still not very good because the only space large enough to lay out this quilt is the upstairs hallway and that's the darkest spot upstairs.
I've had enough quilting for the season; time to move on to some linen table dressings.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Today's Quilt Progress

Now that I have another sewing project I want to work on, I'm motivated to finish my current project. I made good progress on Jeff's hex river quilt today. There's still a fair amount of sewing to put these strips together, but I should be able to mostly finish in another day.

Forgive the quality of the picture. As usual, the light is bad, because it is rare that I actually finish projects when it is still light outside. And I laid this quilt out on the guest bed to organize the pieces, but the bed is too short. So I'm just going to show the middle section.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

More Stenciling Projects

I guess our spurt of energy last fall burned us out on major house projects. Jeff did manage to move the rain garden plants yesterday. (This time of year the rain garden isn't much to look at; we need to get more plants that look interesting during the winter.) The plants on the left edge had to move towards the house about 8 feet in order to make way for the path we're planning to put in.
Right now, I seem to only be able to muster energy for sewing projects. I've been making progress on Jeff's new quilt. I made the interior triangles, plus the yellow strips (not pictured). I'll make the green strips today and then assembly should be able to begin. It should go pretty quickly now.
Next, I've decided it's time to make some table dressings (like the examples shown below). I've got a bunch of linen leftover from the curtains and I thought it would be nice to make some coordinating table runners, table scarves and maybe a pillow or two.
I've started planning out the details. I found a good tutorial for making nicely finished mitered hems around the edges (on YouTube here).

Of course, I'm planning to stencil them. Though, I must confess I'm having a hard time choosing stencils, maybe because I have too many options now. Most of my stencils are continuous border designs and I want something that was designed to stand alone. So, I've been revisiting my saved stencil images.

I'm thinking I might use one of these designs for the dining room. They were originally designed for a tea cosy. I'm currently favoring the left one.
And I'm thinking about one of these designs for our bedroom dresser. It would compliment that applique iris quilt very nicely. I'll probably use the bottom iris because I already have that stencil so won't have to cut it out myself.

I've got to make some of these pillows.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ida McCain

So, besides being sick for the last several days, I've been obsessed with trying to figure out Ida McCain's story. (As a reminder, for those just now dropping by—she was the female architect who designed our home in 1911.) I broke down and re-subscribed to Ancestry.com for six months, primarily because I have so many people from Laurelhurst I want to research. (I'm getting quite the collection of family trees of people who aren't related to me.)

In my research, I discovered through old directories and census records that Ida McCain was the architect of the firm Spencer-McCain, and she was only 25 or so when she was here in Portland.

Arthur, her brother, worked as a meat cutter before arriving in Oregon, and then described himself as a contractor for the 1910 census. Their business partner, Charles Spencer, was a bricklayer and reported contractor on the 1910 census. He was also married to Eda McCain, Ida and Arthur's sister. (Their mother Hannah King was also here with them.)

Besides our house, I've found 10 houses they completed here in Portland (that haven't been torn down). In March 1912, this sentence was published in The Oregonian, ". . . the Spencer-McCain Company will build on seven lots [in Laurelhurst] this summer."

I've identified maybe four of these houses, so there might be three more. Or maybe they just abandoned their plans for seven houses to return to California. Or maybe they didn't plan to build that many homes but said they were because they were trying to create interest; I'm trying to figure it out. So, I am irrationally going through lot-by-lot making an "inventory" of all the houses in Laurelhurst including the builders, when I can find the information at portlandmaps.com. (What an amazing resource we have!) This will also help to match up old photos when they only identify the owner (or builder) name.

Anyway, I can usually get through 100 to 150 a day during my goof off in front of TV time, so at this rate it will take me something like a month or two to make the full list. But, if Spencer-McCain built more houses in Laurelhurst, I am determined to find them. =)

Oh, and since I'm taking over the Laurelhurst newsletter this spring, I should have some good material for history-based articles. At least I hope so.
This is a concept drawing for a house they were planning to build for Hannah King, their mother, in Alameda Park. Though, I think they actually built it (or its twin) in Laurelhurst on Senate Street.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hex Quilt Finished

It's finished! And with time to spare before Valentine's Day.

And this is the first quilt I have made where I've done the machine quilting.
If you're interested in more details, like where you can get the pattern, I'll do an extended post over at the Stashbusting blog.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Why We Went Historic

I've been musing lately about why we made the choices we did during our renovation. First, I love looking at historic photos of bungalows and I wanted to live there. But, also, because of money.

I believed if we went for a style consistent with what might have been found in our house in 1912, give or take 10 years, then it would never change. I am not a purist; I don't need to live in a museum. I was perfectly happy to use modern reproductions of period fixtures. And I don't have to have brand name furniture, as long as it is built to look the same. But I wanted to live that bungalow dream.

I look out at some of the crazy kitchens on Pinterest and wonder what those folks were thinking. Highlighter green may be "hot" for kitchens right now, but in 5 years? I think not. I believe this kitchen is destined for white paint, which is a shame, because that wood is beautiful.

We didn't choose to follow fads, because I believe in the long run, it's expensive. My thinking is we spent a lot of money on the ONE remodel we'll be doing and we'll get to enjoy the results until we decide we're ready to move into senior community quarters.

I'm sure some people will walk into our house and think it looks dated or dark. I think it looks "right," and really that's the important part. Because if I become unhappy with it, then I'll want to remodel. And remodeling is expensive. So, we tried to remodel once and to do it right. Time will only tell if we were successful.

I can only say one thing for sure: I will NEVER paint the woodwork. I'll move first.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Next Quilt

All this quilting energy I've had going has infected Jeff and he started designing another quilt. This is going to be a similar size to the long skinny one I just made, about 40"x80". I'm sure there's some math involved, but Jeff will have to post about that.

This one might be a bit more complicated to assemble. There might be some Y-seams involved, though I think I can work it out so it will all be strip pieced. We went digging through my stash fabric for this project today. (We obviously have a green-yellow-purple theme going.)
The outer purple portion is going to be that wild print fabric underneath the stacks. I bought that fabric for a square dance outfit I just had to make back in 2005; I guess I didn't need it that much. We're going to give this funky fabric a try for this project because it matches so well.

I tacked up the hex quilt today and it's ready for quilting.
Though, to practice, I've decided to try quilting the little pillow panel I made last year. So, now I've tacked that up too. Since this will all be assembled into a pillow, I just grabbed a misc large scrap from my bin for the backing.
Hopefully I'll find the motivation to start this tomorrow.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

AHC Library Visit

Because our kitchen was on their Kitchen Tour last April, we were gifted with a free membership to the Architectural Heritage Center (AHC), so I was determined to take advantage of my ability to research through their records before our membership expired. We made an appointment for last Thursday and got to take a look at their collection.

While, they did have three sales brochures I had never seen before, and a large map, their collection on the Laurelhurst neighborhood was—disappointing. They didn't have any pictures of individual houses (other than those in the sales brochures) and nothing resembling architectural plans.

Because of my recent efforts digging through the Oregonian archives, I have better information. So, I've sort of taken on the challenge of improving their records for Laurelhurst. Over the next couple of years I am going to put together my Oregonian articles into a transcribed document with whatever photos I have been able to glean and put them all together in binders. (I've already started—I've put together 1908 through 1910.)

Although, the one high point of the visit was getting some more information on our house's builders; Spencer & McCain were listed in "Architects of Oregon" by Richard Ellison Ritz. The partnership included Arthur W. McCain, Ida F. McCain and Charles Spencer. And once I had their full names, I was able to find more information . . . at least for Ida.

I found an article published by the San Francisco Chronicle on Ida McCain, "Renegade Ida McCain brought character to hundreds of homes for the Bay Area's middle class." The wide columns on the basic bungalow pictured looks just like our house's. Apparently the McCain family breezed up to Portland in 1909, designed a bunch of homes, then breezed back down to Los Angeles by 1914. Then a year later, Ida was in San Francisco where she had a successful career for a number of years, until the mid-1920s . . . then she establishes herself as an independent architect and builder. It's not clear how successful she was after that. She moved around a number of cities, but I don't see much information about many houses being built.

She also appears in a recent book: "Early women architects of the San Francisco Bay Area : the lives and work of fifty professionals, 1890-1951" by Inge S. Horton. I've ordered a copy through the interlibrary loan system.

I don't know why I get so obsessive about things like this; it sort of becomes like a game to see how much information I can find. Google is really invaluable to provide leads. And while I'll probably never find a good picture of our house from the 1910s or 1920s, it is fun to try. So my quest continues; next up, the Oregon Historic Society.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hex Quilt Backing

Since I didn't have enough of the navy blue fabric to back Jeff's hex quilt, I had to be a little creative in coming up with a solution. I thought about it for a couple days before I finally came up with this idea.
The center block is the one I rejected from the front of the quilt. I didn't like it well enough for the front, but it was fine for the back.

I'm hoping to try and quilt this one myself. Though, I'm going to try practicing on some scraps and see how I do; if I don't think I can do a good job, then I'll send it out . . . as usual.

Free Embroidery Patterns

This winter I ran across a website with some really wonderful embroidery pattern books you can download for free. They date from the early 1900s and were originally published by DMC Floss Company. They include some great Craftsman appropriate designs.

The books I'm referring to can be downloaded at the On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics website under the book section. The specific books I am referring to were by Thérèse de Dillmont.

Unfortunately, some books have to be downloaded in parts, so I cannot always just provide one convenient link. This is not the complete list of DMC books available; these are the books that looked most appealing to me. Feel free to do your own exploring.

Dillmont, Thérèse de. Alphabet de la Brodeuse [The Embroiderer's Alphabet], Dillmont, July 1932, 151 pages. Pretty much what you would guess; lots of options for alphabets.
Dillmont, Thérèse de. Cross Stitch 3 Series, DMC Library, 28 pages. Download here. Some wonderfully appropriate patterns.
Dillmont, Thérèse de. Kreuzstich Neue Muster 1. Serie [New Designs in Cross Stitch. Series 1], Bibliothek DMC, February 1911, 33 pages.  Download here. Another great set of patterns.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bedroom Built-Ins

Even though I don't really need to do much more research, I seem to be addicted to downloading books from Internet Archive. I really am a research junky. I guess I may as well put all this research energy to good use by sharing some of the good stuff I've found. Because I'm putting lots of pictures in this post, I'm going to insert a page break so it won't bog down folks loading the main page. If you want to see all of the pictures, you'll have to open the post.

On my mind this week are closets and other bedroom built-ins—probably because we're trying to make progress on our closet this month. I've cited where I got the drawings.
From Housewifery by L. Ray Balderton, 1919
From Home Interiors by the National Lumber Mfg. Association, 1929

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Making Boards for Closets

Jeff here. I met with my new "woodworking consultant" friend, John, to walk through the steps for taking the reclaimed boards Sharon found and turning them into finished boards for the closet shelves. After much discussion, here is the recipe I am starting with:
  • Repair splits, checks, or chips
  • Do some coarse sanding to remove some of the paint
  • Plane the faces
  • Select which pieces will be joined and which will be ripped
  • For the pieces that will be joined:
    • Joint the edges
    • Rip roughly to width (to ease clamping)
    • Join the edges (still deciding on the method)
    • Glue up: Lightly clamp, then clamp cauls in place, then tightly clamp
  • Roundover with 1/16 or 3/32 inch bit
  • Scribe to fit the space

Hexed It

Jeff admitted to me he'd rather have the quilt in the original hexagon shape, so I went after it last night with a seam ripper and redid the border this morning to maintain the hex shape. Unfortunately, now that I've made two borders for this quilt, I don't have enough of the blue for the backing. I'm going to have to be a bit creative there; I predict more piecing in my future.
I have decided to try quilting this one myself. I hope it isn't a disaster. It's been a LONG time since I've quilted anything so I should probably practice a bit first.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Great Period Resource

My new friend, and Laurelhurst neighbor, donaleen, gifted me with a copy of a reprinted period house catalog. I believe the original book was published in 1921 by the Morgan Woodwork Organization and was called "Building with Assurance." The catalog was reprinted in its entirety by Lee Valley Tools Ltd. in 1987, under the title Homes & Interiors of the 1920's. When donaleen placed the book in my hands, I got so excited when I thumbed through it.

This catalog is loaded with great pictures: Millwork, doors, windows, wainscoting, leaded glass, stair parts, breakfast nooks, built-ins and more. It has something like 400 pages of great detailed drawings.

I'm going to show some of my favorites, so this post is very picture heavy. I'm going to put in a page break, so if you want to load the pictures, you'll have to open the post.

Here are a few of my personal favorites.
I'm always happy to find stained kitchen cabinets. The brackets on the upper cabinets look almost exactly like the ones we put in our kitchen.