Sunday, April 14, 2013

Curtains 'n' Cushions 'n' Things

Normally this time of year, I would be mucking about in the garden by now...but not this year!  It's snowing again and this was the view out the back window when I woke this morning:
Too gruesome for words!  Oh well, it's nice and cozy inside and my bedroom curtains aren't going to make themselves!  So best to just buck-up and get to work, right?

They say it's best to use 100% natural fiber cloth for miniature projects because they're easier to manipulate.  My other rooms have silk curtains and in the Bedchamber I decided to use cotton.  I chose a bold, black & white stripe, because --well-- what can I say, I like stripes!  I don't know if they would have paired this fabric with this wallpaper back in 1830 or so (the wallpaper has a subtle, stripe background) but stripe-on-stripe is all the rage nowadays, so I'm pretending my dolls are a little ahead of the game.
I found the pattern for my curtains in an old dollhouse book.  Lo and behold: the pattern belonged to our own Ray Whitlege!  He posted the same pattern on his blog a while back, if you would like to use it yourself.

I was a little concerned because the pattern called for it to be cut on the bias, which makes sense because fabric drapes more naturally when cut this way (think slinky, 1930's bias-cut gowns) but I want my stripes to go up and down --not at a 45 degree angle!  So I was a little worried it wouldn't work.  But all's well that ends well --the fabric draped properly, after all --Phew!
After cutting out the patterns I Fray-Checked the edges and then used Spray Starch to wet the pieces down.  Next, I pinned it to some foam core on which I drew an outline of my window.  It's just a matter of pinning and re-pinning until you're happy with the result.  The tail section is simply folded over on itself to form the pattern. Once you like it just hit it with a blow-drier til set.

After trial & error, I found it easier to glue the trim to the edge of the curtain first, before starching and pinning. Eww! My hand looks like a sharecropper's! 
Well, anyway...I made my fringe ala Jeffry by cutting a 1/2 " piece of ribbon in half, lengthwise, then pulling out threads to form the fringe.  TIP: Grosgrain ribbon works better than double-faced satin!  I wanted the fringe to have more 'heft' so I glued one piece to the front of the fabric then turned it over and glued another piece to the back edge.

I love this treatment because there's absolutely no sewing involved.  A dab of fabric glue to hold the pleats in place is all it took, then glue the whole ensemble to a rod. It's that easy!
I used the same patterns to fabricate the pelmet which will go over the bed.  I made the pelmet from a piece of resin molding that I heated up over a candle flame and bent it around a small tin can. I keep telling you: I'm pretty AND I'm smart!
Then it was on to the window seat cushions...  I'm on a roll!  To make those, I first cut out thin pieces of foam to fit the seats. Then I traced the foam patterns onto the back of the fabric.  Add a 3/16" border around the outline and cut out, notching the corners.
Press the edges up on the lines.  Set the bottom piece down and place the foam on top. Glue around all the edges and set the top pattern in place. 

Use your fingers to press the two edges together.  Then make an edge strip by cutting a long ribbon of fabric three times the thickness of the foam (1/2" in my case). Fold over in
thirds and press.  Glue down the flaps.  Run glue around the entire edge of the cushion and apply the edge strip, starting in the most inconspicuous corner.
Add piping to the edges by applying a thin line of glue over the seam and lying the cord on top, starting and ending in the most inconspicuous corner. I used my handy-dandy Crazy Cords machine to make my piping, but any appropriate-sized cording will do.
Look: striped and toil cushions on the chair, LOL!
Again: NO sewing involved!  I'm now looking for a complimentary fabric for a few toss pillows...perhaps I'll find some at the Chicago International?  We're leaving in just a few days...OMG, my face! My hair! My nails!

Will I see you there?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Backtracking a Little Bit

Happy Spring!  Woke up today to an inch of new snow on the ground with a whole foot possible tonight!  Oh wells, best just not to think about it --right?-- and dig in on the Bedchamber...

Because I changed my original plan and hung two chandeliers downstairs in the Library instead of one, I had to make a whole, new plank floor for my Bedchamber.  But this gives me the opportunity to show you how I wired the chandeliers, since Elga and Fi are on that subject.  (Sorry the photo is so blurry --I had to take it, one-handed)!  Anyway, as you see I made small trap doors over the chandeliers and routed out a shallow 'junction box' to house the wires in case something goes awry --as it often seems to do.  The traps are hidden under rugs and I like to pretend my dolls are in constant peril, LOL!  Ray gave me the junction box idea back when I started wiring my first room, the Entrance Hall, its checkered, marble floor can be glimpsed to the bottom left. It's worked out great in all the rooms, so thanks a bunch, Ray!

And now, the fun part!  after cutting the illustration board to fit all three walls (and doing several, careful 'dry fits' to make sure everything lines up), you can start decorating.  I always start with the 'back wall.'  I papered the illustration board panel with my toile wallpaper, which I'm absolutely coo-coo for.  It was completely worth the six, long weeks I waited for it! I like to use Super 77 Spray Mount from 3-M for my wallpaper but I know some of you hate it!  Here's a little tip: instead of cutting the paper to fit the panel, wrap it around the panel and secure with white glue in back.  Not only will the paper never peel away, it finishes the visible edges off beautifully.  The moldings are from the Lawbre Company, the skirting is an inch wide and makes an elegant statement in an otherwise plain room.  The cornice, also from Lawbre, is a classic egg and dart design.  I hung a picture frame molding about an inch and a half from the top of the wall and here is where I started the wallpaper.  This leaves a nice, wide frieze at the top of the wall, which I decided to leave plain.  Less is sometimes more!  I already showed you the lovely door surround I made from bits of scrap.  And I can never resist playing with artwork even at this early phase: the silhouette portraits are vintage 1950's pieces from an old, dismantled dollhouse.

The 'plain' wall across from the fireplace will have the bed placed here.  Unfortunately, the skirting was ot long enough to make the span so I will have to do some filling and sanding at the joint. I use gesso (a mixture of white paint and white glue) for filling gaps.  Here's another important tip: don't glue down any moldings permanently until you have dry-fitted them first --slip all your walls into your house and mark in the corners with a pencil where the moldings butt together in the corners.  Make sure they match up precisely before gluing anything down! You will be constantly putting in and pulling out your walls --don't expect to get it all right in one try.

Here's the fireplace wall, under construction. The window seats are simply trimmed and I tried to unite all the different elements: windows, seats and mantle into one, cohesive composition  I ran out of cornice in the upper left and so had to order another length!  Don't you just hate that? 

I remembered to take a photo of the hearth, under construction. It's all just illustration board and card bricks.  I paint it up in scrumbled shades of grey.

It's all starting to come together!  Here, I slipped the illustration board panels into the carcass of the house for another dry fit.  Lookin' pretty good in the 'hood! I don't glue the cornice in til the very last thing because you want a tight fit with no gaps. The floor needs a few more coats of lacquer, some joints need filling and touching up...and then I can tackle the wiring!  


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring Will Be a Little Late, This Year

...And yet, your intrepid Reporter is pretending that spring has sprung,  nevertheless busying himself with all the mundane, hum-drum tasks put off all winter --like cleaning!   Still freezing outside?  Who cares?  Crank up the furnace, throw open the windows and let in some fresh, albeit frigid, air!  Still a slushy layer of ice on the patio? (with a whole winter's-worth of frozen doggy-doo on top)  A quick sweep of the shovel will take care of that.  Yes, I know it's too early to hose it all down --Damn it, I DON"T CARE-- it's getting damned hosed, dammit!

And that rag-tag, sofa slip-cover that I've been meaning to redo forever?  It's getting DONE.  NOW!  WITH PIPING!

Yes, it has been a virtual hive of Real-Life activity chez moi...I shan't rest until every last cobweb and dust bunny is banished from my sight! Of course, all this frenzied, dreaming of spring-induced OCD-ness means that life at Merriman Park has come to a bit of a stand-still.

Until yesterday, that is, when a long-anticipated package from the Lawbre company finally made its way to my doorstep. And so work on the Bedchamber can finally continue...

Hey! Anyone else going to the Chicago International miniatures show later this month?  Drop me a message if you would like to catch a cup of coffee, or something!