Friday, January 31, 2014

From the Hoop: Children's Gifts

How is it that I haven't shared any embroidery projects since November? I guess I didn't want to show anything on which I worked in December since most of those projects were Christmas presents.

I never thought I'd be someone who could make gifts, but I started thinking of all the pretty things I wanted to make for my family almost immediately after buying my Husqvarna Viking sewing/embroidery machine last summer. One of my early projects was making the table linens for the styled shoot on which I worked in the fall. That shoot wound up being published on Style Me Pretty and one of Jen Fariello's images of my embroidered chair banner got pinnned on Pinterest 339 times!

Once that shoot was over, I started making all the Christmas gifts that were in my head. One of my brothers and his wife have four little boys. They have always used a team in their family (their baby announcements always announce a new player or draft cute!), so I decided to make the boys "jerseys." Since the Boston Red Sox has just won the World Series, I thought a baseball theme would be fun. I embroidered their last name in an athletic-style font across the top of each shirt's back and added an applique number (1 for the oldest, 4 for the youngest) using a baseball fabric.

I didn't find this applique work easy at all. In fact, I ruined four shirts while trying to make a set of four for the boys. I've come to realize that the quality of embroidery designs vary dramatically from one designer to the next. The designer from whom I bought my number files used pretty thin satin stitching, so there was almost no room for error when trimming the fabric.

I wasn't thrilled with how the shirts turned out (I'm not posting a final image since there are names on them), so I bought some toys for the smallest boys and got gift cards for the older boys. I wanted to do something cute with the gift cards, so I made drawstring bags with the Boston College mascot on them (my brother's undergrad Alma Mater and my graduate Alma Mater). The boys are huge eagles fans.

The heavy stitch caused some puckering on the lightweight, broadcloth I used. Lesson learned. Broadcloth needs heavy stabilizer underneath when embroidering on it and a dense design like the one above is better used on heavier fabric.

One of the boys had a birthday after Christmas, so I decided to make a few more shirts for him. I really love how the first one came out. I bought a cute, button down shirt from Lands End and embroidered his monogram on the pocket (some people say it's best to keep first names off children's clothes for safety reasons). That little guy has a really cute nickname and I embroidered that under the collar, on the back of the shirt.

I decided to try to use the Boston College design one more time to see if I could successfully get it on something without puckering. I bought a fairly heavy weight, white t-shirt and the designer stitched out pretty well this time! I took this before trimming the loose threads, but you get the idea...

I'm still many hours away from having 10,000 hours on my machine (the point at which some people say you are an expert), but my work is quite different now, even though just a few weeks have passed.

Next time, I'll share some of the adult gifts I made.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Shop Tour: DeCOR (Design Center of Richmond)

Just steps off Richmond's Cary Street, where there are blocks of beautiful boutiques, there is an eclectic place where anyone interested in design would love to spend some time. It's called DeCOR, the Design Center of Richmond.

DeCOR isn't like the design centers in other cities, where major brands have showrooms that are only accessible to the trade or those shopping with designers. DeCOR is a space where individual designers and artisans display products and services. You can find small accessories and gifts displayed on antique dresses along with a sign about a particular designer's in-home services. The next room might have a kitchen design company's cabinet options displayed next to a sculpter's one-of-a-kind light fixtures. It's an incredible, interesting place.

I couldn't help but snap a ton of photos with my photo during my last visit...

19 South BelmontAve.
Richmond, VA 23221

M-F 10am-6pm
Sat 10am-4pm
Sun 12pm-4pm

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Placing a Large Rug

The massive, 12 x 18 rug I bought at a Leftover Luxuries sale in town went into my car two weeks ago. It stayed in the car for a week, since work commitments kept me from doing much of anything around the house.

I wish I had video of Wendi Smith and I tying the rug up and rolling it on dollies out of her warehouse space. I backed my car up to a tall loading dock and told Wendi to send the dollies over the edge so the rug would fly into the back of my SUV. Wendi is one strong woman and she had the rug sailing into the air, through my lift gate, and into the rear of the vehicle. Then, we had to pry the dollies out from under the massive rug, which took some doing. When I got home and told Marc about how we did this, I could barely stop laughing.

The rug was so heavy that I didn't want to move it until we were ready to place it in the basement living room. Because the rug was so big, I wanted to make sure we had the right pad underneath it so we wouldn't have to roll the rug up again.

When I had a free moment, I visited Marc's old friend Frank S. Eways whose family has operated a well known rug store in the area for over 80 years. Frank's store is a big, beautiful place in a nearby town called Ruckersville (though he's thinking of moving into Charlottesville). He has one room full of traditional rugs an another for more modern rugs. He also has a separate workshop where rugs are cleaned by hand and repaired. It's quite an operation!

Anyway, Frank suggested the appropriate rug pad for the Persian rug (and took a look at it since it was still laying in my car) and also cut pads for the flat weave rugs that are in our upstairs living room. For the flatweave rugs, he suggested a thick pad that would keep them from slipping around and make them feel more substantial underfoot.

Frank actually delivered all the rug pads so I didn't have to haul them home.

We cleared the basement room and realized that the rug pad was going to slide all over when we pulled the rug in. There was no way we could truly carry the rug because it was so heavy. I would up taping the rug pad to the floor with packing tape so it wouldn't bunch up as we placed the rug.

We almost called Frank to help us because the rug was so heavy, but we eventually got it down and were so, so happy with it. 

Looking at the back, you can see all the beautiful knots that make up the rug. Can you imagine how long it took someone to do this? It's all done by hand.

There are 28 different trees in this Tree of Life design and the pattern is perfectly symmetrical.

Next up comes placing the furniture in the room!
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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Rug Search Concludes

Don't you love it when you are searching for something and it winds up being right under your nose? That's what happened with my search for a rug to go in the living room on our lower level. I think I'm going to call it the den? I don't know.

Anyway, the room is huge, about 12.5' by 18' and there's a fireplace hearth that cuts into the room in the middle by about a foot. Upstairs, I used two identical rugs side-by-side to fill the living room, but for this room, I wanted one rug. I originally thought we'd have one made at Floor Fashions of Virginia, but the remnants in stock that I liked weren't quite large enough for the space we had. In addition, the remnant I liked there was dark and I worried that it was too dark for a room that gets light from a sliding glass door in an adjacent addition on the west side of the house.
A fabulous rug was right under my nose the entire time. I even mentioned it in a previous post about the last Leftover Luxuries sale here in Charlottesville. There was a 12' x 17' rug at the last sale that would work so well in our space. It was primarily gold with some burgundy in it (along with other colors, but we're trying to give Marc a nod to his Redskins here).

I called my father to talk about the rug a little bit because he knows quite a bit about them. He spent a good amount of time doing business in the Middle East at a time when the only thing to do after work was done was go to the souq. He picked up a lot from the rug merchants as they flipped their rugs. When I was in grade school, I got to watch him in action when there was a oriental rug sale at the Women's Club (not sure these are everywhere, but it's akin to a private club) on our street. I remember the rugs flipping for what seemed like hours and my father inspecting the knots on the reverse side of the rugs that interested him. He wound up buying a rug and one of the men had to wheel it home for us on a dolly because it was so heavy.

Anyway, my father pointed out that it's hard to judge a rug by the front. You really have to inspect the back, but he guessed the one at the sale was from Pakistan. Marc also texted a picture to a friend of ours who is an expert on oriental rugs (more on that soon!) and he thought it was Pakistani as well. In light of the size, he thought the rug was a solid deal.

I'm picking the rug up in a few days and I can't wait to see it in our house.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Custom Area Rugs

Here in Charlottesville, there's an incredible resource for flooring called Floor Fashions of Virginia. I've been in their standard flooring showroom once or twice, but I usually bypass it to go into the warehouse. The Floor Fashions Warehouse is behind the retail space and it is many, many times bigger.

At Floor Fashions, you can order all kinds of flooring, but in the warehouse, you can see those massive rolls of carpet and crates of carpet tiles stacked from the floor to the ceiling. There's a stack of samples on the end of every roll so you can see what is inside.

There are also machines that rotate rolls of carpet. It reminds me of a pizza oven!

If wall-to-wall isn't your thing, the staff at Floor Fashions will bind any of the carpeting they have to make you an area rug.

Behind the rotating rug machines are rooms full of huge remnants. The remnants aren't little carpet squares, they are room-sized leftovers and the prices are fantastic.

Because our basement living room is so big, I thought I'd go to Floor Fashions to see if there was a large rug or a remnant that I could have bound and used in the room. We will eventually replace the wood flooring in the room, but want to wait until we are doing some other spaces.

This living room is going to be Marc's domain and his style is a little bit more traditional than mine. He also wants me to use burgundy and gold in the room, as a nod to his beloved Washington Redskins. After a few turns around the warehouse, I found a few possibilities and texted pictures to Marc.

First, there was a very traditional rug that was pre-made. I didn't love the design, but I knew Marc would. The price was great, but it was too small and there wasn't a larger version in the warehouse. An 8x11 foot rug is large, but our space needed something about 12 feet wide and at least 16 feet long.

Ugh...pardon the paint on my hands and the destroyed manicure...this was after days of working on the basement!

 Among the remnants, I found another solid option. Floor Fashions would cut the remnant for free and bind it for about $150.

13'2" by 14" sounded large, but I wasn't sure it would look right in our space. The price was great, so I asked them to hold it for a little bit so I could run home and lay out my tape measures.

Alas, the remnant wasn't going to work and there wasn't another one like it. What's more, I started thinking that all that burgundy might make the room feel much smaller.

Even though I didn't wind up buying a rug from Floor Fashions, I wanted to share my iphone pictures of the place because it's so interesting.

2422 Richmond Rd
Charlottesville, VA 22911
(434) 296-7744
M-F 9 AM - 6 PM
Saturday 9 AM - 5 PM 
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