Wednesday 31 October 2012

DIY Digest: Makri Me

Here's a brief diaristic DIY which, unfortunately I'm currently too busy, too stressed and too sick to write up in full, unfortunately. Thankfully, it's pretty self-explanatory. I used Fimo clay and metallic silver powder to replicate the stunning Ileana Makri gold and silver star earrings, using diamantés and white glitter glue to give a proper textured pavé effect.




40 minutes, including oven setting time.

Thursday 25 October 2012

A load of gold tats - DIY your own Dior temporary tattoo

Once again, Christmas is coming early in the eyes of consumers. Last year, a Facebook friend left a status update about seeing a festive Coke advert as far back as July and it doesn't look like this year's any exception. My housemate, who works in marketing, says that it's to do with extensive present budget planning on the part of consumers - and businesses wanting to get in early. But high fashion? Surely that's not the demographic typically associated with scrimping and saving with the needle-point precision of an army exercise? Perhaps not, but it didn't stop Dior from going for gold with their new designer temporary tattoos.


Priced at $120 (about £75 as of this entry) they're not the most budget-friendly of treats - so you'll be pleased to know you can get the look for just £3.59 with Fimo gold powder, a fine paintbrush, water and just 10-20 minutes of your time!


You will need

Fimo gold powder (£3.59 at - it just gives the perfect metallic finish. I tend to find gold pens and paints a bit matte

Narrow paintbrush


Tissue for dabbing

Make-up removal wipes



As with most - if not all - Chic Cheat tutorials, it helps if you're a skilful painter but since you're the designer with this one, there's not need to overcomplicate.


10-20 minutes.

Go for gold

Clean the desired area (as stark and clinical as that command sounds) and dip your paintbrush into your water.

Dab so that it's damp, rather than completely wet and dip it into your gold powder.

Pat your paintbrush against the edges so that your powder is compacted down and doesn't make a mess and apply your paint.

I drew my design in place with a black gel pen being the compulsive project planner that I am but I don't recommend you do that with any pen as it will only smudge and tarnish your gold.

Tidy up any (inevitable) excess powder by wiping outside your design with a makeup removal wipe along the tip of your fingernail...



Bonus: It's really that simple, and it stays on almost completely after showering. I should know - I tested it!

Sadly: I'm about the least allergic person I know so while I've experienced no adverse effects at all, I wouldn't recommend this DIY to anyone with sensitive skin, eczema or other conditions. Sorry!

Sunday 21 October 2012

Black Haute - DIY the Etro sheer panelled maxi dress

A dandy devoré Etro-inspired tutorial that's a sheer delight to make!

You will need

A black velvet dress - bonus points if it's maxi length. They appear to start at £6 on Ebay, with postage and packaging

About 2m of sheer black mesh

4m bondaweb (about £4 per metre at John Lewis)

Sharp thread snipping scissors

Pencil and eraser for sketching

Felt tip pen 


Total cost

About £25 (mine was less as I decided to do a top) - as opposed to £3,905 like the original!


4-5 hours.


Reasonably Easy 

Yes, reasonably is a standard unit of measurement! This is one of my more simple, self-explanatory tutorials but it helps to have a fair amount of skill, both with sketching and careful cutting.

Black velvet if you please...

Cut out a square metre of your bondaweb, fold it in half and sketch out a design like the one on the original (NB: it helps if all your lines are interconnected and connected to the edge).

When you're happy with your design, go over it with your felt tip pen and trace it out on the other side. Cut another metre of bondaweb and trace out the same design.

Turn your dress inside out, fix your bondaweb to the front and the back, at the same height.

Use your snip scissors to cut out you design, making extra sure you stay dead on the line. I find sharp snip scissors are perfect for getting a sharp cut and fitting around a design with a million fiddly nooks and crannies. Mine also seem to work with fabric and paper. Just remember, the smaller and sharper, the better!

Peel away your bondaweb backing paper (I find it helps to do it in stages) pin your mesh over your cut out design, securing it at the edges. Turn it right-side-out so that you can pin all your small details in place, so that you can take them out as you iron them and avoid messing them up. Iron your design in place, as I say, taking your pins out as you go along. Don't forget to remove the pins on the inside, too. I found you could iron directly onto your dress but watch your heat as mesh melts easily, especially if it's synthetic. I had my iron on a "2 Dot" heat, if that makes sense.

If you do fancy an exact - or close - replica, repeat the process with the design lower down on the dress.

Mine, mine, mine!

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Get Your Baroques off!

Dolce & Gabbana add to fashion's rich tapestry with fabulous florals...

You will need...

Note: You'll need 2 bottles of puff paint, possibly 3 if you're covering a big area.



Simple, straightforward and self-explanatory, I'd say, but it does help if you're good at drawing.


4-5 hours. Probably less if you don't keep running out of puff paint like I did! I've allowed for that by recommending you get at least 2 bottles - that should be enough.

Baroque on...

Sunday 7 October 2012

DIY Digest: Viral Skulls

Once again, I'm blogging in diaristic form this week, charting the DIY inspiration sources that grabbed me, rather than grappling with the wider fashion world for across-the-board key trends. For the sake of variety,let me promise, in earnest, that this will be my last skull-related tutorial. Being a proud rock fan, skulls have always been something of a sartorial staple and still hold a fail-proof magnetic appeal for me, and while they continue to dominate the high street one must stay fresh and avoid getting stuck in a rut of clichés and  predictability.

On the other hand, skulls have seen something of an iconic regeneration in recent years, ditching the punk and pirate association-prone crossbones and coming into their own - on their own - as a distinguished emblem of Alexander McQueen and conceptual inspiration for Damien Hirst. The art historian Rudi Fuchs said of Hirst's work "The skull is out of this world, celestial almost. It proclaims victory over decay." It also had a fabulous set of cheekbones, and perfect teeth!

Is icon too strong a word? In this case, I think not. I've seen the term "icon" being used somewhat liberally in recent years, chiefly on subjects infinitely better suited to the title "famous face I'd like to slap" but the skull, of course, isn't one of them. It's dazzled in diamonds and appeared on many a fashion staple in seasons past, not least of all as a print on a scarf. Little surprise, then, that it's back to haunt us this season. Oh the humanity!

I have the above holiday snap to thank for my latest blog creation, taken in Bordeaux, a stunning city where architectural opulence, photo opportunities and DIY inspiration abound. I loved those boots but at €149 (that's about £120 or $195 to you and me, as of this entry) the price just wasn't right - when it could just as easily be about £26 back at home!

You will need

Black boots, preferably with a zip along the back. The ones I chose didn't have one so I just split them along the back and glued zips in

Sewing machine with a leather needle (needles which are dead easy to insert and available at all good haberdashers)

Grey thread

Silver gel pen

Light blue or grey fabric paint (make sure it's opaque)



Quick tip, though: When you're planning where you're going to do your machine embroidery don't go too far down or it'll become impossible to machine. I'd recommend a minimum of 8cm distance from the base of your zip.


About 3 hours.

Total cost

The boots, thread and paint came to about £26 for mine - making them a saving of nearly £100!

How it's done

Use your gel pen to mark out where you want to put your twig patterns and skull. You might want to trace out a shape to make sure your skull motifs are the same, like the following one I used:

The beauty of using a gel pen is that they're wipe-clean so you don't have to worry if you make a mistake or can't, for whatever reason, cover all the lines you set out to cover with your thread.

Machine stitch your twig patterns in place. I find an effective way to do it is to drag your machine back and forth in a kind of narrow zigzagging motion until you've covered the relevant areas. You can also machine normal branch-like linear patterns but I find that much more time-consuming and painstaking.

Then, simply paint your skull on and you're done!

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Velvet Evolver

Topshop are a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll!

In my perennial frugalista state, my motto is "make do and refashion." As a good citizen, it's been long-established as my duty not to throw something away as soon as the novelty wears off but to try to see an avenue of refashioning - a sort of reincarnation, if you like - of the garment, shoe or accessory in question. However, couple that attitude with the imperative voice inside me, which says: "I came, I coveted, I copied it" and you have a bursting-at-the-seams wardrobe, all of which I see with a sentimental, almost motherly sense of attachment that outright forbids me from letting go... and I still want more! Well, naturally. Would I be writing this blog if I didn't?

Moving onto the point of this entry, this time around it was the ardent crimson, rich velvet and fiery black snakeskin of Topshop's Arson Flame ankle boots. For these criminally seductive boots in their original retail form, the damage is £95. Mine? About £14. As ever, it's a question of using your frugal means as your inspiration rather than your limitation... Rather like Salvatore Ferragamo did when he designed these fabulous kid leather wedges:

The year? Around 1944 - when war was upon us and leather was one among many things that was rationed to the hilt. The solution - go easy on straps and go hard (or go home) on statement sculptural soles of cork. Well, obviously. Shoe trivia over, let us cut to the chase...

You will need

Pointed ankle boots (Mine cost £3 from a charity shop) I'd recommend something firm and normal shaped - chelsea boots are ideal as those are easy to cover

0.3m of crimson velvet (mine cost about £4.80 from John Lewis)

About half a square metre of black patent faux snakeskin (cut from a £6 handbag I picked up in a charity shop)

Craft Mount (Meet your new crafting best friend if you haven't already)



Metallic gel pen

Pattern paper

Patternmaster or graded setsquare

Gold foil


Total Cost

About £14 for the raw materials (if you're lucky with charity shops)



About 4-5 hours.

How it's done

Pin your pattern paper to your shoes to determine what your velvet pattern pieces need to look like in order to cover your shoes. I like to do it one side at a time but you may want to make a 3rd piece for the front if your boots are awkwardly shaped or you want to closely copy the front panel on the original.

Fold your velvet so that it's double thickness. Place your pattern pieces onto it and pin them down.

Before cutting, use your gel pen and patternmaster/ graded setsquare to trace out your pieces with a 1cm seam allowance, except along the bottom edges or side edges if there's a zip you have to work around (like there was on mine) so you might want to make a not of them when you're tracing. Cut them out. N.B. Don't worry, we're not sewing, the seam allowance is just to ensure that there's total coverage with a little overlapping.

Craft mount your velvet to your shoes. Spray your craft mount generously onto the wrong side of your velvet. What I absolutely love about craft mount is that you can reposition it if you need to - before it dries, obviously - so you don't have to get your placement absolutely perfect first time. You might find yourself needing to cut away some excess fabric with your seam allowance, just make sure you don't cut away too much!

It's time to create some flame shapes with your black faux snakeskin! Place your pattern paper over your toes, like before, only rather than tracing all the way around the edges, just trace along the bottom and cut that out. Fold your paper in half along the centre and, referring to the original, trace out your flame design. Repeat this process with the backs of the heels. My pattern pieces looked like this:

Trace your heel and toe pattern pieces twice onto your faux snakeskin using your gel pen and cut them out. I found that scissors were best for the edges but my scalpel was better for the cut out detailing.

Stick your faux snakeskin in place.
Cut out four tiny symmetrical slivers or faux snakeskin and cover them with gold foil using your craft mount. Stick them in place.