Is there such a thing as a too big worktable?

It may surprise you, but the answer is yes. Hear me out.

I had a giant table in the garage that never used to get used because it was *gasp* too big. It got shoved into it’s space in the back corner of the garage, took up a ton of space and stayed covered in crap and couldn’t easily be moved to a new location to actually be used anyway…so it didn’t. It just stayed covered in crap and then when I needed a flat surface, I resorted to my plastic sawhorses with a piece of scrap plywood on top that’s less than ideal and hard to move around once it’s set up and covered with the current project. So when a Kansas storm rolled in and I wanted to park my car in the garage, I couldn’t.

In my sewing room, I have one of those J-A craft tables with the big rotary mat, and it’s kind of the same way. Sometimes that table holds all the stuff I don’t have good storage solutions for and then I can’t use it when I want to cut out a project without a major reorganization that generally involves shoving crap onto the floor or whatever.

A year or so ago, I spent the entire summer working on cleaning out and creating organization in the garage. I cut down that giant table that was always relegated to the back corner, and put on a bunch of onboard storage. We’ve used that table a TON since then. It’s so handy, and it still is a huge table–3.5 ft x 6ft, instead of the full 4ft x 8ft–but it’s on good casters, has a full set of drawers on one end with full extension slides, and a shelf underneath that holds toolboxes and the shopvac. I put magnet strips on 3 sides to hold small pieces mid project so they don’t have to sit on top and get knocked off or roll away. It’s not perfect, but I’m really happy with how useful it is now.

Ever since then, I’ve been thinking about how to fix my sewing room table too. I don’t know that I want the table to be smaller, because it fits my big cutting mat perfectly, but some additional storage options would be hugely beneficial. So I’ve been looking on the internet, as you do, and have found a couple of options from Ana White that I think will make my space less cluttered and more functional.

For me, the current winner is this one, but she has others that might also be good too, depending on your space. Now I just need to gather the supplies and get to building.

In the meantime, if you have suggestions on storing PDF pattern pieces printed on regular paper and taped/glued together I’m looking for a solution, rolling them into tubes isn’t working all that well. The glued pieces come apart, and the taped pieces can’t be ironed with enough heat to get the curl out. I’d love to do the projector thing and do away with pdf printed patterns altogether, but that’s not looking like a solution I can afford at present.

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ 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. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ (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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 theย wall/floor/doorย 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/reassemblingย 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰


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. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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! ๐Ÿ˜ณ )

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

It’s so hard…

To make yourself sew when the weather is absolutely gorgeous!! We’ve been having beautiful days–sunny, 70-75*F, minimal wind, perfect. It’s so nice to leave the windows open and get fresh air in, play t-ball/frisbee/catch/etc. with my son, and go for nice walks around the neighborhood. So I’ve been doing that. And, I must confess, sitting a fair amount of time in my chair (next to the open window) following Twitter/Pinterest. I honestly don’t know how some people are so prolific on there every single day, do they ever get to go outside? Are they eating? I guess, to each their own, but as for me, I’m going to do better about spending less time on there. I always feel a bit down on myself afterwards like “you wasted 2 hours looking at pictures and pithy comments instead of playing with your rapidly-outgrowing-the-playing-stage son?! What kind of crap SAHM are you, anyway?!”

I do have a quick sewing update. I have finished the bodice for McCall’ 6503, though I think when they said it was “easy” it was a terrible lie*. I think I made it 4 times in my attempt to make it once! And then, when I started to make the skirt, I happily chopped into my fabric before realizing that I cut the wrong size, so now I have to find a different fabric to make the skirt part with. *Note:* This may have actually been a blessing in disguise, because I’m not sure that this would have been a good pairing of fabric to pattern to other fabric(s). I think it might have been too heavy for the delicate fabrics on the top (which are basically some cotton lawn and an interlining of batiste or lawn.)

*Or I just always make things harder than theyย  need to be. You pick. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So anyway, I think that today I’m going to head off to the lumber yard to buy a couple of boards to make up some nightstands. I found some from Ana’s website that I think will be perfect for our bedroom. ๐Ÿ™‚ I might grab a couple of the supplies needed for the closet reorganizer that she has too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

To my fellow Americans, enjoy your holiday weekend, but don’t forget *why* we’re celebrating, and to non-Americans, have a fantastic weekend!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.

The Staycation Project

This last week we’ve been on a staycation. Or, more specifically, my husband has been (since my new job doesn’t start until this week). His job requires him to take off a full week every year, and this was his week of choice. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go anywhere terribly special, but we did get to spend some quality time together as a family, and also as a couple when the little man went to grandma’s for a couple of days. Twas very nice. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, so while I know that we’re probably weird to everyone else, we enjoy working together on little projects. That’s not to say that we don’t disagree on stuff, just that for the most part we have fun and enjoy the companionship (and the challenge, of course). This last week our project was a laundry basket dresser. Our is a bit more fancy than the one in the original post, and will look a bit more like this one:

Photo by: jensimmons @

Ours will be white (well, Fairhaven Grey), like this one, and it has some funky dimensions because we have 2 different types of laundry baskets and we’re too cheap to buy new ones for this when the old ones are in great shape. I totally stole the door and furniture feet idea from this version though, because it seemed like an awesome idea to make it a bit more classy. Though, if you are building something and want the little feet, plan to drive to a big box store–they’re in the trim aisle–because our locally owned store wasn’t even sure what we were talking about and didn’t carry them (not that they know in the big box store either–we found them by accident). We even got to use a router for the first time on this project. We’re totally going to have to get one of our own–this one was borrowed from the in-laws, and they’re probably going to want it back someday. It made putting the beadboard into the doors a whole lot easier, and gave the edges of the doors a slightly more professional look. We hope to get it painted up sometime in the coming week, once it dries out a bit. Though if the rain stays around all week we won’t cry about that either. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We’ve been in serious need of rain for months.

Hopefully I’ll get some sewing done in the next couple of days, and I am confessing now that I cheated and bought a jacket to get me through until I get another one made up. As slow at sewing as I am, it seemed to make sense to purchase a jacket for starters and then make a backup so that I wasn’t rushed.

Have a great week! ๐Ÿ™‚

Bookshelves in action!

This is the crappier one of the two bookshelves that I made forever ago and never could seem to get painted. You’ll notice in the second picture all the little holes–those are adjusters so that each shelf can be set at the perfect height. I drilled every one of those individually with a crappy drill bit, a cordless drill, a (really) steady hand, and a lot of time spent making all the little measurements “just so”. We’re talking precision, people!! For its fraternal twin, I got a spiffy new Forstner bit that made perfect holes and while I still did each hole individually with a steady hand and my cordless drill, I created a jig that in hindsight, probably didn’t save as much time as I’d hoped. I also spaced the holes 2″ apart instead of the 1″ that I used for the first shelf. Live and learn, eh?

Oh, and I’m totally expecting this shelf to be a disaster in….oh….3 days, give or take a couple of days. ๐Ÿ˜‰

All pretty for the picture...

Precision, I tell you!

BTW, there’s actually 3 adjustable shelves for each bookshelf. I just didn’t have the final shelf inserted when these pictures were taken. Guess I kind of jumped the gun a bit. Oh well.

Woodwork for the sewing room

I posted some “plans” the other day for the new shelving unit that is going into my sewing room. Today, I picked up the lumber, cut the boards, put wood filler in all but two of them (I ran out after the stores all closed @ noon… :-(), and sanded all the ones that got the wood filler. I’ve been taking extra care with sanding these even though I’m painting them, because I don’t want them to snag any fabric.

After church tomorrow, maybe we’ll go to the city and get some more wood filler and some primer from big Blue or big Orange. Then I’ll get to try out my new toy–a LVLP spray gun! I got a cheap one last fall to use to paint some bookcases I was building; sadly, I never got to paint them because it got too cold too quickly. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ So now, as soon as I finish filling/sanding/screwing together the shelves for my fabric wall, I’m going to prime and paint both bookcases and the fabric wall pieces.

Oh yeah, and about that basement family room? It’s already being put to good use. The kiddo and I played several rounds of basketball yesterday using his basketball goal that’s down there. So fun! ๐Ÿ™‚