Category: DIY

Easy Embroidery

Easy Embroidery | The Ultimate

I have a bad habit of making things and liking them a lot for about 10 seconds, and immediately thereafter deciding that I hate them, forever. Does this happen to anyone else? So I consider it a victory that I have quite a few DIY’ed pieces interspersed in my bedroom’s gallery wall, and I don’t hate any of them! Yayyy. Yet.

My favorite piece is the embroidered X, which is inspired by this amazingness. I was so excited when I saw it, because I had that hexagonal frame for ages and couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Of course, it would’ve been nice to just buy that piece and call it good, but it was a sold out limited edition, and I knew it would be so easy to recreate. Also I wanted a high-contrast situation, so black thread was a must.

Easy Embroidery | The Ultimate

As is usual whenever I attempt this kind of thing, I made a massive initial mistake that involved a lot of work to fix: I tried using metallic black thread. NOT GOOD. It’s much more stiff than normal thread and looked very wonky, so I had to pick out all my stitches. Learn from me.

But from then on, this project was so easy. All I did was: wrap the cardboard insert that came with the frame in some leftover linen, stapling it in place on the back. Cut an X shape out of cardboard and center on the piece of linen. Mark little groups of dots all along the edges of the X, to guide me in my stitches. Stitch one row straight across. Stitch the opposite row, weaving through the first row as you go.

I love how it adds a little texture and dimensionality to the wall!


Gallery Wall

Gallery Wall Detail | The Ultimate

I finally finished my gallery wall! Well, finished as in it no longer looks like this:

Gallery Wall Before | The Ultimate

Except now I’ve got this far, I’m thinking it’s kind of a cop out. It should be floor to ceiling, wall to wall, right?? Right. I’m pretty sure I’m going to do that. But it’s at a good stopping point right now, and I really don’t want to buy more pieces to fill it just because they happen to be black + white + gold + silver, or some combination thereof (No seriously, I’ve developed a knee-jerk MUST BUY reaction whenever I see anything in this color scheme. It’s an addiction.)

Gallery Wall | The Ultimate

I used Adobe Illustrator (although Photoshop or any image editing software would work) to experiment with different layouts. It’s really helpful if you’re still in the process of buying pieces! Because unless you’re some kind of art-arranging savant, it’s really hard to know how all the pieces are going to relate to each other if you don’t already have them. I grabbed an image file from each piece that I was thinking about buying, and added it, to assess how it would look with the rest of my pieces. With a quick mockup like this, it becomes really obvious when you need a different color of frame in one area, a photo rather than another illustration, etc. You can see here that I stuck pretty closely to this general layout, although there were some changes made in the end:

Gallery Wall Layout | The Ultimate


Gallery Wall | The Ultimate

1. Handmade quote from Lolita
2. Ink Blot Kit
3. Handmade astronaut illustration
4. Calculating a Jump Over the Moon
5. Handmade glitter paper dots over found photograph
6. Handmade embroidery
7. Photo of my sister and me frolicking in Mexico
8. Photo strip (The only one I’ve EVER taken. I know, where was I in the 90’s?)
9. Luminares
10. The World at Night
11. American Ghost Bison
12. Joker from a set of Black Playing Card
13. Handmade quote from Woodcut
17. White Dot
18. Jaime Lidell Gig Poster
19. It’s Written in the Stars Handkerchief
20. Cirque D’Art Lungs
21. Origami Bird Papercut
22. Astrology Wall Calendar


Costume DIY: Daft Punk

Daft Punk Costume | The Ultimate


Make sure you give your helmets PLENTY of time to dry after spray painting them. We did it just a few hours before we started getting ready for the night, like utter fools, and after a tragic series of paint-transference events, we learned our lesson.

Also (clearly) they are HOT and pretty hard to see through (we very lightly misted the visors with black spray paint, which looked awesome but was also totally dangerous so I wouldn’t recommend it). Know that you will most likely be taking yours off periodically throughout the evening, and plan accordingly.


Sequined Jacket | Black outfit | Black Leather Gloves | Triangular Necklace


Motorcycle Helmet | Silver and Gold Spray Paint | Painter’s Tape

Part deux of my costume series! This one involves minimal DIY, which is nice for those of us who are disinclined to fritter away an entire month on an outfit that will last for (half of) one night. The trick is just pulling together the right pieces, the most important part being the helmets. Mine is this one, and Anne’s is this one.


Costume DIY: Retro Goldfish

DIY Retro Goldfish Costume | The Ultimate


Try to find a simple dress without a lot of flare in the skirt, the reason being that you’ll already need several hundred cupcake liners to cover it; no need to make yourself more work! The cutting goes pretty quickly though, as you can stack several at a time. I would definitely recommend sewing them onto a cheap, thrifted find–I actually taped mine all on (which took FOREVER) because I wanted to save the beautiful handmade cocktail dress I used.


Pillbox Hat | Retro Dress | Gloves | Pumps | Pearls


Ping Pong Ball | Black and Orange Paint | Glue Gun | Cupcake Liners | Orange Dye | Sewing Machine

It’s October! Otherwise known as the month when most other people start enthusing about turning leaves and scarves and apple cider or WHATEVER. All good things, but I’m pretty sure I have my priorities straight when I say that Halloween costumes are what we all really need to focus on. Or at least this is true if you too have a tendency to undertake really massive DIYs that take practically the whole month to pull together. So in preparation, I thought I’d show a couple of favorite costume DIYs from past Halloweens. Hope you like!


Hexagonal Spoon Rest DIY

Spoon Rest DIY | The Ultimate

Like any other female with Pinterest account, I dream of having a pristine marble and brass kitchen, but am currently saddled with a builder basic sadface of a space, complete with beige tile countertops and “birch” cabinets that my landlord won’t let me paint. Le sigh.

But it’s good to keep the dream alive in even the smallest of ways, right? So now with my lil 2 minute spoon rest project, I can at least have 6 square inches of my dream.

How To

Color the edge of your marble tile with a gold leaf pen, then seal it (to prevent food stains). Gaze upon your handiwork and dream of better things to come.

Trivet DIY | The Ultimate


Bedroom Update

Bedside Table | The Ultimate

Hi! I’m back! I had a lovely summer holiday, minus all the working. The real world (or actually just the good ol’ U S of A…) did not respond affirmatively to my respectful request that we all take a break for the past three months, which was very puzzling to me. But I tried my very hardest to forge ahead without support, with generally good results. Fun times were had. But now the long slog into winter has officially begun, as evidenced by the proliferation of pumpkin flavored items in every grocery store (btw have you tried TJ’s pumpkin flavored greek yogurt? GOOD.)

I decided (just so I don’t go into shock from the sudden resumption of normal life) that I’d ease into it with a little posty post. Just to dip my toes in. Just to remind myself I could. So here’s my bed! I was going to do a bed/closet combo but then my camera ran out of batteries, and I don’t know who I’m kidding thinking that I’ll ever take a decent photo of my tiny dark closet, especially given that I have the photography skills of a poorly-trained capuchin monkey. Hence, just the bed.

Bed | The Ultimate

The bedding! It took foreffing ever to find emerald green sheets, but Ebay came through for me in the end. The throw pillow is (sold out) from ModCloth. I’m dying to change up the duvet cover as I think we all know that chevron is OVER, but I’ve yet to find the right thing. I made the headboard, the big linen pillows, the side tables, AND the ceramics, so it’s possible I might also take a stab at making my own. Oh the decisions…

The headboard! That was a pain to make. It involved some very questionable saw usage, a ton of staples, and a giant dose of optimism, but it turned out just fine. (Oh god, for some reason that made me think of childbirth. What is wrong with me. Moving on…)

Bedroom | The Ultimate

The side tables! After much agonizing over more expensive options, I bought these super cheap ones and just spray painted them. It’s a bit difficult to tell, but the bottoms are painted the same dusty grey-blue as my desk, which fades into a glossy black at the top.

The sconces were also a concession to my lack of funds…ideally I would have loved these lovelies (or anything else by Schoolhouse Electric!), but the knockoffs do just fine for now.

Under Bed Storage | The Ultimate

Last but for sure not least are my amazing rolling storage carts. They’re lifesavers for my tiny-no-storage-in-sight apartment, and they’re kinda cute and quite sturdy. They’re from Walmart! Random. Those are chalkboards on the front, which I labeled using a liquid chalk marker. I had to buy them special for that purpose. Aaaand I’m getting a bit concerned for the kind of chalkboard-writing, chevron-cuddling, pumpkin-yogurt eating basicness that I’m betraying in this post…:)


Winking Eye DIY

Winking Eye DIY | The Ultimate

I’m just a few tweaks away from finishing our living room! (I know, super impressive given that we moved 6 months ago and it’s about 10 square feet) I just need a bit more art and accessories, and then I’ll share it! But for now, here’s a 10-minute DIY I did to fill out one of the walls.

Winking Eye DIY | The Ultimate

I had these two round frames left over from the gallery wall I’m doing in my bedroom, and I didn’t really have a plan for them. The art they came with was kind of cute, in a way. But definitely not what I was going for. I knew I wanted something cheeky and fun but also fairly subtle–across the archway is a neon-pink print, and right next to it is our giant 48-star flag. So I didn’t want it to have any color and compete with those things.

Winking Eye DIY | The Ultimate

Inspiration hit when I saw this poster; I loved the simple, primitive shapes and sliiight creepiness (clearly I love a touch of anthropomorphic creepiness in my decor). But I thought it would be even more fun if the eyes were laid out horizontally. I whipped these up in Photoshop, and I love the way they look! Not to go all literary on you, but don’t they remind you of the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg?? I don’t know why I think that’s a good thing.

Of course, everything still looks a bit sparse. I think the eyes could do with something else above them, but I’m not sure what. Also I’ve owned that little card catalogue thing for about 2 years, and I still haven’t added any labels. (I’m afraid to commit to them. What if I run out of balloons? What would happen to my balloon drawer label??)

If you want to play around with a similar idea, you can grab the source file here!


Let’s Make Leather Keychains

Leather Keychain DIY | The Ultimate

I made a bunch of these simple keychains for my friends for Christmas. They’re used to me making them a lil somethin’ every year, and I’m used to be showered with praise for my ingenuity and artistic skills in return. So I was surprised and saddened when I didn’t receive the usual fanfare upon the presentation of these pretties. Turns out, no one even suspected that they were handmade! That is a score in my book, albeit a slightly confusing one.

Here’s where I found my screw bolts, key rings, and leather scraps. I had all the other supplies, so it only cost me $30 to make 10 key chains, with lots of nice leather scraps left over.

Leather Keychain DIY | The Ultimate


1. Use the sharpie to mark your hole punches on the back of the leather.
2. Make the hole punches and cut (see above).
3. Lay the outer strip over the inner. The four holes on the left should line up, and the outer strip should be slightly longer than the inner.
4. Fold the longer side in toward the middle, and fold the shorter sides over the top (see above).
5. Stick the key ring in the loop you’ve just made.
6. Thread the screw bolt through all the now-aligned holes, and screw closed.

SO EASY. After that you can customize yours by snipping off the edges of the front bit (black one), or slivering the long bit (blue one), whatever you fancy. Just make sure to use very sharp scissors so your cuts are nice and clean.


Console Table DIY

Console Table DIY | The Ultimate

I love my apartment so much, and for the most part I appreciate its pocket size; less to furnish, less to clean. But it must be said that our living room is a challenge; it’s tiny–and I mean TINY–(In a normal house, it would be charitable to call it an atrium). And all four walls have giant windows/archways/french doors, so there’s basically no empty space to back furniture up against. It immediately became clear that we’d have to float a loveseat (an actual couch wouldn’t fit) in the middle of the room, and that would be it for the seating.

The only way this was going to work was by turning the loveseat towards the window, stove, and tv, which meant that it had to face away from the entry. And because the back of a couch is one of the least lovely sights to encounter upon entering your apartment, I knew I needed a console table STAT. Problem was—again, sooo tiny–any and all console tables I could find were too wide; they blocked up too much of the space between the edge of the archway and the back of the couch.

So that was one tragic circumstance. The other was that I’d always admired these tables, and had even bought them once before to use on either side of my old couch. But they had to be returned because they’re just bizarrely tall. I bought them again for the same purpose, thinking they’d work because our loveseat is also quite tall. But alas, no. And the most frustrating thing was that the nice leg design meant that they could expand and lower, or contract and raise. But the table tops needed to be screwed in at a certain point, which meant that this adjustable feature was totally useless.

I think you see where this is going. While sitting in a heap of styrofoam, boxes, and broken dreams, I realized that the abnormal height of the legs, while weird for side tables, was absolutely perfect for a console table. And I could get a piece of wood cut down to the perfect width! All was well.

So here it is in all its glory!

Console Table DIY | The Ultimate


Book Cover Valentine

Book Cover Valentine | The Ultimate

I’m not at all ashamed to love Valentine’s Day; apart from it being my BIRTHDAY!!! (sorry), I also think it’s been fully established that the day can be used to celebrate any and all kinds of love in your life. And keeping in the spirit of that, I whipped up this valentine for my roommate! At first I couldn’t decide whether or not to share it here, because as you can see it’s for a preeeetty specific audience. But the concept is really adaptable, so just bear with me!

I bought her a book I knew she’d like (and that I’d like to steal); Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. (We first met as leetle freshmen in the aforementioned french class where we read The Little Prince, so of course we bonded over how great he is.) I decided to make a faux cover for it, based on a mishmash between a romance or fantasy book cover and a valentine. For no real reason other than I thought it would be hilarious. Then I wrote a note on the back, explaining how it (very tangentially) related to the gift within. If I’d thought this through beforehand, I might have chosen a book that could be punned on in the fake cover, but ehhh…you live and you learn. Cheers to a lovefest of a Valentine’s Day!

Book Cover Valentine | The Ultimate