Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Quick Shower Room Make Over

Around 2 years ago our shower room developed that hideous black mould that tends to crop up in small, damp, dark rooms - the walls weren't bad, but the ceiling... bleuch!!

Every couple of months I would scrub the horrendous mouldy ceiling with some equally horrendous bleachy spray and it would clear up, for a few weeks, before it started coming back.

So we invested in some Dulux Bathroom + paint.

I bleached the ceiling and crevices the day before painting, to allow it to dry thoroughly.

I spent a whole afternoon painting pure brilliant white over pure brilliant white.... MY EYES!!! MY EYES!!!

After a considerable amount of mulling, I also decided to paint the window frame, to bounce around more light; I'm so glad I did, I love the result. (For this I used an 'everywhere' paint we had lying around, but I must get some nice eggshell to do the second coat) 

I also decided to upgrade little shelf which hides the toilet air vent. I had temporarily placed a 'roughly-the-right-size' bit of scrap plasterboard there, and there it stayed, for 4 years... Now it is replaced with a beautiful little oak off-cut from our kitchen worktops.

Our wee shower room is surprisingly much brighter (It is fresher + tidy + slightly shiny paint + white window frame) 3 weeks now since painting and no sign of the dreaded black mould returning. Nice result for a couple of hours work.

The room still needs new flooring, probably vinyl, though we'd love a rubber floor and I will finish up the painting when that gets done.

The Nitty Gritty
  • The Paint I used was Dulux Bathroom + in Pure Brilliant White Soft Sheen. It is important to mix the paint well and even more important to allow it to dry before exposing it to moisture - This is our only shower so as soon as I had finished I set up the dehumidifier and left it running through the night. The paint does not get very good reviews but I found it perfect.
  • The tiles are the cheapest 15cm squarewhite tiles  (like these) laid in a brick pattern, to make it look much fancier, we tiled this room 4 years ago, I wish I had been brave enough to pick a dark grout.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Project: Spare Room (Part 3)

The so-called 'spare' room has been our main project for well over a year - and I can't deny it has been neglected in favour of other things (like sleep and home-schooling)

It's not a spare room at all - after a long and difficult pregnancy and long and more difficult baby, if I got more than 4 hours sleep I called it a 'good night'. I neglected virtually all DIY jobs and demanded OH help me with the kids any spare minute he had.

The spare room should be Teeny's bedroom, but his cot is still in our room *hangs head in shame

The room was renovated by our builders (the good ones) They repaired the structure and treated all the old timbers against rot and woodworm before insulating and plasterboarding about half of the room it was not finished due to time and money restrictions. There was a substantial amount of work still left to do - and in the intervening 4 years... yes 5 YEARS!! we have used it as a storage room *hangs head in double shame

Click through to read Part 1
Where we opened the door and realised the room was full of crap that we had dumped in there
Click here to read Part 2
Where we realised exactly what all the crap was and worked through it.

Here begineth Part 3

John was on insulation duty, getting every nook and cranny of the roof space insulated as much as possible. Rigid board insulation has been put between the beams of the coombed (sloped) ceiling, insulating right across the face of the beams would have been 'better', but then we would have eaten into the already small room too much.

The short walls have rigid insulation with rock wool behind (as this forms part of downstairs' ceiling) The small horizontal ceiling is insulated with as much rock wool as would fit. It is important to leave plenty of air circulation especially in an old building where ventilation plays a large part in keeping damp at bay.
Once the insulation was completed the plasterboard sheets were screwed in place.

Once the plasterboard was finished I took over with a giant tub of jointing compound and some ill-fitting overalls.

I've been perfecting my taping technique over the years and as I progress through each room I become more adept - though I make a terrible mess of the floor in the process (Don't worry - It cleans off fairly easily, and we are leaving the floor to last)

Look at that.... smooth a baby's bum ...

As I write this the taping is almost complete. A couple more evenings from me and the plasterboard walls will be ready for sanding and painting.

Our baby boy's room is finally starting to look like a room!

Friday, 29 May 2015

How to Reverse Stitch on a Vintage Sewing Machine

When using a very old sewing machine, you may have noticed that you only have a straight stitch in one direction. On an electric sewing machine there is usually a button that allows you to sew backwards for a couple of stitches to secure the thread at the start or end of the run. This isn’t an option on a vintage handcrank or treadle sewing machine - If you don't secure your thread it will come undone and your piece will fall apart and nobody wants that.

You may have figured out the hard way that you can't turn the wheel backwards, don't try, it'll be messy.

You can, of course hand-stitch the ends of thread in place after sewing on the machine. I find this method time consuming and fiddly, and I am frequently short on time and patience.

My preferred method is to turn the work on the machine. 

It's not as hard as it sounds, or looks. I have made everything from heavy lined curtains to fancy dress clothes and I have never had a major problem.

Here is a detailed explanation:

I'm doing this on a wee scrap of fabric just for the camera but it will work on almost any project.

Start by sewing 4 or 5 stitches then lower the needle into the work and lift the foot.

Slowly and carefully turn the work - do not strain the needle, be very careful.

When the work is turned 180° lower the foot back down and stitch back along those few stitches. 
Lower the needle into the fabric and lift the foot.

Turn the work 180° again.

Lower the foot and sew your little heart out.

When you finish your run you simply do the same process (turn, sew back along 4 stitches, turn and sew forwards again) to secure the thread.

This is how the end of your run should look, nice and neat.

You can then snip the threads off without fear of unravelling.

Crucial points:

  • Always have the needle fully dropped before lifting the foot. This will make your work pivot neatly on one point and not pull the thread.
  • When the foot is lifted DO NOT PUT ANY STRAIN on the needle, this may snap, or bend the needle, it could pull at the fabric and damage your work.
  • Don’t forget to lower the foot back down each time before you try to sew - you will end up with tangled threads that will need to be cut free of the machine, again it could damage your work, and its a pain in the arse. Don’t do it.
  • When sewing something very large and heavy you might need to roll or fold the work carefully to help it fit under the arm of the sewing machine. 
  • If you are in doubt that you might damage the needle or the work take the long route and hand sew the ends in.

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