27 April 2014

Piano Runner

Tonight, I finished my first new project in my newly finished sewing room. A friend - the wife of the "Energiser Bunny" (the other half of 'They Who Build') recently had a birthday. For her birthday she got a piano, so I finally decided that a piano runner would be an ideal gift. Smaller and faster than a quilt, but still personal. I have a dozen or so table runner patterns saved, but after looking through all of them decided I didn't like any of them - for this purpose. So, I did what I normally do - designed something to a certain point then made the rest up as I went.

My original plan:
Ordinary Life (c): Piano Runner pattern

I'm not sure how big my friend's piano is, so I erred on the side of too long, rather than too short. My plan is 12 inches wide. The centre section is 60 inches, and the ends are each 12 inches long.

I made one design change from the plan above that I don't like. In the plan above, drawn in Excel (I know that seems odd, but it's a good program for drawing, because it has no page size limitations), the bar lines and music note stems are all perpendicular to the quilt edges, regardless of the wavy staff. In the actual quilt, I tried to align them to the curves of the staff. I don't like it so much. It's not bad; I just prefer to the above look.

As for the other specifics:
- Background fabric is a cream on cream
- The staff and bar lines are couched wool. I 'need' to buy a couching foot for my new machine. I had one for my old machine - it was a simple loop of metal at the front that the wool would travel through, keeping in the centre of the foot all the time. It was quite difficult to guide the wool, and keep the lines parallel.
- Each note head is a different fabric in red-brown colours. They are 2.5 x 1 inch ovals
- Minums are a full oval, with a small (0.5 x 1.5 inch) oval of the background fabric in the centre. The Teen pointed out, after I sewed them, that you should be able to see the staff line through them. I stitched a zig-zag line through them.
- Music stems are rick-rack. In real life, they're maroon; in the photo they look almost black.
- In the final, I left off the slurs (and I forgot the dot, sigh).
- Each note head is top-stitched with straight stitches, about 1/4 inch from the edge and then right on the edge.
- The entire is bag quilted, and the edge top-stitched in maroon.
- I didn't quilt it.
- The backing (there is no wadding) is polar fleece.
- The notes do form a tune (well, part of a tune, I couldn't fit the whole song on).

Ordinary Life (c): Piano Runner
The finished product. Not the greatest of lighting; doesn't show the colours well.

Ordinary Life (c): Piano Runner
When I next visit, I'll take a photo of it on the piano and update this entry.

26 April 2014

Sewing Room - re-jigged cutting table.

For a long time my cutting table has been a gate-leg table, which was great because it folded away to almost nothing, but it was terrible because it was low. When I moved into my new space I plunked a piece of melamine over the top of my two Ikea Antonius basket racks. One cutting space. Again, far too low for comfort. I had the bright spark of putting some chunks of wood under the frames to raise the cutting table to a more comfortable level. And for several months that has worked fine. The board was a bit small (600 x 1,000 mm), but otherwise it was a pleasure to work at height.

Little bit cramped in the corner, but otherwise, worked fine.
With my lovely new floorboards I was concerned the wood might scratch, so I added foam to the bottom of my risers. Unfortunately, that made them a bit unstable. Plus the addition of skirtings meant I couldn't solidly 'anchor' them against the wall. There's quite a bit of weight in the baskets and I was a little concerned about them falling over.

My set up as of this morning.
I did a bit of thinking, and as you do in these things, went about things backwards for a while. My initial thought was to screw a piece of board on top of the blocks and put the drawers on the board - to distribute the weight. While discussing it with a friend I suddenly thought - what am I thinking? Put the frames on the floor, put a board on the top, put the blocks on the board, put another board on top of that. I realised that by doing that, I could separate the baskets, use longer boards, create a larger cutting area AND create storage under it. I wanted to race out and do it straight away, but I had an assignment looming, so I used it as self-bribery. I was not allowed to do ANYTHING towards changing my set up until the assignment was submitted. Well, the assignment is not actually submitted (it is sitting ready for me to proof for stupid mistakes on Monday morning), but today hubby dearest bought me my two bits of melamine, and I now have my extended cutting bench.
My bench is now 1,600x600mm (instead of 1,000mm). I have a storage shelf underneath. The tubs no longer sit out to the side looking untidy, but look like they belong where they are. 
I'm happy to report that this works great. I've been sewing tonight - a piano runner, which is quite long. I've had plenty of space to lay it out and work on it with feeling scrunched up or crowded. Plus, because the cutting table goes all the way to the next bench, when fabric runs off the end it doesn't end up on the floor, gathering cat hair and who knows what.

I am very happy with this set up.

23 April 2014

Sewing Room Update - Tah Dah

Let me preface this post by saying I'm exhausted and so my typing, if not my thinking, may be a little incoherent at times. It has taken all day, but I'm almost finished. Just one more modification/improvement, which I only thought of today. But more of that when I actually do it.

At some point, I'll do a side-by-side comparison post, but for the moment, here are some photos of the finished product.
The east end as it looked this morning.

The west end as it looked this morning.

Beautiful new floor boards.

The east end tonight. My "graph paper plan" was to have both desk run along the wall, but I think I mis-measured one as 100cm instead 120cm and I was about 10cm short of wall :-( So, the L shape remains, albeit at the opposite end of the room. The end wall has four shelving tracks. The ones directly behind the sewing machine run to the floor. This lets me put things under the desk but off the floor - such as my Vlisofix, which I keep in a mailing tube with a bunch of moisture suckers.

The west end tonight. The biggest change to my set up is two new peg boards. I do love them. I've hung my rulers on the wall for years, but being able to change them around without leaving any marks - brilliant.

West end, pegboard and ironing corner. I will have to roll the Horn cabinet out to access my overlocker, which is stored in it, but I had to do that anyway, so no biggie.

West end, cutting table and mainly fabric storage (not entirely, but there is no fabric not stored in this corner).

East end, study/writing/crafting desk. A friend suggested putting the desks at this end because they'd be under the window, with more natural light than the other end (where they were). The added bonus is that they're also not as exposed to the lounge room. Apparently it's better feng shui to not sit with your back to an open door.

East end, sewing corner. Self explanatory, really.

I originally thought I'd have enough space to include these on the back wall - if the two desks ran down one wall. But the L-arrangement meant I lost access to the longer shelf track. But that's okay. The shorter shelves work fine here.

And this is the one modification still to be made, but more on that later. One added bonus of moving my desks to the east end, the cat flap is no longer under my feet when I'm sitting at the desk. The cat and I will both appreciate that!
My roll of bag wadding. Awkward stuff 'cause you can't really fold it. Simple solution - one entrance way, two curtain hooks and a rod. Problem solved.

22 April 2014

Sewing Room update - More in betweens

A few more photos now that most of the painting is done. He Who Builds has promised to do the ceiling for me tonight. I can't stand on a ladder, look up, and wave my arms about - not if I want to stay on the ladder. I did put a first coat on the cornices this afternoon, which was about my limit. The cornices are new, so need two coats; the ceiling on needs one coat. My doing the cornices this afternoon means I don't have to wait until tomorrow for everything to be finished.

Window frame on all four sides. The yellow walls and bright green accent is through the whole house, except our bedroom and the bathroom, which have a sky blue accent.

First lot of shelf tracks reinstalled. These shelves are 120cm long and various widths. Under these shelves will be my cutting bench and most of my fabric stash.
These shelves are on a narrow wall (1.4m). The shorter lengths are over the end of my main sewing desk. I've planned a mix of full length shelves and half length (to use some shorter shelves I already have). I'm considering a wider 'shelf' at the same level as my desk top, as an expanded area for light-weight work. I definitely wouldn't put a sewing machine on one of these shelves, but paper trimming, or writing, or the like would be fine.
New floor boards (so pretty) and skirtings. I learnt today that skirtings are hard work to paint. I think perhaps it would have been easier to paint the whole lot before they were installed. A new paint brush, with no bent or damaged bristles is an imperative. I can see my 'woopsies', but a blind man galloping past on a horse on a moonless night probably can't, so I'm not too fussed. Reality is, most of the skirting will hidden by desks and storage.
Tomorrow or maybe Thursday I might be able to post some "after" photos.

19 April 2014

Sewing Room Update - the in between

The sewing room renos continue apace. Yesterday 'those who build' put up new walls (thick ply, which holds shelves and things more securely than plaster), laid the floor boards, and put in all the trims (cornices, skirtings, window frames).

Today has mainly been painting, which takes a surprising amount of time. Still need to do the ceiling, all the trims (which are to be bright green) and one more coat on the walls. Apparently tonight, the first coat of clear on the floor goes down. The interesting thing will be keeping the cat out of the room. We 'think' we can seal it off with a piece of ply, but a determined cat is a determined cat, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were paw prints in it tomorrow.

And for some very uninteresting 'between' photos:

New walls on the left and to the end instead of weatherboards

Wall, which was put in when we did the new doors, now all patched and smoothed.

A hint of the floorboards to be.

Window sill on four edges! Woohoo.
I've also been playing around with the furniture I have, to see if I can make it work better. It works well where it all was, but I think it could work better. Obviously I can't actually move the furniture at the moment. Once I'm free to move back in, where I put my shelves will depend on where I put my furniture. BUT, I have to put the shelves back up first, because all the stuff that goes on them is currently stacked on the furniture. So, I've been playing with graph paper. Graph paper never seems translate to real life as well as I would hope; I'll let you know next week how well it panned out.

Edit: couple of more slightly more interesting photos
Unfinished floor boards
First coat going on the floor

17 April 2014

Sewing Room Upgrade (Before)

This post is mainly for those who requested before and after photos of this weekend's sewing room upgrade. I took some photos this morning, before I emptied the room (packing it all with Tetris-like brilliance in the sitting room).
The cutting end. Shelves packed with stuff and a raised cutting 'table' (board over two Ikea basket racks). Rulers hanging on the wall to the right - plan is to put up a pegboard. The bottom shelf is very narrow, on brackets that are wider than the shelf. The shelf itself is used for rotary cutters, scissors, tailor's chalk and so forth. The extra space on the brackets allows me to 'hang' my roll of calico at the back. Originally I was going to shelve the right-hand wall, and make all the shelves on the back only 120cm (like the top one). But now I've decided on a pegboard, I'm keeping these full width .

Same end of the room. Showing my fabric stash in the Ikea baskets. The Horn sewing cabinet is used for storage. Generally the overlocker resides inside; but I've been using it. On top I have my embroidery machine. The drawers are used for all the 'bits and bobs' that go with the two machines. When my cupboards are eventually built in, the cabinet will not be needed. By which stage it'll probably be close to falling apart. For such an expensive piece of furniture, they are only chipboard. I was given mine; it's been a real blessing. To the left is my small ironing board - on a shelf. I'm not entirely happy with the arrangement, but it works for the moment.

The other, 'business', end of the room. This has an L-shaped bench for sewing, writing, etc. The shelves on the left are very narrow (14cm) and perfect for all manner of things. The shelves on the right are a variety of depths. I was originally going to shelve the back wall as well, but I'm thinking maybe just the pin board and perhaps a small peg-board. Or maybe a large peg-board, with the pin board on it. That way if I get rid of the pinboard, I won't have a silly looking pegboard at the bottom of a great expanse of wall.

Narrow shelves holding a wonderful array of stuff. Ribbons on spool holders; jars of zippers, ribbons, bias, lace, yarn; tools; glue - everything where I can lay my hands on it in a minute.

My 'mainly fabric' wall. Top shelf holds a variety of large containers with things I don't use often. The middle shelf is my scrap stash. 5, 3.5, and 2 inch squares in containers; not sorted, but ready to use for something. The large clear tub on the top shelf is all my "can't cut a 2 inch square from it" scraps. No idea if I can use them for much, but I can't justify throwing them out. Again, lots of access to stuff. Pens in jars, cards, stamps, punches.

Rather dark photo of my window to the world. What you can't see is that this window only has framing on three sides. I'm hoping by the end of the weekend that it will have a proper frame - on all four sides. How novel. The fabric 'blind' (piece of fabric, safety pins and cotton tape) has been an okay temporary measure, but I'm thinking wooden blinds will work better. And if I get "those that build" to create a pelmet shelf over the top, all the better. The white running across the top right hand side is my roll of bag wadding (also shows in the top photo). It's on a too-long curtain rod, which is balanced on the window frame and exposed wall frame (just off shot). A pelmet and a small ledge on the opposite wall will give me great storage for these awkward sort of things. We've got a dozen or more curtain rods in the garage. I hate curtains on rods; much prefer tracks.

Half way through my Tetris stacking in the sitting room.

Same end as the very first photo, with everything cleared out. The front door used to be where the dark patch on the floor is. By the end of the weekend the floor will wooden and the 'seams' in the walls will be invisible. I hope.

The 'business end' with everything cleared out. The room was originally an outside porch/landing, which the previous owner enclosed. Hence, the weatherboards. I've now removed those - one less job for "those who build" tomorrow. So satisfying ripping them out.

The current floor - the old concrete sheeting from the exterior landing. Painted before our time and since ignored. By next week it will be lovely floorboards. The bright square on the right-hand side is the cat flap. I'm a little concerned it might be too low for her with the new floor.

Entrance to the lounge room. Missing bits of wall are from where we moved the wall in while renovating the lounge room. The gap was a full sliding door width. It's now wider than a normal door, but considerably smaller than a double door.
Well, that's the before photos. Hopefully by Monday I'll have some after photos.