Monday, 29 September 2014

Chic dip - My take on ombre dip dyeing

Fancy a dip? Why not go maverick with some nifty reconstructing effects? Sure, festival season might be over and dip dyeing tutorials have been done to death on the DIY circuit (not that there aren't some fantastic tutorials out there!) but a girl can go against the grain, do something different and dissect a plaid shirt for some dip dye experimentation, can't she?

You will need

NB: I used Dylon intense violet dye, so I'm going to write my tutorial according to the directions I was given.

The shirt was a £2.50 charity shop bargain - I just thought you should know!


Very easy

Am I telling you anything you don't know? It's no wonder dip dyeing's been a hit on the DIY blogs!



Sadly, this part entails sewing and can be time-consuming especially if, like me, you spent your Sunday afternoon teaching yourself how  yokes and back panels on shirts are constructed! Also, not that I'm hesitant to give a precise difficulty or time for this part because you can try this project with any garment; all garments and panels are constructed differently and require different amounts of technical skill to sew together.


A 15-minute process with a 45-minute wait, plus about half an hour of drying time if you use a hair dryer. Failing that, you would need to do the project in two stages and leave the fabric to dry overnight.


The back panel took me a few hours to unpick and another two hours to sew back together after dyeing.

Fancy a dip?

Unpick the back panel of your shirt, or whichever panel of whichever garment you intend to use. Don't try to cut it - the seam allowance needs to be intact.

If you're using Dylon fabric dye, dampen your fabric, follow the mixing instructions and dip the desired areas of fabric into the dye. If you're wondering what the silver rounded entity is in the background, it's a plug - I mixed mine in the shower to avoid cataclysmic accidents with very scary, very permanent dye and would recommend that you do the same, hence why I left that little detail in and didn't crop it out.

Dip the entire area(s) you want to cover into the mixture, keep stirring and prod it with a stick. I took the lighter graduating bits out after five minutes and left the remaining fabric in for a further ten, whilst still prodding, because I was told to do so in the dye instructions. And because sometimes I just like to poke things with a stick! I left it for a further 45 minutes before pouring the mixture away, bleaching the area like a woman possessed and rinsing the fabric in cool water to get rid of the excess dye.
Sew the shirt panels back together. Don't worry too much about re-sewing the felled seams, as they're a lot of hassle and I'd describe a shirt of this nature as being more of the aesthetic persuasion than of the hard-wearing variety.

I finished mine off by sewing a faux leather trim across the bottom of the yoke, just to give it a rock 'n' roll ('n' you know, leathery) edge. This part is optional and very versatile. Rather add fringing or embroidered trim? Hey, it's all good!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Trends on Thursday: Big in Milan

Fashion's getting real, putting comfort first and channelling a sense of practicality that ensures women wear the clothes- the clothes don't wear them. How, then, does fashion's glamour capital cope with a brief like that?

Thoughts outside the box flared outwards  in early 70s-style with A-line skirts and outward draping beneath a high waist at Emilio Pucci. Taking the vintage sportswear look to the, erm, max was MaxMara, with sartorial reference to the 1970 film, Garden of the Finzi-Continis and their own 1971 campaigns that starred Angelica Huston.

Another dominant silhouette was the bouquet-tied waist, an oversized, structured feature that recalled the drama of Yves Saint-Laurent and Dior's hot pink waist bows. Bows are one among many things that can give a DIY fashion enthusiast like me a frisson, but this brilliantly edgy take could be tricky to get right and not be made to resemble a first-term art foundation year project!

If 2015 will be the season - another season - when fashion comes back down to earth with flat shoes and such like, Milan's two cents ( with considerably higher price tags) would be the coat as a centrepiece. Sensible - for a season set to go on sale in late January! Highlights of the trend were intricately detailed efforts at Prada, as well as duster coats, deconstructed trench coats and (yet more) 70s style in the form of safari jackets at Bottega Veneta, Salvatore Ferragamo and Missoni. While we're on the subject of appealing to that normcore lot, hair styling also forewent fussiness in favour of the humble pony tail, with wispy front tendrils that make you look as though you've been swept through the wind - or the wrong side of 1999 during your formative teenage years! Not that any spring 2015 shows in a fashion capital could be complete without their take on flats, so what was the order of the day in Milan? Luxurious and ornate takes on skater and pool shoes - case in point: crystal-studded pool sliders at Fausto Puglisi.

Sparkle and glamour were everywhere with brocade at Prada, appliqué and crystal-studded jeans at Dolce & Gabbana and Swarovski crystal-covered 'daywear' at Versace. Where else?

Another area of focus was at the thighs. Even if - like with me -they weren't your favourite part of your body, there was something for everyone, with the dichotomy of upper-thigh exposure (with sheer-panelled skirts at Versace and Roberto Cavalli and lace at Dolce & Gabbana) and the relaxed drape of culottes, epitomised with exoticism at Gucci.

Nothing left to say, except that Barbie made an appearance at Moschino, in a return to Americana, following their fast food outings. Why not?

Monday, 22 September 2014

DIY digest - English rosette

A quick DIY with all the trimmings!

You will need...

Needle and thread

Assorted trims

Two brooches



Very easy

In the stitch-it-together-idly-in-front-of-the-TV-and-forget-you're-even-doing-it sense. This one's a quick, straightforward - you could say - mindless act of customising!


About half an hour.

How it's done

Make circles out of each your trims by pinning small darts along the edge of the trim, so that it curves round, until it forms a circle. Cut it., stitch the edges together and stitch the darts in place. Stitch the trims on top of each other, with the widest circle at the bottom, to make a fabric rosette. Repeat this process a second time.

Pierce a hole for each brooch on your shoes. Attach the brooch to the rosette and through the hold on the shoe (I put mine on the strap). Repeat the process for a second time. You might also want to ad it out or cover the back of the brooch to stop it from digging in.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Trends on Wednesday - On with the show and off with the show-offs

Continuing in the theme of casually chic abandon,seen elsewhere London Fashion Week went on to prove that fashionistas both on and off the catwalk weren't taking the peacock any more. No longer was the intent strut of the fierce fashionista in six-inch heels doing the rounds, rather designers were putting their best feet forward in flats. If New York Fashion Week had been all about the flat pumps and winklepickers, the London Fashion designers took the next step in statement trainers, coupled with the statement-du-jour of normcore suburbia, the denim jacket - even at Burberry. The ultimate stake of casual chic's claim at the height of fashion's relevance, however, was surely, Christopher Kane's incarnation of slouchy tracksuit bottoms in luxurious leather.

Long skirts also made more than a fleeting appearance with the rules of hemline dipping as relaxed as the fit - some welcome news for the thigh-gapless, bottom-heavy likes of me. It would, of course prove cumbersome for cycling, my involuntary self-centred instincts tell me, but, realistically, being photographed on bikes is just so try-hard street style blogger - so very 2012! Relaxed fits manifested themselves in the slouchy backpacks set apart by Preen, lightly flared two-piece ensembles at JW Anderson and even the drama of Roksanda (without the) Ilincic's silhouettes pared down, leaving just the bold colour scheme to make the statements. The relaxed fit held more resonance than mere comfort and practicality; it denoted a freedom from the confines imposed by fashion, in its efforts to mould the body towards false ideals. From the monolithic boxiness of tailoring, to the grandeur of drapes and the sexual and athletic empowerment of bodycon cling, the London Fashion Week silhouette was a hitherto unseen departure from those dynamics, altogether, posing a new question to the glibly accepted relevance of its frenetically competitive poseur ethos. This conceptual resonance echoed at many levels with  “I had this dream, I had this feeling” written on Richard Nicoll's show seating. The vision, like many among the designers, was one of calm, fitness, escapism and work-life balance - in a word, wholesomeness. Among the designers echoing words of 'ease' and 'effortlessness' were Alice Temperley and Christopher Bailey of Burberry.

The tottering-heeled pose of looking expensive is now a dime a dozen. Flamboyant posturing can happen at any level - true style, according to fashion's illuminati is to be stylishly invisible and not to outdo all you survey. Unpretentious elegance is key now, along with quirky nautical rope detailing, Bermuda shorts, Matisse-style colour blocking, pleats, giant circle motifs and, erm, school uniform. The last on the list was incarnated through quirky pencil case clutch bags, as well as standard pleats and burgundy, but if it's rigid conformity we're sticking to, I suppose it's in for a penny, in for a pound (or doubtless several thousand!)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Grand Thrift Autumn - How to upcycle a blanket to make a cape

A cape of new hope for an unwanted blanket!

You will need...

I also added a faux fur trim at the neck but that part's optional.


Quite Easy

It's a simple, straightforward method, in principle, but if, like I am, you're lacking in the height department and working with a heavy blanket, it can be cumbersome at times.


2-3 hours, if you're working with faux fur - that part entails hand-stitching. Otherwise, it's 2 hours. tops.

So, to wrap it up...

Fold the blanket in half. Cut along the centre of the front (only through one layer)  and a 10cm slit at either side of the top.

I cut my area to accommodate the deer design so I wasn't especially paying attention to the precise measurements but the vertical line in the picture was roughly halfway across each side. The diagonal line was at a roughly 45° angle to the vertical line and ended about 10cm from the side edge.

The next step is to turn the blanket wrong-side-up and sew the newly-cut edges together with a 1.5cm seam allowance. Don't worry if they don't meet - they won't. I found that the jagged edge helped to create the three-dimensional angular drape that's hopefully apparent in the pictures I hastily took! Once the triangular gap has been closed up, do what an old sewing teacher of mine once described as a 'stitch in the ditch,' which entails pinning the seams together and stitching along them -the 'ditch,' geddit? Please say you do - my sparing descriptive skills can't cover it any better than that!

Finally, stitch along the raw edges - again., with a 1.5cm seam allowance - and into the corners (at that point, I just sewed along the edge of the blanket's binding.
Turn the blanket right-side-out. If you want to add a faux fur trim like I did, fold back the top corners at the front, pin them down and cover them with faux fur. Cover an area at the back that's the same width as each of the triangles. I sewed together three pieces of faux fur to make my trim. I would also recommend trimming back the fur inside the seam allowance so that it is easier to fold back and pin down at the edges.  I slip stitched the pieces in place along the edges.

...and there you have it!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Trends on Wednesday: What's New #NYFW?

Is it the up-and-coming influence of street style or the shift of paradigm to stylish wearable technology that saw the tottering authority of high heels cut down to size, once again, in favour of flat shoes? The paradigm of comfortable chic was interpreted, this time, in the form of winklepickers, most notably the floral panelled offerings from Victoria Beckham's team of designers. The dizzying heights of ravishing bondage had a reinterpretation elsewhere with Anthony Vaccarello using hipline-skimming splits to cement his vision at his debut show for Versus. It was this statement of extremes with which he interpreted the Versus trademarks of raw sex appeal with copious black leather, after dressing friend and muse, Anja Rubik, in a daring white frock for the Met Ball.

Thankfully, plenty of designers had primly pretty interpretations of the hemline covered with below-the-knee skirts, which were teamed with boxy t-shirts, wrapover jackets and sleeveless coats - a styling statement that drew erogenous attention away from the thinness-worshipping thigh gap and waist and towards the calves.

Fashion took its key trends to, or rather from, the streets, with statement sportswear having a moment (and Alexander Wang 'fetishising trainers' in frock form), boxy jean-jackets, plait artistry and scrunchy bucket bags becoming the go-to 90s trend to reincarnate in contemporary sculptural form. If the outré heights of splits at Versus feel unworkable or unnerving, New York Fashion Week at least gave us plenty of stylish reasons to get real! Also meshing nicely into the mix was gingham - perhaps the only DIY idea that really leapt out at me from the bunch. Why not? We've been there and done that with the bucket bag and even old tablecloths need a new, loving home!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Pretty in Pinko - How to DIY a Pinko knit dress

Give a knit dress or jumper a 'hole' lotta love!


You will need...

A form-fitting beige knit dress or jumper.

Fray-stop glue.

Small, sharp fabric scissors.

A mannequin can be useful but it's optional.


Very easy

Quick, easy and all in a leisurely evening's work!


About an hour, although I was being a bit of a perfectionist trying to get the design symmetrical - a process for which I'd recommend taking the time!

A quick knit

You might want to take your dress or top in slightly to ensure that it's under tension when you wear it - this will enhance the design. Cut some horizontal and vertical slits (you might want to map them out with some tailor's chalk like I did). Try to get your design as symmetrical as possible. I find it helps to count the number of slits you do on each side and make a mental note of the spacing.
If your top or dress is made from fine knit material, it will probably roll up at the edges when you cut it. Use this quality to manipulate and make the teardrop shapes on your design. At this point, having a mannequin really helps, as it makes it easy to mould the design and see what it looks like in 3D. Secure the shapes and rolled edges with fray-stop glue.

Drumroll, please...