Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals. I'm a recovering former vegan and vegetarian, now healing with a nutrient-dense mostly Paleo diet, and love at-home CrossFit and yoga workouts. I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

New mom to baby Otto born April 2018!


DIY Padded headboard!

Success!!  I made the padded headboard I've been thinking about since I moved into this apartment.  It's in version 1 at this point, but it is great to have it up there as I'd hoped!
My dad was kind enough to put together the frame out of 2"x3" boards and a big beadboard piece, and I bought a few yards of "Nu-Foam" at JoAnn with my 50% off coupon.  I glued the foam on and then covered it with a tan fake leather that was $3/yard on clearance.  I put seams on it rather than pulling and stapling, to give it hard edges.  My plan is to make changeable covers in fun fabrics that fit the 60" by 48" padded portion and slide them over the vinyl.  That way, I can wash the changeable fabrics and keep moisture out of the padding.  Perfect for reading in bed!  I bolted the legs to my cheap metal Hollywood bed frame with two bolts on each side, through holes drilled in the wood.  Nothing fancy, but it works.
The total cost was... about $20 for hardware/wood/bolts and about $15 for the two yards of fabric and three yards of NuFoam.  Plus the staples, and other fabric pieces I will make into slipcovers.  All in all, a success!

Funky greeting cards

Well, so this isn't something I made, but I did want to share it with you all: a wacky idea from Threads magazine for artistic greeting cards made of thread scraps.  I'm not sure how I feel about it.  Any of your thoughts?
I guess it would be fun for Christmas thank-yous or something if you grabbed threads from your recent red and green projects...

Click on the photo for more details.
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Eco Craft idea

Today I did a wild and crazy craft project idea that I got from the book Eco Craft, which I've seen at JoAnn and Powell's.  See:
They have some beautiful lamp shade-type ideas that are made from recycled materials... there is a great milk jug one, and the plastic bag one that I copied, and a great room divider made from 6-pack plastic loops.  So check out the lovely hanging lamp shade that I made from one white and one tan cheap plastic Safeway-type bags, then ironed on to a metal circular frame that used to have tassels on it:

All you do is iron the bags together and they make a lovely, semi-transparent, homemade paper-look that you see at IKEA, etc.  And it's so fun!
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Simple table runners

To cover my newly painted table and protect it from scratches, without frustrating my sweet, well-meaning boyfriend who cannot always be concerned to use a coaster, I made two crisscross table runners out of the excess fabric from my chair project.  It's a busy print, so I was worried about there being too much of it in the dining room.  Jason said it looked okay when I laid it out to test, so that was enough of a go-ahead for me.  I don't have any coordinating fabric, and I did have extra of the Waverly print and nothing else to do with it!

Some of the braid on the seam at both ends, and faced with plain off white cotton on the back.  Maybe I will be on the lookout for a nice contrast fabric that will coordinate in the dining room.
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Halloween (candy) season!

Today I went to the grocery store and bought some of the cheapest, least justifiable candy they sold--no Snickers, no Three Musketeers.  I bought the assorted boxed Lemon Heads et. al. and the Chick-O-Sticks, which are apparently tiny, plastic-twisted Butterfinger bars with no chocolate.  I figured I would be less tempted to eat the candy if it was disgusting to adult tastes.  So far this plan is not working, as I have found I actually enjoy the salty, peanut-ey taste of the Chick-O-Sticks (and they only have 70 calories per serving of three!).  I am looking forward to handing all the candy out on Saturday.
I also bought a small carving pumpkin, which, for now, I have decorated by stenciling with black paint and painting the stem:
Should be enough to let the trick-or-treaters know we have candy in this household!  At some point I will get my hands dirty and harvest the seeds for roasted pumpkin seed snacking!
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Fall colors, plaid

Today I made this cute top using a sort of illogical fabric choice: JoAnn has these "English Accents Sportswear Collection" cottons that are really nice, most of them traditional plaids in soft cotton.  I got this cute brown one with a woven texture and the green trim that matches.  I wanted to make a blouse or top but not an obvious, traditional style--some "English Accents" flare to a modern piece.  Here's what I did:
I used this patten from McCall's without the bow details:

And with gathers instead of pleats, which may have been a mistake because I don't think it's the most flattering as it is.  Maybe I will change it.
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Simple stencil project

 Today I went to JoAnn and bought a book I'd looked at the other day, Stencil Me In.  It is the greatest book!  Up-to-date, great ideas of things to do with stencils!  It includes 28 stencil designs on plastic sheets in the back, and cute patterns, too.  JoAnn has limited selection of stencils and they cost $3-6 for each page, so it was a great deal.  Check it out here:

I want to stencil on a knit dress I'm planning to make, and on some decor items, but for now I just did a simple project on a couple of pattern boxes I have: one, clearly, is for dress patterns, and the other is for everything else.

The boxes were on the cuter side before, but now they are fun and girly and match the other colors in the room!
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Historic clothing means silk!!

Today I went over to my parents' house and helped my mom at Lavender's Green Historic Clothing with an order for eight 1890's silk ballgowns for Belle Meade Plantation in Tennessee.  It's a very exciting order and it was nice to do delicate handsewing on silk for a change!  Here are some of the fabrics she's been using:

The first dress she finished is a periwinkle silk:
I don't have any photos of the one I worked on.  Oh, well.  Check out my mom's business's website at!
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Painted the dining room table!

I am really excited to have finally conquered the table-painting job!  I think the table and chairs look pretty good:

I painted and polyurethane-d the table top, and spray-painted gold the metal details on the legs.  Sort of tacky but they were a very gross, cheap brass from 40-some years ago and looked awful even after I cleaned them.
The polyurethane finish is still drying so I can't pose the table with any place settings, so use your imagination!  I am really excited to have this set done.  They are sort of a weird style, but I'm not digging the new looks at Pottery Barn (too traditional and chunky) or the modern looks of West Elm.  Maybe this is an anthropologie-type dining room look?  I hope so.
Thanks to craigslist, I paid $60 for this table, three leaves, cover protectors for the tabletop and the leaves, and six chairs.  Plus $4.50/yard for the fabric, $20 for the paint, and a few dollars here and there for other expenses like staples.  I think it was a good deal!
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The least trashy sheer animal print top in the world!

Well, I did it!  I accomplished a great feat today.  I made a cute top out of a questionable animal print sheer--and get this: it doesn't scream Janice from Friends or biker bar!!
I got this fabric at JoAnn on the clearance and they had several animal prints to choose from, all $2/yard after the extra sale markdown.  I don't usually like animal print, but I was drawn to these, and chose this nice brown zebra-inspired stripe rather than the slightly louder leopard or tiger prints.  I was imagining something with tucks and a yoke, a little structure added to the natural feel of the fabric.  I used this pattern:

One of those Fashion Runway, create-your-own ones where they act like variations on a simple base pattern is a novel idea.  I do like them, usually, though, since I tend to want to create or modify patterns to make them fit the garment I'm imagining.  Anyway I used this pattern, with the roundish yoke with four 1/4" tucks on each side, and ruffled bias edge for sleeves (I wanted to do the larger ruffled sleeve but didn't have enough fabric).  Here it is:

I think it's meant as a loose top with jeans as I'm wearing it in the picture, but I think it would be cute with a wide belt at the waist and high-waisted pencil skirt.
I don't have a lot of experience sewing on polyester and I have to say this sheer crinkle poly was a NIGHTMARE to work with.  Nearly impossible to cut, press, gather, and backstitch on.  Only redeeming quality was, since it is so loosely woven, seams pull out quite easily!
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Ugly dress pattern turns into fun autumn-ey top

Today I put together this simple, fun top inspired by Matty M's classy silk print tops from Nordstrom TBD.

So here's my version, all shiny:

And I know this is fuzzy but the color is so much better without the flash!
It was actually pretty hard to find a pattern for such a simple dolman sleeve top, so I used this Simplicity one that's meant for knits:

It's really a very ugly pattern the way they make it up.  But version C with the sleeves of version D is pretty much what I needed to emulate the cute tops I've seen.  I used a very cheap poly from JoAnn that was half off the clearance price, so it was $2 a yard and I needed a yard.  Cheap.  It's woven so I opened up the left side of the hip band and gave it hooks and eyes to close, so it goes over my head.
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I made....... tea. today.

Well, I went to work today and did NOT make anything!!  On weekends I work at the Lavender Tea House in Sherwood.  It's a fun place to work but I spent all day serving, making food, etc. and didn't get to sew today.  I spent my day here:

Too bad.  I will get to sewing and creating tomorrow!
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Silk party dress

Today I finished a fun changeable silk dupioni strapless dress, with a weird and modern elastic waistband.  It is hard to find good strapless dress patterns (can't really replicate JCrew's fab designs), but this one was okay for the empire waist style:
The fabric was a scrap from my mom's collection, and I only had a yard or so.  I made a variation on the paler pink dress on the pattern picture, and added the black elastic waistband.  You see so much elastic on dresses these days; often the wifebeater tank and floral woven skirt, which I can't really see myself pulling off.  But I thought it would be fun and give the dress a little more length in the bodice:

The skirt is gathered, and I added some black lace at the hem to tie in the black waistband.  I know black doesn't technically go with the purple/orange changeable, but I imagined wearing black accessories with the dress so I think it works.  It feels sort of like a take on a 1950's poufy party dress!
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Finally finished the chairs!

I just screwed in the last chair seat of my table and chairs set.  The set isn't completely done yet since I have to paint the table still and am a little intimidated by this task, but I got the seat covers sewn and stapled on all six chairs.  Check out a couple of the side chairs:

Eeee!  Yay.  The print is a Waverly floral from JoAnn clearance ($4.50 a yard!), although it's still full price ($29.99 a yard) at the other JoAnn and from special order there.  I have a lot of extra so I will have to do something coordinating but not too matchy-matchy.  The backs of the chairs are a coordinating acetate, sort of changeable, about $3 at JoAnn clearance.  The braid is the cheapey, ubiquitous home dec braid, but in a cool matching color, from Mill End.  This project required a lot of staples and hot glue.
Look at the "before" on them:

Aren't they hideous, in the 90's dark green/maroon plaid and floral?  I think so.  I am not 100% happy with my recovering and painting job, but it is a huge improvement!

After I tackle painting the table and leaves, I can finish up decorating the dining room (finally)!


Mixed media day

I spent most of today's sewing time on a Halloween costume for a 5-year old.  Productive, but not blog-worthy.  The most exciting thing I did today was finish up a thrown-together canvas wall decor project.  I wanted something above our bed, so I painted the canvases the same color as some of the furniture with the same spray paint.  I have had different ideas for the canvases, but I settled on a Frank Stella-inspired tape thing and prepared them like this:

I mixed up some acrylic paint in colors I thought would coordinate with the bedroom colors, and painted stripes here and there across the tape.  Then I used this flower stencil I bought at JoAnn with some gold spray paint (yay more spray paint!).  I added some Heirloom White spray paint (my favorite color of it, it seems) to lighten it.  They turned out like this:

I'm not totally crazy about them... the tomato-red-orange colors don't work.  I was thinking complimentary colors, but I don't love it.  They work for now, see:

(That's above the fabric I thumb-tacked to the wall as a temporary headboard... I should get to that project soon, too!)
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The next dress

JoAnn, with all its faults, has the greatest prints in their 45" home decor collection--heavy, canvas-ey 100% cotton prints on either white, ivory, or tan ground.  (They have a very limited selection online, but trust me there's a lot of great ones at the store).  They're only $10 a yard and I got mine with a coupon, so I spent about $10 on two yards of this super cute fabric:

I love the yellow and grey together.  I centered the center fold, offsetting the selvages.  I used this pattern:

It's one my mom had, I think.  The stamp says it's from "Cloth World", Tampa, FL.  The image above is from (click it for the link), and it's apparently from 1970.  So, my mom must have bought it when she was 18.
(Also had this vintage zipper!  How appropriate!)

So, this afternoon I put together this cute dress from the fabric and pattern, but changed it a little.  The sleeves dated it too much, so I made it sleeveless, and I didn't want to put a seam down the center front since I didn't need to and wanted to keep the pattern centered down the front.  So I did a front detail.  And I had these great bright yellow buttons from an antique store in downtown Hillsboro!
There it is with a cozy JCrew sweater to bring it into the colder season.  I probably shouldn't be making summery dresses on the first windy, rainy day of the fall.  Oops.  But I love that fabric sooo much!!  Hopefully I will still like it next summer!


The first dress!

I didn't think I'd get anything done today, but I did manage to finish a dress.  It doesn't really count in my dress-a-day scheme, since I actually made it the other day but couldn't finish it because I didn't have a zipper.  But let's pretend.

Here's the dress, made of a poly cotton polka dot my mom has had since the '80's, and a nice lightweight navy cotton voile I got on clearance at JoAnn a while ago.  It is very hard to find cute tube dress patterns, and I'm not even really happy with the one I used here if I hadn't done the shirring.  I used this pattern:

I changed the top by cutting out the lining of the bodice pieces, and then using rectangles of the fashion fabric in the right shape to overlay over, creating the semi-sheer poufy top.  I'm not sure I love it on.  I also added a waistband.  The skirt is two layers of the ivory/navy polka dot, cut in rectangles.

What we're starting with

Today I have some running around to do and won't be home much, so I probably won't get to make a dress today. =(.  Not a great start to my blogging career.

But I do want to introduce my fabric collection.  In my spare room, here's my sewing supply setup:

As you see, I have unfinished projects hanging, plastic chest of drawers of fabric and notions, and ironing board against the wall.  Oh, and overflow fabric stacked on top of the drawers!  And, the white and brown box is mending projects.  Probably should get to those before I start too many new things, huh? (Yeah, right).

I am quite proud of my drawer organization:

Not bad, huh?
Ideally, I will make lots of wonderful things and the fabric will be turned into usable garments in my closet.  It just barely fit in the plastic drawers, and then I went out and bought more:

at JoAnn's "Columbus Day Sale"--half off on their clearance fabrics!  I stocked up.

Well, today I will get something done--I will pre-wash and design, and plan for my next sewing project.
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The beginning


The beginning

Thanks to Christie's idea, which had never occurred to me before, I have decided to start a blog during my underemployment that chronicles my sewing projects, which are usually simple and quick but very productive. I realized that while I stay home playing housewife, I've been able to cut out and sew at least one garment or home dec item every day. So, to keep me motivated while I have free time and extra fabric filling up the set of drawers in the spare room, I am going to keep this blog!
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