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Curtain(s) Up!

There are probably as many ways to install shades and curtains on a deck or pergola as people can dream up. The basic making directions are here : I’m going to go over some ideas that I got AFTER I made the decisions that I did:

Adjustable shower curtain rods. You can find these to fit spaces between about 40” and 72”. So what I could have done would have been to have either put grommets into the top of the shades and then used shower curtain rings (and goodness knows there are a zillion different types of those; I could have found some to match the pergola, even). OR, I could have gotten those humongous curtain grommets (JoAnne Fabrics has them, as do other curtain supply houses), put those into the top of the shades and strung the adjustable shower curtain rod through those. The upside of that would have been that the shades would have been like curtains and could be opened or closed at will. Neato. (more…)

More Shady Doings at Chez Siberia

I did not describe the process by which Aunt Toby came to the conclusion that making shades for the pergola was the way to go. Actually, I did not describe the process by which the decision to put a pergola on the deck was made either. But, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

There are numerous ways to gain shade: (more…)

My Kingdom For Some Shade

Aunt Toby is not sure exactly when decks replaced porches but somewhere in the not so distant past, people got all hot and bothered to have a place to sit outside that wasn’t a patio and didn’t have a roof. And not being immune to this, when we did “the first big dig” on Chez Siberia (which consisted of a double dug, French-drained basement with its own separate sump and pump to take care of the amazingly huge hydrostatic pressure that we had), we put on this little deck at the back entrance (it is a RULE that all houses in the country must absolutely have a ‘back door’ or ‘kitchen door’ which is what everyone expects to use as the entrance no matter how lovely or appropriate the front entrance is. It is a rule, probably promulgated by Organic Gardening or Mother Earth News or some such publication, but I digress). (more…)

Double Clutch

Never let it be said that Aunt Toby is easily discouraged. I think it can be said that I made just about every error in the clutch trial run and ended up with something that was not what I’d hoped. Not that I won’t use it – I’ve never had a purse yet that I couldn’t find a use for. But the whole basis of this was to check off an item on my ‘Want to do in 2010’ list, which is to sew with leather. For all the sewing I’ve done over the years (and I’ve made everything from snow suits with double zippers, softsided luggage, hunting and photographer’s vests with a zillion pockets et al., I’ve always been pretty afraid of sewing with leather. Somehow I had this vision that I’d burn out the motor of my sewing machine. It’s just a Kenmore, after all. (more…)

Clutch Trial Run

One of my goals this year is to work with fabrics and materials that I don’t have any experience with. There are certain materials that give me the willies and over the years I have dipped my experiential toe into working with them. This year is to basically work with leather enough that it doesn’t scare me anymore. It’s not that Aunt Toby lusts after a leather skirt or something like that (I am, ahem, post-leather skirt, if you must know). But it’s an intriguing material. (more…)

Repairing a Blue Jeans Fly – Part 2: The Zombie Attack Version

So, let’s say that you are holed up in an abandoned farm house and the zombies are attacking and the zipper on your fly breaks. Now, Aunt Toby realizes that perhaps at this moment you are not worrying about your pants falling down while a zombie eats your brains, but you never know. Here’s a way to repair that fly, keep your pants up so that you can pay proper attention to the zombies and perhaps get a few damaging licks in before they overwhelm you. I mean, Shaun would have made sure his fly was all fastened up..Right? (more…)

Replacing a zipper on blue jeans – Part 1

Aunt Toby’s repair basket probably has at least as many pairs of blue jeans that do NOT have rips or tears in them as she does the other sort. They are there because of ‘zipper failure’. Do not ask me why this happens – these zips started out life as vigorous metal zippers but many times lose the pull or the top stop or something and then the only thing holding the owner in is a hardy sense of decorum and the top button. And perhaps some safety pins. It’s really quite annoying because most of the time the zip fails before anything else fails and because we all see replacing a zip in an already finished garment as being too much work, the jeans end up in the repair basket or thrown away.

Very sad. (more…)

Saving the Least Worst – Blue Jeans, That Is

Around here, there are ‘nice’ blue jeans and ‘work pants’, which actually many times started out as ‘nice’ but through ‘life as it is lived’ here, achieve ‘work pants’ status. Once they’ve ‘arrived’ as work pants, it’s every man for himself, pants-wise (for my readers from the UK, I realize that ‘pants’ in your world refer to what we consider underwear, but just go with me here), and they accumulate stains, paint, worn spots and rips. As every mother of 7 year old boys knows, rips can appear in brand new jeans (especially if you live where there are fences, barbed wire, ends of nails and staples sticking out of walls, etc. ) but most of the time, they get worn in certain places (and actually in places that you’d never expect, too) and then it’s only a matter of time before the weak places separate and rip and there you are. (more…)

Not a Chanel

For readers who are not hip-deep in the ‘sewing blogisphere’, you may not be familiar with the absolutely explosive growth in people’s sewing what could probably be called ‘Chanel-type’ jackets or ‘Chanel Tribute’ jackets. Go Chanel or Go Home

There are all sorts of patterns around – every one of the socalled ‘Big Four’ has at least one. One of the most popular is the one at the top of the post, Vogue 7975, which has been in their catalog for at least 3 years and is still in their collection and available for purchase. (more…)

Tailors Hams, Rolls and Other Things I Don’t Have

Aunt Toby has been a sewer for a long time. Looking back, since I was first set in front of an old reconditioned and electrified Singer treadle machine when I was 11 years old, it’s been 40-odd years. And sewing is one of those things where there are always new things to learn and there are all sorts of tips and tricks that I don’t know.

But I do know a couple.

One is that with wool (and probably all animal fiber based) fabric, there is almost nothing you can’t do if you have a steam iron and a wet cloth. It helps if you have some of the niftier tailoring equipment such as:
A ham: Tailor’s Ham
A Seam Roll: Sleeve Roll
A Sleeve Board: Sleeve Board

I happen to have my great-grandfather’s sleeve board ( he worked as men’s suit presser), but I don’t have any of the other equipment. If you look at the photograph, you’ll see my ‘jack of all tools’ – it’s yellow and it’s a bath towel.

In this case, after I had sewn in the sleeves on this jacket I am working on now, the seam just did not look really nice, so the first thing I did was that I took another towel (a guest size towel), dampened it, rolled it up and doubled that – that became my ‘ham’ and I shoved that into the top of the sleeve and then with another damp pressing cloth on top, I shrank the top in a little bit so that it was smoother. Then, I removed that towel and took a different towel – the bath size – and I rolled THAT up into ‘arms’ and shoved those into the sleeves. As you can see, they literally go from almost the bottom of one sleeve, all the way across the form ‘shoulders’ and then down into the other sleeve. I then pulled the roll slightly up at the top of the sleeve so that the roll is a little bit ‘fatter’ there so that it would firm out the top of the sleeve a little bit and I set that on a drying rack over our hot air registers to dry and set the top of the sleeve.

Not that I don’t want people to buy tailoring equipment – but many times you can use what you’ve already got at home.

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