Sunday 17 January 2010

My Fair First Lady

Cast your minds back to early April, or rather the momentous to-do that was the G20 summit.  On that dramatic occasion the IMF dipped deep into their pockets and pulled out $1tn to solve the global economic crisis, violent protests lined the streets resulting in a fatality … and Michelle Obama wore THAT cardigan.

Yet another of her fashion triumphs, the G20’s political fallout might be yesterday's news, but her champagne cardigan and pencil skirt combo still receives media attention as a key look.  The J-Crew Crystal Constellation cardigan especially proved such a shining example to fashionistas that it sold out soon after the event, despite the not-so-peachy $298 price tag.  Expensive, exclusive and elusive as it may seem, if it’s any constellation (see what I did there!?) you can make your own for a fraction of the price.  Here’s how:

You Will Need

Oatmeal-coloured cardigan – Primark do a nice one for £6, ask for product no.8091915 if your local branch  doesn’t stock it.

Crystals – qty 200, £1.90 at Hobbycraft

Flat metallic sequins about 1cm in diameter - £2.50 John Lewis

Crystalline beads – Ells & Farrier do strings of 50 (product code GB8-1AB) @ £1.10 exc. VAT.  You’ll need about 13 strings, which will set you back £16.45 with VAT included. Request them at (e-mail: tel.   01494 778818   or buy them at Ells & Farrier, 20 Beak Street, London, W1F 9RE, tel.   0207 629 9964

Bead Glue – must be suitable for fabrics.

Needle, thread and scissors.

Total Cost

£29.35 (incl. bead glue)

Save it!

You’d save £156.90, or probably more, factoring in the commission they’d whack on were you to buy the original with British credit cards or currency, and then there’s the issue of shipping charges, so, by that token, the Chic Cheat solution would be even more of a saving on Britain’s fair shores.  I’d love to tell you the exact amount after said amendments, but I’m afraid I got my degree in fashion design, not accountancy.


About 24

Sounds hardcore, but break it down into four 6-hour sessions over a couple of weekends, or a couple of hours a day for a fortnight and it’s very manageable.



Straightforward sewing and gluing for this one.  Helps if you use certain techniques, which will be explained.

How to make it


1. Look at the detailing close up on the cardigan and you’ll see it’s crystal constellation by name and by nature as it sparkles with crystals and glass beads in star clusters, framed by patterns of circular silver sequins, as shown in the following diagram:

The first step is to dot the sequins reasonably sparsely all over the garment.  You might also notice that some of the sequins are sewn closely together in short arcs, which you might want to include to get an authentic look.  Strengthen your stitching by sewing with your thread double thickness and stitch from the centre of the sequin outwards.  Then do the same stitch from the centre towards the opposite side of the sequin to the one before.

Next step – the crystals:  Before gluing them on, make sure you have something between the two sides of the garment, say a magazine between the front and back panel or a plastic bag stuffed down the sleeves, to stop the fabric glue from seeping through both layers.  Dot the crystals as generously around the cardigan as possible and secure them with fabric glue.  My advice would be to apply the glue to the fabric first and then place down the crystals as it is less messy and fiddly that way.

Final stage is to stitch your glass beads around the crystals in clusters to match the ones on Michelle Obama’s cardigan.  As you can see in the diagram, you will need 5 beads to surround each single stone or about 6 to surround clusters of 2 or 3.

A few more (wo)man hours, some elbow grease and a lotta love and care later and, you should have your own star-spangled sartorial ode to Mrs.O’s G20 appearance – champagne for everyone, dahling!

No comments:

Post a Comment