It’s Stanley’s 2nd Birthday!
Make a treat box party favor to celebrate Stanley’s second birthday with me. We all know it’s important to always have treats, especially on your birthday.
Make a treat box party favor to celebrate Stanley’s second birthday with me. We all know it’s important to always have treats, especially on your birthday.
Spoonflower recently launched a new fleece fabric made by Polartec. Polartec is the company known for “inventing” fleece fabric and I remember hearing that their fabrics were the “best” back in the 90s. So I was super curious to see a swatch when Spoonflower recently launched their new Polartec fleece fabric.
Spoonflower now has two fleece fabrics: fleece and Polartec Fleece. I am going to refer to the regular fleece as “classic” just for clarity as I talk about them. I have made several projects with Spoonflower’s classic fleece and I have been a little disappointed with it. The Polartec fleece is a slightly higher cost per yard than the classic, but in many other ways they are nearly indistinguishable. And I mean that pretty literally. Both are a bright white, made from 100% polyester, super soft on both sides. The print quality looks the same as far as color saturation and sharpness. I had to keep referring to the labels on my swatches to make sure I was looking at the right fabric as I was thinking about this review.
The Polartec Fleece (bottom) is heavier/thicker than the classic fleece (top), but the difference is pretty slight when you feel the two fabrics. The classic fleece is 56″ printable width, Polartec is 60″.
There is an almost unnoticeable color difference between the two fabrics. I only mention it because I was really looking for differences I could talk about. Some of the colors look very slightly warmer on the classic fleece vs Polartec fleece. I really can only see it in the brown/tan shades and not the other colors.
The thing I was most interested in looking at was the amount of pilling. I have made myself two hoodies from the classic fleece and I hardly ever wear them anymore because they look really pilled. This is definitely more noticeable on a darker colored design. This adorable polar bear is this design by Scrummy and you can see the pilling really clearly here.
I washed both of these swatches several times before writing this review so I could try to see how they held up. I put them through regular wash and dry cycles with my everyday laundry. The results are not very clear. In the photo below, the Polartec fleece is on the left, classic fleece on the right. You can definitely see some texture/pilling on the classic fleece, but I can also see some on the Polartec. As of writing this, Spoonflower has the classic fleece fabric detail page with a pilling rating of 1.5 (with 1 being severe), but that detail is missing from the Polartec fleece detail page. Maybe it’s too new to have that information yet.
I think I would definitely order a swatch of a design in darker colors and wash it a bunch of times before I decided to invest the time making another project from the either fleece. In general it’s everything you expect fleece to be in how it sews and keeps its softness, but I am turned off with how it looks after a few washings. This is true of MANY other fleece fabrics for me, so this isn’t a knock against Spoonflower’s fleece choices specifically.
If you want to read more about Spoonflower fabrics and my experiences with them, be sure to check out my other fabric review posts.
When last we checked in with our construction adventure, we had floors. We now have plumbing and electricity and paint and bookcases! The project is actually really close to being finished at this point. But then we had to wait for the snow.
So once we got all of the floors done, they immediately covered them all up with brown paper so they could continue to work without anything getting damaged. Then our carpenter came in and started doing the woodwork. The whole downstairs of the house has all of the original 1920s oak woodwork and we asked them to match downstairs with all of the new stuff. And it’s just gorgeous. They recreated the wide base mouldings and the trim around all of the windows. And the paint crew color matched the trim downstairs too. Even though it’s brand new construction, that little detail really makes it feel like it all belongs to the same house. I am never in to popular trends and I really don’t like the minimalist/modern/Scandinavian style that’s everywhere right now, so that meant creating custom mouldings and so on. We figure this is a once-in-a-lifetime project so we are doing it “right”.
This little nook is a fun detail. There was originally a hole in the wall here where the previous owners had a space heater. It didn’t pass inspection when we bought the house so they ripped it out and there was just always just a hole here where you could see the original chimney from the old furnace. Instead of just covering that up, we added this electronics nook. It will have a glass shelf inside and it’s got USB and regular outlets wired right into the side of the cabinet. So we can charge all of our phone/iPad/watch devices. It is right next to where the foot of our bed will be so it’s perfect to drop things off when you go to bed.
We also built in bookcases specifically for our board game collection. We have a lot of them and they need a deeper shelf than a standard bookcase. These took a little back and forth with our contractors because, not being big board game geeks themselves, I think they didn’t understand when we said they needed to be both extra deep and extra sturdy. We had them paint the inside of these a color called “Indigo Batik“, which so far is the one little pop of color upstairs. The shelves aren’t there in the photo because they are still working on them, but they will also be blue with a little oak strip across the front.
And finally the bathroom is finished except for a last little bit of grout and caulk. One of the treats that I wanted as part of this remodel was to get some tile from my friends at Clay Squared to do a detail in the bathroom. I love tile and as much as I would have loved to do the entire bathroom in one of their tile colors, that was a little out of our budget. So instead I got 5 boxes of their “seconds” tiles in two colors (Pesto and NorthShore) and two sizes and I worked with our tile guy to make a stripe pattern that goes all the way around the bathroom. You can see that in the photo up at the top.
We paired that up with some creamy white subway tiles on the walls and tiny hexagons on the floor. I couldn’t love it more. The last few tiles we added to the back of the shelf nook inside the shower. The electrician came back and finished the lights and the heat last week. We’ve had no heat at all in the space since October, so that has been really nice and cut down on the drafts downstairs. The plumber hooked up all of the plumbing so the bathroom is all ready to go. And both the plumbing and electrical got final inspections.
Today they were supposed to put in the rest of the windows but with 2 feet of snow on the way and lots of crazy wind we all decided that it would be better to wait for next week. So it’s been really quiet the last couple of days for a change.
Edith from Renaissance Ribbons reached out to me a little bit ago with a question. She had read my post comparing Spoonflower’s Celosia & Performance Velvets and wondered if I would share my thoughts about the digitally printed velvet borders that Renaissance Ribbons makes. I thought it sounded like a great follow up to that post, so I asked her if I could share my thoughts here. Edith sent me a couple of samples the next day. (In the interest of transparency, other than providing those samples, this post was not sponsored in any way.)
First impression is that the Renaissance velvet borders are beautiful. Which is exactly what I would expect because their entire shop makes me feel like a kid in a candy shop. The color is rich and vibrant and the print quality is outstanding. There are very fine details in the two designs I saw and those are crisp and precise. The one thing for me that was unexpected was that the pieces were unfinished on the edges. Coming from a shop with ribbons in the name, I assumed that they would be like ribbon with a finished edge, but they are actually just cut pieces of velvet with a built in selvedge of extra color at the edge. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this at all, I was just surprised and this wasn’t mentioned in the descriptions of the velvets that I saw on their site.
I started by laying out a piece of Renaissance Ribbons Border (top) next to a piece of Celosia velvet (bottom) that I had printed in one of my designs. The first thing I noticed was that the RR Border has a very matte finish compared to Celosia. At the bottom of this photo you can see a little of the sheen that my camera picks up in the Celosia. Other than that fabric finish, the colors are very comparable in the vibrance and saturation.
I flipped them over to take a peek at the back. They are both a woven fabric with a very similar look from the back side. The back of the RR Border is a deeper cream color, but the white parts of the design on the front are a nice crisp white. Unlike Spoonflower fabrics, which you can get in a variety of sizes, the Renaissance Ribbon borders come as a 5 inch strip, 1 meter long, which is ready for you to add into your project.
When I crumpled and played with the drape and hand of the fabrics, both were very soft. The RR Border has a little stiffer hand and has less drape than Celosia. I think this is a great feature in something designed to be a border. I would expect that to be pretty stable. Spoonflower says that the pile height on Celosia velvet is about .5mm and I would say that the RR Border is maybe half the thickness of that. I held the two up next to each other so you can see an edge on view. I also think a slightly thinner fabric is probably good for a border, which is designed to be sewn on to something else. Celosia is meant to be a little more like an upholstery weight fabric, so that makes sense that it needs a little more thickness.
Overall, I think these borders are a great idea and the two dozen or so designs they have on the site are all rich and decadent looking. You can’t design your own like you can on Spoonflower of course, but they have an impressive collection of guest designers (Kaffe Fasset, Tula Pink, Mary Engelbreit, Amy Butler) so there’s a lot to choose from in velvet or their other woven ribbons. It was fun for me to have an excuse to look at some digital prints from an entirely new source.
This past week has been all about floors and windows! The bathroom floor tile is almost complete and when I talked to our tile guy yesterday, he was nearly as excited about the window as I was. It makes the room so much brighter. You can see that this isn’t finished yet. Everything takes lots of steps. But three of the new windows are in and they make such a huge difference. You can see we matched the style of the windows downstairs with the three dividers in the top pane. These will be painted to match the woodwork everywhere else upstairs which is dark stained red oak, copying the style from downstairs.
We only have some of the windows still. Two of them are still on order. Since May. And sadly, these aren’t exactly right. Some of these windows are supposed to have tempered glass in them to meet code requirements and they didn’t do that. (Not sure whether it was a mistake in the order or the manufacturing). Fortunately there’s a solution: a film you can add to the glass to which is acceptable instead of tempering. So that still has to happen. And they also forgot to make this window with frosted glass. Since it’s basically floor to ceiling, you would get a very good view of anyone stepping out of the shower. So that’s really not going to work. Fortunately they make the film in a frosted version too. So our contractor is working on tracking that down. It’s always something!
Another new thing I learned is that there is an inspection for everything. Yesterday’s was the shower pan/drain inspection. A guy in a safety yellow vest showed up and went right upstairs, ran some water down the drain to make sure that all worked correctly, signed off on something official and got back in his car and drove away. We’ve had two plumbing inspections, electrical, framing, structural. Honestly, probably a few more I don’t even know about. They are very efficient.
Right now you can’t see the beautiful floors in the rest of the room because as soon as they got them down, they quickly covered them up with heavy paper so they don’t get damaged while everything else is still happening. But I got a photo before that happened. We picked LVT or luxury vinyl tile that looks like wood. I picked one that was the closest match I could get to the original hardwood floors downstairs. Because I love the look of wood, but we really decided that real hardwood was probably not in our budget. We don’t have any carpet anywhere in our house. I just don’t like it and it’s impossible to keep clean when you also have a love for large labradors. I’ve started thinking about rugs, now that I have a better idea of what this new space looks like. If anyone has a place you love to get rugs, send me a link!
Week 10 means we have walls! This couple of weeks has been the messiest so far. It is amazing how much dust drywall generates! The space looks so so different at this point. Since I last posted, they finished all of the rough in for the plumbing and electrical. The roofers were finally able to get here and put a permanent roof on the dormer and do all of that roof finishing. The weather had been holding us up a little bit. We had a temporary roof of plywood with a giant tarp on top of it. We had a big snowstorm come through with crazy winds and the tarp blowing sounded just like thunder for 2 days. So I am really glad that’s finished. We also have insulation. Which is incredibly important in winter in Minnesota. The whole house feels a lot warmer. There’s still a draft because the windows are all covered in plywood, but it’s an improvement.
We had a tiny bit of drama with the drywall delivery. A huge crane truck pulled up in front of the house but the operator decided that our neighbor’s mulberry tree was in the way, so he told our contractor that he was just going to “trash it”. Our contractor looked at him like he was nuts and explained that trashing the neighbor’s property just really wasn’t an option. So they drove off in a huff with all of our drywall still on the truck. They simmered down a little while later, figured out a different option and our crew carried all of those drywall sheets up the outside stairs. I am again glad that was not my job.
My favorite part of this few weeks was getting to see the real shape of the space. I told my dad (who was our architect) that I think it almost looks faceted. Because it’s an attic, there are angles everywhere. There are really only a couple of walls that go floor to ceiling uninterrupted. Most of the others are divided up by a sloped ceiling or an angle. I was considering painting some bold colors upstairs but I am now thinking that with all of those angles it might just need to be one color. I can’t wait to see how the light plays across everything once the windows are in. We finally have some of our windows about 8 months after we ordered them. Two more are still in limbo; we aren’t sure when they will be ready.
Today they’ve started to lay down the floor in the main room and the tile guy is here working on the bathroom floor to get it prepped for the tile. I’m excited to see how much lighter the space is with the maple colored floor and light creamy tile.