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BEFORE: Master Bathroom:  We demolished the entire bathroom to take out the outdated plastic tub surround, old vanity, mirror and light fixtures.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.

You can visit my website here to see how I did it, what patterns I used and what the finished gown looked like.

Please feel free to come back to this blog and leave any comments or questions for me.

My Gingerbread Creations

My Gingerbread Creations

About 40 years ago I took a Gingerbread making class in Seattle.  Loved gingerbread ever since and not only did I make a few houses here and there and I also cut all patterns from women's magazines.

 Below are some of my creations as well as old patterns I have put into PDF form for anyone to enjoy (so you need to have a PDF reader to see these). 

Leave me a comment or question if you like.  If you make any of these I'd love to see a picture and I'll post them here and on my website.


Gingerbread Swan King:  I found this pattern 30+ years ago, then lost the pattern and had to recreate it.  You bake the swan's body over a small stainless steel bowl.  You can decorate as much or as little as you like.  I chose to cover the entire swan in royal icing for this version.  Click here for the PDF of the instructions and patterns on my website. 

Swiss Chalet Gingerbread House:  this is the first gingerbread house I learned how to make.  It's small and compact and doesn't take a lot of candy to decorate (unless you want to go that route). It makes a great centerpiece for your holiday table.  Click here to go to my website to download the pattern and instructions.  Just scroll down the page a bit till you see the Swiss Chalet.

Icing Church:  okay--so it's not gingerbread but its a very pretty holiday decoration.  Its pretty easy to make--just takes patience.  You pipe royal icing onto wax paper following the pattern pieces you put under the wax paper.  Click here to go to my website to download the pattern and instructions.  Just scroll down the page a bit until you see the Icing Church.

Gingerbread Dollhouse

A two-story house complete with furniture for a kitchen, living room and bedroom.  This one is a lot of fun to make but give yourself plenty of time--it's got lots of pieces.  My favorite thing is the quilt for the bed made out of Chiclets.  Click here for the pattern and instructions on my website.  Just scroll down until you see the Dollhouse.

"Chinese" Corset

Chinese Inspired Corset

Every year The Great Bay Area Costumer's Guild (San Francisco) holds an Open House where members can socialize and potential members can find out what the group is all about. There is usually a raffle with some great prizes as well.

A few years ago I made this corset as one of the prizes.  You can visit my website here to for a bit of information on the corset.  While not a complete how-to you may find it interesting as I show how to make a corset busk wrapper.

Old Gingerbread Patterns

Below are the gingerbread patterns I've collected from women's magazines over the years.  You will need to visit my website here to download the PDF files of pictures and instructions.  As I have time I will scan the rest in my stash.  Hope you enjoy them.  If you make them please send me an email with photo and I'll post here.

Here's what I have so far.

Santa's Tugboat


Gingerbread Angels

Little Gingerbread Cottage

Gingerbread Train

Santa's Workshop

Gingerbread Dream House