I know I’m probably supposed to tell you that every project I make is a roaring success and not once have I had a project flop, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret – there have been more than a few doozeys. Although those projects don’t usually make it onto these pages (admittedly an attempt to make it look like it’s all smooth sailing on my end), I’ve come to learn that DIY is almost always a trial and error process, and that on the road to brilliance you’ll have a few bumps where things don’t go to plan. Don’t let it get you down! When it comes to projects that f*ck up, there are so many ways to make sure that your fails a) teach you a valuable lesson and b) can be re-purposed into something amazing. For that reason, and contrary to the title of this blog post, in my eyes there really is no such thing as a DIY Fail. In the spirit of better projects all around, today I bring you the golden rules of how to reduce the chances of making something you feel is a DIY Fail – and how to come back from it if you do.
How to: Not DIY Fail
- Visualise – when starting out on a project, take a few moments to visualize how you want the finished product to look. Better yet, practice your drawing and have a go at sketching out your idea before attempting to create the real thing. In the last few years sketching out my projects has helped me to iron out the processes, as well as helping me improve my illustrative techniques (still pretty rubbish mind you).
- Use inexpensive materials – Reduce fears associated with DIY failure by using inexpensive thrifted pieces to experiment on, and always buy extra materials so you don’t run out mid way (something I’ve done numerous times!)
- Experiment with re-moveable updates – This is a great one for those of you terrified about ruining your clothes with a DIY Fail – add an update, like this pair of knotted anklets, to an existing piece of clothing or an accessory. This allows for an the satisfaction of a DIY well done, without the fear of having to live with a mistake. This is also a great way to tentatively kick off a longer sojourn into the world of DIY.
- Test drive – When in doubt about whether a project you’ve made will hold up, make sure to test drive it around the house first, or as far away as possible from the eyes of the public. When I was about 15 I attempted to turn a pair of jeans from high waisted into low waisted (fyi – never a good idea) by cutting off the waistband, and then wore them out on a ‘date’ (those awkward gatherings of 15 year olds where everyone is paired off at the movies) only to have them fall off when as I was leaving the cinema. The shame!
- Salvage materials – Ok, so you’ve made something and it just isn’t going to work, like at all. Your first response might be to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater, but try not to completely ditch your project. You’ll be surprised how often you can find a use for the materials that went into a not-quite-right project – things like studs etc are perfect for reuse!
- Try, try and try again – Had a project that bombed spectacularly? Like a tassel pom pom necklace of mine that promptly fell apart? Or a skirt you cut too short? Or maybe a bag you made out of PVC that was the wrong dimensions (doh!)?Don’t let that discourage you – every god DIYer has a project graveyard for those that didn’t work out, and that doesn’t stop them trying again. Remember, any DIY that doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger!
Sooooo have you had any major #DIYFAILS? I’d love to hear what they were and how you dealt with them.