New to Me Shelter Magazines

Several weeks ago I was on Polk Street and stopped into Smoke Signals, which has a truly astounding array of magazines. We are not talking Glamour and Cosmo either, they've got tons of international and shelter publications that I've never seen before. I splurged on two -expensive (apartamento was 20$ and Cabana 40$), but really like buying books because these are keepers.

apartamento -published in Spain with english text, bills itself as "an everyday life and interiors magazine". No tidy interiors in here, which I LOVE.  Cabana, on the other hand is exquisite, with a fabric cover and full of beautiful, tasteful maximalist interiors. It's Italian with english text. Both are biannual publications.

apartamento had a fascinating spread on Picasso's villa La Californie. 

It also featured a series of paintings by Jean-Philippe Delhomme. I just love, love, love this artist. His old blog is so worth a look and so is his Tumbler.

Cabana is all layers and texture. It is a textile lovers magazine - maximalist, but at the same time, low key. The photos are beautiful and printed on thick matte paper. The most staged shots in this issue are of Carolina Irving's Paris apartment but also there are lots of visually rich, less perfected interiors. Both of these magazines are a perfect antidote to the Kinfolk interiors book I bought recently on Amazon. ZZZZZZZZZZ! Aside from a couple interesting spaces, boy was that a depressing snooze fest and a waste of $$$. 

I don't even read magazines anymore, I far prefer digital perusing. These, however, are so good, I will probably either subscribe to both or return to buy the next issues. 

Anyone recommend anything else that's not run of the mill? Do tell.


Thoughts on Symmetry

But what is this??? Two posts in as many days? Yes, I'm on a roll here, although maybe this one doesn't really count because it's just me rearranging furniture.

About a month ago I moved this dresser into the bedroom. Remember this dresser? It was the one that I scraped and painted a while back and was living in the sewing room.

I moved it because, well, who doesn't like to move shit around. Seriously though, moving this resolved two issues I had going. First it got rid of some of the symmetry that was dominating this room. I'm realizing that too much symmetry can feel uptight in an interior and that breaking up heights and mass can be a lot more intimate and interesting visually, at least for my sensibility. I had my bed and couch against two opposite walls both flanked by pairs of matching tables. No bueno. This old post will give you a glimpse of the way this room looked a while back. Secondly, I simply wanted to store my workout gear in my bedroom, instead of in the sewing room, which is a constant disaster zone. 

I'm liking the step down in formality.

What about you? Symmetry or no symmetry. Do tell and I only mean for interiors, not hair or fashion because I strictly adhere to symmetry in both of those domains. 


A Waxed Canvas Dopp Kit

A few weeks ago, I made this dopp kit for Ethan for a Christmas present. I thought a dopp kit was a good idea because every time Ethan leaves any products of any kind in the bathroom, Kit f$%Ks with them -I can't tell you how many bottles of fluoride rinse have gone down the drain and how many tubes of face cream has been squeezed on the floor, in the sink, and even occasionally in a bed! 

There are many challenges in raising a child with ASD. There are things that happen day to day that no sane person would ever dream are in the realm of the possible -like dealing with a fanatical product dumper (don't even ask about what can happen with a jar of vaseline or how many times someone can unwrap an entire box of tampons). 

My husband and I have a saying to create levity in an otherwise bummer situation like toiletries dumping, "It's fun to have fun but you have to know how". This mantra can be applied to many minor but frustrating things that occur in daily life generally, I highly suggest you try it! Btw, our new Kitten Otis also engages in a lot of "it's fun to have fun" behavior. He is somewhat present in my instagram feed. So anyhoo, back to the bag, I try to have a sense of humor about these random occurrences and to come up with solutions to specific problems . So, here we have the dopp kit, which by the way will also come in handy when E heads off to college next year.

It's 5" wide and deep and about 11" long. 

I used a basic box-pillow construction technique to make this thing. I pre-dyed the canvas, which is pretty heavy duty, (with Rit Evening Blue) and then waxed the entire bag with bees wax when I was finished sewing it. I waxed it to both give it additional stiffness and structure and to keep it somewhat waterproof and durable. The process of waxing was the same as for the tangle bag I made a couple of years ago which you can see here

I'm going to roughly outline my sewing process here, if you want to take on making one of these and want more specific instructions, there are a million dopp kit tutorials on the web. This project is pretty simple, most sewers can wing it.

After cutting all the pieces but prior to sewing, I edged everything with a zigzag stitch. 

I made the top panel with the zipper first. I used a continuous zipper and made the zipper section extend down the ends of the bag so that it could open wide. 

I also added a little strap handle.

I chose a black zipper, completely exposed. This is a very simple method which I often employ on pillows, using a complimentary color zipper as part of the design.

On most of the seams of the bag I double sewed the hem for added stiffness. This means that after sewing a regular invisible seam along those edges with it inside out, I went back and sewed a stitch on the outside about 1/8" from the edge. It squared out the bag nicely.

The bottom and the ends of the bag are made from one longer piece. An astute sewer will know that the overlap of these pieces and the top zipper piece needed to be sewn together. On the end with the handle, I sewed it with an allowance for a little outside pocket. 

This was a fun little project. My vintage Bernina Record handled sewing this canvas very well. I did learn the importance of a new, sharp needle when sewing in the handle, as it was passing through like 6 layers of canvas. A new needle can make all the difference in the world. 

Cheers and Happy New Year. 


More Sewn Stripes

I'm afraid that lately this blog might feel a bit like Groundhog Day.
Lately,I have been busy with projects -even postable ones, but have not been very diligent with documentation. I'm squeezed on time lately and not so organized. So, the end result is that it may seem that the only thing I've been up to lately is sewing stripes with my super nifty new/old sewing machine (because it is super easy to snap a few photos of that with my phone).  In reality I've got a bunch of things I'm working on that have me very excited and busy. I will do better on documenting and posting when the holiday rush is over.

If you're still with me here, I figure you must still marginally care about sewing stripes on things so I'll forge on with my explanation. I made these little towels for a friend to use in her powder room. They're plain white, mid-weight cotton with a white surged edge. No hem. I sewed the stripes using a tight zigzag stitch with regular poly thread. I lay out the first stripe with blue chalk and simply follow the line. Then, I follow the first stripe with the presser foot for the second stripe. 

My philosophy on powder room towels is this. On the one hand, they should not be so fussy that a guest doesn't dare use them. To me,an overly embroidered, super starched towel always reads "don't use me I'm decorative". On the other hand, a towel that is too casual (terry cloth) reads "I could be crawling with bacteria for all you know". A crisp white towel is the happy middle.

As for the variation. These are handmade. I wanted them to read that way so the edges are not fussy and the stripe pattern are laid out differently for each one. I like these a lot and my friend was happy. I'm going to make some more for myself. I might even make some tea towels (slightly larger) like this.

One thing I learned here. I laid out my stripes in quarters because I am usually a half-folder on a towel this small (19" wide). If you are a thirds-folder, then it would be better to sew the striping down the center.


Burlap Lamp Shade

Not many posts by me lately, but it's not for lack of productivity.
At the end of Thanksgiving break, I was able to steal away enough time recover this shade in burlap that I striped myself.

The shade that I recovered was looking pretty nasty. The white linen is glued to a hardish substrate, which I left alone because I thought that the fabric would make a good gluing surface for the burlap. I removed the edging because I wanted to get rid of the bulk there. 

I used the same basic no-frills burlap that I used for the shades in my bathroom. Remodelista did a nice story about that here.  I chalked lines two inches apart for the stripes, sewed all the orange lines first and then added the blue ones second. There are endless cute color combo and striping possibilities that could be done here, all looking fab against the burlap.

I made the stripes using basic all-purpose polyester Gutermann thread on a very tight zigzag setting on my sewing machine.

I did what is called a "dry glue-up" in woodworking terms first. That is I made sure that everything aligned properly and that my system of clothespins was going to work before slapping on any glue. For glue I used Bish's Tear Mender, which sets up very fast and is very easy to work with -I just brushed mine on with a disposable brush.

In the real glue-up I left no space between the clothespins, so that I was sure to get that seam to lie very tight and flat.

Initially I thought that I was going to treat the edges in the same way as the original (with a ribbon of fabric), but found a cleaner way to go about it in the end. I sewed two blue stripes along the fabrics edge: the outside one to prevent fraying, the second to add a slight decorative detail and make the fold-over look purposeful and neat.

I am very happy with this project. It was very fast, satisfying and easy to do and I think this shade looks unique and much much better than the drab white one that is hiding under there.



Shingle Repair

I've had a lot of home ownership bad luck lately. I have multiple problems going on concurrently but for the sake of my sanity, let's focus on this monkey wrench.
Our tankless hot water heater went kaput. Like, completely Out of Order. Lame, right? It was only installed in late '07 or early '08. It was no longer under warranty, and my plumber said that something in the circuitry had blown out. Fixing it would be pretty labor intensive and in his experience many units don't make it past 10 years. (So not true that they last 20 years).

The system was behind that copper cover on the top rear deck. So with the heater's death came the great debate about whether to replace it with another tankless one or go with a tank in the garage. You see, I already have a boiler in my garage that runs the radiant heating system which could also heat water for the house's needs if a tank were installed. 

Installing a new tankless would be cheaper (the cost of heater about $1,500 plus labor), but a tank system, although more expensive (about 5K with labor), would last my lifetime. So I might be replacing the tankless one again in 10 years or I could just eat it now and be done with it (at least in theory, but that's another saga and blog post).

Secondly, a tank system is much better for water conservation. It took a considerable amount of time (a couple of minutes) for the hot water created by the tankless system on the deck to reach the faucets throughout the house. It felt super wrong to stand there and wait for hot water while watching gallons flow down the sink. The tank system allows pumps to be installed so that the hot water continuously recycles through the system and comes almost immediately. 

As for energy consumption, the jury is still out on that and I will comment when I get my first PG&E bill. With either system I am using natural gas which is far more economical than electricity.

We decided to go with the tank system and my plumber took the old system away and capped the gas line. I still need to call the electrician to get the electrical capped off. 

Anyhoo, getting back to reason for this post -I needed to patch the shingles where the heater had been attached to the house. Now, despite this blog being titled The Shingled House, I don't know shit about shingling. I only took this on because the patch was over an area that had already been waterproofed with a membrane so I figured I couldn't screw things up too badly. And of course, I had my trusty friend Youtube to teach me how to do anything. I found this video to be particularly useful.

Ok, so the whole premise of shingles is that you build and overlap from the bottom up, so that the water runs off each shingle onto the top of the next, causing water to cascade off and away from the building. This layering, however makes patching sort of a pain in the arse as the nails from the upper layers (not being removed) can interfere with sliding a shingle in from beneath for a lower layer. 

For this reason, I found it easier to remove more shingles, all the way to the roof line, so that I had fewer to weave in under others with nails. This decision was made easier because I had extra shingles stored in my crawlspace from an earlier repair so I didn't need to consider saving them or running out to buy more.

I used a level and chalk to keep the shingles as straight as possible and I tried to follow the guidelines on spacing and overlapping. Because this is a southern exposure and the existing shingles have shrunken quite a bit, I kept my spacing relatively tight in anticipation of there being quite a bit of shrinkage on these new ones too.

Shingles score and cut pretty easily with a box cutter with a fresh blade -even across the grain which was necessary for the topmost shingles.

Not bad! Ben Franklin was right, you can do anything you set your mind to...This took me about 4 or 5 hours total, btw. Too bad the trim needs paint, and asap.


Cardboard Cube

I have been hoarding cardboard for almost a year now in order to make a little cube of a stool for my living room. I know this look will not be for everyone but I have had a love affair with cardboard for some time now.

I made these pieces when I was still a Graduate student at RISD in the mid 90's. I was inspired to work in cardboard from Frank Ghery's Easy Edges pieces from the early 1970's, mostly because I just loved the texture of the sliced up corregated edges. This was a major turning point for me in my own design process and thinking. Up to this point, I had only worked in wood, which is a long, arduous and exacting process, whereas cardboard is fast and intuitive and forgiving. In other words, I realized that working in hardwood was sort of boring and a drag, whereas cardboard was fast and fun.

This cube sort of reminds me the plywood cube Tom Sachs made with zero waste. It is at the same time minimalist and then not. Just as an funny aside, Tom Sachs made that cube when working in the wood shop of none other than...Frank Ghery.  

Because I no longer have a woodshop, this took a little time to make. Previously I sliced up my cardboard on a table saw, or if I wanted a more feathery edge, I used a bandsaw. For this, I used a razor blade. Oooof. 

I cut my cardboard on the diagonal, so that I didn't have two distinct sides (one running with the corregation, the other across it). I like the variation that I got with the different recycled boxes I used.  

In order to give the top texture, I ripped off the top layer of paper and exposed the corregation on the top sheet. My experience with cardboard is that it is super durable and if cut up in this way, it only gets better with age.

Glue up is very simple with a foam roller and Elmers.

I would glue about 4 or 5 sheets and then stand on it for a few moments to get a tighter seal. I eyeballed the alignment for squareness.

We use this as a stool and a side table to hold drinks.

Hope you enjoyed this little project. I sure did.