Do you consider yourself a creative person? Do you actually use your creativity or do you opt for purchasing items that are made by someone else? I have always considered myself a creative person – in fact, we all are! But if you are like me, then what stops us from actually using our creativity in most cases is fear of failure. Only lately, I started to realize that I am very capable of doing many things, almost anything I put my mind to! :) And let me tell you, this is a very empowering thought!
With a plethora of DIY projects' tutorials online there are no more excuses
Ever since my childhood, I enjoyed expressing myself through drawing and painting. While I found pleasure doing art in my adulthood, the busy schedule of a being a full-time working mom to one, then two and finally three kids, meant less and less time for me to paint. Then my creative side found its outlet in photography. Photography seems to require less time to capture the beauty of this world. Yes, it required the great expense of a purchasing a fine camera and even more expensive lenses! But once I had those, I loved snapping anything from a crawling bug on a blade of grass to sunsets and mountains. And then I could endlessly sit in front of my computer and edit those images in Photoshop until I achieved the desired outcome.
Back then, I thought I was only good with capturing life's images. A whole different side of my creativity developed when we bought a big black leather sofa for our family's living room. It was a very spontaneous buy! That sofa was big and comfortable, and it fit just perfectly into our living room space. But it was also so empty without any throw pillows. And since we already broke the bank purchasing a sofa we didn't plan on, we grimaced at the thought of breaking the bank again by buying numerous throw pillows for it. That was our first big DIY project. This is where my Mom’s sewing skills came into play.
A little bit about my mother. She was born in Russia, in the Far East, in a small town called Shakhtersk, located on the western coast of the Sakhalin Island. She told me that when the weather was really clear, you could see Japan from there. She spent the first 8 years of her life there. Then she moved with her Mom, my Grandma, to Donetsk, Ukraine. My mom had always sewn. When my brother and I were kids, she would sew us clothes. I had the best dresses any little girl could dream of! Sewing was my mom’s hobby… until Perestroika came. Perestroika in the former Soviet Union brought a lot of chaos into people’s lives with its downed factories, unemployment and crazy inflation. Many people lost their jobs and had no means to make money, including my Mom. And this is where, I am especially proud to say, my Mom, by tapping into her creativity, was able to find a solution in that very desperate time – she transformed her sewing hobby into a business. And did it prosper! The timing for it was just right –women’s clothing did not exist at the market stores because all Soviet factories had closed, and there were no goods being imported from other countries like Turkey, China, and European countries. My mom created several dress patterns which were quite successful. Women loved these dresses! Perestroika, with all its difficulties brought a lot of opportunities to some people, but still most were left to struggle. We were among the lucky ones!
...Back to that big black sofa
Fast forward in time – my Mom and I are in our house in the US (yes, we got lucky again! But that is another story)… and we are in front of our big black leather sofa that desperately needed throw pillows. After a brief discussion on how we can come up with bazillion throw pillows on a tight budget, mom and I were off to the store to buy fabrics for our DIY pillows. The end result was so satisfying! Mom and I thought to ourselves (and we actually said it out loud): “If we can make such beautiful pillows, why can’t we sell them?” And that is how our proud little business, One Happy Pillow, was born.
Our next DIY project was making curtains for the living room. We have very wide sliding doors and high ceilings. So these definitely had to be custom made curtains. We did need to find a carpenter who could build a cornice board long enough (I could not find one for sale). But once built, it was a breeze to wrap in this beautiful burnt orange Greek Keys fabric (see pictures below). There are many DIY articles online nowadays explaining how this type of project can be done (here is one example). Sewing curtain panels was not difficult either. And again, the end result was so rewarding and gratifying.
Believe me, you will experience this feeling when someone asks you “Where did you get this?” and to their amazement you will reply (with modesty, of course):
“I made it myself.”
My next empowering experience came from making my own sourdough bread. It might sound trivial, but trust me, once you see a recipe for a real (with no commercial yeast) sourdough bread, you will feel intimidated as well. But fear not! Like me, you may not succeed at first. But eventually, you will make the bread that your whole family will enjoy and praise you for it, and you will never want to buy store bread again.
Hand in hand with the sourdough bread was my Kombucha project! If you are not familiar with Kombucha, it’s a beverage which gained popularity lately because of its health benefits. It is produced by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria. A small bottle of it is sold for $4.50 at the Organic section of a grocery store. It took me years to finally attempt to make one myself. Now we make three one-gallon jars of it every week. It is very comforting to know you made it, and you know exactly what’s in it and you can modify its taste to your liking by adjusting the fermentation time, adding flavor, and by carbonating.
Our recent DIY project was a result of a custom order that came from one of our friends, Christine. Christine asked for two seat cushions which were replicas of the other cushions she already had. Now again, we have never made seat cushions before. Throw pillows – yes, but seat cushion is a quite different animal. So I found DIY tutorials explaining how to make them. We made all the measurements, ordered the right fabric, foam, and other materials and tools (yes, the right tools are important for any DIY project!) and voilà – the new cushions are done and you cannot tell which ones are replicas and which ones are the originals.
Now, after this project we thought to ourselves: “Wow, we are quite handy! We can make seat cushions! Let’s make them for ourselves too.” So needless to say, this project inspired us to make seat cushions and placemats for our dining area. We picked a beautiful turquoise Sunbrella fabric with geometric pattern and a solid one in a coordinating color. The bottoms of the seat cushions were done with a solid colored fabric, and the tops – with the patterned one. Same with placemats. The piping on the cushions was done in a solid color fabric and gave them a nice finishing touch.
Feed Your Creativity
You see how it never stops?! It’s almost like in that children's book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. :) Except here you are giving your creativity a cookie, feeding it so to say. Once you start creating, your DIY projects are going to snowball and come one after another (or should I say one from another). Just don’t feel defeated if something doesn’t work out, and try it again. If I fail, that only means that I didn’t have enough knowledge about the process. And all I need to do to succeed, is to gain knowledge and try again.
Spring is a great time for DIY projects
So what is going to be our next DIY project? Well, when I mentioned Sunbrella fabric that should have given you a clue. :) And of course, with spring coming… Yes, it will be our outdoor chair cushions, bench cushion and lounge chair cushions. Going into this project I know we can do it! One part of it makes me a little nervous though – the umbrellas. I want to re-cover our existing patio umbrellas with new Sunbrella fabric, as the old fabric won’t match the new color scheme. They are made well, and I would hate to throw them away and buy new ones just because the colors don't match. I have never worked on this type of project (re-covering patio umbrellas) and naturally this part of our “outdoor” DIY project makes me a little nervous. But I’ve had this feeling before and I know that at the end it all will be fine, and once again we will be able to tell ourselves: “Wow! We are capable of doing anything!”
And if we are capable, so you are! Whatever it is that you like doing, start with that. It will give you ideas for your next project and then next, and next. Don’t quit and don’t get discouraged!
Don’t buy! DIY!
Happy creating from One Happy Pillow crew!
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