Doing It Yourself: 7 Tips for Finishing Your DIY

020909-diysteps.jpgThis month being DIY month here on AT, we can already feel our creative juices flowing. We've got a million projects: cleaning closets, constructing a coffee table, taking all our photos virtual. We love love love starting up projects. Gung ho and full of renewed optimism, we hold our nose and cannonball into the waters of DIY, sure that this time will be different...

But alas, although we're grade A starters, we're a little...ummm...lacking in the finishing department (chalk it up to our INFP personality). The half-knit sweater, the interior of the door that's been taped off but never painted, the blouse that's been cut out, pinned and basted but never quite made it to being sewn together, all can attest to this gap in our make-up. But, little by little, we're reforming. Herewith, our tested guidelines for getting that DIY done:

  • Make sure it's within your skill set: better to start small. Construct an apron before you tackle a slipcover.
  • Map out all the steps: even if (especially if) they seem silly. There's something to be said about crossing things off a list. It'll also give you a good assessment of how long this project will take. Picking up velcro, having a piece of wood cut or having paint matched may be something you can tackle at lunchtime. Sewing on that velcro, staining that piece of wood or figuring out which colour to use are all tasks that require longer blocks of time and more concerted effort.
  • Break your steps down into small increments: this way you can get a realistic idea of how much time this project will take.
  • Do a little bit every day: better a steady daily half hour than a "start at dawn and throw in the towel by noon" marathon.
  • Be in beginner's mind: your first scarf will be crooked and full of holes, your first batch of cookies may burn, your paint job will be uneven. It's all part of the learning curve. Even Martha Stewart was a beginner once.
  • Beware beginner's luck: then again, you may achieve instant success. It won't be until you try it again that you'll come across hurdles. Take a deep breath and remember what you are capable of.
  • Your project will take twice as long and cost twice as much as you planned on: While saving money is part of the allure of the DIY, that may not always be true. Suddenly you'll understand why that item cost so much; the fabric you love costs an arm and a leg and making a french seam takes two hours. The bigger part of DIY? That elusive feeling called satisfaction.

[image: Djenan's flickr, with a Creative Commons License]