book reviews, crafts, cheap things…

Posts tagged “diy

Express Book Review: The Most Beautiful Rot by Ocean Capewell

This book deserves more than an “express entry.” But time. You know.

This is a totally awesome independently published book. A punk house is its framework, and the residents are its substance. As a reader you spend some time in the shoes of each resident, each similar enough to live together– but still quite different from one another. You will like this book if you like things like: zines, art, DIY, poetry, dirt, sex, and more… It’s really kind of epic.

You should buy a copy.

Book Review: White elephants : on yard sales, relationships, and finding what was missing by Katie Haegele

White elephants : on yard sales, relationships, and finding what was missing

This is my kind of book. Katie Haegele shares her finds over a period of three years worth of rummage sales, thrift stores, and yard sales. For anyone who feels like they could spend an entire day at Thrift Town or in the Goodwill Bins– this is the book for you, too. Haegele and I may have different thrift tastes (I lean toward clothes and she leans toward furniture and home  decor and nicknacks), and we may live in different second-hand price zones (I live in San Francisco where yard sales don’t exist and thrift store pants cost $9, and she lives in Philedelphia where you can get stuff for 25 cents), but, um, let’s just say that I found it really satisfying to read about her finds.

But don’t be thinking that this book is just the print version of a haul video. The story of it all is prefaced by the sad death of her father, and thrifting/rummaging/yard sale-ing is one of the ways that she and her mom and her sister get closer to each other in the aftermath. You also get interesting insights about the sales, the people who go to them, and more.  It’s totally good!

It’s small press, and you can buy a copy directly from her here (recommended), or you can try to find a library copy here.


No-budget DIY t-shirt upgrade!

I’ve gotten into the habit of primarily posting book reviews. But the thing is, I make things too, and always think about how I should eventually get around to posting them here. I’m not planning to break into the world of detailed tutorials any time soon, but here’s a quick description of what I did to a t-shirt that I found in the street (and washed!) a week or two ago.


Here’s the shirt. It’s one of those 50/25/25 shirts from American Apparel. In my size. I scored!


Here’s the bag full of jersey knit (t-shirt fabric) that I keep in my closet, mostly for this sort of thing and for making homemade underwear. It’s full of old t-shirts and jersey knit scraps from Scrap and Fabrix.


[Sewing machine glamor shot: on and ready to go!] By the way, my machine of the last two years is really awesome and makes sewing a pleasure. Plus, it has that amazing flower print in the corner.


So I cut up pieces of jersey cotton, arranged them into a picture, and pinned them into place onto a piece of tracing paper. With the tracing paper still pinned to the pieces, I sewed the applique together. Once the applique was securely in one piece, I tore the paper off the back (it comes off easily), positioned it on the shirt, pinned it in place with a layer of tracing paper under the shirt fabric, and sewed it on. And then tore the tracing paper off the underside of the t-shirt fabric. So what’s up with the tracing paper? It keeps the stretchy jersey cotton from stretching while you’re sewing it, and therefore allows all the pieces to maintain their intended shape. I bought mine online from Nancy’s Notions (I originally intended it for tracing patterns).


Couch: Reupholstered

When we first moved into our apartment, we had very little furniture and bought this loveseat for $50 at the thrift store across the street. Considering both the price of things in this city– and our small budget, it was a good deal. The velour was rubbed off on parts of the pillows, it was a weird color, and it was sagging a bit in the middle– but it was roach and bedbug-free, didn’t smell, and gave us somewhere to sit other than the floor, the futon mattress, or the desk chair.

Fast-forward five years, and the poor thing appeared to be destined for Sunset Scavenger. The seat  pillows had ripped open, and had a bad habit of sliding off of the actual couch. The remainder of the velour was dingy from spending much time next to an open window on a busy street. We tried creatively draping it in blankets, and I even attempted to shop online for one of those stretchy couch covers. The blankets persistently fell off, and the couch covers cost as much as we had paid for the couch itself. 

I bought a bunch of really intense vintage fabric a few weeks ago at Goodwill– White polyester with yellow and blue diamonds, and a canvas checkerboard pattern with daisies. They went together alarmingly well and the grand total was $4.49. I had somewhat nebulous plans for the fabrics– but everything came together yesterday at the laundromat when I was folding the polyester– “wow, this thing is bigger than my couch!” That afternoon I bought a staple gun– and 500 staples and a few hours later I had a “new” couch.

This is the first thing I’ve upholstered, and hopefully it won’t be the last!