Friday, August 30, 2013

Rag Balls

via Living On A Dime
Do you remember Rag Balls?
I didn't either, until I was reminded. I'm not sure if that's because they were well before my time, or because my memory isn't so good sometimes.

Long time ago, when possessions were few and far between, nothing went to waste, ever.  So if your clothing or linens wore out, you didn't just throw the item away. You cut the fabric up into squares for quilts, or in some cases tore it into strips to make braided rag rugs for your home's bare, cold floors.

via Art For Housewives
 When they tore these strips of material, they would roll them up into balls and usually put them in a basket or wooden box until they used them to braid or crochet rugs, pot holders, and whatever else they did with them.

I didn't remember about rag balls until I searched the internets for ideas about up-cycling a worn out bedsheet. Even once reminded about them I'm not sure where I ever knew them from previously. I don't recollect any of my Grandmothers having Rag Balls in their sewing stashes.

via Gettysburg Homestead
I never was much of a sheet connoisseur, usually I'd just buy whatever cheap sheet set Walmart or the Dollar General had. I didn't understand why they didn't feel good, like my Grannie's sheets, why they felt icky, rough, and got hard little balls all over them ("pilling").

Eventually I started hearing about "Egyptian Cotton" and "thread count", and there was that old adage', "You get what you pay for".
So, one day I sprang for a nice, high dollar, some high count 100% Cotton sheets.

Granted, they were soft, and didn't "pill", but they still weren't my favorite and sure didn't seem worth the over $80.00 I paid for them. To add injury to insult, these being the most expensive sheets I've ever bought are the only sheets I've ever had actually wear a hole in them.

It was a lot smaller worn place until one night I turned over and put my foot through it. Ri-i-i-i-p.

I've since learned that vintage no-iron Percale - 50% cotton/50% Polyester - is my sheet of preference.

Anyway, so I had this worn out sheet and I didn't want to just throw it away, but neither did I want to cut it up for dust rags. I have plenty of dust rags already. I don't even dust.
Some suggestions were to donate it to the Animal Shelter, which I would have been glad to do, but the nearest Animal Shelters are 45 minutes away and I didn't want to drive so far to donate one, torn sheet.

Then I saw about braided and crocheted rag rugs - neither of which I think I can do - and then, voila', Rag Balls.

It was a fitted sheet, so I cut the elastic off from around the edge (Yes, you might be a Fire Wife if all your own scissors are too dull and you grab your husband's Trauma shears to do craft projects, lol).

Then I ripped open the corner seams. With the corners opened up, when the sheet was laid flat, the two sides were shorter than the rest of the sheet, so I cut them.

I ended up with three sections of sheet.

Snip about an inch to inch-and-half from the edge, making sure you're going with the grain of the fabric.

Tear the fabric with your hands until you get to about an inch from the other end. Go an inch to an inch-and-a-half over and snip and tear back down to an inch from the other end.

When you get done you should have something that looks like a zig-zag. I kept mine neat(ish) and laid out to try to show what I'm talking about, but after this one I just cut and piled it up, like in the Art for Housewives, pink Rag Ball above.

When I first start rolling the first one, I was diligently attempting to keep my strip all flat and nice, but it's impossible. The strip starts to starts spiral and you try so hard to flatten it, and you keep dropping the ball and it unrolls and your stomach starts feeling queasy, so, yeah, it's supposed to be like "yarn" anyway, right. Just wrap the thing, then worry about flattening the last yard or so around the ball.

These are the balls I made, different sizes. They look like Mummy balls to me, lol.

Here they are in a basket.

I will probably try to sell them, or give them away, since I can't really use them, and I'm just not feeling the whole "primitive decoration" vibe with these.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Camper Work & Dalmatian Stocking

This weekend was the first nice weekend we've had in quite awhile. Read: dry. We can certainly safely say we are definitely out of our past few-year drought now.

Anyway, it wasn't extremely hot, and mostly the humidity was than usual. I decided it felt like a good time to start working on our camper.

When I bought it I knew it had roof damage (yes, I know, bad, bad. But it was the perfect size, the right price, and I was in a hurry).  The damage had been patched, but there was still leakage. We sealed it with Kool-Seal and it worked for awhile but I guess couldn't stand the trauma of a 2,000+ mile Road Trip.

Ah-ha. that looks like the culprit. Either that or the seam connecting the roof and back wall. Either way, we'll fix both and hope that solves the problem.

The good news is the damage isn't as extensive as I had been afraid it would be.
The one board across the top there - along the seam, which is why I questioned the seam as being the problem - is rotted completely and needs replacing, but the lower boards (lower left of photo) are in good shape. Meaning it's not rotted all the way to the floor and doesn't need a total tear-apart, re-build.

Looks like - after we repair the gash and caulk/seal the seam - all we have to do is replace some sections of wood in that corner, plus the overhead board, insulate, and re-cover.  Luckily there are still several sheets of that same old pecan wood paneling on the carport.

For today's project, I made a Dalmatian stocking.

I had gotten a piece of Dalmatian print fleece in all that free material I got from Freecycle a couple weeks ago, but didn't know what I could do with it. It wasn't large enough for a blanket, maybe big enough for a small costume, but I didn't need a small Dalmatian costume and anyway I can't sew one even if I did.

Eventually I decided I could make Christmas stockings out of it.

I went up in the attic and found one of the boy's Christmas stockings to use as pattern.

I used the same technique as the pajama pants the other night, outlining it on Kraft paper to make a pattern.
I left the top part longer for a cuff. I cut two of the stocking shape and sewed them together.

Somehow, when I pictured the cuff in my mind, if I sewed the seam all the way out, when I turned the cuff down, it would be right.  Of course it wasn't right, though, because the seams were on the inside, but now were on the outside.

So I cut the cuff off and turned the stocking inside out and put the cuff inside and sewed around, only to end up with the seam now around the top of the stocking. What the heck?

Oh, and I realized I had sewed the hanging loop on the wrong side. Derp.

Somehow I finally got the thing figured out.

Hopefully the next one I can figure out the correct way to sew the cuff where I can just fold it down, without having to cut it off.

Now I just need some idea(s) about making it more Fire Department-y.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sewing Pajama Pants

First of all you should know, I'm not a very good seamstress. My edges never match, my threads aren't tight or uniform. Like everything else I attempt, I am just short of mediocre.

But, that doesn't seem to stop me from trying.

So I saw this idea for making pajama pants that looked pretty easy.  The instructions were for kids size pj pants, but my kids are adults and don't wear pj pants, but I do, and I wanted some for myself, so I used a pair of my jeans that are comfortable and I like to make the pattern using Kraft paper.

Closer up you can see my (feeble) attempt at outlining the jeans. I still apparently didn't leave enough space, or else I sewed the seam too tight.

I picked out a nice pink with flowers and and some shiny I can't describe from the piles of free fabric and material I scored from Freecycle last month.

Closer up view of the fabric.

I ironed and pinned my pattern on the fold of my material and cut out two (sides).

With right sides together, I sewed the (top sides). See the original instructions for a better explanation.

Then I turned the pants sideways, or opened them up, and with right sides still together, sewed the inseam all the way around.

I sewed an elastic channel and fed/pulled the piece of elastic through with a large safety pin. I (half-ass attempted because my sewing machine wouldn't cooperate) sewed the ends of the elastic together, then sewed the remainder of the channel closed.

Then I hemmed around the leg bottoms.

They fit - once I got them past my huge thighs and arse. Not exactly figure flattering, but that's likely more my figure than the pants.

I think the next pair I try, I'll outline the jeans with more space, and also forego the elastic and sew a knotted-ends-fabric-string that I can tie instead.

Anyway, they really were easy. I didn't know sewing a pair of pants could be so easy.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Halloween Spider Decor Craft

I don't know if it was the weather turning off cooler or what but alla sudden it seemed like several of my Pinterest friends started pinning Halloween pins left & right.

Well I love Halloween and there were pretty some awesome ideas.
One of them was Magnetic Spiders. Extremely simple project that makes a big impact.
Especially when you know someone who's terror-fied of spiders {evil laugh}.

Delia Creates
Dollar Tree is putting out Halloween stuff already so I was able to find a bag of black spider rings today.

Cut the ring part off.

I didn't actually read Delia Creates post before tackling this project on my own, so I also used advertising magnets that I had on hand. I punched mine out with a hole punch.

They aren't very strong magnets and I'll probably try to find better ones before I do more.

Glued the magnet on the spider with hot glue.

Here they are hanging out in hiding on the side of my spare fridge until I get more/the rest made, and it's closer to Halloween before I'll bring them out and stick them on doors or appliances, lol.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kitchen Work in Progress

I was going to wait to post this until it was finished, but at the rate it's going, that could be end up being the day-after-never. Maybe posting my progress so I can see it will spur me into action.

A little back story: we bought this circa 1930's farmhouse about 13-14 years ago. It had been remodeled into a duplex sometime in the 1960's or 70's, but not anything mod or retro looking, just ugly.
Sadly, this was eons before there was a Pinterest, and me without a design bone in my body, attempted to remodel the house into something better.
I failed. Badly.

One of the mistakes I made was I was trying to update it to modern times. Like the cookie-cutter subdivision houses being built by the millions around here. Like my sister's house. Like my parent's remodeled all their Flip houses.
So we sheetrocked every wall, and wood trimmed...and I hated it.  And when I hate something, I just stop.

But I don't give up, so we'd move on to a new project.
And I'd hate it, and I'd stop. And start another. And the vicious cycle continued.

Until Pinterest.
I don't mean to sound worshipful, but no joke, Thank Goodness for Pinterest. I was able to find my design style. IE: Farmhouse, which is what the house originally was, a farmhouse.

Once I figured that out, all I had to do was think back to our Grandparent's houses.
My Grannie's eat-in kitchen, wood-plank walls, and fireplace.

I moved out the cheap, shaky Island and brought in an old kitchen table that had been residing on my back porch and covered it with one of my Grannie's vintage table cloths.
And decided we were going to build a fireplace. Maybe a waste of space, but I. Don't. Care.
Or, I only half care.  I could have put the table against that wall and had more room in the kitchen.
But I wanted a fireplace in the kitchen.

We started out with this crazy looking pantry thing where I kept all my food stuffs in my kitchen.

I did some rearranging and got the food stuffs into the kitchen cabinets, and got rid of the pantry cabinets.

If you've read my blog long, you probably already know the majority of our projects are constructed using free, scrap wood.

So out we went to the scrap wood porch behind the shed and found what we needed to build this box.

We did buy a sheet of faux brick to trim out the fireplace box. There were other ideas for creating your own faux brick, but I decided this would be the easiest, quickest route to take.

We added some more scrap wood sides and front and top and trim.  I bought a fireplace insert that's an electric room heater for $99.00 from Amazon. It has a glow, and a lightbulb inside with a spinning thing that makes it looks like flames reflecting on the back brick wall.

I painted it glossy white.

Later I saw an idea for "shelves between the studs".  I thought that sounded pretty awesome, and cut a hole in my kitchen wall.

Of course - always my luck - I ended up running into trouble. The studs holding up the staircase.

Oh well, working with what we had, J boxed it all in with scrap plywood and added scrap wood shelves, sized for me to be able to sit my home-canned foods on them.

Remember my antique Sweetheart cabinet in my entry/mudroom? The lovely, shiny red paint I had custom matched to the enamel counter top edge?

Well, I thought it'd be a good idea to paint the interior of my little "shelves between the studs" like that, too.

No. It was bad. Like something out of "My Bloody Valentine". From a distance it might have resembled the inside of a Red Velvet cake, but. just. no.

Primed it back white again. Will add chicken wire to the doors when I get the painting done.

The next thing I wanted to try was making a faux Plank Wall.

Sad story: 20 years ago we inherited a little 1930 Farmhouse from J's Grandpa, and it had real wood plank walls, and I hated them. They were twisted and gapped and filthy from years of nothing but wood heating. I didn't know to paint them and appreciate the vintage-ness of them. So we sheetrocked all over them.
My son and his fiance live in the house now. I've tried to convince them to embrace the vintage and restore the original walls and make it into a nice little cottage, but alas, they painted the walls grey and red and are all about Ultra-Moderne. Blech.

Anyhoo. According to the DIY'ers, they were just using 1/4 plywood or hardboard, sliced into 4 or 6 inch widths, to create faux planks on their walls.

Remember the mudroom locker-things we built last summer, using the 1970's pecan paneling we pulled off the walls of several rooms of the house?

We still have plenty sheets of that paneling stacked up out on the carport - because you know I don't get rid of anything - and they are about 1/4 thick. So we set J's table saw for 6 inches and started slicing.

He tacked them up with the backside of the paneling facing out with his air-gun-nailer.

There's some gap-age on account of we can't cut straight to save our lives, which I kind of regret because other than those gaps, I'm kinda liking the wood look of the wall.  My plans were to paint it white, but I find myself hesitating about doing it. Just except for those darn white gaps.