Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Roman Shades: A Pseudo-Tutorial

So I made blackout roman shades.  And today I'm going to be sharing with you how I did so, in case you wanted to make any yourself.  However, I am not very gifted at giving instructions, so I'm also linking to the two tutorials I used.  I recommend reading them first, if you're really looking for instructions, and then coming here for a few extra tips.

1. Roman Blind tutorial from Jen Duncan.  (She also has links at the end for how to do an outside mount.)

But first, some pictures of the finished products:

There were already vinyl blinds up and we decided to keep both for now.

Does the blackout factor work?  The following photo was taken at the same time of day as the previous photos, just with no flash or lights on.  What do you think?

Alright, now for the "tutorial".  Please please don't use this as a full tutorial.  This is meant to supplement the other two tutorials and tell you what I liked best from each.

Here are the 'ingredients' I used for two shades:
- main fabric (I used 90" wide unbleached muslin)
- liner fabric (I used blackout fabric)
- matching thread
- 5/16" wooden dowels (10)
- small washers (30)
- eye screws (6)
- cord (I used mason line from Lowe's)
- L-shaped brackets (6)
- header boards (I used stuff I found in our garage) (2)
- 2-1/2" cord cleats (2)

I also used a sewing machine, staple gun, and drill/screwdriver.  (Actually, Caleb used the staple gun, because I'm apparently extremely terrified of them.)

The first step is to sew your fabric and liner together like you're making a curtain.  Sew it to the size you want the finished shade to be - with several extra inches at the top.  You don't need to hem the top.

And whatever people tell you, you don't need to hem blackout liner.  That stuff does not unravel even if you try picking at it.  Which I did.  I placed the raw edge of the blackout liner inside the double-folded side and bottom hems so that it doesn't show.

Use the other tutorials to figure out how far apart to space your dowels/rings.  I preferred the method on 33 Shades of Green.  Jen Duncan's shade tutorial was very pleated, which isn't the look I wanted.  Jen Duncan also doesn't use dowels, and this is another one where you can choose based on how you want it to look.  The dowels will give you a lot more structure.  I ended up using 5 dowels on each shade.  Cut, press, and sew dowel pockets on (33 Shades of Green has a great section on this step) and insert your dowel rods.

Both tutorials also recommend using some sort of weight (whether a metal rod or a thin wooden slat) at the bottom of the shade to weigh it down.  Because I used blackout liner, mine seems to be heavy enough without it, but I did buy some in case I change my mind later.

At this point, you have to hand sew all your washers or rings to the dowel pockets.  This will feel like it takes forever.  Note: the 33 Shades of Green tutorial uses small plastic rings like you can find at Hobby Lobby.  Jen Duncan prefers to use metal rings because they don't get brittle in the sun.  I couldn't find metal rings (for a reasonable price), so I used small washers from Lowe's.  If you can find metal rings, they might be nicer. :)  
I figured out where I wanted my 3 columns of rings to go, and then marked the spot with a pencil on each dowel rod row.  Then I sewed, and sewed some more, and then kept sewing.

Once that's done, the sewing is done - and now it's almost time for power tools and (really scary) staple guns.  First you have to attach your cords.  If you have three columns of rings, you'll need three lengths of cord.

Each tutorial had different ways to measure how much cord you need, but I found it most accurate to measure and cut as I strung the cord.  I spread the shade out on the floor, fed the end of the cord through a column of washers from top to bottom, and tied it to the bottom washer.  Then I took the skein of cord (still at the top of the column), unrolled as much as I wanted (across the top of the shade and down the side), and then cut it.  Repeat for the other 2 columns on each shade.  (If you can't figure out what I mean, check out the tutorials!)

The next step is to prepare your header board.  We had two similar boards leftover from when we tore the old cabinets out of our kitchen.  Caleb cut them to the right length (1/2" shorter than the width of the shade).  We pre-drilled holes for the eye screws and then screwed them in.  These should line up with your columns of washers/rings on the shade.

Next, attach your brackets to your board.  These went near the eye screws so that they were fairly evenly spaced.

Next, depending on your staple gun skills and how high you're hanging the shade, you can either attach your shade to the header board first, or mount the brackets on the wall first.  We chose to attach the shade to the board first, because our shade is hanging pretty close to the ceiling.  This is where my husband's fantastically brave staple gun skills came in handy. I had no idea I was so terrified of staple guns, but I'm very okay staying far far far away from them for the rest of my life.

The nice part about the shade being hung so high is that no one can tell if you make some mistakes and need to staple up extra bits of fabric to straighten out your shade.

Now go ahead and screw your brackets into the wall.  Be sure to use proper anchors if needed.  Our walls are practically as hard as rock, so that wasn't really necessary for us.

Also, here's a tip: Buy brackets that match the width of your header board.  I hadn't picked out boards yet, so I just guessed and bought ones that were 1/2" too wide.  Therefore, our shade hangs 1/2" away from the wall, letting extra light in the sides.

Next, you'll need to string your cords through the eye screws.  I had my cord cleat on the right, so I strung the right cord through the eye screw directly above it (string left-right).  The middle cord needs to go through the eye screw directly above it and then through the one on the right.  The left cord needs to go through the eye screw directly above it and then through the other two.  (Again, check out the tutorials for a better description of this.)

Finally, install your cord cleats on the wall next to your shade: 

And it's that easy! ;)

One thing that I didn't do that I think both of the other ladies did was wrap my board in something so the wood wasn't visible.  I think that's really up to you.  I can't see the wood, so it doesn't bother me.

Before I started this project, I did a cost-analysis and decided that it was probably worth it to make our own.  Things ended up being cheaper than I was expecting/estimating, so making these actually saved us at least $60 total.  I estimate they cost us just over $30 a shade.

If you're curious, I purchased absolutely all of the supplies at Hobby Lobby (fabric and thread) and Lowe's (everything else), with the exception of the header boards because we had those in our garage.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions or if I didn't explain something clearly enough.

Love and Muslin,
Leah Joy

P.S. I still have one more step on these and that's to find some sort of cord connector.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Our Yard - Spring 2014

We moved to this house at the beginning of 2013.  While we made a lot of changes and updates last year, the outdoors wasn't really high on our list.  The house had been vacant for several months before we bought it, too, so I'm pretty sure 2012's leaves never got raked.  Well, neither did 2013's.  And that was our fault. :)

So this Spring, I decided to grab a rake and start working.  Over several hours (over a few days), I cleared out our front garden area and part of the front yard.

You can tell where I stopped! (See next picture)

Shortly after I finished, Caleb mentioned that he was going to purchase a leaf blower.  Thanks for not telling me sooner.  :)

Anyway, then on April 12 we had a freaky wind storm that knocked over trees all over the place!  This fully-grown pine tree was uprooted and blown over, knocking over another tree.  We also had two trees lose very large branches.  These next few pictures were taken with Caleb's cell phone the night of the storm.

Some friends from church came to help clear a lot of it, and then we had another friend come and cut up enough to fill the back of a pick-up truck.  Even after all of that, it still looks like this:

Much better, but still so much mess!  And you can't tell that I ever raked the grass.

Oh well.  I'm really just grateful that the trees didn't fall on our house or power lines.

Love and Pine Sap,
Leah Joy

Friday, April 25, 2014

101 Things Update - April 25

After this post, I'll be much closer to being up-to-date with my 101 Things projects.  The projects I'm sharing today were actually all done within a 2-day range back in March. 

8. Shades in master bedroom.

This is a really big project, so I'll share a pseudo-tutorial later, but for now:

I was working on these shades at my parents' house (using my mom's sewing machine) and I finished everything I could do there early the 2nd afternoon, so I then did these next 3 projects.  They are that quick and easy!

24. Homemade Swiffer duster cover


The instructions aren't super clear, but if you look at the disposable cover that comes with your Swiffer duster, it should be pretty easy to figure out the instructions.

Look, Mom, I'm actually dusting!

After washing the cover with the rest of my towels and rags, it didn't look as pretty, but seems to work just as well.

74. Slipper Boots


Mine are actually from a sweater I bought at a thrift store for $4 and then felted in my washer and dryer.

I chose to sew mine on the sewing machine, because I didn't want them to unravel all the time.  I added a few layers of fleece to the inside of the sole to make them more comfortable, too.  

They're so soft and warm!

76. Mittens from an old sweater

I used the same sweater for these mittens.  The wrist part of the mitten is the bottom hem of the sweater - less sewing!

I lined these with fleece, too.  The two layers are only attached at the wrist; I used a wavy stitch so that if it showed up, it would look like I meant for it to do so.

These are also super soft and warm - I know I'll appreciate them in October/November when my mom and I go for walks.

Love and Fleece,
Leah Joy

Thursday, April 24, 2014

2014 Garden

Last fall, I planted some garlic, using some help from The Art of Doing Stuff.  I was so thrilled to see it start coming up this spring!  These are the little baby plants from early April:

A few weeks later I went out to start my early seeds.  Here are the raised bed gardens my Dad built for us last fall.

Another week or so, and I found that our garlic plants are now well into adolescence!

We also have some tiny baby kale plants now:

At least I think that's kale.  And here's some baby lettuce:

Squee!  They're so cute!

Elsewhere, we have tulips coming up.

And little patches of violets all over the yard!

Love and Landscaping,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

101 Things Update - April 23

Before I begin, I feel like I need to tell you that this update is only a part of what I have accomplished since my last 101 Things update.  I split it up into a few posts so as not to overwhelm you (or myself). 

18. Foot Soak

I chose to do this at the end of winter and shortly after I came back from a 3-day trip to Chicago.  My feet were tired, sore, and really stinky (despite having washed them like 5 times in 2 days).  I don't know that this soak and scrub helped remove too much dead skin or calluses, but my feet definitely smelled better and were less sore.  It's a bit more than I'll ever do regularly, but it's also okay to pamper your feet once in a while.

22. Plant lemon seeds.

I bought a bag of organic lemons from Meijer and saved the seeds as I used the lemons.  I rinsed them off and planted them in some potting soil, covered the pot in a plastic bag, and let them sit on top of my fridge.  I watered every two days or so, but for a couple weeks nothing happened at all.  I've started seeds before and these were taking longer than anything else, so I was starting to figure that these wouldn't grow when all of a sudden:

So cute, right?

I doubt I'll ever have a fruitful lemon tree since I live in Michigan, but I'm totally okay with just little green shoots!  :)

62. Make a woven rag rug.


Here's mine!

I'm super proud of this, because I have a history of being pretty terrible at weaving, but this actually looks really beautiful.  It cost about $6-8 to make, because I had to buy the sheets from thrift stores.  It was a lengthy process, too: tear strips, tidy excess strings from strips, cut slits in cardboard 'loom', place warp strips in slits, and then weave the weft strips for like 4 hours (I'm hardly exaggerating).  And yet in spite of all that, I might actually do this project again, because the result is stunning.

This will be a wedding present for some friends who are getting married this summer.

The tutorial suggests tearing your strips either 1" or 2" wide, but I didn't measure as I went, so my strips varied from 1" to 2" and everything in between.  I then only used 6 strips in each slit.  I made this rug about 18" x 22" (not including the fringe), which looks about like this:

It's so soft, too!

Love and Strings,
Leah Joy

Monday, April 21, 2014

Back to a Schedule?

Okay, okay, so Easter is a really busy time around here.  I have topics for at least 7 posts ready to be written, but the weeks before Easter are really busy when you're married to a pastor!

But, I now have 3 full nights of sleep under my belt (WAHOO!!!!) and I'm ready to get back to some semblance of a schedule.  2-3 posts a week at least. :)

I'm planning on getting pictures of everything I need today so that I can get these posts written and scheduled.  And with that, I leave now to do laundry. :)

Love and Scones,
Leah Joy

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spring Cleaning of Epic Proportions

I really hate when people misuse the word epic.  For example, your cheeseburger is most likely not epic, nor are your skiing abilities.  However, though my Spring Cleaning list this year may not reach the qualifications of epic poetry, I do believe it fits the second definition of the word: 'extending beyond the usual or ordinary in size or scope'.  Why?  Because it is 116 items long.

And while some of those items are small (i.e. dust ceiling fan, wipe down bathroom mirror), most of them are vast in scope: wipe down all the walls in the whole house, clean out all the kitchen cupboards, etc.

Today, I'm starting on my kitchen.  It's the first room in the house people see, so I want it to look nice.  And lately I've been struggling to keep it presentable, so it's a good place to start.  There's lemon frosting splattered on the wall somewhere, my floor hasn't been mopped in an embarrassingly long amount of time, and my cupboards are not even close to being organized anymore.  So today, I'm holding an intervention in my kitchen.  I'll update you later on how that goes.

And don't worry, I took some before pictures so you can all revel in your own organizational abilities - or empathize with me.  Either way.

Love and Lysol,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Holidays I Missed

I wrote a lot about Valentine's Day, but I forgot to share this picture of the roses Caleb bought me:

(I married a smart man; he had them delivered the week before Valentine's Day to save money!)

I also never shared pictures of the beautiful and delicious pies I made to celebrate Pi Day (March 14).

Here's my Dutch Apple Pi Pie:

And my first-ever lemon meringue pie!

It was scrumptious!

Love and Rhubarb,
Leah Joy

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Believe It Or Not - This Is An Insomnia Update

Because honestly, what else would keep me from blogging for nearly a month?  A busy life? Pfft. Sheer laziness? Umm....  But really, this time it's insomnia.

Pretty much the whole month of February was remarkably void of sleep.  I had two nights where I got almost the whole 8 hours, but other than that, I was getting 4 hours of sleep a night on a good night.  (How many times can I use the word 'night' in one sentence? Keep reading to find out!)  March didn't get much better.  In the beginning of the month, I had oral surgery and they put me on narcotics for two days, which meant I got two nice full nights of sleep.  Afterwards, however, I went right back to crappy sleeping.  I had a whole week where I got a total of 10 hours of sleep over 7 nights.  Gee that was fun!

After that, I started taking Ibuprofen PM, hoping that a few nights of that would retrain my body to sleep.  No such luck, and I decided 4 hours of real sleep was better than 8-10 hours of drugged sleep anyway.  Within the last week or so, I made blackout roman shades (don't worry, you'll get to see them soon!) and slept a pretty decent night (6 hours or so) immediately following.  I thought that I'd finally found the cure, but then I went to Chicago for 3 days to hang out with Claire.  I slept poorly in Chicago, but the night I got back, I slept amazingly for 8 hours.  Once again, I thought I had fixed myself, but I'm back to 4-6 hour nights now.

And that's the short story.  Now that Spring has finally sprung here (huzzah!) I'm getting more exercise (i.e. raking 2 years of leaves off of our 1.25 acre lot) and I'm hoping that will help.  We're also getting closer to summer, which means that my work hours are picking up, so hopefully more of a schedule will help me sleep better, too.

I haven't forgotten my 101 Things in 2014 project, so I do have some posts to share with you about that, plus I'm hoping to do a pseudo-tutorial for the roman shades.

Love and Rakes,
Leah Joy