To: Rocky

This post has been a long time coming.  Right after I received my sewing machine, I jumped right in to making curtains.  My thought was, "I sewed a tote bag when I was 10; that's all the practice I need, right?".  And "What's so hard about sewing straight lines?".  Sew maybe I was a bit naive and presumptuous, but lucky for me, the curtains turned out awesome!  It turns out sewing straight seams on a big, rectangular piece of fabric isn't all that hard! 
Sew anyway, let's start from the beginning.  A couple of months ago I moseyed in to one of my favorite places to find cheap fabric and found this gorgeous fabric I had to have.  My first idea was to whip up some new curtains with it to replace the ones that were, at the time, hanging in our living room.  It was a little bit of a bold choice considering it had pink in it (and the fact that I have a very manly husband), but I thought it would be great at bringing spring into the house.
  Sew, I bought it, got home, and sadly realized it wouldn't look as good as I had thought.  :(  The background of the print on the fabric was a creamy white (or so it looked in the store) but when I brought it home it looked a little more light tan than creamy white and clashed with the shade of light tan on our walls.  Sew the wheels in my mind started rolling.  One of my sisters is pregnant, sew I could make them for her to put in her little girl's room...but little girl or little boy, we wouldn't know which until the day he or she enters the world a few months down the road.  Then I remembered that my other sister, Rocky (her real name is Raquel but that's just a technicality) has bedding that would really complement the colors in the fabric.  Sew, hoping she only had one window in her bedroom, I called her with my idea (which I excitedly exclaimed could be her birthday present) and she told me she and her one-windowed bedroom would love new curtains!  Out came my sewing machine!

First, I cut the five yards of fabric in half to create two panels. 
Yes, I used my living room floor as it is the only flat space large enough to make clean cuts.  :)

Then, like a good beginning seamstress, I ironed down the hem on each side of the panels by first folding down a half-inch hem, ironing it down, then folding once more sew that in the end I had an inch of fabric on each side as a hem.  Make sense?  Two folds, one hem.  :)

  After I ironed down each side, I pinned the hems about every two feet just to make sure they'd stay in place until I got thread in them.  Then I got to sewing.  Everything was going great - I figured out how to thread my bobbin (YouTube was extremely helpful), thread my machine, and guide the fabric through...and then the needle broke.  :(
Boo.  Not planning on this bump in the road, I didn't think to buy replacement needles.  Sew, there my fun (for that day anyway) ended until I had time to grab new needles.  When I did purchase new needles though, I learned that there are different types of needles - different strengths for different types of fabrics.  Who knew?  Not beginner me!  :)  So I picked up some light duty needles (which where like the one I had that had broken) and some heavier duty ones (which I really should've been using).
Sew, with a new needle and renewed motivation, I zipped through the rest of the seams and mailed my first-ever, homemade curtains to Rocky just in time for her birthday (okay, so maybe I was a couple of months early) and she hung them up.

Here are a couple of before shots of her lonely window:

I must mention that she hung the curtain brackets and rod all by her lonesome.  I'm not going to say that we're born with innate power tools skills in our family but...well, we are.  I was so proud of her!  :)

Sew, without further ado, here's her new, curtained view:

I even sent her the little piece of remaining fabric so she could dress up the little decor pillow on her bed.  Isn't she good?

Sew that's it folks, my first, I-did-it-all-by-myself sewing project ever.  Needless to say, it certainly wasn't the last, which reminds me that I've got so much more to share with you as it regards curtains (read about my sewing adventure for Trading Spaces here).  I did eventually find some awesome fabric for our living room and I'll share those curtains in the future!  Have a great weekend!

P.S.  We were busy this entire last week running a "Theology of the Body for Teens Summer Party Camp" so, the love seat hasn't been touched.  But, this week should be a little more relaxed so hopefully I'll have some progress (hopefully lots of progress) to write about next week!

A Blank Canvas

Except it's a love seat.  Here's what our curb-side find looked like a couple of weeks ago:
This is, of course, after Anthony fixed the back legs.  After we had jumped over that hurdle, I then felt confident enough in the probable success of this crazy endeavour to move on and start peeling away fabric.  I started with the seat back.  Off came the first piece of old, ivory fabric when what to my wondering eyes appeared?  A WHOLE 'NOTHER LAYER OF EVEN OLDER, GRODY, RASPBERRY COLORED, VELVET FABRIC.  I almost fainted.  Painstakingly prying and pulling out staples isn't my idea of a fun time people!
But, like a good little DIYer, I took a deep breath, said a few Lord-Help-Me's, and kept on truckin' until I had this:

Before I went after the velvet on the seat back though, I decided to get the rest of the ivory fabric off.  So 'apeeling', prying, and ripping I went.
Ha!  Lucky for me, there was no ugly raspberry velvet to be found!  Oh, by the way, to remove the fabric from the seat, I had to remove staples from the back of the love seat.  I had been wondering all along how all of this upholstery was attached and how I'd get it off because it looked a little daunting.  But, I found that the more fabric I removed, the more I learned about how it was attached, how I needed to get it off, and how I need to eventually get it back on. 
 Side note:  Do you see the other two crazy fabrics (the green and pink) peeping out from behind?  Those were two of the five different fabrics goin' on on this thing.  Lucky for me (and a huge relief when I realized), three of the fabrics were remnants sewn to the bottom of the raspberry velvet to extend it's length...not more layers of fabric. 

So anyway, after ripping out staples and giving the fabric a little tug from the front, it slipped right off and left me with a nice clean seat.  The foam is even is such great condition (albeit 'orangey' with age) that I won't even have to replace it!  Score one for the bank account!  :)

Well, last but not least came the old velvet.  It was actually attached to the love seat with old upholstery nails which means it's probably original to the piece...and just plain dirty with age.  I mean dirty.  With every nail pulled out, a cloud of dust flew into the air.  And I must mention that me + dust = lots of sneezing and watery eyes as I'm allergic to the stuff.  It wasn't a pretty sight.  But, I'm dedicated to this inanimate piece of furniture and I blindly sneezed my way through did it.  :)

Almost done peeling!  The fabric was gone but the old padding, with all of it's button-hole craters, had to go.  Before I started this whole process, I read online that horse hair was often used in padding furniture in the old days.  I was hoping they were talking about every other piece of furniture but the one I had.  But, I was wrong.  Embedded in the padding were lots of short strands of horse hair.  I tried not to think about how grossed out I was...I mean, at least it wasn't human hair, right?  Anyway, let's move on.  Finally, here's my blank canvas:
And, since I have had no time to work on little love seat in the past week, this is exactly what she looks like as I sit writing this post.  We're hoping to work on her some more this weekend.  We've actually gotten to another hurdle in the whole process that we need to get over.  :(  She's a little more broken in necessary-for-proper-support areas than we originally thought (or didn't want to think about) so we're trying to brainstorm some ideas on getting that reinforcement back.  It turns out the intricately carved, curving wood on the seat back sides really do contribute to holding the whole thing together and right now, one side looks like this:
Ummm...yeah...that's exactly what I was thinking...YIKES!  But, we'll get through it.  It might take a few more screws, some wood filler, and a little more glue than we had planned, but we can do this!  :)  It's going to be the most imperfect, perfect, character-filled, made-with-love love seat in the world!  And when we're done, we'll be singing the G version of "Baby Got Back" while doing the happy dance.  Until then, I've got fresh angel food cake cooling on our oven to sweeten us up before this love seat tempts our kindness.   :)  Have a lovely weekend and a fun-filled Independence Day!  

Trading Spaces - God's Way

We're going on a small tangent this post so I can write about our past week.  :)  We were home only to sleep and shower this week anyway so absolutely nothing went on at our house.  But anyway, enough of the small stuff.  On to what this post is really about.
 Every year during Vacation Bible School (VBS), where pre-kindergartners through 4th graders learn and play at our church with Jesus as their focal point, the 'big' kids who have grown out of VBS (the 5th through 8th graders) go to St. Mary's Home for the week, a children's home here where they revamp a wing of bedrooms.  The kids living at St. Mary's home all come from very dysfunctional, abusive families so we try to make their lives a little more normal by giving their bedrooms a more comfortable, personal style.  Since kids may come and go and gender numbers fluctuate, sometimes girls get moved onto wings that were previously decorated to be boys wings and vice-versa.  This year, however, the wing we did was and had been a boys wing so all we did was freshen it up with some paint, new curtains, and new bedding.  We also lightened up a T.V./hang out room with new curtains and decorative pillows.  We call this week of working "Trading Spaces - God's Way".  Following are pictures I took showing the transformations.  :)

I spent all of my time and energy on the week before and during Trading Spaces making new valances for every window on the wing.  That equaled 13!  I found all of the fabric (36 yards of it!) for right under $100 by shopping around and hitting up a favorite discount store!  It was so much fun to pick out fabric that coordinated to the bedding!  I made sure to have enough fabric for each window valance plus extra for the girls to help sew matching, decorative pillow covers.  :) 
 Very 'boyish' fabric, huh?

Onto the rooms.
Here's the T.V. room before:
The curtains were awful!  They were dated, dirty, too dark, and just plain 'ole weird.  Needless to say, they had to go.

After the new valances went up and a donated couch was moved in, here's the lighter, brighter edition of the boys new hang out spot:

The wing we were doing had been redone by a Trading Spaces team about six years ago and definitely needed a pick-me-up and a really good deep cleaning, even though in the before pictures they don't look that bad.  The team leader this year decided to go with a neutral paint color that could easily transition the wing to a girls' wing if need be so, color was brought into the rooms in the curtains, pillows, bedding, and other accessories.  Here are the pictures:

Room 1 before:

Room 1 after:

Room 2 before:

Room 2 after:

Room 3 before:

Room 3 after:

Room 4 before:

Room 4 after:

Room 5 before:

 Room 5 after:

Room 6 before:

Room 6 after:

The kids volunteering (all 85 of them!)  had a great time painting, sewing, crafting wooden crosses, new bulletin boards, and frames, and arranging the furniture in the completed rooms - all for a fellow kid in need of love, compassion, and a bedroom they could call their own.  It was awesome to see God working through His children!
So, that was our week in a, pictures.  We'll be back next week with our regular, Bean Team happening.  We've got more pictures of the love seat (still very unfinished and definitely the eye sore of the living room) and maybe even some more projects, including some landscape refreshing we tackled this morning.  :)  Have a blessed weekend!


Our once pretty, clean living room has (once again) become a workshop, in this case, a furniture workshop.  Actually, let me rephrase that.  Our once pretty, clean living room has become a furniture operating room.  Let me show you what I mean (be prepared for lots of pictures..."surgeries" of this magnitude and depth are very, very detailed).  
We realized that before we continued ripping off fabric and pulling out anymore staples from the "over-acheiver" love seat, we needed to get the back legs fixed.  If they couldn't be fixed, there was no point in putting anymore manpower/womanpower (yep, that's right...womanpower) into pulling and removing, right?  So, out came the sawhorses and upsy-daisy she went.
 As you can see, the left back leg is comfortably dangling while the right leg was completely pulled out with a tiny tug.  Thankfully, both legs were in great condition and, God-willing, could hopefully be used and re-attached.  At this point though, we realized that the only way the legs could be fixed was by removing all of the fabric and obstacles around each. 
Covering the entire bottom was a thin black sheeting which needed to be removed first.
It was ripped in some places already so all I did was tear the rest off, thinking I'd just buy new sheeting to replace it.
Here's what I found underneath...
...bands of strong burlap holding the seat springs in place with another layer of even thinner black sheeting underneath.
Up close, here's what the left back leg looked like:
And the right (minus said leg):
So, I got to work...tedious, I-need-to-reuse-all-of-this, operating room work.
(During this entire process I took tons of pictures for reference so that I put everything back in the exact order it was in - a very helpful, very important step for a beginner like me.)  As I was prying off burlap straps, I realized how old this love seat really was.  The pieces of fabric I had ripped off so far had been attached with staples, but these straps had been attached with old, rusting upholstery nails which told me the love seat had probably already been re-upholstered before. 
I LOVE history so it was really cool to think about the history that belongs to this love seat - where it's been, who made it, how old it was...
But anyway, history aside, strap by old strap I peeled away until I was left with two gaping holes on either side of the back of the love seat.

And man was it dirty and dusty inside the bottom of the love seat, again showing it's age!
 I even stuck our camera inside one of the holes to get an even perspective.
A little eerie, huh?  Don't worry though, most of it got sucked up with the handy shop-vac...thank goodness because I'm allergic to dust!

The next part of the process is/was the most critical and also where Anthony comes in.  Up until this point, I'd been single-handedly operating.  I'm the prep nurse and he's the doctor; we make a good team.  So I say, "Doctor, I have everything all prepared.  What is your plan of action?  What do you need?"  And he says, "It looks like the legs can be saved which is great news!  You've done incredible prep work nurse but now it's time to get these legs back on and standing.  I'm going to need twelve three-inch screws, my drill, and two strong pieces of pre-cut wood for reinforcement".  Okay, okay, you get the point.  I'll get my head out of the clouds now and tell you what actually happened, doctors and nurses aside.  :)

First, we removed the casters from both legs by simply unscrewing them and pulling them out.  Since the front left leg is unable to have a caster (it was apparently ripped out, taking half of one side of the leg with it...but the leg still works), we're not going to use any casters at all.  Next, using a piece of wood we already had, Anthony cut two pieces to fit into the love seat right behind each leg and glued them into place.  They will serve as reinforcement.  Gluing them in was just an extra, optional but pre-cautionary step. 
Then he drilled six holes and screwed the pieces of wood to the frame using the three-inch screws like so:
Since they're on the outside of the frame and can be seen, he used a counter-sink drill bit to embed the screw heads, making sure they're flush so that they can later be covered up with wood filler and then disappear.  :)
Here's what "fixed" looked like after each leg was screwed on:

Next comes the clean-up.  Surgery is over.  It's time to put the patient back together, strap by strap.  It was at this point that I whipped out our new staple gun!  We've always just borrowed one when we've needed to but since this is kind-of a big, time consuming job, not to mention that we'll need one in the future for upcoming projects, I went out and found one on sale from Lowe's.  :)
A-stapling we went, Anthony actually doing the stapling while I firmly held the burlap straps in place, making sure we put everything back the way it was.  After all of the straps were re-attached, here's what the underside looked like:
Nice and put together!  We weren't done yet though.  We still had to put some sort of backing over the burlap straps.  I ended up finding and using a heavy duty, Pellon brand backing from JoAnn Fabrics.  It was white (they didn't have black) but I didn't think it would be a big deal since 1) it won't be seen unless you're hiding out under the love seat and 2) I'm planning on painting the love seat a lighter color anyway.
So, I laid the backing across the bottom of the love seat and cut a rough template just so that I wouldn't have bunches of fabric everywhere.  Then I got to stapling.
After it was all stapled on and secured, I simply cut around the edges to reveal a perfectly fitting backing and one great looking undercarriage.

Next...THE MOMENT OF TRUTH - WILL SHE STAND WHEN TURNED OVER OR WILL SURGERY HAVE BEEN A FLOP?  At least, that what I was thinking.  If you would've asked Anthony that question regarding the success of his workmanship, he would've said "Of course it's gonna stand!"  Gotta love his confidence.  :)


She went through surgery like a champ and is on her way to making a full recovery!  I even sat on her and she felt as solid as a rock!  I envisioned future naps, children jumping (and me yelling not to), movie nights...the whole nine yards!  Oh yeah, you've probably noticed all of those little dots of stuffing are gone too!
(See 'em?)

Those, as you might've guessed, were the strings and stuffing attaching the upholstery buttons.  I sawed them all out with a razor blade while Anthony was doing his magic with the drill.  There were 64 buttons in the couch!  64!  Well, they're gone for good now...adios, adieu, and hasta la vista!  And, speaking of goodbyes, I really should be getting back to making the valances I mentioned earlier this morning so ta-ta for now!  You can be sure I'll be back with more on the love seat later!  Have an awesome weekend!

Happy Saturday

Hey!  It's me!  I'm a bad blogger in that I'm not very regular with my posts but my excuse is that I'm buried underneath projects and babysitting.  :)  I've managed to accumulate more projects than I can handle at one time even though I'm determined to see them through (in between my full time job of babysitting - which I love)!  Of course you'll see all of those projects come to fruition here on Bean In Love!  I've got the love seat sitting half-way done in our living room (more on that later today...hopefully), a foot-of-the-bed bench project I'm starting after the love seat's done, roman shades to make, and a few thrift store finds to spruce up.  On top of that though, Vacation Bible School starts next week along with Trading Spaces - where we take 80 kids from our parish and revamp a wing of a local children's home.  This year we're repainting and redecorating 6 boys rooms and their rec room.  I'm having a blast helping because this year I'm the "interior designer" of sorts and I got to go pick out fabric for valances and pillows!  This past week I went out to one of my favorite discount stores and found lots of great deals on fabric!  All in all, I found all the fabric we needed (which added up to 18 yards) for around $90!  So before I make more headway on projects here at our house, my next week's energy will be completely shifted to making 13 valances, 17 pillows, and lots of other accessories!  Fun, fun, fun!  Of course I'll take before and after pictures and share them with y'all so stay tuned next weekend for those!
Anyways, I really need to get to work on those valances and I've already written more than I've meant to but I do have one more thing.  I've decided to start posting on Saturdays 1) to become more 'regular' and 2) because Saturdays have become the only days I have time to sit down and write.  :)  So, check back on your weekends!  I love blogging and I feel like I have so much to share that I wish I had more time to write but time isn't on my side right now, which is totally okay because I love being busy (a characteristic I inherited from all of my grandparents)!
Check back later today for an update on the "over-achiever" love seat!  As we speak she's standing on her own four legs right in front of me...heck, in a few weeks (fingers crossed), I'll be blogging as I sit on her!