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!

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.

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 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...