How to Wear DIY: It's the Thought that Counts

Hope you all had an amazing holiday!

I have some thoughts that I'd like to share with you today, inspired in part by the holiday break and my time with friends and family.  Get ready to get philosophical.

I believe that DIY is more of an attitude than an action, a power that you feel to take your wardrobe, home, menu, whatever it is into your own hands and create what you want or need.

Let me explain.  Over Christmas I get to see some family members I don't often see, which is awesome.  I made a couple of homemade gifts for some of them (more on that later! I have pics!).  They were very well-received, I'm so happy to say--it's awesome when people like the stuff you put work into.  Same with me--I don't always love my projects, but it's great when I love them and wear them all the time.

But anyway, these gifts were also received with comments of "wow, you're so talented, I wish I could sew like that!"  And neither of these sisters-in-law is untalented, btw, and both have some crafty skills themselves.  When they said these things to me, I immediately thought, "but, you can do stuff like that, too--you made that quilt that one time, and you took the embellishments off that sweater..."  But they don't think those things are good enough.  They see me sewing and crafting all the time and think that I'm doing something they can't do.

I beg you to think of it differently.  The biggest difference between me and an occasional crafter who does smaller or simpler projects is that I've built it into my routine and I do it often and think of it often.  I am fortunate to be able to have a sewing machine set up all the time, and I have Goodwill and craft store purchases sitting around my house waiting to be turned into something else.  I have more practice, yes, but a) I'm not doing anything other people can't do, and b) if you've done the slightest little modification, project, craft, or, goodness-knows-what, I call you a DIYer.

I have an attitude with me all the time that I can make my own of whatever it is--so can you.  I DIY all the time because it gives me more options (on a limited budget, for less waste for the planet, and because it feels good to be creative and take things into my own hands).  It doesn't really matter what your abilities are or what you've been able to do before, it's just that mindset that you CAN do it yourself.

That's kind of why I enjoy sharing these How to Wear DIY posts I've been doing and loving so much.  They're not just outfit posts; they're outfit posts where I show that I can look normal and current and stylish in something I've made.  Homemade clothes don't have to just be prom dresses or aprons or tea cozies; they can be actual wearable garments that we can incorporate into our wardrobes all the time.  And, yes, you can be proud to say "Thanks, I made it!", but really, regardless of what it is or why, the amazing thing is that you know you can do what you need or want yourself.

I know many of you know this already--that may be why you started reading my blog in the first place.  But I get the feeling that a lot of you don't sew for yourselves a whole lot, and like my blog for other reasons (no matter who you are, thank you so much for reading. I am so happy to have you!).

But let me illustrate my point a little bit.  I argue that a great DIYer is not necessarily a super-talented seamstress or ModPodge-er, but someone who is open to creating and re-creating.  Example: these jeans.  I bought them, they fit perfectly. I washed them, they shrank more than an inch in length and were too short.  Some people might toss them in the Goodwill pile.  Maaaaaybe cut them off into cutoffs.  But I gotta say, I am so happy that I said, "isn't there a way to save these?"  I did this sneaky little technique to make them longer, and now they're much more wearable and less nerdy!  I loooooooooove these jeans. I wear them ALL the time.  They fit great, and I am so happy to have them!  Just think if I had thrown in the towel when they shrank?!

So here's a How to Wear DIY outfit post that hopefully illustrates my point rather than feels like cheating in this theme.  This Christmas, I wore these fave jeans with my (also fave) soft denim shirt and boots that I wear nonstop in the winter (both Target brands found brand new at Goodwill, interestingly), and a super cozy chunky Old Navy cardi.  My mom and I take a long walk every Christmas morning, and it includes a stroll along a little creek at the edge of town.  This outfit was great on a foggy, chilly Christmas morning!


Fave jeans!!
Sweater: Old Navy. Denim shirt and leather boots: Target via Goodwill. Necklace: Forever 21. 
Watch: American Eagle. Jeans: Levi's, and DIY'ed!

So, no, you can't really even tell that I'm wearing home-fixed jeans.  But isn't that kind of the point?  Being a DIYer means being accustomed to  wearing stuff you've made, and not feeling weird or out-of-the-ordinary about it.

Post script--I woke up this morning with these words in  mind.  I hope you know what I'm talking about and appreciate my concept of DIY!  I'd love to hear your ideas about it, too.

And I hope you all had a very merry Christmas!

12 comments

  1. I agree 100%! and I love the fact that you and your Mom go on a long walk on Christmas morning!

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  2. i completely agree and i love your blog!

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  3. I sew most of my clothes and the ones I love to sew and wear the most are the ones made from fabric found in op ( thrift ) shops - it is incredibly satisfying . I don`t feel at all self conscious about wearing home made clothes.

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  4. Great post! I totally agree. DIYing doesn't have to mean always making something totally from scratch. Sometimes it even takes MORE creativity to make something out of something else. DIYing is really just an opportunity to make everything fit/work/look perfect for YOU.

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  5. I agree with this too!! I handmade all of my gifts for my family this year. I sometimes worry people will think that I made them to get the "wow your so talented" comments, but really, I think of sOmething they'll use and make it, especially id I can't find it in the shops. Luckily my family loves the thought I put into my gifts and that each is personalized for them :) merry Christmas!!

    Kc

    A-sparkley-silver-lining.blogspot.com

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  6. Suzannah, what you have written here is so right! People do say - oh, I wish I could do that. In fact they can. The question is if they are ready to accept that some of the projects one has invested time and energy - may not turn out the way one has wished to be. I have seen from my friends that the main problem what holds people back from DIYing is perfectionism. People want to get perfect results and take it too painfully when the results are not perfect. I have seen that the problem is the ability to accept oneself and own work just the way it is - without judgement and with lots of love :-)
    Frequent DIYers know that sometimes our DIY projects work, sometimes they don´t. Or are not of the quality we planned to have.
    But we are fine and can cope with that. As the very minimum - we have learnt something, and next time will do things differently :-) We accept ourselves and our work the way it is and take the best from it - for this time and for the future :-)

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  7. Amen to this blog post. And I agree 100% with Laura— perfectionism (and sometimes impatience) is what keeps people from doing more DIY sewing and craft.

    It is the learning from the project that is more important than the result. I look at my early sewing projects and cringe, but I learned a thing or two from every project and take that with me into the new things that I create. And that is how you improve.

    Wearing DIY is an attitude! I like to wear at lead one DIY item on a daily basis, whether it be a scarf or a pair of earrings or a purse, because I love to make things. And it is so thrilling to make things that I love and use.

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  8. It's so strange isn't it that people don't have the faith in themself to do it. I craft a lot and get a lot of the same comments from very talented people. X

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  9. I love upcycling and DIY from scratch - your attitude is spot on! Keep blogging :-)

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  10. So glad to hear you all know what I'm sayin! I really appreciate all your thoughts and this community. Let's spread the DIY energy...

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  11. Anonymous12/30/2011

    I think the same thing when people say, "you're so talented, I wish I could do that." But they can. I sometimes try to encourage them too, but sometimes they are so determined that they can't. I have learned not to be a perfectionist. I want to create things and enjoy life, not worry that they are not quite right. If people viewed creativity the way they view their daily run or exercise, they would be shocked how much they need it. It is good for the soul. I love reading your blog, because I love to sew and am a total DIYer and thrifter. Glad you are out there encouraging others to try new things...Thanks!

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  12. Anonymous2/13/2012

    I hope this doesn't come off as creepy, but I saw these pictures and really wanted to be your friend.

    Ahhh, so creepy....x_x

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