Category Archives: Sewing

A DIY Wedding

This blog is more focused on fixing up furniture and our house, but since the principle behind that is DIY, I thought I’d write a post about some of the crafty DIY things we did for our wedding to personalize it and cut costs (read: we’ve barely lifted a finger to work on anything in our house in the last 2 months, so to keep this blog going I’m desperate to write about something DIY related). This will probably be long…but I haven’t written in a while so hopefully it keeps you entertained!

To start off with, here’s a wedding picture so you aren’t seeing all the other pictures of decorations and wondering what we looked like!

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

Some of my favorite wedding projects that we did all ourselves (or that our wonderful friends/family helped with!) were our tall wooden vase boxes, our flower arrangements in lab glassware and all the girls’ bouquets and guys’ boutonnieres, our seating cards/favors, the bar menu, our cake and picture table, my printed food label cards, our programs, coffee cups, my  bridesmaid favors, and my veil. So today I’ll go through one by one and show pictures of each thing and say how we made it and the costs.

So first thing is our vase boxes. The reception hall had plain walls, so we wanted a few things along the walls to dress it up a bit. We ended up building 7 tall wooden boxes out of 1″x6″ boards.And by we, I mean Nik…


When my parents visited a few weeks before the wedding, we stained them with classic gray Minwax stain and put a sprig of twirly twigs from Michael’s in each one. The wood cost for all of these was about $60 and the twigs were about $60.


Our photographer didn’t seem to get a good picture of them, but we had them in various places around the room with an uplight behind each one (there’s one against the wall to the right of us):

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

After the wedding, we gave a couple to each of our parents to use in their house and we still have 3 in the garage that need a home! That picture also shows off our market lights, which we purchased 200′ of ( for about $80 with a coupon, and hung them ourselves the day before (by we, I mean mostly our parents!). Actually, we got about 90% of the room set up with family and friends’ help the day before the wedding, which saved us cost of needing a day-of planner or a lot of hired set-up help. We had a few good friends supervise the final touches Saturday afternoon before the reception, and oversee 3 college kids that we hired to help finish set up.

Next is our flower arrangements. I know people can spend $5000 on their wedding flowers, but I wasn’t going to let that happen. Our flowers were from a local flower farm in Hillsborough, NC called Fernrock Farms. We ordered 3 large DIY buckets, $195 for everything! I was nervous when I talked with the flower lady there a week before the wedding and she said the “warm September with no rain had been detrimental to the flowers,” so I was planning back up trips to Whole Foods to pick up extra flowers if needed. When my mom showed up with the flowers Friday morning, we were blown away by how beautiful they were! This is how they arrived:



My dad kindly put up with me when I asked him to drive to several different stores Friday morning in search of some white daisies to put in my bouquet – I think he was happy to do it, because they were in memory of my grandma (my dad’s mom) who had a bouquet of her favorite flowers – daisies – on her wedding day.

img_2848My two wonderful aunts and cousin worked for many hours the Friday before the wedding creating the girls’ bouquets, the guys’ boutonnieres, and all of our our table vases. None of them had done flower arranging like this before and everything came out beautifully – so it goes to show you don’t need to pay a florist $5000 to arrange your flowers if you have a few artistic and willing family members to help out!

Here are the bouquets and boutonnieres (for these, they used green floral tape to hold things together and the bouquets got a strip of burlap ribbon on the outside, and the boutonnieres got a pin in each one to attach):

My bouquet:

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

Nik’s boutonniere:

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

So handsome =)

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

And here are some of the centerpiece vases and these little mini vases I found – our centerpieces were actual erlenmeyer flasks (borrowed for free, courtesy of my cancer research lab!), and the mini vases were used on other tables around the room and were about $20 for 12 of them.

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

Next item on the list is our seating cards which doubled as favors. I found these cute little kraft-paper bags that have floral patterns in them on Etsy. They were the perfect size for a name, and on the inside we had a little scoop of native North Carolina wildflower seeds and a small thank you card. The bags were about $25 for 75 of them, and the seeds for $20.

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC


I loved how our bar menu came out – I found this rustic frame at Home Goods for $12.99, and I printed this menu on some textured cardstock on my work printer. Our caterer let us bring our own wine, and we had fun picking out the wines at Total Wine and More. I love coupons, and I actually bought the 7 cases of wine and champagne with a 15% off coupon, which allowed us to get much better wines than we would’ve gotten with any caterer in that price range. We then kept it all local for our beer options, and went with a great brewery from Hillsborough, NC called Mystery Brewing Company. And we also threw a cider on our bar list that’s originally from Virginia, but now is also brewed in NC called Bold Rock Cider.

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

Our cake table was kind of an afterthought but I love how fun and special it turned out. We got our cake from a local baker who is the wife of one of Nik’s friends (Yellowbird Baking – she cooks unbelievable cakes in her tiny kitchen, which is inspiring to me as a fellow baker!), and she made us 2 single layer cakes for easier serving and then a small 2 tiered cake for looking pretty. I went on a mission to find wedding pictures of both of our parents and grandparents – which proved a little tricky, but we ended up with a beautiful collection of old photos. Nik is fortunate to have 3 grandparents around still (all of whom made it to our wedding from PA!), but all of mine have passed on, and it was really special to have photos of them on their wedding day at our reception. Getting prints made and buying a few extra frames at Home Goods probably put the price of these decorations around $30. And our cake was just decorated with a few extra flowers from the farm and some eucalyptus boughs my mom brought with her from her yard.

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

Something small and cheap I made that I ended up really liking were our label cards that I made for items like the guest book, non-alcoholic drinks, and food choices. They were just printed on cardstock and cut out – about $2 cost total. Our table number cards were purchased from Etsy, and were kind of pricey at $37 but we thought they were perfect for our garden setting with different fern pictures on each card.

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC



Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

I also designed and printed our programs for the church. The printing was about $3 at Office Depot using my work’s printing discount, and 100 sheets of kraft-colored heavyweight paper was about $11.


We wanted to serve coffee after dinner but didn’t want to use more rentals (our caterer tried to limit the amount of heavy rentals we used to keep the number of servers required lower) so we found some compostable cardboard coffee cups that we dressed up with some ribbon and a printed sticker. We had a ton of cups left over, which we’re awkwardly trying to use now, but the cost for 50 cups was around $15 and the ribbon and stickers added about $5 to that.


Next thing that came out very nicely was one of my bridesmaid favors. I knew we’d be sipping champagne while getting ready, so I painted some replicas of our dresses on champagne glasses with glass paint and baked them so they’d be dishwasher safe.


I think they came out pretty accurately!

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

The final DIY project I’ll write about is my veil, which I sewed myself. I wanted a very unobtrusive veil since my dress had a lot of pretty lace on the back and I didn’t want the veil to also have lace that would compete with it.

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

So, I bought some ivory tulle with a slight sheen to it (not the matte tulle), ironed it with steam to get wrinkles out and soften it, cut it to shape with raw edges – a rectangle the length I wanted with a slight curve to the bottom edges, and got ready to sew. After watching a tutorial, I set up my machine and did a single line of stitches about 1/2″ from the top edge. Then I did a second line of stitches about 1/4″ away from the first line. I grabbed the bobbin thread at each end from each line of stitches and gently pulled, and the tulle just gathered in the middle. Magic!


Once I got it gathered to approximately the length of the comb, I tied the threads to keep the tulle gathered. Then I stitched it on to the comb. I think I did this the Thursday before the wedding…talk about last minute! Tulle is super-cheap so my veil probably cost about $4 total.

Here’s some pictures of the veil in action:

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

Amelya Jayne Photography LLC

Alright, hopefully that’s enough DIY wedding crafts to satisfy you for life, because a) hopefully I’m never getting married again and b) I’m never doing that much work for 1 day again! But in the end, I think it was worth all the effort because the day came together flawlessly and looked more beautiful and unique than I had imagined it would. Some family friends from NJ who have known me since I was a little kid came to the wedding, and all of them said it was very different but they had so much fun and it had Louise written all over it. Our goal with this wedding was to have it be our own style, not cookie-cutter, not just doing something because ‘everyone’ does it at weddings, and most importantly, to have it be nice, but affordable. Nik and I know what the most important part of our wedding was, and we didn’t want that to be influenced by the pressure of spending so much on a single day.

It’s been about two months of lazy work around the house, but we’re starting to buckle down on projects again. We’re almost done creating and installing the kitchen shelves and we bought some kitchen cabinet crown molding to play around with and see if we want to add that to the cabinets. We’re making some wood-worky Christmas presents so that’s kept us busy as well. We need to install our stair banister still, and I think we have the style we want narrowed down. And once we’re in the new year, we are anxious to get started on our master bath renovation. As usual, lots to do!

Christmas Tree Skirt

Even though we’re not spending Christmas Day together this year, we felt it was about time to graduate to a real tree to celebrate the season. Previously I had a small fake tree, and a very tiny tree  skirt to go with it. We got our tree upright and lighted, and now we needed  new tree skirt to complete the look. IMG_2200[1]The tree skirts left at Target were expensive and ugly so we made a trip to the fabric store and picked out a few red-and-gold tone fabrics, and some 1/2″ batting to fill it with. I decided I wanted to make a hexagon shape with alternating triangles of each fabric.

Then came the challenge…how many PhD scientists does it take to figure out basic geometry? Apparently it takes 2, and it also takes about 30 minutes to remember what geometry formula to apply. I knew the diameter of the hexagon, so I knew the length of each side of each equilateral triangle, but I needed to figure out the height to measure and cut the fabric. I remember sitting in 10th grade honors geometry, struggling to imagine when I’d ever need the Pythagorean Theorem ever again…turns out, it came in handy for my tree skirt! A squared plus B squared = C squared, and with that I had my dimensions. IMG_0027I pinned all the adjoining triangle edges together (except for one) and pinned down the peak of each triangle to leave room for the trunk.


Then I sewed all the edges. I then cut out a solid piece as a backing, with a slit up to the middle, and a cut out area for the tree base as well. I pinned this to the sewed triangles inside out, and sewed all the way around, basically making a large letter C. I then turned it right side out, and cut some batting to shape and stuffed it in.

I still need to do the stitch up the final open side, but it looks nice enough for now to put under the tree! The fabric, batting, and thread cost about $20, which is cheaper than the ugly skirts at the store!

We also did a little decorating on our front porch, so I’ll leave you with this. Can’t believe Christmas is next week!


Homemade Placemats

My mom made some pretty place mats last year for their nice plates to go on their beautiful handmade wooden dining table in their lovely new home. I, on the other hand, live in a mediocre rental apartment, and the dining room is filled with my super-considerate roommate’s giant pool table (and in case you were wondering, it rarely gets used…can you sense my bitterness towards this table??). As a result my junky little 36″ round dining table is cramped in the corner of the living room, and is generally covered in all of our furniture redoing tools, so doesn’t get much action at dinner time. My plates are from Walmart and have seen better days. BUT, despite all this, I can still have nice place mats like my mom, so I set out to make my own! I made the dire mistake of asking Nik to come look at fabric with me, and for those of you who know Nik, he is quite opinionated about…well, pretty much everything except what I cook for dinner. About one long hour into our JoAnn’s Fabrics trip, we had it narrowed down to two totally different fabrics, and instead of sacrificing the strength of our relationship I decided I’d make two-sided place mats. Another mistake…Nik was very concerned the pattern would be visible from the other side when the mats are flat on the table, so he made me pick out some options for trim to hide the other side. Trim is nice, but you have to actually have good sewing machine skills to use it well, which I don’t have. So I ended up skipping the trim and just ironing the place mats as flat as I could so the contrasting pattern on the underside wasn’t visible. So I wasted some money buying trim that failed. Ok, enough writing, here’s a picture of the fabrics all cut out as evenly as possible:


Third mistake: I’m never buying geometric patterns again that need to be cut into perfect shapes. Nik likes even things (understatement), so I couldn’t just “wing it” with the diamond pattern…it had to be evenly spaced between top and bottom and side to side. It took quite a bit of measuring to make it all work with the length of fabric I purchased that of course was about 1/2″ too short to make this measuring process simple. I made them 18″ wide and 13.5″ tall and accounted for about a 1/2″ seam so the resulting place mat would be 17″ tall and 12.5″ wide. I lined up the two fabrics face to face and pinned:

IMG_1468Then put a 1/2″ seam around all edges, with a small gap for turning it right side out. Once right side out, I pushed all the corners out and ironed it flat. Here’s the finished mat:

IMG_1471      IMG_1470 IMG_1469I think they came out pretty nice, simple, and elegant! And you can’t see the contrasting pattern too much when its flat on a table. I’ve done 2 of the 6 I plan to make. I’d take a lovely “after” picture with full place settings with my pretty china plates set out on my nice dining table if I could (sigh…refer to first paragraph if you’re confused at why I can’t do this).  Some day I’ll have nice things!

I also have a bunch of the floral fabric left over, and some left over insulation stuff from when I attempted to make a pot holder a while ago. I’m going to make some pot-warmer table protectors (Nik informed me these items are actually called trivets?) to go with the floral side of the mats. All in all, 6 two-sided placemats and a couple of trivets cost about $20 to make, with several JoAnn’s coupons I used.