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!

Fave Halloween costumes!


Fave Halloween costumes!

It's Halloween again, and this is the second year in a row neither of us has had costumes... whoops.  No real parties to go to, although we did carve pumpkins with friends, so no real reason to dress up.

Oh--and, like the clockwork that it is, I got three Christmas catalogs in the mail yesterday, and the JoAnn and Michael's ads had Christmas stuff all over the front pages.  We are impatient consumers, aren't we?

Anyway, I know I'm a little late to the game, it being the DAY OF Halloween and all, but I had to share some of these awesome Halloween costumes for little folk.  Someday I'll have an adorable child to dress up in one of these, but for now this gets me in the holiday mood!  Found this awesome Pinterest board where all these great ideas lie.

Sooooo cute.  Love Monsters, Inc.!

And while you have a bald baby, you'd might as well...

And in the "kids dressed as adults" theme...

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

And here's mini-Wednesday:

And how cool is this?!

And, pretty much my all-time favorite, by Kathleen on Grosgrain last year:


Seeing all these cool DIY, recycled, assembled-from-Dollar-Tree-goodies, totally creative and cool costumes makes me a little sad I didn't put together the Jessica Rabbit dress I was planning (making over an old party dress I have!).  Ah, well... there's always next year for that.

In the meantime, I should try to get on top of the seasons and start reading my magazines shortly after they come in.  Halloween = over.  Next up: Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Hope you have a good Halloween =)


Simple grey knit cardi

A while back when I stocked up on patterns I picked up this cardi pattern--I love long, loose knits and I figured I can make one, right?  I don't sew on knits often but I bought some nice lightweight charcoal grey on clearance at the same time and they just went together.

The pattern took like... an hour and a half?  I dunno, super fast.  Knits like this to go together real fast, without serging or a whole lot of tricky pressing.

Oh, and I made it long-sleeved.  I took of the hoodie I was wearing when I cut it out and used it on top of the pattern piece to know how long to cut the sleeves!

Anyway here it is, casual and easy to wear!

I think next time I make this pattern I'll make it looooonger than the pattern pieces.  Something tunic-length!


Super cutie ruffle skirt mini-tutorial

I'm really excited about another project and tutorial featuring the awesome Ruffle Fabric, an online store devoted entirely to pre-ruffled, easy and fun to use fabrics in a rainbow of colors!

You may remember Ruffle Fabric from when I made this darling little dress for our flower girl with a ruffle fabric skirt, and made this ModCloth-inspired asymmetrical hem party dress that I wore to my bachelorette party!  Tutorials for both.

So I was so excited when Ruffle Fabric asked me to make another multi-directionally-draped skirt for them to bring to a trade show this weekend!  Of course I obliged. =)  I picked out this lovely dark grey 2" ruffle fabric.

In fact, here are some skirts, also from ModCloth, to give you an idea of the basic look.  I just grabbed these now as I write this, though... the inspiration for the skirt I made was really the asymmetrical hem dress I made in pale pink!

Anyway.  Super cute for a party, right??

When making my own... I only needed 1 1/4 yards of ruffle fabric for this 19.5" long mini-ruffle skirt.  It was so fast and easy to make, and the multi-directional drape makes it so exciting and fun!  I can't wait to pair it with tights and fun shoes for a fall or winter look, or wear it with a tank in the summer.  Ideas?

I was so excited about the project I planned it ahead of time... I sketched this out while taking a break at work!

Here's the basic tutorial!  No photos, but check out my little drawings above... or, for photos, checkout the tutorial for a sort of similar asymmetrical ruffle skirt on my bachelorette party dress tutorial.  Oh--also--I used a ballpoint needle for the whole project, since the fabric and elastic are knits.
  • Start by cutting your fabric at the desired length.  I cut it at 20" to make a 19.5" long skirt.  Starting from the selvedge, cut 20" carefully.
  • Cut another panel of 20" (aka, you'd need 40" of fabric, which is a little over a yard).
  • Cut along the center fold of the fabric to make four panels--mine was 45" wide, so I ended up with four panels 20" by 22.5"
  • You'll need three of those panels, right, back, and left.
  • At an angle, cut off a wedge on opposite corners of the left and right pieces.  Make sure you make them opposites!!  I used a straight cutting edge and a rotary cutter to cut these.
  • Round the corners a little so you can blend the angled side and top side when you put them in the waistband.
  • Gather the shortest sides of your side pieces.
  • With another seam, gather the angled side so you can manipulate the fabric to turn it into a straight-across top side.
  • Pin your left and right pieces together!  Line up the short sides and angled side... see the picture.  Women's clothing generally crosses right over left, but put whichever piece you want in front.
  • Pin super well, or baste the left and right side/front pieces together if that's more your style.  I'm a pinner rather than a baster, though, so I just pinned, arranging the gathers nicely.
  • Great!  Now, you basically have a double-thick front piece, and your back piece.  Sew them right sides together at the side seams!
  • Now it's the same as any elastic-waistband skirt.  Gather the top with one long seam and pull it tight to about your waist measurement.
  • Matching center front, sides, and center back, pin carefully to your elastic waistband.**
  • **My waistband was made with a piece of elastic 1" bigger than my waist.  Sew it together at the short ends right sides together with a 1/2" seam allowance, and there you go.
  • Zigzag the pinned and gathered top to the waistband.  The zigzag allows the elastic to stretch when you put the skirt on!
Voila!  You're done, and wasn't that easy?  It took me less than two hours to make this--I highly recommend whipping them out for Christmas gifts or for wowing people at cocktail parties.  Or for little girls!

Check out Ruffle Fabric for all your ruffle fabric needs... seriously, something for everyone!  And, when my skirt returns from the trade show it's hanging out at in Houston this weekend, I'll share more pics and outfits.  So feel free to share your ideas!



Paradiso Designs bag

For a while now I've been wanting to make one of these cute-and-practical totes by Paradiso Designs, one of my lovely sponsors.

But I just got a new bag, and don't really need another at this point... so I made one for my mom!

It wasn't really a surprise, because she picked out the fabric (a ginko pattern woven into a 100% wool from the Pendleton Outlet) and the lining, but she didn't look closely at the pattern before or know what to expect.

We were both so happy and impressed by how it came out!  Here's my mom modeling it:

I'm happy to say the pattern was really fun to make--I don't make purses or small items often, so I definitely learned a few things from Cheryl's great design!  Some of the finishing and construction details are just ingenious--I had no idea it would be so easy to make something like this!

I'm proud of myself for following (almost) all of the instructions (I NEVER read pattern instructions--except when I don't know how to put the item together, like with something new like a purse!).  Unfortunately I didn't have enough pleather to make the straps long enough to go where they were supposed to.  But I made it work.

Oh--and I didn't put in the inside separators.  My mom was hoping for more of a tote bag than a purse, so I left it open on the inside but did add the cute outside pockets.

I love all the top stitching and seam finishing details included. The belt loops and ties make a simple and practical bag fun!

My mom, a professional seamstress for the past 20 years and an amateur one for another 30 or so before that, was so impressed by my purse-making skills!  Again, I'm new at this.  And she loves the big totebag-ey size of the bag, too.

Like I said I'm happy to recommend Paradiso Designs patterns if you're looking for great homemade Christmas gift ideas or want to try your skills at making something awesome with not too much fabric.

I particularly love how I was able to do a few steps and put it down, making a little bit every evening for a week or so, because so often when I start a clothing item it just feels wrong to stop in the middle.  But the instructions were easy to pick up on again, and I could start again.  It was really exciting when it started looking like a purse!

Anyway, check out the other patterns from Paradiso Designs for some very original, functional, and stylish bags--I'm so glad to have Paradiso as a sponsor!
I want that! Fur-collared vest


I want that! Fur-collared vest

So, fur vests are in this year.  Or was it last year?  I may be a little behind the times, but I pick up on trends eventually ;).

I don't always adopt them, though.  I am not a big fur person (stop picturing a large, furry person, although I'm not that, either)--I've never loved the fur look, so when I saw stylish stars and trendsetters in the magazines wearing fur vests this year I didn't imagine I'd ever pull off the look myself.

Like this--I would never wear this, but it's cute!
Source: via Kacy on Pinterest

I did see this look on Pinterest, though--this is getting more wearable.  Shorter vest, clearly not a real fur so not super heavy or guilt-laden, great other pieces with it...

And even H&M has a furry vest that I would maybe, when I'm feeling adventurous, consider wearing.

Source: via Suzannah on Pinterest

And--just because--aaaaaw......
Source: None via Briar on Pinterest

But anyway, not until I saw some of these fur-featuring, but not overly furry, outfit ideas did I really consider actually wearing something with fake fur on it.

See here, just a fur collar makes this a fun sweater vest...

And this coat is lovely and girly all by itself, but the fur collar adds a little something.

And here's a laid-back look with a fur collar, again on a sweater.
Source: via Ber on Pinterest

Anyway, my point is, I want to pull it off.  I want to try the fur fad while it's around!

So, last weekend, I stopped by JoAnn and bought myself a whole yard (wow, that's a lot) of a nice soft brown cheetah-ish plush fake fur.  It is lovely and quite soft for the cheap poly stuff.  I have several projects in mind for it...

Because, of course, when I see a trend I like, I will DIY it!!!

Oh, but please, share your tips for wearing fur or fake fur if you have them!


How to Wear DIY: Double DIY, Doubtake

I've talked before about how red jeans look great with camel, tan, beige, neutrals...

And you may have seen my post and tutorial about my red jeans SAVE and makeover!  I am way into the red jeans thing.  I feel almost automatically stylish in them.

And you may have seen my vintage (80's/90's) silk top makeover into a cute, wearable top tutorial, as part of a strong effort on my part to wear more loose tops without feeling sloppy.  I'm learning.

So when I saw this tan silky, boxy shirt from around the same era, also at Goodwill for super cheap, I saw its potential!

Here's the "before":
Quite shapeless.  High neck, longish short sleeves, meant to fit the armhole and natural shoulder.  I employed the tutorial and also hemmed the sleeves and cut down the neckline, making a facing out of a similarly colored lining fabric and some lightweight fusible interfacing.  The open neckline was major progress toward wearability.

Here's what it turned into!  Worn, of course, with my also DIYed red jeans!

I did the half-tuck in the front, but I suppose if I was wearing flats and a slouchy bag like the girl in the second inspiration picture, I could rock it untucked as well.

Yowsa!!  I feel pretty racy with my fabulous leopard print Steve Madden heels that I never wear but love!

Shirt: DIY from an 80's Goodwill find! Shoes: Steve Madden. Belt: ? Necklace: Forever 21.
Watch: American Eagle. Jeans: DIY, made over from scary MaxxRave or something ones!

Fun, fun, fun!  Lots of DIY going on in this outfit!  Any other ideas on how to wear a neutral-colored loose top like this one??


Festive fall weekend plans!

I'm still getting all geared up for fall.  The weather's been weird here to the leaves haven't all changed color yet, but Halloween is coming up, and October is a fun month... gotta get in the mood!

This weekend, we're going to a pumpkin patch and corn maze as well as the Portland Nursery Apple Tasting Festival, then coming home to make a yummy festive fall dinner with homemade vegan caramel apples and pumpkin soup and the works!

Getting inspired for fall.  Hopefully I'll dress cute...

Going somewhere that looks like this...

To eat stuff like this...

Hope to get in the fall mood!  How about you?


Fall colors. My first Instagram!

Still learning with this new amazing iPhone.  I love seeing people's Instagram photos on Twitter--now I can take some, too!

So I've got the app now, although I'm not "following" anybody or anything and am still not sure how to best use it.  But I did manage to take a pic and post to twitter!
Pretty excited about my fall raisin-colored nails.  I generally chip manicures within 12 hours of painting them so I'm even more stoked that I've made these last a little longer.  I guess I'm just too active (read: clumsy).  I have found that Sally Hansen Complete Manicure is the only kind that will last up to two days on me, although not all colors, just the stronger ones like red or dark colors.  What I'm wearing now is that Boots No. 7 brand from Target, a Speed Dry one, with base coat and top coat.  I read all these tips and reader comments on a while ago for making manicures last and was shocked at how long some people are able to wear the same polish!!  I have never in my life been chip-free for a week.  But some people, apparently, are.

Anyway.  Any Instagram tips for me?  Which of the filters are best for what?


Sewing Circle with guest expert: About sewing on SILK

I got a great question from one of you readers the other day-- Jenny asked, in a comment on this How to Wear DIY post about a silk top makeover:

Q: Could you give us some tips on sewing with silk? It seems like such a finicky fabric!

Great idea, Jenny!  So, to answer that question best, I turned to my expert sewing resource (some of you may have these, too), my mom.  Not only has she been sewing for zillions of years and sewing for other people professionally for 20, she has a business making historic clothing for reenactors, museums, historic sites, etc. and only uses natural fibers in all her garments for authenticity.  She works with silk a heckuva lot!

In fact, just because we just got some photos back from a benefit fashion show we did... want to see some pics of my mom's creations, in three different kinds of silk?  Tangent coming up here:

Here I am in an 1889 ballgown replica inspired by a Morisot painting:
(P.S. I made the self-fabric flowers myself, using this tutorial)

And here's my cousin and her daughter in silk dresses--the pale green is a lightweight silk jacquard in a late 1890's visiting dress, and the little blue number is an 1880's party dress in silk taffeta!  Aaaaw...
All photos by Jennie Baker Photography
Anyway, enough of that pretty little tangential story... the point is, my mom knows her silk.  And it's one of her favorite fabrics!  So, what did she say when I asked her for tips on sewing on silk?  Here goes, her years of knowledge of fine fabrics passed on to you!

A: (By Kay Demlow, of Lavender's Green Historic Clothing)

Silk, OK.

  • First off, note how strong silk fibers are.  This means you need your scissors to be nice and sharp.
  • Use a special needle… most importantly, a very small needle, although a ball point on smooth silks can be better because it pushes aside the fibers rather than try to cut through them. Threads Magazine has done many how-tos on this over the years, and these tips from CraftStylish at Taunton Press may help you out picking your needle.
  • Static electricity could be a problem in a dry, heated house. If that’s the case I would suggest a humidifier or something to increase the humidity. But, of course, that would apply to synthetics, too.
  • The biggest issue is the way some silks react with water! You should test a small piece with the steam iron, drops of water, and even laundry soap before starting the project. Silk is notorious for water spotting, and the damage is permanent. If you're steam pressing, you want to be very sure the iron is reliable and won’t “spit.” Plan to use a dry iron if necessary, or a press cloth when pressing.
  • Pins should be super-sharp, too. You can buy special pins called “silk pins.” They will go through the fabric easily because they are fine and sharp.
  • Use a good quality thread. A good grade of polyester thread will have to do (I recommend Gutermann or better, not Coats & Clark).
  • There’s also the problem of stitches leaving marks when you change a seam. Test the fabric first. With some silks, it’s no problem. Others will have a line of holes. Same goes for pressing. On many silks, a crease from pressing a seam will still show even after you re-sew the seam and press again.

So, overall, take your time, use good, sharps tools, and try to make the seams right the first time.

Thanks, mom!!

I'm sure plenty of you have tips, stories, or more questions for working with silk.  Please, share in the comments!



Land's End Canvas

I get Land's End Canvas catalogs, since I ordered some amazing clearance bikinis from them before the honeymoon (they came in so many colors! So classy, and $7-10 for each piece! I got three suits!).  Anyway, it's been many years since I got something from Land's End, but their Canvas line is soooo cute.  They had some great chambray, checkered, soft shirts and cute leather sandals over the summer, and I really enjoyed looking through their latest catalog.  Land's End trying to update its stuff = success in  my book.

I love argyle.  I get a very J. Crew-ey feel from this page, but everything is a fraction of the J. Crew price for equally good quality, I'm sure.

Love the vintage feel of this cozy sweater...

And look at that cowl scarf!  DIY project idea, anyone?!

And, hint, check out their clearance online for super good deals.  I love good deals! ;)


Silk and scrap mishmash pillow

A while back at Goodwill Outlet I found a cool piece of fabric that reminded me of those cool Guatemalan bags and wall hangings and blankets; not sure where it's from but it's definitely an import of some kind.  It was a weird shape, but I brought it home, and rediscovered it the other day when I was looking for materials to make a new pillow cover for an oddly shaped pillow.

The funky homespun piece became one side of this pillow--check it out!

And, for the other side, I wanted something that didn't match but had the same feel.  I've done Anthro-ey pillows before, and have lots of fun digging through old project scraps for the pieces, and did it again for this guy.  I found some bright solid colored fabrics I liked, and striped them like a color block look, and then added details using pretty much the same technique as I did in this tutorial (on top of a big muslin rectangle to keep everything reinforced).  Silk flower appliques from silk scraps onto a pillow, with the zigzag stitch on the edges to keep it from fraying (and because it looks sort of cool).

I made both sides as separate rectangles, put the zipper in, and sewed the front and back together.  And voila!  Fun pillow that used up small pieces and brightens the room!

And it's all reused/recycled pieces from stuff I had laying around.  Scrap-busting and using vintage pieces.

Aren't pillows the best??  So fast and easy and fun to make!


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