Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Old House, New Addition Update

We have been very busy the past couple of months!

First we traded the "smoke house" (aka the shed behind the house) for additional work on the house, mostly repairing and re-glazing the old windows.  It took a lot of prep work on the part of the gentleman who took it home, but I thought it was really cool to watch it roll away.

We ended up hiring a different contractor for the foundation and once he set a date, our general contractor came out and tore off the old bathroom which had been constructed from an old porch.

After the first day, we could see the original porch that had been enclosed to make the bathroom.  The original bead board ceiling was still there.

The other side of the bathroom.  I had been hoping that this window was still intact.

Even the glass is still there.

This is the other side of that window.  If it works out, I plan to open it back up and use it as a pass through to the pantry.  The dishwasher and a single bowl sink will be installed on the other side.

Demolition complete!  Here you can really see the original brick foundation.

I forgot, our mini splits were installed in early August and provide a welcome change from the noisy window A/C units.  This is the inside unit for the west bedroom and the picture below is what the outside unit looks like  We installed three of these for the two bedrooms and the office upstairs instead of opening the walls to install duct work.  The nice thing about them is that each room can be adjusted for the comfort of the occupant.

Meanwhile, I got busy and painted the last bedroom of the original house.  Like all the other rooms, it required three coats and could have used a fourth.

This is before, with a chalky purple paint and faux wood grain painted trim.

And this is after.  It is a little dark in that room, so it is hard to see the lighter color but it is so much brighter than before. The room is on the west side of the house and shaded by a large tree which is great for keeping the room cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter but not so great for  taking pictures.

We are using Gliddon Country White throughout the house except the kitchen, pantry and bathrooms.  Buying premixed colors means that I can drag out painting and not worry about matching colors.  The trim is Behr Marquis Wild Bosenberry as it matches the original stain found in the entrance hall.

This room is going to be doing double duty.  Originally it was going to be our son's room, However, when he was put on a wait list for campus housing, he opted to find a small apartment instead.  With his school and work schedule, it is unlikely he will be home very often.  It seemed inefficient to just let the room stay empty while he was gone.   It is unlikely he will be home next summer as his technical college requires a summer internship. So while he is gone, the room will be my sewing room and when he is home for visit or we have overnight guests, it will be the guest room.

The bedroom is a fairly small room, only 9 ft by 10 1/2 ft so I am asking a lot of the space. To make the best use of the space we have, we bought a Murphy cabinet bed.  The mattress folds up and stores in the cabinet.  When you need the bed, the top comes off to become the foot of the bed, the front pulls down and the mattress is unfolded to be the bed again.  It only comes in a queen size which takes up most of the bedroom with just a couple of feet all the way around it to spare.  

I plan to use this cabinet as my cutting and pressing table once I can set the room up as sewing room. I will put my Big board on the top of the cabinet and keep my gravity feed iron off to the side. 

This is what it looks like without bedding.  The nice thing about the design is that once folded up, there is still some room for pillows and a blanket before you put the top back on.

For the rest of the room, I have three Gidget tables that can collapse to be stored under the bed and every thing else can be stored in the closet.  When the occupant leaves, the bed will be folded back up and the machines can come back out to play.

I will put up pictures of the sewing room when it is complete.  For now, until the addition is complete and DH and I have our master bed room, DH and I are sleeping on this bed.  We had to add a mattress topper (the mattress squashes under my weight) but otherwise it is fairly comfortable.

And finally, our foundation was dug and poured last week!

We are waiting now for the concrete to cure so they can begin framing. 

Friday, August 03, 2018

We have moved!

Phase 1 of our move to DH's hometown is complete.  We have moved, the old house is sold and we are settling into our new community.

My last blog post was the first of March.  After that, life got crazy busy:  school, graduation, church, 4-H, getting the old house ready to go on the market and  packing, packing, packing.  Whew!

By the end of March, we thought we had enough done at the old house to start moving in.  The final trim was installed in the office and was painted.

Octagonal window over the stairs.  Forgive the selfie:  it's hard to take a picture of a window after dark.

We finally got to pull the carpet off the stairs.  We waited with that task until most of the painting and moving was done so that we wouldn't tear up the stairs even more.

Pulling staples can be a fun family activity!
Stairs after painting the stair backs.
I think we pulled about a million tiny staples from multiple carpets from those stairs.  We found at least two different carpets that have been installed over those steps in the past and both aluminum and copper staples.  After we were done, I painted the trim and the backs of the steps.  We are leaving the steps uncovered for now.

Though we had hoped to have the new counters installed before we moved, it didn't quite work out.  I had measured the north side counter (longest side with the sink) incorrectly and it was 5 1/2" too short and had to be re-ordered.  The counters and new sink were installed while I was back at the old house with the kids and I got to home to pretty new counters.

West and North walls.  Please excuse the dishes.

So pretty!

So nice having my own gas stove again!  Again, please excuse the mess in the dining room.
 The counters are Formica laminate in a slate blue.  We also had the cabinet that was to the right of the stove switched out to these narrower 12" cabinets on both sides of the stove to pull the stove away from the drywall covered chimney in the corner.  I am still debating on painting the cabinets to match the others.  I think the wood is pretty and the fact that they totally mismatch the original cabinets doesn't really bother me. 

Unfortunately, it turned out that the first set of counters were delivered without a backsplash and the no-drip edge that we had ordered.  The replacement countertop for the sink side came in and was correct, but the edges didn't match up and that leaves the potential for ruining the counters as water can seep into the seam.  We have the new counter top for the west wall sitting in the living room now and it will be installed soon.

During one of DH's visits in March, there was a pretty bad storm with some strong winds that took off part of our roof.  While it was not in our plans to replace the roof until the addition was complete so we could do it all at once, this storm prompted us to go ahead to have the roof replaced (no pics - some of the many that I have lost in the last few months.)

DH and his dad and BIL also removed a tree and shortened the clothesline in preparation for the addition:

As DH put it, that was one big root canal!

We moved the end of May and I didn't take pictures of moving day as I was just too busy.  It went relatively smoothly despite DS spraining an ankle.  We are now as settled as we can be while still waiting on the addition to get started.  We have a few more things to finish on the original house, but they will wait until school starts in three weeks so I can spend as much time with the girls as I can.  I hope to get more and better pictures then.

(I wrote this post, lost it, wrote it again, lost it again, lost most of my most recent pictures, but wanted to write this update before I forget everything.)

Friday, March 02, 2018

Old House - March

Thanks to the weather, we haven’t been able to do a lot to the old house.  DH has been up a couple of times, mostly to visit his parents.  He and I did get away the first weekend of February sans kids for a weekend which was wonderful.

For that weekend, we rented a U-Haul trailer and loaded it with stuff from closets and under the basement steps that we aren’t using at our current home.  We figure the more small things we can move now, the less we will have to do for the big move this summer.  We moved our bookshelves and books also.  Most of these books are old favorites we’ve all read over and over as well as sewing books, computer programming and networking books and lots of books left over from various Bible studies.

I did a little more painting as well.  This is DH’s office where the trim was all painted white.  I used the same Wild Bosenberry paint that I used for the downstairs trim.

There is still some trim to be installed.

And we still need the door coming into the office.

I decided that I want to repaint the trim in the upstairs hallway and the wall side of the staircase all the way down to the main floor.  The trim has been painted before and is very chipped and dirty.  I also want to repaint the upstairs bathroom trim using a marine type paint to  help prevent damage from moisture.  This will be particularly important with the window in the shower.. 

We would prefer to not have to replace that window due to rot.  

I still have to paint the Scout’s room and that should be the last of the painting.  I was going to wait with all of it until the last of the trim was installed, but Dear Husband would like to set up at least part of his office so he can work while he is there for weekends.

The only other thing that we have done is to clear out the smoke house and move the good wood to another shed.  The smoke house is coming down to make way for the addition.  We also have to take down a small tree and move the clothes line.  DH has been on the phone with contractors to discuss estimates and time lines and we are now on the list for the foundation work to begin in late March or early April.  I am hoping to be completely done and settled by the first day of school. Earlier would be awesome but I am trying to be realistic.  Things happen.  We just have to roll with it.

I am still trying to find the best way to blog with the iPad.  Google’s only suggestion to use Chrome and request the desktop version of the page, but the screen still bounces to the top of the page with every other letter and I can’t edit the size of any picture other than the first one.  The BlogPad Plus app works the best for just typing text, but doesn’t like adding pictures from anything other than the camera roll and I prefer to store them in Google Pnotos. I tried a browser called Puffin which looks promising, but didn’t allow me to select text and weirdly overlays new text over old text, like the old dot matrix printers that would just print the same line over and over.  It’s frustrating.  I just hope it is not a sign that blogging in general is dying. 

We don’t have a lot planned for March — just cleaning and packing and maybe taking down the smoke house.  April should be when things get really exciting for the old house as we start the construction for the addition. 

Monday, January 22, 2018


This is a test.  This is only a test and you can skip this post if you want.

I have been blogging on and off since 2006.  I started it to record my sewing projects and share information about my kids with extended family.  For several reasons,  I deleted most of those posts a few years ago and stopped blogging for a while.  I missed blogging though and resurrected the blog for the same reason I started the blog in the beginning:  to record and share my sewing projects.  This time, I limited posting about my kids for their privacy.  When we bought the old house last year and started renovations, I posted about our progress and only post about our kids when they give permission for me to do so.

I have been with Blogger this whole time.  It works for me, or did when I wrote most of my posts on the desktop and l stored my pictures on PictureTrail.  When PictureTrail got expensive,  I moved my pictures around and now upload most of them to Google Photos. I do most of my writing on an iPad because it is much more portable than even my lap.  Blogger just doesn’t work well in the mobile browsers.  Once you have written more than a couple of paragraphs, it flips back and forth to the top of the page.  That’s fine if you write short Instagram type posts with a picture and a caption, but my posts tend to be much longer than that with multiple pictures.

Google doesn’t make an app for Blogger anymore which annoys me as it really does seem that Google tends to love to develop new apps, but won ’t support the older ones.  I have not found a good app for writing Blogger posts.

I am writing this in mobile Word.  Writing plain text is fine, but Word will not insert pictures from Google Photos, so I will have to cut and paste the text from Word into the Blogger site and add pictures.  Google Docs works the same way.  Again, this annoys me.  I should be able to insert a picture from anywhere.

I am pondering moving the blog to another platform, such as WordPress.  If you blog and use a  mobile app for IOS  that you love for either Blogger or any other blogging platform, will you comment here with what you use and your opinion of it?  I would really love to get some new ideas.

Sorry for all the odd pictures — it was part of my test.

Thank you!

Thank you!

Monday, January 08, 2018

Lekala 4278 Box Pleat Dress and a little about the Old House

Sprite was asked to sing during Christmas Eve services at our church and asked for a new dress for the occasion.  She prefers simpler dresses that are sleeveless and not fussy with lace or ruffles.  She prefers fuller skirts rather than straight skirts and doesn't like heavy fabrics.

We picked the fabric first from my stash.  She originally wanted blue, but we found a dark red silk dupioni that has been sitting my stash for so long that I don't remember when exactly I bought it.  She is very fair, so jewel tones look good on her and pastels tend to make her look washed out.  This darker red was lovely and I even had a zipper in stash that matched.  I bought silk thread to match.

She looked through all my current patterns, but didn't find anything she loved.  I pulled up the Lekala site and we sifted through sleeveless dress patterns.  We found several that matched her criteria and she and I eliminated all the ones she didn't like and a few that I didn't until she decided on pattern 4278

This is my first time actually making a Lekala pattern and it was a good experience.  I entered her measurements instead of using the standard ones and the test pattern looked good, so we bought it.  Downloading and taping went smoothly.  I've taped a lot of  Pattern Master Boutique patterns and this one was similar with all the pattern lines and page guides lining up pretty well.  I added my own seam allowances.  I generally prefer a 3/8" seam allowance as that is the distance from the edge of my serger foot to the right needle, but in this case, I added 5/8" for a little extra for adjusting.

I actually made a muslin of the bodice.  I don't usually do that, but I only had so much of the silk dupioni and I knew there wouldn't be any do-over.  The muslin fit well at the bust and shoulders, but it gaped badly under the arms and was just too low, exposing her bra.  I raised the bottom of the armscye by 3/4" which fixed both problems.   Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of my pattern adjustment.

Before being pressed and facings attached. 

The pattern was drafted well.  The seams and notches all matched.  I didn't use the facing pieces since I had redrawn the armscye, so I drew new ones from the adjusted pattern pieces.  I had some problems understanding the instructions, but I have sewn several of these dresses before and thought I knew what I was doing.  I made a critical mistake, however, in sewing the zipper in the back before I sewed anything else. All went well until I needed to turn the dress right side out and couldn't because the zipper made a circle and every time I tried to turn it right side out,  I pulled the whole top through and ended up wrong side out again.  There wasn't time to redo the zipper at that point, so I opted to rip out the stitching for the arm facings,  fold in and press the same allowances and top stitch.  It worked, but my top stitching is crooked and it doesn't look good close up. 

The skirt has six box pleats and these all went smoothly.  The skirt attached to the bodice with no easing needed.  Sprite didn't want any color blocking, so I cut the waistband from the same fabric as the bodice and skirt.  I omitted the bottom skirt band and just lengthened the skirt 4 inches instead. I used a rolled hem stitch on my serger instead of blind hemming by hand as I was running out of time.  Sprite was fine with that choice but wants the skirt a couple inches shorter so I will still hand hem it before the next time she wears it -- probably at her confirmation in March. 

So here are the pictures of her modeling it:


Back.  The dark spots on the skirt are from her dripping wet hair.


It's a cute dress and I think the pattern is good so I may use it again. All the seams lined up; all the notches matched and the box pleats were well marked.  The instructions were okay but I was glad that I had other references for the zipper and box pleats.

 I loved the silk dupioni -- it sewed well, was not as slippery as I expected.  I had some problems fusing the interfacing to it, but my interfacing is on the old side so that may be more the problem.  The color is gorgeous on Sprite.  And from a distance, the dress looks great.

I also really like the new Lekala website.  The cool thing about Lekala, if you are not familiar with them, is that you can enter your measurements and order a custom pattern or you can select a standard size.  Since the last time I tried it, they have added the capability to select certain features, such as "No Sleeves" so we could view all the sleeveless dresses.  I entered Sprite's measurements and got a pattern that came pretty close to fitting.  When I try the patterns for myself, I am sure that I will still need to make some adjustments, but I will be starting with a pattern much closer to the finish line than with most patterns.

I did a pretty good job this time with the neck facing and the invisible zipper, though I still tend to put the zipper top at the wrong place.  I made it work by cutting off the top of the zipper and putting new stops at the correct location.  Fortunately, I have those in my stash from doing zipper repairs for my business.

Room for Improvement

Honestly, the instructions (and I read them twice) made no sense to me but I wish I had double checked the order of construction before I started so I would not have sewn the zipper in first.  I have done that on other projects and it works great on unlined/un-faced items, but it didn't work this time.  I should have held off sewing the zipper until the facings were sewn so I could easily turn it right side out.

I feel that the front darts are too long and I should have shortened them some, maybe as much as an inch.  I do need to take the time to practice sewing darts -- the "dimples"  at the end of each dart point to the fact that I am not doing something right.  From the back, I can also see now where I needed to shorten the bodice a bit so it would lay smoothly.  The muslin looked fine, but it didn't have the skirt.  In the finished dress, the skirt rides up a bit and causes the wrinkle in the back.

I also need to pay more attention when I am not using my usual seam allowance.  I tended to drift from the 5/8" to my usual 3/8".  I caught myself, but really need to stop sewing when tired.


I like this dress.  More importantly, despite the mistakes, Sprite loves this dress.  She looked and sounded so good as she stood at the front of church and sang "Mary, Did You Know?"  on Christmas Eve.  I cried through the whole song -- I always cry a little during it, but that was my baby girl up there and sounding so good.  She surprised a lot of people with her voice -- she is usually very shy and quiet. 

Happy New Year from the Old House!

This is going to be a big year for our family and probably another year of more blogging about the old house than sewing projects.  Sprite has a role in the middle school musical (Shrek Jr, and she plays the Dragon), confirmation and 4-H.   The Senior has music competitions, recitals, concerts and of course, graduation and all that comes with the end of high school.  Dear Husband and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in June followed by the big move. We are crossing our fingers and saying a prayer that all goes well.

We didn't spend Christmas at the old house due to Sprite's singing, but she and I went up the day after Christmas to clean floors.  It was a little chilly...

December 26, 1:46 pm.
and a little snowy, which I wasn't expecting as we hadn't gotten very much snow at all at home:

We had to go back out to get snow boots and a snow shovel to clear the porch and ramp.  It got colder the next day:
December 27 at 7 am

Even without heat to the upstairs, it was comfortable for sleeping at night.  I am so glad that DH had more insulation added to the attic.  It really helped.

We spent two days cleaning the floors on the main level.  I used an orbital cleaner and floor cleaning spray to get the dirt off.  The floors looked really dry and dull afterward.  We know, from talking to R- that his parents had sanded and refinished the floors at some point, so I felt comfortable using one of the sealed floor restorer type polishes,  It came with its own mop and I used that instead of the orbital polisher. 

It made a huge difference.
Before cleaning

After cleaning, before polish

Wet polish
Dried polish.
You can see in the corner where I hadn't yet applied the polish because the Diva's bed was over it.  I used a brand that came in both a high gloss and low gloss version and I chose the low gloss.  I don't care for super shiny floors and though the gloss would accentuate the flaws in the floor.

Sprite was thrilled.  She prefers to be barefoot and walking on the dusty floors was annoying.  Now they don't just look clean, they feel clean.

DH brought the other two kids up and we hosted our first family dinner on the Saturday before New Year's Eve.  Even with the Diva's bed in the dining room, we still comfortably sat 10 people at the table.  We had a good meal and a good family get-together and I hope that promises good times to come.

I hope everyone reading has a happy and healthy 2018!