DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

diy

Mar 20 2013

Sew it up!

by Dea Anne M

During the summers, up until I turned 14 and my family moved to south Georgia, my brother and I spent most of our school vacation in the custody of our grandparents. Of course, I would never have thought of it in such terms up until the year I turned 12. Daydreaming and sullen by turns, I wanted to spend all my time either reading (and being left alone) or being taken to the mall. It couldn’t have been fun or easy for my grandmother to have me around the house all day every day for the 2 months I was there and I am impressed in retrospect by how cheerfully she put up with my adolescent nonsense. My grandmother was an amazing seamstress who made me many wonderful outfits, and that summer she offered to teach me to sew.

“Come on, honey. It’ll be fun!”

“Oh, I don’t think so. Thanks anyway.”

Oh the years that I regretted that youthful choice! Never say never though. Recently, I acquired a sewing machine and I am determined now to finally learn how to sew. There are numerous places near where I live that offer lessons and that is certainly an option that I’d like to pursue but some self teaching is certainly in order as well. Luckily for me, and you too if you want to learn, DCPL has plenty of resources to help.chic

It makes sense that simple projects are a good way to start learning the basics. Improv Sewing: 101 fast, fun, and fearless projects by Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut provides a number of fun looking projects, some promising to be finished in less than a day. Projects include dresses, shirts, and skirts, none of which require pattern cutting skills, as well as scarves, pillows, curtains and more, many embellished with fun stitching. Chic On a Shoestring: simple to sew vintage-style accessories by Mary Jane Baxter provides plenty of inspiration for simple yet original projects with a particular emphasis on using “upcycled” material.

Once you’re ready to move on to more advanced projects, you might want to check out Sweat Shop Paris: lessons  from a sewing cafe by Martena Duss. The Paris Sweat Shop was (it closed last summer) a crafting space/cafe set up to provide space and equipment for DIYers to produce alternatives to store-bought clothing and its often accompanying questionable labor practices. You’ll find herethreads ideas for really unique and fun garments. If you are ready to take a bold step forward,  Teach Yourself Visually: Fashion Sewing by Carole Ann Camp will provide detailed instruction in all aspects of garment construction from pleats, to darts, to facings.

Finally, for a complete sewing reference book, you could hardly do better than Threads Sewing Guide: a complete reference from America’s best-loved sewing  magazine edited by Carol Fresia.

I realize that I’ve highlighted here resources devoted primarily to sewing items of apparel and that’s only because that’s where my immediate sewing interests lie. Do know that there’s a wealth of material at DCPL to assist you in home decor projects and to lead you through the wonderful world of quilting.

How about you? Are you a sewer or would you like to learn? Where would you love to direct your sewing energies: quilting or clothes?

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Mar 16 2009

Get Your Motor Running

by Nolan R

arrc_logoMoney is tight these days and lots of people are looking for ways to save a few dollars where they can.  If do-it-yourself auto repair is something you’re interested in, the Library has a couple of sources for auto repair information.  The Chilton’s series of auto repair books are available in most branches; some are available for checkout while some volumes are available for in-house reference use only.  If the book you need isn’t available, the Library has another source you might check into for car repair assistance.  Whether you’re wondering how to replace the tailgate on your ’72 Chevy El Camino or looking for a service bulletin for your ’08 Honda CR-V, Auto Repair Reference Center is a great source of auto repair information.

In addition to service bulletins, repair information, and wiring diagrams, Auto Repair Reference Center also provides an Auto IQ section, which provides video descriptions of vehicle parts and systems.  You can find general car care and repair tips, as well as a troubleshooting section.  There’s also an option for printing information.

To use the database, click on Reference Databases from our homepage.  Scroll down to “Consumer” databases and click on Auto Repair Reference Center.  You’ll need to enter your library card number and PIN, then you’ll be given a list of databases to choose from (just select Auto Repair Reference Center again).

Once you’re in the database, just click on the model year for your vehicle, then select the make and model.   Model years begin in 1945 for Jeep only, but more manufacturers show up in the database beginning with the 1960s.

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Jan 12 2009

Help, I want to improve my house!

by Amanda L

Every New Year my husband and I look around the house deciding if we want to make any improvements or if we have maintenance issues that we need to tackle. We built our own house over twelve years ago and have performed much of the maintenance and improvements ourselves. I always use the Library’s resources to see what they can help us with. In fact, we have used many books at the Decatur Library to help us build our house. With the housing market in a down turn, many people are looking for ways to improve their house either to stay or to help sell it faster. The Library has a variety of home improvement books available. Here is a sampling of books that might be useful for those, like me, wanting to improve their house.

DIY guide to appliances

The essential guide for first-time homeowners: maximize your investment & enjoy your new home

Ultimate guide to wiring: complete home projects

Home makeovers that sell: quick and easy ways to get the highest possible price

The complete photo guide to home repair

House transformed: getting the home you want — with the house you have

Universal design for home

Stanley complete flooring

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Nov 24 2008

House Blogs: One More Way to Journal

by Nolan R

Maybe it began with This Old House.  I remember when I was a kid, watching the show with my dad.  Norm and crew would take you step by painfully slow step through a kitchen renovation of an old house in New England, with the process often running to several episodes.  Later, I discovered a love/hate relationship with HGTV, where entire homes are magically transformed in two days or less.

Last year, I discovered the website Houseblogs.  I was fascinated.  I wanted a house blog!  I didn’t even have a house yet, but I started a generic house blog on Blogger, ready to document each step of the progress on our hypothetical house.  (I know others who have also fallen prey to putting the blog before the house.)  My husband and I finally bought an old bungalow, and as we began work on it, I got to work on the blog, personalizing it and even registering our own domain name.  My husband was pretty good-natured about it, except when I would snap photos of him climbing a ladder and temporarily blind him with the flash.

Originally, I planned the blog as a way for friends and family to keep up with our progress, but what I gradually discovered is that a) your friends and family don’t always care that you’ve just spent four weeks painting the trim on your house in original Craftsman colors, and b) a lot of strangers do seem to care, interestingly enough.  Wondering how to strip paint from your dining room molding?  A Google search will turn up at least one houseblog where someone has already done the hard work and figured out the best way.  We’ve even gotten several emails and comments from readers all over the country, sharing their experiences with us.

Here are a few of my favorite houseblogs (including a local one):

De-Victorianization on Division
House in Progress
Our Little Bungalow
Tiny Old House
Westview Bungalow

If you like the idea of reading someone else’s experiences transforming a house into a home, but aren’t into blogs, here are a few great books:

All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling Down House by David Giffels
The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah
Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett
Renovations : a Father and Son Rebuild a House and Rediscover Each Other by John Marchese
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayer
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

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