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!


How to Wear DIY: The confusing fur scarf, and goal-setting

I pulled out the new DIY faux fur scarf last weekend and tried it belted! Like some of my inspirations for it. I got dressed upstairs but the scarf was downstairs, so husband thought my outfit was complete until I got to the coat closet and put on the scarf, and wrapped my belt around it--he was very confused. Apparently men are not open to the idea of belted furry scarves. Poor guy, has to deal with my clothing experimenting.

I wore this fun, multi-textured outfit to the Portland Bloggers January event--goal-setting and brainstorming to kick off the year right with some blogging inspiration! I'm the group's Educational Events Chair, so had a hand in planning this one!

As you can see (bottom right), I got pretty into it.
All photos by Macey

Jenni did a great job, as usual, putting together the graphics and printables (free printable blog planner!), and she and I led part of the session while Kayla and Bee led another group. We did a January blog goal setting event last January as well, so it was neat to check back with many attendees who were at both!, and we had a ton of new people, as well.

Oh, January in Oregon. The time for fair aisle sweaters is pretty much over but we still want to be cozy! Hence the multiple layers and faux fur scarf.

Jacket: J.Crew via Goodwill. Shirt: c/o Lucky Brand. Faux leather skirt: Target. Necklace: F21. Watch: Ross. 
Belt: Target via Goodwill. Shoes: Land's End Canvas. Scarf: DIY, tutorial here!


A resort wear dress - wishful thinking and Florida trip!

If it's as cold where you are as it is here, I apologize for this post.

But I'm going to a warm place next week!!, and had to get prepared. Thank you all for your helpful suggestions and notes last week about packing for Florida!! Sounds like Florida's weather this time of year is pretty good but not necessarily as warm as I'd like, so I realize this dress may be a little too optimistic... but that's how I am sometimes.

Luckily temps are looking up for next week--high 70's in Tampa, low 80's in Orlando--and I think it'll feel HOT to me after this Oregon fall and half of winter. So I'm packing some versatile layers and jeans, but planning to get a little Vitamin D in some warm weather clothes as well.

With the trip coming up, I looked at my fabric stash for some fun tropical/resort-ey prints or brights, and didn't find the perfect bright floral, but did unearth this blue and white lightweight cotton that I had cut out into a shapeless experimental dress last summer and never made.

I used the world's most basic strapless dress pattern, McCall's M5849 (discontinued, princess seam strapless dress, the same as several basic Simplicity formalwear patterns), but I cut it on the bias for a little more casual look. Has a little more movement to it, plus with the stripes it gave me a sort of zigzag across the bodice. I also cut the straps on the bias, and lemme tell you, bias cut straps are a little annoying to sew, but SO much cuter than straight grain ones! The skirt is a simple angled rectangle (left over from the dress I originally cut out). Gathered and hemmed! The dress zips up the back with an invisible zipper.

Here it is!

Should be great over a swimsuit, or on a hot day for some walking around. Will be great paired with a jean jacket! Or... other ideas?

(Am I crazy, or will this work for February in Florida?!) - Wishful Thinker =)


Make your own coconut butter--trust me, it's amazing!!

Every once in a while I do a real food recipe or tutorial, and I got a request for this one after tweeting about how I just figured out how to make coconut butter. And I figured, sure, I'll try it again and take pics and share with you!!

I've honestly never ever ever bought coconut butter, because it's a little pricey and until 4 years ago when I became raw vegan (and then 1 year ago, when I switched to a basically Paleo diet) I had no reason to use it in anything. You may have never wanted to use it, either, but trust me, it's amazing for making tasty, satisfying real food desserts and treats in a snap!

One-ingredient real food recipes

I've talked before about making your own sunbutter (sunflower butter), and I love my DIY almond butter/almond meal is a must-do for a real food household. And husband and I did a great photo tutorial of DIY coconut milk from fresh coconut! So it's time to do another from-scratch one-ingredient recipe, and coconut butter is super duper easy and way cost-effective.

Why coconut butter?

Coconut butter is very different from coconut oil; coconut oil is oil that is extracted from the meat (like olive oil or almond oil). Coconut butter is the pureed meat of the coconut, including the oil and the fiber (like almond butter). It has a much stronger coconut flavor than coconut oil, and the texture by itself is a little mealy. Might take a bit to get used to if you eat a bite plain. Like coconut oil, it is used in whole food desserts, plus curries and other tasty recipes.

While I'd never bought coconut butter before (it's like $9/jar!!) I had tasted some before, but I think it had gone rancid stored in a warm pantry. (If you rarely use it, store it in the fridge to protect it, but it will get pretty hard in there. I store mine in a pantry way far away from the windows and stove. It gets solid when cold.)

We just finished a 21 Day Sugar Detox today (started the first Monday of this month!) and one of the recipes in the book was the Lemon Vanilla Melt-Aways (recipe also online here) (I IG'd mine here). The coconut butter and oil are the base for those. (On the detox we ate no sweeteners of any kind, and no fruit except one piece or less per day of green bananas or green apple. So more than halfway through the detox, fresh lemon juice and coconut butter and oil tasted not sweet, but quite decadent!) So it was time I perfect my coconut butter-making!

Homemade coconut butter "recipe"

It's the simplest thing in the world; it's hardly a recipe. How to:


  • Put the coconut into your food processor and turn it on.
  • Every 2 minutes, stop the processor, open it up, scrape the looser pieces off the sides, and turn it on for another 2 minutes. It will slowly transform! Mine took 12 minutes of processing.
  • Store in a cold, dark place.

Yum!! So easy!

It's delicious and versatile! Use it in lots of simple few-ingredient real food desserts like fudge, sauce, flourless cake or brownies (try any of these amazing recipes!)... You can even make flavored nut butters like this amazing chocolate coconut butter. I'd just eat that stuff out of the jar or on a banana or something!

Other great recipes for making your own coconut butter here:

Try it!



What to wear to Florida in winter... DIY resort wear ideas and call for suggestions!

When was the last time you were in Florida?
If the answer is "right now," or "recently," I need your help. I'm headed there in a couple weeks with the family to visit cousins and their babies and my aunt and uncle, and haven't been somewhere warm and tropical since our honeymoon! (P.S. Really funny to read that post from 2+ years ago--we disconnected for the week and some funny "news" happened that I noted in the post! Ha!)

Of course, any fun trip is an opportunity to me to pick a theme for my wardrobe and take some memorable pictures where I like the way I look. This trip sneaked up on me a little, so so far that's meant some recent Pinterest research and a limited bit of frantic shopping last weekend where I found nothing. I think I need help!

Also, I have very very limited knowledge about the East Coast. I've been there, um, four times? Hawaii was so casual and laid-back, really just made sense to wear whatever was comfortable (some of what I lived in). Parts of Florida are preppier and more urbanized in comparison, so I guess my style on vacay there might not be as different from my everyday warm weather Oregon style, but still, I want to have fun with dressing for the place! Plus, Florida has some amazing historic palaces and things, has more of a historic feel than Waikiki did, and I might want to add in some more romantic/retro florals.

I've been saving some ideas on my cute clothes board, my dresses board, and my brights board, but I'm still a little stumped. So far I'm thinking my basics for this trip will be:
1) navy/white
2) stripes
3) white jeans
4) floral dresses
5) gladiator sandals

I know it's resort wear season in the stores, but there's still not a ton of selection, and I'd love to DIY using fabric and pieces I already have. So help me out--first, what to do they wear in Florida this time of year? Second, any more DIY ideas to add to the list? Some listed here, and I bet a lot of the summer picnic DIY fashion ideas I collected last summer would work, too!

Tropical vacay wardrobe ideas

A tropical floral skirt would be easy to make!!, if I had such cool fabric.
And how about a crop top?! I've been wanting to make one of these from a cute print fabric that I don't have dress-size yardage of.
And of course there are summery dresses.

I have never in my memory worn a romper, and the word intimidates me a little, but I think I could rock one of these! Would be a pretty easy thing to sew, too!
Plus maybe some DIY cuffed cutoffs, or a painted stripe tee? I already have some of those! (Jean shorts: (I made these a few months ago, and these last summer, and these first ones rocked)

So, now I've spent way more time than I expected bringing together pins and ideas, and I still don't feel solid about my packing list. ;) Inspired, a little, but it's hard to think about the warm weather when I'm still wearing riding boots and puffy vests whenever I can!

What would you bring to Florida?!??


A new peplum top variation: pleated peplum and winter party look

I've made many peplum tops in my day, but most of them are summery and lightweight and in light colors. I have two main peplum top methods, both using regular dress patterns and then adding a skirt--circle or gathered. But this is a new variety: a pleated peplum!

First inspired by this cute purple peplum top:
And here's another recent inspiration: this J.Crew Factory collared peplum top:

And here's my version! From a very purple satin I bought literally years ago--I remember, it was February of 2010--for another project but never used. I even bought the zipper back then, which was nice for now (remember my 2014 sewing resolutions? Having zippers is still a bit of a luxury for me!).

I used my old fave Simplicity 2444 because I figured a basic dress bodice would be good, and the angle of the darts on 2444 is nice. But now, looking up at the original purple inspiration again, I see a princess seamed bodice like the one on Simplicity 1913 would have been almost identical! The fit on that one is pretty good, too. Oh, well. Next time.

I didn't use a pattern for the skirt part; it's just the width of the fabric, two layers, sewn together/understitched then pleated to the waist. I'd probably use one and a half panels or even two next time for a fuller skirt!

With jeans and heels, perfect easy party look!

But, I won't be buying that shiny satin at JoAnn again. I actually thought at one point of using it inside out, because the other side looks kind of like a matte taffeta, but I literally forgot until I had sewn all the darts and vertical seams this time. Oh, well. Shiny it is!


3 (or unlimited!) amazing easy ways to embellish a grey sweatshirt

I've been excited about this post for a while so I'm stoked I've finally completed my three sweatshirt embellishments and gotten photos in the daylight! ;) This post was born from 1) my love of grey heather everything and 2) the fashion world's approval of sweatshirts for trendy/everyday wear. Isn't it nice when things combine like that?

In short, sparkly and fun (mostly grey) sweatshirts are everywhere these days and we now have permission to wear them out of the house. This is good not only because they are comfy, but because, with the extra sparkle and interest, my accessorizing skills are not called into question as readily as if I tried to make a plain sweatshirt look fashionable. (Some people can pull it off, for sure, but but I guess because I'm not the world's most glam accessorizer, I feel a little plain in just a grey sweatshirt.)

So here's the Cliff's Notes of embellished sweatshirt ideas I collected while documenting the trend for this post. Love!!

Source: J.Crew, Anthropologie, The Glitter Guide, J.Crew Factory, Abercrombie & Fitch, Old Navy, Marc Marc Jacobs, Gap, Threads for Thought

It's also so funny to me that, for the past 4 years of blogging and doing simple DIY projects on knits, I'm
still inspired by J.Crew and Anthro. My style has changed, but so has theirs!

And in the recent blogging world, I'm not alone in loving these--trust me or see my recent Cute Clothes board pins. Also blogged out there, Mindy has cute J.Crew ones--this one, dressed up...
Source: The Mindy Project Style

And this one she wears in for her "workout outfit."
Source: The Mindy Project Style

Inspired yet?! Let's get crafty!!

Unlimited Sweatshirt Embellishment Ideas

I used three cheap Old Navy sweatshirts for this. They were on sale after Christmas for literally just over $4 each, and I really liked them, so I figured I'd better stock up. Perfect for expressing myself with some craftiness!

I used three methods on these:

  • Lettering
  • Contrast fabric overlay
  • Sequin braid trim

But you can seriously do anything to a grey or plain sweatshirt, and it will probably be cool. Did you see that tiny slice of ideas in the collage above??! ;) Seriously, do anything to one and you'll probably like it. Other embellishment tools and ideas you may want to pull out:
  • Fabric paint
  • Stencils
  • Stamp
  • Spray adhesive (to keep things in place while you sew, not as a replacement for sewing unless you're never going to wash your sweatshirt!)
  • Lace fabric
  • Lace trim
  • Tiny appliqués of ribbon or braid trim (bow shapes? rosettes? beaded things?)
  • Glitter anything

Here are my methods:

1. Lettering.

My sweet friend Jessie has a Silhouette machine and had this super cool black/silver glitter transfer stuff, so I got to use her machine and pick a font and size and print it onto the transfer. I ironed it for ages and now it's as stuck on there as any mass-produced t-shirt design!

They also make pretty cute black, white, and glitter letters you can find at the craft store. I've used those before (way back to Craft Night '04!) with great results.

I went with "Weekend" instead of something longer like the "Crème de la crème" or "Heart and soul" or "Retail therapy" ones that have been mass-produced this year. But any saying works! Just make sure you center it in the center of the sweatshirt.

2. Fabric overlays and appliqués. 

These raglan sleeve (baseball tee cut) sweatshirts are perfect for the contrast fabric panel--if you were designing them, you might give them a faux leather or semi-sheer fabric panel. But you can add a panel of any contrasting fabric to a sweatshirt like I did very easily!

I wanted to use a sparkly sweater I have instead of flat fabric, but then decided not to cut it up. Sparkly fabric or lace would be great on this!! I used a striped knit, and laid it out over the sweatshirt to cut the approximate size. I found the centers and made sure it was symmetrical. Then I sprayed spray adhesive (very carefully!!) on part of the sweatshirt and laid down the fabric overlay. Then I cut off most of the excess, leaving 1/4" or so to turn under. I turned it under at all the edges and pinned it in place; then I zigzagged all around the edges with my walking foot on. You can hardly tell it's not original to the sweatshirt!!

3. Sequin braid trim. Or any braid trim. Or sequins or sparkles in any form.

Sequin appliqués would also be great for this!! I applied this sequin braid trim with a light line of fabric glue pen glue, then hand-stitched it down to reinforce it. Excellent TV sewing activity, BTW. Think of the cool patterns you could do with sparkly braid trim!

So here's my sweatshirts, and the embellishments they got...

So cozy! I'm ready to enjoy them while we still have sweatshirt weather left!

What are your favorite embellishments for tees and sweatshirts and what should I try next time?!?

P.S. If you try any of the ideas in this list or think of your own, I'd love to see what you come up with, and I'm sure other readers would, too! Email me a photo or share it on my Facebook page!


How to Wear DIY: The gold stripe tee, skirt, and coat for winter

Rocking my gold spray paint stripe tee. Here's to simple, sparkly DIYs you can wear even in the winter! This How to Wear DIY is super wearable and what I rocked for an (early evening) date night last weekend. I love this blanket coat, too! And hey, finally an occasion to wear my faux leather pleated Target clearance skirt. ;) Would be super easy to DIY, too, if you had the fabric!

Big scarf essential. It has gold threads woven in it with the ivory yarn. Like warm jewelry!

P.S. Why does it look like I have brown roots? Since when is my hair that root color?!
(Update: Just pointed this out to husband. He says it's because it's been winter for the past few months (of hair growth) and the sun hasn't been out. Oh. Duh.)
Coat: Old Navy. Scarf: Calvin Klein from Ross. Skirt: Target. 
Shoes: DKNY from Goodwill. Tee: DIY, here!

So if you have a hankering for an easy winter DIY project, pull out your spray paint, put some newspaper down in your garage (open it after!), and try this tee!


Simple tulle party skirt in shimmery copper

Pretty, shimmery fabric and a classic full-skirt tutu shape!

I love the tulle skirt look, but it's never seemed super practical and I know from making my wedding dress skirt that sewing layers and layers of tulle is no picnic.

Just a few recent full puffy and/or sparkly skirt inspirations...
So fun! I love that the longer length, easier to wear, is still cute, and of course the festive fabrics. Cheerful!
So here's my version, and a few instructions.

You will need:

  • At least 4 yards tulle. I used the shimmery stuff--it's extremely cheap, like $0.99/yard or something, so you can buy even more and add more layers. I did two layers of two-paneled skirt on mine (4 panels total, about 36" long each).
  • 1 yard or so lining fabric. I used silk dupioni, but it was a little too stiff, so I recommend something a little lighter weight. But the silk is very nice next to my legs!
  • 1 1/2"-2" wide elastic for the waistband (I hid mine in a casing waistband)
1. Cut all the tulle panels the same length--for me, that was about 36" long each, so I opened the fabric and folded it back on itself so it was 2 yards; then folded and cut again so I had four 1-yard pieces all the same size and stacked on each other.

2. Sew the side seams of each set of panels together. I didn't press my seams open--fabric's too fragile for much but a very low iron, and it's so bouncy anyway, it hardly matters.

3. I gave the lining a proper hem (see below), but of course the tulle needs no hemming. It's nice that way.

4. Stack the tulle panels one inside the other. Since they are identical in size, it should be relatively easy to treat them as one skirt and gather the top edge.

5. Gather the top edge of the lining.

6. Match center front, side seams, and center back and pin tulle layer and lining layer together.

7. Attach the waistband (elastic, self-fabric lining fabric (cut one strip about 2" larger than your hip measurement so you know it will go over your hips!). I did this by sewing my waistband fabric right sides together with the gathered skirt, then pressing and turning it back on itself and topstitching it from the underside. I left a couple inches open at the back, fed the elastic through the casing, and sewed it up.

I thought about giving mine an elastic waistband, since an elastic waist gathered skirt is pretty much the easiest, fastest skirt project there is... but I've never seen an elastic that's exactly the right color, and having the self-fabric makes it a little dressier.

It goes together pretty quickly, aside from stacking all the layers!

Note: I had an issue with the lining fullness and had to cut it apart when it was done and re-do the gathering... so in the end, I took some length off the lining fabric and now it's much shorter than the tulle. There are two solutions to this: 1) cut the tulle shorter (sketch!! It was hard to cut straight) and 2) let the lining hem out and give it a much shorter (1/2" turned under twice) hem. I think I'll do #2 next time I have some extra time on my hands. ;)

So fun!!! Good luck sewing with tulle!!


Sewing with Friends: Alyssa's black lace Arrow-inspired dress

Super cute black lace dress knockoff DIY today, but made by my dear friend Alyssa instead of me!

Alyssa and I go way back. We met when we were about 10 and she was my closest friend in high school despite us going to different schools very far apart. Lucky us, she ended up in the Portland area after college, too, and we've reconnected in recent years and she's picked up sewing! She seems to have way more time and fabric shopping energy than I do, and she's whipped out quite a few very cute dresses. I did some pics of her in them a couple years ago--she's made even more now, and uses some of my fave patterns and has great taste. I thought it would be fun to share them with you!!!

So, this series was born--we all know how fun it is to share a random, specialized hobby with someone, and it's so super cool that Alyssa and I can talk sewing as well as favorite 90's movies, owning too many shoes, and other good things we have in common. I snapped some pics of Alyssa in her latest and greatest creation, this pretty black lace dress, and thus begins what I hope will be a somewhat regular series--Sewing with Friends!

Alyssa saw this cute Alice + Olivia dress worn by Thea on Arrow. She drafted the pattern herself and used a black stretch lace (not too scratchy!) and tan lining. I love the dropped waist!!

What an awesome knockoff, right?? She Instagrammed a similar comparison here. (She's the greatest at using my hashtag, #howtowearDIY! You can join, too!) The character Thea wears this dress at a charity party scene in one episode.

Super wearable, too, because it's short and not too bare or structured; makes it great for a date night or simple party. 

The skirt is a simple gathered skirt. For the bodice, she cut the top piece the same width as the skirt, then did some trial and error drafting where she wanted the front to lay. For the neck band, she cut a narrow curved piece and gathered the top of the bodice onto it. Then she sewed the bodice and skirt pieces together and added elastic at the waist. So simple but looks great!

The original dress is actually Alice + Olivia (love when someone else finds out where clothing on TV shows is actually from, takes some of the guesswork out!), and she totally nailed the look. See?

Wow. So fun. Thanks, Alyssa, for inspiring me to get back to the sewing machine, and for hanging out talking about clothes!!

P.S. Here's to friends who are awesome. My sweet friend Jessie just started a chic home/lifestyle/DIY blog this month and has an awesome recap of her 2013 (including Europe travels and having a baby!) and mentions me. I'm so touched. Feeling so grateful for friends that I can share things with!


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