Saturday, March 2, 2013

Magnolia House Prep for Sale

February 2013 - I got a commission to prep a 4-bedroom house in the Magnolia district of Seattle from the attorney that helped me with my mother's estate.  Along with Natalie, the real estate agent that staged and sold my mother's house we made a great team for this large undertaking.

My crew and I worked for a little over 3 weeks to get ready for the open house.  Than Natalie staged every room and the result was the largest open house she had ever had and the house sold for $90K over the asking price!

You can see the before and after here on my website.

Front of House - BEFORE

Front of House - AFTER
The mailbox slot was filled with insulation and there was no opening into the house (photo below). 
  • I used "doorskin" to cover that whole panel behind the light. 
  • I found old matching house paint in the garage and once painted you never knew the mail slot was there.
  • We removed three different layers of carpeting on the front stoop and again found old matching paint to paint it.
  • Added a new porch light.
  • Took down the large Heron weathervane on top of the roof
  • Added flowers to the front yard and a large pot of flowers on the front stoop.
  • Pressure washed the brick walkway.
  • Planted flowers.

Front Door Before and After

The next photo shows the foyer/entry looking out from the stairway towards the front door.  Natalie added all the staging furniture to really make the house POP!

BEFORE: Master Bathroom:  We demolished the entire bathroom to take out the outdated plastic tub surround, old vanity, mirror and light fixtures.  Luis Felix, my contracting partner, did all the demo and framing for the new tub and mirrored cabinet.  He also put in the porcelain floor.  He also had to raise the wall above the toilet to add a little more height to put in a modern toilet.  I did the tub surround tiling and all the painting. 

Shower/Tub after Tiling

The finished bathroom

BEFORE - Master Bedroom:  The window next to the mirrorred closet doors in this photo below was missing the window sill and window framing.  Luis recreated the sill and framing to look like the other two windows in this bedroom.  The fireplace was cleaned, carpets shampooed and a new ceiling light installed.

BEFORE/AFTER- Living/Dining/Sitting Room:  These large open rooms needed a refresh of paint.  You can also see in the following pictures below that each doorway opening had decorative corner pieces that needed to be removed and the surface repaired.  There were two gold-leafed cherubs in the entrance to the sitting room as well as a couple of gold-eyed swans.  There were also plastic decorative ceiling medallions under each light fixtured that were removed and the ceiling repaired underneath them.  Natalie had her work cut out for her staging these huge, bare rooms to make it look warm and inviting.  The end picture will show mission accomplished!

Dining Room ceiling medallion
The notorious Swan sconces
Staging makes the room!

Monday, December 17, 2012

1863 Victorian Bonnet

Back on April 30, 2006 The Greater Bay Area Costumer's Guild offered a Hat Workshop with the very talented Lynne Taylor.  You could choose to either make a Victorian or Regency style bonnet and I opted to make the Victorian. Lynne is an incredibly talented designer and costumer. Not only does she do incredible costumes--her hats and recovered parasols are true sights to behold! To the left you can see my finished creation.
I took this class to learn more about working with buckram and got more than my money and time's worth. I really got into making this hat. Though I may have gone a little overboard in decorations, each step to finishing my hat taught me something new. Read on to see step-by-step on how I finished up my hat.

The Class

Our all day class was held at Language Studies Institute in downtown Berkeley. First, you need to select the type

of hat you wanted to make and take turns with all the other students copying your pattern on to the buckram, transferring all the marks to your pattern with pencil and cutting it out.

Next you use your pattern to cut out your fashion fabric. So that we did not have to "mull" our hat (a cushy lining that provides a smooth surface to cover with fashion fabric) Lynne asked us to select a heavier fabric (velveteen for example). I chose a nice claret-wine colored vevelteen.
 Now it was time to start covering the crown of the hat. It was interesting to see all the different types of fabric people chose for their hats. Everyone works at their own pace and we all needed to finish up our hats at home.

Finishing Up At Home - The Pieces

I was able to cover both the outside of my brim and crown at the class. Now, using Lynne's typed instructions I needed to add my lining and finish my trims. I used my lovely silk shot claret/blue fabric for the lining. I ran a double line of gathering stitches on one end of the fabric and glued it to the inside of the brim. Then I stretched the fabric creating pleats as I went along. Using FabriTac I glue it all down. To finish off I cut bias trim out of the velvelteen, sewing it down on the outside and then gluing it down on the inside (boy I love FabriTac!). 

Now I'm ready to put the crown and the brim together. Note: Don't want you all to think that Lynne taught me, or any one else in the class, gluing techniques. Lynne hand stitches everything- but says we can glue if we are so inclined. It's always best to learn to do this the correct way. And think about it, if you are using vintage lace and trims you should not be gluing them down. I did do a lot of hand sewing but did glue some things because of my lack of strength in my fingers due to oncoming arthritis.

Using heavy thread and taking long stitches I sewed the brim to the crown (left photo). I have carpal tunnel and beginning of arthritis so I used a small pair of pliers to help push and pull the needle through the thick fabric covered buckram--it made the task a breeze. I also cut a wide bias piece of vevelteen and made a band to cover the stitches made when I attached the crown and brim as seen in the picture below right

Now Let's Trim

I cut long strips of the lining fabric and made a 2" wide tube of fabric.  I then folded it in half and ran two gathering stitches at the bottom and gathered it up.  I glued this on to the lining fabric in line with the brim.  I then glued claret braided trim to hide the gather stitches.  Very frilly and feminine I think.  Below are a couple of close-ups of the inside trim.

Ribbon Trim and Flowers

I had no set idea when I started on trimming. I like to make ribbon flowers--heck, just like ribbon trimming period. I made a visit to The Ribbonerie in San Francisco (which sadly is not there anymore) to shop for my trims. Ideas formed and inspiration seemed to come as I went along. I layed two pieces of blue and claret-colored wired ribbon and formed very short accordion pleats and layer them across the top of the brim. I didn't have that much to go all the way from end to end but I knew I'd be adding other trim so the ends would be covered.

I made various roses in different colors of ribbon and then sewed them on to light-weight crinoline. Below you can also see how I lightly sewed then sewed them to the back of the crinoline (see photo below).  When finished I glued the arrangement right on to the hat.

Decorating the Inside of the Bonnet

I decided I want the look of a leaf and flower-covered vine to frame the inside of the brim. At first I thought I would use ratail but I didn't like the way-to-shiny appearance. I took some 1/4" green silk ribbon and, using FabriTac, I rolled it around the ratail. Every inch or so I added little leaves that I also made from the green silk ribbon. Then I took some varigated claret-colored silk ribbon and made 5-petal flowers, finishing off with a little bead in the middle. These pictures below give you and idea of how I put these together.

The Final Frills

I made more long fabric tubes, folded them in half and ran two gathering stitches along the bottom again but this time sewed them down on crinoline in a rose-like pattern. I made 3" wide ribbon ties from claret taffeta to match the bavoluet (the skirt-like curtain at the back of the hat) and glued those down. Then I glued the rose frills on top the ribbon ties.

Finishing the Lining

I did not have enough fabric to finish the lining so I took my last little swatch and trundled off to Britex (San Francisco's extraordinary fabric store to see if I could find a match. I found some polyester taffeta that was close but very stiff. I washed and dried it which softened it up quite nicely. I sewed gathering threads about an inch and 1/2 apart in both directions to make 1.5" square patterns all the way across the fabric.

When gathered up it made a lovely squishy pattern.  I cut out a thick paper circle that matched the crown top piece and glued the fabric around it.  After I finished with the inside crown wall lining I glued the circle down in to the top and then glued claret trim around it to finish off the lining. Whew!

Photos of the Finished Hat

Queen Elizabeth I Gown


Since I organized a GBACG event in 2007 where Queen Elizabeth the I hosted a feast for the infamous Irish Pirate Queen, Grace O'Malley I had to get busy and make a costume.

Luckily I had a lot of fabric in my stash and spent a few weeks bringing my sketch to life.

I found some fabulous brocade that would work for the sleeves and a forepart (decorated skirt front). The sketch to the left show my original concept.
What didn't work was my idea for creating some trim out of some black braid I had. A quick trip to an old favorite fabric haunt on Mission Street in San Francisco netted me some incredible trim. The final trip was to General Bead to find some garnet looking beads to pair with some old gold beads for the sleeve and forepart.
Pattern: I used Margo Anderson's Elizabethan Lady's Underpinningsfor the corset and her Elizabethan Lady's Wardrobe for the bodice, sleeves and forepart. I tried to use the partlet pattern but for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to cut it out, let alone sew it. Everything else, however, fit together like a dream!
The bodice is made in four simple pieces, back, two side-fronts and shoulder straps.Here's a shot (below) of the bodice which I lined with some cotton I had laying around (thank god for my fabric stash!).

If you wanted to make the bodice all in one piece you could fit a muslin first and cut out in your fashion fabric. Or, if you wanted to adjust for weight changes you could put grommets in the side pieces and add laces for more flexibility in fitting.
I used large, covered, coat hooks and eyes (from Britex) to close the front but could also have used grommets and laces. the front is boned and I also put bones on both sides of the side seams.
Below is the final fitting and adjusting where I wanted the straps to fit for a nice snug fit.

I worked with various ideas on where I wanted to place the trim and then hand-sewed it down. I also added a peplum along the bottom of the bodice (photo below).

Close-up of the trim below. I sewed the gold braid on each side of the trim--it is really spectacular trim and was it was very inexpensive!

Below is the final trim design on the bodice.

In order to keep the hooks and eyes from showing and give a more finished appearance to the front of the bodice I created two rolls of fabrics, wrapped with gold braid and sewn to each side (see below).

These are the trimmed sleeve caps.

Fitting the bodice over the skirt and forepart. The skirt was made of 4 large rectangle pieces that I cartridge pleated into a waistband.

I used carpet thread for added strength when doing the cartridge pleating.  The photo below shows the inside of the waistband.  The second photo shows the outside.

Here is a close-up the sleeve and beading which also matches the forepart.

Below are photos of the finished dress.  I also blogged on making the headpiece here.