Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Trends on Wednesday: Ill Ad-Vised?

January, named in honour of Janus, the two-headed Roman god of beginnings and transitions to  denote the first month of the year; a new chapter; a clean slate; a chance to take a step back and start afresh in tackling life's trials and challenges. Certainly new-year-new-you mantras that resonate omnipresently would have us see things that way. This is when we promise ourselves we'll be good; we will - really will, this time - banish the gluttony of the festive period for diets and detox; announce and keep our new year's resolutions and for god's sake get fit! Perchance we'll make it to the gym while we can still see our trainers beneath the future avalanche of dust they've been gathering!

Fashion is always there to help us out when we need some motivationally stylish sportswear, from the New Balance collaboration with Next and Heidi Klum to the boutique offerings at Sweaty Betty and everything in between to help your willpower along for the January gym-kick.

At the opposite side of the spectrum, you have fashion trends that march without hesitation to the realm of the ridiculous. Among the trends last seen in the nineties' golden age of boybands (which should have jolly well stayed there) following foil-like silver bomber jackets are a traditional summer sportswear staple: visors! Marni gave us a novel take on the selectively-flattering headgear piece. Yes, I know how fashion's a fool for challenges to taste and notions of 'cool' now and again - in efforts to reinvent something long-since dubbed 'naff' - with a fresh eye and a new set of paradigms. Maybe the subtle proportion play of oversizing and quirky diamond juxtapositions will help visors stake a claim among 2014's genuine statement pieces. Try it - you might find it's good for you!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Thatch the way I like it - how to upcycle a backpack in the style of Chanel

Chanel's backpacks are so good, we're havin' it 'Bricolage' again!

I thought I'd share my recent project for which, as you can see, I didn't even have to buy anything, just recycle an old backpack that was gathering dust at the back of my wardrobe and some leftover scraps of fabric.I was working from this:


So, here goes...


Very easy

Easy fo sheezy! I can't think of anything particularly taxing in this project if you use split pins, just be wary of them stabbing you when you use the bag. You might want to use duct tape to keep them flat.

If you use staples, it's slightly harder. Make sure they're stationery ones and at least 8mm wide. Don't use a staple gun as those staples are too weak.


An evening, to answer in my lazily ambiguous current style. Maybe more. I wasn't counting when I did it but I'd estimate it at 3-5 hours.

You will need...

*Alternatively, you can use split pins; I found them easier to work with when I tried them but you'll need something to pierce through the bag's fabric, like a scalpel.

** For best results, use fabrics of varying textures and opacities. I used black chiffon, white organza, satin in both colours and some tweed. You could even try experimenting with greys and silvers.

Bricolage collage

 Cut your fabric into strips - measuring by eye but trying to get them as neat as possible - and then into squares. Fray the edges slightly but not too much.

Attach the squares to your bag using your stapler or your split pins. If you're using a stapler, it probably won't be long enough to use folded in its usual way, so pull it flat, put a notebook you don't mind ruining between the two layers and press your staples in as hard as you can. You will then probably need to use your fingernails or pliers to bend the staples closed and flat.

Cover the back and sides of the bag. When you're finished, give your fabric an all-round blast of clear lacquer as a fixative, to stop your pieces from fraying.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Trends on Wednesday: Blue Wonder

Images: Polyvore @tracireuer, @carterjennifer ,

  "Half-close your eyes, girls, that's how you get the right tone" not a famous quote,  but a pertinent one, nonetheless, from my forthright, industrious and utterly brilliant high school art teacher! In ancient times, when I was sitting my art GCSE, and A-Level shortly afterwards, squinting to emphasise tonality; measuring proportions using a pencil at eye level and contrasting primary colours with 'opposite' secondary ones became routine. Until recently, the most lasting memory of my high school art days was the 100% I scored in my GCSE art exam. Then I saw a trend emerging; stylists and editors are currently marrying pastel blue shades with brilliant orange tones. Notice on the colour wheel in the collage - much like the ones I was shown at school - how blue and orange are on opposite sides: they're opposite colours!

I always get a frisson when I see science in style. As subtle a fashion moment as this colour scheme may seem to be, it's primed to pop with one of the three most contrasting combinations possible. Christmas is a time for red and green; jewel coats were a staple trend of last autumn, and included purple and yellow in their palette; now it's time for teal and tangerine. Trending? Yes. New? Hardly: blue  backgrounds against orange skin tones are a staple for adding dramatic contrast in films and their posters. Let's face it, it's an improvement on black, white and red rom-com graphics!

If we are to assume that everything that can possibly be done, designed and invented has already come to pass, and that the only new ideas we can generate is through creative combinations, why not choose extreme colour clash?

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Travel Chanel - How to DIY a Chanel Bricolage backpack

Brushstrokes of genius at Chanel? Count me in!

Image: Instagram @Mysterious_mary

You will need...

NB: The silk paints are from the Setasilk range by Pebeo. The colours I used were buttercup, tangerine, navy blue, turquoise and magenta.

The white fabric paint is made by Dylon.


Quite easy

... and very messy - you have been warned! Your only challenge here is to stop your liquid silk paint from running and smudging but allow me to guide you and you should find it a breeze!


An evening, by my accurate and completely objective observations! If you're able to print off the template I provided it should take less time than mine. As a ball-park figure, I'd say it takes 2-3 hours.

Brick by Bricolage

Print out the above template as two portrait A4 pages, if you want to get a similar scale to the one I used: with the designs on one sheet and the fine grid on the other. Attach them to the front of your sticky back plastic, trace them from the other side and cut them out with your scalpel. With the fine square design, cut out alternate squares with a line in between them, so that you've got a small grid-like square pattern.

Place your backpack somewhere where it's safe to make a mess; baths and showers are ideal as they're the easiest sites to clean. Stick your grid-patterned plastic onto your backpack. It probably won't stick completely flush against the surface but don't worry if it doesn't, as you're just using it to mask a design.
Pour some of your silk paint into your spray bottle and use it for your grid design. I used pink and wanted to make it graduate into purple, so after I was finished, I emptied out the pink paint and replaced it with navy, without allowing the pink to drain, so I got a darker shade of purple with each spray.
After you've sprayed each 'layer' of colour, dab your plastic with a tissue to avoid running and smudges or, if you're working from a bathroom, use toilet paper, which I find works a treat! Dry your design with a makeshift heat gun arrangement or, as I like to call it, a hair dryer!

I found you can only use your grid design once without it messing up your backpack. Clean your spray bottle completely between colours, unless you're trying to mix them. Dry each splatter, as before, and enjoy! You can also try flicking a paintbrush for some extra effects.
After you've painted and dried your multicolour design, use your sticky back plastic stencil to draw your logo and address design in white fabric paint. After that dries, iron your backpack like your life depends on it, using the highest possible heat and a thin cloth or tea towel to cover the design, so that you don't mess up your iron. Follow any directions you're given on the bottles. I like to iron for a minimum of five minutes.
Cut away the hooks of your bungee cord. Wind your necklaces around the cord or plait long them around it if they're long enough, then tie or fasten them in place and secure them with a glue gun. Thread the ends of your bungee cord through your clasps, fold the cord back on itself and wind some jewellery wire around it to hold it in place, before securing it with a glue gun. The messier you make this part, the more authentic the look!

Clip the two ends to different zips; I used one on the main fastening and another on the front pocket.
DIY Chanel Bricolage backpack
The sh*t: a Bricolage!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Chic Fixes: Bedroom blitz

My latest project - albeit slightly by accident - has been to give my room a clear-out and find creative ways of storing everything practically, presentably and prettily, so as to make the place look like slightly less of a hoarder's refuge! Though I say it myself, the project proved a success in all three of the aforementioned ways, so I thought I'd share a few tips and allow you lucky things to have a peek inside my bedroom.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

For Mo-saic! - How to DIY a Dolce & Gabbana Sicily mosaic bag



You will need...

*Flocking is felt-like fluff that you can buy in pots like I did here.


Fairly easy

It’s fiddly in places but I’d say it was more time-consuming and painstaking than hard. It does require a lot of care and attention – and love!


Like I say, you've got to be in it for the long haul with this, as I found out. I wasn’t counting but it’s 40+ hours. Think of it as a long-term investment that you can devote an hour or so an evening and watch it develop over the course of a few months – it’s definitely worth the result!

Make it mosaic

It may help to sketch out the design you’re going to do. Once you've decided, spread your glue over a small area so that it doesn't dry too quickly, apply a thick cluster of flocking with your tweezers and smooth it out so that it goes as far as possible. Use your scalpel to divide it into square shapes.

Repeat this process until all your different coloured areas are filled in.
I couldn't find gold flocking so I used gold fabric paint to cover the main areas and red paint for the handle. The latter is optional.

Use your tweezers and glue to put your diamantés in place.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

For your inspiration: Chic sticks!

Here's one for those with a round wall mirror gathering dust and a taste for quirky rustic chic! I snapped this photo at a stylish and rather delicious gastropub in Huntingdon. These inspired pieces, which included chandeliers, were as much a compliment to the décor as they were a call to upcycle creatively. Simply harvest some sticks from your garden or maybe a park (where you hopefully won't get any funny looks), arrange them in clusters along the edge, nail or glue them in place and voilà!