Home Dec sewing, or how I’m losing my mind…

Happy Spring! I’m a bit late getting this out, but I’ve been up to my ears in projects that need doing. We pulled the last of our siding off a month or so ago, put in the last of the new windows at the same time, and now I’ve decided (partway through installing trim) that I’m going to make the “window treatments” myself instead of just ordering them from a large online blind website or a big box store. Sign me up for the loony bin, I’ve lost what little sense I had left! I’ve got a book that tells me how to make all sorts of decorative furnishings and there’s an excellent video tutorial from Online Fabrics Store (who also, conveniently enough, happen to carry all the bits and bobs you need) on how to make roman shades.

Home Decorating Book

I know, it’s…uh…dated, but the ideas should still be sound. 😉

So last night I picked out my fabric from JoAnn (it’s gorgeous, but expensive), and at some point I’m going to have to bite the bullet and sew at least 3, but probably 6 roman shades. I hope I’m not in over my head, since both tutorials made it sound super easy. If I’m successful with the first three shades, I’ll commit to the remaining three, and if not, I haven’t bought the supplies for the second set (the bigger ones for the main living room) yet. I didn’t want to be out $$$ for something that I was incapable of finishing. I think that means I’m getting somewhat smarter. 😛

I’ve caught the “buildies”

I haven’t done any sewing for a while, between our mini vacation (and it’s aftermath) and a couple of nice days, I’ve been working on some other stuff instead. Namely I’ve been learning more about using Sketchup, and have designed a desk for our office, a rough idea for a new shed in the backyard, and also a new layout for the backyard. We’re also putting in new windows, and I’m hopeful that we get them ordered today! 🙂

So anyway, back to the “buildies”. I thought I’d post my sketchups (is that a word?) of my desk, because I’m pretty proud of how quickly I’m learning how to use the program. If you’d like to play with it, they have some really good videos on their website and on youtube.

If it works out like I hope, this desk will be pretty freaking awesome, and we’ll actually be able to navigate our office–right now, we have to shove chairs around to get to the printer/mechanical room (which holds the deep freezer)/pretty much anything in there. We have a big corner desk and a card table that we use for “desks”, plus two sets of kitchen cabinets that sit along the wall blocking half of our outlets. We also have wall cabinets above those kitchen cabinets, but we’re keeping those. I’m planning to leave one pair of the cabinet boxes with a gap in between and a formica top (which it already has) as a secondary makeshift “desk” + storage. Hopefully, that gives us the balance we need between enough storage and efficient movement from computer to printer, which is crucial when you’re scanning a few hundred pages into many different files at a shot.

I’m also trying to figure out a fun and inexpensive way to do our small backyard. Budgets suck. 😦 Plus it will just be one more thing to work on and we’ll have to do a lot of stuff by hand since it’s impossible to get any sort of decent sized equipment in the back yard. 😦 (This is why curved streets suck–developers should never have started that B.S.)

Backyard Dimensions

This is the aerial view of our backyard, based on my measurements and putting them into sketchup. It leaves off the grassy “paths” that run along both sides of the house, but I wasn’t planning any work in there anyway.

Here’s the map “key”:

  • Blue-ish rectangle is the house
  • The white rectangle is the patio
  • I drew in the A/C unit as a grey square
  • The green circles are supposed to represent bushes/trees. (I’d like a few fruit bushes–hubby demands at least one be a blackberry)
  • The box that says “garden” on it is currently the swingset of despair, so I’m either going to have to figure out a new location for a nicer swingset (or at least a couple of swings), or a new garden location, or give up on the garden altogether.
  • The shed is the same size as our current shed, but we’re thinking about making it a couple of feet bigger in both directions when we replace it, it’ll depend on how my idea for under-the-deck storage works out.
  • The slat wood looking box is supposed to represent the deck, it’s a half-story tall, because we have a split level house and it meets up to the upper level, I think it would be a great place to store things like our bikes, and maybe a few gardening supplies if I put a tin “roof” under the floor joists that slants down toward the yard. I’m sure I’ll put some guttering in too after we’ve seen how much water actually hits it with all of the deck flooring.
  • There’s a firepit.
  • And I’m going to have to figure out where to put a sandbox, which may be in place of a garden, or right up next to it. Right now, the boys play in the dirt under the deck with their little toy skidloaders and bulldozers, and I’d like for them to have a fun place to play too.

I don’t know. I’m not completely happy with the layout I’ve designed, but I hate the current layout (which is basically the same minus any trees and a fire pit). And I also hate that the yard is a trip hazard with all the potholes in the grass and the “river” that runs behind the shed (and along where I’d like to put the shrubs/trees) when it rains because the drainage sucks. I’d actually like to figure out how to catch that water as it runs off and use it to water plants, but I’m not sure how without mega $$$ and big equipment tearing up the neighbor’s yard.

So yes, that’s what I’ve been working on. Those things + new windows and siding should go a long way in making our house a better place to live. Or at least give the outward appearance of it. 😉

Corraling a mess

I’m almost embarrassed to show the “before” picture to you, but it really shows how badly this project was needed.


The Coat Closet of Shame

It was a serious disaster, and it needed some way to organize all the crap that was inside of it. Plus, I was a little nervous every time I reached in for a seldom worn pair of shoes that I was going to find another “mini tarantula”:

OMFG!!!! This is the biggest spider I've ever seen in a house!!! #minitarantula #nosleepformetonight

A photo posted by Sew Sarcastic (@sewsarcastic) on

And as you can probably imagine, that didn’t appeal to me at all. So, while organization won’t eliminate spiders, it at least gives me a better chance of seeing it before I grab it, know what I mean?

Anyway, this was a pretty quick project, and while I tried to use up some scraps, I didn’t have enough 1×12 lumber to do that. But, if you have some scraps of it laying around and need some shelves of your own, here’s the basic concept.

  1. Determine the maximum width and height of the shelves, less the wall/floor/door trim you’ll need to clear. I measured the width of the closet wall I planned to use, and then gave about 6 inches of clearance between the top shelf and the bottom of my coats. The shoes will take up about 3″ of that, depending on style of shoe, so keep that in mind.
  2. To determine how many shelves you’ll get from those parameters, measure your shoes–I wanted the bottom to be boots, so I measured my hubby’s tallest pair, added an inch or two for clearance, and marked it. Repeat with other shoes.
  3. Then I just cut the boards, screwed them together with pocket holes, and slid it into place. I may go back in and add some tiny L brackets to hold it to the wall (the little silver ones that are 1″ by 1″ would be sufficient to hold it if you have particularly fluffy carpet or uneven floors.)
  4. Admire.

As you can see, I didn’t put a shelf at the bottom, that would have been a waste of lumber. But isn’t it so much better than before? I think this cost about $20 in materials, and I spent probably an hour on it (which includes disassembling/trimming down/reassembling the whole thing because I actually cut it too exact and it wouldn’t clear the wood trim on the floor–Grrr!!!) If I lived closer to an Ikea, this might not have made as much sense to build, but since I don’t…

My shoes are so much happier now!

Handmade spice cabinet

Does anyone else have so many spices that they can’t find them all? And then you buy duplicates because you couldn’t find the basil that you were just sure you had (and after you get the new jar home you find out that you actually did have)? Just me? OK then.

A couple weeks or so ago I decided I’d had enough of trying to find spices in a cabinet above my head that was poorly organized, poorly lit, and multiple jars deep. So….I designed a spice cabinet to go in my pantry. It took me a good week to cut it out and assemble it (especially since I changed my plan halfway through!), but it was time well spent. It’s certainly not fine woodworking, but it’s woodworking at it’s finest. 😉


You have no idea how hard it was to get the shelves + the dowel rods in their proper places all at once. I needed 5 hands, but somehow I got it done with only my two!

I’m also kind of excited that my skills are finally visibly improving. Like to the point where I can actually tell that I’m getting a little bit better. This makes me happy, and hopefully, it’ll give me the confidence I need to build a desk for our office. 😮

Not perfect, but good enough!

If only I’d’ve added another inch in width. Not perfect, but good enough!

Woodworking neglect

There’s a reason my blog is called splinters and stitches, and it has to do with the other hobby–woodworking. So here’s some of the stuff we’ve been working on the last few months (or in one case almost a year! 😳 )

Last October-ish, we installed new windows in the toy room and our bedroom, I finally finished that job last month (and this post has been waiting for pics since then!). The trim has been up and stained for a while, but when we put the new windows in, the opening was slightly different, so we had to adjust the trim location, which meant that we had to do some drywall puttying, priming, and then painting. Which sucked. But, we got it done, and if you follow me on instagram, you got to see the whining that accompanied it. 😉 I’m only showing you the toy room pic because honestly, the trim and windows are exactly the same, and the wall color is still green, just a different shade, so it would just look like I forgot the flash or something anyway.


Right before we moved here last summer, we started a pair of nightstands…and they still aren’t finished. They are however, nearly fully assembled (there was some warping issues with the drawers, so I have to recut and redo those. But check out how beautiful the tops are!

WP_20150429_09_13_15_ProThe last thing I made was a little something to help tame the toys. My kids are terribly spoiled with toys, and even with a whole room for storage/playing, the setup just wasn’t working. So I built these shelves which–while not perfect–are quite lovely, and do the job admirably. 🙂

If you are wondering, every piece of wood here is stained using the exact same stain color, American Walnut from Rustoleum. NAYY, hell, I just discovered the stuff when I wanted to stain the window trim. I actually love it though, because it’s so easy to put on, and those pieces are all done with a single coat. Amazing, and it *almost* makes staining less of a PITA. Almost.

Well I hope that my fellow Americans had an enjoyable holiday weekend. May we never forget those who laid down their lives so that we can be free.

New Front Door!

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably already seen it, but for everyone else I thought I’d give a quickie update on a project for the current house. 🙂

Here is the “before”:

If you look very closely, you’ll see a gap in the glass at the top of the screen door. That’s what happens when you take the bottom glass and shove it to the top because the top glass is completely missing.

As you can see, this was not exactly a “looker”. Not only that, but the old door was a solid wood door which had very deep details cut into it. Hubby estimates that the thickness of the door in those decorative grooves would have been 1/2″ or less. Needless to say, this door let a lot of cold air in. And when it was nice enough to leave the big door open, the screen door didn’t exactly do a great job of keeping the bugs out…

So it had to go. I decided this time that since we sleep in the basement but shower upstairs (we have bad luck with basement showers and rotting walls, apparently) that I’d go with a smaller glass window for less of a neighborhood peep show. I chose what is called a “Craftsman” style door, but left off the dust-catcher shelf. They’re pretty, but I was just seeing it as being yet another thing to keep clean.

Since the house is eventually going to be a pale yellow (think the color of real butter) with white trim, I thought a red door would be just the thing. And both colors happen to go nicely with the brick we have on the front. It took two cans of paint to get the right red (the first was mixed wrong), but it was worth it, because it is absolutely gorgeous!

Isn’t it beautiful?! I love it!

Since we were already there, we opted to go ahead and change out the siding around the door too. It’s cedar right now, but I’m going to go ahead and paint it. It’s pretty like this, but I hate how cedar turns that grody shade of grey pretty quickly and I think it will be better to paint it when it’s new rather than wait until it gets weathered.

I’m planning to use the red from the door to paint our house number and the little doodad that surrounds the door bell button. It’s either going to be red or black, I haven’t totally committed yet, but I’m leaning towards red.

What projects are ya’ll working on? We’ve got a couple of windows that are waiting for a warm snap, but then we’re probably going to have to save up for a while. There’s definitely not a shortage of projects for this place, but we’ve gotta take it slow for a while. 🙂


Finished. Hotový. Complevit.

Yes, that’s finished in English, Czech, and Latin. Saying it only 3 times does not fully encompass my relief and joy at having the spare bathroom remodel completed. Well, I guess we have to hook up the toilet, but NBD. The actual remodel/facelift/whatever you want to call it is done. In case you’re curious, here’s what we did.

  • Primed and painted the ceiling (Color: Premixed “Bright White” Paint+Primer from DoItBest)
  • Primed and painted the walls (Color: Winter Storm from Ace Hardware)
  • Primed and painted the tile backsplash (Color: Premixed “Bright White” Paint+Primer from DoItBest)
  • Primed, painted, and clear-coated the countertop. (Color: Ming Vase from Ace Hardware)
  • Painted the cabinets (Color: Premixed “Bright White” Paint+Primer from DoItBest)
  • Changed the cabinet hardware (I bought these knobs at a “garage sale” that our local DoItBest did during the city wide garage sale, so I got about 20 knobs for $1!! I got another bag of somewhere around 40 handles/knobs in a pewter color too–it was a lot of digging through ugly brass, but who can complain when you get enough hardware to do my entire kitchen, laundry room, hallway “linen drawers”, and spare bathroom for $2?!)
  • New sink (not the actual sink I bought, but similar in price/style)
  • New faucet
  • New lights
  • New mirror (mine is the 24×24 version that I got on clearance from there.)
  • New towel ring and toilet paper holder
  • New flooring
  • New baseboard (mine came from a local DoItBest, so different brand and MUCH cheaper, I think mine cost like $25 for the base and the glue to put it up.)
  • A couple of new towels and a new trashcan

Originally, it was just going to get a new coat of paint, but I think that the rest of the stuff was worth it even though it tripled the cost of the project (I spent a bit over $600 total). They say that paint is an inexpensive way to change up the look in your house, but honestly, it’s not that cheap. In fact, paint and painting supplies were at least 1/3 of my total expenses on this cramped bathroom!! I also bought that expensive paint+primer stuff in the white for the ceiling, tile, and cabinets, and I can honestly say NEVER AGAIN. It was gloppy going on (IMO), and for being gloppy/thick, it didn’t cover nearly as well as I felt it should. Especially on the cabinets–it took 3 coats to get good coverage, and if I wasn’t so ready to just be done already, I’d have done a 4th coat, because it really could have used it. So yeah, don’t waste your money on that stuff–just buy the Killz primer and a can of your regular paint, it’s cheaper, easier to apply, and covers better.

The only think in there we didn’t bother to try tackling was the Shower of Plastication (in case you’re wondering, the plastic came down when we got the shower upstairs working). I flat didn’t have the cash to do anything with it, and it’s about going to take a professional to fix it anyway because of a couple of small (but CRUCIAL) details–like the location and style of the drain.

Anyway, enough words, let’s see the before/after pics, right? 😉

Before: (Click to embiggen)

After: (Click to embiggen)

So now, after being so good about finishing this project before starting to sew anything, I’m going to clean the extra crap out of my sewing room (a catchall area for bathroom remodeling supplies/trash) and sew something fun! I’m not set on anything yet, but I’m thinking a couple of pairs of undies and view E of this hat to match my coat from last year (which–so far–still fits.)

Beautiful weather procrastination

I have traced off and started altering my pattern pieces for the coat project, but haven’t gotten further than that. The weather has been really nice, so I’ve been utilizing it to get a few outdoorsy type projects done. Namely, I’ve been trying to clean my garage. 😯 Picture in your mind a not-quite-two-car garage that is so messy/fully of crap that you have a small trail to follow from one end to the other–assuming you have the ability to wiggle enough to maneuver said path….well, it’s not anywhere close to what I’m hoping for it it be, but I can fit my car in there now, so I suppose that you could say progress has been made. I also cleaned out our little garden shed and organized it a bit better than it was. We got rid of several things that needed thrown away or a new home, including a table that I was hoping to refinish that’s been with us for probably 6 years. It’s obviously a project that just isn’t meant to be, and wasn’t in condition for anyone else to try and fix, so I threw it away. I kept the chairs though, they should be easy enough to finish painting and put new cushions on them–someday. 😉

The other thing that was done? New shelving in the laundry room. We put up 3 shelves, a bar for hanging shirts, and by the end of the week, there should be a table that flips up for folding/ironing. I’ve been working it out in my mind how I want the table to work, we’ll see if I’m half as smart as I want to think I am. So that this isn’t a completely pictureless post, here’s the new shelving in the laundry room.

Not beautiful, but oh-so-functional.

So anyway, about that coat. Like I said earlier, I’ve got the pieces traced off and am working on the alterations prior to muslin #1. I hope to have a muslin ready to show tomorrow. And hopefully it won’t hurt your feelings too badly, but I opted for the McCall’s pattern without the hood (Vogue won the poll by one vote). That neckline on the Vogue kept coming up, and practical (boring) creature that I am, I finally relented. If it seems like this pattern doesn’t flatter my shape though, I’m keeping the Burda in mind, just in case. And I’m picturing the Vogue in velvet or faux suede as a jacket for early spring.

Bathroom remodel 99% and stalled

Note: All the pictures are in a slideshow, hopefully it won’t load too slowly. It’s really worth the wait though, if you are even remotely interested in how to completely transform a bathroom on a small budget (~$3,000).

You’ve probably forgotten that we were actually even doing this, but there was a bathroom remodel going on here. Even though it’s got a couple little finishing touches that aren’t complete, I’m going to post the pictures and call it “done” for here anyway. The only things we have left are to stain some shims for our window trim (the trim itself is actually stained/urethaned and ready to go up), and also cut and paint a door and the little trim piece for under the sink. A smidgen of caulk around the vanity, and it’s completely done. 🙂 But, you know how it goes…..you get to where it’s usable again and you just kind of lose interest and stall out. I’m actually planning to do the caulking this evening though, so that will be one less thing to worry about finishing.

Before I do the pictures, I just kind of wanted to list the things that we did to this bathroom, so you can get the full scope of this project–it definitely wasn’t for the faint of heart!

  • We pulled out an old cast iron tub that weighed a ton….maybe not literally, but it sure seemed like it.
  • We pulled down every inch of the drywall that was on the walls (we did leave the ceiling though, but I suspect it might have been easier in the long run to actually take that out too).
  • Patched in some new subfloor in strategic areas (read: under the toilet and tub area).
  • Put in a very thick underlayment (to match up to the rest of our floors).
  • Installed new vinyl flooring. (I love my new floor, it looks pretty, and it feels AWESOME under your feet–seriously. For as thick as it is, it isn’t as cushion-y as I’d expected though.)
  • Installed the new drywall and shower system. (The shower system was a retrofit kit for an alcove that originally held a bathtub–it had walls and a base that fit our opening pretty decent. We did have to shim out an entire wall, which is why we don’t have our window trim on just yet).
  • New lighting fixtures. Seriously more awesome than the old ones. And as a bonus, we moved our bathroom fan when we replaced it, and it has a light too–right above the shower! Seriously, that’s pretty awesome, no more shadowy showers!
  • New paint on the old vanity/cabinets. (IMO, this alone is what really makes this bathroom “pop”).
  • New hardware for the vanity and we re-used the old mirror and also some old towel bars/tp roller. The mirror was original to the bathroom and in great condition, and the towel bars were some we had bought back when we had a rental that didn’t have any towel bars–I liked them and didn’t want to leave them when we moved out. Since they were mine (no reimbursement), we kept them which worked out perfect for this project.
  • New faucet.
  • New vanity top–isn’t it absolutely gorgeous?! The sink is moulded into the vanity, so no pesky areas for gunk to get into.
  • We re-used the old toilet….it’s from the 60’s, but it still worked, so we put new seals/gaskets in it and stuck ‘er down.
  • New paint on the walls in a pretty shade of blue that really goes nicely with the color of the cabinets.
  • New cabinet hardware–I’m well aware that it’s just plain cheapo hardware from big Blue, but I really like how it looks, especially  now that it’s on.
  • New trim in the stain that mostly closely matched what was already in there. I wanted a darker color, but every piece of trim in the house is a more blonde color and I’m not really motivated to cut/stain new trim for every inch of the house. So, I decided to embrace it.

I think that pretty much sums it up. By re-using some of the things we already had (toilet, mirror, etc.) we saved a pretty good-sized chunk of change, though I’m thinking that it would have been smarter to go ahead and buy a set of shower doors, it’s really hard to keep the curtain in the shower now. Hopefully that’ll get easier as we get used to not having a full tub to hold it in. Anyway, enough blathering! On to the pictures! 🙂

Whatcha think? Way better right?

Nemesis: Paint!

I just finished putting on the second coat of paint in the bathroom, so it’s finally starting to look like a room now. Hooray!

You ever have something where no matter how much you “practice” you still suck at it? That’s how I am with painting. But, since I didn’t get paint in my hair (as far as I know), I’m marking this as a success! We chose a robin’s egg blue color for the paint–Ace Hardware’s “Timeless”, which is kind of bright right now, but once we get the vanity/cabinets painted and the hardware up, I think it’ll tone down. (And it seems to tone down as it dries as well.)

We also got our flooring in the other day, so it’s really coming together. The flooring is more brown-ish than I expected based on the sample, (I have the worst luck with samples) but I like the look of it anyway, and it really does make the room feel bigger, so that’s a win. I can’t wait to see how everything looks when it’s complete. I’m sorry I don’t have any new pictures to show you, but I’m hoping that here very soon I’ll have a bunch for you–especially the before/after ones. I’m keeping you in suspense I guess. 😉

Anyway, as you may have guessed, I live in the plains area. We’re supposed to be hammered with storms making hail and tornadoes out the yin yang. We’ll see how it goes, if you don’t hear from me in a few weeks, I’m probably homeless or something. Which would really suck considering all the effort we’re putting in on this bathroom, but that’s life here in the central U.S.

If you live in the path of these storms, take care; you know the drill.