Do or DIY

A PUN! Hooray. And also, sorry.

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In my last post, I talked about a general restlessness that had descended on me, and how taking a break had been what I needed to refocus a bit. While away, I decided to have a bit of a life clear-out, so this week I’ve been cleaning out my outrageously messy room. I’m generally pretty houseproud, but a lack of storage space and abundance of freebies from my fashion/beauty editing work (I’m not complaining!) left me Confucius-like, yelling at a tide of clothes to stay back.

Clothes to the left of me, clothes to the right of me, and hours later I found myself standing shell-shocked with a variety of huge bags around me. Some were destined for the charity shop, others for the textiles bin, others were tucked away until next Winter, which is probably a good two weeks away, based on my reckoning. I was left with one pile. I called it the ‘adapt or die’ pile. So, look here. I’m bored of most of my clothes, but I’m also poor. The solution? To get sewing, painting, and gluing.

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I started with two small projects last weekend, just to ease myself back into it. There’s a danger with DIY that you’ll go too far, customise a bit too enthusiastically, and end up looking like you covered yourself in E6000 glue and rolled around in a habadashery, then Claire’s Accessories, THEN ransacked the wardrobe of that ghastly Kirstie Allsopp. Tread carefully, is what I’m trying to say.

My two projects, then. I picked up a lovely cornflower blue man’s shirt from a charity shop for £3.30, and some non-roll elastic (AMAZING STUFF), and was inspired by Geneva Vanderzeil’s book to create a mini skirt from it. Seriously easy stuff, and perfect for first time sewers. I don’t want to write up the full instructions here, as I don’t think it’s fair to Geneva and her hard work, but I’d encourage you to grab her gorgeous book..Initially I tried the shirt as a dress, as you can see below – something I might explore another time, but it was VERY short. Sorry about the rubbish quality of pics in the post, was without my usual camera.

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The second project I can tell you exactly how to do, and it’s the easiest update for jewellery ever. I dug deep into my jewellery box and found a pair of very boring rhinestone earrings. Beyond boring, they looked cheap. A clear crystal rhinestone tends to look dull at night and strange during the day, so here’s what I did: I grabbed some nail varnish. And I painted over the crystals. I used jade and lavender for a colour blocked effect. I did three coats to get a decent coverage, and left them to dry overnight. Easiest thing ever. Bonus tip: my favourite leather jacket had zips that were starting to discolour, so I painted them over with a metallic nail varnish, and it looked brand new. SIMPLE.

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DIY Project #1: Gold and black leather jacket

I seem to enjoy starting most posts with a whispered confession, and today will be no different. What am I owning up to today? Well, brace yourselves. This is shameful stuff, the kind of thing that no one should admit – particularly not anyone over the age of 19. Here goes. I am 23, and I still watch Skins. I know. I KNOW. I’m a terrible person. If you’ve somehow missed the concept of the show, it essentially centres on a group of attractive and bizarrely dressed yoofs scampering around Bristol, taking lots of drugs and wishing that someone, anyone would understand the intense pain they’re experiencing, the pain of being young, attractive and the owner of a mild crack addiction.

Anywho, let’s gloss over the casual dependencies, the sheer misery, and the bizarre ‘Bristol’ accents, and look at something infinitely more important: the clothes. Ahh, the clothes. If you know me in person, you know I go slightly loopy over clothes. Possessive and all wide-eyed when I see something I want. The Skins wardrobe varied from the exceptionally odd (those lace cycle shorts that no one really wore) to the sublime (see my project below). In the third generation Skins – at least I think it was the third, I stopped counting, and they suddenly all seemed about 10 – I was particularly entranced by the wardrobe of one Mini McGuinness. That’s despite her wearing of the aforementioned ghastly cycle shorts, and penchant for Paul’s Boutique bags.

She was often seen lolling around in a jacket that I found particularly covet-worthy. It was essentially a black leather jacket, but seemingly sprayed with gold, so that the bottom half of the jacket was engulfed in glowing clouds of warm bright colour. I was sunk. It was glorious. I sat, rewinding and replaying any scene containing the object of my affections. I searched for a similar item, but it proved fruitless. Having a spare black leather jacket in my possession, I made some quick calculations. I assumed it had been spray-painted with some kind of hardy paint, but I couldn’t find any information whatsoever on it, or anyone who’d attempted something similar.

That was last year, and having stumbled across the jacket again, I finally decided to get off my lacy cycling short clad bottom (just kidding, calm down) and spring into action. I tried one more Google search, and there it was: apparently the costume designer had covered the bottom of the jacket in hundreds of sheets of actual gold leaf. Yes…well, sadly, I do have some semblance of a life, and the patience of Alan Sugar, so I chose not to follow this. I also have to say, I don’t actually think you can tell that, from the pictures above. I still think it just looks like spray paint.

Montana Gold spray paint

I hot-footed it to my local art shop, Saltmarsh in Tunbridge Wells, and purchased what I can only assume to be the Don of spray paints. Named Montana Gold, it was priced at something like £6.95, and I tucked it into my handbag feeling like Banksy. The girl in the shop informed me it would go onto ANYTHING, any surface, and that it was very long-lasting. I’ve Googled it, and I can see people have used it to paint their cars. It sounded perfect. I set myself up outside with a big dust sheet, some plastic gloves and a scarf over my face, and prepared to spray.

Jacket pre-spraying....

It’s VITAL to shake the can for about 3 minutes. If you don’t, the colour will be totally off, or it’ll just sputter some clear looking liquid out. After that, it’s the easiest thing in the world. The Montana Gold paint is a dream to work with. It goes on easily and dries quickly, and the coverage is fantastic. I was anticipating it would form a sort of ‘skin’ (see what I did there?) over the jacket, rendering the fabric really stiff and impossible to wear, but it didn’t – the jacket stayed pliant. The colour is beautiful, a really bright, glowing gold.

It’s up to you where you draw the line – I was very tempted to just drench the whole jacket in gold, feeling a bit Midas-like, but stopped myself as I was trying to achieve the effect of the Skins jacket. You could even mask the point where you want the gold to stop if you’d like a neater line, but I liked the effect of the scattered gold particles that settled lightly on the black part of the jacket. I also wanted an uneven line. I wanted it to look like the jacket had been dipped in a molten lake of gold, then pulled out before it was completely submerged.

So that’s my glam rock jacket! Good luck if you create your own….just be sure to do it in a well ventilated space (I did all of mine in the garden), and be sure to chuck a scarf over your mouth and nose. It’s potent stuff.  I’m going to get some better photos up of it, once it’s all dried and sorted, but these should do for now 🙂
Lots of love,

Amelia xx