Minnie’s Remodel- The Cab Privacy Curtain

I selected coordinating stripes for a curtain fabric. There were going to be a LOT of curtains. The first curtain I focused on was the privacy curtain between the cab and the living area. The previous curtain was simply a wide curtain which snapped at the top to the cab bed rail. All the curtains in the cab area were this horrid olive green striped material. Retch. Simply putrid.

When I took the shades and cornices down, I took all the cab curtains down, too. To sew new curtains, I would loosely use the previous curtains as guides.

The separation curtain was fairly simple to make. I had to sew the striped fabric together, since the curtains were wider than the standard fabric width of 56”. I cut lightweight drapery lining an 1-1/2” shorter on the width and height. I sewed the sides of the drapery lining to the wrong side of the curtain fabric, then flipped it right side out. Then I machine hemmed the top and hand hemmed the bottom.

The underside of the previous snaps were still screwed to the cab, so I marked where the old snaps on the old curtain corresponded on the new curtain. I had to adjust the final snap, since I actually cut my drapes too short on the width. I found the Dritz heavy duty snaps at JoAnn’s in the notions section.

The nice thing about the snaps is that they are in a kit. You poke a hole in the fabric with scissors and fit the cap through the hole with the upper part of the snap on the inside. Then you place the cap side in the small anvil and smack the metal probe with a hammer. That secures the snap in place.

I drilled an alternate hole for the misplaced snap and moved it over. Here is the finished curtain.

Here is the breakdown of this portion of the project:

2 Yards of Wedgewood Upholstery Fabric @ $18.00 yd                                    $ 36.00

Econo Sheen Ivory Drapery Lining @ 2.99 yd.                                                     $   5.98

Buff Serger Cones 4 @ 3.49                                                                                         $ 13.96

Large Metal Snap Kit                                                                                                      $  7.99

Dual Duty Café Thread                                                                                                   $  3.49

TOTAL THIS PROJECT                                                                                                   $ 67.42

Note: I had to buy an extra yard of fabric for this curtain, seaming it in the middle and cutting off the sides. I then recycled that remnant for the curtains I made for the living area. Note: I bought relatively high end fabric for this RV project, but if you kept your eye out for a great sale, you could potentially save yourself some serious dough!

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

That Oh-So-70s Mirror

 

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Minnie and my current house have the same decorating problem—way too many mirrors. My house has mirrors on two full walls and a few doors. I hate it. But my house was built in 1987. Minnie was built in 2004. I mean, really. What are these people thinking? I don’t like looking at myself in every room, and I certainly don’t want to feel stuck in the 70s.

This arched mirror sits in the living area and is secured to the wall with plastic brackets. Initially I thought I would just unscrew the brackets and take the mirror down. When I asked my husband to do so, he informed me that the entire mirror was glued to the wall. Glued!

Now, getting RID of the mirror was out of the question. I was going to have to get inventive like I had in my house and creatively OBSCURE the mirror.

I decided to use art to cover over the mirror and just try to pretend it wasn’t there. But I would have to be careful to hang a piece of art that had a thin enough profile that the picture wouldn’t get in the way of the slide out, which was located just in front of the mirror. The clearance between the mirror wall and the rail of the slideout was exactly 1”. A regular framed picture would not work, because it would not clear the slide out.

The mirror measured 20”x 30” at its tallest point. I figured I could use the existing mirror brackets and fasten the same size frame in front of the mirror. The screws would hold everything–including the concealed mirror–in place.

I found a 20”x30” lightweight poster frame at JoAnn’s which would fit the designated space. Through Sam’s Photo, I ordered a poster reprint of my silk painting Arbol de la Vida, which fit the frame perfectly. After some experimentation with screws, washers, and a new mirror bracket, I settled on the new mirror brackets below.

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I had to use the drywall anchors provided in the kit to better secure the mirror bracket screws. The new brackets were less ornate than the existing brackets but looked nicer and worked better with the new frame and pic.

 

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Now this part of Minnie has been transformed back into 2016 from the 1970s with a personal piece of art that works well with the room and décor.

The total cost of this segment of the project is:

20”x30” Poster Frame….               $ 10.19

Sam’s Photo Club Reprint             $  9.94

Mirror Brackets Kit                          $  3.99

TOTAL THIS PROJECT                      $ 20.12

You will also need a drill and correctly sized drill bit and screwdriver for this part of the remodel project.

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

Minnie’s Remodel- Recovering the Dinette Cushions

Selecting fabrics created quite a dilemma for me. It took me almost a month of browsing the nearest JoAnn’s and perusing online patterns with both JoAnn’s and Spoonflower (I’ll write more about them later.)

I wanted to work with the existing green carpet, captain’s chair, and cushion covers which were a sage green. My aim was to find a fabric that softened the stark look of a camper, which too often is the standard design in most campers. I needed something that looked homey, yet not too freaky in case we ever decided to sell. The “lady camo” pattern of fabrics was just too ugly, and the taupe background on most of the fabrics looked dingy—even if I had taken the time to have everything dry cleaned.

20161114_182920This is what I came up with. I would use the light blue paisley fabric for the dinette cushions, pillows, and the latch door beneath the jack knife sofa. The striped fabric was for the curtains, the mustard yellow fabric for the jack knife sofa cover, and the yellow vinyl remnant for the rail cover above the dinette.

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This is the dinette before I reupholstered. By this time, I had taken out the cushions, so it was just the empty frame.

Recovering the cushions was a lengthy project and not for the faint of heart. I had to make sure the fabric I selected was a thin enough upholstery fabric that I could sew it in my standard sewing machine. This particular fabric was a medium weight, cotton canvas fabric.

I measured the dinette cushions and sewed two sets of two bullnose cushions with a rear zipper. By the time I sewed the last cushion, I almost had it down. (I don’t think I ever successfully sewed zippers before.) I decided to simply cover over the previous cushion covers, rather than take them off. One thing I noticed was that there was a slot sewn into the middle rear of the old seat cushions to feed the seat belts up through the slot. For simplicity’s sake, I opted not to sew a slot for the seat belts.

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This picture is just before I sewed the final cushion cover. The new blue paisley fabric is bright and clean. You can see why I say the old fabric looked dingy, even when it was clean. Definitely lady camo.

There were two rails screwed to the top of the back cushions which were covered with the old sage fabric. I unscrewed the rails, pulled the old staples out of the rails, then pulled the old fabric off. I used the old fabric as my guides to cut new fabric and then stapled it back on with a lightweight upholstery stapler.

This is the dinette with new cushions and reupholstered rails. It looks so neat and—clean!

Here is the cost break down for the segment of the RV model:

6 Yards of Bringhampton Polar Fabric @$23.99 yd…..       $ 143.94

4-45” Brass Zipper Chains @ $5.99 each….                           $  23.96

SPAA Trex Sand Remnant Vinyl, 0.333 yd @ 24.99 yd          $  16.67

TOTAL COST FOR DINETTE                                                           $ 184.57

The best part of this project is that the inside of the RV actually looks like a woman might live there—instead of a bunch of guys going deer hunting. It’s starting to have that homey, feminine look without looking too flouncy.

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

Minnie’s Facelift–Removing the Border Wallpaper

Seriously. Border wallpaper wasn’t even in style in 2004, when Minnie was fresh off the factory lines. And it certainly isn’t any more stylish in 2016. I didn’t want to repaint the vinyl walls, but the border wallpaper HAD to go.

Here’s what the galley looked like before and just after I removed the wallpaper:

Removing the border wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I had visited other web sites that recommended Goof Off to take off the border glue. I didn’t even need that. I peeled off a corner of the border and the whole thing came off virtually in one piece. Underneath was a layer of double-sided sticky tape the size of the border. I peeled off the corner and held tightly. It tore into smaller pieces, but I was able to pull it all off cleanly without the aid of chemicals and without damaging the vinyl walls underneath. It all came off clean as a whistle.

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I considered what might look nice on the newly cleaned vinyl walls and yet tie in the theme and color scheme I had selected. Luckily, I found some very expensive but worthwhile plastic sticky back tiles at Home Depot called “Smart Tiles.”

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The tiles come 12 to a box and measure less than a foot a sheet, so be sure to get enough to cover the entire space. In this case, I figured correctly that I would need 2 boxes to cover the backsplash area near the stove and sink. I used a pair of scissors and a rotary cutter to slice up the tile and laid it from right to left.

This is the backsplash after I was done. Beats that yucky border wallpaper hands down!

The Smart Tiles so far have been the priciest part of my remodel. They are almost as expensive as real tiles, but much easier to mount (no grouting or need for a tile saw.) Best of all, they are lightweight, easy to cut, and ideal for an RV remodel. Keep in mind that Smart Tiles can only be mounted to a smooth under surface.

Cost of this part of the project:

2-12 packs of Smart Tiles ($94.00 each)…..               $198.00

You will also need a rotary cutter or box cutter, marking pen, straight edge, and good scissors.

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

 

Minnie’s Face Lift Continues—The Dreaded Jack Knife Sofa

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Deciding what to do with the jack knife sofa in our RV wasn’t easy. We had several options. First, we could replace the sofa with another jack knife sofa to fit into the same frame covered with a modern fabric, microfiber, or leather. The RV furniture sites had lots of pretty models of sofas in stock but zilch in the size we needed—66”. Yes, there were sofas in other standard sizes, but apparently our size was not standard, so if we wanted new, we would have to have it custom made. That put a replacement sofa out of our budget.

The next option we had was to replace the jack knife with something else. We could put recliners in place of the sofa, but if we resold the RV to a family, passengers would have fewer places to travel and sleep. The jack knife has two spots equipped with safety belts for passengers. A recliner is not made to carry passengers in a moving RV. So we eliminated that idea.

Another option was to reupholster and recushion the sofa. Unfortunately, the gaudy fabric was attached to the bottom of the steel sofa frame with wire hooks. Indeed, the entire wire frame would need to be removed from the assembly and each hook tediously cut before even beginning to reupholster the cushions and fabric attachments which held the whole thing onto the original frame. The thought of doing all that and then reupholstering with my existing sewing skill set was just too overwhelming.

I finally decided to slipcover the entire thing. Without detaching the sofa from the frame, I measured its dimensions and rethunk the bestest way to assemble a slipcover specifically for this type of sofa. I came up with a slipcover in two easy pieces which would allow a break in the center of the sofa for safety belt access.

Here are the plans:jackknifeplan

I originally thought I’d pick something artistic for an upholstery fabric like deep plum. At the last minute, I whimped out and settled on something neutral—and on clearance. I found 3-5/8 yds of a solid mustard yellow fabric which was light enough to sew in my serger. With this design, there were few seams, and the advantage of a slip cover was that it could be removed and cleaned and then put back on at any time.

Once I sewed the thing together, I assembled the top and bottom. The bottom took some fiddling with and alterations. I found the following tools at Joann’s in the upholstery notions section:

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The slip cover top is simply slid on like a sleeve and the front flap tucked into the crease of the sofa. However, the bottom slipcover had to be secured in place. I used nine upholstery pins on the back inside crease to hold the slipcover securely. (Be careful to hide the needle points back into the cushion so no one pricks themselves grasping for a safety belt.) I then used the twist pins (the squiggly tacks) and screwed the bottom cover in place under the bottom edges of the seat cushions.

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Here are views of the finished slipcover:

I was actually quite proud of how it turned out—a well-fitting slipcover at a minimal cost. Once I pretty it up with a few bolsters and throw pillows, I think it might soften the look and feel a bit more homey.

The existing sofa has storage space underneath with a long hinged door with the old fabric stapled to the outside. I will unstaple the fabric and decide at that point whether I should replace the door and stain it a honey oak to match the existing cabinetry or reupholster with a different fabric. Until then, the jack knife sofa part of this remodel has been tabled.

Here is the cost break-down for this portion of the project:

Fabric 3.625 yd @ $9.00 yd….     $32.63

Upholstery pins…                            $ 5.99

Value Pack Twist Pins…                 $ 5.99

4- Bone Serger Cones @ $3.49   $13.96

TOTAL FOR MATERIALS                 $58.57

Note: I used a serger and serged the fabric ends (they are tucked in and not seen) but you can do this project with a standard sewing machine for the seams. (Make sure to double stitch the corners.) The exposed ends are then tucked under and screwed down with twist pins. You will also need standard sewing supplies: tape measure, markers, pins, and a good pair of fabric scissors.

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

 

RV Face Lift

I have turned my focus in the past month to traveling and living out my dream of being a professional gypsy. I thought I would share details about my recent project with you.

We have a 2004 Class C Winnebago Minnie motor home we bought four years ago, whom we fondly call…Minnie. Although I and my husband have become quite attached to her, her interior is so outdated, it has become almost painful for me to travel on long trips and to be able to stand to look at the inside of her. We had thought of upgrading RVs at some point during our future travels, but even the newest and best of Class C and A RV models are decorated in the ugliest of colors and fabric combinations. Surely, whomever is decorating these RVs hasn’t a bit of taste, color sense, nor do they keep current on decorating trends.

My problem with Minnie’s interior runs much deeper than the fact that she is outdated. She is GREEN. Don’t get me wrong– I like green as an accent color, but the interior fabric combinations of sage and olive drab resemble what I can only refer to as “lady camo.” I am surrounded by green everywhere– from the carpet to the captain’s seats to the cornices (hey, haven’t cornices been out of style since the 90s?) to the cushions. Traveling in Minnie, I truly feel like I’m in the middle of the big WWII.

It will be some time before we upgrade to a new RV. So I decided to remodel Minnie and give her a face lift. I also decided to document my remodeling adventures on this blog for anybody perusing the web for similar ideas.

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This is Minnie from the outside. I believe she’s a 31C model. She has a separate toilet/shower, rear queen short bed and brand new tires. Here she is, all tuckered out from a recent trip we took from Saint Louis to Wisconsin.

This is the inside dining area and kitchen galley. Gotta love those ugly cornices and that oh -so-70s wall mirror hiding behind the slide out!

Here’s the cab and cab over area with those horrid olive green curtains.

For days I’ve been browsing the web, watching YouTube videos, and reading RV remodeling sites about the wisest and most economical way to remodel Minnie. It has been a very slow process and mostly my doing. (I think my hubby had resigned himself to living with the green.)

I decided not to tear out the sage green carpets or repaint the walls and cabinets. Instead, I would decorate around those fixtures. The carpet was a bit dirty, but was in overall pretty good shape. (In the above pics, I removed the cushions in the dinette and will reupholster them in a future blog entry.) I had replaced the polished brass cabinet pulls some time ago, but I would replace all the remaining brass fixtures with polished bronze.

Once my hubby helped me figure out how to remove the cornices/valances, I removed all of them from every window. I have no intention of recovering or replacing them. They are outdated eyesores and will be tossed out with the trash. Even with no window treatments, the entire living space immediately brightened itself up. And so did my spirits!

The border along walls will be steamed off at some point, although I decided not to paint over the vinyl paneling because it was in good shape and I didn’t want to hurt the resale value of the RV, when we actually do decide to sell it. Also for that reason, I decided to reupholster the existing dinette and jack knife sofas to accommodate the original number of passengers/sleepers which, for this RV, is 7.

My ultimate goal for Minnie is to redecorate/remodel within a relatively modest budget and do so tastefully in a manner that will make her more like our home but still not hurt her resale value.

Cost of this project so far: $0 to remove cornices and curtains. However, I did need to use a long Phillips head screwdriver and a good pair of fabric scissors.

Thanks for visiting today’s blog. Keep reading future posts to find out more about Minnie’s face lift.

Lois

 

 

 

Silk Marbling Demo

I live in a suburb of Saint Louis. Although I have a lot of connections with fellow artists in this area, there are few silk painters here. As a result, I have had to rely on the Interwebs to get my silk painting class fix and the Silk Painters International Forum in order to get meaningful exchanges on the medium and what works.

After perusing various and sundry YouTube videos, blogs, ebooks, and web pages, I came across a few demonstrations on silk marbling. For those of you unfamiliar with this art, “Ebru”—the Turkish art of marbling—is the process whereby the artist splatters paint on a thickened gel and then dips paper, fabric, or another object onto it, thereby transferring the marbled paint design onto the surface of the object.
When I saw these seasoned artists spattering their paint onto surfaces, marblingdemo002skillfully manipulating them, and then immersing the final object to reveal a beautiful painting with seemingly effortless moves, I was amazed. I had to try it. And I knew my daughter, who was a skilled marbler of nail art, would be the perfect assistant.

So we decided to experiment. I wanted to feature the pics of our first attempts at marbling on fabric and include a thorough explanation of the process. Keep in mind that photos are done with my cell phone camera (which I unfortunately cannot hold while I work.)

Below: The setup area and our first attempts at manipulating the paint on top of sizing.

Our first attempts were done on carageenan in an 11″x 17″ disposable cookie sheet. A few weeks later, my handyman hubby built a large tray which would accommodate the 15″x 60″ silk scarf blanks I use. We marbled eight scarves, which we donated to American Cancer Society’s “Look Good Feel Better” program, St. Louis Chapter.

If you want to know more details about the marbling process, a full set of two-page instructions are available for download by clicking this link: silk-marbling-the-process

Thanks for visiting my blog today. Hope you found it informative and it inspires you to marble!

Lois

 

Your Snoring

(From Wacky Rhymes)

 

“Your snoring’s truly horrible,”

My dear spouse said to me,

“Sometimes it sounds like wailing

From an out-of-breath banshee.

 

A force so strong it drags the bed

Each time that you inhale,

And all the neighbor’s pooches

Start to whimper, howl, and wail.

 

“When you exhale, the windows bow.

The drapes begin to flutter.

And when you get to dreaming?

Well, you start to moan and mutter.

 

“This lack of rest has wearied me

And made me sleepy-eyed.

Sometimes I try to wake you up

And turn you on your side.

 

“One time, when we went camping

And were sleeping in our tent?

Two grizzly bears came answering

The call that you had sent.

 

“The rare few times you stop, my dear,

I must admit that I’ve

Placed mirrors underneath your nose

To check that you’re alive.”

 

I said, “You make too much of this.

I snore—that I’ll admit.

But you over exaggerate.

It don’t bother ME a bit!”

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PVC Silk Stretcher System

When I initially took elementary silk painting classes at The Craft Alliance, I was taught using a makeshift stretcher system consisting of pine boards covered with duct tape and hooked together at the corners with C clamps. The silk scarf was then pinned to the boards using push pins. This system worked okay at first, because it was adjustable. But the push pins proved problematic, because the excess dye on the edges made the hem look sloppy. No matter what I did, I couldn’t keep the fabric off the board (especially when wet.)

I have seen a lot of different devices for stretching silk, including the ancient Japanese method using hariki and shinshi. I found I could buy stretcher systems (usually made of pine board) which seemed quite pricey. A couple of silk painters had devised a PVC based system, which held the silk taut and horizontally, more like a painting easel. None of them really struck my fancy, since I am a very wet silk painter.

My ingenious handyman husband devised an adjustable, independent PVC stretcher system, which was movable and sectioned. The elastic attachments had alligator clip ends, which were attached to the stretcher system and were adjustable. Since I usually painted oblong silk scarves 11”/15”x60”, I found this wonderful design worked well for me.

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One thing I discovered with the narrow alligator clips was, although they didn’t poke holes into the silk and they didn’t block dye from getting in between the silk, certain dyes tended to pool underneath, causing little blips of color. They were also prone to rusting and not easy to clean.

I discovered a fellow silk painter was using Chinese suspension hooks, available at Dharma Trading Company, our favorite silk supplier. I started clipping the suspension hooks (be careful—they are SHARP!) to the alligator clips and then piercing the silk hem with the suspension hooks. This worked marvelously. There was a small notch in the clip that held on to the hook, and it was still adjustable. When done, I simply removed the hooks and rinsed them with ease.

The PVC stretcher system is adjustable but a bit cumbersome to assemble and disassemble. Once I have it set to a certain size, I try to do a few projects in the same approximate size for a while before I take it apart and set it up for a different sized project. The nice thing about it being in 3 sections is that I only set up what sections I need for the length that I need. In fact, I’m kind of looking forward to the next plein air, so I can set up my little horizontal, self-standing easel!

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Pictured: 3-Part stretcher system, assembled with a finished 11″x60″ crepe de Chine scarf.

Anyway, that’s my custom-designed, mobile, adjustable stretcher system. All of the parts are available at the local Home Depot, but if you’d like more information, please feel free to email me.

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

Chemo Caps

I love to crochet. Although my mother was a skilled crocheter, she died when I was young and I never had the opportunity to learn from her. Instead, I learned as an adult. My instructor? My own husband, whose mother taught him how to crochet (and sew) when he was a child.

Since then, I have both knitted and crocheted extensively. I have blankets, pillow shams, and countless sweaters I’ve made for myself and others. Since I also paint on silk, I wanted to find opportunities to donate my work to worthy causes.

After rejoining our public library, I found out about Chemo Caps, a group which meets here in the Spencer branch of the Saint Peters, MO library twice a week. I joined a fine group of devoted crocheters and knitters who make caps to donate to cancer patients who have undergone hair loss.

Some of the ladies who belong to the group (we’re all female, although male volunteers are also welcome) are skilled and fast crocheters and knitters. Others are just learning, and the head of our group, Laurie Ault, devotes her time teaching free of charge to anyone willing to learn. Not only does our group meet once a week to “hook and chat”, but we also meet outside of the group and have established some profound and long-time friendships among its members.

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Pictured: Laurie Ault chatting and working with a fellow member of the Chemo Caps group. Also pictured: My latest cap just finished and ready to donate.

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Our latest batch of caps made by various members of the group. (The green one is mine, made for a VERY LARGE head…)

If you are interested in joining our group and know how to or want to learn how to crochet or knit, we meet twice a week on the 2nd floor of the Saint Peters, MO Spencer library:

Tuesdays 12:30-4:00 P.M.

Thursdays 6:30-9:00 P.M.

For more information, you can join the Chemo Caps Facebook Page at or call the Spencer Road branch library for more information.

I love this group and the ladies it it!

Thanks for visiting,

Lois