Domestic Hits and Misses, or That’s Why You Make a Muslin

This is a roundup of various success and failures I’ve had at home this month.

Drawer Repair

I went to open my bottom drawer and this happened.


You may admire all my vertically folded KonMari’d clothes.

Then I pulled it out, removed the clothes, and foolishly left it lying on the floor. Little Brother tripped over it and then it was in five pieces.

Now, it seems like this should have been an easy fix. Spread wood glue on pieces, reattach. But after I put on the wood glue, I had trouble getting the pieces to line up properly. They didn’t go back tightly enough and the drawer would not fit in the space. It stuck out halfway. Aaaand now the glue had dried and it was fixed in that shape,

Now, at this point more than one person suggested I should abandon the project. But I like that dresser. It is old and sturdy and fits the space well. Taller and the TV would be too high. Shorter and there would not be enough room for my clothes. Wider and there would not be enough room for the Christmas tree. Plus, it was already there and I didn’t want to devote hours of my life to selecting and purchasing a replacement and reorganizing my clothes.

So I turned once again to sfgate’s home guides. I ordered a package of glue syringes (specifically, Big Horn Glue Injector Kit, from Amazon)–who knew there was such a thing? They come empty. I used one to precisely squirt white vinegar at the glue joints so they would come apart. With ten or fifteen minutes of soaking, a little tugging and a little poking with a flat-head screwdriver, this was effective. I had 5 pieces again. (The directions I looked at called for drilling into the  glue, but I did not find this step necessary.)

This time, I tested the fit before gluing. Then I used another of the syringes to sort of shoot glue into the joints with the drawer already assembled. I don’t know if it’s enough glue for the long term but it is holding for now. It fits into the space more tightly than before, but it does fit.

Sewing Fail

I am not sure why I thought a gathered skirt would look good. Because the instructions I was using (from Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking) involved some things that were new to me, I made a sample first out of a curtain I bought at Goodwill. I did everything carefully both to practice my skills and because I thought it might come out wearable. I made and learned from a wide variety of errors while doing this, so that’s good. See below how dreadful I still am at attempting to finish a fabric edge by zigzag stitching, and see also where I managed to sew a zipper inside the waistband.

(Side note: A more experienced sewist told me that Tilly’s patterns are basically garbage anyway. I am not sufficiently knowledgeably myself to verify this.)

But once I had it all put together except the hem, I decided it was hideous and abandoned the project. I will find something else to do with the “real” fabric. Sunk costs: Less than five dollars and many skills learned.

I Made a Chalkboard

When we were married in 2001, the XFP’s stepmother made us a commemorative counted cross-stitch. She seemed like a nice lady (we met her only that once) and it was rather attractive as counted cross-stitch goes, and we dutifully hung it in our bedroom for 15 years.

I had been wanting to make a chalkboard from an old frame ever since I read about it in the Frugal Girl. So, no longer desiring a commemorative cross-stitch from my wedding, I disassembled the whole thing, removed and cleaned the glass, and painted it with chalkboard paint that I bought at Hobby Lobby. Glass chalkboard paint turns out to be kind of a pain to use as it had to set for four days(!), then be baked in the oven to finish. But eventually it was done.


Perhaps I should revise phrasing so it does not appear that Daddy is on the supper menu.

I use it as a menu board. You may notice that Saturday has only an activity listed (who cares what’s for dinner? POPCORN NIGHT!) and Sunday was blank. It is not perfect. But I can talk to the boys while I fill it out about  what our week will be like and when they will be at Daddy’s house, so it adds some nice predictability. The paint was about $4 and I have enough to do a little more glass if I wanted to.

The mistake I made was trying to use a regular sponge. The directions said to use a cosmetic sponge. I didn’t have any, so I tried using a kitchen sponge, which made for a very striated first coat. For the second coat, I used a foam paintbrush, which worked much better. In fact, it was a TOY foam paintbrush stolen from the children. I am not wild about the rippled texture but it doesn’t seem to do any harm. I am in general pleased with this project and I like the nice bright markers (which were about $5). Some people complain that chalk markers don’t erase well, but I am not having that problem so far.

What projects have you been working on lately? What are the results?


Tags: , ,

About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

9 responses to “Domestic Hits and Misses, or That’s Why You Make a Muslin”

  1. ChooseBetterLife says :

    I love your chalkboard (and you have very nice handwriting)! Setting the menu and activities for the week is a wonderful idea and should prevent a lot of questions and whining.
    As for the drawer, if this glue doesn’t hold you might try the brand E6000, available at Walmart and Amazon among others. It’s amazing and after almost 20 years of using it, I haven’t had anything break apart even with heavy use.

    • frugalparagon says :

      LOL, people don’t usually say that about my handwriting but I was trying to be careful. And I actually measured the spacing!

      I have some of the E6000 glue, on the recommendation of a lady at Joann–I bought it to repair a leather purse, a job it did admirably. I would not have thought of using it on wood–thanks for the tip!

  2. Alicia says :

    The comment that maybe the phrasing should be changed so that it doesn’t appear “Daddy” is a menu item made me laugh out loud. Just had this image of a man in a stew pot surrounded by spear holding cannibals. I needed a good laugh so thank you. Enjoy your blog. Always impressed by your tenacity. Praying all is well for you and your children as you move into this new phase of life.

  3. Mary W says :

    I love your chalkboard! It’s a great idea for your boys to have a visual reminder of where they will be each day. Routine and predictability is important. IIRC the schedule isn’t the same every week.

  4. katscratch says :

    I found your blog recently and am super impressed by your post-divorce finances. My own was years ago but I’m pretty sure I racked up some significant credit card debt in the aftermath.

    I had to comment on this post because it makes me realize I’ve become blind to the wobbly drawer-front of my bathroom cabinet 😉 Thanks for the inadvertent nudge to fix it already!

  5. Leah says :

    If you need another writing space, dry erase markers work well on glass or mirrors. You can put paper in the frame and then write on top. I did this in college 🙂

    I like to sew, but I leave clothing for people more expert than me. Agreed that it’s nice in theory, but I think it takes a lot of practice and work. Some of my friends do sew lovely clothes, but they’ve been sewing since childhood.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: