Monday, December 31, 2012

Bathroom Reno: Before and After

The bathroom is done, finally!

Here are the promised before-and-after side by side pictures. I made the pictures extra large so you can see the detail, but this might have messed up the page formatting. Oh well.

To see other posts on this renovation, click the links:

And for more pictures of the Finished Product:

Thanks for following our progress!

Bathroom reno: FINISHED!

It's done! We did it! The bathroom is officially done.

Other the last few weeks we've been putting in the finishing touches - touching up the paint, putting shelves up and adding accessories.

Here's what you've been waiting for - the pictures!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Fun: New [To Me] Machines

This week's Friday Fun wasn't spent sitting behind a sewing machine, rather looking at one to buy. Well, two, actually.

Industrial sewing machines are built much tougher than domestic sewing machines. They need to be - they're expected to do a lot more sewing and last for a lot longer. They're also a lot faster. 

Good quality industrial machines are quite expensive brand new, so I've been on the look-out for a second hand one. There are plenty around, but they're usually not for sale for very long. Also, there are a lot more in circulation in Melbourne than Brisbane, where I am.

I found a good looking Mitsubishi straight sewer on Ebay earlier this week, and stayed up late on Wednesday night bidding until the final seconds, only to be outdone. Frustrated, I searched other classified ad websites and found this Mitsubishi at a better price and closer to where I live.

The listing had the straight sewer for a good price, as well as an industrial overlocker, also for a good price, or buy the two together for a discount. I wasn't going to look for an industrial overlocker yet, but it was too good a deal to go past. Again, the industrial version is much sturdier and quicker than the domestic variety.

They're also very heavy and come attached to the table, so transporting them required borrowing a ute and another set of muscles. Now, they're in their temporary home (my living/dining room) where they'll stay until I'm ready to move into a shop.

Stay tuned to the Facebook page to see the cool things I'll make with them.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Note on SHOP Shopping.

I'm moving out.

Well, at least that's the plan.

Working from home is both a privilege and a curse. The convenience is second to none, and the second bedroom has gone easy on me and not charged me any rent. And there's no traffic to complain about.

But knowing that the sewing room is just metres away makes it oh so hard to get out of bed some mornings. The 'must get ready for work!' urgency is nonexistent. I have no set opening hours, so I start when I start and finish when I finish - and yes, some days, that's a recipe for disaster.

And then there's my house. My clients all gracefully assure me that they don't care about my messy dining room table, or the fact that the vacuum is on strike when it comes to plucking threads from the carpet. I know they mean well and most of them probably don't care because their own houses look similarly lived in. But there's pressure to keep our home well presented and professional - after all, I do call myself a professional. I want my clients to see that I really do care about the details and add to the reassurance that I am going to treat their project with due care and attention.


I also want to be able to come home at the end of the day and relax without work calling to me from the other side of the door. I'd love to be able to separate work from home. And in all honesty, sometimes that means leaving clean laundry in the basket for longer than Mum said I should.

And I don't want to be a home dressmaker forever.

I want to grow my business, to be taken seriously, and to teach other people how I do what I do, so this craft isn't lost forever.

So I've been looking around for a new studio. It's a tough decision, finding the right size, right shape, on the right street, in the right complex, in the right neighbourhood, with the right amenities and features, at the right price...

So I found one. Then crossed it off my list. Good location, but awkward size and shape. Then there was another one. Great size, wrong location. Option 3 was the biggest, in a popular shopping complex on a main road right next to a major intersection. As you can imagine, it was also the most expensive by a long way. Nope, not that one.

But truthfully, the shop shopping is the easy part.

I've created spreadsheet after spreadsheet tallying projected incomes and expenses. What if income isn't as high? When should I hire staff? What if the rent goes up? How does EFTPOS work? What about leases? Bonds, bank guarantees, rent in advance? And then there's the fitout. Flooring, building dressing rooms, storage, paint, lighting, couches for a waiting area, a cash register. The list goes on like you wouldn't believe.

And I've thought long and hard about whether it's worth all the effort, and the conclusion has been - again and again - a resounding yes.

And so, tomorrow I am going to inspect - with real estate agent in tow - what will hopefully be the very first k4j Designs studio.

It's on a main road, but not near a busy intersection. Next door to a very well known fish & chip takeaway. Easy access parking. It's own kitchenette and toilet. Air conditioned. Well lit, I think. Reasonably priced (not that the real estate agent is very good at using a calculator, but that's a different story). It's the smallest of the ones I've researched online and driven past. They say you don't want to pay for space you don't need, but wedding dress skirts can take up some serious area..

Like they say, it's free to ask the questions. So, ask I shall. Tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Friday Fun: Black Denim

Last week's Friday Fun started with a piece of black denim, which I went looking for and ended up ordered online.

Ordering online can be tricky - you never quite know what the quality of the item is going to be like, and then there's the issue of colour - no matter what you do, computer screens never show things as they are in the flesh. Or fibre, as it were.

But really. How far wrong can you go with black denim?

The piece I ordered was just right; good quality and a nice shade of black. , . It did have quite a bit of finish coating the right side, so I washed the whole piece before using it. Prewashing can also shrink the fabric which is a good thing - much better than finding out your brand new jeans are way too small after their first wash!

This denim is not stretch. I can tolerate stretch denim in small doses and will happily admit it has it's place in the fabric world, but I do prefer stable, non-stretch denim. It just lasts longer.

I've been making my own jeans for years now. I'm quite tall, so I really don't have another option. People are always amazed to learn that I make my own jeans, but they're really not that different to regular pants.

Denim is just thicker than fabric you'd normally use for pants, which means using a thicker needle on the sewing machine. Top-stitch thread gives a really professional finish and is easy to use, you just need to increase the tension. And of course, jeans usually use a different pattern, but there's nothing difficult about them.

 After making some minor adjustments to my pattern, I got to work. Pants and jeans seem to take ages to get started - it's all the preparation - sewing the pockets front & back, putting in the zip, interfacing the waistband, remembering to top-stitch before you go on to the next part.. Then, all of a sudden, you've sewn the side seams and they're almost done!

I went for a slim leg, quite fitted at the top, with a bit of a bootleg for comfort. I'm not a huge fan of super skinny jeans, but the slim leg is tidy. 

This particular pair have made themselves quite at home in my wardrobe, but I do have more denim if you'd like a pair of your own. Black isn't your colour? Denim is easy to come by. Send me a message via my Facebook page and we'll sort out the details.

Have you missed some of the Friday Fun series? Find the list of links at the bottom of this post.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Fun: Navy & White Gingham

Fridays are fun days at k4j Designs. Because we all need a chance to be creative! 

Sometimes you have to talk yourself into buying fabric.

Sometimes you talk yourself out of it.

Sometimes, you walk into the store and know instantly that that piece is going home with you, today, no questions. That's what happened with the navy & white 1 inch gingham check. And not only does it look gorgeous, it feels gorgeous. (So good in fact that I went back to the store and bought a couple more metres.)

Today, I made the first cuts into that gingham, to make the very item I imagined when I first saw the roll of fabric: a little girl's dress.

I could have left the dress plain, and it would have been nice. But sometimes nice isn't quite enough. It needed a waistband, and white satin ribbon is just perfect. Oh! And a flower! Yes, it needs a flower.

Who says little girls can't have grown up features on their dresses? I love a good invisible zip, they're just so classy.

The gingham is a light-medium weight and has a definite feeling of quality, but like many white fabrics it is a little see-through, so I lined the dress with white poly-cotton poplin. 

I love it. What do you think?

Ps - it's available for sale been SOLD. I have more fabric, so it you'd like one made, send me a message me via my Facebook page and we'll go from there.

Friday Fun: An Intro

I'm a dressmaker.

You might think this involves a lot of time spent designing and being creative. You'd be wrong.

I spend my days making [and altering] my client's dreams come true. Sometimes, clients need direction with the finer details and I offer some suggestions or outline the options, but generally they know what they want.

But what about my own ideas? My own creativity? The stash of fabric in my studio just waiting to be transformed?

My ideas wait on the sideline, my creativity gets squashed, and the stash of fabric waits some more. (Sometimes it waits so long I forget it's there, only to rediscover it and become excited all over again.

Well, no more. That's what Fridays are for. I've just decided. Providing I'm a good girl and get all of my work done during the week, Fridays will be all about getting the ideas out of my head, and the fabric out of the boxes and onto hangers.

It's not all selfish relax-time, these items are available for sale. You can message me via my Facebook page for all the details.

This post will be updated with links to each new Friday Fun project post.

The Friday Fun Projects include:
Navy & White Gingham
Black Denim
New [To Me] Machines

Friday, August 3, 2012

The k4j Designs Studio.

I took the opportunity last week to take some pictures of my studio.

I've been meaning to for ages now, but I'd no sooner gotten it all set up and I got super busy with projects galore, and I'm afraid the Studio looked rather 'lived in', if you know what I mean. (As an aside, my next Studio most certainly, definitely, absolutely will NOT have a carpet floor! Threads are worse than pet hair. Oh my word...)

Anyway, my Mum came to stay last week, and the Studio is the only spare bedroom we have, so it got a very thorough going-over and the furniture was packed to the side to fit a bed in. After she left, I put the room back to normal and snapped a few piccies before the loose threads and tiny off-cuts of fabric could take over again.

Here's where the magic happens - my glorious large desk. The  curtains on the window open really wide to allow loads of natural light.

The desk is made from two Ikea Expedit shelving units and a hollow-core internal door. The yellow stripe along the front edge of the desk is a measuring tape (sealed in place with sticky-tape) - so useful.

I spray-painted the door/table top as a quick fix, but gloss enamel paint would have been much more durable - there are scratches galore.

I used a roll of non-slip rubber matting between the top and the shelving to prevent the table from sliding, and also to protect each piece of furniture.

As the table top is very lightweight and not designed to carry weight this way, when I'm not using my sewing machines I move them to the sides (over the supportive shelving units) otherwise the top would sag pretty quickly.

In case you can't tell, I'm a BIG fan of Ikea Expedit storage. All of my fabrics, interfacings, personal patterns and dress bags are stored in the big boxes for easy access.

The open pigeon holes are generally reserved for project work and my threads sit on top so I can quickly see if I have the right colour.

I used to hang dresses from a rack over the door, but during busy times it was difficult to walk through the doorway, and I was concerned about the weight causing damage to the door hinges. The current arrangement works much better. I found the truss in the roof (the timber above the plasterboard - this is important as there is no way the plaster alone would support the weight of all those dresses) and screwed in two cup-hooks, roughly 110cm apart. From each hook is a short length of chain, and at the bottom of each chain is a caribeener just big enough to hold a 16mm (5/8 inch) diameter, 120cm (four foot) long piece of wardrobe rail. Voila!

Continuing my theme of separating everything into boxes, these ones hold the chunkier bits and bobs - zips, ribbons, overlocking threads, tools, elastic, boning, beads... As you can see, the shelves are yet to go on the wall, making it annoying to get into the box on the bottom of the pile, which is of course usually the one I need!

All in all, the Studio has become a functional little workspace. I wish sometimes it was a functional big workspace, but one must work with what one has for now!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kitchen Reno: Coming together

At lunch time on the Friday, all the cabinetry that could be done was done.

There was an issue with the cabinet that's to go above the fridge (in that gap next to the pantry), so that needed to be fixed up. The only other issue with the cabinetry was the rangehood - we got the wrong one and will need to take it back and swap it over.

The pantry turned out bigger than I realised it was going to. I think it'll look pretty empty when I load everything into it!

Apart from being rushed in the preparation, the kitchen installation went pretty smoothly.

My brother [and his wife] stayed for the Easter weekend and helped us out by fitting off the electrical work. He installed a new ceiling light in the centre of the room, and downlights in the bulkhead.

The shelves above the fridge were fitted, and the door was replaced.

I bought some fabric-covered boxes from Ikea to fill the shelf. They're almost the perfect size, have a big clear label and a metal handle for easy access. We'll store medicine, first-aid and other bits and pieces in them

R cut and stuck the cornice around the microwave cabinet and pantry, but the glue wasn't holding to the laminate. We used tiny nails to nail the cornice to the ceiling plaster and that worked very well.

R tiled the splashback, including cutting some tricky holes around the power points. Again, the tiles look plain black, but they are marble.

R also tiled the floor which was more difficult as there were many tiles around the edges that needed to be cut, including 8 tiles that required tricky cuts to fit around the cabinetry and door frame.

All that's left is to finish painting and hang a blind. I really like the natural light through the undressed window, but coming into winter it's noticeable how much heat disappears through the glass.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Reno Update: A study nook and a bookcase corner.

I'm currently working my way towards a Bachelor of Business. So far, for the last 4 and a bit years, the study and assignment work have taken place in various locations around our small home - at the dining table, on the couch, on our bed, at my sewing desk, sitting on the floor... But, for the final 9 weeks of said degree, I'll be working in our new study nook. Better late than never, right?

In the midst of looking for renovation inspiration, we were looking for a way we could better use the space under our stairs, to make it more useful and nicer to look at. Here's the jumbled mess beforehand:

(Oh my, I'd forgotten how bad it was!)

I'd brought up several ideas with R, such as a collection built in storage boxes, but he didn't like any of them.

Then, I found a picture via Pinterest that showed a study nook under a staircase. It didn't exactly offer the storage solution I was looking for, but R loved the concept. As a fan of Ikea Expedit furniture, I knew they made a desk that connected to a bookcase/wall unit, and we decided it would be perfect for our space, giving us storage space as well as the desk.

Before we could make the study nook a reality, we needed to decide what we were going to do with our books. We decided to keep the blue bookcase (which, incidentally, is also an Ikea item, that my parents bought years ago), but update it and paint it black. Its new home would be the landing at the top of the stairs. Here's the landing space before:

One busy weekend I cleaned up and cleared the landing, painted the walls and architraves white, painted the bookcase black, and R helped me move it into place. I let the enamel paint dry for almost a week, but I wasn't convinced that it was completely set, so I used baking paper as shelf-liners so the books wouldn't stick. I loaded up the books, added a few decoratey-items to the top, and voila! (The light was updated at the same time as the kitchen electrical work was done.)

During the reno process, we were keeping an eye on the Expedit furniture (and how it would fit into our budget), and one Sunday morning we noticed that Ikea had introduced a new range of colours and finishes - none of which were what we wanted, plus they were more expensive. Worried that they would discontinue the one we wanted, we were there straight after church to battle the crowds and secure our items (none of which was actually any drama). Thankfully the flat-packed boxes didn't take up too much space in our dining/storage/mess room, although the car ride home was a bit squishy.

Fast forward a few weeks, and we were ready to get going with our next 'room' renovation. We cleared out the mess, R painted the walls white and gave the floor a good vacuum, then we set to work building out Ikea furniture.

I loaded most of the stuff back in (the rest will be donated to charity, thrown out or stored elsewhere), and when I'm done with uni the whole lot with be sorted through. Here's the finished product:

We're a bit proud of ourselves really. It was a really easy solution that will work really well, and didn't cost much. All we need now is a better lamp and a proper office chair. The longer term plan is to move the desktop computer here and put a 'real' TV in front of the couch, but for the time being we're happy with this arrangement.

Well, I better go and use the study nook for it's intended purpose then!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Kitchen Reno: New beginnings

The electrician was busy on Tuesday morning, adding power points and moving light switches.

The builder came on Wednesday to finish off the walls, which I neglected to take a photo of (well they weren't that exciting, they're just walls), and he also jackhammered up the tiles and glue, leaving us with a blank slate.

On Wednesday night R & I plastered up the bulkhead, & The Puzzle arrived first thing Thursday morning.

By lunchtime on Thursday the cabinets and bench were in, and it was starting to take shape.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kitchen Reno: Out with the Old (Part 2)

The electrician came on Monday and disconnected the oven. On Monday night, R got busy with the screwdriver and pretty soon, it was ready to take apart.

I bought a new chisel on Saturday morning, and the tiles came off the wall really quickly - well, except for the few stuck to the duct in the corner. I thought R should be allowed a turn with the new chisel too, so I left him some..

Underneath the bench-top, the whole kitchen was only four parts; the pantry and these three. 

Empty space! Ready for the final preparations.

That was last night. The electrician was back today and connected up all the wiring in the right places.  it needs to be fitted off, so for now there's just cables hanging all over the place.

Tomorrow's job is the final preparations, but there's not much to do. :)