Things I've been making, fixing, modding, breaking.

Little Red Rain Poncho


Over the last year of biking in the pacific northwest, I have been hunting for the perfect biking rain coat, and have tried many different options, including rain pants, rain ponchos, waxing my clothes. None of these worked well for all my needs: rain pants are technically functional but an unfashionable hastle; rain ponchos work great unless there is any wind whatsoever, and are also an unfashionable hastle; and waxing my pants has been only somewhat effective -- so I decided to make my own rain coat that covers my legs while biking but also looks good while not biking.

I started with the North Face Ancha Parka as my base coat. This waterproof rain jacket was about the right size with really lovely waterproof material, but had a poor quality zipper and unflatteringly boxy fit. The first adjustment I made was to update the zipper with a heavy-duty two-way brass zipper. While making this change, I also re-ordered the fabric layer so that the flat that was laying under the zipper was now laying on top of it. This allowed me to add brass snaps to the top flap to create a more vintage looking rain coat.

2018 04 08 Before After Hardware

Next I moved to the back of the jacket, and split the jacket down the middle. My goal here was to add a bit of fabric so that when I'm on a bike, the jacket would create a poncho-like effect and cover the tops of my legs while I ride. Since this is primarily a biking jacket, I decided to use a really lovely reflective fabric from Mood Fabrics.

Not being sure how this reflective fabric would look outside the context of biking, I decided to hedge my bets and add a zipper on the back so that I could zip up and hide the reflective fabric when I am just walking around. This zipper is actually installed upside-down, zipping from the bottom. This allows me to upzip a few inches from the bottom, opening little space for my hips, without unzipping the whole back.

2018 04 08 Bike Back

Picinic Quilt


Waterproof picinic blanket with vintage gingam wool.

2018 03 10 Picinic Quilt Fence

Indigo LED Constellation Quilt


This hand-dyed quilt has a layer of leq sequins that glow softly at night. See how I made it here!

Hygge Hotpants


Mike and I made these fur undies for an Instructables sewing contest, and our friends MJ and Evelyn were the most amazing models!

Vintage Lamp Repair


Mike got this amazing vintage lamp when we lived in New York, that sadly broke over the course of our many moves. I was feeling adventurous and decided to give fixing it a try. I followed these super well organized instructions on Instructables and got parts from Sunlan in Portland. Not only got it working, but I replaced the socket with a dimmer type. The whole operation was a lot easier than I anticipated!

Waxed Jean Shirt


Mike let me try waxing one of his wrinkly jean shirts with otter wax and the results are pretty cool. As you can see the wax darkens the denim color, but it also gives the shirt a lot more structure.

Rant Buddy


Mike and I made our roommate Johannes his very own Curb Your Enthusiasm Theme Song button to play in the house as needed, which is often.

Could you use this button in your home too? Download the source code here.

Super Hi-Vis Chucks


I love my all-black monochrome Chuck Taylors, but they don't exactly lend themselves to night-time bike safety as-is. But with these Brompton X Vespertine Reflective Shoelaces, Tenacious Tape Reflective Tape, and Albedo 100 Reflective Spray, these shoes transform into super-high visibility shoes when hit with a flash of light.

2018 01 22 Super Hi Vis Chucks Gif

Testing Aldebo 100 Reflective Spray


I commute by bike, and during the winter this means I spend a lot of time commuting in the dark. I have been trying out different ways to increase my visibility: various bike lights, wearable magnetic lights, reflective tape, reflective fabric -- but none of these options worked well with my favorite wool coat. Tapes don't adhere well to wool, and hi-tech looking lights take away from the natural aesthetic feel of the wool coat.

I gave the Albedo 100 Reflective Spray a try to see if this would be a good option. The paint is temporary - so relatively low risk - and supposedly invisible during the day.

Albedo 100 Reflective Spray on wool coat

I found that the paint was incredibly reflective, but not truley invisible by day. It kind of looks like I have a light dusting of fake snow where the paint is strongest. It's not ideal, but I'm not really sure you would notice if you weren't looking for it, and honestly I would say that the added visibility and safety is worth the trade off of having the slight discoloration by day.

Magnetic Gate Latch


My husband and I commute by bike, and this means going in and out of our gate throughout the day from both directions. Anyone who brings their bike inside regularly will be familiar with the physical maneuver that is hoisting the door open while you slide through with your bike. Usually this is okay in one direction, but a pain when you have to pull the door open towards you first before going through.

The time finally came this summer where the decorative inner section of our old gate broke and it was time to replace it. This time we opted for a gate that would swing both directions, like saloon doors. Ideally we could just push through the gate with our bikes in either direction, without any awkward gymnastics.

Once we replaced the gate however, we found that the spring mechanism wasn't really strong enough to close it quickly or keep it closed. This meant that our tiny dog or even a small gust of wind could push it open. And if we were to keep the latch in the locked position, then it would be hard to get through if you were on the wrong side of the gate.

We wondered: how could we latch the gate in way that was easy for an adult to push open from either side, but provided a strong enough force against wind and dogs? The folks that installed the new gate threw out a harebrained idea to use some kind of magnet since the new frame on the gate was steel. I tested with a few hard-drive magnets on-hand and although the force was weak, it was promising!

hard drive magnets to make a gate latch

After a little testing, we came up with this magnetic gate latch concoction: We got an aluminum carpet threshold as the base, this gave me a surface to mount the magnets to that wouldn't interact with the magnetic field. We got a lot of 24 identical Neodymium rare earth hard drive magnets and gorilla glued them to the threshold. We then wrapped skid-proof pads to the threshold to add friction and help slow down the gate as it passes by.

After screwing the threshold to the gate post, we gave it a test and it turned out to work great! It offered a solid amount of resistence that I can safely say my 6lb dog can't open, and it also snapped the gate shut after a few swings. Look how much snappier it is with the magnets:

If you're looking to make a gate that swings easily in both directions, I definitely recommend the magnetic solution as an option.

P.S. If you do use these hard drive magnets, watch your fingers as these magnets have a death grip pinch that will draw blood.

P.P.S If you happen to follow this design, one thing I found very helpful in slowing down the gate was to allow a little bit of "slack" in the aluminum threshold so that it could bow out slightly to meet the steel frame on the gate itself. This slowed down the gate much faster than when the aluminum threshold was completely flat against the post.

No Sew Dog Sweater


I recently canabalized this sweater to line the hood of my new raincoat, and while doing so I noticed that the diameter of sleeves was strikingly close to the diameter of Lola's torso. One cut and two arm-holes later, Lola has a new sweater.

Waterproofing with Otter Wax


In my ongoing quest to avoid rain pants, I gave waxing a try. I used three layers of Otter Wax, ironing them in-between each layer. When the wax is first applied it looks light and cakey, but once ironed it disappeared into the fabric.

otter waxed jeans

I find that with the wax my jeans have a heavier, more structured feel and are fairly resistent to a light dusting of water.

2018 01 07 Wax Jeans Animated

In a heavy rain I found that they absorbed some water, but dried out pretty quickly (within an hour) once I got to work. Normally my jeans would have been soaked for most of the day. Given that most "rainy" days in the Pacific Northwest are pretty light, I would say this is a good alternative to rain paints.

Button Upgrades


Change your buttons, change your life.

Home Made Basketball Sweaters


Basketball season is upon us! To show our spirit, Mike and I made this home made LA Clippers sweater for Johannes and Portland Blazers hoodie from old skirts we found at the Goodwill.

Light Up Jacket


light up jacket gif

For when you really want to be seen day and at night. Since I started biking to work I've been very pre-occupied with safety, and in particular visibility at night. I found this amazing jacket at the Goodwill and filled the lining with a battery-powered LED strand and a reflective strip.

Leather Dying Shoes


I've had this pair of blue Ecco shoes now for a few years, but was never crazy about the tepid blue color. I gave Fiebring's leather dye another try - this time in black. I found that after one layer of dye the shoes were left a very dark navy. After a second round of dying the leather they reached a true black.

Yaass Queen


Past Lives


This fabric has followed us to four addresses, each time getting a little smaller.

Brainstorming with Grandma Joan


Grandma Joan helping me brainstorm rain coat and lighting patterns.

Joy of Reupholstering Chairs


On the difficuly spectrum of home improvement projects, reupholstering dining chairs is on the right side. Most craft projects are more expensive, time consuming and technically challenging than you could have ever known when you started them, but not reupholstering dining chairs. If you're looking for a confidence boost, this is the craft project to choose.

Love Trumps Hate


Leather Lacing and Dyeing


I loved this vintage tooled leather clutch, but the vinyl lacing and light color made it feel more like a kitschy craft project than an authentic antique. (And to be fair, I think it is a Tandy kit project from days past.) I used Fiebring's leather dye and Tandy Calf Lace to darken and re-laced the clutch. I've never done any leather work before, but Tandy has this really sweet video showing how to execute the Double Loop Lace.

Shoe Sole Upgrades


Living in a walking city like New York, you'll find yourself "going through" shoes at a much faster pace than normal. Add to that the wet and icy winter weather, and you may find that most shoes barely last the season.

My solution to this has been to upgrade the soles on all my shoe and boot shoes to "lugged" soles -- these are the classic rubber soles with knobby tread for lots of traction. You can have this done at any shoe repair store, and this inexpensive ($20-$40) upgrade with vastly extend the life of your soles.

Zipper Upgrade


Add a zipper, change a zipper, enlarge a zipper

Watercolor Quilt


Mike and I made this watercolor quilt for grandma Joan, our DIY co-conspirator. She has a real DIY brain because her response to our quilt was to make her own, bigger and better quilt. DIYers: "Anything you can make, I can make better."

1950s Wedding Dress


When I first got my tattoo at the fledgling age of 18, a friend was appalled and asked about the hypothetical possibility of being invited to a fancy gala. "What if you can't find a dress that will hide your tattoo?" Well, I suppose you make your own gala and yourown gala dress, so you don't have to hide your tattoo.

Inspired by 1950s shapes, I comissioned this custom wedding dress from Antoinette of Ridgewood.

Thwarting Lola's Dog Food Puzzle


To help foster a sense of purpose in Lola's otherwise nihilistic existence, we got her a food puzzle. The food puzzle makes it so she has to work for her food, giving her something to do all day. Unfortunately it didn't take more than a couple days before she figured out exactly how to get to her food in a matter of seconds. This is our attempt to thwart her ability to open them so easily by gluing stacks of nickels into the bottom on the cups.

DIY undies


We live down the street in Greenpoint from Ruffeo Hearts Lil Snotty and I was super inspired by their line of fundies. My takeaway is that ladies undies are extremely easy to make, but fellas undies are quite a bit little more complicated.

Wine Box Dog Bed


The day Lola joined our family, we didn't really have anything prepared, so we improvised with a wood wine box and some old clothes.

Painted Peg Board


Small Herd of Elephants


Every newborn needs a small herd of stuffed elephants.

Bowling Alley Table


Swearing Sewing Machine


I discovered that my sewing machine can write. And it can write anything I want it to.

Christmas Stockings


Please enjoy this embarrassing #marthastewartmoment

Giant Zipper


One of my favorite activities is finding things at Goodwill and making them better, but sometimes I just make them weirder, like with this giant zipper.

Home Depot Purse


One time I turned a home depot bag and an Andy & Bax bag into a purse.

Kindle Snuggie


Roll-Up Mattress


I once had this idea that it would be great to make a mattress that could roll up into a box in the morning. While this was in fact possible, it was not actually very comfortable.

LED Pixel Lamp


This pixel lamp was made from 35 individual three-way toggle switches switches allowing the user to control a 3x7 grid of RGB lights.

Cinderella Ottoman