Sunday, 22 March 2015

Making a Thrift Store Dress BIGGER

So the other day when I was running an errand in a district of Paris I do not know that well, I spied a rather unusual (for Paris) thrift shop. Yes there are vintage shops all over Paris, but they are not like England's second hand shops where it is possible to get true bargains. And this wasn't really a shop. It was more like a garage with the front open and its wares spilling out onto the street. This dress was hung at the front and I immediately fell in love. 

It may not be something unique or amazing but I really liked the shape and I am a sucker for dark blue dresses. I thought it looked a bit small but I figured it was elasticated so gave it a try. I hid behind some boxes and did my best to get it on. No way in hell. TOO small and there was no hidden zip. I was sad, "C'est trop petite pour moi". I handed it back and walked off.

But I KNEW it would look good on me and it looked like maybe it COULD fit if maybe I could do SOMETHING to it. So I went back and offered her four euros for it. I was determined to make it fit.

With the aid of some Joni Mitchell I cracked on.

What I Did:

As the main problem was getting it on over my head and it being too tight across my chest when I eventually did get it on at home, I decided I would simply remove the top half of the back.

So I marked with some pins where I thought I would cut down to. I thought about where my chest was and made sure it was below that (for maximum give).

I then cut this panel away, leaving 1cm all round of the elasticated panel to use to make new seams. 

I put the closest book to hand between the front and back so you can better see the cut. As you can see the back opens up MUCH more.

I then pinned it all around which was most fiddly on the elasticated section.

Next I stitched all around using a zig-zag stitch. I used zig-zag because I only folded the fabric over once and wanted to make sure it would not fray at all and thought this would be the most secure way of doing it.

I tried it on and could now get it over my shoulders and chest easily. But I wasn't done...

Last week on my way home I found this rather ugly lampshade on the street, I had an idea for the wire frame so took it home. But also noticed it has some rather lovely lace and ribbon attached. Looking at the dress I decided that the ribbon would make a great tie for the top. 

So I took the ribbon, cut it in half and sewed half to each side about an inch from the top. 

And it was done!

I am pretty happy with the result. I am really too broke right now to buy new clothes so this was perfect. The whole project cost 4E, that is it. I borrowed the sewing machine, and salvaged everything else. I am tempted to sew three old mother of pearl buttons I have in a line on the front to further personalize it.  But I am enjoying flouncing around in it the way it is (I have already rocked it about twice for a dinner party and a walk in the woods). Proof that with some imagination the perfect dress can be really REALLY cheap.

I could have taken the whole back out and put eyelets in and laced it up corset style... I very nearly did. But that meant buying eyelets...! This was better.

Sleeping comfortably in my new dress in some French woodlands (hiding from the Paris smog). 

Friday, 20 March 2015

Experimenting with Colour and some Random Doodles

Like most creative people I seem to acquire odds and ends of all kinds, I have only been living here a couple of months but this workspace sort of organically grew of its own accord. It was just a desk with a printer on it when I moved in, but I find it hard to live anywhere without leaving my paw prints EVERYWHERE!

My workspace with the shelf I "made" from a piece of wood I found (with striped washi tape stuck to the side) and sat on books and vintage tins.

I have always been a doodler. As a teenager it was Manga cartoons (I was born in Tokyo and this was my way of connecting with that I think!), but of course this changed and mellowed out with age. I have dabbled a bit with watercolours, but mostly use promarkers and biros or fine liners for my drawings. But after watching a few videos on youtube about Distress Inks (which I use on my Etsy creations, see here), I decided that wonderful things must come if I start combining all three. So I started experimenting... Here are some of these experiments.

I have mixed feelings about this. Its a bit too yellow. But I was listening to a song, Psycho Cinderella by Soan and it made me think of mushrooms, not really clear why but it did. Here, have a listen...

Maybe it is all the singing about butterflies smoking that made me think of Alice. Who knows. But it seemed to make sense at the time. And it meant I could have a go at using distress inks for solid backgrounds as I really hate drawing on white, its so much more stressful than on a texture. I just sort of swiped the pads over it, threw some water at it and let it dry before drawing on top then painting. I used the markers a bit too... Was ok I guess.

This was the excess ink from the picture above, I used some paper to press over the top and pulled it away and was left with this, which I thought had beautiful potential...! It did!

This was done on one piece. I love how the ink shows through on her skirt and gives the background more interest. It was inspired by a picture by Saatchi, only I made her a red head because I am a little obsessed to say the least. Also she has no hands. I can't draw hands.

I started this too. This involved the gouache also. And some gold ceramic paint. It kinda moprhed....

Maybe it needs more something. I am not sure. But I like some of the ideas here. Like the dots texture in the top right hand corner. The top half gives me more ideas for sure.

Here is my new little friend. Inspired by a Supakitch tattoo. I have a bit of a love for Supakitch's art, I would love to have some in my room, this is the closest I get for now. The moon is water colour and the rest is promarker. I am actually thinking of having this printed onto a case for my phone. Anyone that knows me in real life will know how I have a tendency to personalize EVERYTHING. Whether it be my jacket, backpack or laptop... It all has a OrchidsHeart touch to it. 

I have plenty more sketches that are a WIP, and some older ones too.... Maybe I will share more at some point. We shall see.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Naturally Revitalizing Your (Real or Fake) Ginger Hair

Ever since I was a kid and saw Practical Magic I have lusted after Nicole Kidman's red hair (incidentally I think I sort of also wanted to be a witch but hey...!). I mean seriously her hair is gorgeous...

And of course dancing with midnight margaritas is always a plus (though as a kid the crazy dancing sufficed).

Weirdly even my mother wanted a red-headed daughter, but what with her and my father having almost black hair this seemed a somewhat fanciful wish to say the least. To cut a long story short, and a lot of attempts using chemical auburn dyes in my early uni years I kinda gave up on the "dream" but then I discovered henna. All I can say is my love affair started and many people now can't imagine me any other way. In fact often people are shocked when they realize I am a fake...! Including an authentic ginger friend of mine (apparently I have betrayed him with my faux gingerness).

Henna is really THE best dam way to get natural looking ginger hair, I have been faithfully using henna for I think three years now, I am kinda hazy as to when I started.... However I hate dealing with roots, and the fading. Though hennaed hair doesn't root anything like chemical dyes and it kinda blends in when it grows out, I still hate it. It gives me away! IF people are observant. And it is always a much better colour in the sun, inside when the light is dull my hair is equally dull and I am always battling against this. I feel like my hair is reflective of my personality, or at least it should be and therefore it can't be dull...! 

Sunned ginger locks.

So I was inspired by this post and decided to make my own doctored version. Not only did I feel a little like a Nicole Kidman witch, it really worked after one treatment and was far less messy than a henna root job. I THOROUGHLY recommend. It brightened my hair, lightened it a bit, and made my roots disappear. 

Winter dulled ginger (and this is a good day). It just ain't bright enough pour moi.

Natural Henna Hair Mask


This can be played with depending on what you have in your home.

Chamomile tea
Olive oil
Henna (I use Lush's Caco Rouge because I know I can trust it not to have any funky copper deposits or whatever).
A natural conditioner, in France we have a brand called Nectar of Nature that seems to be less offensive then usual brands)
Aragon oil (optional)

A JAR OF SOME SORT (my conditioner came in a tub not a bottle so I am recycling that as there is not a lot of it left anyway).

First take a square or so of henna and cut it up as fine as poss (the hot water never dissolves it totally).

Then pour half a cup of boiling water over the tea. I used two because I think packaged tea is a bit weak. If I wasn't so broke I would have bought a packet of actual chamomile flowers from the natural store (Bio C Bon) and brewed that up, but that was 5euro and this box of tea was 1.50, I figure there will deff be a difference in quality but I am broke so hey ho....

Give the gloop a good mix. 

Then add the extras. A good squirt or two of honey. A glug of oil. A few drops of aragon oil. And then mix in the conditioner until it hits the desired consistency. I ran out of conditioner as all I had left it what is you can see in the tiny mug.

It ended up looking like this:

(I apologize profusely over the picture quality, I am having camera issues right now).

On a casual sunday afternoon whilst I was drawing, I dunked my head under the shower head, towel dried it, then coated it in this mixture and then covered it in cling film and let it sit for about 30min before washing it out. 

Deff was a good quick perk up! I think I might put some more conditioner in though when I get around to buying more. Or I might just use this, as its impossible to OD on henna in my eyes.

I ended up transferring it to a prettier container too. I am gonna coat the label in modge podge so it holds up better,

I am hoping that this mixture will give me "in the sun" ginger hair all year round. And with its hair lightening ingredients (chamomile, honey, olive oil) it should gradually build up to achieve just this. But if I get bored of waiting I might just coat my head in honey and do it that way! 

Seeing as this is generally stuff I have sitting around (I bulk buy my henna in the UK because the taxes here on that stuff is insane) it was basically free at the moment I decided to make it. If you are a henna head too, just keep a square back next time so that you can mix up a batch of this to keep you going until you henna again (I never use more than three squares at a time now anyway).


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