Charlotte Perkins Gilman in the 21st and a Half Century, or, a Creative Space Makeover

Dearest blog followers (imaginary though you may, in large part, be)–Today, I have a story for you.

There once was a crafty creature who hated the yellow walls of her sewing room.  She would forget she hated them for a bit, once in a while, perhaps if the episode of whatever BBC show she had on while sewing was particularly engrossing (and predominantly blue).  But the walls somehow managed to clash with nearly every scrap of fabric that crossed her table, and the room took on a ghoulish yellow tinge in the gloaming, so she was always, eventually, reminded of the yellow walls. Bad for sew-jo, it turns out.

But!  There’s an easy solution to this problem, it turns out.  (Who knew!)  Of course, it involves taking everything out of the room (disassembling the giant stack of fabric and patterns, folding up the ironing board, putting away–gasp!–the sewing machine!  Oh, lordy loo…the HORROR!!!)  That’s right folks.  The solution to the horrible Martha Stewart “Malted Yellow” walls that were slowly driving me crazy (sincere apologies if that color works for you, but for me…blech) is new paint!

If you’ve run across my blog before, you may have noticed the *ahem* lovely *ahem* yellow background in most of my pics.  I don’t know what the color is supposed to be (I assume someone once looked at it and said “wow, that’s lovely”), but it’s a weird muddy yellow that John & I have “lovingly” dubbed “Tawdry Mustard”.

Yes, there’s a bit of clutter here…but note the short knee wall…and you can see how alllllll the light was always behind me!  Gah!

I’m happy to say, I have vanquished that yellow!  I went with an almost-Tiffany-blue, something nice and bright and pretty.  The color was called Grand Hotel Mackinac Blue, which may have played a role in the decision (John’s family is very Michigan-based, so I’ve even actually been to that Hotel–it’s very fancy.  And I dig their light turquoise blue, obviously!)

Some silliness may or may not have happened during the painting of this room.

And while I was at it, I rearranged a few things…my desk used to face the short wall (which worked OK, but felt kind of…dim & stifling)–it wasn’t very well lit since no matter how I sat, I blocked the light from the ceiling fixture.  To fix that, I shifted the desk over to the wall with the windows, which opened up a lot of space in the middle of the room (I’m contemplating setting up a dedicated serger station in the corner by the door…but so far I just switch out machines at the same desk).

LIGHT!!!!

I also moved my “guest chair” (haha…more like hand sewing/reading chair) so it’s tucked around the corner by the windows (yay natural light!!).  Makes it a little fussy to get into that closet, but not terrible.

His royal highness approves of the chair’s new location!

The only thing that didn’t really change much was the Wall-O-Fabric.  It’s such a narrow room, that stacking the Ikea bookshelf atop the midcentury metal credenza is really the ONLY way.  (Well, if I gave up the idea of using the room as a guest room, I suppose I could put one along each wall, but with them stacked, I can still fit a queen blowup mattress in there…barely.)

Before.

And after. Obviously missing a teensy bit of fabric here (but also notice the thread tree is now attached to the side!)

It’s been a couple months since all this happened, and I think the new configuration really does make it a much nicer space!  (It’s also much faster to transform it into a guest room, which comes in handy, too!).  Overall, the lighting is better, and I’ve found my laptop fits on the shelf above my desk perfectly, which may or may not be very conducive to binge sewing while binge watching Netflix (BBC dramas, anyone?!).

I also really love the color on the walls (so much so I’m thinking of where else in the house I could use it…so far the hall/stairs, one closet, and the kitchen are still yellow, so I may tackle one of those with it sometime).  Time will tell!

Vintage Vibes!

Why hello there!  I’m back at it again, and today I have a quick vintage make to share!  My sister-in-law asked me to remake an apron of her grandmother’s, which sounded easy peasy until I realized that I really didn’t want to even think about taking it apart to make pattern pieces–upon close inspection, I wasn’t sure there was enough fabric remaining to actually put it back together again!

I stewed about it for a few months, and finally had an epiphany–crayons!  (Bear with me!)  Crayons and freezer paper, to be exact.  I pulled out my (very dusty) crayons and, making sure the fabric didn’t get pulled off grain or out of shape, rubbed off all the seams onto freezer paper with a crayon–it worked beautifully!  It’s the first time I’ve tried to make a pattern from an existing garment, and it actually worked!  I was only a little surprised!

Once I had a pattern for the front and back, assembly was pretty straight forward.  I made two patch pockets (with ric rac trim!…my first encounter with sewing ric rac wasn’t as scary as I thought it might be…ric rac is awesome!).  I also sewed a few lines of ric rack around the skirt bottom.

The back had a center seam, so that went together next, then the shoulder seams.  Once the shoulders were attached, the neckline bias binding went in (oh, bias tape…it’s a 4-letter word for a reason!)  I used a pretty woven gingham to make the bias binding, and it took ages!

Then came the miles and miles and miles and miles of binding around the perimeter.  So. Much. Bias. Tape.  Once the edges were bound, I attached the waist seam and the ties (which were simply cut along the selvedge on one edge, then hemmed narrowly on the other).

Viola!  A brand new sparkly apron!  I’m really happy with the way it came out…very close to the original, and with some fun details!

So, let’s talk fabric.  I used an adorable cream print of a little girl fishing among rosebushes and baby deer (so sweet!) for the main part of the apron, and then coordinating green & cream gingham for the bias tape, and green & cream ric rac, as well.

Anyhow…how adorable is that back bow!?  I think the whole thing stayed pretty close to the original (though I’ll admit I made the patch pockets a little larger since you could barely fit a hand in the original ones!).

I really love the fabric, and I have about 1/2 a yard left, so I’ll find a use for the scraps for sure.  I am also a little bit in awe over the awesome stock at my local sewing shop…I was fully expecting to have to order the ric rac and gingham online, but I popped into my local shop and not only did they have both in stock, they had tons more options, too.  Some future projects definitely percolating now!