Sunday 30 December 2012

Take Noten - How to DIY a Dries Van Noten oriental jumper

Shine through the winter gloom with Dries van Noten's fabulous fire bird.

Dries van Noten's Asian-inspired jumper is the perfect seasonal wardrobe staple covering all sartorial bases, whether you team it with tailored trousers for the office or a leather skirt for instant evening glamour. However, it was the top's intricate oriental-inspired embellishment that really captured my imagination, with an aesthetic that recalled the work of one of my favourite artists, Darren Waterston. Waterston's ethereal paintings subtly incorporate calligraphic brush strokes, blossoms and soaring bird silhouettes, inspired by the Japanese Wabi-Sabi aesthetic. No, that's Wabi-Sabi, not the disconcerting green garnish that looks like avocado but tastes more like Japan's spicier answer to the cinnamon challenge! It celebrates the beauty of imperfection, impermanence and incompleteness, with characteristics that include asymmetry, asperity and drawing from nature in its most ingenuous form. The two different sources made me want to experiment slightly more with textures and effects than directly copy the original whilst keeping the glamorous, wardrobe staple look. Then again, perhaps you do need to draw from imperfections to get the perfect all-occasion essential for the winter - and maybe the two influences aren't so different!

You will need

A black long sleeved jumper - mine cost £4.50 and came from a charity shop

Soft, lightweight interfacing - £2.99 at Hobbycraft

Gold embroidery thread  - £2.19 at Hobbycraft

Sewing machine

Embroidery thread - £1.29 at Hobbycraft

Gemstone and fabric glue - £2.99 from Hobbycraft

Gold fabric paint - £2.99 from Hobbycraft


Quite Easy

Bizarrely, I don't know if I'm the best person to ask since sewing is pretty much second nature to me - though I say it myself - so it was nothing more than a bit of old cut, stick 'n' colour. It just helps to take extra special care when you're painting your lines and gluing your embroidery thread in place so you don't leave any nasty, messy trails.


Sadly, this one's a ten hour job or, put more pragmatically, three evenings' work or thereabout.

Sunday 23 December 2012

DIY FYI - A Brief anatomy of the patternmaster

What it does: It's your go-to solution for making sure you get your measurements and angles right when you're drawing a pattern, grading (going up or down a size), taking clothes in or just trying to make a perfect shape for attaching or customising.

Price: About £24

Where can you get one?: Morplan

Worth it because: It's the smarter, slicker sister of the graded setsquare. You've got all your parallel lines and right angles, plus it covers curves.

Okay, break it down for me: Alright, then...

Wednesday 19 December 2012

DIY Days of Christmas

'Tis the season to be jolly busy with work commitments and last minute holiday arrangements, as we all well know. However, in the lead up to Christmas/ "Winterval" / Saturnalia/ *insert miscellaneous P.C-approved term*  we acknowledge that it's a time for giving - well, I do anyway. The great preparatory run-around has to be worth something, surely? So, I thought I'd treat you, my readers, with 5 super-easy, super-quick, super-low-budget DIY gift ideas to help with your last minute present idea panic. True, they're in tutorial rather than tangible object form. I can less easily buy presents than bestow pearls of wisdom at this point but, as it's said: "It's the thought that counts!"

You will need

For the Bag: 

Black grab or clutch bag (this one's all about the size - and arguably the verbs!)




Craft mount (okay, I haven't factored in the fact that I already had one when I number crunched. I'll say it again, it's not just an investment for a DIY regular, it's an essential)

Gold foil (I think it's about £2.50 from Hobbycraft)

For the Bangle:

About 5 x 20cm of lace, preferably chunky and ornate

Fabric scissors

Gold acrylic paint

Fimo metallic gold powder

Lots and lots of cling film

Cylindrical object that's slightly wider than your wrist

Polyester resin kit

For the talon ring:

Pale coloured Fimo clay

Fimo metallic gold powder

A ring

Black nail polish

For the Steampunk-Inspired Boots:

Black suede or faux suede ankle boots (Mine were about £7 from a charity shop)

Red snake patterned material (I wound up cutting up a mock-crocodile bag - priced at £6 from a charity shop - and painting it red)

Pattern paper


All-purpose scissors


Metallic gel pen

 For the Fallaway Cardigan:

Black faux leather jacket (I say faux, but if you don't mind desecrating - nay, dissecting - a real leather one, it's up to you. Mine cost about £8 second hand)

Black and/or red blanket (I could only find a poncho, which works as a last resort but I'd say something rectangular like a blanket works best)



Sewing machine

Belt (optional - mine was £1, second-hand)

Black or red thread


Fabric scissors

Seam ripper

Fray check


Ring: 45 minutes, not including clay baking time

Bangle: 30 minutes, not including resin setting or paint drying time

Clutch: 30 minutes

Boots: 1-2 hours, depending on how quick you are at cutting and tracing pattern pieces

Fallaway jacket: 2-3 hours


Medium Easy

I'm going to give a general rating for these. They're intended to be easy and were certainly a breeze for me but one or two items had their moments, especially the fallaway jacket.

Image: Polyvore

Pin your pattern paper to your boots and trace out the pattern for the pieces you need. Cut them out.

Cut out all your pieces in red faux snakeskin. Remember to make sure you cut the right number of each piece.

Craft mount all your pieces to your boots. I found it helped to make the surfaces less porous first, so that the craft mount didn't just soak in. I used Pritt Stick to smooth the surface before applying the craft mount.

Confession: I used a glue gun for the bows because the amount of layers they had and strength they needed.

For the talon ring

Image: Polyvore

Cover a ring with Fimo clay (I'd recommend a thin, wiry one like the one I used but we don't tend to discriminate on weight issues here!) then sculpt a juicy, curvaceous claw shape at the centre.

Paint it with Fimo gold powder and bake it in the oven. Follow directions closely and, for the love of all things holy, don't absent-mindedly mistake fahrenheit for centigrade readings like I once did on another of my projects. My point is, don't take this part of the process lightly. Fimo tends to require about half an hour at 110 °C but don't just take my word for it, rather do exactly what it says on the proverbial tin!

Paint your black sections with nail polish.

For the Gold Lace Cuff

Image: Polyvore

Cut an area of floral lace about 5 x 20cm (depending on your wrist size) and cover both your workspace and your cylindrical "mould." I used a spray can.

Now it's time to mix your resin. If you buy the kit I hyperlinked, you won't need the plastic mesh, just the resin and hardener. I used the cut-off bottom of a plastic bottle to mix my resin and a battered ruler I didn't mind ruining to measure out my hardener. Again, you'll just need to follow the instructions and pay special attention to measurements and quantities.

Douse your lace in resin and place it so that the 2 ends overlap but don't touch each other.

Leave to dry, ideally overnight.

When your cuff's completely dry, carefully peel it off and tear away the excess cling film. Paint it gold and cover it with powder to get an antique, textured effect.

For the Lippy Lulu Guinness Clutch Bag 

Image: Polyvore

Draw out the lip shape you wish to create, making sure the base follows the edge of the flap of your clutch bag. I find it also helps to fold your pattern paper in half to get your shape perfectly symmetrical. Cut it out with a scalpel.

Trace your lip shape onto your foil and cut it out.

Use your foil to trace out your lip shape on the flap of your bag with a scalpel, before craft mounting it in place.

Use your scalpel to tuck the surrounding material under the edges of your foil so that it looks like the fabric has been tucked under a layer of gold sheet metal.

For the Fallaway Jacket 

Image: Polyvore

Turn your blanket/ poncho inside-out and put it on your mannequin. If you're using a poncho, slash it along the centre front and cut away any polo necklines or collars (so you might even be left with a free snood!)

Make sure you have a generous amount of fabric overlap at the front, then pin together any excess fabric along the sides, shoulders and where your darts are, giving your jacket a close fit.

Cut out your armholes, leaving a generous amount of fabric, simply because it's better to be safe than sorry when attaching your sleeves...

...on that happy note, once you've sewn your darts and seams together, it's time to attach your sleeves. Detach some sleeves from a black leather/ PVC jacket. I say detach, I mean don't cut the seams but unpick the top seams with a seam ripper so that you've got some seam allowance to work with. Sew the lining to your armholes, right-side-to-right-side, then tuck your top fabric under and slip-stitch it in place.

I also added a belt at the waist by sewing it down at the centre back and cutting some small slits for it behind the front darts so that it fastened on the inside, but that's optional. I'd strongly recommend finishing the edges off with some fray-check.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Chic Fixes: Neon Bites

With time and money of the essence at this time of year, I thought I'd introduce my first in the Chic Fix series of quick, bite-sized recycling ideas.

Monday 10 December 2012


Why All Saints' Teague pendant needn't be out of your league!

You will need

Amendment: I found that the glue gun wasn't strong enough for the metal pieces I worked with and the necklace wound up needing repair, so I would recommend using car body filler. I know it sounds random but it's strong and the necklace hasn't broken since.



I'm going to plonk this one right in the middle because as fun as it was to jazz it up with gems aplenty, it proved a bit of a bugger to put together towards the end.


About 4 hours. Again, the one headache of the whole process came at the end when I had to put the various bits together but apart from that it's pretty straightforward.

Let's go deco!

Join your large picture hooks by using the glue and split pins. Line the holes up, put the split pins through them and split them.