8/10: Washi-Wrapped Bottle

A fun, simple project that was totally in the spirit of DIY. It came about organically: right when I was about to toss out this old bottle, I realized it was pretty, and could be wrapped with tape or yarn or something and still be usable. Bonus points when I realized it came with a special stopper that lets liquid through slowly. I slightly mangled said stopper trying to get it out, but it still works, hallelujah.

My biggest problem with this project was the extremely sticky label on the bottle. It was one of those labels where you can barely get a tiny corner off before it rips. Twas impossible! So what could I do? Well I could watch a lot of Youtube videos about removing sticky labels. And then I could just stick it into a big pot of boiling water and pray it didn’t explode. To this day, I have no idea whether that was a good idea. Someone tell me please?

But, whatever, it worked! After a couple rounds in a pot of boiling water spiked with baking soda, the label just scrubbed right off. There was still a very small amount of sticky residue, but for the project I was doing it didn’t matter much.

The next step (after thoroughly washing and drying) was to get crafty! I pulled out my washi tape (a Japanese crafting tape, available at any craft store) and decided on pink, purple and blue. I only have 4 rolls, so the decision wasn’t that difficult!

Then it was just a matter of wrapping. I was hoping to wrap it up completely, so that there would be no bottle visible below the tape, but that plan fell apart when I began to wrap. The bottle has these beautiful contours that want to bend the tape on angles when you wrap it, and who am I to argue with a bottle? So I just did what the bottle told me to do, trying to keep the tape straight and not catch any air bubbles. When I got to the “halfway point”, the angles levelled out and I wrapped my way back down. I did this with all three colours, starting at different points on the base. Basically, I just had fun with it! The result:

 I love how graphic it turned out, and how the tape looks layered over itself. Some sections I went over twice with tape, others I left more translucent. I also wrapped three stripes around the neck of the bottle.

Finally, I went into the kitchen, boiled together a 1/2 cup of sugar and a 1/2 cup of water until the sugar dissolved, then poured it into my bottle. I labelled it (with washi tape, of course!) and now it sits on my counter proudly! I love how it looks, and when I run out of simple syrup (because of making a few too many cocktails) then I’ll just remove the label and use it as a vase.

This project was also fun, because now it’s gotten me on the lookout for quirky bottles to save and maybe reuse for projects like this one. Easy peasy!

And that makes 8 completed DIY projects in 2012! See the rest of them here.

7/10: Striped Maxi Skirt

This project was pretty fun to make. And it still is fun, to wear! Also, lo and behold, it taught me several things – as these DIY projects are wont to do. I buzzed through this skirt, making my fair share of mistakes, getting justifiably annoyed (cutting fabric is a ridiculous endeavour) and fixing as I went along. I was left with a skirt! That fits me! It doesn’t fall off or anything!

Here’s what worked: it fits. It’s cute, comfortable, not too fussy to put on. I like to wear it around the house mostly, but I have worn it a couple times on the street. Mostly, my goal with this skirt was just to practice sewing techniques, so I’m happy even just to wear it for mucking around in the kitchen.

But there were a few things that didn’t work. First, I messed up my thread tension, so the side seam is a little bumpier than I might have liked, but it’s not too noticeable when it’s on. Also, it’s a little tricky to walk in, which might explain why I don’t wear it out much! It’s long, and not very flared, so I have to take small geisha-esque steps, unless I hike it up a bit. Next time, I would flare it quite a bit more (like this tutorial shows) so that it’s easier to walk in. And I ended up having to cut off a few inches because it was much too long at first.

I used this tutorial. For the most part, I liked it and it wasn’t too complicated. Then again, I had my fair share of frustration in making this skirt, so use at your own risk. (Although likely that was only due to my inexperience.) I used a simple jersey-like fabric that I found at the store, I have absolutely no specs on it whatsoever. It’s comfy and soft.

(I’m a goof. Did you know this about me?)

It was a terrific second sewing project. I should probably give you a disclaimer: sewing experts would probably shudder at my sewing. Objectively, I suck. But this is probably the easiest it gets (3 seams, that’s it), which means that if I can do it, so can you! Perhaps the process wasn’t that fun (at times – at others, it was!), but getting a finished product certainly was.

And with that, I’m finished 7/10 DIY projects this year! See the rest of them here.

6/10: Zippered Bag

This a perfectly imperfect project, but it’s one of my favourites so far. Although, when I think about all the things I’ve made this year, I’m thrilled. I now have sweet little handmade things all over my apartment and it really makes it a lot more homey. But I think the reason I love this funny little bag so much is because it’s my first ever complete sewing project, and it was both easier and more adorable than I thought it would be.

Granted, the “handiwork” on my bag might be pretty shoddy – the lining isn’t quite lined up, the stitches might be a little uneven… it’s probably enough to make seasoned seamstresses cringe. In fact, I was lucky enough to hang out in a really cool boutique today and was awed to discover that the owner sews all the clothes herself; it was all so beautifully made! Even though I doubt I’ll ever have her level of skill, it was still very inspiring for me, and it made me want to improve as much as I can. I am considering making this very simple skirt/dress next, as a foray into garment sewing. We shall see.

I’ve been hoping to make this bag for a few months now. In fact, when I was home over reading week, I cut the fabric (probably one reason this project came together so quickly at the end) and found a zipper, just in time to discover that my mom’s old sewing machine was broken. The bag project was shelved, until my mom gave me my own sewing machine for my birthday! I toted the cut fabric pieces and zipper home with me after my birthday weekend, and on a study break last week, I created this end product.

All told, it probably took me about forty-five minutes of sewing, because I was very green about it, and wanted to follow the steps very carefully. I used this tutorial, omitting the iron-on or painted aspects that she discusses. I just followed along as best I could with the actual sewing/cutting instructions. And you know what? Despite the slight wonkiness of my fabric and the very limited reach of my skills, it still worked out! Like I said, I was completely surprised. I went into it thinking that if it completely flopped, it didn’t matter because it was only a few scraps of old fabric and some wasted time. I think that not trying to be perfectionistic takes some of the pressure off, and makes it easier to go with the flow and try your best. That being said, I think this is an amazing beginner’s project – it is apparently quite tricky to mess up.

I haven’t quite decided what I’ll use it for yet. Pencil case? Toiletries bag? Don’t know. I also don’t know how long it’ll hold up – I’ve read blog posts already about how these little pouches like to break down pretty fast. But hey! This was a project to learn from, and learn I did. All it means is that there’s more to come in the future! You can check out some of the fun sewing projects I’m considering here on Pinterest.

And with this, I’m at 6 DIY projects for the year! I’m loving it so much though, I may end up with more than 10 by the end of 2012. I wouldn’t complain about it! See the rest of the DIY projects here.

Ps. Turning it inside-out to reveal the “final product” is totally the best part.

4/10: Colourblock Hats

I’ve been itching to write this post for weeks now! Over reading week, I spent a lot of time learning how to knit. In the span of a few days, I learned how to properly cast-on (I’d been doing it in an unnecessarily difficult manner), knit on circular needles, knit on double-pointed needles (that one was a mind-bender), and change colours properly. I unravelled things, a lot. I started over, a lot. I had a ton of help from my mom and my knitting-whiz of a Grandma – I realized that it’s much easier to learn from real people than it is from videos. (Duh.) I also got to borrow my Grandma’s entire collection of bamboo knitting needles and some hot pink double-pointed needles. Sexy.

I was originally planning to gift the hat above to my best friend for her birthday (which is today! Happy Birthday S! xo) but, at the risk of sounding like a fashion snob, they just weren’t her colours. So I vowed to knit her another one, and started wearing this one myself (because they were my colours). Luckily, the second hat I made was a lot cleaner, less mistakes. Plus, I not-so-inconspicuously asked her which colours of yarn she liked best and knit those into the hat. Problem solved! Here she is in her hat:

Altogether now: d’aww.

To make the hats, I used this pattern for His + Her Knit Hats from the purl bee. I love that website. It’s like knitting, for young hipsters. Like me. Kind of. The pink yarn was a no-name brand on sale at Michael’s, it was really soft and fuzzy. The orange was Softee Chunky by Bernat. The cream was from a giant skein I found in the basement at my mom’s house, label long since lost.

I gifted the hat yesterday, on one of the warmest days of the year so far. Today, too, has been incredibly beautiful. I even went running, if you can believe it. So maybe it’s practically Spring…but it’s the thought that counts! Worst case scenario, we can save these hats til next winter and wear them like twins. My plan all along, of course.

And thus wraps up 4 of 10 DIY projects for 2012! (I’m counting both hats as one, because they were virtually identical, using the same skills.) See the rest of the DIY projects here.