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!

Weekend Inspiration: Art and offices


Weekend Inspiration: Art and offices

This week has been intense and it's soooo time for the weekend! I spent 10.5 hours at work yesterday finishing up a report, and of course have a book to write when I get home. ;) So I've been trying to relax and enjoy the tasty Paleo dinners we've been making, new episodes of New Girl and Pretty Little Liars on Hulu (my guiltiest pleasures!), dark chocolate, and the pretty things I've been pinning lately.


On my mind currently: 1) we need better art. I love hanging personal and unique or bold art on the walls, and I'm getting tired of what we currently have! Time for something new. Here's a couple living rooms I've seen lately that have done it right.

I need more bold color!! Ooh, there's even a Michelle Armas in there! (Recently discovered Scoutmob, and their fab selection of Michelle Armas prints right now... OMG. I must confess I have saved the Halycon Print to my phone and use it as my wallpaper. Hope that's legal... I think that the "That Bowtie I Like" Print, or the Trellus Print, would look fabulous in my office!! Or could I pull one of them off in the living room??

Speaking of color, these bright watercolors are pretty amazing. And for something fun and cute and graphic, I like the idea of these prints from an artist duo in Atlanta... [must master the art of the funky gallery wall mishmash.]


Okay, so point 2) Thinking about office organization... speaking of lots of work to do, we've been talking about making our office a better usable workspace. Remembering the term "stimulus control." Office needs to be for working, sewing, maybe watching TV on the computer. Need to feel like when we walk in here, it's time to get down to work!!

But would also love a beautiful office... this week's inspirations...

And here's an organized workspace if I ever saw one... dunno about  usable, but sure would make you feel centered.
Source: Suzannah on Pinterest

Overlapping area rugs?

3) This one's random. Also want to find a way to pull off overlapping rugs. We have a couple 5'x8' that aren't quite big enough for the living room or wherever, and could sort of use a runner to protect our carpet downstairs... has anyone done this successfully??

(Of course it looks great in this lovely space with hardwoods and iron bed... how about in my suburban townhouse? ;) )

Those are my fave pretties these days. I'm a visual person, ya know. Amazing how images can cheer me up!

Anyone have any ideas for how I can brighten spaces with art, make our office feel more usable, or cover up some wall-to-wall carpet--this weekend??!? ;)



Sewing Circle: Paper bag waist shorts!

I haven't done a Sewing Circle post in a while, but I just heard from a reader who said it was her favorite feature... and, I have a great recent question to share with you! I'd love to hear anyone's successes with this at home, too... have you ever used the paper bag skirt tutorial (or the simple paper bag waist skirt version) for shorts??

I got this question from Madison:

Q: I was wondering if it would be possible to take that pattern and perhaps alter it into a shorts pattern, such as these below... I like the idea of a pair of shorts with a zip up the side and no buttons or clasps on the front, while still being fitted enough to avoid using elastic if possible. Do you think you can help me out, or direct me toward a pattern?

A: Yes, you definitely could use my paper bag waist skirt tutorial to modify any shorts pattern, but it could be tricky... you could take a simple shorts pattern like this Simplicity 1887 or Simplicity 1808 and cut the top piece longer--quite a few inches, like 6-8" or more depending on the pattern, if you want to be able to fold over the top edge like I did in the tutorial.

You could use the basic shorts pattern but NOT cut out the waistband pieces at all; the paper bag waist technique takes care of that. It probably wouldn't be too hard to do, really!!, but you might want to start with an old sheet and make a sample "muslin" version before cutting into nice fabric. Just in case. I also found a tutorial for making paper bag elastic shorts using an existing garment instead of a pattern, but I think for fit and comfort it's best to use a paper pattern unless you're a pro pattern drafter. =)

If you want a commercial pattern for paper bag waist shorts, I did find a couple choices! Here's an almost-perfect one on Etsy:

And I found a similar version from Simplicity's European line, Burda: Burda 7139. But you'd probably want to cut the front pieces narrower (at least tapering toward at the hem) so you don't have such huge pleats.

I love the paper bag waist for shorts idea, and it seems like it would be a great project to try!! Readers, have you modified any tutorials to this effect? Have you had success with the paper bag waist tutorial?



Made my own appliqué! DIY heart tee with iron-on

Happy to show off an advancement in my tee appliqué methods; always be growing, right? I've done plenty of spray adhesive on fabric before to make appliqués, but this year found a less-messy method that I used on this tee and this pillow. But, I have finally tried out an even better method.

I've been meaning to try iron-on adhesive, to basically create my own patches or appliqués or fabric stickers, however you think of them! So I got this Heat'n Bond from Kollabora to use for projects for my book and other upcoming creativity ;), and I am thrilled.

Basically, I've been dying for some more color in my wardrobe this season and keep coming up blank. I really need to go fabric shopping or something, since I desperately want BRIGHT solid colors to work with... so I dug through my drawers for bright colors and found an old tank top I wore plenty last year, and figured it was ready for its next life.

You may remember the big bold heart tops from Old Navy and Target this year... I figured I could do my own!

DIY Heart Sweatshirt Tee

I cut out the iron-on adhesive in the approximate heart shape I wanted, then ironed it on to the tank I had cut apart. Then cut that out, perfecting the shape and edges, and then peeled off the paper back. Then flipped it on to the tee and ironed it on. Like magic!!

I gave it a tiny edge of metallic silver thread, like 1/8" in from the edge of the design. I wanted to make sure it stayed on well! I don't tend to trust the no-sew solution... ;) 

It worked great!

Yay. Brights + stuff I already owned + got to play with a new tool. Win-win-win.

Feeling a little high on the power, knowing I can make my own fabric sticker out of anything, into any shape!!

Have you tried this? Sooo fun, right!?


My favorite quotes and reminders: Stress and happiness for people who do too much...

This isn't the prettiest topic, but it's something on my mind and probably yours, too. This post has been in draft form for quite a while now but I recently checked something related off my to-do list and now feel like I have something good to share.

I've mentioned before that I was reading and really enjoying The Happiness Project. Really super fantastic book (categorized as "self-help" and "memoir," I think), and I had never read anything like it before but discovered it at the perfect time, since this year has been packed full of activities and goals and to-dos and I've been having a hard time staying calm and upbeat. (I've been trying not to use "the 's' word," but things have been a little high stress sometimes, and I'm getting tired of it! Time to relax, right? So hard for me.)
From our January weekend trip, lots of reading...

So, I really appreciated the academic and logical look the author took at examining happiness (why is it a good goal? What does it mean? Is it an end goal at all? What are the principles and foundation of attaining it?), and I love accepting and engaging with the idea that I can take control of my mood and practice happiness, the same way I approach my goals. I think it's part of the common challenges of our busy lives and having so many interests and so many options these days, it's easy to not think about what we need to live a happy life.

Anyway, I'm really excited to be reading the second by Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin, Happier at Home, which I first thought was home decorating advice for happiness... turns out it's a second "happiness project," this time focused on home and family. More great pearls of wisdom I can't wait to put sticky flags all over. ;)

These books have also inspired me to put up visual reminders of my goals and principles, or at least of quotes that I really like and want to remember. It's been on my to-do list to make up some pretty posters that I can frame, to look at every day and enjoy. So I finally got to it. And I'm happy to share them with you!

My fave happiness quotes

This one is in both of the Happiness Project books, and I'm still chewing on it, but I like it. One of the Happiness Project goals was changing your life without changing your life, and that sounds good to me--I'm satisfied with so many things about my life, but want to capture a mood that is sometimes hard to remember. But maybe it's with me all the time, and I just need to learn to pay attention!

And here's great one from the second book, Happier at Home. I love this because I do think about possessions and physical things as being really important, and it's nice to remember that there are important reasons for that--it's not just shallow materialism, but a real connection to things I've made and arranged and curated. Obviously as a creative and artistically-minded person, this is important to me, and as a "nester" with my natural urges to create a comfortable, beautiful home, this really rings true. (But also, as she says in the book, possessions can be important for happiness for completely non-materialistic reasons if we engage with them--either by use or by response, like how you feel when you walk past a photo of family. "When I felt engaged with my possessions, I felt enlivened by them, and when I felt disengaged from them, I felt burdened." (page 28) Another underlined, starred, sticky flagged passage for me. I want to surround myself with important, beautiful things and get rid of the rest, the messy stuff I don't need or love.

Another great one about the home. Such an obvious concept, right?! But somehow we needed William Morris to say it to make it sound so universally true.

And, because I am such a huge fangirl of The Happiness Project, one of the core "splendid truths" by author Gretchen Rubin, featured in both books...

Those were the simple ones that I thought would be cute in circles. Wish I had more graphic design skillz ;) so I could come up with something besides a circle. But, hey. The colors and words and font are important, and I've got that part down.

A fave love quote

Another one to remember, not strictly part of the happiness collection... outside of the circle theme, this one I'm still working on (text, layout, photo...), but I want to find a photo I really love from one of our relaxing/romantic trips away and frame it. And add a nice quote and message reminding me to do kind, loving things every day--give proofs of love. Here's where my lack of graphic design skill gets me a little stunted. But the idea is there...

I dream of my gratitude poster!

I also still want to make myself a "gratitude poster," as I've been calling it on my to-do list. A pretty image I can frame and put somewhere I look at every day, to remind myself of all the wonderful things in my life I have to be grateful for... but that one may be a bigger project. Want it to be really pretty and really big! So I don't miss it when I walk by. I love the gratitude exercise idea, thinking of things you're grateful for every day, and think it would make me happier to see that list like a mantra.

How do you handle stress and balance your life to practice happiness?



How to Wear DIY: Painted things, and the style shoot for non-style bloggers

This How to Wear DIY comes with a fun and hopefully inspiring back story--I wore these DIY pieces to the Portland Bloggers "Strike a Pose" style shoot event, a fantastic and sold-out "style shoot for non-style bloggers" as I tried to describe it, a chance for any of us Portland Bloggers to get some quality photos taken to use on our blogs.

I hope I can humbly say that this was my idea... tee hee... I just really wanted to see all the cool and creative and interesting bloggers we have in our group have better photos and headshots on their blogs! Doesn't everyone deserve to have a few photos of themselves that they like to share with the world?? Then Jenni put together the whole thing, really, and got 7 local photographers/bloggers, 5 stylists/bloggers, several local jewelry sellers and a hair/makeup artist, and refreshments for this super fun event. 

Macey took some photos of the event space and the group--can't you just feel the happy buzz and creativity!?

So a lot of bloggers wore a favorite outfit or put together something special for their headshots and however they wanted to use the photos. But I, unfortunately, did not plan ahead and had nothing new or super exciting to wear. ;) But that's okay, because I pulled out this necklace that I made spray paint transformed, and these DIY wedges that I have been loving. Two DIYs in this outfit!

Alex took photos of me! Here they are, some more delicious than usual How to Wear DIY photography... ;)

Top: Marshall's. Sweater: Ross (similar/similar). Jeans: Forever 21.
Bag: Old Navy (similar). Necklace: DIY upcycle! Shoes: DIY project!

So, are you inspired? Round up a photographer friend and get some pretty photos taken, if you don't already have them!! Dress up your blog, show off your best self, and be proud! ;)

A big thank you to all of our wonderful sponsors. Each of these companies/individuals/blogs contributed in making the Portland Bloggers' Strike a Pose event successful and affordable. 

 photo jrlogo_zps8c743238.jpg  Alex Lianopoulos Photography  Murray Photography  Allegra Villella  Linnea Paulina Photography Margaret Jacobsen Photography  Motormouth Studios  Pfaus Photography  photo blackandwhite_circle_200_zps65952f2d.jpg  photo jaderoselogo_zps92d50a39.jpg  photo papermorning_zps1acc57b0.png  photo thelittlethings2_zpsaa18d792.jpg  photo ChloeandIsabel_zps8d4d1a16.jpg  photo GlassCast_zpsf053ed86.jpeg  photo marinalogo_zpsf486aff9.jpg  photo Elephants_Logo_zps36c01d10.jpg  photo url_zps148c197e.jpeg  photo adventuresindressmakinglogo_zps2633a815.jpg  photo thespicybeelogo_zpsa56f663a.jpg  photo Kaylasbuttonforonline-1_zps4961aadf.jpg  photo Awellcraftedpartybutton_zps8584b6f5.jpeg  photo thebohomama_zpsc5bde9f7.jpg


The vintage blue lace into a trendy dress

Update! See the remade version here!

New dress! It's not spring yet, but when it does get warm enough, I'll be ready. I'm so glad I got a chance to put together the fabric and pattern from this Instagram: a vintage blue lace that I was lucky to have yards of, some almost-matching fine cotton for the lining, and Simplicity 1755, a relatively new pattern and an attempt at trendiness. ;)

Of course, the dresses fit super loosely on the models and the waistlines are too low--the pattern shows it is supposed to sit at the natural waist. But you know how the pattern companies are. The fits are normally meant to be way looser than someone like me wants. You may also remember my discussion of how to cut out the right pattern size--I did my usual, cutting out two sizes smaller than it recommends. And I used 1/2" seam allowances instead of the intended 5/8". And mine fits me better than the models on the envelope... but still a little loose. Oops!

But besides that, it turned out great! I ACTUALLY READ THE INSTRUCTIONS on this one, folks. The collar-that-holds-the-front-and-back-together was a new thing for me, so I did read the instructions for (most of) the steps. ;)

I didn't use the pattern's skirt; I just made a two-panel pleated skirt. But I wasn't really thinking when I cut out the pattern, and I made the skirt the entire width of the fabric. So it ended up about a foot and a half longer than I might have chosen... haha!!!

I guess it's appropriate for a church wedding, at this length! ;), but I'm not sure I can rock it Jessica Alba-style for everyday and go with a long midi skirt. What do you vote? Should I cut off like 12"+ from the top and re-pleat it into the waistband? Or should I just plan to wear some awesome tall shoes and an edgy top layer?? ;)

See the updated version here!


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