Dental Cabinet | more adventures in furniture restoration

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I bought this old, heavy, and apparently very dirty dental cabinet two years ago with the intention of cleaning it up and storing sewing supplies in it. I knew at the time that it was going to be a big job, but damn, I really underestimated it.

In addition to 75+ years of muck, and a little bit of mildew, there were a few forgotten treasures inside. The diagram of “The Teeth of a Seven Year Old Child” was my favorite find.

I cleaned the whole thing and striped the drawer fronts of paint, but then simply couldn’t pick a color. Then winter hit and I didn’t have to choose a paint color… and then it was two years later…

Well I think working through my sewing WIPs made me want to wrap up this furniture WIP. So I went back to the paint store and picked up even more color chips.

It came down to these two colors and since I already have a lot of green in my space, I went for clay. The basement lighting made it look like a Halloween cabinet and I did briefly question everything. But once the back was dry, I brought it upstairs and in natural light, it looked just as I’d imagined.

In the striping process, I accidentally removed spots of the enamel on the insides of the drawers, which added MORE things I needed to paint. But ultimately the insides needed to be repainted because they were truly gross, even without my paint stripping damage.

I used spray enamel for just the drawer interiors and left the original paint on the outside because of the locking mechanisms. There’s also writing on the bottoms of the drawers. This cabinet appears to have been built by a couple of people (they all initialed a little sticker) and the process included numbering the cabinet itself and each of its parts. So each drawer and each drawer pull has a hand written number, which is pretty cool, and I didn’t want to cover that up.

The cabinet probably weighs around 200 lbs and needed to be maneuvered up two flights of stairs. It was awkward and a little scary but we did it! Due to space restrictions, I had to work on the drawers in two batches. Getting the first batch done and in the cabinet was really exciting.

My paint job isn’t perfect, but I wasn’t starting with a perfect surface either. I did my best and think it looks a whole heck of a lot better. I added this photo to show how much time has passed – my hair is quite a bit longer than in the first picture.

This cabinet holds a lot and I’m really enjoying that every drawer has a certain supply in it.

Rearranged, more tables.

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I’m a rearranger. I get a boost of creativity from rearranging a space. You can see several iterations of my space (and past spaces) here.

Everything started with wanting to downsize my cutting table. The big IKEA table was fine but it really dominated the room and wasn’t super sturdy.

These Husky tables had been my sewing tables (they were lined up along the back wall) and I’d taken off the drawers because I kept bashing my knees on them while sewing. I knew with the drawers attached, they’d make a much better (adjustable height) cutting table and would allow me to have all my cutting tools at my fingertips.

I really, really love this new cutting set up. The wall mounted system I’d been using to store all this was starting to annoy me since I’d have to carefully grab each item in order to not make the hooks fly off the pegboard. It was also a dust magnet.

Once my sewing tables transformed into the cutting table, I splurged and bought three more Husky workbenches without drawers and wheels (the wheels made them too tall before).

I knew I wanted to flip the space too so that the table length could increase. I’m able to fit all my personal machines and the machines I use for work all together without having to move stuff around as often. The little swivel corner where I can stitch a seam and then spin to my serger is my favorite part.

I’m planning on replacing these IKEA cabinets too with this old dental cabinet I’ve been trying to restore for a while.

Rearranging kinda helped me de-prioritize my work-from-home set up too. My computer desk had always been in a major corner of the room and now it’s in between the two sides, which has made it take up less mental space. It’s across from the built in fabric storage pictured on the right.

Moving my computer table freed up this corner for art! I lost my practice during the past 5+ chaotic years and I’m desperate to find it again. It’s not routine yet, but at least I’ve started.

And finally, after working in this space for several years, I realized it was missing something crucial to any creative practice – a comfy spot. It’s not complete yet (this is an air mattress) and the coffee table is much too large, but it does the job. My husband is building me a custom daybed and I’m going to learn some upholstery skills too. This spot will double as a guest space, but will mostly be my Knitting (and seam ripping) Nook.

Conquering the WIP pile

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I’ve been a weird combination of highly motivated / can’t be bothered to sew for several years, which has resulted in a bunch of partially completed projects. Why finish a project when you can start a new one?! I’ve also accumulated a small pile of things that needed minor fitting tweaks, which are never as exciting as starting a fresh project.

But a couple weeks ago, I’d apparently had enough and dedicated a Sunday to tackling the stack. I set a goal of completing or fixing five doom pile projects and, to my utter shock, completed four. Here’s what I did…

The first garment was this Seamwork Madhu that simply needed longer lengths of elastic in the sleeves. The sleeves were squeezing my arms, so I’d stopped wearing it.

I had already unpicked and replaced the elastic but lost steam when it came to stitching up a grand total of 1 inch on the casings. While I had white thread in my machine, I also put some tacks in the neckline elastic to keep it in place.

The second project was a also a Madhu, but an Ace & Jig inspired hack! I raised the neckline, lengthened the sleeves, modified the waist hem, and planned to finish the neckline and sleeves with bias binding.

All the construction was completed but I’d pooped out at the finishing steps, including creating the bias tape. I’m pretty pleased with this hack!

Next, was this top. It’s the Seamwork Aims and while it looks flipping cute on others, I’ve learned I don’t feel great in tops with even the slightest amount of poof at the shoulders. But I wanted to finish it, even if it ultimately gets donated. It needed the hem and placket stitched, plus buttons and buttonholes. It’s a little yeehaw but I’m kinda into it?

The last thing I was able to squeeze into this weekend WIP party was taking in the center back seam on this Isola jumpsuit. My fabric kinda bagged out and was flapping in the wind making me not want to wear them. It was a subtle change but made a big difference!

The following weekend I was still riding the WIP pile high and decided to fix the fit on these Shop Pants. Despite previously making these in the same fabric (just a different dye) the fit was completely different at the back waist. I had also placed the back belt loop off center and was happy to have the opportunity to fix it. I took about an inch out of the center back and was able to hide all the backstitching under the belt loops. I’m so excited to have another pair since I wear this pair all the time!

And then this past weekend I tackled this incredibly old WIP. It’s seriously old, like multiple years old. These canvas Pomona pants needed the inseam, hems, and waistband sewn. After finishing them, I unpicked the front patch pocket because it looked weird.

Believe it or not, there are still WIPs to be finished! And I’m committing to not starting any new projects (except for simple pointelle t-shirts, I gotta have some fun) until the pile is conquered!

A Pop of Blue

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I know, I know. Neutrals are my favorite, but sometimes a primary pop is what a project needs.

This subtle splash of color was inspired by the jacket itself. While constructing, I thought it looked like a painter’s smock sans paint. Inspiration hit and I thought maybe some colorful snaps could stand in for paint smears.

After a quick google, I found both red and blue snaps and ordered. I ended up choosing the blue to coordinate with the dark blue topstitching.

PATTERN: Seamwork Parker

FABRIC: Carhartt denim from Mill End

SIZE: 8

MODS: Shortened sleeves 2″

This jacket is very easy to throw on and I’ve been wearing a lot. It features raglan sleeves, angled pockets that go all the way to the side seams creating FOUR POCKETS, a back pleat, stand collar, a perfect straight cut, and cuffs.

I am also wearing Shop Pants and my natural dyes bandana.

New Makes

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Seasons Cardigan | Ozetta

This project taught me an important lesson – one can’t just assume the steps and start knitting. I just didn’t read the instructions and had to redo the neckband multiple times. Once I finally realized it wasn’t just a simple K1, P1 repeat (by reading), it took off and was a pretty fun knit.

I bought the yarn and buttons over a year ago, but didn’t feel ready for the pattern until completing the pullover version. Now that I’ve knit both, I think the cardigan is actually easier – the short rows in the pullover kinda broke my brain.

The coolest part of this pattern is that the neckband is knit with the body. I used Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Barley and made a size M.

I shortened the sleeve cuffs by half. The sleeves are a little longer than I’d like after blocking but not enough to redo.

This sweater is a classic and it’s going to get a lot of wear. I’m considering making the oversized version at some point but definitely need a break from half fisherman’s rib for a bit.

Iggy Pants | Seamwork

My stomach hates tight waistbands so I fricking LOVE pants with elastic backs. Also love a weird leg shape!

A pair of pants from Big Bud Press got the idea of red topstitching stuck in my head and this pattern seemed perfect for a pop of red. Plus, I already had a red zipper in my stash.

I first made a size 8 but then realized I hadn’t taken my measurements in a while. The 8 fit but didn’t have the waistband comfort I wanted, so this denim pair is a size 10. I did need to pull the elastic a little tighter to get the fit just right.

A few ways I deviated from the instructions:

  • Serged off the dart uptake to make the hem less bulky.
  • Pressed the seams to one side and topstitched.
  • Added more topstitching overall (pockets, fly, rise, darts).
  • Attached waistband to inside of pants first, then topstitched the fold and added elastic from the outside.
  • Used one tack button instead of two regular buttons.

Knitting Cases

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I started planning an ‘ultimate’ knitting case project in September of 2022 mainly because I hated the case my interchangeable set came in. The case’s function was fine, but I did not enjoy the way it looked. It also didn’t hold everything I like to have on hand for knitting.

I planned to use this pattern so that everything could live in one multi-layer case. After months of thinking about the pages, I finally started assembly in December. Everything was going great until I needed to attach the middle section to the first. I tried, but the combination of chunky zipper pulls, the B770’s giant presser feet, and my desire for neatness meant I needed to abandon this plan.

Initially I was really bummed. I’d spent money on supplies, cut up two shirts, spent so much time planning, and endured months of not knowing where anything was. I also thought having everything in one case was the best option.

Since I had discarded the original Chiaogoo case, I had to do something. So I decided to make separate cases for my circulars, DPNs, tools, cables, and shorties. And since I’d used up all of the shirt fabric on my flop, I’d use leftovers from knitting project bags. Then everything would match!

PATTERN: Creative Maker Supply Case by Sew Sweetness

SUPPLIES: Handbag zippers and mesh from ByAnnie and leather patches from Noodlehead.

Here’s the case for my interchangeable circulars set. I was able to cut apart the flop and salvage these pages and one zipper. The fabric is by Sarah Golden for Andover Fabrics, which is no longer available.

This case was the hardest one to figure out. I wanted it to house a lot and have a space for magnetic things. The fabric was designed by Alexia Abegg for Cotton & Steel, also no longer available.

This case is for the interchangeable set’s cables. The fabric is also designed by Alexia Abegg for Ruby Star Society. This was the only new fabric I bought for this project. I needed one more case and wanted it to coordinate.

The Chiaogoo Shorties come in these weird, primary color key chain pouches, but also in these functional little black cases that I wanted to keep. They fit snugly in these mesh pockets with room for their own cables.

And finally, a case for my set of DPNs. I made an entire other case in the larger size for these before realizing the small would work best. The fabric is also from Alexia Abegg for Ruby Star Society.

I am SO pleased with these and I think they’re much better than what I had originally envisioned. After making seven and half cases, I’ve gotten pretty fast!

They all fit perfectly in this basket! Everything is organized and super portable now. It’s great!

Adventures in Furniture Restoration

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I love vintage school desks and bought this one about a year ago. I was drawn to its silly little basket. Deluded by TikTok DIYers, I thought it would be a piece of cake to fix up. It was not.

These are the listing images. I was probably also swayed by that beautiful flat file in the picture. At some point the original top had been replaced with these rustic floor boards (?) that were gross, warped, and generally stupid looking, so with the help of my husband and his tools, we made a new tabletop out of plywood.

The paint on the frame was chipped and the saddest of school beiges, so I decided to try stripping it off, which in hindsight, was a really bad move. There are so many crevices in that silly little basket. The paint easily came off of the bottom portion of the legs, but the rest of it was pretty stubborn and I set the whole thing aside for months.

Well I learned that unpainted metal likes to rust, and rust it did. So after scrubbing with WD-40 and sanding off the remaining paint, I was finally able to prime and paint. I picked a color that ended up being more vibrant than I wanted (why are the cap colors so different from the actual paint?), but overall I’m pretty happy with it and the extra surface it’s providing me in my art making space.

12 Weeks of Pottery

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I FINALLY secured a spot in a pottery class in Portland, which, if you live here, know is a feat. Studios are brimming with people and it’s hard to worm your way in.

It all came back like riding a bike and honestly, I was much more skilled this time than when I last had a membership (2015-16). I wonder if years spent thinking about throwing pottery helped.

In this class, you get 20 firing slips and I used all but one. I also blew through two bags of clay and had access to lots of surface design options like under glazes and slips.

I made 3 plates. I’d like to eventually replace what’s in my kitchen cabinets with more like this. One is still at the studio as I missed the last pickup window before the holiday.

And 4 bowls. Only one is really nice (pictured on the left). The wheel I used during class had some really loose bat pins that caused some really wonky pots. I bought a bat mate, which helped, but then I tried throwing with partially dried, used clay I poorly wedged which led to more wonkyness. I am proud of being able to boss not perfect clay into usable forms.

The theme this session was definitely plants. I made 9 pots and several already have new tenants. I really enjoyed playing with the studio’s green slip on these.

This one was very warped that my instructor encouraged me to play with. I’d like to explore this technique more next session.

I also made two mugs. The green one is slightly too heavy, it was one of the first things I made and I didn’t go as hard trimming as I should have.

I’m taking another 12-week course and then I’m going to evaluate where I want to go from there. Might take the hybrid hand-building and throwing class, or I might get on the monthly membership wait list.

Natural Dyes Workshop

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Last weekend I took a two day workshop at Wildcraft called Pattern Play & Natural Dyes.

Day 1 | Dye Paste Samples

The first day of the workshop covered creating dye pastes and three techniques for application. The pastes included alum and different percentages of iron. We got to make two 12″ x 12″ cotton samples at each technique station. It’s pretty cool how the different pastes would determine how the dye would adhere to the cloth.

These are my stencil samples that were later dyed in cutch and madder.

These samples were block printed and dyed in pomegranate and logwood.

The last technique was hand painting. These were dyed in weld and lac.

Day 2 | Immersion Dye

Our samples dried over night and then we dissolved the paste using a process called dunging. After the paste was removed from the cloth, the samples went into the dye pots along with blank cotton bandanas that were pre-treated.

I chose to dye my bandana in cutch and then we had a little time to design. I threw a quick sketch together and decided to use the stenciling process.

We again used different dye pastes that were painted on to the dyed cloth, but this time titanium and citric acid were in the mix. The titanium practically removed the dye.

We were sent home with dunging supplies and after my bandana dried overnight, I dissolved the paste and let my bandana dry. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

This workshop was a lot of fun and I would really like to try this at home.

I guess I’m in my gray era.

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Gray thing #1 is my just finished sweater, which took about four months to knit. The most challenging and time consuming part of this knit was the short rows, but once I got past them, it was smooth knitting. The instructions are great and clear, it was my brain that was the issue here.

PATTERN: Seasons Sweater by Ozetta

YARN: Knitting for Olive heavy merino and soft silk mohair in ‘dark moose’ from La Mercerie

SIZE: M, no mods

This project felt just outside of my current knitting skill set, but it happened and I think I’m ready for the cardigan version. And yes, it’s just as squishy as it looks.

Gray thing #2 is this flight suit. The color I chose leans a little janitorial, but when it’s splattered in clay it leans artist. The fabric does wear a little heavy and I definitely overheat if I’m moving around a lot, but the details on this pattern are jumpsuit perfection.

PATTERN: Seamwork Mercer

FABRIC: Robert Kaufman Ventana Twill in ‘Grayish’

SIZE: 8 with 3″ removed from leg and 2″ removed from sleeve.

And gray thing #3 is a sweatshirt I made entirely for this single quilt block. Okay, I already had the french terry and rib knit, but I was inspired to sew it up once I had the idea of slapping the quilt block on it. The block was made out of linen scraps and was very shifty, so I fused some knit stay tape to the turned under edges and had to use a sheet of tracing paper to stitch it onto the french terry to keep the fabric from stretching out.

PATTERN: Dale Sweatshirt by Daisy Chain Patterns

FABRIC: ‘Mushroom’ french terry and matching rib knit from ISee Fabrics

SIZE: M