Sunday, June 1, 2014

Lofty ambition

We have a smallish house, with smallish rooms and kids who are only getting bigger. Since an addition to the house isn't feasible, we decided to make use of the space above by building the kids loft beds, with built in dressers and bookshelves and space for a desk underneath.

We started with this plan for a twin sized loft bed. We decided to scrap the desk part, because it is kind of small and the kids have pretty decent desks already. We also made both sides be full shelves, instead one being short. Additionally, we went with full sized beds instead of twin, since the kids are only going to get bigger.  Making it full sized added 15 inches to all cross pieces, because full sized beds are the same length, just slightly wider, than twin sized. 

We started by buying piles of wood, screws, and gallons of polyurethane. Seriously, save yourself the headache and buy the gallon size. I went back 4 times to get more because I kept saying "nah, I've got enough, it's totally fine" I did not have enough and it was not totally fine! 

And getting the kids started early on learning how to make things.  

If you buy the better quality lumber, you don't have to do nearly as much sanding. Of course, that costs more money. For us, I had more time than money, so I bought the cheap stuff and sanded it smooth. We ended up spending about $200 in material and two solid weekends building it. Probably a minimum of 20 hours, between the two of us. But, the comparable bed from <a href=>Pottery Barn</a> cost $1500, plus shipping, so I feel like we still came out ahead. 

Then we built two boxes

And added shelves. 

Then we built the head and footboards. The plans call for 1x3s and if you can afford decent lumber, they are fine. We bought the cheapest crap they had and I was disappointed in the final product. For this bed, we talked about getting better 1x3s, but they were a lot more per board and we ended up going with cheap 1x4s and they were much better and cheaper. 

We had to make sure to leave spaces for the cross brace pieces, which took forever, to get each piece lined up and flush and then attached and then spaced correctly, etc. You can see at the corner of this picture some spacers that RF made. They were really useful and made it go a lot faster. 

Then we attached the headboards to the bookshelves and took the two pieces into the bedroom. We attached the rails and cross brace pieces. 

The pieces that hold the slats and the mattress are supposed to be 2x4s but that makes the mattress too tall and puts the kids right into the ceiling fan, so we decided on 2x2s instead. 

Then the slats are attached and trim is added above the rail pieces. 

This picture doesn't have the ladder on yet, because using the 1x4s makes the ladder easier to climb and makes it feel more secure but proved to be a problem to cut with our 10" radial arm saw. The blade just wasn't quite big enough to cut all the way through. We eventually got it but it took a lot more finagling than the rest of the bed. 

We decided to use fabric baskets instead of drawers for the dresser end, because they have to be custom fit and cost a fortune! The shelves each hold 4 baskets, so they could conceivably have 16 different baskets, if they needed them. WF had a chest high four drawer dresser and everything that came out of it fit in these four baskets, so they hold a lot more than you might think. It does get kind of dark under the bed, so I'm hoping to not fill all the shelves so at least some light can get in rio round the shelves. 

His desk that he already had fits perfectly under it and my parents had a chair (not that monster in the other picture. It's a cute little club chair) that fits in the corner, by the tv and eventually, we will get them wall mounted TVs, so the only thing on the floor, will be the bed. 

The only problem is, they have a lot more visible floor, so they have less place to stash junk and I'm on them to keep it clean a lot more! 

We still need to get his mattress ordered.  We got her's from Walmart and it is super comfortable. It cost $150 and comes shipped like this:

And you'd really expect it to be junk, but she loves it and says she sleeps so well on it. We'll be getting him one as well, it will just be a little bit before we get it ordered. 

We will also add "ground effects" to the underside of the bed, to act as a nightlight and to add a little light in the desk area. These are on her bed. An 18 foot string of white rope lights from Big Lots fits perfectly around the inside. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sew adorable

I got a sewing machine last year, on the logic "I'm out of needles for hand sewing Girl Scout patches and machines come with needles, so I should just buy a machine". Since I managed to slide that one by RF,  I decided I should probably actually learn to sew. I've gotten fairly decent at it, though by no  means any kind of professional. Several weeks ago, a friend mentioned that she wanted to convert her step son's baseball jersey into a dress for her preschooler's birthday. I told her it would be super easy and I see stuff on Pinterest like that all the time.  She decided that I should probably go ahead and handle that, so I did. She brought me the jersey and I made THE CUTEST DRESS EVER!

Step one: get a large shirt. Depending on the size of the child, you can use anything from a youth medium, up through adult sizes. Fit the shirt to make sure the neck line isn't too large.  If it is, you'll need to refit the neck, which will add a lot more fiddling to your project. Fortunately, I didn't need to, so I don't have a tutorial for it.

Shirt photo image-5.jpg

Step 2: get a shirt that currently fits the child. If you can get on with straight sleeves and sides, this is best. Ruffles will mess up your cutting and the shape the of the final product. Lay the larger shirt out smooth,ironing if needed with the smaller shirt on top. Match up the necklines and shoulder seams. Trace around the smaller shirt with your tailor's chalk or fabric marker, leaving about a half inch for seam allowances. (You notice in my pictures that I left more than that and that is because the template shirt I used was getting a little short and I wanted to lengthen it slightly).  

Fit shirt photo image-6.jpg

Step 3: take your rotary cutter and zip around the lines you just drew.

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Cut shirt photo image-2.jpg

Step 4: toss the sleeves and the sides and set the bottom aside. Then turn the shirt inside out, so the right sides are together and sew from the bottom up, turning carefully and sewing along the bottom of the arm. If you are doing a short sleeve shirt, hem your sleeve, then turn your shirt and do the same on the other side.   If you are doing a long sleeved shirt, you might be able to preserve your cuffs and can avoid having to hem the sleeves. 

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(I didn't get pictures of the next several steps, because I was busy sewing! :) )

Step 5: now is your chance to adjust the length of the skirt. If it too long, trim from the cut edge until it is the proper length. Leave the finished edge alone or you will have to re-hem it and no one wants that.  Once your skirt is the desired length, stitch all the way around the top of the skirt with a loose basting stitch. Don't back stitch on this step!

Step 6: once your skirt is basted, scrunch the fabric of the skirt until it is the same size as the bottom of the shirt. If you are making major size changes, it will be very scrunchy. Minor changes will produce less scrunches. 

Step 7: attach your skirt to your shirt. Start by turning the skirt inside out and the shirt right side out.  Put the shirt inside the skirt and match the seams.  Pin the skirt to the shirt and begin sewing.  You will want to sew over the scrunchies, to create a ruffled effect.  

Step 8: Trim excess fabric at seams and admire your cool new dress!

Shirt photo image-3.jpg

Step 9: Have the adorable birthday girl model her new present!

Dress front photo image.jpg

Dress back photo image-1.jpg