shining up the good stuff – brass fittings

12 Jul
July 12, 2016

so… if you’ve ever lived in an old house before (which is pretty much always if you’ve lived around here), you’ve probably dealt with old windows. i had an apartment in my 20’s in bellingham, and my super old windows looked right out over the bay. we didn’t really do much with them. they were old, creaky, sticky and pretty. i usually popped one or two open all winter, so i didn’t die of (the overused radiator) heat that i had zero control over.

20 years later, i have my very own Read more →

getting going – just getting started

11 Jul
July 11, 2016

for as cute as the photos of my old place looked, i realized right before we listed, that we had a lot of things that got put off, and a few things that were works-in-progress. you realize that most when you’re selling, because you’re basically finishing all those little… i’ll-get-to-that-later… things. and then you sell, and it’s all… not your problem any more. not that there was anything big… but just all the things you hoped for that space… cease.

and then you find a new place, and especially with the house we found, there’s just so much potential. you start imagining, and planning… and then you have to move. and you can’t do anything but schlep junk. boxes, and boxes and (holy cow, just purge already) more boxes. moving (with two small kids) is a drag. but (yay!) it’s over!

so. we’re in our new place. and although i was able to get a few things done before we got here, we are very much starting from scratch. the things i tried to get out of the way were bigger- i got the (asbestos!) popcorn scraped off every surface it covered, i got the downstairs floors refinished (original!! beautiful!!). and unfortunately, found out the upstairs floors were painted with lead paint. bummer. and you know who takes that off? NO ONE. so while i was having the ceilings fixed (popcorn removal jacked them just enough that i couldn’t paint) i also decided that the upstairs floors would get painted. it’s stop gap. maybe in a few years we’ll have them yanked out and new ones put in. kidding! i’m going to send my family on vacation and scrape all the paint off myself, because 100 YEAR OLD ORIGINAL FIR FLOORING!! i’m still kidding. i don’t know what the next step on the upstairs floor is. i’m not there yet.

what i really want is for beds to be off floors, and not be sleeping all in one room little-house-on-the-prairie style. feel me? so… this past weekend (the ceilings and some paint finished last friday) i busted out with painting trim and doors for the kid’s room and adding one more coat to the floor. and today, i need to bust out with painting the trim and floor in our room.

i’m truly awful at before and after. i always forget the before, and about halfway through (around midnight) i’m like… hmmmmm, i forgot to take a picture. and so i take one, and the next morning i think, hmmmmm, that picture looks like garbage. but! today i took some befores! it’s not true before, because the ceilings have all been redone, and the painters did the walls and ceilings, and there’s already one coat on the floor… but trust me. it still looks like a before on the doors and windows. i’m attacking those today. will try to post the afters tomorrow… HAHAHAHA assuming i finish before tomorrow.

up above- those are the windows. i’m going to start researching old windows. how can i save these, but still also have a heating efficient house? i think that’s a rainbow unicorn, yes? also, every single room has 3 windows. my living room… NINE. nine windows. one room. i’m sitting in my kitchen… just counted… 7. the people who built this house loved windows. also, has anyone heard of spackle or caulk? man, my perfectionist little heart is itching to get rid of all those cracks and curtain rod holes. speaking off… what on earth covered all these tens of windows? in some rooms, there’s nothing… no trace of anything. ghost blinds? i’m stumped.

and below:


this door technically goes to a place you don’t want to see. there’s eave storage all throughout the upstairs, but it’s not pretty. so lets just admire this filthy door. if you ever read door sixteen, i love her take on paint colors. she often references warm mayo as being a color in houses she moves into. this is warm mayo. i also have lots of pesto mayo (thanks jessica) in the downstairs. i cannot wait to paint away all the mayo in this house. please note the tiny knob- it’s brass! i promise it will look more brass in the ‘after’ pics.


another door. yes there are 3. this one actually belongs to a finished closet. a rather large finished closet. i’m not bragging. it’s the only closet in the house that doesn’t require anything from me other than painting it’s trim and door. it also doesn’t have a light fixture on the inside, with a cord coming out the wall beside it, plugged into the outlet outside. for this, i am grateful.


this is very close up photo of window fittings. they look black. they are actually brass. i shined them up in the kid’s room, and i felt like i had found treasure. finding gold under black grunge will do that. also, i get that you’re in this house every day, and maybe you didn’t know… but this is a 15 minute task. you missed out on admiring pretty brass fittings on the daily because you didn’t invest a little elbow grease. whatevs. i’ll do it and enjoy them. win!


one last fitting. because they are so gunky, and so is that window (barf), and this is truly a representational ‘before’ photo. but you know what’s better than fresh paint and some brass polish? nothing i can think of in relation to this photo. so i’m going to get to it. lots to do today. xoxo- k.


we bought a house! {again}

08 Jul
July 8, 2016 the martins say goodbye to the old house…

let’s see… left off… we were just getting ready to list our house. it happened! it looked adorable in the photos, we had the best agent ever. and much like all sales in seattle, it was on the market for a week, we reviewed the offers, there was one that won, and we were done.

so then. house hunting… wow. so much to see. so many considerations. and house hunting here is WACKO. i was somewhat worried about selling- i was freaked about buying. just to give you an idea, there were 9 offers on our house. nine. and it basically goes to the person who puts the best deal on the table. so when you’re looking, you get excited about a house, and you think… can i make an offer on this house that will beat out all other offers? am i willing to go through actually starting to like a place, only to lose out in some small (or big) way to someone, basically with more money? what is the most amount of money i’m willing to spend. and then up it. up it to discomfort. and then back down. and then get comfortable with upping it again. we did this back and forth while looking… talking about caps, and maxing, and what was realistically doable.

what’s crazy is that we looked at a lot of houses. all over seattle. so many of them were tiny. a few of them were huge. most of them were gorgeous. people put so much into their homes. i liked seeing that. because most houses here are old. old old. i’m trying to think if i saw anything younger than 60 years… doubtful. and strangely, having really wanted midcentury, i fell in love with houses that were about a century old. i looked at 3. and even odder, because we only bid on one house, we won it.

we won it.

god i love this house. i love it. i don’t know if i’ve ever loved a house. wait… yes. i loved an apartment i had in bellingham. my first apartment alone. and it was about 100 years old! maybe that’s where this love comes from. large spaces, wide trim, gorgeous old windows, tall ceilings… this house is… it’s amazing. ok. maybe it will be amazing. it’s got some good things going on. first, there’s a crazy amount of room. i think just about every house i’ve lived in in this city has been… right around 1000 square feet (or under). which is fine. i’ve learned to live in small spaces. i get small spaces. i would tell you my new square footage, but i’m almost embarrassed. almost.

the floors, original. the built ins, original. this crazy textured wallpaper stuff (lincrusta) that’s between my board and batten (that was under wallpaper and paneling) in the dining room… original. there were LAYERS of wallpaper to scrape (and discover!). there was asbestos popcorn, the floors needed refinishing… the plumbing and electrical need to be redone… but it feels like things that will feel good to do. this house has stood here for 102 years. 102!! i hope it stands here for 102 more.

i can’t wait to complete a few projects, and post along the way.

oh! and once there’s a dedicated corner for a workroom, get back to making. i miss it fierce. but first, time to paint some trim. xoxo- k.


house projects are taking over my life…

14 Apr
April 14, 2016

ugh. like seriously the last thing i should be doing is writing a post. but for reals? my brain (and back) need a break.

so- i did actually do some of last month’s making projects. i made some bracelets. i made the bunny pouch. i bought fabric for the dress (a truly beautiful emerald green rayon blend- delish!), and then got totally bogged down with buying a form. and instead of just buying an adjustable one, and calling it good, i sprang for the REAL DEAL and a kit to customize to my exact shape. and in case you think this is overkill, or too much money- let me explain why i did. when you drape (pattern making via a form), you pin to the center of the form. with an adjustable form, there’s just an open gap in the middle if you’re bigger than the form (i am). so. no dice. and i found a true dress form on amazon for a really competitive price, and the kit was just a bit more. so. expensive? yes. but let’s call it an investment, and move on.

fast forward to, geez, seriously? april. we decided (not so much at the last minute, because we’ve been thinking about it for forever, but…) somewhat suddenly, to sell our house. think up all the little fixing-up projects you’ve been putting off for as long as you’ve lived in your home. yes. those. that’s what i’ve been doing for WEEKS. and packing. and purging. my kids are freaked out. the dog keeps barfing. i can’t find anything.

some days i really love living in seattle. it was such a conscious decision for me to be here. like… some place i set off to be. and then some days… it makes me so weary. meeting people here, and having them be close friends is exhausting. and frankly, starting to feel impossible (whole separate post i’m working on). looking for a place to live, it feels… like a paradox. you pay the most money you’ve ever thought of (not kidding), for a house you’d probably not consider living in. not in it’s current state. like we’re never going to really afford the type of home we’ve dreamed of living in. and then you think on that, and think… so, maybe we should move move? but…i can’t imagine being anywhere else. like minded (educated, liberal) people? check. beautiful gorgeous outdoors with oceans, and mountains, and snow, and places to see? yes. good career opportunities, for both my husband and (someday, again, hopefully) myself. yes! it sounds whiny to keep going, but…i don’t know. some days i just can’t get my head around all of it.

so. i’m going to keep plugging away at the mindless monkey tasks of scraping moss off everything, touching up every surface that’s painted, vacuuming places that haven’t seen the light of day for about 8 years, and getting rid of my collection of… everything. because frankly, it all should have gone forever ago. and if you live in seattle, and want to buy my really adorable house (i might be biased), next week is your chance. i’ll get back to the making as soon as i’m able. probably after i hyperventilate about being homeless in less than a week, and being in the most competitive housing market in the country. cool. no stress. til then… xoxo, k.

march projects

03 Mar
March 3, 2016

not bad! day two of the month, and i’m committing to a project.

alright, so. the dresses. i think that’s where i’m headed. a dress for me, and a dress for mini me. i think the one thing i’m going to invest in, because i’ve said i’m going to buy one forever, is a dress form. and although art school, and then corporate design for years, has made me a bit of a form snob, i think i’m going to get one of those dial, adjustable ones you can get at joanns. they’re about half the price, and also- adjustable. i think that’s probably handy.

also, i’m going to have tiny, monthly, back-up projects. since this is a holiday month- a little easter related kid treat inspired by @bespokeoutlaw on instagram- the adorable bunny pouch, and since someone i know is super pumped about them- grown-up friendship bracelets. i’ll plan on working on the dresses on kid-free days, and small projects at night and nap time. my goal is to have the form, fabric and patterns by the middle of next week. the dress pattern i’m using for myself is here (photo credit to pintuckandpurl for above). the dress pattern i’m using for my daughter is still tbd (photo credit above to felicia on flikr), but i’ve ordered a book from japan, and fingers crossed, it’s in there. i’ll do a check in next wednesday to show progress and updates!

yay! a plan! don’t forget- if you feel like joining in, share your photos on instagram with the hashtag #needleplusthreadYOM, and i recently created an instagram feed just for the blog- it’s @needleplusthread

xoxo- k.

a creative year ahead…

26 Feb
February 26, 2016

my goal for 2016 is to MAKE with a little more intent.

yes, yes… but it’s end of february you say. we’re like, a quarter in, where have you been??? 

AMEN TO THAT. but, i needed to wrap up some projects, keep myself alive through january (january is the worst– holiday buzz kill, wettest month ever) and then february happened, and it was pretty whack.

whatever. whackness aside- i’m on it. here’s the deal.

a year of making with intent. finish one project a month. that’s it. start to finish, one month spent working on one item. planning for: birthdays, holidays, and of course, a handmade christmas. which has been a goal for FOREVER. i’m never so organized to execute. and i do believe to actually accomplish it- for every person on your list, you have to start well ahead. DONE.

so. if you want to project along with me- here’s the short list of some of things i plan to do- (not all included- check the sidebar soon for a complete list, with links and tutorials)

make a dress– i used to sew clothing with a lot more frequency (fashion design school, and whatnot). i thought when i had a daughter it would be a no brainer to make her summer dresses. that has NEVER happened. it’s going to happen this year. here’s the dress i like for me, here’s the dress i like for her.

yumiko higuchi embroidery– i found yumiko on instagram, and became… stalkerish? i don’t know. i just love her style. i’ve never seen embroidery so modern/retro. i love it. so i bought her book (in japanese) and have spent some time deciphering it’s contents. i want to complete 1 full pattern of hers. maybe something decorative for thanksgiving, maybe one of her adorable coin purses…

rope bowls– i see these posted pretty often. they look relatively easy, and i bought one in target that i’m pretty sure i could have made. laziness. plus, in a month, don’t you think you could make like… 10, and have them for gifts? (christmas! birthdays!) also, instead of rope, these clay ones are pretty adorable.

painting nesting dolls– you can easily purchase blank nesting dolls on etsy, and pinterest (of course) is a trove of the cutest little designs. i haven’t painted in YEARS. like for real painted. my daughter was in LOVE with a nesting doll set she got for christmas from a friend, i thought i’d add to her collection by painting some myself for her.

finish a quilt– ok, by far the thing i’m worst at (hello nearly 3 tops sitting around, gathering dust). i currently have several tops that need finishing, and frankly, i’d like one quilt to call my own. since last year in our guild was a block/border-a-month medallion, i’m going to finish that top, and quilt it. that’s like a border-ish a week, and then a week to baste and bind. which is quick, but not impossible.

design a quilt– by far the most ambitious item on my list- this might be a two monther. i’ve had this idea for a christmas quilt for FOREVER. i really want to make it, snuggle under it, watch my favorite christmas movies, and drink hot toddies. it might be a pipe dream? but i’m willing to risking a month figuring it out.

that’s 6 months of ideas. adding in kid’s costumes, random kid’s art projects and fun holiday treats… i’m probably covered for a year. i’ll update one of the icons in my sidebar to reflect year of making. also, i’m going to use a hashtag, and if you make any of the things i’m covering, you’re welcome to tag them. how about… #needleplusthreadYOM

YAY! it’s written… let’s do it. xoxox- k.

photo credit for above– bandit matryoshka and geometric neon matryoshka both by sketchinc on etsy, diy clay jewelry dish by hello glow, coil rope bowl kit by lost property hong kong on etsy, user felicia’s photo- girl’s dress on flickr, christine hayne’s emery dress made by pintuck and pearl on instagram, and last- yumiko higuchi’s amazing embroidery from instagram.

poppy garden quilt – flower 21

03 Nov
November 3, 2015

fabric name: pearl bracelets

designer: lizzie house

another beloved hoard cut. this is the first project i’ve used any of my lizzie house. i think it’s broken the seal on using cherished fabrics. that and i’m starting to realize i need to purge again.

i read something recently by someone who didn’t cut in to much loved fabric, and then a few years later, she wasn’t as in love with it. she mused it would have been better to have it used in something and enjoyed instead of basically wasted because she pretty much no felt the same about it years later.

we are fickle. but i’m with her. cutting. using. and frankly… not holding onto. well, you know, except for what i have. 😉 xoxo- k.

farmer’s wife 1930 – quilt along – caroline block

02 Nov
November 2, 2015

for reals this block was difficult. maybe because i sat down after my trip, and hadn’t sewn for a bit… maybe because i was tired. no idea, but i took this thing apart 5 times. no. joke.

it didn’t help that i kept saying- ok, now i know what i’m doing. sometimes that sums up how i feel about quilting. like just because Read more →

make it – farmer’s wife 1930 – check in week 5

30 Oct
October 30, 2015

have there really been 5 weeks already? time’s a flyin.

so, when i lay these all out… i squeal. that’s good, right? i have so much sewing to do these days. teaching two classes, making gifts for that big holiday right around the corner, ugh, HALLOWEEN. and i want make everything, it’s just impossible to figure out when. the days i have daycare are dedicated to work projects. this is purely enjoyment, and let’s be honest, selfish.

i’ve made a list of all the works-in-progress i have right now, and i’m starting to feel… embarrassed. like i need to redeem myself and finish something (halloween costume, maybe?). since this project has a year away due date… i may not be getting back to it for a couple weeks.

or let’s be really honest, and i’ll just forgo sleep and crank out some blocks. xoxo- k.


farmer’s wife 1930 – quilt along – aimee block

29 Oct
October 29, 2015

i’ve had these 3 versions of aimee cut out for forever. they’ve patiently sat waiting til i finished other quilt along blocks, then took a trip to az, then started sewing another quilt, wait- two other quilts (i have issues), then started halloween sewing, a tank top (!!!), and then i finally got back to them.


the first was that middle one. then the right, then the left. after the previous time of laying all my blocks out together, i decided i needed to lighten and brighten, and frankly, start popping with the color. i don’t want a downer quilt. i love grey just as much as the next seattle girl, but… i realized i’m really drawn to the little bits of color in the blocks.

so- i had these drawn completely different. mostly dark. since i think i want a mix of greys for sashing- white and color are the new goals. there will still be a dark block here and there, but i love assessing and re-adjusting. there’s no long term plan. and every time i lay them out- swoon! to see all the blocks together…. check back tomorrow! xoxo- k.

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