Friday, July 29, 2011

This week in DIY: Bert the magnificent, gin & tonic and a child with unusually large hands

Last night's premier of Project Runway (eatlovebert, btw) reminded me of how diy-ing my own clothing got me through the first 15 years of my life. I was a little raggedy ann out of necessity, hiding safety pins that held my jeans buttoned as I outgrew them at a pace too fast for my working class parents to keep up with. I secretly slept in my clothes after they were freshly washed so they would stretch out enough to be worn the next day. Surprisingly my mom never commented that I was already fully dressed for school when she woke me up.

I wore her t-shirts, two at a time (she's 6'1", can you imagine?) with the sleeves rolled up so it wouldn't look too ridiculous. Back then I wasn't thinking of how I could make an amazing outfit out of all of this, so much as I was hoping not to repeat an item of clothing in the same school week. OH THE HORROR! And cause for immediate mean girls expulsion.

Old Sweatshirt Becomes Super Cute Cardigan
Doesn't she look like Elle McPherson?
Source: dee*construction on Flickr

That Before picture looks just like a sweatshirt I would've stolen from my mom and worn. To school. As-is. To avoid embarrassment. Oy.

To me, do-it-yourself is the most basic human instinct, besides wanting to eat babies. And construction/deconstruction/construction is universally primal among my thought processes. 

When I'm cooking, I imagine the whole meal on my fantasy plate, then I break it down to the individual foods themselves, what pans I need and how to juggle them back together. I'm usually sauteeing while simultaneously thinking of what else is in the fridge that I could use. Grain mustard, radishes, seeds, lemons.

When in doubt, I always squeeze a lemon.

I can see myself making a gin & tonic right about now.
Source: (from top left, clockwise),,,,

When I see a piece of furniture or artwork, I immediately think "How can I make that?" instead of "How much does that cost."

I love the scale of this frame leaning behind the sofa. The visual texture of the photos is the perfect conceptual compliment to the brick wall. Traveled, weathered and full of stories. Not to mention the Union Jack pillow, which could easily be made with old t-shirts and stich witchery. I hope I get around to this one.

Travel Photos in Large Scale Frame

I don't remember the first time I wanted to be Martha Stewart. I'm sure it was a closeted fantasy, because no self-respecting tomboy would be caught dead with a glue gun, and we didn't raise pheasants in our backyard.

Somewhere along the way, maybe when I bought my first sewing machine at 19 - an old White that was built into the table with a knee pedal I found for $25 at an estate sale - I knew I had acquired something golden. Something that opened possibilities for a cheaper, more interesting way of life.

 I had no idea what to do with it, but somehow I made a pencil skirt that DIDN'T FALL APART WHEN I WORE IT. The zipper was totally crooked in the back, but I pretended it was part of the design.

Yes, somewhere along the way, I became a Martha-ite. And probably even more secretly, I stuck with her through her unfortunate (but deserved) time on the rock.

Paper Pendant Lamps
Use simple paper shades and add layer upon layer of pretty goodness.
This is something I would do just for the fun of it. I don't actually have anywhere to put it.

Have you ever wanted to jam spoons into your eyeballs trying to find your other earring? One time I actually slapped myself in the face when I was trying to unjangle a necklace. Pull. Yourself. Together!

Drawer Pull Jewelry Holder

Do you realize that a person's options for jewelry storage are limited to those canvas closet things with plastic see through openings (which I have), stretched out pantyhose, ballerina boxes or tupperware?

One time when I was little, my dad got me a jewelry box. I didn't have any jewelry, so I just put rocks in it. My point is that it looked like a miniature china cabinet, and we weren't china cabinet people. We were bull-in-china-shop people.

It was small-tall and made from lacquered cherry wood. It had etched glass double doors that opened out, and it was mirrored in the back (so you could see yourself try on your jewelry, of course). It was so tiny, and I was an unusually large child with unusually large appendages. I could barely fit my hands into it, either to place or extract my rocks. I had to just toss them in there and turn it on its side to get them out.

Which just reminds me of how much I love plants. Look! She put plants in rocks!

Pressed Garden Leaf Stones

And I love seeing plants in curious places, like clear containers.

Dinosaurs belong in their native surroundings.
Source: (from top left, clockwise),,

My friend Elizabeth gave me this one after I had surgery.

From Elizabeth
She got it at Iron & Eve Designs.

(What surgery, you ask? Click over here to find out.)

What are your proudest DIY's of late?


  1. My proudest DIY's of late ?
    My recycled terracotta pots which you can see here :
    and my recycled folding chairs and cushions which you can see here:
    I loved this post by the way! I always think that too :"How can I make that" instead of " How much would that cost" when I see something :-)
    Have a great weekend!

  2. Hi Bea, I love the color on those cushions! How can you go wrong with hot pink polka dots, really. Thanks for reading and sharing!


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