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!


Celebrating friends who sew

I sew.  Obviously.  And I love how a lot of you readers know what I'm talking about when I share my sewing projects.  But in the real world, sewing is a bit of a lost art and not too many people I know besides my mom, who taught me, and a few of her friends consider themselves sewists.

Which is why I get really excited when friends of mine get brave and try out sewing projects!  I have really happy memories of helping my good friend put together a dress she bravely made out of a Vintage Vogue pattern a few summers ago, and I am excited by the idea of helping another friend learn to use her new sewing machine!

But one very exciting story is how my oldest friend, whom I met when I was 10, has really gotten into sewing and making clothes for herself.  I offered to take some pictures of her creations, so she had some good documentation!, and it was so fun seeing all the pretty things she's made (she has similar taste to mine and we both love Simplicity 2444!) and practicing blog-ish photos from a photographer's perspective.

So, without further ado... check out what my lovely friend Alyssa has been up to!

First I just have to show you what she made most recently.  We talked about it before we cut it out, and now it's so cool to see how she put it together!  She was inspired by this dramatic V back Urban Outfitters dress...

And wanted to make her own!

She used Simplicity 2444 for the bodice but seriously modified the back.  She found some awesome aqua stretch lace online and the perfect double knit aqua lining at Joann.  Super fun, what an accomplishment!

Simplicity 2444 bodice and gathered skirt, of a dotted nylon net over a neutral lining.  Just lovely!

An elastic waist skirt she put together without a pattern...

A sheer print dress...

Another Simplicity 2444 variation (this one has a V back, too!)...

And (left) another elasticized dress without a pattern, and (right) a lovely linen print 2444 dress.

It's soooo cool to see what she's been making!  Sharing the joys of sewing and creating with old friends gives me the warm fuzzies.

I'm sure you know what I mean!  Have any of you had those great "shared sewing joy" moments??



Took in a sweater--BIG improvement!!

I don't have a "before" pic on this one, but I thought I'd show you a recent success I had modifying a seriously dumpy Gap sweater. I don't know why they make them so shapeless.  I used the method I explained in this tutorial, and had to take it in a couple times.

I even took in the arm, which I don't always do--when a sweater just needs a little taking in, I taper it off before the armhole.  This time, I took it in past the sleeve seam and tapered down to the cuff.  I snipped to the seam just above the sleeve seam join.

Like I said, no "before," (although I maaaaybe could find a sort of unflattering pic of me wearing it a while back... it did nothing for my small chest!)--but here's the after!

Even the arms fit really well!

Success!  Check out the tutorial here if you need to do this to any of your sweaters!



How to Wear DIY: To work

I've talked before about work clothes, and fave patterns for dresses and skirts for work.  But honestly, most of the time I wear straight or skinny pants and something relatively interesting on the top layer, and I like long sleeves because my arms get cold pressed against my desk.

But, I really, really don't like black, particularly in structured or formal clothes, and so I try to keep it light and fresh for work!  Especially this time of year--I am sooooo tired of wintery colors and warm clothes!  This week has been teasing us with hot sun and then cool rainy days, but I still want to keep the spring feel going.

So I've been wearing the flares I made into straight pants a lot recently.  And I found this comfy, boxy Banana Republic sweater at Goodwill the other day, half off.  Not my usual shape but I really have fun with it!  It's an easy look.  Specially when add a "tranquil" effect to the pics... trying out PicMonkey for editing!

Yay, easy pants!!
Blouse: Old Navy. Sweater: Banana Republic (similar). Flats: JC Penney (similar).
Necklace: Forever 21 (similar/similar/similar). Pants: DIY, from flares!

Yep, that's what I look like at work most days!

How about you?  Do you ever wear DIYs to work?



Totally inspired by you: Bold stripes on a jacket

Totally inspired by one of your Sewing Circle questions--I decided to make the jacket from this post!  Remember, back in January?

I looked around and noticed I have been liking bold striped jackets, because--well, stripes.  So here's even more inspiration for you on this project...

Source: via Suzannah on Pinterest

Source: via Tracy on Pinterest

Fun, right?!

The tricky part of the Sewing Circle question was finding the pattern, and I didn't have an easy time, either.  I ended up using a vintage pattern from my mom's collection, Simplicity 6876.

It wasn't perfect (very slim 60's sleeves, had to change a few things...) but I was able to make it double-breasted and not put in the front darts, so it has more of the boxy shape of the original--just the side bust darts.

The other tricky part for me was finding the right fabric!!!!  I've never seen such a cool wide stripe at any fabric store I've been to, so I went online.  I found a place called Premier Prints, Inc.--they print their own designs onto 7 oz. cotton canvas, so have basically any cool print you've wished for, in lots of colors.

I wasn't sure what the 7 oz. fabric was like (suitable for clothing? Just home dec? I didn't know!) but Meg at Premier Prints graciously sent me some to try out and show you all.  And I gotta say, it worked just great for this jacket!

Wanna see?

Buttoned all the way up...

Back view, a little shapeless, thanks, 60's pattern...

Top/collar open...

And (cutest, I think...?) unbuttoned.

Proud of myself for branching out and doing a little tailoring-ey work.  I gave it a full lining of a lightweight white, and of course also gave it the facing on the front, which I also cut wider for the double breasting.

The fabric is super fun, although I think the original may have been more coat-like and water resistant?  This one's not, but it's got the fun bold contrast and stripes!



Sewing Circle: Amazing sequin evening dress pattern

You guys'll love this week's Sewing Circle. This Rachel Gilbert sequin evening dress is totally amazing, but the coolest part is, you can make one just like it yourself!

Q: I fell in love with this dress when I saw it on Pinterest several weeks ago. I would love to make this and was wondering if you have ever come across a pattern or two that would help complete this amazing Rachel Gilbert sequin dress. 

A: That is an amazing dress! The first thing I notice is the shape of the bodice, and I know I’ve seen patterns like it before. It has a rounded midriff panel and what looks like a slight crossover v-neck made with right and left sides. The waist seems to hit just barely above the natural waist—very flattering, and you can get the right proportions with ANY pattern with a midriff panel. You’ll just cut it to the right size for your body and this style. So some of the patterns I’ve seen have wider or narrower panels, some that look like waistbands—don’t worry about that. Very easy to change when you cut.

Here are some patterns that look similar:

New Look 6557. I learned how to sew dresses on this pattern! Super easy. You could use the red/white pattered dress style but give it a slightly higher waistline.

New Look 6774. There are a lot of pieces in there, but the simple crossover shown in peach second from the left would do.

McCall’s M6557. Again, extend the midriff panel to the natural waist. 

Same deal with Simplicity 2549.

Simplicity 2587. You could use either the strappy or the wide bodice pieces, although the bust gathers might be a little tricky on a truly sequined fabric. Also, note that this pattern is super low-cut!  You might want to cut the bodice left and right a little wider and make them cross over.  Also, I think this pattern might be out of print...

Butterick B4915. Another one of my old faves and a great basic pattern!  I think it’s also out of print but you could maybe find it for sale online. 

As for the rest of the dress… Looks like the skirt is made of crinkled silk chiffon--just lovely! But if your budget doesn't allow, I'd use a poly crinkle chiffon and put it over a nice, not too thin, rayon or nylon lining.

 Oh, and the pattern for the skirt? You don’t need one. Measure from your waist (or wherever the bodice ends) to the floor, or wherever you want the skirt to stop. Add ½” at the top for the seam allowance, and just over an inch at the bottom for a small hem. I would cut two panels, I think? If you have 45” wide fabric, you’ll have 90” around minus seam allowances. I would cut the same of the lining, but about 1” shorter.

I think you can totally pull this DIY off!

Readers--which patterns get your vote?  Any ideas on where to find that great sequin fabric?  When I made this sequin dress I recycled it from a cheap sequin top, and I have seen sequined stuff in sponsor Sew What's New's store.  But I'd love to hear any other sources you may know of!



Lovely new print patterns, and a giveaway!

Jessica and Ericka are our sponsors over at Violette Field Threads--lovely patterns for little ones and all kinds of fun ideas!  They do primarily PDF patterns but have just come out with a line of paper patterns.  They sent me a set to check out, and are giving away a set to one of you!!

Let me tell you, these patterns are BEAUTIFUL.  Some of the nicest-looking ones I've ever seen--beautiful photography (and adorable models, of course), color instructions with PHOTOS of the steps... what more could you ask for!?

Here are the three new paper patterns that you could win!

Take a look inside these lovely instruction books.

Even the back is pretty!

I haven't made any of them yet (my little cousin may be getting another gift pretty soon!) but so far they look great.  Clear instructions, nice quality paper, lots of sizes to choose from.

Check out all the adorable patterns at Violette Field Threads and see what strikes your fancy!

And, if you want to win the giveaway of the three paper patterns, here are the rules:
**Be sure you leave your email address or a way to contact you if you win!

For extra entries:

Giveaway ends at midnight PST on Saturday, May 5th and the winner will be announced May 6th. Good luck!

And until then... Violette Field Threads has generous discount offers if you buy multiple patterns, up to 20% off! Check it out!

Earth Day! Two easy things...


Earth Day! Two easy things...

Happy Earth Day!

I don't really celebrate the holidays most of the time, but Earth Day is one I can definitely get behind.  Of course I like to think about the health of our planet every day, and do all I can to make my impact as small as possible (helloooo, upcyclying and vegan diet!), but Earth Day is a nice reminder to improve wherever I can.

So, I'm always looking for little things I can do for the Earth.  But I thought I'd share with you a couple of my fave super simple things that we can all do--maybe you already do, but maybe these are new ideas!

First, thinking about paper towels, rags, and cleaning.  I grew up in a house with coordinating hand towels hanging on a rod by the sink, and a basket of rags in the downstairs bathroom, which we used when we had big spills to clean up.  Now, I keep torn up old towels and t-shirts in a bucket under my kitchen sink and in the bathroom cabinet, and I use them to wipe off the counters, etc. (I hate sponges. They skeeze me out.).  And I have these cool hand towels on my oven bar to dry clean hands with.  But I was at a friend's house not long ago, and a bunch of water spilled on the kitchen floor.  It was a learning moment for me when I saw her pull off tons and tons of (spendy) quilted paper towels and mop up the water!

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest

Source: via Suzannah on Pinterest

I realized, oh, does not everyone use rags, and use paper towels sparingly?  I also notice when I'm at people's houses and they don't have a clean hand towel for drying hands hanging in the kitchen.  I buy the "Pick-a-size" paper towels and we use about one roll every 1.5 to 2 months.  Now, I know we don't have kids or anything, and I'm sure my consumption will go up then, but really I get annoyed when I have to buy them and I know the reusable rags and towels we use are much  more sustainable!

So, if you don't already, I highly encourage you to tear up threadbare towels, stained handtowels, and old t-shirts and give them new life as essential kitchen and cleaning rags!

The other thing I wanted to talk about is... well, I guess these are both social change questions... I dunno, you can tell me what category this goes in.  I just wanna say: Can we all stop holding paper Starbucks cups in our hands for our personal style posts?!???!!

There are some blogs out there that I love, but I gotta say it: holding your latte in your disposable corporate coffee cup and sleeve DOES NOT make your outfit cuter!!  (It must be the Portlander in me. I'll calm down.)

Fox News said Starbucks cups were the "hottest accessory" in 2007.  It's been a while since then, and since when do we care what Fox News thinks about fashion?  If you must use a prop, there are some super cute reusable coffee mugs out there.  I see them at Marshall's and the grocery store and pretty much everywhere all the time, some of the nice porcelain ones, even, for only $5 or so.  Get one!

I was excited when I noticed Hannah on Pretty Little Liars holding a super cute mug in one recent episode.  Take a note from stylish Hannah's book, k?

Here are some more pics of celebs with reusable mugs, and aren't they a little cooler because of it?  Be forward-thinking, and bring your mug with you when you get a coffee.  You'll enjoy getting the 10 cents off, too! =)

Hope I didn't sound too preachy through all that.  I want to be better for the Earth, too!  What are your easy lifestyle tips today!?  How would you change your habits to be better??



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