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5 Must-Try DIY’s

You’ve seen them on Etsy, and pinned them on Pinterest, but have you ever really taken the time to find out how to do any of those do-it-yourself projects you’ve been coveting? I’m going to go with: probably not.

And, yet, I don’t really know of any girl who’d turn down the opportunity to turn her drab dorm room into a well-crafted haven. I know I certainly wouldn’t. So, in an effort to make the whole crafting process just that little bit simpler, I’ve gone ahead and rounded up some of my personal favorite Pinterest creations – and listed them here complete with step-by-step guidelines. Happy crafting, everybody!

Embroidery Hoop Photo Board

For a creative alternative to the standard school-supply bulletin board – or even to tacking your photos up on the wall – gather all your wall momentos together onto this nifty little embroidery hoop board.

Start with a plain wooden embroidery hoop, which can be purchased from just about any craft store. Either leave it as is, or paint it a cute color of choice. Then, stretch a piece of fabric over the hoop by removing the inner hoop from the outer, placing the inner hoop under and the outer hoop on top of the fabric, and retightening the screw to fasten the two hoops together again. String a thick ribbon to the top, and you’re ready to start thumb-tacking away.

PS: Bonus points for bedazzle. Add fun dangling additions (dream-catcher style), stick-on rhinestones or pearls, or even a few sassy studs to make your embroidery hoop board extra unique.

Homemade Cards

Turn free paint samples into the basis for a gradient-design thank you card (or any kind of card, really). These are perfect for sending off to intended recipients as a one-of-a-kind note, or gifting in packs of eight or ten to family and friends.

Start with some cardstock, a couple paint samples, a glue stick, and a fun hole-punch from the craft store. Punch out one dragonfly, butterfly, heart, etc. from each color on the paint sample strip and arrange/fasten them onto your folded cardstock. Use metallic Sharpies to give your handwritten message a polished, professional look.

Depending on the style of your card, try your hand at adding a few more embellishments. For example, taking a regular hole punch, punch two holes near the fold of the card, then double loop a length of twine string between them to create a rustic, book-bound effect. Or, if your design is leaning more toward the delicate or vintage end of the spectrum, consider gluing a bit of a lace doily onto the corners.


Memory Box

Let’s face it – as fun as scrapbooking can be, there just never seems to be enough time to actually do it. But, of course, just because you can never quite get around to laying it all out in a scrapbook, doesn’t mean you don’t want a semi-creative system for storing all your photos and keepsakes. Enter the memory box. In some ways, these shallow wooden boxes are better than a scrapbook, because you tuck little tokens in them that are too 3D to have ever fit nicely within the pages of a book. (Hint: This project is perfect for all you study abroad kids.)

Start with a wooden chest – again, available for purchase at any craft store. Paint it a solid, bright color, then either sponge-paint or use a stencil to trace-then-fill-in the label for whatever will be stored in the box. You can sort by places, dates, nature of the trip – whatever you want. As always, feel free to get creative with your embellishments: rhinestones, ribbon appliqué, watercolor designs, etc. Maybe even throw in a little mod-podge collage if you’re feeling particularly inspired.

Decorated Mason Jars

It’s never too late to hop aboard the hipster train and start using the illustrious mason jar as an all-purpose household item. Before you do, though, class up that plain glassware by adding a new fabric layer.

Grab a mason jar (of course), and a square of fabric. I prefer bright colors and floral patterns myself, but that’s just my aesthetic. You’ll also need a paper cup, liquid glue, water, and a stiff paint brush. First, cut your fabric into 1 cm wide and height-of-mason-jar long strips. Dip a strip into a mixture of water and glue (at about a 2:1 ratio), run your thumb and forefinger down it to remove any excess glue, then stick the fabric onto the inside of the jar paper-mâché-style. Use the paint brush to go over the strip while it’s still wet to smooth away any air bubbles. Repeat until the jar is completely covered.

Let your jar sit for at least a day before using it. Once dry, it becomes the perfect container for all those loose odds and ends that always seem to hang around – bobby pins and hair ties, for example, or makeup, pens and pencils, or even the paintbrushes that you use in all your crafting endeavors. You can also easily turn this upgraded mason into a votive candle by sticking a battery-operated ‘flame’ inside.

Branch Bouquet

Flower arrangements are always lovely, but let’s face it: they’re just a bit too fussy to keep up in a dorm room situation. The water, the constant replacing, the difficulty of finding flowers in the wintertime… it’s not much, but it definitely adds up. Which is why I was especially excited to hit on this DIY idea – it’s the perfect solution for those of us who want something decorative to keep around all year long, but just don’t have the time to think about it.

Grab a few fallen branches that look relatively ‘full’, i.e. have a couple offshoots or even just an interesting shape to them. For an easier version of this project, simply spray paint them a variety of different colors, tie them together loosely with a ribbon, and pop them into a hand-painted vase. For glitter branches, though, a bit more work is required. Using a stiff paint brush that you don’t care about (you’ll probably want to throw it away after this project), paint a section of your branch with slightly watered-down liquid glue. Then, either carefully sprinkle glitter onto the gluey section, or roll it in a tray of glitter. Wait for it to dry a bit before shaking off any excess glitter and moving on to the next section. Repeat until all your branches are sufficiently glittered.

PS: If you want to add a little more life to your glammed-up branches, use hot glue to attach a few fabric or paper flowers here and there.

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