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10/28/09 1:06pm

Devil mask

I am an unabashed Halloween enthusiast. What’s not to like—dressing up, eating candy, being scared—it’s my favorite holiday of the year! Much to my dismay though, everyone around here at L Mag headquarters is a total Halloween Scrooge! [Ed. Uhh, it’s not a season, it’s a single day.] I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the office who’s dressing up to work on Friday [Ed. Ok, that’s my point, FRIDAY IS NOT ALL HALLOW’S EVE.] I usually go all out spending lots of time and money on my outfit, but this year, I thought I’d take a “simpler” route and just do a “scary” mask. This was insanely fun to do and I want to make a million more of them! I was torn between a cute animal mask and a scary devil mask—I finally settled on a devil mask, mainly because I wanted to wear the horns. This takes a few days so I suggest starting now. Right now. GO.

TOOLS
-aluminum foil
-newspaper
-glue
-acrylic paint
-paintbrush
-salt
-flour
-strainer
-two long pieces of ribbon

Supplies for devil mask


STEPS

Tear (don’t cut) a few sheets of newspaper into 1- to 2-inch thick strips. Tear out a piece of aluminum foil twice the size of your face. Fold it in half and press against your face, making sure to smooth it out as much as you can, getting as much of the detail of your face as possible. Lay a few sheets of newspaper beneath your workspace—this is a messy project—and crumple a few pieces of newspaper under your mold to help prop it up.

Make the paper mache paste. Mix 1 part flour to 2 parts water to get a runny liquid. Completely submerge the strips of newspaper into the paste and lay over your mold. Continue to do this, overlapping the sheets until the entire face is covered. Let dry completely (overnight) and apply a second layer. Do this at least three times. This is the most time consuming part of the process. After a couple of days, you’ll have a mask perfectly molded to your face ready to be painted and made scary!

Base of devil mask

Make paper mache pulp. This pulp is what gives the mask it’s shape. You can mold pretty much anything out of this stuff, it’s so cool. Tear about three sheets of newspaper into little tiny pieces. Boil some water in a large pan and throw the newspaper bits into it. Stir until the pieces disintegrate, about 20 minutes. Add a little salt to prevent mold.

Pour the mixture through a strainer to remove excess water. Add a generous—and I do mean generous—amount of glue and mix together with your hands. It should feel almost like putty by the time you’re done. I made horns, a nose, cheek bones and a goatee out of this. Because this stuff is mostly glue, you can pretty much just stick it to the mask and it’ll hold, but just to be safe, add a little more glue to hold it in place securely. Mark and cut out small holes for your eyes. Wait a few minutes for the whole thing to dry (really, you should wait more like an hour, but I have no patience) and paint.

The paint is really the only thing you have to spend any money on. I bought an inexpensive set of six different color acrylic paints at an art supply store for under $4.

Punch out holes on either side of the mask and tie a piece of ribbon about a foot long to either side. Using fabric glue or Crazy glue, adhere the horns to another piece of ribbon that you can wear as a headband. You can wear this with just a simple red dress. I’ll probably also wear a cape, and if I can get my hands on a pitchfork, that would be pretty sick. But honestly, the mask looks so good that it doesn’t need much else.

Go out, scare the hell out of everybody and have a fun and happy Halloween!

Loret in devil mask

10/16/09 2:44pm

after tights

Tights are pretty much the foundation of my entire fall wardrobe. When the temperature seriously dropped this week, and I began to dust off my bin o’ tights, I realized that the good majority of them were no longer wearable. My dog Bentley has a hosiery fetish that has cost me some of my most cherished pairs of tights. I’ve had this idea floating around my head for a few weeks and what better time than now, the coldest week of the season so far, to try it out. You’ve probably already seen these here, or here, or here but if you haven’t, you can see my version of the bejeweled tights here now!

TOOLS

—rhinestones, beads, sequins (something shiny)
—tights
—fabric glue
—small paintbrush

STEPS

Before tights

As you can see from this crappy iphoto (my photographer/sister is on vacation this week) I got an assortment of BIG VALUE craft rhinestones. This is because it was the night before payday and the only place I found that would accept credit cards was a craft store—most fabric places don’t. This would look a million times better with proper rhinestones of different sizes and possibly colors. Naturally, they were out of fabric glue, but he directed me to a fabric store about a block away, on Broadway. They had the glue I was looking for, and just as the gentleman places it on the counter, I spy the “CASH ONLY” sign I feared I would find. Fuck. I apologize and tell him I don’t have any cash—so what does he do? HE LETS ME HAVE IT FOR FREE! And he told me I could come back and pay him whenever! Seriously, how amazing is that??? There are a million fabric stores on Broadway below Canal, but everyone should only ever go to NY Fabric Warehouse.

The execution is incredibly simple. The hardest part was deciding how to glue the rhinestones. I’m kind of a minimalist, so I wasn’t crazy about the explosion of jewels I’d seen on other tights. I kept it pretty simple and basic, but this is the part where you get to let your imagination go wild! You should glue the stones on while the tights are stretched out, so I glued them while I was wearing them. Don’t worry, you won’t glue them to yourself. Using your small paintbrush, dab a small amount of glue on the back of the rhinestone and place in position. Let dry for a few minutes before taking them off, and voila, a brand new fancy pair of tights. Like you really needed me to show you how to do this…

10/05/09 1:16pm

Finished necklace

I’m not a big fan of jewelry—I never really have been—but I’m really into the chunky, shiny jewelry I’ve been seeing recently, as well-documented by refinery 29 and our very own Laurel Pinson. And I can honestly say that after trying this project out at home, I can understand why jewelry is so expensive: it’s tricky and tedious work requiring steady hands and infinite patience. The concept is simple enough—grab a bunch of chains and throw them together—but it’s all in the execution. To date, this is the piece I am most proud of and consider it well worth the effort of staying up into the early morning hours making a unique necklace that I intend to wear everyday for the next three months—and for under $25 dollars!

TOOLS:

—4 or 5 chains of varying thicknesses and lusters with corresponding clasps, 1 foot long
—a piece of ribbon about 2 feet long
—2 medium-sized jump rings (large enough to hold all your chains and the ribbon)
—needle nose pliers
—pendant

STEPS:

Gather chains: I went to this amazing store in the garment district call Toho Shoji that specializes in jewelry-making products for retail and wholesale. There’s an amazing array of chains to choose from, and I picked out out four, all within the same color scheme: onyx/dull silver.

Insde the jewelry store

All of the chains I picked were about $1-$2 per foot, so you can really experiment with a few different kinds. The most expensive was probably $4 per foot. If your chain is made of large enough links, you can simply slip it onto the the jump ring. Otherwise, you’ll have to attach a clasp ($2-$3 per bag). The ladies here are extremely helpful and knowledgeable and can help you determine the right clasp for your type of chain. You’ll need the pliers to help open the tiny metal rings you’ll be using. The rhinestones I got from a belt that I had lying around for years, waiting to be used in a project such as this, and which I assure you was never worn as a belt.

Chains for a chunky necklace


Attach the chains
: Once you’ve got all your chains with clasps lined up, slide them onto the jump ring. Twist the chains around the rhinestones and attach to the jump ring on the other end.

Add the ribbon
: Cut your ribbon in half and tie one piece to each end. Be sure to make the knot really tight to avoid it slipping off—as mine did after the first five minutes of wearing it. The beauty of having the ribbon on the end is three-fold: 1) Aesthetically, I just really like a feminine bow next to so much metal. 2) It’s a lot easier to tie together and saves you the trouble of having to purchase, and then assemble, a large clasp. 3) It saves you about half the money, as it allows you to add length to the necklace without having to purchase an extra foot of chain.

Add pendant
: This is the part where you can get really creative and add as many embellishments to your necklace as you want. A large “pearl” pendant would look really great! I love religious imagery—especially crosses—and I found this really great black one that I just had to use. I hung it to one of the chains using a small jump ring. I also had some left over chain that I just knotted and attached asymmetrically for extra weight and bulk.

Finished chunky necklace

That’s it! You can wear this to even the fanciest of dinner parties confident that no one will ever suspect it isn’t worth hundreds of dollars…

09/25/09 1:44pm

Finished bleached dress

To DIY For is back! I figured you had enough fashion tips and advice to digest during Fashion Week without my forcing more clothes down your throats! It’s officially fall now, so I will be cutting you no more slack and will expect nothing less than full completion of weekly assignments.

So, I hope everyone had a fabulous and enlightening Fashion Week. Almost as fun as watching the fashion shows themselves is looking at what the fashionable attendees of said fashion shows are wearing. It’s a great barometer of what the trends will look like this fall from fashion insiders. As the folks over at Fashionista quite observantly pointed out, the long-sleeved mini dress was everywhere. Here, I created my own version of this versatile fall staple that can be worn for almost any occasion, and it will look great with tights when the temperature begins to dip. I also incorporated another fall trend, strong shoulders which, as Laurel already told you in our Fall Fashion issue, are, well, BIG.

TOOLS
—long-sleeved mini dress
—bleach
—shoulder pads
—plastic bucket
—rubber bands (about 40)

Step 1

Start with a long-sleeve American Apparel dress—I know you have one. I bought this little double u-neck number; I went for the black because it’s pretty classic and simple, but I think this would also work really well in other colors. I’d love to see how a purple one would turn out!

Original dress


Step 2

Gather the dress into a vertical strip with the sleeves aligned with the body of the dress. The overall effect we’re trying to achieve with this is horizontal bleached stripes. You’ll need a lot of rubber bands to ensure the bleached and unbleached portions are even. Those really thick rubber bands; the ones that crush paper and posters, as it turns out, are perfect for this project. The finished product should look something like a sandworm.

Rubber bands

Step 3
Dilute bleach in two parts water and pour to cover the dress. Let soak until the desired color is achieved. I wanted to bleach out as much of the color as possible so I let mine sit for about an hour, but it bleached all it was going to bleach in the first 20 minutes or so.

Dress in a bucket


Step 4

I had a pair of shoulder pads lying around from a shirt I bought at a thrift store, but you can probably purchase a pair from any trimming store. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes. These are on the conservative side. To attach, simply sew along the edge of the neck. This should keep it in place, but I would recommend you make a small stitch at the tip of the shoulder pad to prevent moving .

shoulder pads

There you have it! A great fall party dress. You know what would go really well with this? A chunky, shiny statement necklace! Stay tuned next week when I attempt my first accessory!

finished.jpg

09/10/09 11:03am

Finished jacket

My faithful readers, all both of you, may remember from my first post that I went a little overboard this summer cutting sleeves and legs off my jackets and pants in anticipation of warm weather. I knew I would regret it, but I’ve never been one to plan ahead. Well, right on cue, with the arrival of September, came the first glimpse of autumn and, like a true Floridian, I’m already freaking out. I was hoping to postpone this for at least another few weeks, but apparently Mother Nature had other plans. This week I turn a vest that used to be a jacket back into a new jacket (that I’ll probably turn back into a vest at some point).

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

A sewing machine

One denim vest:

Denim Jacket

One long-sleeved flannel shirt:

Flannel shirt

STEPS

Cut the sleeves off the flannel shirt: Try to find a size that closely approximates the vest you’ll be using. This way, you won’t have any sagging in the armhole. You don’t have to be terribly precise here, just cut along the shoulder seam. Note: the sleeveless flannel shirt you’re left with will look great belted as a shirt/dress!

Pin the sleeves in place: Align the armpits and begin pinning the sleeves to the vest, working your way up, making sure to avoid any major bunching. After you’ve done both sides, try the jacket (carefully!) on and make sure the sleeves are even. Good? Move on to the next step.

Inside out jacket

Sew the sleeves to the vest: The easiest way to do this is to bribe your fashion designer sister to do it for you on her industrial sewing machine. What’s that, you don’t have a sister or an industrial sewing machine? That’s ok. If you have a regular sewing machine it’ll do the trick. You can even, as a last resort, hand-sew the sleeves on. It will take some time, but since all the stitching is internal, you don’t really need to be as precise as a machine. Just flip the jacket inside out and follow along the edge of the vest to make sure it comes out straight. There you have it, a new flannel/denim hybrid jacket you’ll be so excited to wear that you won’t even miss summer!

Finished jacket

08/28/09 1:23pm

Leather miniskirt

It’s almost the end of summer, which is always a bittersweet time of the year. While I’ll miss the long hours of sunlight, outdoor drinking and, most of all, summer Fridays here at the office, I have to admit that I’m excited about being able to wear more than cut-offs and a tank top. I’m really looking forward to all the sartorial options that open up with cooler temperatures. This means layering and experimenting with different textures; and by far the one thing I’m most excited about is wearing leather! Tops, skirts, shorts, jackets — bring it! So this week, I’ll show you how to make a leather mini-skirt!

TOOLS
Leather skirt: I went to the thrift store and found a great gray leather skirt, perfect for my purposes. With my limited sewing abilities, it was really important to find something that already fit my waist. The length is extremely simple to adjust, but the fit’s gotta be just right from the start. I was pretty open to any color and cut of skirt, I just happened to find this amazingly fall-appropriate color. Aside from fitting into my very minimal budget, purchasing leather from a second hand store serves the dual purpose of recycling fabric and saving a bit of cow hide.

Iron
Crazy Glue
Zipper

STEPS
Cut the skirt. Cut a straight line across the skirt, leaving about an inch for the hem. This skirt had a slit in the back so I decided to make the end the skirt just above the slit. This made for a very mini skirt!

Hem the skirt. This is where things get a bit tricky and it might be really helpful to have a friend. Flip the skirt inside out and fold up the hem. It was a little difficult for me to get this perfectly straight when I had the skirt flat on the ground. I had to have my sister try on the skirt to get it just right. Leather is very thick so don’t try to use pins to secure the hem in place. You can use tape, which works just as well and allows for easier adjustments. As I already mentioned, leather is very thick and unless you know how to use a sewing machine, which I most certainly do not, you’ll be better off crazy-gluing the hem in place. You only need to apply a small dab of crazy glue on the inside of the skirt and hold it in place for a couple of seconds for the leather to stick. If, despite all your best efforts, you happen to glue the hem crookedly, like I did, you can easily undo the hem (provided you didn’t use too much crazy glue) and reattach.

Inside out skirt

Crease the hem. Now that your hem is evenly and securely in place, crease it to create a crisp hem. Heat may cause damage to leather and cause it to wear out prematurely, so naturally there was no leather setting on my iron. The suggested method to crease the leather is to fold it over an edged surface and pound it with a rubber mallet. Since I had already glued the hem in place, that was out of the question. Fuck it, I decided to iron the skirt anyway. I started out on the wool/silk setting, making sure to apply heat only to the inside part of the skirt that would not visible, on the chance that I did do damage. I soon realized that this was fairly ineffective, and proceeded to ramp it up to the maximum setting, and even at that setting, I had to leave the heat on for quite a while. There wasn’t any damage to leather as a result of my having ironing it. So now you have a leather mini-skirt.

Add zipper. Zippers were perhaps the most ubiquitous trimming of the past season. The exposed zipper is all the rage and, despite seeing it everywhere, I’m still really into it. You can buy zippers at any fabric store and even some of the better stocked drug stores. Choose the zipper that most closely matches the length of your skirt. I happened to find one that was the exact length of my skirt — what luck! You can shorten a zipper though, if necessary. Most zippers have a metal clasp at the bottom to stop the pull tab. These can usually be easily removed and placed higher up on the zipper to shorten it. A more talented seamstress than I would have sewn the zipper to the skirt, and perhaps even made it an actual functioning zipper. I simply slapped it on with some more crazy glue.
[finished skirt]

Finished skirt

Voila! Your very own exposed zipper leather mini-skirt! I hope you try this out and, if you do, please post your creations in the comments!

08/20/09 3:29pm

Finished jacket

Welcome to “To DIY For,” a weekly feature in which I attempt to make really cheap clothes look like they cost way more than they actually do. For my first edition, I made the ever-popular denim vest. I did this in the beginning of summer to an old denim jacket I had. It was so easy to make and I got so much use out of it that I decided to recreate it for you here!

I know the denim vest has been ubiquitous this summer and at this point you can pretty much walk into any clothing store and pick one up for cheap, but nothing beats having a unique item for about $20 dollars. Read on and learn from my mistakes.

SUPPLIES:
A denim jacket — you may already own one that you no longer use or you can easily find one at a thrift store. Tip: be sure to check the children’s section. A children’s large is usually about the same size as a women’s small. I found this jacket in the girl’s section of Salvation Army for $8.99. As a jacket, the sleeves would be way too short (you’ll want to avoid fat guy in a little coat syndrome), but since we’re getting rid of those, this will make for a nicely fitted vest.

Denim Jacket

Rubber bands: I used about 30, but you may want to use more
Bleach
Small plastic bucket
Rubber gloves
Studs: You’ll have to go to a trimming store in the Garment District to find these and they’re fairly inexpensive. You can get a small bag (roughly thirty) for $5 and I used about three bags.

STEPS
1. Remove sleeves
After I painstakingly ripped the sleeves off seam by seam, I realized that I needed to cut the sleeves anyway to even out the discoloration on the jacket.

Seam tearing


2. Bleach denim

I didn’t actually research the proper way to do this and naturally, I screwed it up. Tie up small chunks of the denim with rubber bands — the more you use, the less bleach will soak through. I used about 30 rubber bands and still got a mostly bleached-out jacket. You can probably even double this number and get a more even color distribution.

Rubber bands on denim

Place your ball of denim in the bucket. (Here’s where I went wrong.) Apparently, you’re not supposed to just straight-up dump bleach directly on fabric. You should dilute it with water in a 1:4 ratio, four cups of water for every cup of bleach. Luckily, denim is a pretty strong fabric and even though it ate through a few parts of the vest, I ended up really liking the worn-in look of the piece. Pour your bleach mixture until all the fabric is completely covered.

Bleaching your jacket

The longer you leave the bleach on, the lighter the color will get. It only took a couple of minutes with undiluted bleach to reach this color, but when done properly, it should take about five minutes, depending on how light you want the finished product. Using rubber gloves, remove the fabric and cut off the rubber bands. Rinse out all the bleach with water.

Go to sleep and let dry overnight.

3. Add the studs

I removed the buttons at this point because I felt they clashed with the studs. I don’t think I’ll ever button up the vest anyway so I didn’t bother to replace them, but you very easily could. This is the really fun part! You can play around with different designs using studs.

Studs go in

I toyed with the idea of studding the waistband or the pockets, but finally settled on the shoulders. The denim was very pliable after being treated with bleach so you simply push the points through the front of the vest and secure them on the back by pushing down. I suggest laying out the pattern with the studs first to make sure it works — but don’t worry if you mess up because the studs can be removed and reattached.

The finished jacket

There you have it! Have fun creating your own!