To DIY or not to DIY?

Whether you’re a master in the making or a seasoned DIYer, you’ve probably asked yourself, “Should I make this?” I admit the lure of Amazon is always only a few clicks away; I frequently succumb to it (OK, maybe a little more frequently than “frequent.”) But I’m a realist. Yes, that DIY giant Connect 4 game I saw Pinterest was awesome. Am I going to make it? Probably not.

Before you commit to a craft, consider these three factors:


I spend far too much time in craft stores than I’d care to admit, so I’m constantly inspired to start new projects. I usually get them done quickly; it’s starting them that’s the problem. One Christmas, I wanted to give me friends each a box of homemade gifts: tiny potted succulents, scarves, leather wallets, DIY galore! Of course, being a frequent visitor to Procrastination Station, I gave my friends their gifts in February instead. Remember, making things should be fun. It’s a lot less fun under a strict deadline.

Hm, I think I will give my friends handmade gifts for Christmas…next year.


Cost is a tricky factor when it comes to DIY. I can buy a leather envelope clutch at American Apparel for about 30 bucks or I can buy materials at Michael’s Arts and Crafts and Tandy Leather Factory, then make it myself. Does that necessarily mean that I’ll pass on a project? It depends.


Michaels’ coupons cut my total almost in half

Materials for more complicated projects are sometimes costly, and you have to factor in the time and cost of possible mistakes. Compare the price of the store version to the combined price of materials. My rule: If just the materials are going to cost more than double the price of the store-bought item, then I’ll skip the DIY.

For example, I really wanted a red maxi dress. I spent about $25 on the fabric – knit fabrics tend to be more expensive than woven fabrics – while Forever 21 was selling a red maxi dress for $10. After trying and failing to put the dress together, I ended up just buying the dress from Forever 21.

As much as I pride myself on my creativity, my logic tends to win when it comes to money. However, you’ll find that some projects are priceless compared to the cost of materials. If the process and completed project are more valuable to you than the cost of its materials, I say go for it!

*Tip: Michael’s Arts and Crafts is amazing and almost always offer a coupon for up to 40 percent off.


For me, the fun is in the process. Most of my projects weren’t made to be gifts or for practical uses; they were done for the sake of learning. Sure, I’ll probably never use that wood-burning tool again, but at least I learned how to use it.

I often hear people doubt their own creativity. Don’t be one of them, and don’t be lazy. The greatest thing about making your own things is the originality. It’s a wonderful feeling to receive a compliment on a project and say, “I made it myself.”

All photos by Gabrielle Peñaranda


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