Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Trends on Wednesday: Art Couture

The shape of fashion to come? Easel does it!

Once again, fashion's having a moment - like the moment it had in 1965 when Yves Saint-Laurent took the bold geometry of Piet Mondrian's art from the canvas to his iconic wool and jersey dresses. Fashion has, once again begun another love affair with its old flame - art - and it's never burned brighter. In a year when the Frieze Art Fair claimed its place on fashion's annual calendar, it stands to reason that the collaborations between artists and designers are cropping up in their droves. Burberry channelled the playful, quirky colour palette of David Hockney for an aesthetic that proved bold in more ways than one - the label's designer Christopher Bailey summed it up when he said "I love the way Hockney wears colour, so that you're never completely sure how deliberately the look is put together." Prada, meanwhile, took her vision to the streets with oversized mural-style face motifs. Richard Nicoll has been working with artist Linder Sterling since 2009. If the name doesn't mean that much to you, Sterling was the designer of the Buzzcocks' 1977 single Orgasm Addict (pictured on the far left of the collage). The designing duo can currently be seen making exhibitions of themselves in their upcoming S/He unisex clothing line. Of course, while we're on the subject of music being fused immovably with fashion in the ever-unravelling tapestry of youth culture (a phrase I feel unnervingly old using, but still), no commentary would be complete without a mention of Lady Gaga's ARTPOP album. Who better than Gaga to be immortalised in the form of a Jeff Koons sculpture on the cover? As a purveyor of the DIY fashion art, my favourite take so far has come from J-Crew's paint-splattered line. Already tipped to be a style staple for next spring, it will surely inspire copious copies on the high street and craft boards of Pinterest, alike. Frankly, given that fashion has been struggling to find anything satisfactorily directional to rebel against for quite some time, there's an innate satisfaction of purposely splattering your old favourite jeans in a way your mum would have shackled you within the confines of unflattering, 'practical' overalls in order to avoid. A mess can't be beautiful? What a load of Pollocks!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Born lippy - How to DIY lip gloves

With designers paying lip service to 90s kitsch at the Spring 2014 shows, I thought I'd get in on the action!

The ultimate icon of classic kitsch and brazen lust is back, with Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Peter Jensen, Saint Laurent and  Yaz Bukey all giving it some lip. So, while a cheeky smack of red lipstick still has fashion's seal of approval (perchance, with a kiss) I thought I'd 'share the glove' in DIY tutorial form!

You will need...


Very easy

Quick, easy, self explanatory - just be careful with the scalpel or I'm telling on you!


About an hour - maybe longer if you're easily distracted like I am and there's some good TV on!

Lip smack away!

Cut out the following shapes using grid paper - I found using that and folding the design in half are good ways of ensuring your lips are symmetrical. Let's not forget, it's definitely perfect facial symmetry you're going for here! If you're lucky enough to have a functioning printer (unlike me) you might want to print out the template out. Mine was about 9.5cm wide but you need to fit it to the gloves you're using.

Cut out two of each shape - namely, the red lips and white background (or teeth, maybe. I never know!).
Use your template (either piece will do) to trace a base curve across the back cuffs of your gloves. Cut along the lines with a scalpel and secure the edges of the fabric and lining by joining them with your glue gun.

Glue your lip pieces together and then stick them down using craft mount. I know it would be more economical and less confusing to do it with the glue gun but you're more likely to get flat, all-over adhesion on the desired surfaces with the craft mount. Personally, I'd say there is a difference in the quality of the finish - and it's definitely worth it!

As my DIY photo finish I decided to model the gloves in Instagram selfie form, with what I deem to be justifiable duck face posing because, you know, lips... pouting... that whole theme. No? Fine, whatever you say! Just trust me about being careful with the scalpel.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The trends on Wednesday: Crop of ages

Here at Chic Cheat, we've got Raeburn vision!

Amidst a subtle switch of semantics (“from my archive” has apparently replaced "vintage” as the buzzwords-du-jour, according to Sara Ilyas), London Fashion week saw a shift of paradigm in the enduring cropped trend. Half is the new cropped or, according to savvy fashion journalist, Lauren Cochrane, “Half jacket shapes, that finish around the middle of your back, are officially a thing at JS Lee... and now at Christopher Raeburn.” To cut a long story short, the fit and styling context are the issues here. Crop tops have seen a recent revival in form-fitting jersey, while predicts a leaning towards a layered look from the Resort 2014 collections. The current crop – if you will – from the London Fashion Week spring 2014 shows are less girlband and more grunge chic, with an ethereal drape in muted tones. The Christopher Raeburn jacket in the lower right-hand corner reflects the mood perfectly, with the fragile elegance of a 1990s grunge siren coupled with bohemian Glastonbury elegance.

However you like to wear yours, it's safe to say the cropped clothing trend isn't for the chop yet!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Cosy Parka - How to DIY a Mr & Mrs Furs multicolour fur-lined parka

Set your world on fur with a spot of style and sewing!
This latest Chic Cheat outing entails another foray into fabulous faux fur with the characteristic bold colour scheme that sets the class of autumn 2013 apart.

As synonymous as fur currently is with luxury and opulence - or cruelty, wherever your principles lie - its recent resurgence in the field of fashion had me thinking of a 'fact' I read in Camilla Morton's book, How To Walk in High Heels: A Girl's Guide to Everything. It alleges that Cinderella's glass slippers were a mistranslation of fur, owing to a mistranslation with two very similar French words (i.e.' verre,' meaning 'glass' and 'vair' meaning 'fur.') The resident myth-police at Snopes beg to differ. First of all, they argue, the account of the famous Cinderella story we know and love (at least those of us who haven't been subjected to pantomime interpretations!) was written by Charles Perrault in 1697, by which time, the word, 'vair' had been mostly phased out. Secondly, when they say "written" they mean penned (perchance quilled?) by Mr. Perrault's own fair hands. So, assuming he knew his own mind and was compos mentis at the time of writing, hapless skinned woodland creatures weren't on the agenda! Glass slippers were one of his personal touches to a story that had already been told from Ancient Greece to China, as long ago as the ninth century. In a lot of versions, Cinderella is not helped by a fairy godmother but by her late mother, reincarnated as a cow or goat - I guess that part might have been harder to stage!

All joking aside, it wouldn't be fair to judge an otherwise well-written book on a minor oversight, given the humour, wit and advice from designers on how to do things as fabulously as (super)humanly possible. It wasn't so easy to access and verify information in the years of inspiration and networking leading up to the book - but then, that was what gave monetary value to print journalism and literature for so many years and allowed so many talents to be nurtured.

As for me, let's just say timing never was my strong point! Thankfully, DIY adaptations of coveted couture items are a bit more of a strength, so...

You will need...

Author's note: The epic fur-gasm of a fabric I used is available here at £40 per metre (it's a metre-and-a-half wide, so you won't need any more than that).

At the other end of the scale, I picked up the parka for £6 from a charity shop (yes, I was definitely a winner!).

NB: If you are using faux fur like mine, make sure your parka's a dress size or two bigger than you'd normally wear as the fur's pretty thick.



I'm covering my back quite a bit here; most of the alleged difficulty comes from the fact that this particular project entails sewing with a tricky fabric. I didn't struggle much and with the methods I used to overcome the fabric issues (which, of course, it'd be rude not to share) it became pretty straightforward. Fear not - you're in safe hands!

Total cost

Taking into account the unavoidable cost of the fur, mine came to £46, which you'd be hard-pushed to beat. It also helps if you're lucky with charity shops like I was.

I paid less than an 80th of the price of the original, which, as of this entry, will set you back £3,720. Yes, almost four grand - and not dollars but pounds! So, while the project wasn't exactly on a modest budget, my wallet definitely avoided taking a pounding in the scheme of things!


What's not to like? Unfortunately, the real kicker here is that it was near enough a two-day job, what with all the sewing and meticulous cutting. Time was definitely the biggest issue with this project - as well as an issue in general, what with my 45-hour working week and hellish commute!

Fur of flying colours...

First of all, you have to work out your pattern pieces by pinning your pattern paper onto each panel you want to cover (In my case, the back, sides and hood. Note that I didn't do the sleeves.) so that it's completely flush against the lining. Trace around the edges and cut them out. Don't worry about seam allowance at this stage. Also, if your back panel is seamless, only trace around one half. We'll cut this on the fold to make sure it's symmetrical.
Fold your fabric in half and place your back panel on the fold, so that it can be cut into a perfectly symmetrical piece. Trace around the edges of your pieces but don't cut them out yet.

Use your patternmaster to trace a seam allowance of 1.5cm around each of the edges. Cut your pieces out.

You should have some unmarked sides opposite the ones which had pattern paper pinned onto them and shapes traced. Mirror these by measuring a 1.5cm seam allowance inside your edges with the patternmaster, as before, and mark them out.
Cut your fur as flat as you can along the seam allowance. This should make joining the panels together - with a mortal domestic sewing machine - a hell of a lot easier!
Pin your seams together and sew them. Then, place your new lining inside the parka.
You should have some flat edges 1.5cm wide, which we cut earlier, around the outside and armholes. Fold them back on themselves and pin them in place. Finally slip stitch them to the parka.N.B. Going on the logic of the video I hyperlinked, you need to pull your thread through the fold of the faux fur and into the base fabric of the jacket.
DIY MR & MRS FURS Multi-coloured Fur Lined Parka
...and you should have something that looks like this!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Trends on Wednesday: Sweat the small fluff

Textured sweaters are back - and they're more than just a bit of fluff!

Jumper season is here - and, unsurprisingly, it didn't take long! What's more, although the season is still young, we have already seen many incarnations of the humble sweater to get excited about, including graphic motifs and crafty crochet designs. Stepping forward from the autumn knitwear class of 2013 is the textured jumper. Earlier this evening I was pleasurably distracted by the film, Clueless. Its unexpected wit and guilty pleasure high will forever claim a place in my cold, cynical heart, along with its distinctive fashion aesthetic. Textured jumpers - alongside token gestures of marabou feathers - were portrayed in an iconic light for a teen generation: delicate, coquettish and unabashedly girlie.

 By contrast to Clueless, the Sweater Girl look from the 40s and 50s offered a subtly erotic interpretation, with jumpers forming tactile, close-fitting contours over pert bullet bras. The flirtatious innocence was very much intact but with a sex kitten allure that invited people to touch. This theme was stronger still in the 1984 film, Paris Texas, where Nastassja Kinski wore a textured blush pink jumper behind the gaze of a one-way mirror - detailed with a louche plunging back.

As a child of the 90s, reading about the coupling of innocence with allure now is quite a revelation. Were those fluffy cardigans and feathered accessories - which made for pleasurable decoration and fail-safe present fodder in equal measure - harbouring a devilish double entendre, like so many things to which our innocent minds were completely oblivious until we were much older? If their resonance within the context of fashion was actually less Baby Spice and more baby doll, can fluff be truly fetish-free?

Another interpretation of textured jumpers was one of quirky curiosity on Bjork's (confusingly second) album, Debut in 1993. The look there was one of an untamed awkwardness - a feral contrast to the fine cashmere and luxury wool fabrics typically associated with high fashion.

The present-day incarnation of the trend combines the paradigms of cuteness and allure, while adding a contemporary edge to the look. Jonathan Saunders incorporated a delicate palette of pastel pink and sky blue, teaming V-neck jumpers with statement skirts. Richard Nicoll adopted a muted palette of greys with an emphasis on texture, in pieces which included heat-treated mock-croc fabrics. This time around, it's all about the way you combine the look - textured jumpers are a staple that lend themselves especially well to the on-trend statement skirt. It's also centred on a paradox of snuggly practicality in hazardously dirt-exposing colours; of a demure defiance of desirability with tantalising tactile titillation and of pale, ethereal hues with statement styling.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Heart of craft - how to DIY a Michaela Buerger neon heart crochetsweatshirt

When it comes to on-trend crafty chic, Michaela Buerger is at the art of the matter!

You will need...

Neon green wool

Black jumper

An 8mm crochet hook

Gemstone glue


Not as hard as it looks ;)

...Let's just leave it at that!


2-3 hours, depending on how fast you can crochet.

Total cost

Mine came to about £10, no thanks to postage and packing costs - it's still less than £245, which the original will set you back!

Give it some heart...

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Trends on Thursday - Witty in Pink

I do laugh when people talk about the notion that fashion is supposed to be a reflection of one's personality - certainly, clothes can say a lot about a person, in terms of their budget, the weather conditions they have to put up with and whether they've involuntarily succumbed to a dresscode in their working life. Of course, one could launch into an erudite, in-depth philosophical debate on our organic identity being borne out of nurture rather than nature but, frankly it's too late and I've done too many miles on the commute-work-commute-cook-sleep treadmill to wear down my morale with such a concept! What is true, of course, is that people read and construe their own interpretations from the wearer's clothes - whether we like it or not. I'm not talking about people who use such a concept to justify heinous deeds or resort to the charmlessly offensive "but we're the ones who have to look at you" mantra! In fact, I'm going to go slightly against the grain of my initial logic and say that since fashion is so eager to insist upon its intellectual weight, allow me to introduce the post-modernist philosophy that each garment, picture or work of art is made up of a set of signs which convey different meanings.

This season's palette has included baby pink in the key colour trends of the season. Imagine a pink garment - any garment - or accessory. A single sign. A single part of a whole outfit composed diligently (or not) to achieve a look, with a host of other garments - okay. unless you're partial to under-dressing or some disconcerting strain of naturism! Each sign inter-re;ates with the others to form a different message: is the pink a pop of colour with contrasting trousers? Does is sit among a feminine array of pastel tones? Is it supposed to be a very short dress, colour coordinated to match terrifying nails and glowing lipstick that's drowning in a sea of "tangerine tan"? I also mention pink because, as a colour, it covers a range of tones and numerous sartorial categories. This season, it's imperative that you get it right: your Muse is Grace Kelly, not Britney. The hue is a delicate shade of pink, coupled with Hitchcock-esque paradigms of polka dot skirt suits, fur trimmed satin coats and pencil skirts. And there you have it. There are times when even a big girl's blouse can be a good look!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Little Mink - How to DIY a Fendi owl bag

Fur, Fendi and forever-cool owl motifs are the very 'hoot' of fashion!

You will need...

I got my faux fur from here and here on eBay. The colours I chose were: grey, navy, black, cream, orange and pink, and came to about £27. The satchel was £8 from Primark. I already have some craft mount but if you don't, it'll set you back about £8.


Pretty easy

Actually, I can't think of a reason why this one shouldn't go on the furthest left end of the scale but as a lifelong crafter who gets wrapped up in projects like these so easily, it's difficult to judge and best to err on the side of caution. My gut instincts told me this tutorial wasn't quite a walk-over but it's still pretty straightforward.


2-3 hours. Maybe longer - I was distracted so it took me slightly more time than that but I'd say no more than an evening.

Total cost

This one's definitely on the pricier side of Chic Cheat creations. Mine came to about £35 and would have been more if I didn't already have craft mount. However, it's still a 76th of the damage done by the genuine article, which comes in at $4450, or £2765 at the current exchange rate, as of this entry!

Hoot couture!

I've gone over the outline in pen to make it clearer and taped my pieces to the bag but that part's also optional. What you need to do is trace the outline of half a side of your bag at the front, the back and on the flap; this is so that you can ensure that your design is symmetrical. trace out your owl face design and whatever you want to do with the back. I just gave mine a narrow stripe along the centre like the one on the original.

Cut out your paper pattern pieces and trace them onto your fabric, in the corresponding colours (you will probably need a dark pen to do this, or a metallic gel pen for the dark fabrics). Then, turn them over so that they're the other way round and trace around them again. Cut out your fabric and craft mount them to your bag. If you've got a glue gun, you might want to use it to tidy up the edges, especially if your fabrics fray as much as mine did, but this part's completely optional.

DIY Fendi fur owl satchel

...and there you have it!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Trends on Wednesday: World of more craft

2014 will be the year for fashionistas to master their craft!

The ornate, visionary chic of Paris Fashion week heralded the unsurpassable good news that it's time to get creative, yet again, for 2014. With fads and trends of all levels looking 20 years into the past for inspiration, the Paris shows saw many a gracious bow to Issey Miyake's fluid,concertina-fine pleats, which were pioneered by the designer's Pleats Please label in 1993 by means of heat-and-pressure-setting with synthetic fabrics (and casually plagiarised by me for my A.S-level coursework at a similar stage of modern prehistory!). Lanvin and Chloe were among those trailblazing the revival and, you'll be pleased to know, washboard-flat, knife-edge pleats from any possible angle are dead easy to DIY from the comfort of your home.

A delectable taste of fabulous things to come came courtesy of Christian Dior, with a quixotic confection of surreal floral prints, intense colour and embroidered slogans, interspersed with intricate psychedelic styling and plenty of cues to get creative.

Lastly, my personal favourite (only, this was among the current season trends): Junya Watanabe's patchwork jeans have proven a surprise hit, a staple on street style blogs and satisfying, considering how easy they are to copy. While the damage for the real deal is in excess of £500, your old jeans and a few scrap tartan patches are the (potentially free) order of the season here!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Chic Kane - how to DIY a Christopher Kane feather applique floral jumper

How many kinds of stylish flowers grow in an English country garden?


You will need

N.B. The feathers I used came from a shop on eBay. I bought two packs of white feathers, six in black and one in wine. They were 99p each, exclusive of postage and packing.


Pretty easy

It helps to be a skilled gluer but, as tutorials go, nothing too taxing here.


A day - 7ish hours, I think but I was pretty distracted when I did it so it may take you less time if that level of patience seems too tall an order.

Total cost

The feathers and glue gun sticks (trust me, you'll need plenty!) came to about £15. The jumper was about that price as well but if you've got an old one or are lucky with charity shops, hopefully your project won't incur quite such an expense.

Either way, you'll probably make a fair saving on the original, given that it costs £2475!

The fruit of the plume

Slip your magazine in between the front and back layer of your jumper to avoid sticking them together. Glue your feather in place to form flower shapes. I set them out in outwardly-radiating clusters of five, six and ten, with the latter set out in two layers. Try to contrast textures and colours. Owing to supplier issues, I was actually sent a few packs of chicken feathers, which are fluffier than the ones I had intended to use but worked nicely. As happy accidents go, I'd definitely recommend it, if such a thing is rationally possible!

Trim your flowers along the edges so that each feather has a flat tip. Try to separate some of the strands and cut inner circles shorter than outer ones and you should have something that looks rather like this: