Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Puzzle Keeper - Kinda Fail

I love to keep a jigsaw puzzle going when we are at the beach. At our little condo, Paws Awhile, this presents a bit of a challenge.
First, we only have 1 table and if I spread my puzzle over it, there is no place to eat or play games.
Second, there's Lola and Lucy. Lola would have a heyday knocking puzzle pieces to the floor for Lucy to chew. So, I decided to make a puzzle keeper.
These can be purchased pretty reasonably on Amazon, but I thought it should be simple to make. I had some left over felt, so the cost to make it should be negligible.
First, I would need a pool noodle. Even in a beach town, it is almost impossible to find a noodle in December. We went to Wal-Mart, 2 Dollar Stores and 2 Surf Shops before finally getting an overpriced one at Alvin's Island. I needed one with a large diameter, but they only had small ones, so I thought I could make it work.
I wanted it to be the exact size of the table to give me room for even the largest puzzle. My felt was not wide enough so I had to sew an extra section to it.
I hemmed the edges so the puzzle pieces couldn't slip out the sides. Attaching the felt to the noodle was the hardest part. Since I thought I would try to remake this later with a larger noodle, I didn't want to do anything permanent so I hand basted the felt to the noodle. I couldn't get it very tight. When I remake it, I will use fabric adhesive to get a tight fit.
I was going to attach some Velcro straps, but decided to try it out first. I dumped my 500 piece puzzle out and started working on it. (I learned never to dump a puzzle from the box onto a piece of felt.  There is a lot of cardboard dust in the box that is hard to get off of the felt.)
When I got the edges together, I rolled it up and then unrolled it to see the result. The edges stayed together fairly well, but some of the other pieces stuck to the felt and were flipped to the floor or wound up under the felt as I unrolled.
I think it will do for this trip, but improvements are definitely needed.  I shouldn't have made it quite so big for 2 reasons.  1. It is hard to roll it up because it is too long. 2. The table is really too large to see from one side to the other with both leaves extended. When I remake it, I will make it the size of the table with only one leaf extended.
Okay, going to work on my puzzle now (without cheating and looking at the box top).
Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Paws Awhile - Re-Upholstery 102 - The Beach Recliner

Our beach condo came furnished, but I think their decorator may have been Amish. The decor was more that of a quaint old farmhouse than a beach condo. We elected to keep only a few things, among which was this old comfy LA-Z-BOY recliner complete with its worn dirty herculon upholstery.

It definitely needed a facelift! I picked a beachy outdoor fabric that will hopefully be stain resistant against sunscreen, sand and salt water.

Here's what I needed in my arsenal to start this project:
Toolkit (complete with an assortment of screwdriver tips and sockets.
Staple remover
Sewing machine & extra needles
Fine tipped scissors (I love these)
Electric Staple Gun & Staples
Fabric (I used an outdoor fabric since this chair will be used at the beach).
Upholstery Tack strip
Reading Glasses
Assistant (somewhat reluctant)
Understanding Neighbors (if you live in a condo)
Sense of Humor

First I took "before" pictures. You always want to do that so you can get that sense of accomplishment when you look at your finished product. You should also take lots of pictures during the dissassembly so you can remember how to re-assemble the chair.  I'll show you those "before" pictures at the end of the blog, next to the "after" pictures.

Next, I removed the back. LA-Z-BOY had instructions on their website so that part was easy. 

I wanted to start on the arms because I predicted that would be the most difficult part. I wasn't sure how they were attached. Using a screwdriver, hammer & staple remover, I removed the fabric from the side of the chair so I could see how the arm was attached.

With the help of my reluctant assistant (my husband, Tony), we figured out that there was a screw and two bolts inside the side of the arm at the front attaching the front of the arm to the chair.  

At the back was a long screw that attaches to a little screw looking thing that slips up into the bottom of the arm. This picture shows where the back screw is located.

Once you get the fabric off, you can see where to insert the screwdriver to remove the screw. Watch for the little receiver piece that will fall out of the arm when you remove the screw. You'll want to save that for the reassembly step.

Next, I needed to remove the seat bottom so that I could get to the inside of the side panels.  Four screws on each side held the seat bottom to the metal inner workings of the chair. 

I had to kick out the foot rest to get to one of the screws holding the seat bottom.

With the seat bottom removed, I could get to the inside of the side panels to remove the rest of the fabric. I tried to leave the foam rubber in place as much as possible. I only removed one of the side panels so I would have the other one to refer to when I attached the new fabric to the other side.

I was very careful when removing the old fabric so I could use it as a pattern to cut my new fabric.  I cut notches and made markings with my sharpie on the old fabric to remind me how it should be assembled.

Since I needed two side panels and they were the same size, I was able to double the fabric and cut two at the same time.

 I was careful to notice the direction of the pattern on the new fabric and make sure I didn't cut the pieces upside down.

I matched the notches and pinned the pieces together easing the fabric at the curves so there would be no puckers or wrinkles.

I sewed the side pieces together and started attaching the piece to the chair using a staple gun. I realized that I would need to replace the fabric underneath the footrest before I could reattach the arms since one end of it needed to go under the wooden part of the arm.

I got that done, got one side upholstered and the arm reattached. The other side went very smoothly. I just had to remove footrest lever using an allen wrench. Thanks again to LA-Z-BOY for posting how-to videos on their site.

With the sides finished and arms reattached, I removed the cover from the seat bottom and prepared and attached the new cover using the same method as above. The bottom was the easiest part to cover.

Next would be the seat back, the part I dreaded the most. I started by carefully removing the back panel. I wanted to reuse the metal tack strips so I gingerly pried them loose.

The seat back had little "arms" on each side that were attached with bolts.  After taking the back panel off, I removed and recovered these little "arms" using the old fabric as a pattern.

 I removed the hardware from the side of the seat back and removed the staples holding the cover in place.

Under the cover, I found that the foam and fiber-fill was divided into 3 sections. I carefully removed and labeled the sections and set them on the bed in the spare bedroom (and shut the door so the cat would not destroy them).

The back fabric was one piece gathered at the seams between the sections. I measured and gathered my fabric to the same dimensions. I removed and reused the black backing from the chair.

I sewed the center bottom seam first, then inserted the center foam and batting and sewed the center top seam with the foam/batting in place. It was difficult to sew so I moved the needle to the left-most position and that helped. Then it was just a matter of inserting the top and bottom foam/batting and stapling everything in place.   I reattached the arms and the hardware.

For the back panel, I reused metal tack strips at the sides, carefully measuring and sticking the nails through the fabric at precise intervals to make sure the back panel was the exact size of the old one.  I used the cardboard upholstery tack strip at the top and stapled the panel on upside down so that when I turned it down, the staples were under the fabric.  Then I just tapped the metal tack strips into place, using an old piece of fabric between the hammer and the chair.
I almost forgot the foot rest, but it was quick and easy to cover compared to the rest of the chair. 

Finally, I was ready to relax in my beautiful new beachy recliner!

Here are the before & after pictures:

Monday, October 6, 2014

Baby gets new shoes!

Fall weather this weekend made me want to curl up on the sofa with a blanket & do some crocheting. I decided to see if I could make a mate to the little bootie I had recently finished. I started out following a pattern but at some point deviated from the pattern so I had zero confidence that I could make a matching bootie.  But, what good is one bootie so I decided to try.

I finished it last night and they looked reasonably similar. I was too tired to put away my embroidery so I covered it up with a blanket thinking that Lola, our pretty but not-so-smart cat, would not find it.  Wrong!  I woke up this morning to find the thread strewn all over the house, wrapped around chair legs, under tables, around sofas and even circling the TV. There was no sign of the little booties. I feared they had been chewed up. Lola doesn't usually chew things herself, but hands them off to Lucy, our chihuahua, to do the dirty work.  Sure enough, one of the booties was in Lucy's crate but Lucy hadn't had a chance to chew it. The other one was between the sofa cushions, also intact!

The booties are too small for a real baby (as was the hat I made recently) but they fit my vintage baby doll perfectly, don't you think?

The baby doll, with its hat and shoes are hidden away in an upstairs bedroom that Lola cannot get into no matter how hard she tries because she has no thumbs! You can see from the look in her eyes that she is trying to figure out a way though!

"If only I had thumbs..."
If anyone has any crochet patterns for hats or booties that will fit a real baby let me know!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day at Paws Awhile!

My sister, who Tony says has stayed at Paws Awhile more than he has, reported that the twin beds in our guest room were uncomfortable. She would never offer a complaint without a solution, so she offered to donate 2 sets of known-to-be-comfortable twin mattress/box spring combos. They even delivered them to our house in Smyrna so we could bring them down to Paws Awhile in our mini-van. I must say, I am very impressed with the roominess of the Honda Odyssey.  We took the center seats out, folded the back seats down and the mattresses fit nicely, even leaving enough room for the van-load of other things we had planned to bring down.  It did require some "lego-packing", a term I learned from my college roommate.

Lola really liked the mattress arrangement in the van.  She had a great vantage point from the top of the mattresses. The ride down was pretty quiet once we got past Lola's travel anxiety (thank goodness for the litter box we keep in the van).

We arrived in Fernandina Beach Thursday afternoon, just in time for Happy Hour with friends at the Surf, so there was no time to unload the mattresses. About dusk, we took Lucy and Lola for a walk on the beach. We were surprised to see Lola really embrace the evening beach time, trotting down the beach past the pier. I think she feels less exposed in the dark so she enjoys herself more.

Friday morning, Tony carried the old mattresses & box springs downstairs and brought the new ones up while I got ready to re-make the beds with the new brightly colored sheets that Mary Jane had bought us. They really added a pop of color and the perfectly matched embroidered pillows finished the room!

MJ also made me these beautiful pillows!

Mary Jane is not the only crafty one in the family though, I made this rug myself!  I thought it turned out really cute too.

I unpacked the chairs that we had ordered to go with the retro-table.  They're not perfect but they look pretty darn good for folding chairs which can be tucked away when we don't need them!  I forgot to take a picture of them with the table so you'll just have to imagine how they look!

The next task on the agenda was to finish the baseboard moulding. 

We had a few pieces that still needed to be tacked in place and then there was caulking to be done. I HATE to caulk and I am TERRIBLE at it, but I must admit, I did a better than usual job this time. We left it to dry while we went to deliver the used mattresses to Barnabas. We looked at the furniture at Barnabas and at the Humane Society Second Chance store, but no one else's trash was our treasure today.

We put Lucy in the basket and rode our bicycles down to a couple of beach lots that we had been interested in before.  Tony is still interested in building his beach dream house, even though I think we have the perfect place at Paws Awhile. The lots hadn't changed any - they still have big dunes on them that make me wonder about the build-ability of them.

On the way back from the lots, we stopped at Sliders for a refreshing beverage before continuing the ride home.  We wanted to have an early dinner in town and then get down to the beach with the pets for sunset.  We drove into town and wandered around until we found a place we wanted to eat.  We settled on Timoti's Seafood Shack. The food was good and it was a pleasant evening for sitting at the picnic tables outside.

Back at Paws Awhile, we packed up our chairs, a table, a bottle of wine, glasses and the pets and headed for the beach. The pets needed a little persuading to sit still while we sipped our wine and watched the color drain from the sky but they finally settled down about the time Tony got something in his eye. The evening didn't turn out to be nearly as relaxing as we had hoped.

Saturday was painting day.  I finished patching the nail holes, touched up the baseboard moulding, a couple of door frames and painted the slatted door of the utility closet. Surprisingly I didn't get paint in my hair, on my clothes, on the floor or on the pets!  It was a very successful day!  

To celebrate, I decided to go furniture shopping.  The first place I went was Armoires, etc., a place Mary Jane had noticed on one of her trips. From the street, it really looked like it was going to be a bargain haven with 5 bays of furniture!  I didn't find too much that interested me, but there was some custom made furniture that gave me some ideas.  If I can afford it, custom furniture may be the way to go to maximize the space in our tiny condo.  

My next stop was at Lotts Furniture Store.  I got VERY EXCITED when I walked in the door & found the sleeper sofa I want.  It looked like the same sofa we had in the motorhome - the appeal is that it is only 65 inches wide so there will be room on our 96 inch wall for the sofa and maybe even 2 end tables.  

I had priced it at Jennifer Convertibles for $399.99 but they no longer have a location that is convenient and they won't ship to Fernandina beach so it would be a 20 hour round trip to pick it up.  The sofa at Lotts was a different manufacturer and there was no price tag so I asked the sales associate.  Her first words were, "The manufacturer is having a sale and it is $300..."  (I started to get even more excited until I heard her next words)... "off. bringing it to $2500."  Oh...  I guess I'll be making the trek to Virginia to get the Jennifer Convertibles one.

I stopped by Amelia's Attic on my way back to Paws Awhile.  They had some interesting pieces and their prices seemed reasonable.  I will definitely check back there on occasion.

We attended a birthday party at our friend's house. She did a great job of cooking and entertaining 21 adults, 2 children and 5 dogs!

Sunday morning, the manager at Sand Dollar Villas was checking off one of his bucket-list items to fly over the beach in a motorized glider plane.  We set up our chairs and umbrella at 9AM and waited to see him fly over.

Afterward, we invited a few friends over to enjoy a day on the beach with us.  We set up our Kelty Shade Maker and enjoyed the ocean breeze for most of the day.  Lucy slept in the shade under my chair most of the day, only occasionally getting up to protect us from a passing dog.  Lola elected to stay in the condo.

We had a wonderful dinner at friends' house. Their father was in town from New York and had brought some delicious Italian Sausage and other treats from New York. I even tried some Sweet Breads for the first time.  I've decided I'm a fan (at least until somebody tells me what they really are).

This morning, we packed up & said our good-byes to Paws Awhile.  I'll be back down in a couple of weeks!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Adult Booster Seat

Tony called home from work with an unusual request. He wanted a booster seat for his chair at work. He needed it to be about 3 inches thick.

Coincidentally, while Lucy and I were out for our morning walk, we had seen a large sheet of eggshell foam rubber in the neighborhood next to ours with someone's garbage.  One person's trash is another person's treasure (mine!).  I jumped in the van and hurried over to get the foam rubber.

Once I  got the foam rubber home and sat on it, I realized that, although it was thick enough, it would not be stiff enough to provide the "boost" he needed.

I thought the perfect solution would be one of those boat cushions that double as a flotation device. I checked the Good Will Store first to see if they had something that would suffice. There was one life jacket, but no seat cushions.  Sports Authority didn't have any cushions either, but they did have an inexpensive wake board that would make a good base for the booster seat.

I cut the wake board in half using a kitchen knife.

Tony said he wanted the two pieces stacked on top of one another with a layer of the foam rubber on top.

I was afraid this would be too tall, but being the dutiful wife, I made the booster seat as he requested using the techniques I talked about in a previous blog:  http://sewmuchlately.blogspot.com/2014/06/re-upholstery-101.html

I didn't have a zipper long enough for the task, so rather than go out and buy one, I decided I would just hand sew the final seam.  But before I finished the final seam, I asked him to take it to work and try it out.  Sure enough, he brought it back home & deemed it too tall.

I remade it with just one layer of wake board and one layer of foam rubber.

This time I was so sure it would be perfect that I went ahead and finished the final seam.

Sure enough, when Tony got it to work, he decided it was perfect, giving him just the "boost" he needed to get his work done!  

I want to keep my Sugar Splenda Daddy happy at his job so he'll keep supporting my expensive habits (like travel & embroidery).