Thursday, November 8, 2012

An Actual Functional Adult Helps Me Make a Curtain

You are all probably SO DAZZLED by my recent EXTREME, UNEQUIVOCAL SUCCESS in improving my previously uninspired home decor that you said aloud, to your computer screen, "Dear, delightful Liz, why do you not complete MORE divine projects that I may read of and revel in them?"  Oh, dear reader, I weep to tell you: if you speak aloud to your computer screen, I can't really hear you.  Also, Dad, the football team can't hear you through the TV.  Your neighbors asked me to let you know.

But while I can't really hear you, dear reader, I am so close to psychic I can divine that you must have asked your monitor for more projects!  And so I leapt, headfirst, into further DIY adventures.  By which I mean I went to visit my mom and she convinced me we should make a valance (this is a kind of curtain, minions) for my bedroom.  I was completely on board - not because I'm feeling so great about DIY but because my mom is awesome at sewing (and I knew she would do most of the sewing).

Seriously, when I was a kid, my mom could sew me anything.  Are you a female born in the 1980s or did you parent one?  Then you know about American Girl Dolls.  These were of HUGE importance.  If you are uninitiated, they are dolls and the dolls also had a backstory set somewhere in American history.  And their clothes matched the era.  Aaaaaaand the more that I think about this the less I understand why my 8-year-old self was so intensely interested in them.  Maybe reading about the Victorian Era is really fascinating when no one has given you any sci-fi books yet?

But for whatever reason, these dolls were severely important and their import was rivaled only by the cost of the doll dresses and matching 8-year-old girl-sized dresses they sold.  Most moms would have looked at the cost and either 1) sighed and ponied up; or 2) told their little girl that she can do historical reenactment on her on dime when she's older.  BUT NOT MY MOM.  She busted out her sewing machine and made the Victorian Birthday Dress for me and my spoiled doll.  And later, when I saw other girls who had the purchased version of that dress, I pitied them because mine was genuinely better.

This is why I assented to this curtain project, despite my spackle and tape related DIYPTSD.

I got even more excited when we found this frankly badass fabric:

I almost wanted to just buy a couple yards and turn it into a cape.  But instead, we bought enough for a curtain and got down to sewing.  By which I mean my mom got down to sewing.

Unfortunately, the badass textured fabric turned out to be a pain to sew on the sewing machine.  Mom did only one seam and decided we needed to hand-hem three sides of it.  Which meant I needed to get involved, as this curtain was pretty big.

As some background, I will tell you that I know how to sew on a few levels: 1) theoretical (there is fabric, thread, needles, etc.; I have watched Mom do this thing); 2) very limited practical.  On the latter, the things I have sewn are almost entirely limited to holes in jeans.  And fashion was on my team for quite a long time with the whole distressed-jeans thing, so my patch-up jobs could look pretty shoddy and only make the jeans look COOLER.  Also one time I sewed up a giant hole in Husband's backpack because he refuses to get a new one.

Anyway, with all of this jeans-patching skill at my disposal, I sat down on the couch to watch Property Brothers and Hem! This! Curtain!  I did a few inches, very slowly, before Mom looked at my progress.

Mom:  What are you doing?
Liz:  I'm sewing it!  Like you said!  Straight stitch!
Mom:  No, I said hem stitch!
Liz: Well I don't think I know what a hem stitch is!
Mom:  Did I not teach you how to hem stitch ever?  I could hem stitch when I was seven!

My mom showed me how to do it but I was terrible at it and it took me five times as long to do a section as it took her.  And my stitches looked like they had been executed by a drunk pirate chef sewing up the leg of a roaring captain during a battle.  A battle during a squall.  So it's probably good I didn't finish more than I did.

Then my mom let me try using the sewing machine on the white liner fabric for the back of the curtain.  This was the plainest fabric in the world.  It was white plain cotton.  Not that it being white makes it any easier to sew than if it had a million Mick Jaggers printed on it, but it sort of felt psychologically more straightforward. Except even on the sewing machine with the plainest fabric doing the most boring stitch, I somehow wasn't doing it right.

Mom:  You have to keep pulling the fabric along as you go.
Liz:  I am pulling it along!  But how do I do that and not have it go all crooked?  See if I... uhoh... whoops...
Mom:  Why don't I just do it?

Ultimately, my mom ended up doing waaaaay more than I did because she isn't terrible at sewing like I am.  But I did repay all my mom's effort a little bit by helping her put a vinyl wall decal in her room, which took the two of us way longer than it took the man in the YouTube video, and he was all by himself.

Another highlight from my visit with my mom:  I saw this Darth Vader ornament at Hallmark, and when you walked in front of it, it would say things like "The desire to peek is strong in this one" and other dire warnings relating to not opening presents early.

It was amazing and I stood in front of it the whole time my mom was paying for her greeting cards so I could hear all of the things he said.  The clerk was giving me dirty looks, but they were so easy to ignore?  Who is scarier, a lady who works at Hallmark (wearing the standard-issue inexplicable apron; is Hallmark worried its employees are going to spill tired birthday jokes on their civilian clothes?) or DARTH VADER IN A SANTA HAT?

(There is a right answer here.)

So obviously I kept standing there while taking pictures of Darth Vader to Husband, who was supposedly "at work" and apparently bemused by my choice of things to text him.  But the joke was on HIM, because once I got home I made him go with me to Home Depot to buy a curtain rod.

Liz:  I want one with crystal finials.
Husband:  What is a finial?  And... crystal?
Liz:  Finial is the ball-thingy at the end of a curtain rod.  And yes, crystal!  That one!
Husband:  That one is crystal only on one end.  The other end is that squiggly thing.
Liz:  I think that's just for display purposes.
Husband:  Oh.  But... crystal?  Really?

But guess who won?

And guess who made her husband hang the curtain rod for her?

The color looks weird in this photo because the photo came out all red and then I tried to fix it on my computer and now everything looks like our bedroom is brightened by some hideous alien sun.
I am in love with the curtain and still a little bit want to wear it.

If you think about it, wearing a curtain isn't really any more ridiculous than an 8-year-old determined to be a Victorian-era re-enactress.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

At Long Last: Bathroom Repaint Days 4 Through Whatever

The bathroom is finally finished.

Perhaps, dear reader, you thought I had died in my quest to improve the paint color of my beleaguered guest bathroom, succumbing to severe DIYtis induced by too much HGTV and insufficient sun exposure.  Indeed, it was close.  But I have emerged, phoenix-like, not from the ashes but from the pulmonary-disease causing spackle dust.  And when I arose, it was in a nicely painted bathroom.

When last I left you, dear reader, I hadn't even begun actually to paint.  But rather than describe in exhaustive narrative the rest of the process, I shall provide it to you in a series of snappy statistics and summaries.

Day 4:  Actually Painting

Time spent painting first coat, using, alternately, a large roller, a small roller, and a paintbrush:  3 hours

Time spent painting second coat:  1.5 hours

Time spent, before painting anything, realizing that I had removed all the lighting from the bathroom and wrangling Husband's intense work lights from the garage into the bathroom so I could see:  30 minutes

Number of elevation devices needed:  2 (a stepstool and a ladder)
Number of soccer sandals remaining intact and unripped after painting:  1

Number of insane blurry pictures taken in attempt to document painting task without getting paint on iPhone:  3

Quantity of mess created:  Above average

At this point, I thought I was done painting.  

*Cue Jaws two-note musical motif*

Day 5:  Thinking about removing the tape

Amount of painter's tape removed:  2-6 inches, before wigging out, realizing the paint was coming with the tape, and deciding the paint must not be dry enough yet 

Additional amount of time allocated to let paint dry before removing tape:  24 hours

Day 6:  Removing the tape

Amount of painters tape removed easily:  3 inches
Amount of painters tape that would not be removed at all and remained stuck under the paint:  about 10 feet
Amount of painters tape that started tearing the paint when pulled away:  all the rest
Amount of painters tape removed using indignation and Exacto knives:  all of it minus 3 inches

Amount of residual damage from tape tearing up recently applied paint:  substantial

This was only one small part.
Time spent Googling painter's tape before realizing you are supposed to remove it while the paint is still wet:  20-40 minutes

Number of fixtures rehung:  4 (mirror, lights, towel hook, towel rack)

Day 7:  Sulking

Number of small paintbrushes (for retouching) ordered on  1
Number of shower caddies evidently stolen by gardeners whilst said shower caddy awaited rinsing from death-dust in the yard:  1

Day 8:  Not painting because I was going to dinner with my friend and didn't want to get paint in my hair

Day 9:  Retouching

Number of good feelings about dragging all the ladders in the bathroom again:  0

Average amount of time I left painters tape on the wall: 30 seconds

Total amount of time spent touching up edges and scraping off excess paint on tile: 4 hours

Colors of sandals worn over socks (yes, fellas, I'm taken):  2

Quantity of nap left in dried paint by stupid cheap small roller:  nonzero (so frustrating)

Number of photos taken of the retouching process:  0 (due to total sulkiness)

Day 10 through 22:  Avoiding Thinking About It

Because:  It was so annoying with the tape!  Ugh!
Including:  Not writing a blog post concluding the series

But... drumroll please....

The Final Results!

New art!  That I made!  Surprise!
By the way, the paint TOTALLY covered the staples I put through the rubber baseboard thing into the wall.  So I remain unpersuaded that it is inappropriate to staple your home when necessary.  Frankly, that stapled bit is probably the best construction in this house.

Here's a before-and-after comparison of the room (befores on the left, afters on the right):

I am using the trick of having the bathroom be cleaner in the "after" shot


All in all, I think it looks better, though the difference doesn't show up as starkly in these photos as it does in real life.  The paint is a lot nicer.  I am glad I did it, though I underestimated the difficulty involved in painting crappy drywall.  A bathroom is hard enough to paint when you have to avoid cabinets and tiles, but when the wall itself is bumpy and rotting and otherwise problematic, it makes the task so much harder.  This job was so much harder than it was to paint my old bedroom in my parents' house, for example.  

Also, this whole shebang would have been a lot easier if I'd known you need to remove painter's tape while the paint is still wet.  That added an extra day of work with touch-ups that I might not have needed to do otherwise.  

The bathroom looks nicer now.  But I don't intend to do any more intensive improvements solely for my landlord's benefit.  This would feel a lot more worth it if I owned this house.  And frankly, if I owned this house, I'd hire someone so I didn't have to do it myself.  Though I'm not convinced even a paid painter could have dealt with this crappy drywall all that much better than I did.


Discussion Questions:

Why do you think Liz's gardeners stole her shower caddy out of her backyard? Should she go to the trouble of trying to ascertain their identity from her landlord to confront them with the theft, considering the landlord will probably use the instance somehow to raise Liz's rent?