Tuesday, April 24, 2018

6 Tips to Avoid a DIY Disaster

We've all "nailed it." You have a vision of the finished product and nothing will stand between you and your idea. We cut corners. We don't let the paint dry. We don't buy the right tools. Then, it flops. Is it ever time to throw in the towel? What happens when it doesn't turn out like you expected? Here is the story of my DIY disaster and what I learned to become better at my passion.

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The chairs spoke to me. I drove 30 minutes to pick them up. I broke my rule of paying more than I thought they were worth. There were 100 signs warning me NOT TO BUY THE CHAIRS. I did it anyway... That was mistake number 1.

Being the first upholstery project I had ever attempted, I made a lot of mistakes, but I learned so much! Here's a list of what I learned in hindsight.
  1. I should never have taken on this project as my first attempt at upholstery. The nailhead trim was WAY out of my league, and I totally underestimated the difficulty of this project. If you expect a project to be easy and it's not, you're quick to cut corners to get it to fit into your time period. 
  2. I cut corners. Instead of investing in the time and effort for piping, I bought trim, which looked weird. You should always take the time to do the project right the first time. If I had considered that thought beforehand, I wouldn't be writing this post at all.
  3. I didn't buy the right materials. Instead of investing in fabric, I used what I had and "made it work." Always buy the good stuff the first time. It will pay out for you by the end of the project.
  4. I guessed. Instead of reading tutorials and gleaning from the experts, I went with my gut, and that doesn't always work. I should have taken off the batting, but I didn't and was left with a lumpy chair. Consult the experts before you have a DIY disaster on your hands.
  5. I free handed the design. Unless your Van Gogh, free-handing is probably not the way to get a masterpiece. You should always map out your ideas, make stencils, and practice designs for the best outcome.
  6. I got frustrated. Instead of taking a break when I was angry or tired, I pressed on, making me prone to error. When you feel yourself getting sloppy with your work or have a "I just want it done" attitude, you may as well put it down and pick it up again later. No one wants to have a half-done product.

I wanted this project to work out so badly. My vision just didn't match the final project. I was left with a lumpy, off-centered piece that no one would buy (and I didn't want to keep). Here's my "finished" product...

Oh, the agonizing pain that goes with admitting you failed. So, what does one do when they get to this point? Take a loss? Start over? Throw it out?
I took what I learned and applied it back into this project.
I took off the batting and filled in the spare holes...buh bye lumps!
I invested in nice, thick fabric with a knockout pattern (left over from another killer project). Plus, a brand new, heavy-duty stapler! I took my time to staple on the fabric and took breaks when I was frustrated. Instead of hurrying to finish, I put love into every staple.
Because my fabric was much more simple than the complicated, handpainted mess, I could confidently cover both of my chairs in the same way! They already made me want to keep them, even with the exposed staples. But y'all...piping was the death of me. I did, I tried it... and gave up. 

Instead, I bought a really simple trim. And now...

Here's the cost breakdown...
Chairs: $50
Fabric: Left over from previous project $0
Trim: $10

This puts me at a total cost of $60. Once I've sold them (if I can let them go), I'll update you on my profits. Hopefully my starting price of $200 won't chase anyone away!

***UPDATE: The chairs sold for $200 to a law office! Hooray for my $140 profit!

Tell me about or post a picture of your latest DIY disaster in the comments!


  1. Fantastic tips and ideas will definitely be trying the chair one out x

  2. This is a really helpful post! My mom and I are planning on doing some furniture flips this summer. I definitely will follow your advice! Thanks!

    1. When you do, if you write a post to go with it. I'll let you guest post! How fun!

  3. It reminds me of that saying "Don't let perfection get in the way of a perfectly good project." Good thing you stuck with it!

    1. Thanks! It has been a good treat to see what perseverance (stubbornness) will get you! Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. Amazing second attempt. I would be proud of your so called "fail" too because I probably dont have DIY bone in my body and thats a success in my book what you did. But yea, I get the dissappoitment, the rushing and pushing through. You got the feelings spot on. Great post <3

    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting! The first attempt had good intentions behind it. If I had followed some of these ideas, it would have turned out much better!


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