Friday, September 14, 2012

Another Curtain Tutorial

Back by popular demand, I've put together a tutorial on the curtains I made for my sewing nook/spare room. They're almost as simple as the curtains I made for the living room, but has an extra step that creates a little curtain rod pocket as opposed to simply using the clip rings to hang the panels. Most of this is a repeat from my other tutorial, so if you don't need the refresher, feel free to skip down to step # 5.

You'll need the same materials as last time to complete these curtains:

1. Fabric
2. Thread and bobbin
3. Pins
4. Scissors
5. Iron and Ironing board
6. Sewing machine
7. Tape measure (I used a fabric tape measure since that's what I had on hand. A utility one will work, too).

Step 1: Install your curtain rod at the desired height.

Unfortunately I couldn't install a curtain rod this time since the ceiling is pretty low, and the second window butts right up against the corner on the other side of the room. But if this step applies to you, then by all means install away. 

Step 2: Measure.

Because I was hanging these curtains at a lower level, my measurement was going to be significantly smaller than the last set I had crafted. Be sure to measure from the curtain rod to the desired length that your curtains will hang (in my case, just barely kissing the floor), and add about three inches to that measurement. This should cover the rod pocket you are going to create and the hem at the bottom of the panel. 

Step 3: Cut your fabric.

Spread your fabric out on a large cutting space (I used the floor in the living room again), and measure the desired length. Don't forget to compensate for the hem at the bottom and the rod pocket on the top (approximately three inches unless the curtain rod you are using is extremely thick). 

Step 4:  Pin the edges.

Get your trusty ironing board and iron out, and get ready to do the hardest and most tedious portion of this project: pinning your seams. On the sides, I simply folded in the selvedge of the fabric (that white strip on the sides with fabric info). You can either simply fold this edge over once since a selvedge is a self-finished, woven edge that won't fray, or you can fold it in once more (which is what I did) to hide this edge and make your seams look more finished. Using an iron to press the seams really made the job of pinning easy, and helped keep everything straight in the long-run.

Once you've pinned the sides, press and pin the hem of your top edge as well. This will make sewing faster and easier to sew. Instead of having to cut your thread and start over on each edge, you can simply lift the presser foot on your machine, give your panel a quick turn, and keep going.

Option: If you're sewing machine challenged, or just don't have time to sew (hey, I won't judge) then you can skip the sewing step all-together, and use iron on hem tape instead. I've never actually used hem tape to make curtains, so I cannot speak to it's durability, but I've heard that it's a great sew-free option. If you try it out, let me know!

Step 5: Sew!

Thread your machine and bobbin with a matching thread, and go to town!

Here is where the directions will change slightly. Instead of sewing the bottom hem last like I did on the last set of curtain panels, I go ahead and sew the sides and bottom hem first. Once these are sewn, I bring the panel back to the ironing board, fold and iron over a 1/4 seam. Next, I take the fabric and fold it over once more, but instead of the typical 1/4 seam like you do in your hem, you make a 2 inch fold which will create a pocket big enough for you to thread your curtain rod through. Ensure your seams are straight by measuring as you pin. Creasing the fold with your iron will also help hold it in place to gain an accurate measurement. 

Once the rod pocket is pinned, I like to hold it up to the curtain rod to make sure that my panel is going to fall at the desired length. You can make any adjustments needed based on the thickness of your curtain rod before it is too late. If you have a really large or thick curtain rod, I would add an extra half inch to your panel measurement, and make your pocket fold 2.5 inches instead. 

If you are satisfied with your pinned panel, sew that baby closed.

Step 6: Iron your finished curtain panel and hang.

You're heading down the home stretch now that all four of your edges are hemmed! Before you get antsy and jump up the step stool to hang your curtain panels (like I always do), you'll want to iron your new drapes to make sure any wrinkles or creases in the fabric are smoothed out. I only completed one panel at a time, so if you're like me.. repeat steps one through six, and you're done!

Step 7: Dance it out!

Yep. I'm still dancing it out to Karmin's "I Told You So" like I was back when I posted the room reveal. 

Oh yeah, I dug this guy out of storage in the garage. Many moons ago it had been the changing table in my baby girl's room, but after she became mobile I packed it up and put it away (mostly because I found her out of her crib and standing on the top of it-- talk about scary!). It's a little bulky, but right now it suits my storage needs. I needed a book shelf to organize some of my materials, and this was free. Perhaps in the future I'll be able to trade it in for an Ikea Expedit or something else that's a little more streamlined. 

So there you go! Seven easy steps to easy-peasy curtains, and if you're like me and have a tendency to hoard fabric, you'll come up with free fabric from your arsenal just like I did. Need an excuse to purchase large quantities of fabric that you might someday use? Shablam! There's your reason. :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Light My Fire: Part Two

If you remember last week I showed you the nifty cleaning trick I had found on Pinterest for cleaning the exterior brick on our fireplace. It really did a good job in removing the baked on soot. Now that the outside was feeling clean, it was time for me to tackle the inside, and boy is this part a hot mess.

We're about to get close and personal with the dirty, sooty insert, so make sure you've got your gloves and painters jeans on!

The first step I took in cleaning out  this little nook was removing the log holder and using a small wire brush-- much like a toothbrush. I scraped it down the facade and into the crevices of the mortar to make sure all of the loose dirt and chunks were removed. Make sure you're wearing a mask when doing this job. You don't want to breathe any of that stuff in!

The fireplace had a previous patch job to repair some of the crumbling mortar, but it was not holding very well. In fact, it was peeling right off of the brick. This leads me to believe that they did not use a high temperature rated filler. I scraped and chipped all of these loose crumbly patches off the brick, and did a quick sweep with the little dust broom included in the fireplace kit.

Unfortunately, sweeping didn't seem to get a lot of the soot or dust that remained in the fireplace. After thinking about it for a few minutes, and then some heavy inner debate, I broke out my Dyson and used the wand with brush attachment to suck up all of the dust and little pieces. My vacuum was due for a good cleaning anyway, and this would give me good motivation to get on it!

After scraping away the crumbling pieces of mortar and patch, you can really see how bad of a shape this thing is. That's where the next step comes in: patching.

I made a trip down to our local Ace Hardware before the weekend, and took advantage of a $5 coupon I had received during one of their previous promotions. I love to save a buck (especially when it comes to repairing stuff like this in a place that we rent), and five of them can go a long way. That's like a free can of spray paint! After talking with the friendly staff there, they were awesome in helping me choose the tools and products that I would need for the job. I went with a black furnace cement mixture and a 6-in-one scraping tool that had a hook on the end. I also purchased the wire toothbrushes mentioned above from them. After my coupon, I only spent about $7 out of pocket.

Now the directions on the tub of cement say to stir the mixture, and dampen the surface of the brick you intend to apply it to. I  broke out an old hand towel, a bucket of warm water, and a paint stick. The consistency of the furnace cement is pretty thick. Almost like a black peanut butter. I used my paint stick to make sure it was mixed well, and then used the same 6-in-one tool that I had used to scrape the old mortar from the cracks to help fill them. That tool was a great investment since I could use it as a putty knife to apply the cement. Working my way around the fireplace walls and eventually to the floor, I filled the cracks and scraped the seams clean and even.

The hardest part was definitely the ledge where the brick meets the tile on the floor. Here, there were huge chunks of mortar missing in this area, and it also has a slight incline that creates a smooth transition from tile to brick. After I patched and smoothed everything out as best as I could with my tool, I also used a damp finger to smooth out any rough edges and harsh lines.

Now that the mortar is patched, the container says that it will need to be cured at 500 degrees. The cement is sandable after that step should you choose to do it. At the moment, I haven't any idea as to how I can cure my patch work since the fireplace is still inoperable at this point. After looking up the chimney, I can see lots of soot clinging to the walls, and this will have to be cleaned out before we can even consider using the hearth as it is a huge fire hazard. The soot trap will also need to be cleaned out.

Until then, I am extremely happy with how better everything is already starting to look. I can almost imagine how great it will look once I get the inside painted with a high temperature paint rated for the fireplace.

Until then, I still have the right side of the exterior to clean, as you can see from the picture above. I'll get on it... eventually. :)

Here's what our "To Do" list is looking like for this project:

Scrub the right side of the exterior hearth
Find a way to cure the furnace cement
Inquire about a chimney sweep service
Clean the soot trap (into basement)
Paint the inner hearth
Repair, prime, and paint the hearth log holder.
Paint the "door knob" that operates the flue-- perhaps an ORB to better blend with the hardware

Slowly but surely we'll get this thing going. Until the next update, does anyone have advice on whether or not I have to wait until the cement is cured before applying paint? I don't foresee sanding being a necessity since I pretty much got everything smooth. Any help is appreciated!

Have any big projects you've completed lately? Anyone else looking forward to a warm crackling fire this winter? I can't wait to see how picturesque it will be at Christmas. We've never had a fireplace before, so this is very exciting to us!

Monday, September 10, 2012

House Crashing: Boldt Castle Yacht House (part three)

Hope you all had an amazing weekend! We took the opportunity to get a few more projects done around the house, and I can't wait to begin blogging about them to you all!

We're coming down the home stretch with our very first house crashing post, featuring Boldt Castle located in the Thousand Islands region of upstate New York. We live in the local area, so it was great to check it out when my parents came up to visit for their camping vacation.

The last two days were spent covering our boat tour, the castle and Heart Island grounds, and finally today I bring you the Boldt Castle Yacht House. This place is just as grandiose as the castle, and the architecture is stunning. Inside, the building features a collection of boats that I believe belonged to the family or have significant importance to the area. We couldn't just walk over to the yacht house, however. We had to take a ferry as it was located on another island just on the other side of the river.

Look how expansive this building is. Isn't the woodwork on the ceiling just beautiful?

I don't know if many of you are that into boats, but the place is amazing and you should check it out if you ever get the opportunity. The other amazing part about this yacht house, is that it also included a small household quarters.

Look at those beautiful hard wood pocket ceilings and the ornate board and batten. Unfortunately this stairway was closed off to the public, so I have no idea what is upstairs. I believe the upper floor is still undergoing restoration.

The yacht house also had a nice dining  area. I am also unaware if the furnishings in the yacht house remain original to the property.

A second stairway leading to the upstairs. This was also closed off. I assume this would lead to bedrooms. It looked as though things were still undergoing renovation.

This little storage area was located beneath the parlor, and I thought it was in the funniest of places. It looked as though it had some pieces that either belonged to the yacht house or the castle, and were in the process of being restored.

After touring the yacht house, we waited to catch the next boat back to Heart Island so that we could catch the ferry back to the mainland. We sure did get our fill of boating that afternoon! My feet hurt and I was starving by this point, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Boldt Castle was truly a monument of love. It looks as though not a detail was spared. It's a shame that his wife died before work was completed. I don't believe the family ever lived on the property, as they had a summer home on Wellesley Island.

Here is a final shot of the yacht house as we made our way back across to Heart Island, and eventually home. Look how wonderful that tower must have been. I could imagine sitting up there on some wicker furniture with a lemonade and a beautiful view of Boldt Castle across the water.

I'd like to thank my parents who joined us for this amazing excursion. We had a wonderful time, and I came away so inspired by the beautiful rooms in both the castle and yacht house. Thank you, too, for coming along with us on a virtual tour. I'm sorry that I'm not exactly the best historian when it comes to this location, but they do have a website with an online tour that gives you lots of additional pictures, information, and family history of the Boldt family. If you ever find yourself in upstate New York, be sure to put Boldt Castle on your list of places to see!

House crashing has been fun, and I hope to be able to do more of it in the future. If any of you are familiar with this area or have suggestions of great places to see, please let me know! Until then, we'll be bringing it with more house projects. I've got a bunch of low-budget upgrades to feature, and it's almost time to start decorating our mantle for fall/Halloween! I can't wait to get into the spirit of the holidays! How about you?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

House Crashing: Boldt Castle (part two)

Welcome back! Normally I don't post on Saturdays, but I couldn't leave you guys hanging midway through our tour! Yesterday, we started our journey through the grandiose structure of Boldt Castle, located on Heart Island in the Thousand Islands area of New York. We gave you a grand tour of the grounds and downstairs, and today we're back with the other four stories. YES! This castle has five levels (six if you count the basement)!

Last time I left you with an image of the grand staircase leading up to the second floor. Get your virtual walking shoes on, because we're about to check out the rest of what Boldt Castle has to offer! Keep in mind, this post will also be photo intensive. :)

Here we are-- midway up the staircase-- looking up at the gorgeous stained-glass dome that covers the first two levels.

The first room that we entered was Mr. Boldts room. I guess back in those days, they still had separate beds. I adore the herringbone pattern in the hardwood floors.

Mrs. Boldt's room was located next to this one. Actually, all of the rooms were joined by a long inner corridor that spanned the front of the castle. If I remember correctly, Mrs. Boldt actually died before the Castle was completed, and did not ever live there. Mr. Boldt sent a telegram to the workers informing them of the passing of his wife, and did not return to the island ever again.

This blue room is "Mrs. Boldts room" that is adjacent to Mr. Boldts quarters. Her room features the same lovely herringbone pattern hardwood floors that run throughout the second floor. She also has a balcony that faces the front of the property, and the Arc De Triomphe.

As far as I know, none of this furniture is actually original to the castle, but they are donated pieces that are correct for the time period. Just look at that beautiful vanity. Love it. And the amazing closets. Each room featured two floor to ceiling closet spaces just like the one below.

Just off of this room was also a spacious bathroom. Check out that old fashioned toilet. I love the old claw foot tub, too. My parents have one of those at their house.

Next, we have another bedroom. The Boldts had two children; a boy and a girl. It is uncertain as to whether or not this was a child's room or which room was designated for who as none of the contents are original to the house. These rooms were actually in a poor state, and needed some serious restoration. The work you are seeing today is thanks to the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority, who acquired possession of the property in 1977. Since then, millions of dollars have gone into the preservation and restoration of the castle, the adjoining structures of the property, and it's grounds.

Check out that old electric fan! I definitely need one of those in my life! The children also shared a balcony.

The last room on the end was transformed into a parlor during restoration. I love the raspberry wall color. So bright and cheerful.

The last room on this floor was the theatre. Unfortunately I was unable to take a picture of this room as they were having a presentation going on while we were passing by, and I forgot to go back to it at the end of the tour.

This hallway takes us back to the grand staircase, and leads us into the hidden staircase to the upper floors. I believe these floors were mainly servants quarters. They are all unfinished at this time, but give you a good reference as to how deteriorated the interior of the house was when restoration first began in 1977.

Here is the stairway leading to the third floor.

The layout of each room on the third floor is pretty similar to that of the second floor, so I didn't need to really get into detail with pictures. Here you can see where the plaster has either been removed or has fallen from the walls and ceiling.

You can see that there is no ornate fireplace mantle or decorative features to these rooms (aside from the crown molding). I am unsure if that is due to vandals removing pieces (it honestly does not look like anything has ever been there, though) or if these were guest rooms or maybe meant to be servants quarters. Remember, the castle was never actually finished, so perhaps these details were never added because of that.

Here we are looking down onto the grand staircase from the third floor. We are about to go up to the fourth floor, which is in about the same state of disrepair as the third.

Fourth Floor:

Here we are in the hallway of the fourth floor. In this picture, you can see the stained-glass ceiling dome that overlooks the first three floors. It was kind of shocking to see just how the dome was installed. I never imagined that it would not be immediately exposed to the outside, but then again at first I didn't realize the magnitude of this place.

Here you can see what the years and plenty of vandals coming through have done to leave their mark on the place. Frankly, I think it is sad that someone felt the need to vandalize the walls of the building. A lot of the inscriptions looked as though they came from visitors who toured the castle after it was opened to the public.

These rooms do have an amazing view, though. This is overlooking the docks from the fourth floor.

Here is another look at the stained-glass dome, and the room built around it.

The fourth floor also featured a small alcove with balcony that overlooks the Alexandria Bay harbor and community. This room was pretty barren aside from a fireplace in the corner, and a few wooden benches.

Finally, the fifth floor was closed off to the public, so there wasn't really anything to see there. Just more graffiti on the walls of the staircase that led up to the tower. I am unsure what this part of the castle was used for. I imagine it would make an amazing playroom, though. :)

After touring four full floors of castle, our legs were pretty tired of marching up and down the steps. Thankfully Mr. Boldt had the foresight to install an elevator, and we hopped a ride back down to the ground floor. I took this picture of the old electrical switch panel (the stairs to the right lead up to the tower on the fifth floor) which is right next to the elevator. Just look how far modern electricity has come.

Upon exiting the castle, we passed once more through the main hallway with the grand staircase, and I oogled over this beautiful fireplace at the bottom of the steps one last time.

This concludes our tour of the Boldt Castle, but the fun doesn't stop there. Across the river, Mr. Boldt had a grand boat house constructed, which has been restored and displays several antique boats that belonged to the family and the surrounding community.

Check back on Monday when I'll finish off our house castle crashing series on Boldt Castle with a tour of the boat house. Thanks for coming along with me on this virtual tour. If you missed yesterday's post about the castle grounds and the first floor of the castle, be sure to go back and check it out!