Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Fashion Fix: Ruffs and Ruffles

As a costume designer I have long been drawn to ways of framing the face. Doing a lot of work in period costume certainly has led me to be a bit of a ruff connaisseur but it has been the more fantastical designs that have really excited me when it comes to accentuating the jawline. 

Back in 2010 I designed the set and costumes for the Tobacco Factory's Christmas Show The Adventures of Pinocchio. There was plenty of scope for wild fantastical designs, but my favourite had to be the two imprisoned circus acts, below. I was keen to use costume, whilst looking impossibly elegant and fantastical, to  act like an imprisoning force.

photo by Farrows Creative

my costume design for The Adventures of Pinocchio

I again used the Elizabethan Ruff out of context when designing a Clockwork Orange-esque troupe of Fairies for the Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory 2010 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. In fact, that is where the frill lace collar in this Fashion Fix also first came into being.

photo by Farrows Creative

my costume drawing of The Fairies in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' SATTF 2010

Gareth Pugh brought the truly Elizabethan armour -like ruff back to the catwalks of late but it has trickled down to the highstreet and inspired crafters and artists to come up with their own take on the great neck adornment.

Here is a slightly softer, more wearable Fashion Fix for you.

You will need:
  • a bundle of vintage lace. 6m is good depending on how many layers you want
  • cotton blazer
  • thread
  • needle
  • pins
  • scissors
How to do it:
  1. working your way along the outisde of the upturned colar, pin the lace, pleating as you go.
  2. hand stitch a running stitch along the bottom eadge of the lace, removing pins as you go.
  3. keep going until all the lace is used up or that you are happy with the fullness of the lace collar.

You wa bundle of vintage lace. 6m is good depending on how many layers you want

  • cotton blazer
  • thread
  • needle
  • pins
  • scissors
How to do it:
  1. working your way along the outisde of the upturned colar, pin the lace, pleating as you go.
  2. hand stitch a running stitch along the bottom eadge of the lace, removing pins as you go.
  3. keep going until all the lace is used up or that you are happy with the fullness of the lace collar.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Rose's Film Debut

Remember the Cloth Mannequin Rose? well she starred in her own stop motion animation, 'choreographed', created and directed Joseph Wallace

How are you getting on with your own designs for Rose?

Rose Street art


For those of us who do all we can to avoid walking the gauntlet that is Princes Street, Edinburgh (even now the teams have been installed it's still a bit of a bun fight) the parallel running Rose Street is a welcome retreat. Relatively pedestrianised (when festival theatre company vans aren't unloading) it is pleasant enough in its own right. 

This year it has been gloriously decked out with Rob Ryan-esque cut out metal work: window coverings, plant containers and murals deck the surfaces. Really weaving in the verses of a Robert Louis Stevenson  poem 'Songs of Travel X'

I am yet to discover the artist of such work... Any clues?

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Fashion Fix: Pin cushions

photos from Real Design and Media

I know the tea cup pin cushion is nothing new, but I have never been wholly impressed by the ones I've seen at fairs and in shops because of the failure to create a proper taut pin cushion where pins stand proudly.  As well as this, the quest to achieve the perfect domed cushion itself seems to elude many makers. This project sorts the men from the boys. It was honed over years of pin cushion disappointment and turned up in an early edition of Cloth Magazine.

You will need:
  • A cup and saucer of average size
  • Poly stuffing (or an old cuddly toy stuffing)
  • An 18cm diameter circle of cotton or midweight fabric
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • All purpose glue
  • Araldite
  • Trim or string of pearls

How to do it:
  1. Thread your needle with a knot and tack a running stitch around the edge of your circle about 1 cm from the edge
  2. Gather your circle into a little pouch, leaving a small hole to stuff through. Keep your thread on the needle
  3. Stuff little pieces of wadding into the pouch until it’s tightly compact and most importantly, smooth. If you can bring yourself to do it, the best kind of stuffing comes from children’s cuddly toys. Once you are happy, pull your thread tight and secure with some hand stitches.
  4. Mix your araldite (if under 16, use with assistance) and apply a thin layer in the base and around the bottom inner edges of the cup, squash your pin cushion firmly down into the glue.
  5. Apply a thin layer of araldite to the bottom of the cup, attach to the saucer. The saucer will act as a useful storage shelf for bobbins and thimbles.
  6. If you still have some creases and folds visible in the pin cushion fabric, glue a piece of trim or a string of pearls around the edge of the pin cushion to give a neat finish. 

ta da! Photo from Real Design and Media

But I'm not done yet! To just attempt the humble tea cup would be  ludicrous. What other random receptacles have we lying about the house? glass perfume bottles and decanters can work just as well (ok, there might not be that many of these lying around unless you're Elizabeth Taylor, but hey ho.)

Photo Real Design and Media
I always liked the idea of finding away of storing pins in a pincushion/storage combo. Lo, Behold the new wave in pin cushion crafting! Approach this technique in just the same manner as the tea cup: transform the stopper into a pincushion following steps 1-3 above. Once you have stuffed the pouch, insert the stopper and pull the thread tight. Tidy up any raw edges with a piece of trim or pearls. The bottle can then be used to store larger amounts of pins whilst the removable stopper becomes a handy portable pincushion!

pins a go-go. Photo Real Design and Media

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Shooting behind the scenes

I love that they started catching the quirks and weird facial expressions we all pull whilst trying to convey our vision to the poor model! This film by Chris Collier and Joseph Wallace captured mine and ros's multiway feature in Cloth for '4 ways with shirts'. 

Can you think of more upcycling ideas for the crisp white shirt?

Friday, 26 July 2013

Talented People: Amanda Thomas

I have been styling Amanda Thomas's shoots for 4 years now and it is always a pleasure. I wanted to share with you images from some of my favourite shoots with her. She's ridiculously talented and a right laugh to work with. Along the Cloth journey we had the very talented Joseph Wallace and Chris Collier capture the 'fun' on film.

Amanda striking a pose

On the Christmas Steps, Bristol shooting for Cloth

At The Old Bookshop, North Street, Bedminster

Old Bookshop


Another Cloth shoot, on location in Kilburn

All shots taken by Amanda, see more of her work at Amanda Thomas

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Day Job: Edinburgh Fringe 2013

I am heading up to Edinburgh Fringe three plays this year that I have designed. Last year I had an awesome time designing a play called Jigsy starring Les Dennis. This year, I have a real mix; all brilliant, all VERY different.

Currently touring the country previewing is The Collision of Things by Move to Stand. Playing at the Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance 2

"An award-winning show about three friends who lose one life to gain another. The Collision of Things combines a razor sharp script, original live music and international cast to unearth a delicate story of home, foreignness and speaking the mother tongue.  This is the tale of a young couple, their lodger and London. It is about a longing for new life, which overcomes us all, and how we can re-find each other in the darkest moments. The show uses striking physical theatre and compelling storytelling to draw you into a narrative of tragedy and transcendence."

Across the courtyard is Making News by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky. In Pleasance 1 at the Pleasance Courtyard.

"It’s the start of another 24 hour news cycle and Rachel Clarke has been suddenly promoted as the BBC’s newest Head of News. When a crisis erupts she has to confront rivals from within and without, as well as deciding how to report on the story that threatens to bring down the BBC itself.
This fast-moving comedy satire is the follow-up to the hugely successful play COALITION which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe 2012."

And finally, a piece that will differ at every performance, The Phill Jupitus Experiment created by Deborah Frances-White

"Phill Jupitus goes head to head with a disembodied Voice on a microphone who will interrogate, provoke and cajole him to create dark-hearted comedy mayhem. See the hidden depths of the human unconscious pushed to their illogical conclusions in this unforgettable, unmissable, electrifying and hilarious show. Voices in Your Head just got even freakier."

Fashion Fix: Flip Flop Revival

Following these weeks of glorious sunshine, over at fixuplookchic we can officially state that it is totally worth spending precious time on upcycling Summer staples as you are GUARANTEED to have a reason to wear them!

How about getting your old faithfuls out from last year and give them the Fix Up Look Chic treatment instead of spending painful weeks breaking in a new pair.

You will need:
  • A pair of plain flip-flops with fabric straps
  • Buttons, beads, ribbon
  • Needle and thread
  • All purpose glue

How to do it:
    1. Plan your design and thread your needle with a long length of doubled up thread 
    2. Starting from the centre, sew your buttons one by one onto the flip-flop. Each time you sew a button, secure it underneath with some extra stitches but DON’T cut the thread. Simply continue to the next button. 
    3. Once you have come to the end of your line of embellishment, secure and finish off as usual on the underside of the flip-flop. Cover these last few stitches with a thin layer of all-purpose glue.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Eva Lazarus Neon Shoot

Here's a sneak peak of a very exciting test shoot I did the other month with some extremely talented ladies. 

To set the scene, I had just designed the Pop-up bar the Blind Tiger in the Bristol Old Vic Basement for Mayfest and we'd gone for a retro futuristic milk bar, complete with light boxes, bad-ass yellow chairs and milk bottles as table lamps.

But these mesmerising light boxes and LED tubes needed another outing, and it just so happened with my mate, photographer Amanda Thomas and make up artist Jo Williams were itching to try out some tricks on a new shoot. Chuck in the beautiful Eva Lazarus as our muse for the day and BOOM.

One of my favourite elements of the shoot has to be the make do and mend aspect, creating a 'Can't get you out of my Head' era Kylie style visor out of red acetate.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Fashion Fix: Deco Fabulous Mosaic Clutch Bag

Inspiration to be found somewhere between Dolce and Gabbana's Byzantine inspired collections, The Deco Fabulous Great Gatsby, and Mosaic Murals, this clutch has all trends covered!

Art Deco weddings have been fashionable for a good while now. Be the most fashionable guest at the reception with this unique clutch. No more worries about turning up in the same thing as another guest!

You will need
  • envelope clutch bag
  • pva glue and spatula
  • scissors
  • assorted paper
  • gems

How to do it
  1. plan your design by searching for byzantine artwork online.
  2. cut out bit of paper to mosaic the bag, glue and arrange in place.
  3. add gems as a finishing touch.

Add jewels in Byzantine concentric circles
Limit your palette to a few colours to maintain a stylised Deco feel.

Garment Detail
bag, vintage
paper and pva glue from Harold Hockey, 170-174 Whiteladies Rd, Bristol BS8 2XX
Phone:0117 973 5988

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Fashion Fix: Vintage trim day gloves

Bold and bright summer style not your thing? How about a genteel vintage project, using a pair of my Granny's own day gloves from the 50s. 

You will need

  • 50 cm vintage trim
  • day gloves
  • hand needle and thread
  • dressmaking pins
  • dressmaking scissors

How to do it
  1. pleat and arrange your ribbon on the back of the glove. pin in place
  2. hand sew in place

Fabric and Garment Detail
gloves and trim, vintage

These would be a lovely addition to a Vintage Wedding look, either as a guest or the Bride, covering the 'something old' or 'something borrowed' criteria!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Fashion Fix: Back Pack Series: Adding straps to a bag: BELT BACKPACK

You will need:
  • a fabric bag, not a rucksack!
  • 2 matching belts
  • dressmaking pins
  • sewing machine and matching thread
  • leather needle
My old music case

These belts make brilliant straps as they are adjustable and have elasticated sections easy to sew through

How to do it
  1. your belts are to become the straps for your backpack, adjust them to the size you want and place them on the back of your bag. pin in place
  2. machine sew a running stitch to secure the belts in place. if your belts are leather or thck, you will need to use a leather machine needle.

Types of stitch
machine running stitch

Garment Details
belts from Primark
bag, vintage.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Fashion Fix: Back Pack Series: Dip Dye

You will need:
  • Canvas rucksack
  • dark green fabric paint
  • turpentine
  • black spray paint
  • paint brushes
  • white spirit to wash brushes

How to do it:
  1. Paint the bottom 15cm of the rucksack with fabric paint, using the turps to thin out the paint for a lighter effect at the top. wash your brush in white spirit
  2. Once dried, spray around the bottom section of the painted area so that it looks like the green fades to black.

Paint details
fabric paint from Craft and More
108 Broadmead, Bristol BS1 3DX
Phone:0117 329 5586

Spray Paint from Halfords

Monday, 8 July 2013

Design your own collection Competition!

We learnt this month that Issue 20 of Cloth Magazine is to be it's last. Ros and I have had an amazing time helping to create and shape the magazine. It has brought us lots of new exciting ventures and introduced us to some wonderful people. We look back with pride and real fondness.

Back in January I was commissioned to create 'Rose', Cloth's very own vintage inspired Paper Doll, to wear illustrated version of the actual creations advertised in the magazine. Here are some of the first outfits for Rose's wardrobe.

You can find more of Rose's outfits on my website. It was then opened up to readers and designers to create their own outfits for Rose and our favourite ones were printed each month.

Why not print off Rose and do your own paper doll fashion creation and send it back to me on fixuplookchic@gmail.com

I will post my favourites on the blog and give you a follow on Twitter!