Eat Your Heart Out Vera Bradley

After seeing so many craft bags around with patterns and quilting I began to have bag envy.

Let me explain.

I have a bag fetish.
Briefcase/laptop bags.
Electronics pouches.

It’s bad.

I can get a serious case of bag envy over someone else’s reusable shopping bags. I found myself rushing to Sally’s Beauty Supply and Joann’s just to get one of their pretty bags.

It’s a compulsion.

But it’s practical. I can put things in all these bags.

Stop laughing. They ARE practical.

However, even I couldn’t stomach paying $100 for a floral/patterned/quilty thing that still wasn’t deep enough to cover an 11″ Q-Snap along with all my other crap, I mean supplies.

The Swamp Yankee in me sometimes makes me frugal to the point of just being cheap.

For a cute (but exaggerated) definition of a Swamp Yankee look here or check out the Wikipedia entry for the genealogy portion.

I’ve done my genealogy back over five centuries and was surprised to see how much Swamp I’ve got đŸ™‚

Back to my frugal nature…
I saw these bags and the Swamp Yankee on my shoulder (don’t know if she is the devil or angel yet) whispered in my ear “YOU could make a bag like that for LESS.”

Hmmm, why maybe I could. I have made my sewing machine my bitch and can actually sew a bit- that was all detailed in November 2009’s book post of my exorcising my machine sewing demons!

I started scouring the internet for free patterns but they all were wrong.
Too shallow.
Too narrow.
Short straps.

So I tried two patterns and HATED them.

Then I started playing around with principals learned on line.
Seam allowances.
Stitching techniques.
Then made my own custom design.

For around 40 bucks in supplies and more than a bit of trial and error I have my own craft tote bag!

đŸ˜€ big smiles!

Not great pics. Once I fill it up I will post a pic taken with my new camera!


Design on less than a dime

I posted earlier this summer about my attempt to redecorate my apartment on the cheap in a Hollywood Glamour style. Hollywood Glamour uses cool blues and grays with pale tans and lots of black, white, silver and crystal. Since most of the apartment is in a satisfactory state of design I have been focused on the pit that is my bedroom.

Anything that I don’t have room for gets shoved in a corner of a bedroom. Let me tell you, there is a lot I don’t have room for.

I picked up some bed risers at Walmart. After searching the store I finally found them in the closet organizer section. Silly me, what was I thinking? Don’t I always store my bed in my closet?? The risers lifted my bed frame about five and a half inches off the ground and giving me about nine and half inches of storage space. Perfect for sliding “storage” boxes under the bed.

Now I am far to cheap to buy storage boxes when there are plenty of cardboard shipping boxes at work to be recycled. A little cutting, some tape, some paint, a few scraps of fabric and ribbon and viola! I had custom underbed storage boxes for free! I punched a couple of holes and secured a length of ribbon in each to function as a pull handle and I am thrilled with the results and the extra storage.

In the free section of Craigslist I found a very nice entertainment center with glass doors and covered storage along the bottom. It had a slide out shelf in the tv section and looked to be in very good shape. My Dad helped me out by gettting a buddy to help load the piece and bring it into my apartment. He also added some casters on the bottom to make it easier to move around. There are four deep shelves covered by the glass doors and they make excellent dust free book shelves!

It is a drab, worn oak laminate with giant brass knockers as door handles. It will be primed and painted white to help make the bedroom look larger since I have some pretty large storage pieces in there already. The handles with be switched out with some brushed nickel knobs I have or maybe something new in bright silver.

The section where the tv would go in perfect for some large storage baskets that I have. The slide out shelf is the new home for my printer. The cut out for tv wires in the back make it a snap to string the power cord back there and the shelf is large enough for the printer and my laptop when I need to print stuff out. This is a much better place for my printer than on the bottom of a very cramped computer desk.

I moved my desktop pc into the living room and hooked it up to my tv. WOW! You Tube never looked so good! Now I just need to start playing FarmVille again just so I can do it on a full sized tv screen!

I repurposed my metal and glass computer desk from the bedroom into a sewing table. A few quickly sewn clearance fabric drapes and storage baskets completely transformed it and hides the very modern style of the desk.

I began refinishing the very large, very sturdy, very gorgeous armoire from the 1940’s that I paid $40 for from a college student. Paint is my only option at this time since college kids apparently thought the armoire would be as good as a paper journal to write their feelings on.

I am painting it white also but keeping the original oil rubbed bronze hardware and handles.  While the entertainment center is being used for computer accessories and books the armoire (with it’s 2 huge, 3 large and 1 medium sized drawers) is chock-o-block full of cross stitch stash *hangs head in shame*

I know I have a problem. This just confirms it.

The bedroom is no where near finished but it is painted a beautiful pale aqua blue from True Value called Paper Lantern. The key pieces for storage are in place. Now I just need to set aside a weekend for unloading the closet and putting everything in it’s place.

Once that is done I have given myself permission to start decorating the walls with some lovely Art Deco/1920’s era photographs that remind me of ladies of leisure in their boudoirs. I just found a book at the library about Art Deco design and will be pouring through it to see what I can do to transform my own boudoir into the high style of the Jazz Age. I scoured the internet in search of beautiful dresses to grace my walls with and  found some real stunners! I also am toying with the idea of framing a series of stained glass pics from the period as well. I have always been fascinated by stained glass. Weird, I know.

I have tons of old oak frames that I plan on painting in shiny black enamel to frame the lovelies in so I can group them together on a wall.

Dumpster Diva

One evening in early January I turned into the parking lot of my apartment building and something caught my eye. I swiveled my head towards the dumpster to get a better look. Stacked in front of the dumpster were two wooden dining chairs – Captain chairs – the kind with the arms on them.

I quickly parked my car and briskly walked to the dumpster to pick up someone else’s trash.

I was super-psyched. I had a nice farm style dining room table but only one slightly wobbly Windsor chair left. The other chairs were broken in some rather colorful, X-rated ways and I never set aside the money to replace them.

Now I had two chairs! whoo-hoo!!! And the chairs were in great condition!

They cleaned up nice and I debated about what to do with them to refinish them. Then about three weeks later I was in my Dad’s truck on the way to a hockey game. It was freezing and pouring rain. As Dad drove past the dumpster on our way out I shrieked in delight and starting yelling stop the truck!!

There next to the dumpster were two more of the same chair! These two were side chairs since they had no arms but they were a matched set with the two I already had “acquired”. My Dad braved the cold, stinging rain and rescued the chairs for me. I set them to dry on some towels in the living room and hoped they weren’t too damaged from the rain.

My hopes were wrong and there was a lot of damaged to the rain chairs. The wood was splitting and was grey with water damage. After experimenting with some stain I realized that I would not be able to make the four chairs match.

Paint was my only alternative.

After a large amount of wood glue, wood filler, sandpaper and primer I have 4 matching chairs just ready for a French Country style paint treatment. I painted out the legs of my farmhouse table and stained the tabletop a dark walnut. A creamy white paint (as soon as I decide what kind) is all I need to finish off my “new” set.

While I was filling and sanding and gluing I noticed a label and date stamped on the underside of the seat. It was a Keller Furniture company chair made in June 1964. For some that would make it old and nasty. For me, it made it a set of retro wonderful chairs! I was very excited that I had mid-century furniture for free!

I am tempted to take a photo of the finished chairs and tape it to the dumpster with a note saying “Thank You” but I’m afraid that will deter people from throwing stuff away!!

Just this week someone threw out a large, sturdy wicker basket apparently because it had a dollar bill sized splash of white paint on it. No problem for me. I thinned out some white primer with water and now have a lovely white wicker basket that I am sewing a liner for. I can’t wait for the next treasure I rescue from the dumpster!