DIY: Flaunt those Cuff Links with any Dress Shirt

When we went to our friends’ wedding earlier this month, I wasn’t the only one there with some DIY touches to their outfit! My husband was the best man, so he didn’t have much to decide about his outfit, but he asked the groom if he could wear cuff links, because he’d just gotten a beautiful pair (and matching tie clip) from our friend Davis Hatcher who had a tent at the Boulder Creek Festival this year. Hubs got an easy “yes” from his bestie, but the shirt the groomsmen all got had buttoned cuffs, and we weren’t allowed to change which shirt he was wearing, so we (I) had to get crafty!

Get rid of those buttons!

First, rip off those pesky buttons! Carefully, of course. I used a seam ripper.

Mark where the new buttonhole will go

Next, fold the cuff in half, and mark where the buttonhole should go based on where the existing buttonhole is. I did this with a pencil, because it had a nice fine tip, makes a light mark, would wash off, plus all the marking I did was on the inside of the sleeve and would be covered/cut by the buttonhole processes, and therefore wouldn’t be visible anyway. You’ll notice my mark has a small horizontal mark below (perpendicular to) the mark I made through the existing buttonhole. This is based on how my sewing machine’s buttonhole foot instructions detailed the process.

Then you make your buttonhole! My machine has a special buttonhole foot that you insert a button into to get the size right, so I used one of the buttons I ripped off earlier. I attached the buttonhole foot to my sewing machine, lined up my marks with the red and green marks on the foot, picked the proper stitch and started sewing. Other than gently holding the fabric in place, I didn’t do much - the machine does all the hard work. Depending on your machine, you may have to do things a bit more manually, so double check your instruction manual. I’d imagine most new-ish machines will have this ability, though.

The scariest part comes next - you have to actually cut the hole for the button (or, in this case, cuff link) to go through. I’ve seen that some people use scissors, but I prefer using the seam ripper again.

And there you have it! Another fun touch for this project is that, rather than using white thread to match the white shirt, I used the same color thread that I used on the culottes I made for this wedding, so we were subtly (ok, let’s be honest, completely unnoticeably) matching. 😉

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Sentimental DIYs

Last week I had my 3rd wedding anniversary. We're at a point in our lives where 1) we've given each other a LOT of gifts so coming up with something original is hard, and 2) we don't have a lot of extra money laying around.

A few months ago I was reading Spoonflower's blog, which gave me the idea to write my vows out by hand and turn them into a pocket square for my husband. I loved this idea because it was unique (literally no one else will give him this) and I hadn't yet given him a pocket square. It was also surprisingly affordable. I ordered two fat quarters of high quality, custom fabric for under $30.

For the side with the handwritten vows, I just used a dark black sharpie pen and carefully wrote them out, then scanned them into my computer. For the patterned side, I found some fun Doctor Who fabric (because I will be making him a TARDIS blazer at some point in the next few months!). I ordered each printed on the Organic Cotton Sateen, but you could get silk if you want something fancier, or I'd imagine you could use other fabrics they offer, too.

I followed the instructions laid out in this blog, and opted for the top-stitched finish for my project. The actual cutting and sewing took less than 45 minutes (I wanted it to be perfect), and I couldn't be happier with out this turned out. 😍

The uncut yard of fabric used to make 4 custom tea towels

Because I subscribe to Spoonflower's blog, I get a lot of fun DIY emails from them, and another project I ended up doing semi-recently is actually quite similar to the pocket square. For Christmas I made tea towels for my parents and my mother-in-law.

For my parents, I found a couple fractals (my dad makes them using a computer program he wrote, I've posted about making scarves with them in the past) and put a black border around them, and for my mother-in-law, I scanned hand-written recipes from her mom, and put a brown border on them (the brown complimented the color of the recipe cards). The borders on each were 1.5 inches, which worked great with the thicker linen and double fold hem.

I ordered just one yard of Linen Cotton Canvas Ultra and uploaded one image with two fractals and two recipes, which fit perfectly! That means that 4 towels cost me less than $30, and as far as sewing skill goes here, it's nice and easy - lots of straight lines. The most challenging part was the corners, because they got pretty thick with the double fold hem on each side.

What I love about both these DIY's is that they're both nice and simple, but have the potential to be extremely meaningful. I could just buy "normal" fabric and create the same projects without the sentimentality attached, and I'm sure people would still be happy to receive these as gifts. The handwritten notes, recipes, and works of art are the cherry on top, making these creations unique and meaningful.

I've used Spoonflower several times over the past few years, and am always pleased with the quality of the fabric and with the artwork available to browse through. I look forward to more projects yet to come using their services!

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New York Weekend

One of our friends from high school got married in Brooklyn last weekend, which meant we got to go to NYC for the first time ever! We were there for 3.5 days, which were jam-packed with touristy fun and partying with great people. 11 of us stayed in an Airbnb together, so we had no shortage of good company.

The wedding itself was at the Brooklyn Historical Society, and the ceremony took place in a gorgeous library with intricate woodwork. There are no buildings like this anywhere near Boulder - it felt like a fairytale. 

Outside the Ed Sullivan Theater - taken with our GoPro - which I love for these fun wide-angle shots, and not knowing what you've gotten until you upload it to your computer!

Another highlight for me and Nathaniel was going to see the Late Show with Stephen Colbert! It started with a stand up comic who taught us to be LOUD because all the sound from the audience you hear on TV is 100% real on his show. Stephen Colbert came out, and did a little Q&A with the audience, and the band practically gave us a concert! Not to mention that the Ed Sullivan Theater is absolutely gorgeous! At the end, make sure to go up front to see the dome if you can’t see it from your seat. I would definitely do this again (but make sure to reserve your tickets way in advance, and get to the theater early - they over-book to make sure they’ve got a full audience, but it is free!).

Because this was our first time to New York, we naturally had to do some touristy things. We went to the American Museum of Natural History, which you could seriously spend a week at and not see everything. We mostly saw dinosaurs (and their special exhibit, “Dinosaurs Among Us” about the connection between birds and dinosaurs), gems, minerals and meteorites. I wish we’d gone into Hayden Planetarium, but we were on a limited time frame. I guess we’ll just have to go back! 😉

We walked around Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Central Park in Manhattan. It was rainy when we went to Central Park, so it almost felt like an enchanted forest! We found Belvedere Castle, and just explored a bit. Because it was rainy, it wasn’t very busy, which was a plus!

We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, which was CROWDED but lovely. You can see the Statue of Liberty wayyyy off in the distance, and you get to see the skyline, and as someone who has spent most of her life in Colorado, was almost unreal!

We went to the top of Rockefeller Center to see the city from above. This was a bit expensive, but it was beautiful. It’s good to get your tickets in advance, or you might have to wait a couple hours. A lot of people climb the Empire State Building, but from Rockefeller, you can see the Empire State Building, which was nice.

While we were there, we ate at Katz Deli and Les Halles, along with a bunch of other small places for (rainbow!) bagels, pizza and coffee. We rode the subway EVERYWHERE which was convenient most of the time, but significant delays made getting to the airport kind of scary.

We definitely want to go back, though. We only scratched the surface of what the city has to offer, and I wished we had more time to explore

Budget Wedding Planning: Part 7 - Celebration Logistics

It's been a little over a month since everyone came to celebrate with us. We had a very belated "reception", which allowed everyone to come party in a low-key sort of way. We didn't have much structure to the day, no seating charts, minimal decorations... just a giant party. And while this day was definitely much more expensive than our intimate celebration, it still doesn't even compare to the national average cost of a wedding, which is over $25,000!

Now, while I've been detailing small projects as ways to save money, I thought I'd share a bit about the ACTUAL party, and show you where we cut costs, and what we splurged on.

Sanitas Brewing Company in Boulder, CO

So, here are the details of our July Wedding Celebration:

Our venue was Sanitas Brewing Company, here in Boulder. A lot of my family from across the country was able to come, along with Nathaniel's family, and countless friends who made this party even better than I ever could have imagined. We had close to 200 guests.

AH-MAZING beer

We had tacos for dinner provided by McDevitt Taco Supply, and for dessert we hired a cupcake truck called The Dessert Stand. I would highly recommend both for any events you may be planning! We had an open bar, which exclusively served the beer the brewery had on tap. Adding other types of alcohol would have made it so we needed to modify their liquor license for an extra $1,000, pre-buy all the beer, and purchase all the other alcohol. We decided for financial reasons and ease that we would just have unlimited beer.

Our wonderful DJ :)

Our wonderful friend Jason was our DJ. He set up playlists, spun some sweet sets for fun dancing, snuck in some Disney, reminded me when it was time for me to sing, and coordinated a very sweet first dance. We also had Dazzling Photo Booth come, and it seemed to be a hit! They even provided a scrapbook! Check out the pictures here.

Most of our photos were taken by our good friend Jesse. My uncle John, Nathaniel's dad Marc, my cousin Alexa, and my sister Maddie also took some that are peppered throughout this gallery.

Here is the cost break-down for our vendors:

  • Securing Sanitas for the whole day: $5,000
  • Beer: $1,000
  • Tacos: $2,400
  • Cupcakes: $700
  • Photo Booth & Guestbook: $800
  • Tips: $400

Other expenses included:

  • A white mailbox, painted like the mailbox in Up, and some balloons tied to the flag ($40)
  • Mason jars and baby's breath ($40)
  • Personalized sunglasses from LogoLenses, and a crate from Joann's to put them in ($300)
  • Soda, water and ice ($100)
  • Picture frames turned into Instagram hashtag signs ($20)

So in total, we spent under $11,000. We never ran out of anything, and everything went smoothly. The only times I got stressed out were when I was getting ready to sing, and for a bride, I think that's pretty good. Yes, this was very expensive, but we got through it alive, and for less than half the average cost. By having a friend DJ and a friend photograph, we saved a ton, as well. We tried to pay them, but they wouldn't let us! I'd still say this puts us in the category of "budget" wedding. I decided to not include the expenses from March that we re-used in July (for example, my dress), because I'm focusing on the party itself. If we had had one day where we did everything, (and if we had a bridal party who needed to carry flowers, among other traditional things we discluded), it would have been more expensive. I just wanted to give you all a breakdown, and show that it's possible to throw a kick-ass wedding celebration without touching that $25,000 price tag.

The most expensive part for us was securing the venue. We had thought about doing it at a local park, which would have been a fraction of the price, but had we done it that way, we would have needed to rent tables and chairs and a generator for the sound system, get approved for a liquor license, figure out lighting once it got dark (and worry about park hours), buy and transport multiple kegs, worry about cops busting us for being loud, and then clean it all up afterwards. This probably wouldn't have quite reached $5,000, but I do think it would have been a pretty decent chunk of change, and it would have stressed me out. I have zero regrets about how we did things, and it seems like everyone had a great time. Can't beat that :)