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!


Two pairs of DIY curtains for my dining room, plus a DIY double curtain rod

Curtains are such a pain, aren’t they? Not only are they expensive and a big color commitment for the room, they often don't come in the right size!! We wanted to hang the curtain rods as high and as wide as looked good, to make the room look bigger, so you'll remember I made the living room curtains custom (7 yards fabric, 7 yards lining--eesh!). The dining room ones are the same length, 107" or so, and while some curtains come in 108" lengths, they tend to be, like, $60/panel. Or only come in a few colors. Bleh. Target's curtains are sooo cute, but pretty much only come in 84" lengths! What do they expect me to do with those?!

I've been hunting Goodwills for ages for long enough curtains for the dining room, and never finding. So a while ago I found some 96" tan Ikea ones for $10. I figured, closer than some of what I've been finding. I can give them a colorblock hem treatment, right??

I didn't like how the tan looked, so we dyed them with two boxes of grey RIT dye. Then on to this problem:

So, then I just needed to find the right fabric for the hem trim. I didn't expect to find something perfect, but wasn't sure what color and texture to go for. I also thought about inserting a contrast trim band somewhere in the middle or near the bottom, to give them sort of a stripe and make them longer. But, then not long ago I found some neat teal cotton twill on the JoAnn clearance shelves, an extra half off, and bought the rest of the bolt. I made colorblock hem facings, I guess you could say, as long as I could do with the length of the fabric. It was a little wider than the curtains so I tore the extra off and still have it, maybe for something else.
DIY colorblock curtains-011
They don't look FAB, but they're fine for now. I think I made them a little too short, and the teal isn't as bright or interesting as I was hoping. But better than too short!

So, another problem... unfortunately, most curtains and even fabric only come as wide as 55" or so... I think the rule of thumb is you want curtains to be about 1.5x the width of the window for nice pleating, so if you have two 55" panels, that means your window could only be 73" wide. Mine are waaay wider, and I put the curtain rods an extra several inches out to make the windows look nicer and bigger! So pretty much any curtains (two panels) will be too narrow!)

So I decided the grey curtains need to be more faux curtains, and sheers will let in more light, anyway. I had a pair of old white ones on a tension rod filling the space in the meantime, but wanted loooong sheers that went the whole length of the grey curtains and the wall.

DIY colorblock curtains-023
Then, of course, my other issue was the sheers-- ideally I would use a double curtain rod, but I already had the nice brushed chrome-ey one up... so, I bought a super cheap curved-end white, boring curtain rod from JoAnn and spray-painted it silver, because I couldn't stand to have the cheap white metal showing at all.

Now we can leave the sheers closed all the time for privacy, but still get lots of light in, and keep the grey ones pretty open to the sides.
DIY sheer curtains-002
So I was so excited by how my DIY double rod worked out that I bought another cheapie one at JoAnn... even took a picture of the label of the first one so I could remember which kind it was! I now see they have a bunch on Amazon for way cheaper than the JoAnn ones, of course, with lots of choices. I think the key on this one was the shallow depth--it only "projects" 1 1/4", way shallower than the big curtain rod for the outer curtains, so it tucks behind nicely.

I gave it the same silver spray paint treatment, and hung it in our bedroom in the same placement. I had just bought some Ikea sheers to replace some plain white ones I had on a tension rod just for privacy and light, so this is a big improvement. Close-up on the double rod situation!

Curtains can be so expensive and challenging, so it's a big relief to have these done. At least for now. ;)



How to Wear DIY: The bow print jeans!!

I've mentioned before I'm not a big fan of January. Luckily it's almost over, but February's not much better, either. There's a reason the "resort collection" comes out at every store in late December; once Christmas is over, I guess a lot of us are ready for sunshine and preppy, cheery colors like clean navy, white, and bright chartreuse or hot pink. But, it's still freeeezing outside, so unless you're vacationing somewhere tropical, they seem sort of counter-intuitive. My cozy sweaters still sound most comfortable, but they're depressing, wintry colors like beige and warm brown.

Anyway, to balance my need for color and something non-wintry with my need for warmth, I found that, on one of our more moderate-temperature days, my bow print jeans from my tutorial paired well with cozy riding boots and a wool navy and grey striped J.Crew-via-Goodwill vest. The bright silk top just made it cheerier. But I did wear a coat, for most of the time I spent outside in it!

Coat: American Eagle via Marshall's. Top and boots: Target via Goodwill. Vest: J.Crew via Goodwill.
Scarf: Kmart via Goodwill. Watch: Ross. Necklace: Forever 21. Jeans: DIY stenciled!

P.S. Yes, that is the Costco parking lot. We get pretty crazy on the weekends. ;)



Sewing Circle: A fab Valentine's Day dress!

It's been a while since I shared a Sewing Circle question, but this one was for such a fun dress with perfect timing for the upcoming holiday... for those of us who would rather celebrate it by making something cute than by shopping for the perfect heart-shaped chocolate box or rhinestone heels or whatever it is the single folks do... (can you tell I'm out of touch?)...

This question came from Lauren...

Q: I read your blog all the time and love all your projects. I have gotten a ton of inspiration from you. I am a somewhat novice sewer, but I can tackle projects as long as I take my time! My first dress, the reason I learned to sew, was a plaid Christmas dress. I figured if I could match plaids, I could conquer anything :)

I have seen this dress over the past year or so, and I absolutely LOVE it. I was hoping you could give me some advice on how to make one myself. I think with a pair of leopard heels and some turquoise earrings it would be the perfect Valentines day dress! Here is the picture. Thank you for taking a peek!

Source: Wear is it From

A: That is a super cool dress!! Would def be perfect for Valentine’s Day. I’ve never seen a pattern for the exact thing (see some ideas below), but I’m sure you can make that sleeve peplum super easily…

To make the sleeve yourself (it looks like just a gathered rectangle, though a lined/double layer would be nicer), I would cut a piece twice as long as you’d like, about 1.5 times the width of the arm opening, along the selvage edge of the fabric. Then sew the cross grain (perpendicular to selvage) seam together, then I would fold it wrong sides together along the bottom edge, press, and gather the big raw/selvage opening. Then pin and sew right sides together the gathered piece to the sleeve opening! Does that make sense? Then you have a lining for your sleeve trumpet and no hemming to do on the bottom.

If you’re not confident, you could try using one of the sleeve trim pieces from one of these patterns. (or just take a look at the pattern piece picture and emulate it).

(Another quick search found some similar things on some Jennifer Paganelli tunic patterns... try this one, this one, one for girls, or this one for toddlers. Same construction. You would want to cut any of those bottom sleeve pieces wider than those patterns, though, for more fullness in the gathering. Probably would cut them longer, too.)

As for the dress pattern, you could use any basic natural waisted, slim-fitting dress pattern, preferably one that already has the straight sleeves. I’ve used this one before, Simplicity 1913, but I’m sure there are others… try the dresses and sportswear sections of the big pattern companies. The original pink dresses are darted bodices, more like Simplicity 1873 or you could use the flattering Simplicity 2444, but the skirt on the pattern below is so close, too; I figured if you want to get just one pattern, go with this one for a very similar look.

Hope that helps!

Readers, would you wear this dress?!? How would you make the sleeve trumpets? (Or, is there a better term for them?). Seems like the peplum trend is expanding to our arms... let's not put these on the ankles of our flared pants, k?? That make have happened in the 70's, but let's let sleeping dogs lie, right?

I kind of want to try making one of these myself!!

Update: Lauren DID make the dress, and she sent us some pics of the finished product!

From Lauren:
I used Vogue V8593--I decided that the pleat up top was important than the dress having a waist, so I found the Vogue pattern that had a pleat that matched pretty closely. I noticed too, the dress was more fitted so i thought it would be ok without a defined waist. For the trumpet sleeve I just did a rectangle and gathered it. Although I feel like maybe should i have lined it, but you sew and you learn. 

I have ordered a light pink necklace that i think will be the perfect over the top accessory :)

Thanks for sharing, Lauren!!



In love with my DIY colorblock tray project

So, I had a fabulous and productive weekend, but am now ready for some recovery time from it... ;) not how that's supposed to work. Break from the weekend? I must be doing something wrong. Husband was gone Thursday through Tuesday working in California, so I had the whole house to myself and did a million zillion house projects, running around like crazy and having a great time!! I put up shelves, I moved pictures around, I cleaned, I organized, I ran errands... I'm still catching up from all the projects and photos I took and want to share with you! Sneak peeks on my Instagram and Facebook.

I also got out on home shopping with three different friends on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday the day off. Wow, lots of things for the house. It was super fun, though, and I feel great about sharing my home ideas with my friends and talking with them about their homes!!

It wasn't all sunshine and roses, though... other efforts of the weekend include five broken nails, three smallish cuts on my hands, and way too much time spent in Ikea and Target. And probably some dead brain cells from too much spray-painting in the 35 degree garage... I kept it ventilated as much as possible!! Definitely not ideal conditions.

But, the fruits of which I will share with you now! In this fun little tutorial for a colorblock decor tray I just made from an ugly old Christmas tray I got for $2 at Goodwill. I have been obsessed with trays since we got the house, funny since I seriously never had a use for them before. Now I have like six, and I love them. They are SO useful!! Anyway, here's the story...

Before and after:


Paint the sides with your outside colors, then tape them off. I used painter's tape and was just careful to lay it out as straight as possible. It worked pretty well, no complaints from the tape.

Then spray the center color on top!

Super easy! It was a major pain that it took sooooo long to dry between layers since the garage was so cold. Took several coats, too. Ah, well, it was worth it.

I put it in our upstairs guest bath, which is a megaboring room aside from the horizontal stripes I painted... I really wanted more color in there, and to complement the aqua towels, the pale pink and bright coral are perfect! And the silver goes with the print in the shower curtain!

YAY. Who doesn't love an easy way to get bright, pretty color in a room--for $2!! I already had the spray paints. My colors, I guess. Now the bathrooom is even girlier... but, tough, my husband can deal. He shaves in there sometimes, but he can handle it. ;)

Also great parts of the weekend--I got some goodies from Kollabora for projects I'll be doing in my book! And I got to take the class for/pick up my BERNINA 350, the lovely machine BERNINA is lending me for the book. This thing is amazing. I've been sewing on Flintstones-era machines all my life in comparison, it feels like. It's not that this one is a robot or anything, far from it, but it just does everything so much better, cleaner, more efficiently than my vintage machines. Anyway, can't wait to share more!!



How to Wear DIY: Olive cargo vest remix!

It's getting to be that time of year... it's not fall, so I'm not really in the cozy, warm colors mood, and Christmas is over, so plaid and faux fur and fairaisle might be a little much... but, we still have like 4 more months of way too cold weather ahead.

I remember in high school having the though, I'm tired of looking cute for cold weather. I think that usually doesn't set in until February or March, but I'm worried about it already! But right now it still works to wear layers, my coziest coat, a cable knit hat, plaid, and riding boots!

When I helped my friend and photographer Becky out at a country-themed bridal show the other weekend, she snapped these pics of me sporting my best attempt at cute + warm + country flair. That meant a How to Wear DIY opportunity--included my super thirfty version of the cargo vest trend, one I picked up for cheap that was big and loose and icky, and gave a waist! (Plus lots of layers, of course, and my crazy new Old navy tannish skinny jeans I've been feeling very adventurous in. I'm a big fan of the 5-pocket, so these feel more like jeans than pants, which make them a lot easier to wear somehow.)
Coat: AE via Marshall's. Hat: ? Shirt: Old Navy via Goodwill (similar). Pants and Sweater: Old Navy. 
Boots: Joan &; David via Goodwill Outlet. Watch: Ross. Vest: DIY made flattering!

Well, let's see, what is this, January? How much longer until I can wear short sleeves? ;)

What are your tips for dressing seasonally when the wintery colors are no longer appealing??



A pretty winter holiday! Pics from last weekend...

Fun pics to share today! As you may have gathered if you've been watching my Twitter or Instagram lately... last weekend husband and I had a little weekend getaway to the coast--yes, it's January and freeeezing, but we called it a "reading vacation" and figured we needed the time away even if we spent plenty of it inside!

We have a new favorite place to stay for this kind of trip, where we went last June. Found it through a Groupon, but it's a super cool eco-friendly, modern, simple, relaxing place. The Adrift Hotel in Long Beach, in super southwestern Washington, just north of Oregon. We've been needing some down time, and figured a quick trip away with lots of good books to read would be perfect!

I took Friday afternoon off. We got so lucky with the weather, clear and sunny! But cold. On the way up we drove through Astoria, Oregon, and visited the house where The Goonies was filmed. Never been there and always figured we should.

Then we got to our hotel in Long Beach, right on the beach by this nice, remote little boardwalk thing.

We had dinner at the restaurant on the top floor of the hotel, then settled into our room and played gin, and got a bottle of wine from the little organic/local market in the lobby.

Saturday morning we did the same thing we did last time we stayed at Adrift--cozied up in the lobby enjoying the indie Pandora mix and organic coffee... while reading for a solid chunk of time!

Seriously so happy in this moment. Calm music, beeeeeautiful view out the window, the whole weekend ahead of us, and time to read!

I finished The Happiness Project. Gol, I love that book.

After a very relaxed day, we strolled along the beach around sunset. It was super cold but so beautiful and clear.

Oh, those warm beachy, grassy colors just kill me. All weekend I was exclaiming, wow, look at these colors!!!

Sunday after breakfast, more reading, and lunch at a restaurant we also went to last time!, we drove back into Oregon again and stopped by Cannon Beach, which is such a cute little town. Fun pedestrian layout, little coffee shops, all that. More gorgeous sunshine so we had a great walk on the beach.

Very sunny but cold!!

On the drive back we passed a lot of snow, heading over the mountains and through the farmland on our way back to Portland. We stopped at a farm in Yamhill to pick up a farm share and everything had an eerie purple-ey grey tint with the layer of snow.

It was a very peaceful weekend, which we definitely needed after the busy holidays!

And now I have a three-day weekend, so hope to keep the relaxed atmosphere going and chill out a little--but also have some projects I'd love to get done! Ah, that's always the dilemma, isn't it??

Hope you have a great weekend!



How to Wear DIY: The classy leopard skirt

Well, I'm excited about this one--got to wear the leopard print skirt I made last fall when I whipped up these three no-pattern skirts; I love the simple style but wanted to make it look not-at-all sloppy! So to a party the other weekend I wore the leopard skirt with a few other pretty pieces. Including a coat, because OMG it has been cold here.

Top: Marshall's. Necklace: Kohl's, Belt: Charlotte Russe. Watch, shoes: Ross.
Jacket: Forever 21. Skirt: DIY, super simple!

Well, I like it, but the husband was a little confused. Animal print can be hard to pull off, I guess! ;) Oh, and, I just realized... tortoiseshell watch with leopard print skirt?? Oops! Is that a big no-no???

Do you think I made it work? Any tips for wearing leopard and not looking like Snookie's mom? ;)



DIY Heart print jeans! A tutorial

Remember the print jeans trend?!?

This tutorial's a long time in the making, unfortunately for me... I decided to make these in September or October!! Finally finished them and am ready to share with you.

So I decided I liked the print jeans trend (I haven't worn basic skinny blue jeans in ages, favoring colored or black or grey ones!), but even with cheap print jeans being pretty easy to find, I wanted to make my own. As is my way. ;) I remembered the wonders of freezer paper for making your own fusible stencils, and I still had a big roll from my last crafty DIY stencil project yeeeeears ago. So I just needed a pattern!

I found this cute Martha Stewart bow punch at Michael's on clearance for less than $5. I've never bought cute papercrafting stuff like the fun punches before, so this is all new to me... but I figured it would work! I went with shimmery white/silver paint and regular blue jeggings, inspired after some pretty Anthro print jeans, and I guess Gap has some? These cute heart print jeans are very similar, actually, and these polka dot jeans from Gap. Aren't convinced yet? Look...

Anyway. Ready for the tutorial?

DIY Print Jeans Tutorial

So I used a bow punch for mine, but you can use any hole punch, obvs. You'll need...
  • Jeans or whatever you want stenciled!
  • Pattern punch
  • Freezer paper
  • Iron
  • Craft paint and fabric medium if you like
  • Sponge-ey stencil tool, recommended
  • Plastic or heavy paper to go in between the front and back of the jeans. I used huge paint swatch cards!

1. Cut your freezer paper into squares or rectangles that are larger than your hole punch shape. I cut long strips, then cut them into square-ish shapes.

2. Put a couple of your squares into the punch, do your best to center them and keep them parallel to the punch "grain," and punch. Make millions of these! Not really, just, um, lots. (I saved the bow cutouts in case I ever do something with negative space. Slash I hate throwing things away.)

3. Iron your freezer paper rectangles, shiny side down, onto one side and leg of your jeans (i.e., back of left leg). I chose to put mine in a regular pattern, like a diamond/X shape. You could go random if you wanted, I bet! Or keep it regular. I followed the grain of my jeans to keep them all straight up and down.

4. Without bending the jeans around too much, you'll use your craft paint (mix it with fabric medium to make it bendier when dry) and sponge brush to pat the paint onto the exposed areas of each paper rectangle. !!Be sure to insert your heavy paper, cardboard, or plastic into the leg before you do this--it will bleed through!!!

5. Wait to dry... that craft paint is FAST, though. I did two coats on all my bows, but it dries in only 5 or 10 minutes, I think.

6. Once dry with all your coats, do the other side or other leg.

That's why these took me so long... I did the first 3/4 of them in early December but hadn't had time to do the whole ironing board/stamping on the floor business since then. Then, finally, I decided it was time. Got these babies off my ironing board pile and finished the back right side or whatever.

But, now they're done! Ta-da!!

My husband thinks they're super cool. Thanks, babe.

Note after wearing--the paint looks a little crack-ey on some bows; not like it's going to come off, but just a little stretched. These are not-super-stretchy-but-still-stretchy jeggings, so on super stretchy pants I can see that being more of an issue. Hence needing the fabric medium to mix with your paint. Or, do it on heavier, non-stretchy jeans and you'll be fine!



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