Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Insomnia leads to...a new sewing center

So it turns out that one of the "joys" (a term used rather loosely here) of my experience with menopause is insomnia.

You know what I mean - the tossing, the turning...and that's just Dave trying to get back to sleep after one of my hot flashes. For me insomnia is dreadful because it means some days I muddle through in a cloud of exhaustion and of the walking wounded of middle age.

And yet...with more waking hours on my hands, I have a lot more time for projects (assuming I am rested enough to use my power tools). 

For those of you who are now worried about my safety, rest assured, Dave has established some house rules that I follow religiously:

1. Always wear my safety glasses
2. Always alert someone capable of calling 911 prior to using my table saw

Even after a decade of use, the table saw scares me...but I love what it can do!
But I digress (no surprise as it's 3 AM as I type this). I met my girlfriend Jerry last year on the "trail" (off-roading) and found that we had lots in common (home renovation...sewing...and more home renovation) so a month ago she asked if I would be interested in adopting some of her sewing cabinets.

It seems Jerry is too tall for the munchkin-sized built-in sewing center that came with her new house. Imagine an entire wall of compact custom-crafted oak cabinets (including a sewing lift and an ironing board drawer) lining a guest room wall. Lucky me as I just so happen to be a member of the Lollipop Guild!

After wiping the drool off my chin, I said I was very interested...I just didn't know where I could install the cabinets. Now my house is half the size of Jerry's and if I installed the cabinets in our teeny guest room, guests would have to sleep on the pull-out ironing board.

I toyed with a few other ideas - building a room in the garage (nixed by the man of the house); enclosing the back patio (nixed by the dogs of the house) and finally had the revelation that the solution lay less in location and more in locomotion - I didn't a permanent spot for my sewing center...I needed WHEELS!

Luckily for me, Jerry knows every building supplier in our town and was happy to take me to a local source of high quality wheels (I still have a longing for the 4 1/2" blue ones but they made the cabinets too tall for little old me).

I picked the no-mark, smooth gliding ones...with the locking wheel feature of course.
From the original 9 cabinet pieces I decided to create 3 discrete units:

1. a desk-like unit to house the sewing machine lift (sooo cool) and two sets of drawers;

2. a dresser-like unit to house the super cool ironing board drawer and various quilting supplies;

3. a console-table-like unit to store books

I took this pic to help decide which leg suited the scale of the console unit.
Things went pretty smoothly at first, but there are real dangers in operating with a lack of sleep...

Case in point:

Friday, I noticed a great deal of wasted space under the ironing board drawer and determined that an additional shelf would be ideal...all I needed was some MDF board the right size.

I glanced around my lumber-strewn garage and my gaze landed on the perfect piece.

Following protocol, I alerted my 911-safety call buddy (Dave) and fired up the table saw. Zip, zip and the shelf fit perfectly! I admired my handiwork and almost tweaked my shoulder patting myself on the back for my ingenuity...that is until I went looking for the piece of MDF I had so carefully cut, measured and put to one side to use as the countertop...sigh***.

***In all honesty - I didn't "sigh" the moment I figured out I'd just chopped up the top - I used many of the words in my extensive 4-letter vocabulary.

So I needed more MDF - which only comes in 4' x 8' sheets...

Did I mention that they know me by name at Lowe's?

I'm there a lot.

Did you know they open at 6 AM?

I know because it's 3:45 AM now and they won't be open for another 2 hours and 15 minutes.

I wonder if I should just ask for a key?

Anyway, the construction of all three pieces was progressing but I was still unhappy about a minor aesthetic problem I was having with the "1980's tract home kitchen" medium oak stain color.

I hate it.

But re-staining means...gulp...sanding...every little nook and cranny...ugh.

The original 1980's stain is on the right - the new look is on the left side doors.
So Saturday, after the early morning Lowe's staff meeting (I wasn't actually invited to the meeting but they welcomed me into their midst), Sherrie (my paint counter connection at Lowe's) shared that Rustoleum has a new cabinet re-finishing system sold in a kit that would solve my problem WITHOUT sanding. Of course the $78 was not really in my budget for this project (official budget was $0 but is cresting at $350 as of this writing) but did I hear, "NO SANDING"?

So this is how the 4-step system works:

1. Degloss the surfaces with a scrubby and their deglosser (kind of like washing so fairly easy to do and fast)

2. Paint the cabinets with a "bonding" paint that really looks like a cross between pale yellow and flesh - 2 coats (also easy).

3. Brush on the stain and wipe off - you have 5 minutes until wiping becomes impossible (sounds easy enough but oddly panic-inducing)
Step 2 painting results on the left, the stain coat makes the upright dark brown but wiping it off reveals all the natural beauty of the oak grain. I still don't know how it does that because the paint seems opaque and obscured the grain almost entirely. It must be magic.
4. Top with a clear coat (easy).

I LOVE this product! The results are amazing.

But I love my sewing center more - especially all the cool features:

The ruler holder:

Got to use my dado blade on the table saw to make that!
The ironing board drawer:

I need to sew it a new cover but how cool will it be to iron while seated?
Jerry and I went shopping for some pretty organizational boxes which it turns out I have a weakness for that some might term an addiction...
I also shopped for a few desk top's how it all turned out:

I've already stored all my cookbooks and quilting books inside.

That rounded box holds my iron and the jar holds my seam pressing tools. I couldn't resist the ballroom dancing sillouete.

It took me hours to get the height and opening right for my sewing extension table as it's larger than the sewing lift cabinet but it turned out better than I expected. The boys love a blanket in their comfy chair - not sure they'll stick around when the sewing machine starts up though.
I'm ready to sew! Right after I take a nap...

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