Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The trends on Wednesday: Cartoon Couture

How to follow the huge art iconography and brushstroke trend gaining momentum this spring? Get conceptual and be creative in your interpretation. Strictly speaking this is more of a compilation of pieces that caught my eye from the autumn 2014 shows but, punctuated as they are with key trends and fashion week highlights, there is a more subtle link between them.
The up-and-coming flats trend, or more specifically the very now tomboyish chic look was surely instrumental in propelling skate shoes - a shoe that lends itself better to customising and DIY paintwork than most - into the must-have accessories arsenal. The  geometric multicolour seaming of the Wanda Nylon raincoat (pictured above)  is a subtle nod to the linear compositions of a Mondrian work. Anya Hindmarch was the talk of London Fashion Week with Warhol-reminiscent iconography of well-known homespun products.

Over in Milan, Jeremy Scott (the designer who gave us Bart Simpson knits to remember 2012 by) channelled Spongebob Squarepants in his debut show for Moschino. The art connection, you ask? A tenuous one - conceptually, at least. Certainly, the designs have a bold colour scheme and playful aesthetic in common with their brushstroke-printed contemporaries, but the clue here is cryptic: cartoons  originally came from the Italian word, 'cartone' and Dutch word, 'karton' for strong, heavy paper. The term was first used in the Middle Ages for the preliminary sketches of paintings, tapestries and frescoes. If you've studied art or are a regular at the Victoria and Albert Museum, you might be familiar with the cartoons of High Renaissance painter, Raphael.The meaning of the word might have changed with time, but perhaps that is true of fashion as a whole; so great a focus is fashion's transience of trend after trend, should we not consider how they unravel as a process or story? Is the fashion medium an endless, relentless treadmill of looks and fads or is it an evolution of aesthetics; an infinite discourse between countless paradigms, shifting in significance with taste, spirit of the age and, of course, ground-breaking creativity?The changes of season and the trends that go with them each play out as a logical consequence of the last; as an obvious next juncture or a radical reaction. Do you see where I'm going with this?

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Take these broken rings - how to upcycle old jewellery to DIY a Vanessa Mooney Bright Lights handpiece

Left image:

You will need...

NB: You will need your pliers for cutting - not all jewellery pliers can do this so make sure you use or invest in a pair that can.


Moderately easy

Despite being one of the quickest projects I think I've ever done, it has its fiddly, awkward moments which might prove a shock to the system if you're new to jewellery making.


Half an hour.

Run the gauntlet...

Cut your chain so that it fits snugly but comfortably around your wrist. Attach jump rings to either end; use your pliers to open, close and secure them. Attach your lobster clasp to one of the jump rings.

Take your wrist chain off and fold it in half so that you can find the middle link - this is important for getting your middle chain concentric. Attach a jump ring and some chain to the middle link. Measure out and mark where the centre chain meets the bottom of your middle finger (even if you just mark it with your fingertips) and cut it. It needs to be cut in a place where it can be attached to a ring, and where the ring can sit comfortably on your finger - not too far down - so if there's any doubt as to which link needs to be cut, overestimate the length, rather than underestimating it.
Attach two jump rings to your main ring - one for the charm and one that will soon be used for your chain. Attach the charm.
Finally, attach your ring to your middle chain.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Trends on Wednesday: Wearing the Trousers

Catwalk fashion mans up!

I had to see it to believe it - rather, I never thought I'd live to - but feminism is the subject of the moment. Genuine, bona fine feminism, with in-depth questions, erudite discussion and awareness across the subject (and the world).

It isn't like the reconstituted, pseudo-empowerment of recent decades. People who grew up in the 90s will remember the golden age of 'Girl Power.' The future is female; we're equal now and you've got the power! The power to wear heels as high as you like, to shout as loudly as you like and never, never to be sexually repressed by the scourge of low hemlines again! The rhetoric read something along the lines of: 'Girls, you're not being objectified; you're taking back control with your sex appeal and driving men into crotch-led submission!' It was a currency of purchasing and sexual empowerment, rather than intellectual or political. It was male chauvinism rebranded in Louboutins; a philosophy that told us we could have it all and do anything we want - just as long as we don't discomfit men.

I could indefinitely bemoan how gallingly clever it was in the way it fitted in with the optimistic spirit of the age (and the ever-fail-safe algorithm that 98% of people are idiots); in the way that anyone who disagreed was shouted down and dismissed as a jealous, bitter, barren, humourless harridan and in the way that subconsciously we were conditioned to believe that if that approach made money and our views didn't we weren't in a position to complain, because 'that's the way life is.' Surely you would have to be venal, dead inside and possibly a little psychopathic to see blatant manipulation as empowerment - let alone convince impressionable people to believe it!

Thankfully things are changing, or at least the balance is being redressed. Male chauvinist pigs might still have the odd utterly charming moment in meme form but the paradigm is shifting towards feminism from hot topic to haute couture, as London Fashion Week just proved. Angelina Jolie's tuxedo trouser suit at the BAFTAs; boyfriend jeans; the blogger beanie trend; Tom Ford's sequinned football frocks and Cara Delevingne's line of handbags that convert to backpacks for Mulberry all point to a new approach. Be not trussed up in platforms and binding garments - be comfortable in tomboyish sportswear that retains a distinctive decorative streak. This is fashion designed not just to make us feel comfortable in our clothes but happier in our own skin - surely that's worth the fight!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Fresh Eyes - How to DIY a Kenzo Lotus Eye Sweatshirt

Kenzo's eye is catching on!

Kenzo's eye motifs are huge, having caught the attention of bloggers and the imagination of the high street. Imagine my delight then, when I found an old red fleece gathering dust in my wardrobe and dreamt up a DIY strategy for getting the look!

You will need...

The fabric paints were by Dylon and priced £3 each.

The 3D paints were by Pebeo. I got them for the sale price of 50p each from a local art shop.

The foam was about 2cm thick and measured 50 x 50cm. I picked it up for the bargainous price of £1.50 from my local market. I can't recommend flea markets enough for getting great deals on fabric and other materials, so if you live near one, have a sniff around before you try any high street shops.


Pretty easy

It requires care and time, but it's not especially challenging, as long as you've got a steady hand.


3-5 hours.

If you want to DIY my sweater...

Cut out your eye and petal design in foam. You can use the above picture as a template for tracing. The design is A3 size but if you don't have an A3 printer, spreading it over two sets of A4 will do the job.
Pour your blue and black paint into separate boxes and dip your foam shapes into them, ensuring that the undersides are completely and generously covered with paint. Wipe off any excess paint to avoid dripping and smudging, and press the shape down slowly. Apply pressure on the entire surface to ensure the whole shape is stamped down and there aren't any gaps.

Stamp the eye and eyebrow in black and the rest of the image in blue.
Apply your glue with a palette knife inside the petals, leaving a blue outline, and sprinkle your glue generously over them. Fill in lashes, dots and triangles with aqua 3D paint (like those in the original) and paint the inside of your eye white.
You can make your 3D paint look like the embroidery on the original by drying it briefly with a hairdryer (excellent substitute for a heatgun - and a microwave, as it turns out!) until it becomes tacky, and giving it a choppy, grooved texture with a scalpel.

Finally, use your 3D paints to do the sleeve design. If you want to use mine as a template, it's about A4 size.

Here's looking at you, kids!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Tweedle-smart! - How to DIY a Chanel tweed bracelet

Chanel your upcycling ingenuity to give some old bangles and tweed a new lease of life!

You will need...


Very easy

It helps to be good at crafting shapes out of clay if you do want to include the Chanel logo. If you'd rather do your own design or use a silver charm instead it's super-easy!


About half an hour per bangle (excluding resin and clay setting time); I made a set of five.

Total cost

Hard to say, as it depends on whether you've got tweed or bracelets lying around. The resin came to about £7, you can get the clay for about £2 and the powder will set you back about £5.50.

As a measure of comparison to my DIY bangles, the price tags of the originals are well into the three-figure region, with some exceeding €1000!

Tempting tweed

Glue your tweed around the outside of your bangle - or bangles.

Use your scalpel and the above template (printed to the correct scale for your bangle - it might take a few attempts) to make your Chanel logo out of polymer clay. Paint it with silver powder while it is still soft and bake it in the oven to set - make sure you follow the instructions carefully!

Glue your logo onto your bangle;you might need to bend it slightly to fit the curve of the side, which you can do if your clay is thin enough. If you can't bend it, fill in the gap with glue.

Mix your resin and hardener, then quickly soak your bangles so that they're completely covered with the mixture. Leave them to dry.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The trends on Wednesday: Shearling brilliance and bold blankets

Trends: out with the old and in with the new; conscious rebellion; unconscious rebellion against your past or elders; a status symbol or just keeping up with the Joneses? For all the seasons, years and generations that trends have transgressed they might have meant the same as a concept yet assumed different significances, to those who follow them and those who resist. The pace and transience of trends has always fulfilled a purpose of separating the rich, elite inner circle from the masses who copied and aspired to capture their style, keeping them one step ahead before the statement in question trickled down to the mainstream. Yet, the speed and ease with which we can follow and, in turn, emulate trends with current technology and social media (including DIY blogs that teach you how to make them, hint hint!) that notion of exclusivity is becoming increasingly obsolete! Clothing has always been powerful as a statement of personal identity - a 'first impression' that can speak volumes about you before you can say anything -  and to polarise that in relation to trends and fashion could, in itself, create a foundation for discourse far too lengthy and pretentious to take on at the ungodly hour of writing this entry! Alternatively, as Guardian journalist, Hadley Freeman, recently pointed ou"trends are mere dishes laid out on the fashion buffet and you help yourself to the one you fancy and wrinkle your nose at those that make you gag."

Speaking of new trends, it appears the still-relevant and ubiquitous fur fad of this past season is set to undergo a subtle reinvention among the pre-fall 2014 crop: it's going to be updated in fleece-like textures and shearling. If keeping up, or ahead of the curve is important to you, why not join the sheep who'll follow it, come autumn?

The second statement I chose was a blanket one! The early autumn months will be a time to get wrapped up in cape-like cosiness with key pieces from Chanel, ChloƩ and Stella McCartney. Warm? definitely. Practical? Looks like it. A novel way to upcycle an old, unwanted picnic rug? Keep it here and find out!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Supa(butter)fly: How to DIY a pair of Sophia Webster butterfly sandals

Ripping off the wings of a butterfly.
Image: Moda Operandi Instagram

You will need...

You can use real orange leather as well, if you've got some handy but faux leather will, obviously save you the expense. Also, the thicker and more firm your leather/ faux leather the better.

You need to use sandals which have ankle straps.



It's basically a quick, easy project but has it's fiddly moments which are worth taking your time on, for an authentic finish.


An evening - between two and three hours, I'd say. I took slightly longer as I was sketching out the template, but if you print it and copy mine, it'll save you a lot of time.


I bought the sandals and leather tape. I already had the orange material and craft tools, so mine came to about £9.

Take a flyer at DIY sandals...

Print out the white butterfly template and scale it - if necessary - so that each side is about as long as your foot but no longer.
Trace the design out onto your orange faux leather and cut it out. For best results, ensure your scalpel blade is extra sharp but try to cut away from your fingers to avoid accidents!
Use your staple gun to put toe straps in place, if there aren't ones already, fixing them to the base. Don't use your staple gun for places where your foot is meant to go underneath as the staples are sharp, stick out and tend to break if you try to bend them flat.
Glue your butterfly pieces in place on your toe and ankle straps. You might want to try your shoes on without them, to get your placement right, and mark them before gluing. Take care to ensure your placement is symmetrical and that the design is visible across the pair.