Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Embroidered Fabric for the Embroidery Studio!

I shared a few fabric options for the window in my office/sewing studio the other day. When I went by U-Fab to look at the options again, my favorite of the options they had was gone from the racks. Luckily, U-fab's Kendall and Linda had it tucked away and I was able to get about three and a half yards.

U-Fab is moving from their store off our highway to a location a little closer to downtown (in Patina Antique's old space) and to lighten the loads they'll have to take over to the new space, they are having a massive sale on all fabric.

The little yellow dot on my fabric meant I spent about $55 on fabric. Some of the fabric I was considering was running that much per yard, so I was pretty pleased with the deal I got.

I figured that I would use some of the fabric for a window valance or shade and then use the rest to reupholster the seat on a desk chair or some counter stools. I guess I should look for a desk chair or some stools at some point.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Our New Dining Table

Over the weekend, I took a quick look at Craigslist and thought the number of interesting things I saw warranted one of my "Craigslist Alert" posts. As I started opening tabs for each item I liked, I came across a listing for a dining room table and six chairs that seemed to good to be true.

The table looked beautiful and the description said it was in great condition. The chairs were described as "fair," but I wasn't really deterred by that. After a few emails back and forth with the seller and a couple of text messages, we headed to a student neighborhood to pick the table and chairs up.

The house where the seller lived with his five roommates is massive. It's on a road that is full of student houses, but is set so far back that we never noticed it. It has stately columns, elaborate trim work, and original pocket doors in the massive doorways. Like many sought after student apartments, the house has passed from one group of students to the next, all in the same academic program (the local university's law school). The student selling the table decided to restore it and he did a beautiful job. He also refinished two of the three leaves that go into the table (fully extended, it's about 92" long). 

The finish on the rest of our dining room furniture is a very dark, almost-black, espresso brown, but I couldn't fathom passing up on the beautiful table.

I had always hoped to move our black table into the kitchen and having a table with leaves in the dining room so we could host holiday dinners at the house.

The student was apologetic about not finding the third leaf while he was refinishing the table and sent us home with the leftover stain he had used. He and his roommates were so nice!

Within hours of getting the table, I was packing to go to a conference, so I haven't even had a chance to really enjoy it. These pictures are all I have so far. I can't wait to get home to see it again!
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Friday, July 18, 2014

Office/Sewing Studio Developments

Work on my office is moving along and I need to figure out what I'm going to do about the small, high window in the room and several folding doors that cover some deep shelves along one wall and the closet on the other wall.

As a reminder, here's what the room looked like when we first looked at the house:

And here's a wide shot that I took on inspection day:

After a lot of painting, here is what the office looks like right now:

Maybe that's not the most exciting update, but it feels so much better now that there is a nice color on the walls (Benjamin Moore Silver Crest) and the ceiling and trim are painted white (White Dove, specifically).

The doors and tracks on the closets aren't in the best shape, so I think I'm going to pull them out of the room (I originally considered painting them). In an ideal world, I'd install traditional doors instead or maybe put up curtains. Curtains might look funny since they wouldn't fall from the ceiling, though.

I briefly thought about taking the shelves out completely. They're about a foot and a half deep, so they reduce the footprint of the room a bit. I know it seems insane to remove storage when so many people are desperate for it, but we have another set of closets that look just like them one room away and we will eventually redo the adjacent laundry room and add storage in there. Regardless, it's not the right time to pull the shelves. They're holding a lot of things that will eventually go into the kitchen, but I didn't want to load those cabinets yet since we'll be painting them at some point in the near future.

Regarding the window, I decided that this room is going to receive my first set of homemade window treatments. What kind of window treatments is up for debate. My standard route is to hang drapes "high and wide" to make a window look larger. However, I need to the walls to hang embroidery supplies (my hoops, stabilizers, and thread rack), so I might have to go with a roman shade or a very simple valance-style curtain.

I've seen several fabrics that I like. These first three are from U-Fab here in Charlottesville. Two have embroidery on them, which seems appropriate.

These last few were ones I saw online.

I haven't investigated minimums on these fabrics, though I know one of the U-Fab options is special order, so there's probably a requirement. The other two U-Fab options are right in the store, so I could go get a yard or two today.

I hope to have a few decisions made by next week.
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fabric Lover's Motherload

I've been chirping about sales for two weeks and today I'm sharing the motherload. If you love fabric and you live anywhere near Virginia, this is going to get you excited.

Back in 2011, I shared pictures from a trip to Haute, an incredible fabric store in Marshall, a town near Middleburg, VA. Back then, I described it as a hoard. The store is in a house and I counted 15 rooms full of fabric. When I say full, I mean FULL.

The fabric was everywhere. I was actually a bit overwhelmed.

There were also a few areas with shelves packed full of beautiful trim.

I got an email yesterday that Haute's Marshall location is closing. The Arlington store will still be around, but the Haute ladies are clearing out that house and selling all the fabric for $15 per yard.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sneak Peek at Jonathan Adler's Online Warehouse Sale!

The super lovely and chic people chez Jonathan Adler gave me a sneak peek at a couple goodies that will be on super duper, deep discount tomorrow for their Warehouse Sale.

Bobo Waves Pillow - was $88, will be $25.99

 Lena Lamp - was $595, will be $356.99

Pop Sugar Candle - was $38, will be $18.99

Siamese Cat - was $88, will be $23.99

Unicorn Salt & Pepper Shakers - were $48, will be $27.99

I might be including that last one as a reminder to myself. I love those little guys!

That's just a taste...there will be plenty more on sale tomorrow.

BTW, remember when Jonathan was a judge on Bravo's Top Design (RIP)? The show only lasted two seasons, but it was Project Runway for the interior design set. Eddie Ross was on the first season. I found this quick video about what it was like behind-the-scenes...

Even if it was "JV," I miss that show! Design shows seem to be few and far between these days. There's so much more time given to real estate shows and I'm a little sad about that. Come on Bravo and HGTV, show us more design!
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jonathan Adler's Warehouse Sale is Coming!

Ever since I wrote my post about American made furniture, it seems as though I've gotten one email after another about great companies having sales. I have yet another sale to pass along.

This Thursday (July 17th), Jonathan Adler's Online Warehouse Sale will start and run through next Tuesday. Some items will be up to 70% off.

Adler's team says that the sale crashed their site last year, but their system is more robust this year and will be able to handle the load. Happy shopping!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

When the White Paint You Pick isn't the Right White

Marc is always amused when I have to pick white paint. To him, I'm staring at parts of the fan deck that show the exact same color. In the condo, White Dove and Alabaster were my "go to" which paints. However,  I had picked a different white, Benjamin Moore's White Heron, to go with our dining room paint (BM Chrystalline) and loved it, so I thought I'd pick another white to go with the front hall paint, BM Hydrangea Flowers mixed at 50%.

After quite a bit of scrutinizing the my paint fan decks, I arrived at Benjamin Moore's Paper Mache for the trim. The meant we had four different whites in the house.

I thought that one white paint for the whole house was lame and boring. Having a different white for each room meant that I was super attentive to details and very designer-y, right?


Within a few minutes of putting the Paper Mache on the trim in the front hall, I hated it. It was too stark and part of me thought it was reading a touch...green. In the picture below, the ceiling and crown are as they were when we moved in. The chair rail is painted with Paper Mache.

I think there's a reason White Dove is so popular. It works. It looks great in natural and artificial light. It isn't too stark.

I made a mistake. While the White Heron looks great in the dining room, against BM Crystalline, I don't need a different white in every room. Lesson learned. Back to White Dove!
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Friday, July 11, 2014

To Etsy or Not to Etsy

It seems as though every time I share embroidery projects here, on Instagram, or on Facebook, someone tells me that I need to be listing things on Etsy. Besides feeling immensely flattered that someone thinks my embroidery work is nice, there's some fear of moving to the "next" level.

I Like Working for People I Know

I like doing projects for people I know (or for people with whom I share a mutual friend). There's something nice about getting an email a friend who wants me to make something for their niece, the friend of someone who has one of my bags, or a wedding planner friend whose bride wants a big monogram on their table runner. There's something really nice about getting tagged by a friend in a picture of something I made.

I can't tell you how happy this photo made me when I was tagged in it!

I'm Not Ready for Mass Production

There are embroidery businesses that have the capacity to embroidery a lot of goods at a high rate of speed. I'd venture that those companies don't do the kind of embroidery I do. My physical set up has me doing one project at a time, slowly and carefully. In my experience, industrial embroidery shops are great with logos and standard monograms, but if you want something large or ornate, it's better to go with a smaller operation.

Multi-head embroidery machines can churn out a lot of projects!

My embroidery style doesn't really lend itself to mass production, either. Just the other day, I was discussing designs with some women who do embroidery and some said they would not promote the interlaced vine design that I love so much because it has too many stitches (which means it takes a long time to stitch a monogram in that design, thus tying up the embroidery machine for while). I would hate to get to the point where I wouldn't want to do one of my beautiful, ornate designs because it had a high "opportunity cost."  Some of my favorite designs are big and take the better part of an hour to stitch.

That interlocking vine design that some embroidery folks don't want to do.

I Hear Complaints about Etsy

The last thing that worries me is the fact that lots of Etsy sellers complain about Etsy. The sheer number of sellers makes it hard to be seen on the site these days. I also see complaints about the fees on the site. I believe Etsy takes 3.5% of a sale, so you have to mark up to cover that price. I think the fees change as you list more items, but I could be wrong.

I really think the saturation of the market is what keeps me away. There will always be someone with a cheaper machine, using cheaper supplies, offering to monogram things for less than it costs me to so the same work. I'd rather stick to using my beautiful thread and needles and stabilizers I trust. A few months ago, I bought some cheaper thread and I don't like using it. It doesn't have the same texture or vibrant color that I get from my [expensive] threads. 

I've noticed people moving to hosting a shop on their own website, but might be an option if I get to the point that I think I'm ready for a real "store." For now, I enjoy doing projects on a small scale, for people I know.    

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams Summer Sale!

Remember how I posted about buying furniture that's made in America and how buying American can be less expensive than buying cheap imports from chains? One of my suggestions was to watch for floor model sales. Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams (who used to make upholstered goods for the likes of Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn before those companies outsourced production) is holding their annual floor model sale through July 27th. 

Custom orders are also 20% right now, so if you don't have a local MGBW store, you can get in on the sale through a local dealer.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Charlottesville MLS Photos of the Week

Looking at MLS (multiple listing service, where homes for sale are posted) photos is something I do when I have a little free time. Magazines and blogs are great for inspiration, but MLS photos give a glimpse into real homes. In my area, staging isn't too, too huge, so most of the local listings give a pretty honest representation of a home.

Of course, there are always a few photos that make give me a little laugh.

1. Drones for Real Estate Listing Photos

I'm sure you've heard that drones are one of the newer tools that real estate professionals are using to get images and videos of their properties. It's really cool to see a property from above, but I think it takes some skill to get things just right.

I'm not sure this photo is giving me too much insight into the property or neighborhood around this house. The roof looks nice, though.

2. Limited Photos on MLS Listings

It kills me when relatively expensive homes are listed without descriptive photos. This new listing has nine photos on it and only THREE are of the interior. All of them are of the kitchen. The listing mentions four bedrooms and the lovely living spaces. Where are they?

3. Real Estate Agent Cameos

I love these. The woman in this image was the listing agent on our house. If you read the story of our horrendous buying experience, it shouldn't be surprising that there isn't a ton of attention to detail. Can you tell I'm still bitter?

4. Un-fancy Things Presented as Fancy

This next photo reminds me of a hilarious back-and-forth between Drew Scott and a contestant on HGTV's Brother vs. Brother last week. The contestant had new floors laid and was adding baseboards. He put quarter round in and Drew pointed out that quarter round is a shortcut, used to cover sloppy work. The contestant was dumbfounded. He had no idea that high end jobs don't end with adding quarter round. He said something like "I use shoe molding on every job."

So here we have a picture that is probably supposed to impress because of the pretty flooring, but what jumps out at me is quarter round, the fact that doesn't match either the trim or the floor (it's molding, so it should match the trim, in my opinion...some don't agree), and some scuffs on the bannister.

5. The Unfinished Project

I think this next image brings up an interesting debate. Is it better to show something unfinished that has potential or should it be left out because it represents a project that the buyer will be saddled with? It doesn't look like there are even counters on the cabinets in that space (I think it is supposed to be a kitchenette in a basement).

Those are just a few recent favorites. The market seems hot here, so maybe the bar it a little low for listings right now.
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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

From the Hoop: Monogrammed Bags, Linens, and Gifts

The theme of this installment of From the Hoop is gifts! Almost everything I made this month was a gift someone was giving to a loved one.

Leather-like (don't you love how so many people have started using the term "vegan leather" instead of faux leather or pleather?) envelope clutches are huge in other areas and I bought a few to monogram. I'm only down to two (orange and kelly green) at this point, but I'm thinking of getting a few more. I love how they look monogrammed.

I posted some bandanas that I made for a friend's dog in April and they were quite popular! A few monogramming friends started making them and I've also made some to use as casual, colorful napkins.

When I posted a picture of Baxter in his 4th of July bandana, one of my friends asked me to make a few for her dog and her mother's dog. 

 It had been so long since I made something for my own nephews that I decided to make them some cute polos for an upcoming vacation. Their initials are surrounded by French dots.

I've been getting into a little more applique work recently, too. When I started embroidery work, I thought applique would be super easy, but it is pretty time consuming. Applique is when you stitch fabric in place on an item and use embroidery to embellish or outline it. On this tote bag, the middle initial is applique. A satin stitch holds the fabric in place and a decorative stitch runs on top as a contrast.

This towel has two layers of fabric serving as a frame for a monogram. This is on a kitchen towel, but it would be great on a tote or clothing.

This last project was a set of beverage napkins/coasters from a giveaway that my friend Stephanie at The Fete Blog did on her blog a while back. The winner of my item was my blogging friend Brookelyn, who blogs over at Best of Bklyn.

Looking to have something monogrammed? Email me at jeannine *at* smallchichome.com!
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