Tag Archives: diy

hacked curtain DIY

23 Jan

We’ve been living with some ratty-ass curtains for the last year or so. Most of the time though, I barely even noticed. New curtains for our front windows have been on the to-do list for months, maybe years. We moved here with extra long very shear white curtains from one of my first apartments, and continued to use them for the last four years. They were great because they let in a lot of natural light and were actually long enough for our extra tall windows. They started to become a little gray and maybe threadbare in spots, but who is crazy enough to get new curtains when you’ve got four wild animals? Two of  said animals are climbers, or um, tree-dwellers as we’ve learned. The younger cats helped speed up the curtain destruction process, with snags and holes from their various climbing and jumping and attacking antics. You can’t have nice things and have (4) cats guys, its basic.

Cats have kindly started growing up, which is a nice favor to our home. They still can’t be trusted, but our house is less of a war zone than it used to be. After 10 years of use, our dingy, once-white curtains finally called it quits, but we continued to keep them up because the search for replacements was damn hard. Extra long curtains that aren’t shiny, sparkly, heavy, ugly, or $80 per panel and approved by two very opinionated people? Hard to come by. One of us wanted pattern, one of us wanted plain white. Neither one of us really trusts our cats not to be shitheads and scale the curtains, so we knew we wanted curtains that weren’t too precious and expensive. We went fabric shopping a handful of times, but couldn’t agree on a fabric, but also couldn’t find the weight we really wanted. Important life decisions here, I know.

Cue a trip to Ikea. I was not expecting much, but we were both surprised to find curtains that weren’t offensive in any way to either one of us. We measured the windows twice, but forgot the measurement somewhere along the way. Probably in the kitchen department. We convinced ourselves that 108″ was the length we needed (it wasn’t) and we came home with four panels. We tossed the old curtains to the floor, the curtains became the new hot cat nap spot for the day, and kicked ourselves for the way too short curtain purchase. We avoided the problem for a month, before heading back to Ikea for an additional pack of curtains, so I could embark on a tremendously frustrating sewing project!


The plan was to add a panel of fabric to the bottom of each curtain to extend the length to the floor. We started by taking apart the not-even-close-to-straight hems, straightened all the edges, measured and cut new fabric panels, then spent countless hours tediously, frustratingly lining up stripes and pining panels together. Sewing with stripes is for crazy people. Crazy patient people. I almost lost my mind. I absolutely threatened that I would never sew again. I dramatically quit several times, while Intern alternately hid from me, and tried to help out where he could. He is the ironing and pining patience master. Thankfully this project is over. It was expensive for my sanity, but our search for reasonably priced shear and agreeable curtains is done. Lessons have been learned: 1. measure everything, then WRITE IT DOWN. 2. Don’t deal with stripes ever again. The cats have been warned, stay away from the curtains.


Night at the Museum

13 Jan


Last week we brought Skill Exchange into the new year with NightLife at California Academy of Sciences. Skill Exchange was joined by many other presenters and demonstrations, and oh, thousands of skill-hungry people. It was a very energetic and fun night, thanks to (cocktails and) our teachers.We’d been prepped by the NightLife team about the popularity of the event, but until you’re actually in Africa Hall with several thousand people with cocktails in hand, you’re really not sure what to expect. Next time, we’ll bring more backup volunteers to help us address questions and talk about the workshops, and I think we’ll bring even more teachers, because I think the crowds would have loved even more demonstrations. All of our teachers did a great job with the crowds, and were probably all a little hoarse the next day like me. Spending the evening in Africa Hall was a bit surreal, but very, very entertaining. Also, 1,000 mozzarella samples were hand pulled, then shared by Ragazza over the course of the evening. INSANE!

For a recap of the evening with more photos and information about each of our teachers, visit the Skill Exchange blog.

Skill Exchange, 2014

6 Jan


On Thursday, January 9th we’re teaming up with California Academy of Sciences NightLife to teach you new skills in one of the coolest San Francisco institutions. Every Thursday night, the museum opens its doors for an evening of cocktails, music, demos and of course, science. The first event of 2014 is a night of DIY, demos and lots of cool tricks, featuring Skill Exchange and a whole bunch of other great workshops.

Learn how to stretch your own mozzarella with Ragazza, or join Punk Domestics for a demo on making tea liqueur. Roll up your sleeves with The Aesthetic Union andPapa Llama for some printmaking experiments. This Humble Abode will teach you how to tie a bow tie, while you watch penguins frolic. Tickets are $12, available online now or at the door.

Social Club #2

10 Oct

The second meeting of the sort of social club met in early October armed with lots of snacks and a 90′s R&B playlist to keep us going. This month we decided to try coiled basket weaving with cotton rope, which turned out to be slightly more difficult than anticipated. The snacks were impressive though, homemade sourdough, pumpkin bars, watermelon salad and all sorts of other things to nibble on. The group followed several different tutorials and/or blindly tried to figure it out on our own.  Half the group went with a glue method to get their basket base started, while half of us spent most of the afternoon painstakingly sewing our coiled bases by hand. Basket making is slow going, and although enjoyable, we had long stretches of silence, while everyone quietly frowned at their baskets while working intensely.

After nearly five hours of basket-weaving, only one small basket was finished, but the rest of us finished our bases and had started coiling upward. There seems to be a big learning curve with making uniform stitches and coils, probably not helped along by several bottles of prosecco over several hours, but whatever. Five hours of basket making helped us flush out brains our after a long week of work.

Lessons learned: We learned that sourcing cotton rope locally was a challenge, however I do think we’d look at upholstery shops for more rope options next time. Also, searching Amazon for cotton rope brings up some unwanted, not helpful items. Also, 100 feet of rope is really long!

Gold Frames

13 Sep

We’re back in the habit of visiting the Alemany Sunday flea market after a long break. Since repainting our dining room we’re on the hunt for gold frames to hang on our navy blue walls. Sometimes Most of the time, Alemany can be hit or miss, but last week was full of treasure. Sure, there is the lady that yells at you for looking at her wares (most, but not all are for sale, btw), the guys that try to cut you a deal on rusty tools while you walk by, and the piles of kitchenware and junk poured out on long flooding tables, begging for a tetanus shot, and a good dig through.

Last weekend we went with $32 in cash scrapped together between the two of us, not sure what we’d find. Making a trip to the cash machine beforehand  is almost a guarantee you won’t need that cash. Within about 20 minutes we’d found a selection of mid-sized gold wood frames for $13 and another carved wood frame for $5. A few minutes later I was bargaining with my last $14 for a $25 crazy ornate gold frame. We went back and forth between $14 and $15 for a few minutes, until I had to prove that I really only had $14… but the frame was finally ours. Intern convinced me to leave a short while later, because looking at bargains when you don’t even have a $1 left is pretty pointless.


Those of you who follow me on instagram or twitter already know how much I love my new print by Carolyn Sewell, but for those of you who haven’t experienced her charming work, get to it.  This print is most likely going to end up in the studio, not the dining room, but I do think it needs a fancy frame.

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