Thursday, September 22, 2011

Things I Learned From Bust

If you know me well, then it's quite likely that you know I edited a book recently called The BUST DIY Guide to Life. And while this book is a compendium of all of the DIY articles published by Bust Magazine over the last 15 years--more than 250 of them, to be exact--there came a point in working on it when it started to feel like my own. Not in a creepy Hand That Rocks the Cradle "I'm gonna steal the baby" kind of way. More like, I found myself personally involved in the victories and challenges, the daily struggles and even the curating, than I had ever found myself on other books. For instance, I'm the one who insisted we move things around at the 11th hour so that we could include the "how to make pinatas" entry. True story! I also remember mourning the loss of the DIY Dream Catchers when we had to cut it. Those were kind of cool. But the book was coming in 150 pages too long, so a few things just had to go. (RIP Dream Catchers.)
One of the most hilarious (in retrospect) ways in which I became intimately involved in the book was when I found myself one night sewing projects for the photo shoot. We had picked about 25 projects from the book to remake and have them re-shot by the fabulous Marianne Rafter. Things were going well...we had sewers and crafters all over town making the items. And then, all of a sudden, the girl who was sewing several of the projects told us that her sewing machine broke. And she couldn't fix it. And she couldn't finish the job. And oh man...that was a stressful can't have a photo shoot if there's nothing there to shoot! We got on the phone with every expert sewer we knew that night and thankfully managed to find someone two days later who could finish the job. But that night, just to make myself feel better, I took home three of the easier projects and made them myself. And so, you can see my handiwork in the book in the form of the image-transfer dog pillow above. 
And this scarf made from cut-up felted sweaters.
And this skirt!

I am also in a photo in the book, though I don't think anyone knows it. I'm sort of in the shadows of this one shot, and it was taken at the very end of the day when I was tired and my hair was up in this messy bun, and somehow I look sort of like a man. So if you see a man in the shadows in this book, it's probably me.
Though there were many lessons I learned while working on this book, I won't share them all with you here. Because that would be boring. (It's mostly, like, editorial stuff.) But I will share with you one cool thing that Debbie Stoller taught me, because it is awesome. If you are ever reading a sewing pattern and can't quite visualize the instructions, get out some napkins or some scrap fabric or rags, mark one side "right side" and the other "wrong side" and follow the instructions, stapling instead of sewing.

This is how we wound up figuring out the instructions for a laptop cozy pattern that I could not understand for the life of me. Debbie and I must have exchanged 14 emails debating how to construct this cozy. You see, when things have linings, it gets really confusing. I think it's because the "right side" of the lining fabric goes on the inside of the pouch and then your brain explodes. So Debbie called me up and said, ok, grab a napkin and a stapler. We're gonna do this together. And on the phone, we each made the cozy. My napkin kept ripping when I went to turn the lining out, so I grabbed some fabric I had laying around and stapled away.
And now I use my practice cozy as a drink coaster at my desk. And as a reminder of how awesome it is to learn a new trick from a crafty guru like Debbie Stoller!
All of that being said, the book officially comes out on October 1 (though you can order it now on Amazon and I believe orders are shipping!) and I am so so so so so so excited. Instead of going on and on about how you should buy it and how you're totally going to love it and all of that, I'm just going to give you a list of some of my favorite articles in the book--like, projects that I have either already made or that I am planning to make--and let that speak for itself:

Spicerack made from an old suitcase
DIY decals for mugs
Getting rid of wine stains
Building a raised garden bed
Terrarium building
Growing potatoes in a bucket (done this!)
Fixing your bra when the underwire pokes through
Turning an old t-shirt into cute underpants and a tank top
Tie-dyeing your tights
Hat making
Fabric flowers for your hair (done this!)
Friendship bracelets
All of the DIY hair-dos (bouffant, beehive, Frida Khalo, to name a few)
DIY hair highlights (done this!)
Homemade sugar scrub (done this!)
How to light a charcoal grill
How to make a pinata (done this!)
How to make candy corn from scratch!!
How to make butter from scratch!!
How to forage for maple syrup!!!
How to buy a house
How to stop hating running (tried this!)
What to do if you get sick and you don't have health insurance
How to start your own craft business (done this!)
How to camp
How to get married (done this!)
How to fix your bike

And THAT is only 8% of the book. Just saying. It's a whole lot of book.

Which leads me to my final point, and that is this: I have never worked on a book where I've learned so much about life and wanted to make so many of the projects when it's all said and done. The 13-year-old Liana who was reading Sassy magazine and learning how to pluck her eyebrows and dye her hair with henna would be very proud to know that the 30-something-year-old Liana would be so deeply involved in making a book like this down the road. And that's pretty cool.


  1. Oh! It's just arrived and now I am compelled to take it off the shelf and have a look!

  2. That book sounds so neat! Did you get to keep the dog pillow? Is Dad getting that for Christmas?

    Hehe, I love that "how to stop hate running" only gets a "tried" mark, not "done." But hey, you made a pinata, and that's pretty awesome.

  3. i spent maybe 15 minutes with that book and it has been HAUNTING me ever since. so much awesome stuff suddenly de-mystified and dying to be tried! i'm off to amazon to order a copy i can keep. and bookmark to death until i've tried them all! (except tying the string to the garlic because -- ew.)

  4. Erin, I did not get to keep the dog pillow, but that is no guarantee that dad won't be getting one!

    Nicole, I'm so glad you liked the book so much! And yes, the garlic-on-a-string is not for everyone. (Don't you all want to know what we're talking about??? Actually, you probably don't.)

  5. I kind of want to know what the garlic-on-a-string is all about, only because my imagination is going to very weird, very bad places. Apparently I need to buy this book!