Monday 25 August 2014

Absolutely Kok-on - How to DIY a Kokon to Zai Eflect Tattoo Patch DrumBag

This project was an indulgent nod to the fringed bag trend of right-now. As a girl of the 90s and early 00s, I'm conditioned to let anything with bold, Eastern-inspired patterns render me weak at the knees and powerless to resist - although the era itself can keep its character tattoos, whose aesthetic value is meh at best and whose capacity for embarrassing mistranslation is simply boundless! I'm talking more about geisha motifs, cheongsam dresses and blossom patterns - dramatic outfit paradigms, in both visual and dream-selling terms. The exoticism will forever have its hold over my imagination and the emotional triggers that incite us to buy or, in my case, senselessly plagiarise!

I have my local vintage/charity shop to thank for a £7 pair of size 14 leather trousers I upcycled to make  the bag; the amount of skins needed for the bag would get me little change from £100 - possibly even more. It might not be 1986 any more but there's always a place for old forgotten leather trousers in my craft room, and my minuscule heart - even if my love entails lacerating them!

You will need

NB: If you want to include a lining, you also need fabric for that. I would recommend a firm satin but most fine non-stretch fabrics would work. I used red jacquard fabric.

You also need a sewing machine and a hammer for the eyelets.



I'm going to put this on the easy side of intermediate. It involves sewing and working with patterns, so it would be foolish to assume everyone would find it a walk in the park, but both are minimal and straighforward in this project, so don't let them put you off.


10-11 hours

Keep calm and Kokon

Cut out the pattern pieces specified in the drawing. I wanted to make my bag quite bog so I used the measurements in the pattern, but you don't have to make yours anything like that size. I'd recommend using a trouser leg (ideally along the thigh) to save time, although you will have to unpick one side, so that you can lie the piece flat. It would also be helpful for calculating the size of the bottom piece by using its width as the circumference of the circle you need to cut.

Cut out three pieces of white satin in the shape shown above (print and trace from the image as a guide, if necessary). Place them along the side of your bag (rectangular piece) and stick the pieces to the leather using craft mount.

Go around each piece using a zig-zag stitch. If you can programme your sewing machine, make the stitches as wide and close together as possible, so that it creates a solid border around the satin. You might need to go around it twice to ensure this.
Sew on the fringing, so that it is wrong(matte)-side-up with the non-fringed part along the hem.I also added some leather stars to the middle of the satin shapes to look authentically like the original and in aid of a slightly weaker argument: YOLO.

Unpick the waistband and belt loops from the trousers. Fold the waistband in half and sew it in place so that it forms a long cord. Sew one of the belt loops to make a figure-of-eight shape for holding what will be our drawstring in place. The other loops are for attaching to the bag as a base for strap attachment.

Sew the side seams together and then attach the top loops and bottom. Since I was working with leather, I found that it helped to use staples along the edge, instead of pins, in order to hold the pieces in place for sewing. Leather is a tough fabric to pin and holes are permanent - although these didn't matter as they were inside the seam allowance.

Repeat the sewing process with the lining and hand-stitch it to the top. I would recommend a slip stitch but you're likely to need a thimble.

Punch holes in the top. You will probably need a hammer or some form of eyelet puncher if you're using the ones that I used. I hated this part because it's loud as hell and - it being late in the process -I had to do it late at night. I prayed I wouldn't get the screaming abdabs from the neighbours for disturbing them. Thankfully I didn't but it was a tense moment, nonetheless!
The final step is to thread the drawstring through the eyelets and attach a strap, if you so wish.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Trick for tats - A quick gold temporary tattoo tutorial

No alliterative overkill intended, I just thought I'd share my latest glittering tutorial with you. All you need is a stencil:

... a paintbrush, water and some gold powder from Fimo.

Simply, wet the paintbrush, coat it thickly with gold powder and paint the design through the stencil. The more thickly you apply the powder, the more vibrant the design will be. It's a quick, five minute glamour fix that's perfect for party wear.

NB: I wouldn't recommend it for people with sensitive skin or itchy allergies - I haven't experienced anything, so there's every chance it could be fine, but I don't want to promise that you wouldn't get any nasty reactions if you're susceptible.

Sunday 10 August 2014

Gravy trainers - how to DIY Dior's floral sequinned trainers

Running stylish with DIY-inspiring customisation from Chanel and Dior!


It was Dior's Fusion trainers that caught my eye - and captured my imagination - when I decided, on a whim, that an indulgently customised magnum opus like these would be the perfect replacement for my old, worn, sad-looking trainers.

StyleBubble recently described Dior Fusion trainers as "the rise of 21st century contrasting mix and match in fashion.  High and low.  Expensive and cheap.  Couture and sportswear.  Casual and dressy.  The list goes on" in a favourable, admiring post. While the aesthetic, itself might have divided opinion, the conceptual statement of juxtaposition - and resonance, of the high fashion trainer trend being assimilated at the highest tier of couture - convinced me that intricately customised trainers wasn't just inspiration, but relevant and a must for my next project and tutorial.

You will need...

A appreciate that it's a long list, although it does include a lot of basics, such as pens and scissors (just make sure the ones you use are all-purpose) but it's not as bad as it looks (in my over-enthusiasm, I realise I've neglected to include pattern paper and a sewing machine!). The only things you'd need to search for would be the beads, sequins and ribbon, the trainers and the staple gun. You can cut up a sports t-shirt or polo shirt to get airtech fabric  - it's not as illusive or specialised as it sounds.



I'm not going to lie -  I underestimated this one, in terms of the work, time and technique involved. Hopefully, you won't find it as hard with my guidance ;)


Two full days - I might as well be honest, here. Owing to the - hopefully hard-wearing - customising techniques I used, it's a bit of an investment, time-wise.

Dior or DIY

Trace about 40 flower shapes into the plastic sheet and cut them out. You might need to use a metallic marker but try not to smudge it. Cut the flowers out and punch holes in the middle of each one.
Cover a trainer in pattern paper (you can use tissue paper) and trace around the edges to make pattern pieces. Once you have traced them, add a small (about half a centimetre) seam allowance using a ruler or graded setsquare and cut them out. Cut out two of each piece in airtech fabric and sew them to make covers.

After you have sewn the covers together, hand-stitch circles of green sequins. Then, stitch a flower, a blue sequin and a blue faceted bead in the middle of each one.

Fold the cover over on the top edge, and onto the wrong (non-customised) side . Slip stitch the top edge to the fabric on the lining of the ankle and the tongue, if possible.

Use the staple gun to attach the cover to the sole of the trainer. Trainers are typically padded at the soles, so, stapling the fabric at the side shouldn't go inside it and into the area where your foot will go, although it's always worth checking so that you don't end up lacerating your feet when you wear them! I tidied mine up with a lick of white fabric paint, but that's optional - you've just got to keep your staples as far out of view as possible.

Finally, hand-stitch the black grosgrain trim along the centre and in a bow shape.

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Northern bites - an Instagram special

On a recent trip up North, to the Lake District and then Glasgow, it came to me - I am at a ripe age to appreciate the wonder of technology because I remember how much life sucked without it. I don't just mean the convenience of Google Maps, YouTube et al either, I mean the joy of seeing something so stunning you wish you had an easel and forever at your disposal to capture the fantastical beauty, not merely of the object - although that rather helped - but of the moment: a scene that can only really be described as hardcore sightseeing porn! Granted, a pocket-sized camera and colour filter apps aren't an easel, as such, but getting the angle just right before adding the drama of a colour filter like a snapshot of your own dream-like interpretation of the subject is damn close! I'm now moved to reach for my phone every time I'm met with the frisson of beautiful sights - okay, I admit it, I have an Instagram problem!

As my final thought, let me leave you with a spot of DIY and upcycling inspiration: a whitewashed chandelier with knotted rope and tassels (which can also be made of rope) and a black chest of drawers covered with prints that could easily be copied using varnish and vintage-style wrapping paper.