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!


Before & after: Oval mirror

I've been wanting an oval mirror to go in the bathroom at our new place.  I wanted white, preferably with some interesting detail, but I didn't want to spend too much.  So I was happy to find this oval mirror at Goodwill for $7.99!

The frame was simple wood but it was painted a sad dull blue color.  I taped off the glass and gave it several coats of white hi-gloss paint, and put it in the (still mid-decorate) bathroom above the sink!

It makes such a big difference just to paint it--I'm really glad I found the right shape mirror to re-do!  Such a simple change, but it really helps.



A practical recycling: purse handle!

Quite some time ago I got this Roxy purse at Goodwill Outlet:
I loved the colorful crochet flowers in cotton.  Out of it I made a pillow:
But I still had the handle left over.  I was leafing through my supplies the other day, and found the handle, and a good amount of sturdy black canvas.  I'm always looking for ways to make brown go with black, and I maintain that if one is the accent color then it totally works.  So, I used the brown fake leather handle on this bag I made!
I didn't use a pattern for the bag; just cut some rectangles and figured out the bottom as I went.  I'm pretty happy with it!  Although it was tough to sew through all the layers at the join from the top tabs to the metal rings from the handle.  All those layers really needed a strong denim needle, which I was glad to have!

What a fun recycled project these were--all for the $1.39 or so per pound I paid for the bag originally!



Bathroom curtains with matching ruffles

I've been doing a lot of window coverings recently to keep the cold out of our little house.  I want to make an insulated blind for the bathroom, but first I wanted some pretty curtains to go over it.

In the bathroom already, I have the ruffled shower curtain I made, inspired by Anthro and other lovely sources.
So I wanted some curtains to match!

I used more 100% cotton quilter's cotton and added ruffles with the same zig zag finish on the edges.  I sewed them straight across, since the waves wouldn't really have the same effect on small, short curtains.  I felt sort of silly making such girly, pretty, almost sheer curtains in the dead of winter, but the insulated blind will do most of the work, I guess!  Here's how they turned out.

I love the light ruffles!



Happy holiday! Fresh cranberry sauce, anyone?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you all are having a wonderful and safe holiday.  This year, my parents and I are all going over to my fiance's parents' place to celebrate.  We're bringing a few dishes, and one that I'm contributing is a fresh cranberry relish (they'll have a traditional one, also).  I have a very restricted diet for many reasons, and one thing that I do not ever eat is white sugar, or any processed or cane sugar.  But I knew there was a way to make cranberry sauce without it! UPDATE: I now eat a balanced real food ("Paleo") diet.

Through some Google searching for raw vegan cranberry sauce, I found several recipes for fresh cranberry relish and picked and chose my favorite elements of each.  It's nothing new, really, but here's my suggestion for making delish fresh cranberry sauce, sweetened without any processed or unnatural sweeteners!

  • A bag of cranberries
  • An orange
  • An apple (I used a large Jonagold)
  • 0.5-1.5 cups whole dates (not the chopped ones dusted in oat flour, just regular dates)
  • Optional: a handful walnuts or pecans
Pulse everything in a food processor and enjoy!

If you like yours smoother and more sauce-like, pulse for longer.  If you like it chunkier, puree the dates in the food processor first, then add all the other ingredients.

It is deeeeeelicious!  Not too sweet, but fresh and fruity!  And healthy for folks like me, as well as my diabetic dad and mom on the Sonoma Diet.  Try it next time you want a fresh cranberry sauce but don't want to pour in loads of white sugar.

Hope you all had a great holiday!


Stripe tee addition: Bows! Tutorial

Brr!  After that snowfall yesterday it's still chilly but no new layer this morning (phew! I feel much safer leaving the house).  I really enjoyed hearing your comments and seeings pics of snow where you are, in places like Alaska and Finland!  Let's all keep warm and safe this winter.

Anyway, on to a fun project.  A while ago I saw (somewhere) a super cute black and white striped top with a biiiig black satin bow on one side of the neckline.  I thought, what a cute way to embellish a tee!

I couldn't find the original inspiration picture, but I found lots of other cute striped tees with embellishments for us to look at before this tutorial.  Here they are:

(Not striped, but with decoration in the same shape as the original).
So, how to replicate such a thing yourself?  Follow this tutorial!!
  • Start with a striped tee!  This one is from Target via Goodwill.  (It's funny how poorly stripes photograph).

  • Get your contrast fabric.  I'm using some satin coat lining, nylon or poly, that I had in my linings drawer.  Cut pieces for your bows, as big as you want them--mine were about 5" by 10".

  • Sew your bow pieces right sides together down the long seams only.

  • Press seams open.

  • Turn right side out.  Hide your seam down the center.

  • Sew your ends together so you have a loop.  This isn't completely necessary, but it'll make thing easier.

  • Do the same with some smaller pieces of the same fabric--mine were too long at 3" by 6".  I only used half of what I made.

  • Make your "bows" by gathering the center of the loop, closed up.

  • Pull the gathering thread tight and tie it off with a knot.  Cover the gathering stitches with your little piece.

  • Sew the little piece on with hand sewing, closing the ends on the back.

  • Do the same with as many bows as you want.  I went for two!
  • Position your bows on the top.  Pin in many places, as knits move around a lot and you'll want to keep yours as still as possible.

  • Tack down your bows, using big stitches on the back side to cover lots of area and small or invisible stitches on the front of the bow (you don't have to go through all the layers of the bows, as long as you do most).

  • Wear proudly!  How ModCloth stylish are you?!



Snow day!

It's the first snow day of the year here in Portland and it's got everyone all upset.  Schools are opening late or not at all, people are canceling plans... we don't see snow much so we don't know how to deal with it.  It's unusual for us to get snow before Thanksgiving, certainly, and some years we don't get any.  Some years, we have two solid weeks of cabin fever and cancellations before it melts, but I'm hoping that doesn't happen this year.

I did get some pictures of the house in the snow before it melts more with the sun today... nice to document the first snow in our new house!

It's melted a little since last night, but here's the 1/2" or so of snow Oregonians are freaking out about:
Luckily I put a wreath up yesterday, it adds to the wintery look!
It does get icy, unfortunately... the high today is supposed to be something like 30, so when people drive the snow gets packed down and it's scary to walk on.
Have you had snow yet??  Wonder what this winter will bring...

I'm definitely planning on some cozy winter projects, like a sweater-to-scarf makeover and some microwavable rice bags like last year's tutorial!


Step-by-step for the leaf sweater makeover

So glad you all liked my cardigan makeover yesterday!  It is so fun to do over an old sweater and turn it into something I can actually wear.

Thought I'd show you the steps I went through to re-do it.  Before:
It was too big, so I took a big chunk out of the back:
I also took in the sides at the side seams.  For tips on how to do this, check out my how-to-take-in-a-sweater tutorial.

I used the center back piece to cut into leaf shapes!
I sewed them on and stitched down the centers of the leaves like veins, as well as added some X's at the tops to keep them in place.  I mixed it up using leaves from both the center of the sweater and the ribbing!
Read more here!


Cardigan makeover

I don't know about you, but I've been totally loving Kathleen at Grosgrain's sweater makeovers this month.  So many pretty ones!  I love how she uses cut pieces of sweater to make leaf shapes and applies them.  I remade a sweater I had sitting around, from Old Navy, that I bought because of the color and shape--it was too big, so I planned to take it in.  I did the same thing I did with my print sweater-to-cardigan transformation, where I took a big seam up the center back to nip it in.  Although on this one, I also took in the side seams!

With the extra from the center back, I made leaf shapes and sewed them on the front!  I sewed down the centers of them to look like veins... and it's a green sweater, so it works well, I think!
Now there's a center back seam, but the sweater already had vertical trim on it!  It doesn't bother me.
P.S. Yes, I just cut my bangs!!

Have you done any sweater makeovers this winter??


Chilly weekend. Catching up on fashion magazines!

This week the highs here have been in the 40’s.  I shiver all day except when I’m in my cozy warm car or running around in a hurry.  Last night I hung out with a friend and we did some errands, and all I wanted to buy was warm sweaters and long-sleeved tees!  Then we came back to her place early and did nails, read magazines and drank lots of herbal tea.

I did that thing again where I get all backed up on magazines, so now I have a bunch of fall and winter ones and hardly know where to start!  I’m excited for winter fashions but I want to get through the fall issues first.  I love reading magazines for style inspiration!
I sorted them by type and was still overwhelmed...
So, two questions for you this Saturday morning... what are your fave magazines for style and sewing inspiration?  And, what clothing do you crave when the weather’s cold?


Stenciled pillowcases

I could have sworn I did a post on these, but... apparently not!

A while ago I saw some fun stenciled pillowcases somewhere and decided to replicate them myself!  I used a chandelier stencil from my awesome stencil book, Stencil Me In.

There are all kinds of great stencils in there, but I chose the chandeliers and stenciled these white IKEA pillowcases.  It was super easy and fast!

I used cheap acrylic paint mixed with fabric medium.

Fast and easy!  I might do some more with a different pattern next time I have plain white pillowcases...


Another fun plaid cape

It is very cold and pouring rain here tonight!!  I am thinking about cozy clothes and cups of hot tea.  Another thing that's good for winter?  Wool, and plaid.

You may remember the cute and wearable cape I made recently out of vintage Pendleton wool.  I used a McCall's pattern and had fun picking out classic wool plaid-appropriate buttons.

I made another cape, too... a different one in many ways but also a simple capelet that pairs with jeans and other easy-to-wear pieces.  It's made of a vintage 80's suiting wool we got a bolt of at Goodwill, and I didn't use a pattern at all on it.  Just figured how long I wanted things to be and added some bound buttonhole-type belt holes in the front.  Add a self-fabric belt, and voila--a warm but lightweight layer!
Have any of you been thinking about capes and other uses for wool?


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