DIY tutorial: hand-painted clothing

Believe it or not, I’ve been doing this since high school and I learned this one from my cousins – we used to decorate cheap t-shirts for ourselves when our bank accounts were non-existent. Now, this skill comes in handy for making custom clothing for your friends, especially for wedding-related events!

For my friend Katie’s bachelorette, we decided on going with a denim theme for one of the nights out, and while all of us bridesmaids purchased varying degrees of obnoxious cropped denim vests, we wanted the bride to have a quality piece of denim to wear (and hopefully re-wear on the wedding day). Obviously I volunteered to handle it!

So here’s what you’ll need: 

  • A print-out of your design or text (design on your computer and print to size on 8.5×11 or 11×17 paper – whatever fits your clothing item)
  • White eyeliner pencil – I like the traditional cheap $0.99 pencils from Wet and Wild or one of those drugstore brands, not the creamy kohl types that work great on eyes but not as great on paper
  • A very dull regular pencil – trust me, do not sharpen
  • Tape
  • Fabric paint – you can find at any craft store, I’ve used a lot of Tulip brand
  • Paint brushes – varying small sizes, and I prefer ones that are stiffer with a tapered edge. Might as well get an assorted pack and figure out your personal favorite!
  • Patience. 

Step 1: Design your artwork and print in black ink. I ended up going with “Bride” for the main text and then her future married name and wedding date in smaller text for the bottom of the jacket. You’ll need multiple print-outs for multiple areas on the clothing, so I had to do 2.

Step 2: Once your design is printed on a piece of paper, flip that paper over and use your white eyeliner pencil to scribble all over the back of the paper where your design is. I usually put the paper on a window so I can see exactly where the design is and then heavily scribble with the eyeliner behind all of the black.

Step 3: Flip the paper back over so your design is facing you, and tape the paper down to your piece of clothing exactly where you want it. Try not to press on the design or lean on it so you don’t transfer the white eyeliner onto the clothing… yet. Tape at all the corners so it’s secure.

Step 4: Take your dull regular pencil and start tracing over the entire design with it, carefully outlining the text as best you can. Press as hard as possible without going through the paper, especially at the edges of the design. I’ve tried to use thicker papers for my print-out so that the pencil is less likely to break through, and it’s helped. Your goal is to transfer the white eyeliner onto the clothing just where your design is. So be precise and press hard at the edges!

Step 5: Once you’ve traced over the entire design, remove the paper. You should find that underneath, you now have a faint white outline of your design on the clothing. It should look like this:

Apparently I pressed really hard on that “r”.

Step 6: Start painting! Now you just need to work slowly and have patience. I like the tapered edge brushes that are stiffer since they let you work with more precision. Sometimes if your white eyeliner didn’t transfer perfectly, you’re going to have to just look back at your design paper and improvise. I usually do at least 2-3 coats of paint to make the letters pop. I don’t wait long between the first and second coats typically but anything 3+ I’d let it dry for a bit between. Once you have a few coats on it’ll be bright white and look like this:


Step 7: I never used to do this when I was younger but since this project was a gift, I wanted to make sure it lasted. I followed the instructions on the back of the fabric paint bottle and when the paint was dry, I used an iron to set the paint (putting a piece of clothing between the paint and the iron so I wouldn’t mess anything up). This will make sure your paint doesn’t flake off.

And you’re done! Personally, I’d rather receive or wear a hand-painted piece of clothing over something done with vinyl from a Cricut machine. Something just seems more special about it to me. So give it a try someday, your friends will thank you!

The bride wore it all weekend!

Summer showers bring fall…


We were invited to 8 weddings between August of 2018 and February of 2019. All in a row. And I’m a bridesmaid in 4 of them! Meaning a lot of fun, planning, and doing some crafty favors for people I love.

Sometimes a crafty favor means making a donut tower for a bridal shower, other times it means doing hand-calligraphy addressing for all of your sister’s wedding invitations. Quick tip for everyone: I don’t know how to say no. So just corner me, and your wish will be granted.

My beautiful friend Dana got married last month, and we decided to throw her a little bridal shower brunch in the city since she wasn’t having a traditional shower and didn’t have a wedding party. Dana loves a lot of things, but she’s particularly enthralled by cats, colors, and candy (or any sweets). So somehow that became the theme! I designed some fun menus for the brunch, my friend Lana grabbed some bright blooms and balloons, and then we met up to snag some confetti-ed donuts as our makeshift cake (above).

cat menus and calligraphed placecards by yours truly
bud vases re-purposed from my wedding 😉


Then my sister’s wedding is rapidly approaching this November, so we just threw her a shower this past weekend down by my parents in Pennsylvania. We went Tuscan theme: lemons and olives. It all came out beautifully!

Next up: my friend Katie’s wedding in October in Lexington, KY. Getting so excited for this! I designed her invitation suite with an amazing sketch she found of her venue.

Then a French bistro shower for my maid of honor, Sarah, and an English tea party shower for my college best friend, Amanda, both in November. Looking forward to all of these showers, not to mention bachelorette parties!

Stay tuned!


Something old to something new.

After finishing redoing the stairway area in the last post and having the walls repainted (again, Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter, but lightened by 25%), I had to hang something above the refinished antique buffet cabinet we had.

Cory’s grandmother (Nana) had divided up her family’s heirloom china and given a quarter of the set to each grandchild, and our portion had been sitting in a drawer in that buffet and I knew it couldn’t stay there! It’s beautiful, with gold monogramming in the center and gold accents at the rim. I had always loved when people hung china, so I was determined to do the same.

I looked into the adhesive hangers that stick onto the backs of the pieces but honestly I couldn’t put my trust in those that they’d remain sticky through all of the humid Jersey shore summers. So I ended up opting for the wire spring/grippy hangers. While they’re slightly visible where the “claws” are, I think the peace of mind outweighs that fact. I did not want to end up with a broken piece of irreplaceable china. Plus, now these can be easily taken off the hangers if we actually want to use them.

After a little eyeballing and a LOT of measuring, I ended with this result, and I’m extremely happy with it!


I didn’t use every single piece we had, but I think I stopped at a good size for the wall. We surprised Nana with it when she came over for my birthday party and she hasn’t stopped talking about it since. I think that was my favorite part 🙂

Stairway overhaul.

When we moved into our house last year, we were aware that it had undergone 2 additions since it’s original construction in the 1950s, which made for some strange flow/layout areas. One of the sections of the house we really couldn’t figure out was the area around the stairway, which is located behind the open concept living room, but set too far back to really be included in the living area. One of the reasons it seemed so out of place was the fact that the stairway had a half wall instead of a railing, making it seem more like a “room” rather than just a transitional area. Plus it made it feel like a basement, which I hated. Here’s what it looked like when the former owner still lived there:

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So we decided the half wall had to go. We called in a local contractor to knock down the wall and replace it with a traditional wood railing to open up the space. We opted to paint it all white, since with the older floors in the home we might end up someday changing out all the hardwood and didn’t want to have to re-match the railing to a new color.

I also knew I wanted to add a runner to the stairs. The hardwood was definitely a little slippery and with the dog running up and down this would also help cut down his nails scratching them. I measured one entire stair – tread depth, riser height, and then around the lip – and multiplied by the number of stairs, and then ordered a runner from Overstock that was longer than my total length (which ended up being about 18 feet so I purchased a 20′ runner).

When the construction was done and the stairs were painted, we went to Home Depot and grabbed an electric staple gun (no, a normal one will NOT work and I didn’t feel like dealing with renting a pneumatic one). I measured and marked off the width of the runner with painters tape in a straight line down the stairs to make sure I wasn’t going at an angle.

I also cut up a non-slip rug pad to put a strip on each stair under the runner. Because I bought an indoor/outdoor rug for the runner, it wasn’t gripping the stairs enough and the pad solved that problem easily!

I love the finished area:


The dog loves the runner, too! Although, while I was using the staple gun he was so scared of the noise that he jumped into the upstairs bathroom tub and hid there until I was done. Oh well, he’s happy with the end result!

Don’t toss that bouquet!

If you’re anything like me, you’re A. a hoarder and B. always looking for a chic way of preserving memories. I knew even before the wedding that I wanted to preserve my bouquet, so I started doing some research early. There were plenty of places that would do it for you in a variety of beautiful ways, but that often came at a premium price. And, honestly, I always think I can handle doing things myself (kinda like that time I decided to do ALL of my own wedding calligraphy – came out great, but man was that a doozy of a project).

I also knew I wanted to display my wedding invitation and I figured there had to be a more creative way than just a simple frame. So, I figured I would kill two birds with one stone and put the bouquet and invitation together in their own little piece of artwork.

I started just before the honeymoon by learning that silica gel preserves flowers much better than hanging them to dry. I went to Michael’s and grabbed the silica along with a very affordable (read: cheap) shadowbox. Before we left for Riviera Maya, I carefully dismantled my bouquet and separated out each flower. I laid them all in a medium-sized shallow tupperware-type storage bin and dumped the silica on top. I probably could have used more but they only had one box at Michael’s, unfortunately. I tried to cover the flowers and silica as closely as I could with a plastic bag to make more of an airtight seal, and then I popped the lid on. Then I left it for the next week while we were on our trip. When I got back I was happy to discover my neatly-dried flowers, which seemed to have less yellowing, brighter color, and less breakage than the hang-dried alternative.

To assemble the shadowbox display, I took the back off and arranged all the flowers on top until I got a good visual mix. I also incorporated the champagne ribbon from my bouquet as well, winding it through the florals. I glued everything down at certain points just to make sure it didn’t shift. Then I topped it with out invitation right in the center.

I think it turned out exactly the way I wanted! And after posting on Instagram, a bunch of friends reached out to see if I could do this for them or for their friends after their weddings – which I’m always happy to do! I’ll just need a whole lot more silica gel 🙂 Did I mention it’s reusable though? Another perk!

Here’s the end result, which now hangs at the bottom of our stairs: