Sunday, December 15, 2019

Rainbow Color Tile Tree Skirt

You know me, I can't resist adding a rainbow to almost everything I quilt. :) So when I was asked to create a tree skirt tutorial for BERNINA's WeAllSew blog...

of course it features a full spectrum of bright, saturated colors. You can find the instructions to make my Color Tile Tree Skirt right here! While most tree skirts feature a side slit, this skirt is made specifically for use with an artificial tree; a central opening to accommodate the tree during set-up and no side slit.

It's a huge version of the super card trick quilt block created with 8 different colors. My favorite thing about this tree skirt is that you get a completely different view of the colors depending on what angle you're viewing the tree from.

What do you put under your tree? Do you have a tradition of using a special tree skirt, or do you use something different each year?

Friday, December 13, 2019

Make a Scissors Case

If you're looking for a fast and easy gift to stitch together for friends or guild mates, check out this free Scissors Case tutorial I created for BERNINA's WeAllSew blog. The tutorial includes a free printable pattern and all the instructions to make the case!

The front pocket of the case is the perfect spot to add a personalize embellishment - like a fun button, fussy-cut fabric print, or embroidered monogram. I hope you enjoy this project!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Quilting With Fidget

I've been quilting with Fidget! She's getting better, but she also has a limited attention span, so I've been keeping the projects small. We're making kennel quilts for small animals, and we recently shared a simple tutorial for making Fidget's own simple kennel quilt here at WeAllSew.

Bea Arthur approves!

Do you sew with your kids? What kind of sewing or quilting projects do you kids like best? I'm alwasy looking for new things to make with Fidget. :)

Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Kitchen is Now Open!

Our summer remodel project is finished, and the kitchen is now open!

You can see the back door in the kitchen from the entry way at the front of the house, and the green color we picked out really pops. 

When walking in to the kitchen you can't help but notice all the natural light. I absolutely love the light, and don't think I'll add any window treatments besides the pull-down shades we installed.

The sunny south-facing window makes me so happy in the winter months. I can sit at the table in the afternoon on a sunny day and take in a little light therapy during February and March (of course this all depends on the weather).

It's been like night and day cooking with all new appliances. The new microwave is so quiet you can't even hear it running. And the table is just the right size for our little family to sit for dinners. It's also a real mood-lifter to be able to have someone sit and hang out with me while I cook dinner. 

Looking in through the back door, you can get a little glimpse of the fridge and pantry now set on the back wall of the kitchen. This was previously a small pantry and part of a deep closet of a bedroom behind the kitchen. 

And if you think this is a bright space with the natural light, just check out all the light fixtures! We've got can lights in the ceiling for overall lighting, a pendulum over the table, under cabinet lighting throughout, and lighting over the stove built-in to the hood. It's amazing!

It's added such a bright, happy place to our home. Fidget sits at the table to do homework, Tom can spread blueprints and paperwork across the table with lots of light, and I can invite a friend to sit and have a hot cup of tea. This space is quickly becoming the heart of our home!

I still have some decorating left to do, but we've been going non-stop since moving back in to the kitchen. The construction finished just a few days before the start of the new school year, and I pushed to get everything in working order for the big day. Honestly I feel like I've been going non-stop ever since school started (which is why I'm just sharing these photos 2 months later).

Meanwhile, we're settling in to what feels like our first real family home. And it's amazing, it's a dream come true.

Some details about our remodel project. We researched a few of the major companies that remodel in the Chicagoland area, and we chose to use Normandy Remodeling. For me the decision to choose Normandy had to do with the fit and finish in their projects, the sensibilities of the design staff, and the amazing choices of materials through their showrooms. For Tom, he liked the fact that architects were on-staff and worked closely with designers to finalize the drawings along with the clients.

We worked with Liz Reifschneider who was fantastic. On her first visit to our house she spent several hours with me just talking about our personal style, likes, dislikes, and hopes for the project. I feel like she really got what I wanted out of the space, not to mention that she came up with the option of a peninsula by the windows as both a place to sit and eat and a way to gain an amazing amount of counter space. What can I say, I feel like Liz's work speaks for itself, just look at how freaking amazing our kitchen is!

Today is a chilly, cloudy day in Chicago. But I know I can still sip a hot cup of tea and sit by the window to watch the weather while I'm cozy warm in our kitchen! :)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

House of the Holy

I've discovered some interesting history about our home. Most notably, our house was originally built next to a church as a parsonage!

This is a photo I'd seen once before in the family files. It was published in a local area newspaper in the early 1970's. When I first saw this photo I noticed all the big differences between the house next to the church and our house. The parsonage in this photo is a simple Gothic revival style with double-gables on the side, tall windows, and some ornate details on the front of the home. The parsonage is also clad in wood.

Our house doesn't have those double gables on the side, the windows are totally different than the parsonage, and there's no wood cladding. I thought maybe our house could have been built in the same spot, or on the old foundation, but definitely wasn't the same house.

But when the kitchen walls were opened up as part of our first floor remodel, I saw an interesting piece of architectural history!

Behind the framing of our current kitchen window is an old bit of framing. This long, tall window frame corresponds with the original tall window at the back of the house in the photo of the church and parsonage.

So that means that yes, our house was originally built alongside the church as a place for the clergy to live. I would never have guessed our house had such a holy beginning!

I contacted a local historian about the photo, and unfortunately there's very little information surviving about the old buildings. The church and parsonage were finished in 1893 for a small German congregation that later merged with another local church. The church building alone was damaged by fire in 1910, and our current neighbor's home was erected over that spot in 1911.

I did a little digging on line to try and find out what happened to our home after the church fire. I was able to ascertain through old census records that individual families lived in the home through the mid 1940's. There's lots of evidence that the single family home was totally remodeled in about 1950 to a two-flat structure with a second story apartment.

Here's what was found under the top layers of the kitchen flooring.

It looks like tile, but it's sheet goods with a felt and burlap backing (not asbestos).

I found a few examples online of similar sheet good flooring with the same backing type online dated from 1945.

The old kitchen on the second floor had tile and fixtures that can also be dated to the late 1940's

Check out the old green kitchen tile on the second floor. When we removed the metal cabinets and sink, we found "December 1949" stamped on the back. 

So we think that about 1950 is the date the house was completely gutted inside and out, the roof bumped out on the second floor to make more space (I poked my head up in the attic space, and I can see some of the sharp angled framing possibly left over from the original double gabled roof of the parsonage), all new windows framed-in on all floors (and now we can see at least three examples of the old Gothic window framing in the walls), a new layer of hardwood went over the old first floor, new hardwood went into the now larger second floor, and the wood cladding was replaced with a stucco finish.

I will do more serious research at a later date, but for now we're just anxious to see the first floor remodel finished later this summer. I'm super excited that we are the second generation to live in this home, and even more excited to start to learn some of the home's history!