Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Refinishing my kitchen table

I have been putting this project off for a few years. I hate stripping and staining. Hate. It’s a butt load of work. But I knew when I started looking at new kitchen tables just to avoid the work, it was time to quit being lazy and get it done.


Here’s the butcher block table before. I bought it new in 2006 and chose the stain for it. But after 8 years of deep pencil indentions from young kids, and well, the color simply being out of style, it was time to update this table. Get rid of the outdated orangey-brown color and say hello to a weathered gray color.


The below photo proves how long I’ve had this table. Our kitchen has been remodeled, the chairs have been repainted blue,  and that adorable 10-year old is now 16 and drives a car. Help me.

nathan's 11th birthday 002

The below photo was in 2006 when we first moved into our house.

dining and family room

I’m just so happy how it turned out. And happy to be done.


Here are the details. I didn’t strip it. I opted to just sand it all down with my orbit sander. If the table had lots of curves sanding would not have been the best choice. But luckily the table has simple square legs and nothing too ornate that a sander couldn’t reach.


This took me about 3 hours with a 60 grit sandpaper. Sanding removed the finish and all the dents and scratches. Stripping with chemicals would have only removed the finish. I was glad to get rid of the dents and dings too.


This is so dusty and messy so I wore those gorgeous goggles and mask. Once the finish was removed I went over every surface again using 120 and then 220 grit sandpaper.


Here are my tools—sandpaper, sponge brushes, oil based stain, water based polyurethane in ‘satin’ sheen (dries so much faster than oil based poly), and a 320 grit sanding block. Not pictured is the tack cloth I used. I originally wanted to use a ‘flat’ finish polyurethane for the table—no sheen. But they don’t make it! So satin it is!


I used Weathered Oak for the main stain. I applied it with the sponge brush. It wasn’t quite gray enough so I went back over the table with the Classic Gray very sparingly, just in spots, with a rag to add a little more color. I pretty much used both of these entire tiny little cans. I will say this: stir, stir stir these stains. I thought I stirred enough and then halfway through staining with the "Weathered Oak” I realized all the gray pigment (kind of heavy and thick) was sitting in the bottom of the can. That’s probably the main reason I had to use Classic Gray over the top—the color just wasn’t mixed well enough to give me that gray hue. In fact, the can suggests stirring every few minutes. I ignored that, and once again, the chalky-gray pigment sank to the bottom. STIR! STIR! STIR!

My table is alder butcher block. Each wood will absorb stain differently. I only used one coat of stain. If your table is one big piece of wood it will look more uniform I am sure. But since mine is butcher that explains the variations in color throughout.


I let it sit overnight even though you only need to let it dry one hour. I sanded with the 320 grit sanding block, wiped with a tack cloth,  then using a sponge brush painted on the first coat of polyurethane. Use long continuous strokes to go from one side of the table to the other side. If you do short strokes you will get sponge-y marks. I’ve done this on other projects and it is ugly. Let dry two hours, buff with the sanding block, and add the second coat of poly. Do not skip sanding in between coats. I have refinished enough pieces of furniture to know that sanding between coats of polyurethane is essential to get that smooth-feeling finish.


Once it had 3 coats of poly the hubs put the apron pieces and the legs back on…..


….I sanded once more, and it’s all done! Two full days of elbow grease and my table is as good as new.





Friday, October 31, 2014

Roman Shades for French Doors


This tutorial will help you make Roman Shades for French Doors. They are real Roman Shades, meaning they pull up with cording. They are not faux shades! They really do lower for privacy, as much or as little as you’d like. These window face south so it is necessary to lower the shades to protect the wood floors and furniture from sun bleach—especially this time of year (October) and all winter when the sun so far south in the sky.


If you want to make Roman Shades for your French doors there are a few little changes you’ll need to make to the regular Roman Shade tutorials I’ve written about before. 

Here is part 1 and here is part 2.

If you’ve never made Roman shades before for a regular window (like my side windows pictured above), I would suggest making one of those first. Then take that learning curve and apply it to making shades for your French doors. But hey, it’s your house, do what you want. It’s much easier to make roman shades for narrow windows if you are a beginner, like these chevron striped ones in my piano room. The windows are very narrow—great for a beginner.


The modifications you’ll need to make are………

First, you can’t use the regular 1”x2” wood header for a regular Roman shade, seen below.


Obviously there is no window header for French doors to screw it into! Also, French doors are usually metal so you don’t want to screw into them anyway. But here’s what I figured out many years ago.

D7K_7485 copy

Since metal doors are usually magnetic you will use magnetic curtain rods to take the place of the wooden header. You can usually get them at any hardware store. Get really good and strong magnetic curtains rods.  Mine are VERY difficult to pull off the door (I have to use two hands!) as the magnets are really, really strong, hence the scuff marks you see.

My French doors, although metal, do have the glass framed in a wood casing, so that’s where you’ll be drilling holes for the screw eyes.

The glass on both doors measure 19.5” inches x 62” inches. It looks best if the shades go an inch past the wood casing on both sides, so my shades are a finished width of 23” inches. You don’t have to be as precise on the length though. However, you do want to make the shades much longer than your glass measurement. Remember that the shades will hang several inches above your window pane, and you’ll want them to hang several inches past the bottom of the window pane as well.  The finished length of mine is 68”.

FABRIC CHOICE: I used 2 yards of 54” wide fabric cut directly in half right now the middle—no waste at all. I used “Premier Prints Embrace Slub Premier Navy” fabric.   As you can see, it’s not quite as dark navy as their picture implies, but I actually prefer it a bit lighter. (True navy almost seems black to me.) Super happy with it and the price can’t be beat.

DRAPERY LINING: I used a regular cheap and lightweight curtain lining. If you use heavy blackout lining the weight of the overall curtain will be too heavy and will look bulky when pulled up! A lightweight lining will ensure crisp folds for the pleats.


You’ll be sewing the shades exactly as in this first tutorial. That’s where I show you how to sew the rings on and everything.


This is how the back will look once you are done.


Sew your dowel pocket 5” above your bottom hem.


Then space your rings 8” apart. You’ll have a total of 8 rows of rings.


String up your shade with 9mm lift cord and use those little orbs (found here at draperysewingsupplies.com) or you could just tie knots. The orbs allow you adjust your shade quite easily after it is hung. (You just pull in or let out a little cording if your shades are pulling up crooked.)


I used blue painters tape to temporarily hold my cording in place at the top.


Insert your curtain rod and dowels, go to your window and thread the cording through your screw eyes just as you would on a regular roman shade mounted to wood.  It really helps to have a second pair of hands for this step—one person to hold the shade, the other person to do the threading.


Important note: Your curtain must be hung higher than your screw eyes so that the weight of the curtain (when being raised and lowered) rests on those rings, not the magnetic curtain rod! The magnetic curtain rod holds your shade in place when still,  but with too much weight on it it will be pulled off the door when raising the shade. D7K_7493 

Tie a knot with all three cords very close to the screw eyes and another knot a little way down. Use a cord condenser to finish off the ends after trimming to length.


When the shades are pulled up just wind the cording around the curtain rod to hold them into place. You can also swing the cording over the curtain rod to keep it away from shutting into the door when opened and closed. (Gee Cynthia, take a Mr. Clean Eraser to your door, look at all those scuff marks!)


Done and beautiful. This is my third set of shades (in 8 years) that I’ve sewn for these French doors. I made several sets in my old house as well. I never tire of them.


(And yes now I realize my rug matches too well so I swapped it with a gray rug from somewhere else right after this photo. Don’t like matchy matchy!)



Happy Sewing!

cynthia logo[4]

Friday, September 19, 2014

Bathroom Remodel

You know how some remodeling projects are born out of necessity, like water damage? Well this is the story of a bathroom remodel that happened sooner rather than later due to a leaky shower which was improperly installed.


I bought a new mirror at Lowe’s but reused the old vanity I installed a few years ago (also from Lowe’s) and the old faucet. I like the striped walls too—so much better than the dark brown I painted seven years ago. Funny how some colors go out of style fast. Like brown. What was I thinking painting such a dark color in a window-less bathroom?


Looking at the photo above it’s hard to believe that six weeks ago it looked the photo below. I took this photo on panorama mode with my iPhone. It looks huge but really this is the tiniest bathroom ever, about 4’x6’.


Yea, it’s done!


Below is how it looked a few years ago when we still had a pedestal sink. I hate pedestal sinks, all beauty no function. The shower was literally the worst tile job I have ever seen. The first owner of our house thought he could tile. He was wrong. (He was wrong about a lot of things in this house, bless his DIYer little heart.) Hence it eventually leaked, ruined some baseboards and drywall in the adjacent room, which lead to this big project.

bathroom with new paint called october oak

I painted the room a pale blue then added white stripes. While in my pajamas. Truly I look ready for the red carpet in this photo. Painting was my only contribution to the project. We had a contractor do everything so that this time the shower would last. We are funny that way. I know my limits as a DIYer—pretty much paint and fabric and pretties.


We decided to have the tile go all the way up the ceiling to take advantage of our 9-foot ceilings. I love how it looks.



We chose a basic white subway tile for the walls with a couple stripes of glass/metallic tile, all grouted in white. Should be fun to clean, thankfully this shower isn’t used much. The glass tile was super pricey, hence just two stripes. After seeing stripes in almost all showers in this year’s Parade of Homes I figured I was on solid style ground in doing tile stripes. (And paint stripes too!)  The floor of the shower and the floor of the bathroom are basic white honeycomb. I don’t think honeycomb tiles ever go out of style. 


I chose to have the grout gray (high traffic) for the bathroom floor and white for the shower floor.


Seashells and coral the girls found on a beach last year in Hawaii.


Hang some artwork, and hallelujah, we have a bath again. This is the bath all visitors use when in our home so it’s about time it looked good after looking like a giant piece of poo for the eight years (gasp) we have lived here.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Triangle Quilt

These triangle quilts are everywhere these days. Just look up “triangle quilt” on Pinterest and holy smokes, you’ll see loads of luscious ones. Not wanting to be left out I wanted one of my own. Yea, well, it took me a whole year to make this. In actuality it took me a few days back in September 2013, then I shoved it in a corner, and finished it this September of 2014. I am the queen of no unfinished projects but quilting is the exception. I get all fired up for a project…..and then I lose steam. And that’s why I don’t quilt much. I absolutely love quilts but don’t have the patience to make more than one a year. I prefer sewing projects that can be done in under 5 hours. I sadly accept that fact about myself. But I want to change, really, I do.



I started out buying this ruler, which now I wonder will I ever use again?


It did make cutting all those triangle go super duper fast, so it was worth the $25 to my pocket book. But still. Now I gotta get my money’s worth.


It’s mainly Kona cotton solids with a handful of prints thrown in.Here are the triangles sewn into strips, all spread out to try out different layouts.


Here I am, at night, pinning all those strips together. Thankfully most of the edges are on a bias so it was easy to stretch and match up *most* of the triangle points. I have to admit—I hated this part. Hate.


But she’s done and she’s lovely and has a semi-permanent home on my wingback chair. It’s what you see when you first walk in my home.  I like it there.


Isn’t the back kinda cool? Yup, notice my binding why don’t you. I do not sew binding on by hand because life is too short.


I do, however, sew it to the back first, then flip it to the front and stitch it down. I don’t care that it isn’t perfect. Nothing in life should be perfect except lemon meringue pie and piano solos. I can do both actually, but not perfectly. Hypocrite.


I’ve gotten in the habit of embroidering the date on my quilts instead of doing quilt tags. I used my Marker Fine Point font in the 1 inch size, found here.


I love how my wonky triangle quilting turned out. Again, not perfect, but perfectly how I wanted it. I should have sent this puppy out to be quilted—that’s what took me a whole year. I got sick of stitching inside those 180 triangles.




Finally, I’m the proud owner of my very own triangle quilt. Hooray!


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