Friday 31 October 2014

#FBF - Halloween Special

Sweet Toof shoreditch sclater street


Street art of the east end is the first subject of my festively-themed Facebook Friend... nay, Foul Batchelor Frog... nay for it be Flashback Friday today of course, silly! I couldn't ignore exactly where we are on the calendar today, however, I thought that rather than trawl out the obvious costume-themed fashion round-ups and spooky make-up and photography fare, I'd go maverick with some tasty. toothy tagging from street artist, Sweet Toof.

The story that sets the scene for this entry happened back in January 2008 (two whole years before the person responsible would rise to the echelons of international recognition), a time of idyllic calm when we weren't yet in recession, dreams were dreams and it was just about considered socially acceptable to listen to emo, when I came across a striking and terrifying apparition down the east end - and no I'm not talking about those obnoxiously pretentious art urchins they call hipsters!

Sweet Toof shoreditch sclater street


Your eyes are not deceiving you if you look closely at this towering warehouse and notice a teddy bear on a cross - just one feature among this monolithic facade of ominous boarded windows, snaking ivy and artwork skirting the extremes of visual nightmare fuel.


But Mr. Toof's aesthetic of sunken-eyed cadavers and mangled gums is not so much a paradigm of gratuitous horror as a quirky, conceptual angle on our treasured gnashers. According to an article by Jess Holland in The London Paper, Sweet Toof is quoted as saying:
"Teeth can be really sexy, or aggressive, but they're also constant reminders of death. They're how we get recognised by police when there's nothing else left."

According to an account by Olly Beck, Toof's work resonates conceptually with the Vanitas paintings of the 16th Century - a movement highlighting the transience of life and actual meaninglessness of the material goods we hold dear in the process, which was typically signified by juxtaposing ornate items with skulls. Also, Sweet Toof's skulls are rather close to the Mexican skull iconography about the honour and celebration of death, much like halloween is to the Mexican skullfest, Day of the Dead.
Sweet Toof shoreditch sclater street Sweet Toof shoreditch sclater streetSo, there you have it: skulls, teeth, mortality, transience, conceptual craziness, beauty of death and nature and a sugary high that sends gums into a frenzy. Perhaps this Friday flashback isn't so off-topic, after all!




Sunday 26 October 2014

OMG-SM - How to DIY an MGSM fur motif coat

Fur and clothing in the craft room.

With high fashion straddling the areas of having the need for snuggly winter comfort covered and not taking itself too seriously, it has chosen to make both statements with brilliantly coloured fur. While there are plenty of examples to choose from, particularly in the Lolcore category, in my opinion, there's no example so fine as this MSGM rabbit fur motif coat.

You will need...

Not pictured: scalpel and silver marker pen.

Tip: Sniff around your local market for cheap faux fur and the internet for the jacket, as you can get some good deals (mine was only £25, which included the postage).


Very easy

This is one among many projects I've done that would fit under the category of very-easy-to-make-but-impossible-not-to-make-a-mess-in-so-doing if the laws of tagging were to permit it. It's quick, straightforward and - dare I say - almost therapeutic. Sadly, the latter isn't true of cleaning up afterwards.


I wasn't counting but I'm going to say somewhere between an afternoon's work and five hours, if that makes sense.

Get your coat...

Cut shapes into your card to make templates. I decided to use card suits for my design, whilst keeping the lips and hearts (which are, kind of, also a card suit, as I fully appreciate). I'd recommend using a scalpel for clean lines and precision.

Trace shapes onto the back of the faux fur and cut them out.

Pin the stencils to the jacket and cut the faux fur as flat as possible inside the shapes.

One you have cut out all the areas where you intend to put the shapes, attach them with craft mount.

Sunday 19 October 2014

Chain DIY action - How to DIY a Joomi Lim spiked chain bracelet

Joomi Lim's got a monochrome magic touch for garnering celebrity endorsement with her spiked bracelet designs, with avid approval from Miley Cyrus, Leighton Meester and Jessica Alba.

Ingenious though these designs may be, it, thankfully, doesn't take a magic touch to recreate the look, just a touch of patience, a soldering iron and a little bit of DIY know-how.

You will need

*Optional extras.

Also needed

Black, white and clear nail polish

Araldite glue


Pretty easy

This one has its fiddly moments, although I'd say the biggest challenge was to avoid being scalded by the soldering iron.


About an hour.

Soldering on

Fill in chain links with solder at regular intervals. Also, if your studs are hollow, fill in the interiors and make sure the bases are all completely flat.

Attach the studs using solder or araldite (I found that the araldite worked better but you need to tidy it up after sticking by wiping the excess glue away from the edges with scissors or something with a fine tip).

Depending on the design you intend to copy, you can add a row of pearls by threading them onto a wire and attaching the wire to either end of the bracelet by using jump rings.

The bracelet

It's up to you whether you want to keep to one row...

...or add a second row of pearls.

Thursday 16 October 2014

#TBT - Winterlude

DIY Dries van noten jumper

Jumper - DIY/ collar - DIY/ Jeans - River Island/ Boots - River Island/ Earrings and Gauntlet - Freedom @ Topshop

Autumn, the idyllic lull between the intense summer heat (this year, anyway) and the breathtaking winter freeze. A solitary season of transitional calm. A melancholia of rich, earthy colour before the darkness sets in. Am I waxing too lyrical about the time we have to crank the heating up and pay handsomely for the privilege; come home from school, work or related institutions in darkness and spend our evenings in the confinement of our living rooms, huddled beneath a haze of yellow light and lukewarm tea? Come on, for a British person talking about the weather I can't be doing too badly!

DIY Dries van noten jumperAs a matter of fact, I used to love the winter as an older child and teenager. I loved the escapism of the darkness, especially while I looked out onto it from the warmth and light of my bedroom, in spite of how mad people thought I was and the opprobrium I faced for expressing such a passion. I mean, to actually look forward to four months of arduous weather conditions and perpetual dusk? I could only be one of two things: a vampire or just egregiously middle class! I can see how my New Rocks and solitary bedroom-friendly rock music collection could cause me to be misconstrued as the former but I was just spoilt for choice with my home comforts and the stunning home town of Kenilworth, where I grew up.  DIY Dries van noten jumperI had this outfit in mind, with the baroque opulence of the jeans print and mythical fantasy of the fire bird design in my DIY Dries Van Noten tribute, when I decided to shoot a selfie against the backdrop of the Kenilworth castle ruins - the perfect scene to envelop in a cloud of fog or a transcendent dusky horizon. For fear of clichés and predictability, I threw in some punky paradigms of studs, metallic prism earrings and spiky hair because, well, things were just going that way. It was possibly because all this talk and mood-setting of myth and fantasy needed a bit of an edge and a distraction, so that the final look was less Game Of Thrones and more game face. Or something. It was a while ago. It's Throwback Thursday. I'm tired. I remember that I liked it and hopefully you do too! DIY Dries van noten jumper

Sunday 12 October 2014

Train in tweed - how to upcycle trainers in the style of Chanel

Revamp old running shoes with some runway chic!

You will need..

Not pictured

Neon yellow and green tape

Clear lacquer


Tailor's chalk


Pretty easy

I'd hesitate on categorising this as 100% technique-free, so in the interests of diplomatic backside-covering, I'd rate it as moderately easy. You'll be pleased to know that I can't think of anything especially taxing about this exercise.


About ten hours if, like me, you like to get your measurements precise.

Trending on tweed

Take the laces out.

I find that it helps to get a mixture of bouclé wool fabrics. You don't need much, so it's worth sniffing around fabric shops for samples and minimum quantities (most shops don't cut less than half a metre but some do and asking nicely enough can earn you a respectable handful of free samples!) You need enough of one fabric to cover your trainers. I'd recommend pinning it to the side, tracing around the edges with tailor's chalk and cutting around the lines you have drawn.

Design and cut out the other panels you intend to use, ensuring they're symmetrical and the same on both shoes, so that the designs are the same on the outer sides and inner sides of both shoes.

Don't stick your tweed in place yet. Cover the desired parts of the sole with neon tape and add a coat or two of clear lacquer, for extra protection. I actually used acrylic paint and resin, but lived to regret it, as it was so messy. Going on my bad experience, I'd recommend tape as an alternative; it doesn't require painstaking effort to get straight lines.

I painted bronze borders on some of the bits of fabric. Again, if you want to add borders and detailing, just make sure they're consistent on both shoes.

Cover your trainers in fabric and then add panels. Stick them in place with craft mount.

Re-thread the laces.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

The Trends on Wednesday: What to make of the Spring 2015 Fashion Weekshows

This week, I felt that the time was right not to focus on trends but to catalogue, through my own purely emotional filter, what caught my eye during the spring/summer 2015 shows. The shows might be over in the big fashion capitals but rather than being bogged down by the bitter sweet lull after the storm, I thought I'd draw out the excitement of the shows by re-living the highlights that spurred me on to reach for my scissors and glue gun with a frisson of aesthetic delight, or - as a sane person might put it - I thought I'd milk it with another collection of pretty pictures and inane ramblings that might r might not have something to do with DIY fashion! So, here are my top ten must-make items.

Symphony of deconstruction

One of the more outré and complex DIY project types on the list, I thought, but this is nonetheless worth the outing in the name of sustainability. Think about it - instead of buying a handful of disposable items on the cheap in the hope of breathing some life into your wardrobe, you can make do and amend not one but two garments for a totally unique look!

Make mine a macramé


This slouchy Giorgio Armani bag is a brilliant exercise in monochrome macramé chic that made me want to maul a t-shirt like a psychopath so I could knit, knot or crochet a version of my very own!

Customising candy


You know that excruciatingly jarring feeling you get when a brilliant cartoon motif or a vibrant kooky repeat print just isn't enough? That urge that overwhelms you to dive sleeves-and-bag-first into a drawer of Mod Podge and diamantés? Come on, we've all been there. Rocking lolcore doesn't mean slacking off!

Landing in a tub of buttons


Some of the most devastatingly-good argument winners are the phrases that just confuse people. As an example, when I used the word "So?" during my stroppier teenage moments, my mum would put me in my place and come right back with "Sew...buttons on your nose." To this day I haven't the foggiest idea what that phrase was supposed to mean, so what kind of a chance did I stand then, when such a statement stopped me in my tracks? And now it seems the buttons are back to haunt me, making an equally random but this time much more enjoyable appearance as the fastening-du-jour at the Paris spring 2015 shows, with brilliant contrast and diagonal lines added into the mix.

Watercolour my world


These images transcended me to the whimsical days of school art class (note how I said 'whimsical' and most definitely not 'doss'!) when I would get lost in a haze of watercolours. With the above images, I'm met with the urge to relive those moments with Pebeo silk paints.

Flowers in my hair


With big corsages already making an appearance as a trend this past season, it surely makes perfect sense to carry on the craze with a clip and a cut out corsage.

Eye, eye


Who could not love that jacket? The eyes definitely have it and, considering you only need some fabric or PVC offcuts (depending on what you're making) and some glue or a sewing machine, this kooky acquired taste might not be a trend for everyone to fall in love with but it's nonetheless worth copping an eyeful!

Pushing the envelope


So great is the temptation to nonchalantly pick up an envelope folder, douse it in craft mount and cover it with brocade fabric, as if you got it from Dries Van Noten, just like that. We won't tell if you don't!

Appliqué bouquet


A great one for experimenting with textured ribbons or chunky threads and glue to make an old, abandoned handbag bloomin' marvellous!

Now and denim


I love working with denim because if you invest in good quality fabric and sew it well, it can look totally professional and in no way amateurish, cheap or off-the-wall, all while still done on a shoestring budget. So, who said a DIY fashion project can never be a patch on the rather gorgeous Burberry Prorsum coat, pictured above on the left?

Monday 6 October 2014

Romance in a stone (necklace)

If I were more organised, I would tell you the designer responsible for the rather wondrous necklace in the picture. While I usually strive to creatively decode and simulate, in an economical, homespun manner, fashion's latest, greatest pieces and on-trend items, I took a trip off piste when I idly screengrabbed  the necklace from Facebook. I vaguely remember the context but in my absent-minded state I left myself with no means of tracing it. Google image search didn't help either.

Dull witterings over, allow me to share with you my guide to getting the look, using a semi-precious stone and an abandoned, unloved curtain tieback.

You will need...


Pretty easy

While straightforward in principle, this project has its fiddly moments and challenges, like not being intimidated at the prospect of using a soldering iron.


About 45 minutes.

 A bit of knot and stone

Cut two 30cm lengths of chain. Fold one of the chain sin half and close the loop by opening one of the rings with pliers and linking it to the other end. Before closing the link, attach it to one of the parts of the clasp. Repeat this process with the other chain and the other half of the clasp.

Cut a 28cm length of rope. Cut away the tassel at the bottom of the curtain tie back and cut the remaining straps so that, together with the knot in the middle, they add up to the same total width as the length of rope you cut. I wish I could be more specific but knot sizes vary!

Use picture hanging wire to link the pieces of rope together. Start by winding the wire around the ropes, leaving some excess wire at the end and a long length of wire at the other end. Wind the short length of wire vertically to bind the wire that's holding the ropes together, leaving the edge pointing into the ropes to avoid scratching. Arch the long length of wire over the top of the ropes and through the bottom of the chain, then wind it back into the wire on the ropes to secure it. Use the soldering iron and solder wire to fix the wire in place so that it dies't unravel. Repeat the process on the other side.

Attach a generous length of wire to the stone. I did this using the cheap, easy, I-can't-be-arsed-because-it's-facing-the-back method. In other words, I beefed up the wire by using solder, so that it would take stick more easily; mixed and slathered on some araldite, taking extra care to follow the instructions and stuck the wire in place. You might well need to press down at the start to make sure your glue sticks. You should also try to tidy up the excess glue by smoothing it down with your fingernails or a scalpel. I wouldn't recommend smoothing it with your fingers, as it's too easy to push the wire and stone apart by mistake. As an alternative, you can attach a stone by using copper tape and flux, as well as a soldering iron.

Wind the other end of the wire between ropes, around the knot of the tieback and fix it in place with a soldering iron.

And with that you might suddenly notice you have a complete necklace in your midst.