Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Operation Taj Mahal

Jeremy and I were brainstorming about fun gifts to get the girls this year.  We always like to get them things that can function in many ways and can use their imaginations.  Somehow we got to talking about playhouses.  Then pvc pipes came up.  Soon we were on pinterest looking at pvc playhouses and finding designs.  Then Jeremy had drawn up a design he wanted to do with two playhouses connected by a tunnel.  I said I would sew the material for it. And that's how it began.

Turned into quite the project!  We had two Lowe's gift cards that totaled $100.  We've had them for a year now and hadn't used them so we thought it'd be the perfect time to put them to use.  We spent $12 out of pocket on the pvc pipes.  Awesome.

My dad and Jeremy spent some time on the weekend putting one of the houses together and checking their measurements after they had sawed the pieces to the right lengths.  The houses are a 4 foot square and 5 feet tall.  The tunnel is 3 feet long and two feet tall.  We knew it would take up a lot of space in the playroom, but it's totally worth it.  After all, they spent about two years playing in a cardboard box up there.

We weren't sure what kind of fabric to use.  Most fabric is 45" wide and we needed it to be about 55" after adding length for trim and the extra inches added from the pvc pipes.  Jeremy mentioned building them at work and one of his coworkers said that they had some fabric in their barn from when their husband worked at a high end upholstery company that made custom outdoor patio furniture.  The fabric is stain resistant as well as water resistant and is of high quality.   She gave Jeremy several samples and asked us to figure out which ones would work.

We liked a few of them, but we needed at least 20 yards of fabric to make the entire thing plus some remnants.  She had 8 yards of a black and cream stripe.  Really nice.  And she had 85 or 83 yards of this solid gold fabric.  And it is gold.  Like gold lame'.

The crazy part about the fabric we were about to find out after we chose these two pieces based off how much fabric we needed and what she had.  Each yard of the striped fabric sold for $180 a yard.  At 8 yards, that was $1440.  The gold fabric sold for $100 a yard.  And there was $8500 of the gold.  So when we began we had almost $10,000 in fabric.

Gold wasn't really what I had in mind.  I was really going for a Restoration hardware feel - subtle, light, striped mixed with tweed mixed with a small pattern.  Something delicate, but not translucent.  Something that said "girly" with a little bit of fun.

My mom and I got to work on making the playhouses.  We had no pattern and just the dimensions so we had to figure out how to start it, how we wanted to sew it and how to add a roof, doorway, curtains on the front and panels on the sides.  The pieces were 6' long and 55" wide.  I brought my sewing machine to her house and set it up on a folding table while she worked on hers in the same room.  It was hilarious how long the seams were.  And how long it took to get one panel done.  We often giggled or laughed out loud at how long it was taking, how gold the fabric was (were we seriously going to put this in our house??!!!), and how much fabric we had to take with us every time we went to measure it on the frame.

The first Saturday took several hours.  We got one house finished and part of the second.  The second Saturday, we completed everything.

We'd measure, pin, step back and look at how it looked on the frame.  We were constantly thinking or saying "Wow.  That is a lot of gold."

On Christmas Eve, everything was packed up in my parents' car.  I called once Riley was down, went in with Jules and Jeremy met them downstairs so that they could set it all up.  I thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed the playroom and told the girls that we had to get the playroom ready as Santa would be bringing more toys.  They didn't really care and just played around me.

The houses went together really quickly.  Jeremy got LED lights and strung them on the inside.  Looks awesome when you are in there!  I had to finish one end of the tunnel so I sewed it and we attached it.  Fixed a few things here and there and added the pillows.  Voila!  Our Taj Mahal is finished!

I still can't believe we have something as gaudy and tacky as these huge monstrosities in our playroom.  But it is one of the coolest things that they kids will ever play with and they will have so much fun building memories inside of them!!


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