Sunday 17 January 2010

Splash Paint not Cash

Because painting the town red is the new black!

It’s been over a year since the quirky painted dresses were unveiled at YSL’s cruise collection, but the be-drizzled trend is cruising its way through the UK high street as we speak.  Graphic painterly prints are finding their way onto frocks in the “affordable” vein – affordable in theory, at least – with prices around the mid-tens.

Here’s how to make your own for about £20:

You will need

A simple white dress – Topshop do a cool one-shoulder dress for £12 (product no. 2260363392299) and Primark do a tulip-skirted dress for £13.

Hint: If you want to use a coloured dress, you will need fabric paint specifically for dark fabrics, although I find they’re less easy to get splattered effects with because of their consistency

2-5 Pots of Dylon fabric paints @ £2.25 ea, light, fluid paints which, I find, have the best texture for  pouring and dripping.

Fabric paintbrush with firm bristles

6” narrow, slim ruler, ideally metal.

Total Cost

£16.25-£23 depending on how many colours you use

Save It!

The Chic Cheat solution saves you up to half the price on its high street contemporaries, like the gorgeous (but not inimitable) River Island dresses pictured below, centre (£50 and £35 respectively)  If it’s the real (pricy) deal you want to weigh your version up against, the YSL paint dress works out at an eye-popping 35 times the price at £700!


Minutes, more like – for the actual painting, but practise first to get the feel of it, and don’t rush it, take it nice and slow and show a little love for your frock, honey!  It takes about 12 hours for the paint to dry (please ensure that you read instructions carefully)  And if you consider that the two sides need to be done separately, the complete process would take a day or two.  The majority of that time, however, would be waiting, rather than hours of hard graft.



...Qnce you know how

Hint: Check my flow!

You should test your techniques out on some scrap fabric to perfect them before going onto your final garment, to avoid making a mess or drenching your new dress in more paint than you bargained for in one gush.


Prep your garment for painting by putting a generous amount of newspaper between the front and back panel to stop paint from seeping through the two layers.  After that, the only real process is in the painting. It’s all in the artistic sploshing of paint as to where you go from there, and what you want your masterpiece to look like.  Here are some techniques to get the effects like those on the dresses pictured above:

Style #1: Steadily pour a large blob of paint onto your fabric, then tilt the garment upwards until you’re holding it vertically, so that it drips down in perfectly messy streaks.

Style #2: Pour your paint in a short, wiggly line to make a smallish splodge.  You’ll probably find it gushes out thickly and fast, so if you’re looking to economise on paint, use your paintbrush to scoop back some of your excess paint into the pot.  Scoop from the middle of the blob to avoid wrecking its painterly shape.

Style #3: The YSL skirt has thin streaks of paint forming defined lines around the fabric.  To get this great effect, you need to use your ruler to partially plug the top of the paint pot as you pour.  This calms down the flow of paint.  It should come out in a nice narrow line.

Style #4: Pour out a blob of paint as you would in Style #2, then scrape and smear it around with your ruler.  When your paint is nearly dry, you can also use your ruler to scrape lines through paint like the ones in the YSL dress – don’t try this when your paint is still wet as it won’t work and you could end up cutting through your fabric.

Style #5: There are a variety of drops you can do, here are some examples:

•Scoop up a thick blob of paint with your brush or on the end of your ruler and let it drip onto the fabric.
•Same as the last point, with a thick blob of paint on a brush, only after dripping it down, splat it – hard – with the tip of the brush.  Therapeutic, n’est-ce pas?
•Pour a small drop straight out of the pot using your ruler the way you would in Style #3.  You might want to tilt the fabric to make the paint drip down slightly as well.

•Get a thick blob of paint on the end of your brush and, using the bristles, flick it at your fabric.

Once you’ve done your fabric painting thang, you’ll need to leave the dress to dry for around 24 hours.  So, one night, a day down the office, dinner and Eastenders later, your frock will be dry and the paint needs to be fixed by ironing on a high heat for a couple of minutes (for full directions, please read instructions on fabric paints carefully)  Then, voila! Your fabulous frock will be ready and waiting for you to debut it at your next party, holiday or night on the town.  How will you flaunt yours, my dear?

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