Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Quilting Project

I found a new project I could not resist; I've got to make this quilt for Jeff. It's called "Space Crystal, Too" and I found it in my ABC 3-D, Tumbling Blocks and More quilt book by Marci Baker.

Lap Quilt Panels Finished

I put borders on both panels of the lap quilt. I put a wider border on the bottom panel for the machine quilter because they always need the backing to be larger than the front.
Front of Quilt
Back of Quilt
I also figured out how to use the squares I messed up on the first attempt making this quilt. I goofed up while cutting and made them slightly rectangular rather than square. I saw a picture of a bag this evening and had an "ah ha" moment and ran back upstairs and immediately put this together.
I lined the bag with another cotton fabric. I haven't attached the handles yet, because I'm not quite sure how I want to do it, i.e. whether I want to add some additional reinforcement around the top edge.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lap Quilt, Side 2

This evening I finished putting together side 2 of the lap quilt. This side has a lot more different fabrics and the process went much more smoothly; almost no seam ripping.
Tomorrow I'll do borders and this project will be ready for machine quilting. I'm not entirely sure if I'll send it out to be quilted, or if I'll try to quilt this one myself. I've never done anything bigger than a pillow sham before, so I may send it out.

Met Another Blogger

OK, no new blog. Now I won't feel guilty for posting my quilt-related activities here. Though, I plan on posting stashbusting related activities over there.

Today I had the pleasure to meet Donaleen, who also lives in Laurelhurst; she came over for a visit this afternoon and I had fun chatting and showing her around our house. I ran across her blog, Spit and Vinegar, pretty recently and we've exchanged a few comments. She's a very nice lady and we're planning to go visit her and her husband on Friday.

I've been surprised, and pleased, by the number of Portland folks I have met through blogging.

I've been steadily working on the new quilt back. I've got all the small pieces built and now I'm trimming down the diagonals. It's not the most fun task so I've gotten a bit stalled working on them. But, once they're done, I can just start building the blocks. This second quilt will likely become the new front as I used more different fabrics in it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

New Blog or Not?

Well, okay, I got three comments with a strong don't do a second blog. Are there followers who like the crafts stuff separated off? Here's your chance to leave your comment.

If not, I'll skip the second blog and restore the removed posts.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

New Crafty Blog

I decided to blog about my non-house-related sewing projects on a new blog: Eclectic Dragon Crafts.

(It's getting harder to find blog names not taken at blogger. And I'm still working on the formatting.)

Anyway, now that our house is much closer to being finished, I figured I'm likely to get distracted much more often with sewing projects, especially quilts. And probably many of you aren't interested in those kind of projects. If you are, please follow me over at Eclectic Dragon.

I doubt I'll go through and remove all the old quilting posts—I will remove the most current project—but I won't be posting updates here anymore.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Quilt Top Nearly Finished

It just needs borders and this quilt top is done! Borders are a project for tomorrow (or our next rainy day). These little projects are nice, because they go so quickly.
I am boggled by how many times I had to rip seams today because I sewed pieces in the wrong direction. If I hadn't wasted so much time ripping seams, I probably would have had time to finish the borders too.

I also did a bit of un-sewing to change out some fabrics I didn't like. I learned long ago I won't "get used to" fabrics I don't like, so nowadays, I just take the time to remove them.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lap Quilt Update

I worked on my lap quilt for several hours today. I was super obsessive and actually re-squared all these blocks to make them 4.5 inches. I remembered why I don't normally bother because it seemed like it took forever, but then when I sewed the pieces together, everything fit together so well.

I finished building all ten center blocks and then assembled one of those into the big block; they are huge! I don't think I've ever made a quilt with 16-inch blocks before.

Right after I finished the big block and laid it out for a look, I noticed the four-block square on the lower right sewn in 90-degrees off. Ugh, so I decided I would quit for the day. I'll fix it tomorrow and build the other nine big blocks.

The assembly isn't going as quickly as I was hoping because I didn't use enough fabrics. When my first batch of squares failed, I should have gone digging in the scrap bin for more print fabrics. Instead, I just used the big chunks I had laying around. I'm spending too much time shifting pieces around trying to build blocks without repeats of the same fabric.

Finally Started Our Closets

Jeff and I finally got around to starting our closets. We left it here:
And we're trying to get Jeff's closet here:
And my closet here:
A few weeks ago I scored a humungous pile of old 1x12 douglas fir from someone on craigslist. So, rather than go buy all this plywood (the stain grade stuff is around $100/sheet and we need 11), I thought it was worth a shot to see if we could get this old fir to work.

A couple days ago we cut all the pieces for Jeff's shelves and the two hanging-only sides. (I'm not ready to start working on the cubes yet.) I didn't have my camera on me when we worked on it, so no pictures of the stack of wood.

Then I spent a while sanding it, but the wood is fairly beat up on the finished side; I think these boards were installed as shelving in some sort of industrial setting. The underside actually still has a rough finish and I'm hoping it will clean up and will be our new "finished" side. I'm hoping for stain grade, or something close to it, here. We can probably deal with wood that is a bit less than 3/4" thick because these shelves are mostly going to be supported and we won't be storing a lot of weight on them.

I'd already ordered this DeWalt planer (and stand) and it came yesterday. So we just need to get it set up and give it a try. I also bought a tongue & groove router bit for the edge joints.

This project is probably going to take us a while. We're likely to work on it in fits and starts. Lately our weather has been too cold or too wet. When we can bear to work outside, we'll make progress.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New Quilting Project

I needed a new rainy day project that is fun. And since my sewing room is straightened up, and relatively nice to work in, I started a new quilt project.

I spent most of the day in my sewing room, cutting and sewing and thought I had built all the "pieces" to make the below quilt, but it turns out the directions had a slight detour I was supposed to ignore, but I took the detour and messed up the little 4-square blocks. Oh well, I've already cut new pieces for the second batch.

I'm making a triple-wide lap quilt (basically half a twin size quilt) for the couch in the family room.  It's long enough to reach the length of the couch and cover our laps.

I'm primarily using scraps I cut a decade ago for patchwork square dance skirts, and I'm using a nice yellow for the light colored portions. And, since I made this graphic, I've decided to change up the border and use a jewel-tone green for the border. I'll probably mostly get the blocks built tomorrow.
This pattern is called "Sunny Lanes" and is from Nickel Quilts by Pat Speth.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Laurelhurst is Beautiful

I think we live in one of the prettiest neighborhoods I've ever seen. The neighborhood was zoned and lot sales started in 1909 and the first houses got finished in May 1910. The neighborhood was developed over about 25 years when house styles were changing, so there is a nice variety of houses.

In 1909, this neighborhood was quite cutting edge—they paved all 26 miles of streets and installed 52 miles of 6'-wide sidewalks. The streets were wide (for the time) and the houses were set back from the street. Sewer, water and gas mains were installed on every street. Trees were planted every 20 feet in the planting strips. And there were street lights; the ones at the time were quite pretty. They are, alas, long gone. And, finally, they had a lower limit on the value of the houses built, depending on the location of lots. There were no shacks put up in Laurelhurst!

Anyway, I made it out for a short walk today and got to admire a whole lot of nice houses. It seems that winter is THE time to get outside with your camera because all the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves and you can actually see many of the houses. Now, if only we could get the cars out of the way.

Here are a few of the pictures I took today. I'm hoping to walk different routes and take pictures of houses I like. This is the house right across the street from ours. It was built two years after ours. (Ours was the first house on this block of Multnomah St.)
 And its twin. These two houses belonged to one family originally.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Found Prior Owners

Our house has only had three owners (including us) since 1911. The first family was the Mannings who lived in the house until the late 1930s. Then the Leonards bought the house and lived in it for 11 years. When they bought another house, they simply rented this one out. The Leonard family still owned the house when we bought it in May 2010.

Anyway, Frederick J. and Emma Manning bought the house in 1911. After some research, I finally found one of the living granddaughters of the Mannings, her name is Francie Fessler and she lives in Salem, Oregon.

Today she, with her daughter and husband, came and visited. She didn't have much in the way of pictures of the house, but she generously shared photos of her family and some fascinating family history.

Frederick Manning bought the house in Oct 1911; with Francie's help I was able to find the short article in the Oregonian:

The Oregonian, 15 Oct 1911
Washington Men Buy Homes

...Frederick Manning, another Washington timber dealer, has purchased from Spencer-McCain Company a residence located on Multnomah Street, near Sandy Boulevard, for $6000. It also was bought for a home. Both residences are among the best erected in Laurelhurst Addition.

Mr. Manning, unfortunately, died in 1915, probably from an asthma attack. Emma Manning was left with $300 and 3 kids, but she somehow managed to stay in the house. She took in boarders and she made hats. Francie told me her grandmother was very proud and would not accept help from Frederick's brother when offered. And, despite all these hardships, all three of the kids went to college.

Unfortunately, this was the best picture Francie had of our house.
She thinks her cousin, Charles Wright in Texas, probably has the best pictures of the house. I'm hoping we'll be able to retrieve some of them someday. (She's going to try.)
This is Francie and I posing with the photo, which she brought as a gift. Thanks Francie! (I guess Shasta just wanted to be in the picture because she went and stood there and waited while Jeff took the photo.)

Last year, we also met Lois Leonard, the youngest daughter of Thomas H. and Ruby Leonard, who bought the house in the late 1930s. (I still haven't gone to the City to get the sales records; I'll do it one of these days.)

I was told by Lois that her mother didn't like the house because it was "old fashioned" and I'm quite sure that's when they went through and painted all the woodwork, removed wainscoting and the colonnades, and replaced the pocket doors with French doors. And, remodeled the kitchen, obviously.

Lois remembered after about 11 years, they moved into a new house and kept this house as a rental. That's probably why much of the remaining wood is still in place. And there wasn't a lot of additional remodeling, so we were able to restore it as well as we did.

I did get a photocopy of an old picture during escrow from the Leonards, but I can't locate that tonight. It's packed up from moving the files down to the basement from upstairs and we haven't unpacked yet. I'll add it when I can get it scanned.

There are three Leonard kids and two of them still live in Portland. Lois has been very generous with her photos, which are few, but hopefully as time passes I'll be able to beg and cajole more photos from Richard and Janet.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sewing Room Cleaned Up

I've done precious little on the house this month, except for one thing—I cleaned my sewing room. I spent a whole day clearing out the room because it was a HUGE mess and extremely dusty—and I wanted to sew. This room became the dumping staging area while the rest of the rooms had their floors refinished, so it was all filled up with boxes and other stuff. And everything was covered with a thick layer of dust from nearly two years of remodeling.

It's still not as clean as I'd like, but it's much better. I've kicked out most of the boxes that need to live elsewhere. I've spent at least an hour vacuuming dust off of everything! And I managed to get the floor cleared off (at least for a little while) so I could vacuum. It's almost a nice space again (but still not quite picture worthy).

I also had another too-large pile of quilting cottons to iron. I've got a weakness for William Morris reproduction prints (despite the fact that I probably have a lifetime supply), so I spent several more hours ironing and folding up fabric for my fabric shelves. I finally had to evict the last shelf of plastic tubs and the bookcase is now entirely fabric. (This is my limit. If I get more fabric than will fit in these shelves, I'll have to get rid of something to make room.)
I also cleaned off the other bookshelf for plastic tubs. Unfortunately, I have a few more than will fit, so it's time to do some downsizing. Or maybe I'll have to kick out the stencil supplies. =)
The tables still need some straightening before I can take full-room photos.

This is the last bedroom that needs paint stripping. I'm hoping I'll be in the mood to move out of here later this year, but realistically, since we have so many other higher priority projects, it will probably be 2014.

As an aside, and mostly to remind myself for the next Rejuvenation Period Basics sale, the light sucks in the sewing room, especially at night, and desk lamps aren't adequate. I need some sort of task lighting. I'm thinking I might like to try one or two of these Bend sconce lamps.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Matching Historic Stencils to Period Pictures

Now that I've found so many old stencil catalogs, I noticed I am in a position to hook up some of the period drawings with the actual stencil designs. I thought this would be helpful for those of you still considering stenciling options.

The following room pictures appeared in the 1912 "Home Building and Decoration" by Henry Collins Brown.
Specifications for above picture: Ceiling and Drop - S-W Flat-tone Cream. Wall - S-W Flat-tone Bright Sage. Stencil No. 113.
Frieze Stencil No. 113
This stencil—or one very close to it—is currently available from "The Stencil Library" UK website. It is stencil Border No. 8.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Installed Wood Blinds

After I discovered that mini-blinds were period (1900), I've kept them in mind as a solution for finishing the windows in our bedrooms.

Originally, I had a plan to make quite elaborate applique Roman shades, but I'd never gotten beyond the planning stage. I did have the basic plain Roman shades I could have hung, but I didn't like the fabric with our refinished bedroom colors.

Shortly before Christmas I ran across a good sale (35% off) on Levolor wood blinds. I thought about it for nearly a week, but finally, in the interest of being done, I ordered them.

Unfortunately, our windows were not deep enough to accommodate the 2-inch slats, so I contented myself with the 1-inch. I ordered them with the fabric straps—to match the period drawing at right—in colors that matched the wall paint.

I don't love them, but they'll do. And it will be nice in the morning after we've gotten to bed too late.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rug Designs from early 1900s

Once upon a time I thought I needed to buy some expensive "arts & crafts" style rug to correctly finish my restored home. But my recent research through old rug catalogs has convinced me that most any generic traditional style rug is appropriate. Machine made rugs were also available by the early 1900s, so there is no need to spend upwards of $3000 per room on hand-knotted rugs.

There are a number of rug catalogs that can be downloaded from Internet Archive:
There are more trade catalogs that include rugs, but this is a good start. My skim through these catalogs convinces me pretty much anything goes—southwestern, flowery, plain, traditional persian . . . you'll find it in one of these catalogs.

Again, here are some examples of rugs I copied out of the catalogs.

1910s Stencil Designs

I'm goofing off again digging through Internet Archive.  I need to be sewing...

I hit the motherlode today: I found both a 1910 stencil catalog by Sherwin Williams and a 1913 stencilling guide by Frank Gibson. (I actually found so much more, but this is all I feel motivated to post right away.) Anyway, I'm going to share my favorite stencil designs here for those who are interested.

This is the set I like from the Sherwin Williams catalog:

The Sherwin-Williams stencil colors.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Dog Time

Since we haven't been working on the house, Jeff has had extra time to work/play with Shasta. She's finally doing well enough at the dog agility training that Jeff can start participating in agility events. The weave was the final challenge, and she finally has it!

I signed up on a Northwest Dog email list and occasionally folks offer items for sale. We've gotten lucky the past week and found a couple of fun items for Shasta.

The first is a wagon. The harness is a bit too big for Shasta and needs to be altered, but it works pretty well. It has side panels to hold stuff in the wagon that we'll use once we get her comfortable enough to go to the market.

And another dog scooter.
I don't think I ever mentioned it, but during the remodel (summer 2011), someone stole Shasta's awesome Pawtrekker dog scooter. It was taken right out of our backyard and they didn't take anything else, so Jeff thinks they came just for the scooter. Our theory is one of the day-labor guys that floated through the project thought it would be nice for their kid to ride; you'd just need to pull off the side arm and it was a very nice, solid scooter.

Anyway, I looked into buying another one, but the company didn't make it with the side arm anymore. So, Jeff and Shasta lost their fun exercise option. Last week this one came across the NW Dog list. It isn't as nice as the scooter we had, and it needs some work on the brakes, but it is better than none.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I'm Tired of Mud

Our backyard is a muddy mess. Every time the dog goes outside she comes in with muddy feet, and we're tracking in mud too, so I avoid going into the backyard.

Last year, we managed to lay down a thick layer of mulch so it wasn't bad. But not this year, unfortunately, because the rain started in October and I hadn't thought about mulch in September. Geez, I was still in "summer" mode.
I took this picture looking out my sewing room window. There is a screen is on that window, so it obscured the view, but yup, look at all that dirt. (I'm trying to think of this as a blank slate.)

Even though I would really like to finish remodeling the master bathroom this year, I think we instead need to focus our energy on the backyard. I just can't do another year dealing with this mess.

I think we've got a good idea of what we want to do, but we don't have an actual landscape plan. I'm not sure whether it's worth investing in a landscape design, or whether we can just sort of wing it. I don't want to spend more money on paper, but I don't want to make Jeff crazy either as he tries to embark on the "plan."

As a reminder, among the projects planned are a side fence.
A pergola.
And a chicken coop (plus an enclosure).
Jeff would also like to put in a curving urbanite path from the back of the house down to the back of the yard plus a "paved" area beneath the pergola. Something along these lines:
Pasadena Open House Tour
Playful and permeable paving patterns
I'm hoping we can put together a more precise plan in the next couple of months so we can get started when the rains start to abate.

Medieval Tangent

Jeff and I are obviously taking a bit of a vacation from working on the house. That wasn't my plan; I actually had a few projects I wanted to finish by the middle of January, but it's clear from our total lack of progress they won't happen. We did work pretty hard this last year, so I feel entitled to take a month or two off from house projects.

This week I started a new sewing project: I'm making medieval-style costumes for a big SCA event coming up in Portland, called 12th Night. Jeff and I played with SCA for many years, but we've been mostly inactive since 2008. However, since this event is so close to our home, and we have many friends who still play, we decided we'd better go.

I'm making a style of costume I've never made before—something along the lines of the silk lampas robe from the 12th century (shown on the right)—mostly because it's comparatively fast to sew and comfortable to wear. (No corsets required!)

I'm using fabrics I've already got stashed in my sewing room. My costume is going to be very raspberry color, which probably isn't a period dye. But, I'm making these clothes for fun, and I'm not planning to enter them into any contests. So, I'm okay with using up old fabrics and going to play.

I'll try and take some photos to share once I have more layers of the outfits finished.