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hacked curtain DIY

23 Jan

We’ve been living with some ratty-ass curtains for the last year or so. Most of the time though, I barely even noticed. New curtains for our front windows have been on the to-do list for months, maybe years. We moved here with extra long very shear white curtains from one of my first apartments, and continued to use them for the last four years. They were great because they let in a lot of natural light and were actually long enough for our extra tall windows. They started to become a little gray and maybe threadbare in spots, but who is crazy enough to get new curtains when you’ve got four wild animals? Two of  said animals are climbers, or um, tree-dwellers as we’ve learned. The younger cats helped speed up the curtain destruction process, with snags and holes from their various climbing and jumping and attacking antics. You can’t have nice things and have (4) cats guys, its basic.

Cats have kindly started growing up, which is a nice favor to our home. They still can’t be trusted, but our house is less of a war zone than it used to be. After 10 years of use, our dingy, once-white curtains finally called it quits, but we continued to keep them up because the search for replacements was damn hard. Extra long curtains that aren’t shiny, sparkly, heavy, ugly, or $80 per panel and approved by two very opinionated people? Hard to come by. One of us wanted pattern, one of us wanted plain white. Neither one of us really trusts our cats not to be shitheads and scale the curtains, so we knew we wanted curtains that weren’t too precious and expensive. We went fabric shopping a handful of times, but couldn’t agree on a fabric, but also couldn’t find the weight we really wanted. Important life decisions here, I know.

Cue a trip to Ikea. I was not expecting much, but we were both surprised to find curtains that weren’t offensive in any way to either one of us. We measured the windows twice, but forgot the measurement somewhere along the way. Probably in the kitchen department. We convinced ourselves that 108″ was the length we needed (it wasn’t) and we came home with four panels. We tossed the old curtains to the floor, the curtains became the new hot cat nap spot for the day, and kicked ourselves for the way too short curtain purchase. We avoided the problem for a month, before heading back to Ikea for an additional pack of curtains, so I could embark on a tremendously frustrating sewing project!


The plan was to add a panel of fabric to the bottom of each curtain to extend the length to the floor. We started by taking apart the not-even-close-to-straight hems, straightened all the edges, measured and cut new fabric panels, then spent countless hours tediously, frustratingly lining up stripes and pining panels together. Sewing with stripes is for crazy people. Crazy patient people. I almost lost my mind. I absolutely threatened that I would never sew again. I dramatically quit several times, while Intern alternately hid from me, and tried to help out where he could. He is the ironing and pining patience master. Thankfully this project is over. It was expensive for my sanity, but our search for reasonably priced shear and agreeable curtains is done. Lessons have been learned: 1. measure everything, then WRITE IT DOWN. 2. Don’t deal with stripes ever again. The cats have been warned, stay away from the curtains.


The smell of progress

21 Oct


We’ve enjoyed another week of warm sunny days, but the cooler nights remind me that summer won’t last forever. Not this year, anyway. Living in San Francisco these past four years has mostly wiped away all muscle memory of real fall and winter weather. My sweaters are cardigans, my socks are cotton, and cold weather doesn’t mean freezing anymore. I’ll be heading to Seattle in a few weeks, where I’ll get a good reminder of what fall feels like.

For the past few weeks I’ve been working on an exciting side project that I’m almost ready to fully unveil. Its been an interesting process to work with a new method of production with a very different material. Over the past few weeks I’ve been slowly building a small product line for audiophiles, which  has been an interesting challenge. In a few weeks I’ll have four styles of record dividers available for custom orders. I myself am not a record collector, but living with one has been invaluable in the process.

To be prepared for the holiday season I’ve got a list of to-dos that I’m working though between client deadlines. I’ve been sneaking in working sessions on the weekends, as well as in the mornings and evenings after meetings. Packaging is almost done, sample sets are almost ready for photography, and the online shop is coming along. I had a cold that slowed me down for a week, but now all I’m nursing is a cough, and I’m eager to get these products out in the world. My office smells like burnt wood from the increasing stacks of laser cut wood panels, but thats the new smell of progress right now!

For vinyl collectors

1 Oct

After another round of custom orders and some updates to the original design, I’m getting closer to bringing these laser cut record dividers to market. It took some time to re-jigger the design for vertical dividers, and a few chats with other record collectors to figure out a plan that makes the more sense. These dividers will likely be handled a bit more than their horizontal cousins, so we went with engraved letters, rather than cut outs. I’m learning more about laser cutting, and wood, and weirdo audiophiles, so I’m getting the hang of this thing, one set at a time. The original set is now just a prototype, and I’m ready to update that design.

Custom boxes are on order, and I’m designing labels for different sets. I’ve got a production team in place and we’ve been working closely together to knock out inefficiencies, in production and design. I’m at the lumberyard nearly every week, and I’m pretty much a pro at loading and unloading wood without getting splinters.

new color, old color

5 Sep

We sometimes lovingly compare our colorful San Francisco home to living in a Skittles box. When we fiirst moved in more than four years ago, our landlord was very proud to point out that the apartment had been freshly painted, all colors of his choosing. Loud color, but color that also seemed at the time… not-so-loud when balanced with bright sunny rooms and 10 foot ceilings. Um, right? We’ve got brick red in the hallway, avocado green in the living room, and a sort of sick buttery yellow in the dining room. The rest of the house (fortunately) is shades of calm antique white & beige. When we moved in, we embraced the colorful walls, reassuring ourselves and each other that we’d always look back fondly on our San Francisco days, living in a colorful crayon box back when we were young and free (with four cats). Fast forward four years, and countless discussions (arguments) about color, we’ve fantasied about changing the color of every room. All grey. All white. All black. All grey. All totally different. Over the weekend we visited the most inspiring apartment we’ve seen in months, and finally got the courage to make a change. The apartment was the bottom floor of an old victorian, tastefully designed and decorated by an interior designer + event planner roommates… and it was beautiful. Careful vignettes, staggered seating areas, excellent lighting, and surprising pops of color.

Monday morning I called the landlord and had the most surprisingly easy conversation ever, and hung up moments later with his permission to repaint the dining room. Intern says I might have rushed things a bit, but soon enough we were in the paint aisle at Loewes, having a public debate on victory vs indigo, black vs jet black, tan vs taupe.  We decided to start small, with the middle room of the house, with the fewest walls, but we decided to go very bold with color. After taping and priming for hours, we finally got around to putting on the first coat of paint. We’re still painting, and we need a few more coats and touch ups, and we’re both kind of in shock. Color takes time to get comfortable with, right?

(Sort of) Social Club

12 Aug


At the beginning of the month we held the first ever meeting of  The Sort of Social Club for serious ladies (and men).  This loose “club” came out of weeks of ruminating over ways to infuse more crafting/reading/social fun into the summer. You know, the busy summer. The cult of “busy” has us all tied up all over the place, and although I find myself in the busy trap all the time, I need to make time for some slow craft, with friends! The club so far consists of: snacks, cocktails, craft-making, friends and internet free afternoon-ing. After sending out a drawn out email with details about this new social club (complete with its own logo, obviously) I got a gang of gals together for the very first free Saturday most could agree on.

For our first project, we painted textiles, inspired by Oh Happy Day’s painted tablecloth project. Everyone had a bit of homework before project day, to pick out a project, (tablecloth, napkins, placemats or pillow cases) buy fabric, and buy paint. The gals came armed with snacks and supplies, and we set up shop out on the sidewalk in the sun, after a short, but serious lesson on measuring and squaring fabric. I was a bit bossy about that one– that part is tedious, but necessary, and will save headaches and frustration later down the road.


Once our fabric was square and the edges were finished on the overlock machine, we poured some plum-basil cocktails and spent a few hours outside painting our fabric. Two of us created tablecloths, while the other two made placemats. The finished projects are below: a black tablecloth with gold dots by Taysa, white placemats flecked with gold and black spots by Becky, striped canvas placemats by Laura and finally, my green striped tablecloth.


Lessons learned: All the ladies reported back pleased with their projects. The prep and painting took most of the afternoon, and nearly everyone needed more time to finish sewing the edges. Also, our motivation to keep working dipped considerably when the cocktails kicked in, but we pushed each other along to keep going.  The project was easy to begin with, but made slightly more difficult by being outside and painting in the wind. We haven’t settled on our next project yet, but I’m eager to keep the projects coming!

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