Fixing A Fussy Duvet

September 19, 2011   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

The IKEA duvet cover I bought a few years ago is admittedly not high quality. It’s cute though; white, with a pleated detailing across the top that takes it just a notch above total snooze-fest. Although ironically, its purpose is mostly for snooze-fest. The comforter should really be the star of the show (an exceptional king-size down find on Overstock shortly after I bought the house that has held up phenomenally for 2.5 years) but it’s really not; it’s all about duvet functionality right now.

Last you saw it reveling in my bedroom it was un-stuffed, left alone without the comforter insert (the next photo is from this post about that awesome stained wall and the lobsta’ tables). I left it like that all summer to serve as a solo coverlet on hot nights; just enough with the top sheet to keep a girl warm when there was a breeze, and light and small enough to shove into the corner and not have it take up an ungodly amount of space on the hottest of nights. I’ve mentioned I don’t have AC, right?

Shiplap wall, lobster tables, and the unfilled duvet cover. Wrinkly. Don't mind that.But just last week with the cooler weather, I brought the comforter back out, ready to wrap myself up like a taco (precisely the reason why I bought the largest, smushiest down blanket I could find).

But you see, a low quality duvet like this IKEA gem lacks things that other high-quality duvets come standard with. I think, at least. I’ve never owned a high-quality duvet either, but I don’t see many people griping about keeping their comforter insert correctly positioned within the duvet cover.

The IKEA duvet and down comforter combo did strange things; like not hold the comforter into the corners of the cover. And not have a zipper or tie to keep the comforter from, you know, falling out of the end of the cover slowly every night. None of this seemed like a hard fix, and I was dead-set on making the duvet-comforter combo the best it could be.

First things first: Corners.

To connect the corners of the comforter to the inside corners of the duvet, I decided to custom-make some ties out of a nylon rope I had laying around; I considered ribbons, t-shirt strips, and buying some new fabric to cut, but this was free, on-hand, and was strong. Oh, and couldn’t be seen through the white duvet, which wasn’t the case for the colored ribbons.

I cut the rope into 9″-10″ pieces. It doesn’t lay straight because it had been coiled up tightly. Not a game changer, just looks funky.

Nylon rope cut into 9"-10" piecesAnd because I wanted to avoid fraying, I dipped each piece into a candle flame to seal the ends.

Playing with fire. Singeing the ends of the rope, trying to avoid singeing my fingers.Once I had cured all of the 9″-10″ pieces of rope, I folded each piece in half and carefully sewed the folded end to each corner of the comforter (knowing full well that if I ever decided to go without a duvet, they’ll be like fun little corner tassels, ha).

Sewn rope in place on the corner of the comforter.Sewing over the folded end felt like it would add strength to the stitching; the sewing machine had two pieces of rope to bite onto, and even if one piece of rope loosened, it would still be held taut in place by the other half of the rope. Little course in ropes management, that’s what you just had.

I did the same on each of the inside four corners of the duvet, folding each piece of rope in half and carefully sewing the folded end to each corner (white rope, white thread, all purposeful to minimize being able to see it through the duvet).

The four ends (remember: two ropes folded) were knotted together simply, and seemed to hold much better than a bow considering the slipperiness of the nylon rope. Strong, yet still easy to pull apart for cleaning.

The corner of the duvet knotted to the corner of the comforter. Secured in place for eternity.From here forward, thy comforter shall not leave thy corner of the duvet. Hallelujah.

Except there was one other thing to tackle.

Why would a company not add ties to a duvet cover with an enormous opening?You tell me why a company wouldn’t add a closure to a duvet cover with an enormous opening?

It’s fine. I can do that myself. It’s a good thing that some previously bought article of clothing came with an extra two buttons. Clear, you know, to blend right in.

Clear buttons and a sewing needle that took me two days to find.I’d also like a palm reading, por favor.

Instead of traditional ties (which I imagine un-tying every night magically), I opted to make a couple little no-scissors-involved button holes along the opening where the comforter goes into the duvet.

You can kind of see a sneak-peek of those loop holes (also made of white nylon rope) in that photo two above, but here’s a better shot including the clear button in place. Both were sewn into the inside edge of the opening to minimize the chances of being seen.

Duvet loop and button closure. The finished piece is secure, and doesn’t (yet) appear to be tearing, pulling strangely, or unhooking itself.

Button and hook closure on the open end of the duvet.The corners are staying put realllly nicely too; it’s nice to sleep and not feel like you’re not fighting comforter corners inside a duvet… while the comforter’s trying to crawl out the end and onto the floor in the middle of the night.

Problem solved.

A Primer In Pegboard Preparation

September 16, 2011   //  Posted in: DIY, Office Space, Tools   //  By: Emily   //  14 responses

I have this half-fleshed-out plan to use a pegboard in the office as an alternative to using the more expected cork board, whiteboard, or chalk board for utility.

Remember, I’m only half-way there and in foreign, holey waters. And that’s not to be confused with holy water. Just confused, period.

Lots of pegboard holes to paint. Lots of confusion.I’ve seen the material used in several very cool organizational applications recently, some of which I’d love to share here eventually, but I’m taking that inspiration and figuring out a way to make it work in a non-workbench setting. The plan in my mind would be for it to be installed above the desk, overhanging each edge to serve as a multi-functional office piece-slash-backdrop for wall decor.

Think: 2′ x 8′ in dimension. Extending right in front of your face while you sit and work.

First things first: Find pegboard.

My searches for second-hand pegboard led me to believe that almost all previously used pegboard was dirty and overpriced, so I decided to buy new. At Lowe’s. It was notably less expensive than the boards sold at Home Depot, and (in my local stores at least) also came in a not-already-finished-in-white option, which is only important because I wasn’t sure if the glossier, pre-finished white would be harder to paint. And I wanted to paint it. Plus, the pre-finished variety cost more.

One factoid: It was surprising to learn how economical it is to buy pegboard in sheets so big that that you imagine only having been able to find them at Sam’s Club. I was going to buy two 2’x4′ panels for a total of $9 and match them up in the center, but a single uncut 4’x8′ panel of pegboard cost $10. Do some math. That’s almost twice as much pegboard for $1 extra. And, once I had the friendly guys at Lowe’s cut the board right down the middle length-wise, I had two 2’x8′ pegboards, which is just what I wanted, and seamless too, and also fit easily into the back of the Jeep without being forced all bendy. Plus, now we’ve got this whole bonus sheet of pegboard for another project (we’re thinking basement or garage traditional, practical storage in due time).

Big ol' piece of pegboard. Half of the 4'x8' sheet, equivalent to $5. Next: How the heck do you paint pegboard?

Yes, so the plain, unfinished board needed something. I was glad to be working with a clean surface, which I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten second-hand. I was mostly concerned about how I would properly prime and paint it thoroughly.

Q-tips covered in paint, maybe that would get me into each of the little holes easily?

Holes. Lots of holes. A traditional paintbrush definitely wasn’t going to do because those holes were bound to get clogged like teenage pores (sorry for forcing that visual), and I couldn’t quite see myself hand-painting 3,220 individual holes with an artists brush (because in all honesty, I’d lose interest after the first 100 and the next 3,120 would end up looking like a kindergarten class took over the job).

Yeah, basic math tells me that there really are 3,220 holes in my single 2’x8′ sheet. Wow.

The better answer? The paint sprayer. It was something that neither Pete or I had never used before, but was high on my list of tools-to-try. Pete claims to have bought it on the cheap at Harbor Freight many, many moons ago, but never took it out of the box or had a reason to use it. Until now. When I came home with a lot of pegboard. And told him I planned to paint it. The gun is no high-quality model, but it’s perfect for my little test.

Harbor Freight spray gun. Let's see how this baby rolls.I’m working through another project that you’re bound to see next week that required me to search out and purchase a gallon of high-adhesion primer, so I figured I should try it out on the pegboard too; after all, I would definitely need the paint to adhere nicely to the board.

Smart Prime, a high-adhesion primer.Setting the pegboard on cement blocks and recycled cardboard signs from our garage sale kept the edge of the board out of the grass, and leaning it against a set of sawhorses let me operate the sprayer in an upright position. It was a breezy day and I pulled everything into the center of the yard, including the pancake compressor via extension cords so I didn’t accidentally spray down the house. Or deck. Or the tomatoes.

Spray gun painting setup. The spray gun itself worked pretty easily right from the get-go. In hindsight, we should have practiced with the settings of the gun beforehand with water in the tank, but we learned gradually as we went on what intensity and direction the paint was spraying. The primer didn’t require much dilution; only about 1 oz. of water was added to thin it out well enough to achieve an even stream. I was being sensitive to the fact that the formula was high-adhesion – I didn’t want to chance weakening it.

I was clearly very focused in this photo, even though I sort of look like I’m sleeping. Or bored. A surprise shot by Pete out of my line of sight, since I’m usually the one workin’ the camera. Thanks dude.

Spray priming the pegboard.Remember, this was just primer that we were applying before we pick paint colors, so as long as it was reasonably even, not drippy or gunky, I was a happy girl. A little unevenness could be resolved with the topcoat.

Spray priming the pegboard. After the pegboard had been coated, I also spray primed some of the boards that would serve as the frame for the piece in the office.

Spray priming the pegboard and some of the framing that will mount the board to the wall.Best of all, the whole filling 3,220 holes issue seems to have resolved itself. The spray did just what I hoped for, gently lining the inside of each peg hole. Perfect staging for the next step… paint.

Filled pegboard holes, woot!

And that is that for now. I’m in the paint-color-picking process, and hope to have this baby wrapped early next week. Because a girl’s in serious need of some office utility space.

Before I pick a color and finish, do you have any recommendations on what type of paint I should go for? Oil-based? High-gloss? Something uber-durable like cabinetry paint?


Zig To The Zag

September 15, 2011   //  Posted in: Decor, Helping The Economy   //  By: Emily   //  14 responses

Sure, I went to Target for the much-publicized Missoni opening day. I had to. Didn’t I?

I wasn’t expecting any grandiose surprise awaiting; I knew what products and patterns were part of the collection thanks to facebook and blog updates, and I’m sure it was like Black Friday in some cities with hundreds of customers waiting to clear the shelves at 8AM, but it wasn’t like that in Rochester. In fact, the shelves were pretty much still full and organized when we stopped in during the late afternoon on Tuesday, which was a good thing because we got to see so many products in person, but you know that me and the whole decision-making thing… one tote? Two totes? Can I get two totes?

This tote? Or this tote? Or both?

I didn’t buy either, for the record. I have enough travel bags to tote around with. Plus, we rode the scooters to Target and that puts a limit on how much you can buy.

I spend less when I scoot everywhere. My bank account loves the Ruckus.

I did immediately covet most of the office materials, especially the pink-lined paper of this clipboard (with rubber band placeholders, score). If I had to write on pink paper for the rest of my life… I think I’d be OK with that.

If all of my lined paper was pink... I could deal with that.

I didn’t buy that either though (because I don’t use memo pads or clip boards now that I’m not in an office environment) but I did snatch up some bulldog clips for the office and small journals that I use on a day-to-day basis for shopping lists, project notes, and conference call doodles.

Missoni notebooks and bulldog clips.The journals are a set of three (and were priced at $7.99 which is just about what I’m used to paying for my little trios at Target). Each has its own identity, looking pretty adorable with the prints and clean binding.

If I had to choose, I actually think the black ziggy is my favorite.

Missoni notebook trio.

There was another trio of notebooks too if you don’t like the set I bought; the colors on that set would have more perfectly matched the coffee mug that I added to my collection for $4.99.

Missoni coffee cup. With the notebook trio in the background.

The clothes didn’t keep my attention very long, but the housewares were right on. The coffee cup was my only splurge for now, but I really liked the tall tumblers (and will buy if they go on sale from their listed $4-ish price); my current set of tumblers from my (still favorite) Orla Kiely collection circa 2009 are still holdin’ strong.

We both really liked the large glass bowl on display. It was a standout in the collection, especially sitting next to the melamine plates and bowls.

The colors in the glass were beautiful, and the overall weight of the piece made it seem like it should cost more than just $30.

Tap tap. Glass Missoni bowl.

There was just one thing holding us back from bringing it home (besides the whole scooter space limit thing). Inside each of the bowls on display, there was a light ring in the glass. Kind of like someone left tea sitting in the bottom of the bowl for awhile. A definite production woe that made us feel like we’d always be trying to get it clean.

Weird discoloring in the glass Missoni bowl.

I’m not confident that it’ll all make it to markdown mode, but I’ll be checking back in on it in a little while to see. Speaking of markdown mode, I hope everyone’s enjoying the home decor/back-to-school sale prices. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much stuff in Target marked 50% off at once.

What did everyone else score from Missoni?