DIY AUTUMN

Ok so I recognise that in some places in the world, the weather is starting to cool down a bit. I won’t say ‘the grass is always greener’ or anything because its lame but I sort of miss the bittersweet Autumn days in temperate cities – when the leaves start to turn golden and you know that summer is on its way out. I know for some places its been a pretty horrible summer – the most sun my London friends have seen has been on their annual trip to Ibiza (‘eye-beefa’), and for that I should be grateful for the long hot sunny days in Hong Kong (and clear skin as a result of sauna style temperatures and the resulting sweatiness! Oh and did I mention crazy frizzy hair?). In an effort to emulate this whole ‘four seasons’ thing I have picked some of my favourite Autumnal flavoured DIYs. These will come in handy for me in say, um, December – but then again the aircon is pretty cold in my office – maybe I can prance around indoors in a cape?
1.See by Chloe Tartan Cape
2. Isabel Marant Feather Necklace
3.Cobra Society Boots
4. Junya Wanatambe Plaid Shirt Dress

btdubs – how good are the Cobra Society boots????

HOW TO DIY – 5 STEPS

Finding time, the DIY toolkit and more. I often get emails from readers saying that they love DIY fashion projects but don’t do any – common reasons for this include a lack of materials, inspiration, confidence and above all, time. Bearing that in mind, I’ve listed out below my 5 key steps to getting started on DIY fashion projects.

1. GATHER THE ESSENTIAL TOOLS
The first step is to organise a DIY essentials kit. This kit will have the key tools to support the actual process of your DIY projects, and without them it’s going to be super hard to follow through when you’re inspired.  There is a huge benefit in taking the time to collect the right basic tools at the start – it opens up your imagination and means less barriers to getting started on a project. To do this, get a box and start collecting. You can check out M&J Trimming, Ebay, Hardware Stores, Flea Markets and craft stores for these items . At a minimum your essentials toolkit could contain the following things:
  • a good pair of dressmaking scissors
  • a box of dressmakers pins
  • a measuring tape
  • chalk
  • black and white thread
  • needles
  • a quick unpick
If you have cash to splash, invest in:
  • a sewing machine (mine is a Singer model ‘2250 Tradition’)
  • a glue gun
A sewing machine is the best investment you will ever make in terms of the quality and type of DIY projects you will be able to produce. But I know they aren’t cheap (my aussie one was AUD$600 and the one I now have in HK went for US$250) and it’s a huge investment to make when you don’t know how to sew or if you will even like it. Why not buy one with a group of friends and take turns using it? The person who enjoys it the most can always buy the others out if interest wanes. Find a local sewing school or sewing cafe and do some classes before you invest – Sweatshop Cafe in Paris and The Make Lounge in Islington are two fun places to learn how to sew. If anyone knows of any other sewing classes/schools/cafes they would like to recommend please leave a comment below.
2. COLLECT INSPIRATION
Look around you for inspiration for DIY projects – in magazines, on blogs, style.com, on the streets, in shops, in your local department store. Start asking yourself, could I DIY that? Collect and keep images and ideas, have a folder on your laptop or computer titled ‘DIYS to do’ where you regularly save off inspiring images from blogs and websites, tear images out of magazines, and take pictures on the streets. DIY ideas can be fleeting we’ve all got a million other things to think about, so make sure to nail down your inspiration when you have it. This allows you to come back to it later on when you have time.
3. EXPERIMENT ON THRIFTED CLOTHES
The easiest DIYs involve altering and experimenting on thrifted clothes. This is really how I got started. Creating a garment from scratch is really a daunting task (for me too!), but making changes and alterations to existing clothes is a surprisingly easy place to start. Add fringing, studs, feathers and buttons as a start. Check out local charity shops, seconds stores, flea markets and garage sales for clothes that you can experiment on. The less you spend on these items, the more likely you are to be imaginative.
4. STOCKPILE DIY MATERIALS
Get together a collection of cheap materials – such as chains, buttons, studs, ribbons, and zips,  which can be used to DIY items of clothing or accessories. Often you will find these materials in the most unlikely of places – thrift stores, hardware stores, newsagents and stationary stores, plumbing shops and junk yards. All these stores have a million different items them that, with a little creativity, can help you produce professional looking DIY projects. I have a tendency to stockpile these items when I see them, even if I don’t have a use for them at that particular moment – they always come in handy down the track. I also try not to spend too much on these things – DIY for me is a way to satisfy my fashion cravings without breaking the bank.
5. MAKE TIME
I get asked alot ‘how do you find the time to do DIY?’. Time is one of the biggest factors in being able to carry out DIY projects, and what stands in most people’s way. Most of us lead busy lives – between work, socialising and (occasionally haha) going to the gym, there is very little time left. My biggest tip is to commit time to doing projects, as that is one of the only ways they happen. I generally commit to doing one project over the weekend – Sunday afternoon is my favoured time to put on some Sex and the City and have a ‘crafternoon’. You could commit to doing a project a month or fortnight and take the time to prepare for it. Still torn between other commitments? Organise to do some projects with friends so that you can kill two birds with one stone. Or do some DIY whilst on public transport – beading and other sewing projects are possible. I also always have a project to do while sitting in front of the TV, most of us waste a fair amount of time watching the new Weeds/Breaking Bad/Californication (etc) episodes – so make it productive DIY time.
And lastly… Don’t be afraid to have a go. Have the confidence to make DIY inspiration reality, the worst thing that could happen is that it doesn’t work out. Reduce fears associated with this by using cheap and thrifted materials. Every good DIYer has a project graveyard, a place for those DIYs that didn’t work out as planned. I have ruined so many projects by getting scissor happy and cutting a dress/skirt too short. A word of advice – more is more when it comes to hems and scissors, trust me! Remember, projects that go awry can always be refashioned in the future, so there is no such thing as a complete fail.

Has this post answered some of your questions about how to DIY? Feel free to add any comments or further questions you have below – would love to know if anything else stands in your way from doing DIY projects. Share the love and DIY!

DIY PRINTED KIMONO

Tribal and aztec prints have featured heavily in the last couple of seasons, and don’t look to be going away any time soon. I recently purchased a gorgeous red printed scarf when I was in thailand, with tassels and coins on the ends. As much as I loved it, there isn’t a huge need for a scarf in HK until at least December, and I was really sad seeing it just languishing in my closet. I posted a whole year ago here about wanting to make a kimono/poncho style top – and have finally got around to it! Tip: You can use the same technique as shown below to make a winter cape using a thick printed blanket or throw rug.
DIY:
You’ll need a large square printed scarf, scissors, and a needle and thread. I used a sewing machine for part of the process but you can easily do it all by hand.
1. Fold your scarf in half and mark the half way line with chalk. Lay the scarf on the floor or on a large table and cut down the chalk line, cutting a little bit over half way through the middle of the fabric.
2. Sew back and forth across the end of the cut in the fabric, so that it doesn’t fray or rip.  Then sew the other raw edges – I rolled them over twice and hand stitched.
3. As you can see, in doing this you have cut the neck line into the kimono. Then it on and sew arm holes by simply securing the back and front together with a stitch on the outer edge of the fabric. And its done! The coins and tassels on the edges really add to the top so feel free to add a few things like this if you like. Fringing would also be a fun addition to the ends.
Wearing: DIY kimono, Topshop bikini top, thrifted denim shorts, Nat-sui flats, Karen Walker Sunglasses.

CAPSULE WARDROBE

Over the weekend I put together a small capsule collection of clothes, aka my 13 piece capsule wardrobe. I then played around over the whole weekend – seeing how many outfits I could put together and trying to understand whether it would be possible to get away with a wardrobe with a very small number of items. You may remember my packing guide I did here, well this project saw me further work on the theory that less is actually more when it comes to getting dressed. Stay tuned for how I went.
What’s in my 13 Piece Capsule Wardrobe?
Shoes: Mango booties, black Anniel ballet flats (everyone needs a pair), New Look black wide heel sandals (interchangeable for any black heels)
Tops: A Pair & A Spare silk pocket tank, thrifted long sleeve breton top (a must!), thrifted white t-shirt
Bottoms: A Pair & A Spare black lace shorts, Whistles denim mini shorts, DIY pink mini skirt, Uniqlo dark denim skinny leg jeans
Dress: Black bodycon Whistles dress (the perfect every-occasion LBD)
Jacket: H&M Khaki hooded jacket
Scarf: multi-colour large scarf
I put these items together to challenge myself – could I be more creative with outfits when under pressure to only wear a few items? You may feel you need completely different items in your capsule wardrobe – and if the weather permitted I would definitely throw in my black leather jacket.
What would you put in your capsule wardrobe?