For those of you who have wondered where I’ve been of late I’m now ready to break my silence on why things have been so quiet over the past month. My recent move has been a roadblock-ridden, time-consuming nightmare (though I fancy I’ve become quite the expert on wall fixtures and light fittings in the process) but undeniably worth it in my fabulous new 19th century maisonette flat.
I thought I’d share my method because, while my imagination was captured by the rustic DIY hanging branch idea, I struggled to find a tutorial that gave the specifics, like the type of rope you needed (although I found plenty that used chain), so after consulting with my trusted sources, I thought I’d share the experience so that you too can get the look. For the branch, I’d recommend whitewash paint. I also threw in a few sprinklings of Fimo gold powder.
Expect many a home DIY project to come your way, as well as my usual fashion fare. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some other details from my glamorous new pad.
One of my first tastes of fashion journalism came during an internship at Glamour Magazine in suitably exotic Cape Town, South Africa. It was autumn (there and summer here) 2007; I was reporting on what men (heterosexual ones, natch!) thought of the ubiquitous noughties trend of billowing tunics and tulip skirts. It provided a predictably depressing indictment of how fashion’s more inventive sculptural ventures translate to the male gaze, with ample words to the effect of “what’s she trying to hide under there?” and “it looks like a maternity dress!” Also included in the arsenal of supposed femininity faux pas were turbans, not so much for being unflattering by the narrow standards and norm that govern western beauty ideals but for being a bit, well, weird. Cultural appropriation has always been a challenge in fashion, not to mention a touchy subject. What makes pastiche patronising and what sells the dream of exoticism intended by the cultural references? Sure, the turban headband fits comfortably within the context of the bohemian hippie vibe of the 70s; it also hints at the mystique of orientalism while distilling it to accessible high street level with knot and wave detailing.
And so we arrive at my take on the trend. It was a maddening irony that the item that was the quickest to make proved the slowest to publish in video form for two reasons: the editing programme I used was slow and its usage more awkward than trying to circumnavigate airport security with a genital piercing; and while the initial plan was to publish it on Instagram, that appeared to come with a myriad of requirements that I had to teach myself. For this, I could include a tutorial within a tutorial, of sorts but, spoiler: it only accepts MP4 videos! Knowing that is half the battle – or seven eighths if we’re talking in terms of time! The conspiracy theorist in me (along with a fair few of my more objective deduction faculties) wonders if the omission of this simple explanation as to why one’s phone isn’t ‘seeing’ the video when it comes to uploading it is Instagram’s way of saying “dear PC users and anyone else too miserly or impecunious to afford a Mac, sucks to be you, trololol!” Rantings aside, this beginners-level tutorial came out a little too frenetic in Instagram form, despite my best efforts.
I made a video which I hope describes the process a little more clearly of how you can turn a second-hand scarf – or, you know, a new one – into a turban headband without even needing to thread a sewing machine.
Owing to excessive work and trying to get my ducks in a row to move house, time has been a bit too tight to offer tutorials in full but, in my recent de-cluttering efforts I have managed to get some of the projects I’ve been meaning to do for months out of the way – or rather been spurred on to do them in order to clear space. One of the projects was a maxi dress I found in a charity shop that I thought would make a stylish jumpsuit, so I converted it.
You need to turn the dress inside out first so that any alterations you make to take the bodice in can be pinned in place and sewn straight away. I find it helps to use a mannequin.
You can draft up a basic trouser pattern – or block – for yourself by using a series of measurements and dimensions, detailed here.
You need to trace the back and front trouser pattern twice on each of the corresponding sides of the dress, making sure they’re traced out symmetrically so that both the right leg and the left leg fit correctly. Cut them out and sew them together along the seams as you would if you were making a normal pair of trousers.
If there aren’t any fastenings in place, you might need to add them in order to get into your jumpsuit. I attached an invisible zip along the right side seam.
Cutting out the trouser legs along the side seam means that you don’t need to include seam allowance or sew the outside seams together. However, cutting the trouser legs diagonally might leave you with excess fabric along the centre front, which you would need to take in for a snug fit.
The only challenge here is drafting the ‘C’ shape but (spoiler alert) I’ll provide help with that in the form of a template. The challenge doesn’t go beyond ironing and gluing.
A ‘C’ for yourself
Using the template above (you can print it or draft one up using squared paper), make and cut out a backwards C-shaped pattern, pin it to the ‘wrong’ side of your fabric (the non-patterned side) and cut the shape out in fabric.
A versatile wardrobe staple, Tommy Hilfiger’s metallic star booties added just the right balance of glamour and Ziggy Stardust-era rock chic to capture the imagination of fashion insiders. And so, while these booties had celebrities and editors alike in raptures and I wanted in on the action, so I got crafting.
You will need…
Black suede or suedette ankle boots
Red enamel paint
4-6 squares (about 20x20cm) of differently-coloured metallic fabric – ideally leather or faux leather
Use your car body filler to sculpt the heel. I find that the best way of tackling it is to lie the shoe on its back, mix a generous dollop of body filler and slather it into a rounded shape the top of the heel, holding it in place about halfway down with the flat plastic applicator provided, until it dries. Then mix a second batch of body filler and repeat the process. Mix a tiny bit more filler and apply it with your palette knife to smooth down the sides. Once you’ve made your wavy heels, paint them with red enamel paint. I’d recommend two coats so that it’s completely opaque.
I have two things to thank for coming up with this straightforward, charity-shop-friendly DIY project: the wrap top above and this viral vest video – and several permutations thereof – that’s been doing the rounds recently.
The process lends itself to all abandoned shirts needing a new home – like, say, your wardrobe – from sheer blouses to Hawaiian patterned horrors from yester-decade (hypothetically speaking, at least). Mine was done on a chiffon blouse, procured from a charity shop for the agreeable price of £2.50.
A photo posted by Charley H (@chiccheatcharley) on
The diaphanous nature of the fabric meant that I wasn’t happy with using fray check to finish the edges, so I folded the edge back and machine-sewed a zigzag hemming stitch (this does make the project a little more time-consuming to finish but thankfully not much).
Get your rocks off or stick some on in the name of style? You decide.
The second instalment of our festival-flavoured morsels of DIY ideas is more than a little bit rock’n’ roll with (faux) leather, studs, chains, eyelets and an obligatory sprinkling of glitter. As a woman of words I endeavour to avoid slinging in the jarring, overused ‘rock chick’ cliché so instead I’ve thrown retro rainbows and folksy fringing into the melting pot for a touch of ‘I’m-with-the-band chic – that effortlessly cool, bohemian, devil-may-care elegance that can be thrown on yet look immaculately styled. Sure, glitter, rivets and chains have always lent themselves to DIY fashion but with the festival season on the horizon and eyelet fastenings bang on trend, their time is now.
In my first outfit’s worth of my mid-week quick-fire DIY series, I took on the fringing trend in summer-ready sandal form (it’s still March, and yes it’s still cold but we can still dream – and plan), the huge mesh bag trend, animal motifs and ’30s-style pussy bow shirts with a streak of rebel chic in leather skirt form and a colour-popping Burberry homage. Which way would you wear yours?
As a practitioner of DIY fashion, the novelty statement clutch trend proved too tempting not to try. For my take I plumped for a perspex box upcycle inspired by a vintage Chanel clutch. I say vintage – I believe 2010 was the year!
While it does help to have a steady hand and to be a dab hand with a scalpel
About an hour.
Crafting out of the box
To make a template for some ‘reels,’ draw four circles with the compass – one inside the other, in descending order of size. Using a fat black felt tip pen, outline the two outer circles and draw some lines between them. Colour in between the next two circles and draw some tiny lines on the inside. Cut the shape out, then trace the outline and cut that out. It might help to use a fine-tipped clutch pencil for precision. Peel away the backs of the adhesive paper and stick the ‘reels’ down. Glue the plastic rectangular pieces in place, making sure they’re concentric and line up with each other. I added lettering and a chain (okay, the box I bought came with one, hurr hurr!) and while it’s up to you to add whichever knick-knacks you see fit, that’s about it really. Ans with that, you’re ready to hit the street for a statement style shoot – as I’m sure you do!
Owing to apathetic moping, this DIY tutorial will fit neatly under the category of Valentine’s Day leftovers – time zones permitting – a category which, I appreciate is best associated with discounted chocolate but, given the relative neutrality of the versatile heart motif and the comfort that there’s always next year I thought I’d share this 20-minute tutorial with you.
You will need…
Picture hanging wire.
Two earring studs.
Soldering iron and solder.
Long-nosed pliers that can cut wire (or, failing that, long-nosed pliers and all-purpose scissors)
Pink nail polish.
While the project, itself, is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory, it has its fiddly moments and helps to have a touch of manual dexterity.
10-15 minutes per earring, excluding the time it takes for your soldering iron to heat up.
You will heart it
Cut about 10cm of wire and loop it around the stud in the middle.
Bend the wire into a heart shape and twist the two ends together at the bottom with your pliers.
Cut away the excess wire at the bottom.
Attach the wire to the stud at the top and fix the wires together at the bottom by soldering them.
Cover the wire with pink nail polish.
Quick, simple and perfect for throwing together at the last minute, much like my Valentine’s Day plans.