Hone Your Craft: 5 DIY Projects That You Should Totally Tackle This Weekend
For some reason, September feels like DIY season to me. Maybe it’s because fall is for learning (and new school supplies). Or that the end of summer and its weekend trips means more time at home…and possibly too many hours spent with a Hulu account. Here, five ways to really make something of a Sunday afternoon. —erica
Leather Belt, by Molly Spittal of The Stowe
Because you need something to jazz up those back-to-school jeans you just bought despite the fact that you haven’t cracked a textbook in a decade.
Basket, by Lisa Jones of Pigeon Toe
After you complete it, you can officially add “underwater basket-weaving” to you résumé.
Dyed Tights, by Ann Yee
Nothing’s wrong with basic black—but these are a whole lot more interesting.
Clothing Rack, by Szeki Chan of 7115
Now, THIS will change your wardrobe. Slash your life.
Dyed Denim Shorts, by Breanna Musgrove of Scout & Catalogue
It’s prime jorts-and-a-sweater season, kids—take advantage.
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Make a Fly Leather Belt With Molly Spittal
It’s gonna be a cinch.
Are you ready to turn a strip of rawhide into a skinny belt? Huh? Because leather whiz Molly Spittal of the so-polished bag line The Stowe is here to show you the way, and she promises all the tools you need are available at your local leather and hardware stores. So let’s do this. —jackie varriano
+ A strap of leather in your desired color (½-inch wide for a skinny belt)
+ Center bar buckle in desired finish (½ inch)
+ One rivet
+ Leather punch
+ Long-hole punch (1-2 inches)
+ End cutter
+ Multi-bit hand punch
+ Measuring tape
+ Hand beveler (optional)
“Measure your waist, hips, or wherever you want to wear your nice, new, handcrafted belt and jot it down.”
“Cut off one of the ends of the leather strap using the end cutter. Using a leather punch and mallet, tap 7 holes, each spaced one inch apart, starting four inches from your cut end.”
“Starting from the middle hole—hole 4—measure toward the uncut end to the measurement you took earlier, and make a small mark in the leather.”
“Using a long hole punch and a mallet, punch the backhole (the long hole that the buckle prong goes through) where you left the mark.”
“Using the hand punch, create 2 holes (just big enough for the rivet to fit through) spaced ¾ inch from either end of the backhole. Essentially, the rivet post should fit easily through the hole without falling out. Cut off the other end of the leather strap approximately ½ inch from the last rivet hole you just created using the end cutter. You can now bevel all 4 edges with a hand beveler—an optional step that creates a subtle finish.”
“Place the buckle prong through the backhole and wrap the end of the leather around the center bar of the buckle. Line up the rivet holes and tap the rivet in with the mallet.”
“All finished! Now go show off what you did with your amazing new skills!”
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Learn How to Weave a Basket, Thanks to Lisa Jones
Hope you’re ready to impress yourself.
Now that’s a basket case—er, a case for baskets.
Listen up, people: Basket-weaving is having a moment, and that’s because it rocks. For Lisa Jones, Pigeon Toe boss lady, it’s now become a bit of an obsession. “Once I started weaving, I was posting pictures of my baskets, and people said they were interested in learning. Now I’ve heard of so many people who have adopted this as their new hobby,” says the chick who’s a whiz at the pottery wheel, too. Ready to get to it? Dive into Lisa’s tutorial, stat. —jane gauger
+ Round reeds sizes 2, 3 and 4
+ Shallow container of water
+ Small hand clippers
+ Towel (to protect your clothes)
+ Reference book (Lisa likes Contemporary Wicker Basketry and Wicker Basketry, both by Flo Hoppe)
* Note: Reeds come in long coils that you can clip to shorter strands. You need approximately ½ pound of reed for 1 basket. Lisa recommends Royalwood, Ltd. for basket weaving supplies.
“The joke about underwater basket-weaving is kind of true because you have to soak your reeds to make them pliable. You want to make sure your materials don’t get too dry.”
“First establish the frame. You need four 42-inch-long size 4 reeds. Pair them up, cross them, and them hold together. These are called the stakes or spokes. We are going to make a small basket, so we’ll have 8 stakes total. If you want a bigger basket, you just add more stakes.”
“Use the size 2 reed to establish the base and get a tight weave going around the base. This is called the weaver. Hold the crossed stakes with one hand and with the other hand wrap the weaver reed over and under the groups of two all the way around four times.”
“Then split up the doubled-up stakes to form eights separate ones. Adding a second weaver, go over and under between the stakes—so one weaver starts by going over then under a stake, and the other weaver goes under, then over that stake. This is how you twine the base and space out the stakes evenly.”
“After you establish the base, switch to two size 3 weavers to start building up the wall. You mostly need size 3 reeds for this basket. Press the stakes to shape the basket as you weave. I put most of my pressure on the basket when I’m passing in front of the stakes. You have to make sure the pressure is even on all sides or else you’ll have a basket that’s too wide on one side and too straight on the other.”
“You can give it another soak and shape the base with your hands.”
“Clip the weaver ends that started the basket and built the base so you can reach them before the walls get higher.”
“Now I’m adding a third weaver and a new color to make a spiral basket. Put one weaver behind one stake, the second behind the next stake, and the third behind a third stake. You are weaving the same way as with two, but this time, the first weaver goes over two stakes, then bring it back behind the third stake. Repeat with the other weavers.”
“When you have a third weaver, building the walls goes faster.”
“Once you have the height of the basket like you want, clip the weaver ends and tuck them against the reeds in back. Ideally, you don’t want to end all of your weavers in the same spot. Keep them long so they don’t slip out”
“Soak the spokes for a few minutes. I’ll finish with a track border, which is fast and easy.”
“It doesn’t matter where you start the border, but it’s probably better to start away from where you ended the weavers to avoid too many ends in one spot. Take one stake, go behind the one next to it then pull it down toward the front. You go around the basket holding the stakes as you bring the next one behind and down. When you get to the last one, pull it through the loop behind the first stake, and bring it down in front.”
“Now take the first stake you started with, pass it in front of the stake next to it and slip the end under the border of the basket, to the back. Repeat with each stake.”
“Clip the ends in back, making sure they are long enough to sit between the reeds and not push back through to the front.
“Shape the basket again, and let it dry!”
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DIY Your Own Super-Sleek Clothing Rack With Szeki Chan
Got your drill handy?
Check out Szeki’s new store! She also built the concrete jewelry displays, the store signage, and the light fixtures—dang, girl.
Wow, has Szeki Chan come a long way since her early days in jewelry design, when she was selling her wares from the sidewalk. She opened her first boutique selling clothing and accessories on Manhattan’s LES in 2008, and she unveiled her second in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in March 2014. The new digs have a soothing, airy vibe—made possible by the fact that she and her aesthetically minded husband built many of the components, including some slick wooden clothing racks that you should totally replicate for your own pad. —alisha prakash
+ Two 1-inch-diameter, 5-foot-long wood rods
+ Four ¾-inch-thick, 3-inch-wide, 7-foot-long wood boards
+ Two 1-inch-thick, 2-inch-wide, 6-foot-long wood boards
+ Two 1-inch-thick, 1-inch-wide, 19 ½-inch-long wood boards
+ Two ½-inch diameter, 3-inch-long hex bolts
+ Two ½-inch nuts to fit the hex bolts
+ Power drill, with ½-inch Phillips screwdrive bit
+ Titebond Original Wood Glue
Step 1: Sandwich one of the 6-foot-long wood boards between two of the 7-foot-long wood boards to form an X using a clamp. Mark the intersecting point between the boards for drilling. Be aware that the intersecting point will determine the height of the connecting rod. (The rod will rest above this intersection in the V that is formed.)
Step 2: Drill all three boards through the mark that you made.
Step 3: Insert the hex bolt into the hole—it now acts as an axel. Fasten the bolt loosely, creating one X stand.
Step 4: Create a support joist by positioning one of the 19 ½-inch-long boards between the legs that are formed. Adjust the height of the board placement and the angle of the X until the board fits as you want it to.
Step 5: Glue the support joist in place, and tighten the long hex bolt that holds your X together, finishing it with a nut. [Ed: Note that that skinny rod you see in this pic won’t actually be in place yet!]
Step 6: Repeat step 1 through 7. Now you have two stands. It’s time to connect them!
Step 7: Put one rod between the top of the two Xs, above the intersection formed by the bolts, and the other rod across the two bottom support joists. Mark the placement of the rod for drilling.
Step 8: Drive a screw into each of the four intersecting points of the rods to ensure stability. Hang stuff on your new clothing rack!
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The GREI. Guys Get their Home Depot On
Ah, the draw of that blaze orange sign.
Andrew Spargo of the super-sophisticated, gender-neutral accessories line GREI. is really into Home Depot. Like, really. “He’s obsessed,” says his partner (in business and life!) Larry Paul. But, hey, his infatuation comes in handy: He uses his finds—from ceramic tiles to clothespins—to evolve the label’s patternmaking and dyeing processes. Check out three of the projects that, per Larry, have reaped the benefits. —jane-claire quigley
“This indigo dip-dye is super-tricky. It’s very linear, and it’s only dyed along the perimeter. This can be really challenging because when we’re dipping the ponchos, the fabric tends to stick to itself, which causes the dye to crawl. The solution? Wooden clothespins and masking tape.”
“Three pins held together with masking tape separate the fabric while mini clips serve as weights to keep the fabric in line and beneath the surface of the liquid.”
“These are the ponchos drying. The darker areas are freshly dipped, and the lighter areas have already been dyed, washed, and prepped for the second step.”
Mill Mercantile Curtains
“Our friends Todd and Carl of Mill Mercantile in San Francisco asked us to make fitting-room curtains that resemble one of our most popular scarves. They have a huge appreciation for indigo and really get into it. The panels were so big we had to come up with a system that would allow us to dip yardage while maintaining a steady hand for long periods of time.”
“We used large tubes to roll the fabric, ladders for stability, and a large storage bin as the bath that could handle the full width of the fabric. Cameo appearance by our trusty Home Depot bucket!”
“The tubes helped us to achieve precise lines with multiple dips in a given area.”
Indigo Silk 64 Square Scarf
“We offer a few styles that don’t change from season to season. One of them is a geometric design executed using the ancient Japanese shibori technique, which uses resist dyeing to make patterns through folding, twisting, and binding the fabric. Think ancient tie-dye.”
“We fold the silk, and then compress it between two laminate tiles using metal spring clamps. The best thing about this method? The tiles are samples, so they’re free!”
“Here, the scarves drying. It’s important to get a high contrast between dips, because a lot of color is lost when washing silk.”
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Way-Easy Guide to Painting Textiles With Kindah Khalidy
With the craft skills of a kindergartner, you absolutely design your own fabric.
Kindah Khalidy hand-paints little cotton tanks and canvas pouches with knock-your-socks-off, abstract motifs, and, whether or not you have the vision to go all wearable work-of-art, you can definitely DIY your own fabric. Enter: stencils and a tutorial from a chick who knows just what she’s doing. —monica derevjanik
+ Fabric of choice (canvas or cotton do well)
+ Kindah’s stencil (download here!) or your own drawn shapes
+ Cardstock or a manila envelope
+ Stencil paint brush with a round and thick bristle
+ Cup of water
+ Paint palette for mixing colors
+ Masking tape or blue painter’s tape
+ X-Acto knife
+ Pencil or pen
+ Cutting mat
+ Fabric paint, such as Deco Art SoSoft or Jacquard Lumiere. (Note: Some paints require that you prewash the fabric.)
Step 1: Start with a clean, ironed piece of fabric so you can work with an even surface. Choose your shapes. [Ed: Kindah provided some options—or, duh, you can draw your own!] Remember that you will be cutting out the positive space. Think about incorporating alternative shapes into your design. For example, you could have one main flower stencil and then then different leaf stencils to mix it up. You can also create multiple stencils to layer over each other.
Step 2: Cut out the drawn shapes with an X-Acto knife. Then cut around the shapes, leaving enough space around the cutouts so you can tape it down to the fabric and have some room to paint over without messing up the fabric. You can group small shapes together. Place your stencils onto fabric and tape the stencils down so that they don’t move during the painting process.
Step 3: Mix the colors in the palette. Dab a little bit onto the brush. Too much paint will leak over the stencil, so use sparingly and do a few tests to find the right amount. Press the stencil down around edges while you are painting to prevent paint from leaking out the edges. Paint over the edges of the stencil to make sure that you get the entire shape filled. Let the paint dry before lifting up the stencil. When dry, move the stencil around to create a repeat composition.
Step 4: Layer stencils to create more intricate designs, or go in with a paintbrush for a more hand-done look. Most paints require that you heat-set the fabric after painting, so iron your fabric and then wash according to paint instructions.
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Scout & Catalogue’s Denim Short DIY
Breanna Musgrove has some real dye savvy—and she’s willing to share it.
Scout & Catalogue’s Breanna Musgrove claims there are some fabrics that are just begging to be dyed. While silk is at the top of her list, denim isn’t too far behind. She’s agreed to show us her pro skills, transforming humdrum jeans into cool-as-hell cutoffs. —jackie varriano
+ Pair of jeans
+ A box of drugstore dye in the color of your choice
+ Elastic bands
+ Big pot
+ Table salt
+ Rubber gloves
+ Mixing spoon that you can part with
+ Washing machine
Step 1: “I like to shop at local thrift stores to find great, cheap, jeans to transform into shorts. The lighter the denim is to begin with, the more noticeable your tie-dye pattern will be. I’m preferential to Levi’s and find the men’s rack has the best selection.”
Step 2: “Use a sharp pair of scissors cut your jeans to the length you desire.”
Step 3: “Crumple your shorts in an organic fashion, wrapping your elastic bands to hold the bunching in place. Make them as tight as possible. When you think you’ve used enough, add a few more—you won’t be sorry.”
Step 4: “Bring the water and salt to a boil, wet the shorts, and place them into the pot. Follow the dye instructions for quantities and time required. Keep in mind that your garment should appear a shade or two darker in your pot than you want—the color lightens when it dries. If you plan on dyeing often, consider buying a pot just for this process—most dyes have a toxic element to them, which doesn’t lend well to using your dye pots to also cook food. After you mix a dye vat with your spoon, don’t ever use it to cook.”
Step 5: “Once the shorts are ready, pull them out of the dye bath with your spoon and—wearing gloves—take off the elastics. Put the shorts into your washing machine and wash separately in cold water. This will remove any excess dye and give you a great frayed edge. Pop them in the dryer, and you’re ready to hit the beach.”
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Dyeing Leather With Morgan Parish
The color-happy designer teaches you how to work her tricks at home.
Color us impressed.
Dye-master Ayeisha Mesinger of the way-slick, hyper-pigmented line Morgan Parish has painted and stained pretty much anything that can take color—horsehair and cobra skin? Check and check. One of her favorite materials to amp up: leather. “It’s definitely harder than dyeing fabric because it’s a tedious process, but you can be more precise with where your dye goes because it’s hand applied,” Ayeisha explains. “It’s definitely worth it!” Here, she shows us her ways. —monica derevjanik
Speaking of crazy-colored leather: Check out Ayeisha’s bold pouches, in both electric blue and sunny fuchsia.
+ Very fine sandpaper
+ A sponge
+ A cotton ball wand
+ Acrylic leather paint or leather stain
+ Matte or glossy leather finish
Step 1: “It’s always a good idea to test a scrap piece of leather with your paint choice before you dive in. I paint, let it dry, and then stretch the leather just to make sure it’s not going to crack or peel.”
Step 2: “I get my leather ready by lightly buffing it with a small piece of very fine sandpaper to take off any finish. Then I dampen the leather with a wet sponge to make it more porous so it takes the dye better.”
Step 3: “I use the cotton ball wand to dab the dye on the leather and then the sponge to layer the color. Painting leather really just involves acrylic leather paint or any acrylic paint that has a good elasticity, like Liquitex. I was going for an ombré effect here, so I used a water-based stain instead of an alcohol-based stain, which would create a more intense shade.”
Step 4: “I let the dye dry and wipe off the excess with the sponge before adding on more layers to get the color I wanted. Usually the color will look lighter when it’s dry, so I try to keep that in mind.”
Step 5: “Once it’s dry, you can use either a matte or glossy finish to seal the color into the leather.”
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Ayeisha Mesinger Brings the Fiesta to Denver
It’s her party, and she’ll have a marg if she wants to.
Let’s get it started.
After returning to CO from her vacation in Mexico, all Ayeisha Mesigner of the amazingly sleek accessories biz Morgan Parish wanted to do was go back. Since that wasn’t exactly viable, she hosted a “We Miss Mexico” themed dinner party at her pad in Denver. “I love color and liked the idea of having a simple, fun, and bright party,” she explains. Here is how she got everything ready in just three hours—which means you have no excuse not to fake a border crossing this weekend. —monica derevjanik
Time: 1 hour
“While I was in Mexico, the Zihuatanejo International Guitar Festival was going on, so I designed an evite with that in mind—with a little Dia de los Muertos twist.”
Time: 30 minutes
“I bought a set of colorful doilies in Mexico, and now I can only find one of them. So I recreated my own with some plain white cotton doilies that I bought at a craft store and soaked in brightly colored dyes.”
Time: 15 minutes
“You can buy this trim at any fabric store—it doesn’t have to be perfect, just fun! I had some scrap fabric lying around at home, so I just stitched the pompoms around the edges.”
Time: “Literally, two seconds”
“I bought an inexpensive cutting board and sprayed one end of it with chalkboard paint so I could write my own message on it. I love that I can reuse this board with a new message for parties in the future. You can even use this technique with smaller pieces of wood to make personalized place settings.” [Ed: Craving the salsa in this picture? Check out the recipe—c/o La Esquina and DailyCandy—here.]
Time: 30 minutes
“These are so simple to make, you can use them pretty much anywhere, and they instantly brighten up any party. Just accordion fold a pile of eight sheets of tissue paper and tie it at the center with some twine. You can cut the edges to give them a different shape, or leave them straight and peel back each layer until you create a pouf shape. I love hanging them above my dinner table.”
Time: 5 minutes
“I actually used a wall hanging that my dad had brought back from Panama for this project. Sometimes I’d be looking for a plate to protect my table from hot meals, and I figured this would be a great use for it since it wasn’t on the wall. I just spray-painted it to give it some color.”
“Mex-covitch” Fried Fish
Time: 15 minutes preparation, 5 minutes cooking
“Escovitch is a Jamaican style of seasoning and frying fish. I merged that technique with the flavors I tasted while in Mexico. I don’t always cook with recipes—I like to use past experience in the kitchen, time spent watching my mom, and recipes from food magazines to guide me. Helpful tool: a deep fryer!”
2 one-pound pieces of whole red snapper (scaled and prepared)
8 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 habanero peppers, thinly sliced
½ medium white onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoon butter, quartered
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon ground all spice
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon ground chili pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Black pepper and salt to taste
Mix the all spice, thyme, chili pepper, granulated sugar, black pepper, and salt to create a dry rub. Make 2 or 3 deep slits on both sides of the snapper and evenly distribute the dry rub into the slits, over the skin, and on the inside of the fish. Push onions, peppers, and garlic into the slits. Place the slices of butter inside the fish and squeeze lemon juice over the fish. Cover the fish with foil and let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour (and get working on your party decorations!). Set the deep fryer to 375 degrees. Place one fish at a time in the fryer and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Remove from the fryer and sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve family-style on a platter—the fish will be super tender and can be easily picked off the bone. Serves 3-4.
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Lina Rennell Brings her Textiles Home
The fabric fanatic proves her materials look as good on your body as on a couch.
Lina Rennell is a practice-what-you-preach kind of girl: Not only does she wear the custom textiles she makes for her line like mad but she also uses them to add some oomph to her beach-adjacent Northern California pad. Here’s a look at how they do with interiors—feel free to rip off her ideas. —allie wood
Now’s your chance to score not one but two of Lina’s prints: She made a pair of statement-making totes that will make any spring jaunts that much more fun.
Linens: ”These sheets are made of my Ballet print in mint and peach from the spring collection. I get dizzy with pleasure looking at the sherbet colorway. I’m on board with the pastel movement and think it works well in the bedroom.”
Curtains: “This is one of the first prints I did called Helsinki Tents that I made into curtains that hang in our front window. It’s neutral without being cookie-cutter basic.”
Pillows: “Love my prints as pillows! The top pillow is the Pink Marble print from my spring collection. The bottom pillow is in the lilac and gold Triangle print from my Big Sur collection.”
Rug: “This rug in my daughters closet was made from various leftover scraps of my textiles knitted together. I love all my prints. and this use of scraps made sure they didn’t go to waste. It was fast and fun and made me feel like I could do no wrong.”