Category Archives: Diy


20140202-005349.jpgI’ve written about felting before. This Christmas I got some awesome felting needles and reference books on it. So my first project was the owl below and the freehand white chibi totoro and robot. I’m pretty happy with the totoro, but the robot leaves more to be desired. I may just stick to simple shapes to start.

The allure is that it’s just like sculpture. If you understand spatial relationships, then you can do it. It’s like getting some play dough. You don’t need to be consistent with your punching (you kind of do, but it’s not like knitting/purling with yarn). It’s an incredibly wide entry. You can get SUPER creative with it, but there are a lot of low hanging fruit and it’s so satisfying. It’s pretty quick if you’re dealing with a small project, that you get that satisfaction in 1-5 days.

I may start making my own designs on a wool sweater. (I should pick up cheap ones at Old Navy!)

The thing about felting is it takes no real skill (I suppose you need to be good with spatial conception) and you get results fairly quickly. It’s just so much more satisfying than knitting or crocheting.

A lot less abstract and really cathartic to stab something with needles. (I did stab my palm a couple of times (ouch), so you need to be careful.



As you may know, my husband bought me a sewing machine for Christmas. (So it’s kind of been a year.) I’ve made some small pillows, pillow covers, and a shoddy dress and t shirt dress. I also created an apron from a pattern that my MIL and SIL got me as a combination gift. I’ve also made pants. That bring said, I am such a beginner, I realized that I don’t really know finishing techniques, and how to effectively use a pattern.

This led me to look for online tutorials on how to make a dress/skirt. That’s how I found Craftsy. I found a basic class for fundamentals, where Brett Bara walks you through a simple pattern from start to finish, called Sew Ready Garment Basics.

Finished skirt flat

Finished skirt flat

In the class, I made a straight/pencil skirt. It has no lining. It taught me how to properly put in pattern darts and install a zipper. I really learned some great fundamentals, such as pressing all my seams as I went and finishing my seams. I also used fusible interfacing for the first time to reinforce the waistband. I’m really pleased at how it came out.

Here’s a little quick recap.

Cutting the pattern

Cutting the pattern

The class came with a basic straight skirt pattern from Butterick B5466 Misses Skirt and Belt. It includes 6 different variations on the basic skirt. In the tutorial, she offers a view into version A and C. I created the basic version A.

The tutorial walks you through how to read the pattern, which may be very basic, but was something I was missing. I totally didn’t know any of the short hand for going along the grain/cutting the pattern so the garment lays correctly. If you never had anyone teach you how to read patterns, this is a really helpful tutorial to get you set up with all the basics.

It takes you through putting in a dart and how to press the fabric to make it look really professional. The zipper installment was pretty straight forward, too, although I kind of fudged the seam there.

A little snafu, putting in the zipper.

A little snafu, putting in the zipper.

The thing I liked the best is that I normally skimp on a lot of steps that would make a garment more professional looking, such as finishing seams, pressing, and adding interfacing to the waistband. All of these things, really helped the end result. She also had nice tips for adding the curvature to the garment.

Adding the fused interfacing/facing waistband

Adding the fused interfacing/facing waistband

And for the record, I totally missed that the sizing on these things are not based on traditional sizes and you had to take actual measurements. I actually had to fudge the pattern a bit, since I didn’t think the larger cut out would fit me. In the end, it was pretty big, and I was able to take the pattern in. I also messed up on the slope of my hips, but I easily fixed that in one of the early steps (where she has us try the skirt on – when you assemble the larger pieces). I’m pretty happy with the end result, although it’s still a little looser than I how I buy commercial garments. (I didn’t want to end up with something too snug, though.)

Not too bad for my first garment without elastic, right?

Finished skirt!

Finished skirt!

Voila! Do you guys have any patterns that are good for beginners?

I wanted to use cotton to begin with, but I might go over my steps to create a skirt that is a little shorter out of a warmer fabric for winter. Maybe something in twill, so that I can wear it to work in the coming months?

So, I was really excited when I saw this tutorial, to create realistic rocky aquarium background using styrofoam insulation and concrete mix. I totally want to try this. Check it out, the example is really good. Coupled with lots of lush real plants, I think this would take it all to the very edge. Here is a similar one.6703f285451873c2b342a472fc1ae7d4-300x160

(Photo Courtesy of DIY Aquarist)

I showed this video to my husband, who… is a painting/hobbyist. And he says, “THIS IS JUST LIKE MAKING TERRAIN! I wanted to get insulation styrofoam for my figures, but the sheet was too damn big. But if you want to do this, we could get it and use it for both our projects!” This is where figure painting hobbyists and aquarium building come together. This is probably why we work, as well.

I’m not going to lie. As I’ve gotten older, my exhibitionist streak waned. That inkling in me that motivated all those blogs from the past is gone. That being said, I’ve been struggling to reinvent my blogging life. There is part of me that wants to change the domain, the name of this blog, with the concern that I professional life would collide with this blog.


I’ve also recently gotten married. The stars aligned and my husband wanted to take the jump. I have a lovely engagement ring that my MIL gave me that belonged to his grandmother. I gave him my father’s watch. Our ceremony had under 30 guests and came together in 2 weeks with the help of family and close friends. It was a total DIY affair.


It’s been a couple of weeks, but married life is different. We lived like a couple for a while, but now we’re partners. I’ll talk about that sometime. This isn’t something I went into 2013 expecting. This isn’t really how I imagined I would get married. Apparently my friends disagree with me, as they said it was very “me.” Whatever that means.

Health wise, I haven’t been very good. I’ve been lax and put on some pounds that I’m looking to get rid of. I love food too much and living with someone who does not need to restrict their eating is proving hard for me to lose weight.

So that is my life in a nutshell. Did I mention my wedding budget was under $5000? It was probably under $2500, but I haven’t done all of the math. (The biggest expense was the plane tickets.) Yup. Maybe I will talk about that in a future post.


I’ve been aging Manhattan’s in a charred white oak barrel for the last 2 months. We’ve had several batches and they’ve been getting rave reviews. Read more about it here.

There’s a lot of expensive places, but you really don’t need anything more than $20-30 white oak barrel for home. 1 liter does it for us, but I purchased 2 liters for friends’ bridal showers and wedding gifts (with suggested alcohol to age). You can age wines, vinegars, and more. It’s really versatile and CUTE. I love it as a rustic addition to our decor. Most barrels come with a stand and a small little spigot! It’s the most adorable thing I’ve seen in a while.

My other half wants to try to re-char the insides after a few tries. We’ll report back on how successful we are in reusing the barrels. Hopefully we don’t burn anything else down. (Wish us luck!)