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!


Sewing Circle: Creative shorts update

Hey, folks! Today on Sewing Circle we have a question from 15-year-old Tess that's perfect for updating your summer wardrobe. I sometimes feel so boring in shorts, but this would be a great and creative way to update a pair!

Q: I have been wanting to make some cut-off shorts for a while now, but I want them to be special. Unique to me, you know. I attached pictures of some shorts I really like, but can't quite figure out how to make. Can you or any of your followers help me?

A: Those shorts are totally cute, and what a great idea to use up some smaller, super cool pieces of fabric! I’m not sure exactly the best way to make them, but I can offer a few suggestions.

Basically, the fabric is sort of appliquéd on, but the edges are turned under, it seems, so you don’t have raw edges showing and will have to cut the pieces about ½” larger than the area you’ll be putting them on. The tricky part is that the shorts may not lay perfectly flat, and you’ll need the fabric (especially if it’s a woven instead of knit, as all three examples appear to be) to not be too tight so that it moves along with the shorts.

The basic idea is to cut pieces of fabric a little larger (seam allowance) than the area you’re covering but the exact same shape (plus the seam allowance), then turn the edges under and then I would topstitch all the way around. You can do this by hand or by machine, but by machine will be stronger—although go very slowly, since that’s a lot of layers of denim to sew through (use a denim needle or strong needle) and try to keep your stitches even in length. At the pocket, obviously, you don’t want to sew through all the layers or you won’t be able to use the pocket! So you may have to hand-stitch there.

To help in keeping the fabric still, you could put spray adhesive on the wrong side of the print/contrast fabric before you lay it on top of the shorts. Actually, you could do this before you cut the shape out, but then it will be hard to press under ½” and you’d have to do it as you go, sort of finger-pressing. Play around with it both ways, I guess, and see which feels more comfortable!

Hope that helps. I've actually seen a pair of something very similar on Pinterest, I think, but I don't remember where it was from originally. Maybe my readers have some ideas?

Readers, how would you make a pair of shorts like these??



How to Wear DIY: The super versatile casual striped skirt

This summer I've been exploring the fun of short knit skirts instead of shorts, for a casual look that's also comfy and not too hot! This one's one of my faves, a skirt I made out of a "vintage" 90's boxy tee. It's the perfect weight for a skirt, actually, much heavier than tees are today, and I love the stripes.

The other day I paired it with a new neon chartreuse cardi from the Old Navy clearance and my new fave accessory, my straw fedora. Easy summer look!
 Shoes and sweater: Old Navy (similar shoes). Tee: Aritzia. Necklace: Frock Stock. 
Hat: Forever 21Watch: AE. Skirt: DIY, remade from vintage tee!

In fact, I love this skirt so much, I wish I could find several other heavy weight knit tops to turn into skirts! It's hard to find that kind of knit at the fabric store. But, who knows if this skirt phase of mine will last beyond this summer, anyway. I'm full into it right now, though!

Are you a skirt person or a shorts person in the hot weather? I just feel like skirts can make you look pulled together easier than shorts! Maybe I'm wearing shorts wrong.. ;)


A weekend away in a beautiful place, and a crazy busy summer so far!

This summer has been crazy busy so far, and I loooove summer but have to remember to stop and enjoy it!

I got a chance to last weekend when we went up to beautiful Port Angeles, Washington for a family reunion for my husband's family. His grandparents have a great house at the tip-top of a road of switchbacks, looking out over the Puget Sound. We were rushed going up there Friday after work, and had to leave at 7 on Sunday morning but had a great Saturday and got some pretty photos, and really got to relax and be on vacation for a day or so. Wanted to share with you!

The house on a foggy Saturday morning (in July!)...

Sunny afternoon at the rock beach, down the hill a ways and on the Puget Sound...

And beautiful views from the house in the late afternoon. You can watch the ferries and ships go by!

View from the other side of the house, also lovely. Last time we were there I took a bath in a jet tub with great big windows above it, looking out over this view!

Enjoying our time away!

Like I said, we had to rush back Sunday morning and I feel like I've been going nonstop ever since. I really need to find some time this summer to relax a little! And the summer's almost halfway over already! I started a bucket list, things I must do while the weather's nice:

  • Wear a swimsuit
  • Pick berries
  • Listen to some outdoor music
Not that hard, right? I just gotta find the time!

How have you been relaxing this summer? Is July your busiest month, too? =)



Experimental peplum tank refashion

So this one's a long time coming. Obvs the peplum trends has hit us full-force, even on basics like knit tees and tanks. I'm a big fan of my seersucker peplum top and peplum-skirted party dress, but I wanted to try the look with a knit, for something a little more casual. So I experimented! Got creative with an old tank and refashioned it by giving it a peplum skirt of some sort-of matching grey cotton double knit I had leftover from an old project.

It really was an experiment (you'll see...) so I used a super old tank that was fraying at the hem anyway. It's ribbed, and a little heavier than a basic tee, so I thought it would hold up to the extra weight of the ruffled peplum on the bottom.


Then I added a gathered and hemmed row of the knit fabric as a skirt. Because it was just old pieces, I went with the shapes I had and used a long, skinny piece along the selvage. This made it much easier to hem but, I think, made the gathering way less smooth than if I'd gone along with the ribbing texture.

Anyway, the "after"...

I like that it's casual and easy, cause it's a tank, but it definitely has more style than it did before!

Like I said I probably should have cut the fabric on the grain, rather than across it, but hey, next time. Other than that, this was a pretty successful refashioning experiment!  I'd like to do it again, but will have to play around with fabric weights. It worked well to use such a basic color that I could match to with the peplum, but the double knit is too heavy to go on a basic tee. I guess if the right thing presents itself, I'll happily make another!

I know this look has been around in the past few months... have you made anything like this or seen any great inspirations?? I'd love to hear!

So excited about blogger meet-ups! You gotta see the new site...


So excited about blogger meet-ups! You gotta see the new site...

This one's for the bloggers, mostly. And for Portlanders. I've posted before about the Portland Bloggers group meet-up events I've been to, but today I wanted to share the newly launched website for the group,! It's live!

I know most of you aren't from Portland, so, uh... I guess, just take this post as a gentle reminder of how awesome it is to get involved with local groups for blogging or sewing or whatever it is you love to do. It's so much fun and always gives me an extra creative energy boost to chat with fellow bloggers! Great way to meet cool people, too. I highly recommend it. =)

And if you're a Portland Blogger--okay, first of all make sure you're on the list to get updates about blog posts, upcoming events, etc.--but you can submit your blog info here to get added to the Portland bloggers list on the site!  *Ideally this list will be a list of MOST Portland bloggers' blogs--I'm sure it's totally impossible to include them all! But wouldn't it be great to have a pretty comprehensive list in one place?*

We'll also be tweeting about #PortlandBloggers and things we're into, so use the hashtag if you want to talk about us! =) We also have a new Facebook page you can "like" for updates.

I'm really excited about the launch of the site (you'll notice I've been helping make it!) and the master blogger list--so submit your blog now if you live nearby! And what a great way to meet other bloggers!

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Sewing Circle: Fabric-hunting for summer


Sewing Circle: Fabric-hunting for summer

We're fabric-hunting today on Sewing Circle! Andrea wrote me this question about finding the perfect summer fabric for an Anthropologie-inspired dress...

Q: I am driving myself nuts trying to figure out what kind of fabric this is and where I can find some. This dress is so simple, I really think I could make it, if only I could find the right fabric!

It's crinkly and very lightweight, pretty translucent. It says it's 100% cotton but I tried it on in the store and really thought the tag said it was 100% silk--? Have you sewn with something crinkly like this before? I also went to my local high-end fabric store and there wasn't a single bolt that looked like this!

A: Hi, Andrea!
I can see how that could be made of 100% cotton, unless the website has a mistake… it looks like a cotton gauze; I’ve seen them before at Goodwill, and made a few things out of them. Often poly comes in this weight as well, although it wouldn’t be as nice for summer.

My go-to for hard to find fabric is Here’s a link to their cotton gauzes. It’s definitely overwhelming to search for things on their site unless you really know what you’re looking for! But start there and do some Google searching.

It’s so funny, I ran into JoAnn’s not long after I saw your email and I actually saw several crepes in the Specialty Cottons section up front, with the bright springy apparel prints! They had some solids in boring colors and some bright prints. Must be a summer thing! Definitely worth checking out!

So, I have a few answers, but nothing too solid. Readers, where would you shop for something like this? Help Andrea out so she can make such a lovely, simple summer dress!

And, where do you look when you're searching for THE perfect fabric for something? =)



How to Wear DIY: The all-American lighthouse dress

In today's How to Wear DIY I'm showing off one of my fave dresses--I love the lighthouse print so much! I made this dress from a new pattern and the fabric I fell in love with, and had the perfect occasion to wear it last weekend for my parents' July Birthday Party--this year's theme was "all-American summer." My mom's tradition, now, is to celebrate all the July birthdays (we have a lot of Cancer friends, somehow) with a big backyard party. My parents have a great backyard and patio, and I love how I get to see their friends and our family at least twice a year since my parents also host a big New Year's Day brunch.

Annnnyway, with this year's theme being red and white, with some light blue mixed in, I wore my sweet and classic American lighthouse dress. Got lots of compliments. =) Had to share pics from the party, too! We didn't put all that much work into it but I helped decorate, and made the red and white gingham invitations they sent out. Here are some photos!

Gotta love the white milk glass, daisies and picnic-ey theme...

Badminton, I think it's called? And gingham flags...

I tried a grilled strawberry shortcake skewer recipe I found, although it didn't quite work. Now I know for next time--don't do it in the middle of the grill when the coals are hottest!

The dress was right at home!

Didn't have the perfect neutral shoes so I wore yellow! Primary colors, I guess.
Necklace: Forever 21, in like 2009. Wedges: Target via Goodwill.
Dress: DIY, here!



I'll be in the Alley 33 fashion show--local Portland designers! You're invited...

Fun local news to share! The Alley 33 Fashion Event, an annual fashion show showcasing local Portland designers, is coming up a week from today and yours truly will be modeling in it!

Portland is so full of talented, creative people, it's no surprise that we can put together a great fashion show full of local designs. I'm so excited to see all the looks and meet the designers!  Here's a list of who will be

I'll be modeling one of my friend Kim's designs, from her company Jitterbuggin’. Her stuff is so fun, truly vintage-inspired, and such great fabrics! I'm excited to share pics with you if you're not local, and if you are near Portland... you can buy your tickets here! =D

New sponsor and giveaway!


New sponsor and giveaway!

This giveaway is now closed. Check back soon for more! 

New sponsor today, and giveaway! Angela of Angela Kay Designs makes some great iPad and e-reader cases, and great little clutches, with amazing fabric that she also sells in her shop. Here's a little bit about Angela...

I was inspired to own my first sewing machine after the birth of my daughter. After teaching myself to sew and countless hours I put into my obsession with beautiful fabric, I decided to open my business and share my obsession with others who love beautiful fabrics. 


Here are some of Angela's great iPad cases!
Reserved Listing only for Deven - iPad Clutch Case "Navy Chevron"
Reserved Listing only for Deven - iPad Clutch Case "Navy Chevron"Unique and Stylish iPad / Kindle DX / Motorola Xoom Clutch Case "Tarika"
Unique and Stylish iPad / Kindle DX  / Motorola Xoom Clutch Case "Taxi" 
Unique and Stylish iPad / Kindle DX / Motorola Xoom Clutch Case "Yellow Chevron" Unique and Stylish iPad / Kindle DX / Motorola Xoom Clutch Case "Del Hi"

She also sells e-reader cases, clutches, and cute fabric! Here are some more faves...
Unique and Stylish eReader / Kindle / Sony / Nook Clutch Case "Black Stripes"
Unique and Stylish eReader / Kindle / Sony / Nook Clutch Case "Secret Garden"Unique and Stylish eReader / Kindle / Sony / Nook Clutch Case "Emmaline"

So many cute ones, right?

So, Angela is offering one of you the item of your choice from her shop! All you have to do is visit her shop, pick out a favorite case, and tell me which one it is! Leave a comment on this post.

If you want additional entries, you can do any of the following, and leave a comment for each:
The giveaway will end Saturday, July 28 and I'll pick the winner Sunday. (Also know that I have to have a way to contact you if you win. Otherwise I'll have to pick someone else!)

Have fun shopping!



The zigzag dress!

So, it's clear that the world loves zigzags and chevrons, in design and fashion. They are fabulous, I agree. I think it's the contrast of the white and black or whatever colors, plus the bold lines in the pattern, that look so fun and fresh and exciting.

So, with all the zigzag love in home dec, there's also great chevrons and zigzags to wear, and being the DIY-er that I am, I wanted to make myself something zigzag-ey rather than buy.  Inspiration: there's the basic zigzag shift dress, of drapey poly...

And I've also seen a great draped zigzag print dress or two...

But of course I've never seen such a fabric at any fabric store, and I don't like sewing on drapey poly, anyway, and I tend to like more structured dresses. Here's some inspiration for a heavier fabric and more classic style, in this cute multicolored zigzag dress...

Adorable, right!?  But again, do any fabric stores sell such fabric?!!?  Not that I know of... seriously, they would make a lot of money if they did.  We're all out here freezer paper stenciling zigzags and turning striped fabric into chevrons, but could JoAnn stock some zigzag fabric?  Would it be that hard?  Seeeeriously.

Speaking of which, there are also some cute chevron dress options if you want to make your own zaggey fabric. (Clarification: I'm pretty sure the definition of "chevron" is one V-shaped pointy line or lines, like the Chevron logo. And a "zigzag" is an unlimited series of up-down zig-zag V or M shapes and lines, like in a row. Either way, we chevron lovers are underrepresented at JoAnn). Regardless, here's another bold chevron-ey dress inspiration.

So the point of all that is, I wanted to make myself a bold chevron print dress, but didn't know what fabric and therefore what shape. Loose or tight? Straight skirt or full? Sleeves or sleeveless?

I did some Googling and found Premier Prints, Inc, who makes an intimidating number of amazing bold print cottons, mostly for home dec. I used a wide stripe of theirs to make this jacket, and I also got to use this zigzag fabric in Coral/White for this dress!!  They had loads of choices but I went with this one. You'll see.

Now that the fabric was set (7 ounce cotton, I think, sort of heavy and good for curtains, etc.) I could design the dress.  I wanted to show off the pattern with an interesting design detail, but not get too complicated with straps etc.

I used--yet again--McCall's M6350 for the bodice, thinking the pleats would be fun with the also diagonal lines of the zigzags!

I made it strapless this time. Again, thinking about the texture and weight of the fabric, I went with a straight skirt, although I guess pleated might have worked, too.See?

And, not to brag too much, but I totally matched the zigzags in the center back... there's even a little diamond at the waist where the left and right sides meet!

So I finally have a zigzag dress now! Can't wait to wear it to a backyard party or something this summer. What are your styling ideas for it??

And if you want a zigzag or other awesome, bright, bold print, Premier Prints' online store has lots of fun ones!



Raw vegan raspberry crumble recipe! Mmm...

Sharing a really fun and easy recipe today--this is one of my fave things to make in the summertime when there's delicious fresh fruit everywhere, and it's soooo easy to do with just a couple of healthy, whole food ingredients!

I've talked before about my limited diet, although I don't bring it up much because I worry people may think I'm weird if they don't know the background.  But you don't need to worry about it here; the basics of this recipe are tasty for everyone, and the added benefits are that it's healthy and naturally gluten- and dairy-free! UPDATE: I now eat a balanced real food ("Paleo") diet.

I sort of created this myself, although I'm sure there are other raw vegan desserts very similar; nuts and dried fruits are the basis for pretty much every treat you can make in your food processor for a raw vegan specialty.  You can make the combo into anything you want--I make fudgy brownies a lot--but this had such a crumble/crisp-like texture that I always remember it that way. I think I made it with blackberries first, like a blackberry crisp! But without the butter, brown sugar, flour, etc... None of which I eat!

And I know lots of people eat gluten-free and dairy-free diets, so this is a great recipe for those folks, too, and it doesn't substitute with fake, processed soy butter or anything. All natural!

Without further ado... here's the BASIC, basic version of this. There are tons of add-ins you could do, or things to tweak, but if you're new to food processor desserts, this is a great starter!

Also remember that I don't measure things. Sorry. I'll try to be as close as I can, but just add as much as makes sense! You'll get a feel for it as you go. You'll need:
  • Dates (probably about 1/2 cup, but more if you want it sweeter. You could do half dates/half raisins, maybe, too, or dried apricots or something!)
  • Walnuts (also probably about 1/2 cup. If you don't like walnuts, use pretty much any other nut!)--I buy both of these in the bulk foods section, so just fill the bag till you have a nice full handful, and get a little extra if you want!
  • Raspberries. I got these at the market and then ate several, so it was less than a pint. The fruit is on its own, so you can use as much as you like. This would also be great with peaches, nectarines, blackberries, pretty much any soft fruit!
  • A dash of vanilla
  • A sprinkle of salt
  • And a food processor!
Depending on the fruit you could add some cinnamon, or maybe cocoa powder? Never tried it, but chocolate and raspberry is always a good combo! Ooh, maybe add some raw vegan chocolate ganache on top... mmm...

  • Blend the nuts, dates, vanilla, and salt in the food processor. Blend for about 20 seconds, but keep checking in on it to make sure it makes a fluffy, crumbly, sort of powdery substance. If it's too thick, add more walnuts; if it's too powdery, add more dates.
  • Take HALF of the mixture and pat it into your dish. That's for the crust. So if you don't want a bottom crust, skip this step and make a bigger dish! Or, use smaller, dessert dishes and pat into several small dishes.

  • Put your crust in the freezer for just a few minutes--like, 5 even. 5-10 is good.

  • Add your layer of raspberries or whatever fruit you want.

  • Sprinkle the other half of the topping on top of the raspberries. Lovely!  Put it in the freezer for a little bit to firm up the topping a little. You don't want the berries to freeze, but it is a crumbly dish, so keeping it cold is important.

  • Cut up and serve!

Fresh, tasty, and summery! I love how there's no stale sugary aftertaste after eating something like this, sweetened with dates. Happy summer!

Other modification ideas:
  • Make some raw vegan creme fraiche or ice cream (soak skinned almonds for a few hours, blend in high-speed blender with agave and vanilla! It's more like ice cream if you sweeten more and freeze longer)
  • For less mess, make the layers in individual dessert dishes and serve with a spoon and fruit accent on top!
  • Depending on the fruit you use, add some cinnamon to the topping when you process it
  • I'm serious about the chocolate ganache. Mix some cocoa powder, vanilla, agave, coconut oil, and maybe a little olive oil, and either squeeze out of a frosting bottle or slop on with a spoon. YUM!
Hope you're not too weirded out by the food processor part--these are THE easiest desserts, I swear, and a big hit with everyone regardless of dietary preferences!



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