DIY for competent adults

there are things i can do and things i cannot.

in the interest of personal self-esteem, i will start by listing a few of the things i can actually do.

i can make babies. i can bake a pie like no one else. i can host a fabulous dinner party. i can write a research paper. also i am flexible. as in my body, not my attitude.

growing up i never learned how to make things or fix things or do stuff by myself. blaming is cliche but if i had to point fingers it would be at my mother. my mother is great. the greatest. but the woman does not know how to sew a button and neither do i.

in grade school i was a brownie and worked diligently to earn badges in all sorts of useless manner. braiding, making friendship bracelets, being nice. that sort of thing. my sash was covered with them. but while the other girls’ mothers sewed their daughter’s badges on, mine just super-glued them. 

one time my parents decided to paint their house blue. my entire “i did it myself” memory as a child was painting the front door. a few months ago i drove the kids past the house where i grew up and made them look at it. true story.

but that’s the only thing i ever remember them doing and writing this i’m wondering if they were responsible for painting the ENTIRE house or if they ended up hiring someone to finish up. if it wasn’t so late i would call and ask. the thing is that i remember various rooms in our house being painted different colours over the decade we lived there and i ALWAYS remember it being done by a professional.

need a new deck? hire a professional. decide to remodel the kitchen? hire a professional. need your pants hemmed? take it to a professional. or at least someone who actually knows how to use a needle and thread.

to my dad’s credit he once built my sister and i a playhouse in our backyard. it took him forever to make and was totally crooked but we loved it anyway. i also think he knew the basics of using a needle and thread. as in, if a button fell off his shirt he could probably fix it.

when i was in my first couple of years of university i remember this huge atkins diet craze happening where i felt guilty for even looking at a bagel. now i feel the same way about craftiness in general. etsy is a thing. pinterest is a super thing. knitting. canning. quilting. sewing. these have all become hipster things to do. akin to wearing glasses, skinny jeans, and being totally ironic.

suddenly i do not fit in.

also, i am obsessed with etsy. i used to like browsing the site but during my recent bout of insomnia my browsing became super intensive. i made categories of things to gift people. do i know you? then you probably have potential gifts assigned to you.

pinterest is one of those things that i could get lost in if i wasn’t careful. actually if i spent anytime at all on pinterest i would probably take to crying myself to sleep. “why are these people so talented and ingenious?” i would sob. “and how do they manage to glue things without sticking their fingers together?”

my mom likes pinterest. the site has given her such clever ideas as putting my kids in the bath with glow sticks and the lights turned off. actually they loved that. but then last christmas she insisted on attempting to make snowman marshmallows that theoretically should have looked something like this.


except that we actually made this.


well done us.

one of my favourite sites EVER is craftfail because it makes me feel normal for not being super ridiculously talented and creative. but also it makes me feel apathetic because i am dis-interested in attempting most crafts because i expect imminent failure. thus i do nothing. until i have a big idea to actually do something.

so during my sleepless summer nights of etsy-ing, i came across many shops selling gorgeous skirts and dresses for little girls.

such as corinne citrolo‘s,






and cre8tive.


i could totally totally do that, i thought. how hard could it possibly be?

this all happened around the same time i turned 30. no matter the dress clothes, the mortgage, the three kids, i never felt like a real adult. i felt like i was tricking people somehow. but then i reminded myself (again) that 30 was actually a real adult number and decided that yes, i would in fact make clothes for my girls.

being all initiative-y and stuff, i signed up for a beginner’s sewing class at spool of thread in vancouver. i was super super psyched. “look at me”, i thought. “i am going to make stuff!!!” i excitedly perused around the store believing that i was soon going to be able to make all number of kids clothing goodness. i then stumbled upon oliver + s patterns.


i looked through the stack of them as if i was some kind of a sewing master. “hmmm” i thought, “would this particular item that i am going to make look better on kid #2 or kid #3?” i asked myself. i was completely tempted to purchase one for the day (next week?) when i would be a skillful sewer.

but then i strode up to the counter to pay for my class and saw a basket with these cute little DIY felt hoop embroidery kits by heidi boyd and became so excited that i decided to purchase the fox kit immediately.


“is this hard to do?”, i said to the girl behind the counter. “can you sew a button?” she asked. “ummmm. yes. definitely yes.” i lied. “then it should be no problem for you” she said. so i purchased it even though i had not sewn a button to date. oh, but i’m 30, i reminded myself. i am an adult and i can do things with buttons and sewing needles and such.

i went home and decided to begin my craft that night. except that i was so excited about the project i was soon to complete that i poured myself a large glass of wine and decided to do some etsy browsing instead. after all, having not even opened my kit, i decided that i should look at other felt embroidery to inspire myself. i was particularly taken with catshy crafts and decided that after my current project (that i was still to open) i would take on some of these designs. i was inspired with this grouping and had even decided which wall in my house would best suit all of my future handiwork.


so pretty, i thought. and then i opened up my kit and cut out some felt fox pieces. and then i tried to pin them to the hoop except i realized that i hadn’t thought to buy straight pins so wrestled with some safety pins instead until they sort of resembled haphazard straight pin with weird curls on the end. then i got tired or bored or both and went off to watch tv instead. my craft was meant to be finished the next day. or the next. or even the week after. then it sat on the kitchen table unfinished for awhile so i would be forced to look at it. and now it has been moved into a cupboard where it lives to this day. really i should have just purchased a ready made (or two) from catshy craft. like this one


or this one



but nevermind. i was going to be a sewer, not a stitcher.

i did complete my beginner sewing class where i made two very cute throw pillow cases. and while i was high as a kite afterwards, i look back and remember that i was hand-held the entire class. i didn’t really know what i was doing. i just listened and did what i was told and hoped for the best. of course i’m saying this in hindsight because at the end of the class when i realized that i had actually produced something nice, i felt like a total rock star and instantly signed up for a tote-making class. if i was to go back today and attempt (even with a pattern) to re-create what i had made i feel like the results would be iffy. or i wouldn’t be able to properly read the pattern. or that i would somehow set the sewing machine on fire. it happens.

i feel especially useless though when i take into consideration that one of my best friends is the co-creator of tin can knits. not only does this woman knit like nobody’s business, she designs patterns, teaches, publishes books, and made several dozen 1-cup mason jar servings of various flavours of homemade ice cream for her son’s first birthday. i chose roasted cherry goat cheese ice cream and it was close to the best thing i have ever eaten. this friend is also trying to entice me into learning to quilt. right. because i’d be stellar awesome at that.

oh wait, did i mention that i occasionally model for tin can knits


hello me in lovely sweater and kerchief from ‘pacific knits’


anyhow, long before tin can knits was a thing, this friend of mine gifted me a private knitting lesson at urban yarns. it was good and i learned a lot and being me i spent an exorbitant amount of money on a DIY scarf set. and then i got bored. and then one day my husband picked it up and finished it like it was no biggie. he’s crafty like that.

we have this sad but true saying in our household that everything i can do he can do better. even if i’ve originally taught the thing to him. he just has to one up me. saying this makes me sound self-deprecating and compliment-seeking but it’s the truth. every project the guy does turns to gold. he is currently wondering if i would like him to finish my felt embroidery craft. the answer is probably.

it is a given on etsy that people make amazing things. but also they design amazing things that they want you to make for yourself.  like fairyfox. apparently she believes that me or someone else can make an entire dollhouse and furniture out of felt.


and the fact that she has managed to come up with all of this literally blows my mind. i am incredulous.


a roasted felt chicken and smiley popsicles? not in my wildest dreams would i be able to come up with that.

also i love felted dolls and (hold the laughter) i have seriously considered purchasing one of these softie PDF’s and asking my husband to make one. or my son. whichever. just not me.

dolls and daydreams is amazing for softies. that’s apparently the hipster way of referring to stuffies. besides the fact that i hate stuffies and am always trying to rid our house of them. but those little buggers keep breeding some how and i can never get rid of them. but softies? i’m okay with softies.

in my “i actually have the patience to learn to make these” dream, i would acquire all of dolls and daydreams’ patterns. like for these gorgeous little girls


or this knightImage

or the 3 pigs and big bad wolf because sometimes you just want to be able to tell that story and have the appropriate softies on hand to do so.



pipe dreams. so good.

one day i will decide to accept the fact that my talents do not lie within the sphere of craftiness. other people can make their awesome things and i have a credit card to pay for it. but one day…





8 thoughts on “DIY for competent adults

  1. I was actually quite proud of our Xmas marshmello people….until now! And, I guess I should say a huge ‘thank you’ to the inventor of SUPER glue!! Just for the record, I saw your skillfully crafted pillow and still secretly think you paid ‘Alexa’ to make it!

  2. awww thanks so much sweetie …. and I’m telling you … my patterns are super easy …. you should give one a whirl 😉 you’d be sewing up softies like a dream .. they are soooooooo easy 😉 (and rather addictive 😉 ) Hugs Sarah xxxx

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