Crate Shelves and Custom Curtains, aka Success with Fabric Painting

A friend asked me to help with the nursery for her baby boy, due in just a few weeks! I’ll do a complete post on the nursery soon, but there are a couple of projects I thought I’d go ahead and share now.

crate shelvesFirst up, crate shelves! The nursery has a corner of “dead space” right by the door. It’s a small room and we wanted to make as much use of the available space as possible. I found these crates at IKEA (no, IKEA does not give me money to mention them in every other post, although I’d be pretty psyched if they did). Crates like these seem to be everywhere now, and are handy for all sorts of projects, but the IKEA ones seem a little sturdier to me than the ones I’ve seen at craft stores. Plus the large ones are only $10 a pop. I took five of them to their house and we played with the configuration until we found one that suited the space, and let them keep the use of the outlet in that corner. To mount them, I used these drywall anchor screws, plus washers, to give the relatively small screw heads a little more stability. The bottom crate (the one most likely to be pulled on at some point) got 4 screws; the others crate shelves 2got 2 each. And because they’re all mounted independently, if the little angel does manage to pull on one crate, the whole thing won’t come tumbling down, like a traditional bookcase. One thing to keep in mind – the IKEA crates have two slats on the bottom as “feet” for the crate, which would’ve meant a gap between crate and wall that would’ve diminished the sturdiness of the anchors. Solution? Flip the bottom over, so the slats are on the inside of the crate and countersink the screws when you put the crate together. (My friend’s genius husband came up with this.)

Next, the return of fabric painting. No, it wasn’t a long hiatus, since it was just in my last post, but this time, in an exciting twist, it actually worked! Huzzah! The color scheme of the nursery is gray, navy and white. The walls are gray and the furniture white, so I thought I’d bring some navy in by painting the curtains. I started with these Merete curtains (really, IKEA, fork over some of that sweet Swedish cash already). This project looked a bit more promising than the chair, because the fabric is a cotton twill – no real nap to it. I ironed (zzzzz) and laid out the curtain panels on my living room floor, with some heavy duty drop cloths underneath. Apparently, I buy the fancy drop cloths, according to my brother-in-law, but I hate sitting on plastic while I paint. Everything got taped down to keep Georgia from playing hide-and-seek underneath while I was working (jk, the tape totally didn’t stop her) and I started taping out the design. I wanted something geometric with clean lines. I considered stripes, but once I thought up the triangles, I really wanted to do that. To keep it from being all navy (and too dark for the room), I decided on a scattered design of triangles at the top, building to full rows of triangles at the bottom.

With a piece of cardboard as my template for the height and angles, I started taping with the 3M blue tape I always use for paint projects. Once, in a fit of extra cheapness, I bought the generic Home Depot HDX painter’s tape, and discovered it’s not much good for anything other than frustration and messy paint lines, and I’d always shied away from the more expensive Frog Tape. 3M blue tape was safely middle of the road (I expect that phrase will be on my tombstone). Unfortunately, after taping out a portion of the design, I realized that my trusty blue was not sticking to the fabric in a number of places, and I couldn’t make it. So I sprung for the Frog Tape, full of skepticism about its purported superiority, but oh man, it was worth it. Crisp lines galore! I taped out my design, used bits of my removed blue tape to mark the triangles I didn’t want to paint, and went to town with my roller and paint/textile medium mix. I used a 4″ roller, which was pretty easy to keep in the lines, although there are definitely a few blue triangles that I intended to be white, but after some overly exuberant rolling, had to become blue. I ended up using 8oz of Soho Mineral Blue acrylic and 4oz of textile medium.

Here they are hemmed and hung in the nursery!

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Window Seat and Valances

I’ve been toying with the idea of building a side business, wherein people pay me money, like legal US tender, to do the projects I love on their behalf. I’m starting with developing a portfolio and taking on a variety of projects for other people.

My co-worker recently had his kitchen renovated and he and his wife needed some custom-sewn pieces to finish it out – valances for the windows and a box cushion and pillows for their new window seat.

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Valances

The window seat cushion needed to be custom as it was quite long (91″ on one side) and trapezoidal. If you’re in the Austin area, I highly recommend Capitol City Upholstery Supply – I’ve ordered from them a few times and they always do a great job measuring precisely, and I haven’t found better prices for the quality. Their medium-dense foam is perfect for a box cushion like this.

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Window Seat Cushion

Sewing a trapezoidal box cushion while trying to match stripes turned out to be a lot trickier than I expected. I had to recut the side panels because I’d forgotten to account for my hem allowance with the angles. I’m no math wiz, but I can’t remember the last time I forgot to add a hem allowance in my cuts. My brain was just not computing a 3D trapezoid right the first time around. But the second time around was the charm and the seams lined up very respectably.

The customer also asked for low, long pillows to line the edges of the window seat. I love making pillows, I think because I love closing them. A ladder stitch just looks like magic – a few stitches, then you pull it closed, and presto! the seam is gone.

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Magic pillows

More client projects to come!