Seunghee Suh did a feature on DIY blogs, including my own, for a story for the Columbia News Service. I was really flattered to be included (and quoted so extensively!) alongside such amazing DIYers like Grace of Stripes & Sequins, and Rosie Martin, from DIY Couture! Check it out below…
From Runway to Kitchen Table, DIY Goes Designer
Thanks so much for the feature, Seunghee!
In other news, my in-laws have been visiting this past week and I’m still in the process of catching up now that they’ve gone. I’ll be sharing the tutorial for the DIY Awning Wrap Skirt I featured last week on my blog super-soon, promise!
I’ve been following the DIY inspiration blog A Pair and a Spare for some time now, and I love how Geneva showcases a huge amount of DIY ideas, along with her own amazing projects. She’s also quite the sewist, whipping up maxi skirts and sexy body-hugging dresses effortlessly, and has an eye for bold, chunky jewelry that looks gorgeous with her designs. I thought it would be really great to talk with her a little further about her blog – and D.I.Y. of course! – so here is my interview with her below:
Where did you grow up and what is your background?
I grew up in Brisbane, Australia, then a couple of year ago moved to London and am now in Hong Kong, so I’ve done a bit of travel and definitely racked up an extensive carbon footprint in the last couple of years. I’m a town planner by trade, with a focus on community and environmental planning, but more and more DIY and fashion is taking over my life… I’ve definitely always been addicted to fashion and clothes, as a small child my parents actually had to put a lock on my wardrobe to stop me changing outfits every hour – I was only allowed to pick one outfit per day, which was a challenge for a 6 year old believe me. My parents were kind of hippies in their youth and generally pretty relaxed so I think for that reason I never really got into high fashion. My mum shopped in thrift shops when she was younger and passed it on to me so I guess that’s where my love of vintage and thrifting comes from, and she taught me how to use a sewing machine at an early age so that helped me start marking my own clothes.
How did you start your blog?
I started my blog after seeing a few others that I liked, but never honestly thought that anyone would want to read it. At first it was more like an image library of things that I liked, but one of my best friends said in passing that my love of DIY would lend itself to a focus for the blog – and I guess the rest is history. I think that having a blog has really helped me to define my style and my love of DIY fashion, as Blogs and the type of real world fashion they showcase are such a positive aspect of the industry. In the past there were such limited outlets for people interested in style and fashion to meaningfully tap into, with magazines showcasing a very small cross section what fashion actually is. Bring able to see fashion, whether bought or made, on real people in their real lives is so interesting to me and has helped me appreciate individual style so much more. I find it so inspiring having a blog, particularly when I see how many people out there love the same things as me – I get such an incredible rush seeing people using my DIY tutorials and inspirations.
Bloggers you admire?
I am very much drawn to blogs where people are busy making and creating fashion. Self style blogs are fun and I waste much of my day working through my overflowing bloglovin account, but the real addiction lies with other people’s DIYs. So blogs like yours, Love Aesthetics
, Honestly WTF
and I Spy DIY
really appeal to me. Outi of Outsapop Trashion
is a constant source of inspiration for me aswell. I get my inspiration for DIY from a whole range of sources – self style blogs, street style, editorials and fashion collections, as well as on the street! My mind is always in overdrive trying to work out how I can DIY a trend or detail that I see. My trusty notebooks that go with me everywhere have loooonnng lists of DIYs I want to try out and I definitely prefer to be inspired to make something rather than go out and buy something new. The rush you get from making something yourself – whether it be from scratch or a simple alteration to a thrift or market purchase is second to none.
How did you get started with DIY and making your own pieces?
DIY is something I’ve done since I can remember. I would love to say it was all about the creativity blah blah blah but to be honest DIY for me was initially a response to being a cheap student. I rarely had money to buy things when I was in primary and high school, and my parents didn’t have any interest in supporting my love of fashion. So I often went down to my favourite jumble (what aussies like to call a thrift store) and bought things to alter using my mums hundred year old sewing machine. That sewing machine and I had a love hate relationship (which was probably more hate on my part). Although I’m no way near as hard up as I was in my school days, the money I do have I would much rather spend on travel, going out with friends and generally enjoying life – so thrifting and DIY in combination allows me to wear current (ish) styles while still being able to afford to eat.
My earliest DIY sucess that I can remember was in year 9 – a few girls at school were wearing these cool handpainted tops with cut out necklines and beaded fishing line straps. I think they came in at around $100 which was quite expensive for the time, so I started making something similar – cutting out t-shirts, hand painting them and gluing on ribbon straps with bows. A few of the girls got me to make them one so in that sense it was a sucess – and so the addiction to DIY began!
How would characterize yourself: a customizer? DIY’er? Deconstructionist? Crafter? Something else?
I think I’m a bit of everything – and my DIY style has definitely evolved in the last couple of years. I particularly enjoy deconstructing/ altering things bought from thrift shops – sitting here writing this I am actually wearing a camel full mini skirt that was a mid length skirt which I shortened to perfection. This type of DIY is easy – all it requires is for you to be able to imagine the potential of an item and get stuck into it.
Do you feel that DIY’ing is a movement or subculture at all? Or just a hobby to pass the time? Something in response to the economy?
DIY seems to be a growing movement in the last couple of years – perhaps much like Slow Food or Buy Local where people feel encouraged to do something more than just consume. Every day without fail I find bloggers who do amazing projects and I’m constantly struck by people’s limitless creativity. It could also be that DIY has always been part of people’s lives but recently the internet and blogging has provided us DIYers with the platform we need to share ideas that we previously would have kept to ourselves. I’m sure the financial crisis didn’t help any of our bank balances so that probably also fueled many of us into action making and DIYing our own clothes.
What are your favorite DIY materials to work with? Favorite techniques? Favorite past projects?
I recently acquired a glue gun – a bit late I know – but the amount of projects that a glue gun opens up to you is amazing. I’m currently working on a studded capelet – gluing on studs and buttons. So easy, just be careful not to burn yourself! I am also a bit obsessed with buying frumpy looking skirts and dresses and breathing new life into them by shortening and hemming them. These types of DIYs always get a huge amount of wear. I have also started experimenting with silk fabrics to make dresses and tops, by wrapping to create lovely bodice styles. But if you were going to invest in one key item to help you with DIY it would have to be a sewing machine – by far the most useful and important tool for DIY.
You’re currently living in Hong Kong right now…what brought you there and how long are you planning on being there?
Prior to living in HK I was in London – working as a town planner on the Olympics and loving the city – days spent rummaging east and north london thrift shops and wasting away sundays in cosy pubs. After three years my boyfriend got the offer of few projects in HK that were too good to pass up so we decided to try our luck in this hectic city. We have a whole bunch of amazing friends here from back in Australia – so we decided it was the place to be. At the moment I couldnt say how long we I’ll be here, but it’s such an interesting city with a really great entrepreneurial vibe – I have a few little projects in the works which may keep us here in the longer term.
How would you describe Hong Kong to someone who’s never been there?
Madness – in the best possible way. It is such an eclectic mix of western and eastern influences. They say that New York is the city that never sleeps but I am pretty sure Hong Kong could give the big apple a run for its money. There is always something to do here and an emerging art and design scene that is really interesting too. What makes it perfect is that when it gets too much and it feels like this hectic city has you in a strangle hold, you can always escape to the quiet surrounding hills or bay. Hikes around the peak and days out on the boat definitely help to keep me sane. My favourite part about this city is that there are cheap DIY materials in abundance, filling local market and side streets to overflowing – sometimes I am so inspired that my mind literally comes to a standstill! The funniest thing is in a city so jam packed with everything you need for DIY, there are so many other things to do that finding time to DIY is a major challenge….
Do you see people there customizing and putting their own personal stamp on their fashions at all?
From what I can see HK generally has a much more mainstream attitude to fashion than other parts of the world – I think there is a focus on brands and designers goods that has, in recent years, been replaced by creativity and DIYing in other parts of the world. But the city is part of what you would call an emerging market and is slowly evolving. From what I understand traditional Chinese people are also uncomfortable with the concept of vintage or thrifted clothing – being suspicious of the spirit of the previous owner. I shop in a completely crazy thirft store and rarely see any chinese people in there. Its usually me and the Filipino helpers that get down and rummage – which is always such a laugh.
What would be your dream job?
I’m still trying to work that out – anything that I could do to work for myself is the goal at the end of the day. Outside of the realms of fashion I have an interest in sustainability and social entrepraneurship, if I could combine that with my love of DIY and fashion I would be very a very happy girl!
Future plans for your site or otherwise?
I have a few major projects in the pipeline this year that will hopefully allow me to combine a number of my passions, but I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to jinx myself. On a more general level – the plan for this year for the blog includes weekly DIYs that draw inspiration from current trends and collections. With detailed instructions so everyone can ge amongst it!
DIY Sheer Cut Out Wrap Top and vintage spotted skirt
Please check out Geneva’s blog A Pair and a Spare for a major overload of all that is lovely and DIY!!
Thanks, Geneva, for a wonderful interview!
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Alicia DiRago from Dismount Creative has embarked on a new endeavor: interviewing DIY’ers and crafters in video episodes on her new site MakeIstheNewBuy.com!
I’m so excited about this, and can’t wait to see more episodes with other crafty people. She interviewed me last Thursday, and now the episode is available to view on the site! (WARNING – I am talking for a full 33 minutes!! Get me talking about DIY and that’s what happens LOL:-)
For the list of links and the full video, check out
Thank you so much, Alicia, for the interview! I was so excited to be a part of this series!! (And let’s definitely chat more another time…it’ll be my turn to pick your brain then!!;-)
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It’s been awhile since I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing a well-known DIY diva…and the other day I was able to hook up with Tiffany Gong from the popular Six Six Sick blog (and group of the same name). Back when I started my own blog, this one was one I was constantly checking – one of the authorities when it came to DIY, fashion, and fun. Online since 2008, Tiffany and her good friend Christina Rodriguez first launched the blog to showcase their amazing Six Six Sick parties (which won PAPER 2007 Best New Party at the Nightlife Awards), high-fashion DIY’s, and to provide a window into a whirlwind world of New York nightlife, DJ’ing gigs, creativity, and droolworthy indie designer pieces. The designers launched their jewelry line Triskaidekaphobia together last year, and continue to share their inspirations, ideas, and creations on their blog.
Could you give some background to both of you? Did you both go to school for Fashion Design?
I actually went to Swarthmore College and studied Art History. After deciding I wanted to change careers and become a jewelry designer, I went back and got an Associates Degree in Jewelry Design at F.I.T. Christina studied fashion design in college.
When and how did you two meet?
Christina and I met as interns at Anna Sui, and become quick friends from there!
How did Six Six Sick come about? What were your goals with it?
It’s a very long story, but to be brief, it started as a party at Happy Endings a few years ago that my friends and I threw. We used to make our matching outfits every week for the party, and after a while I thought it would be fun to document the process, and our other DIY projects, so I started the blog. Along the way, it’s become a place to write about our jewelry line Triskaidekaphobia, or whatever I’m passionate about in fashion at the moment, and a place where I can support all my talented designer friends.
Triskaidekaphobia Saw Teeth and Human Teeth Double necklace, available here
You now have a line called Triskaidekaphobia, seen on celebrities and sold at retailers such as Kabiri, Revolve Clothing, and Screaming Mimi’s. What goes into the design process?
A lot of different things go into the design process, but we start by going to the library and doing research on a theme that we’ve chosen, and then make an inspiration board filled with images surrounding that theme. After that, we start sketching and making the models for the jewelry, which are designed and developed as we go along.
I understand Christina used to have a line called Arms & Armory…could you tell me a little more about it?
Christina still designs the Arms & Armory
line separately with her boyfriend James. You can see the collection on her website, www.armsandarmoryjewelry.com
Mary Katrantzou Spring/Summer 2011 Collection Dress
You also showcase a number of independent and emerging designers on your blog. Any favorites in particular?
I have too many favorites to name, but my two ongoing obsessions are Mary Katrantzou and Rodarte. Also, I have plenty of love for all of my super-talented designer friends, who I will always go out my way to feature on the blog.
Are there certain techniques or details you love in fashion – or replicating in DIY?
As a jewelry designer, I feel like 95% of costume jewelry out there is DIYable and easy to replicate. DIY clothing projects require a little more time, knowledge and experience to get it done properly. I prefer to do DIYs of things that I know how to replicate proficiently, like knitwear.
How would you describe your style(s)?
I don’t know if I would describe my style in any particular way, except that it is always inspired by whatever I feel particularly into at the moment. Slightly off-kilter, never perfect.
DIY Gareth Pugh Boots
What camera are you shooting with?
Canon EOS Digtal.
What would be a “typical day” for you?
Since I work for myself, my day and my schedule vary depending on what needs to get done. Typically I meet up with Christina in the afternoon and we work, and then I get my blogging done in the evening. During the week, there are also press events, and of course our own parties that happen at night, and this usually occupies about 3-4 nights a week.
Has blogging helped accomplish things or opened doors that you might not have found otherwise?
While blogging has definitely opened doors and introduced opportunities that probably wouldn’t have been available otherwise, I think the most incredible thing that’s come out of blogging is meeting so many incredible people–particularly other bloggers. I feel very lucky to be part of a community of like-minded individuals, and have developed some great friendships.
Thanks so much for the interview, Tiffany!
Please check out the Six Six Sick blog if you’d like to know more about up-and-coming designers, visit a number of showrooms and drool at the covetable pieces within, follow Christina and Tiffany to the events and parties they attend, stay abreast of developments in their line Triskaidekaphobia, and devour posts on the most amazing DIYs that they share!
All photos from the Six Six Sick blog and used with permission.
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