DIY Ribbon Edwardian Cuffs

To continue on in the theme of strange things to wear on your wrists…

I’d like to share with you how to make your very own pair of pleated wrist cuffs.

As an accessory they may be somewhat unusual – but maybe you noticed them on China Chow from a previous episode of Bravo’s Work of Art? (Episode 3; the one where the artists have to create a piece of art for a book cover; I can’t find the screencap from  She’s wearing them though!!)

They’ve been seen on celebrities such as Audrina Patridge and Brooke Hogan, courtesy of Cuffs Couture, but at $58-$90 for a single cuff I find this brand a bit out of my budget.

I actually saw the cuffs I got the idea from in a February 2010 issue of Vivi magazine, and thought they were a great idea to wear with bare arms to add a bit of romance to an outfit.


You Need: (sorry for the hand-drawings, I didn’t photograph the step-by-step)


*2 pieces of black woven fabric, each about 3″ wide and long enough to wrap loosely around one wrist with about a 2″ overlap
*2 sets of black velcro strips (the furry side and the hooked side = 1 set), each about 2″ longpleated white trim (mine was grosgrain ribbon trim I found at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics, though if you can find pleated silk or cotton that would be soooo much better)
*black grosgrain ribbon, 1/2″ wideAnd…
*fabric scissors
*sewing machine and needle for wovens
*hand-sewing needle
*black thread
*white thread
*fabric glue
How To:

1. Turn under all the raw edges of each fabric piece about 1/2″, and sew.

2. On the underside of one of the smaller ends of a fabric piece, sew a piece of velcro (the furry side out).  Do the same for the other fabric piece.

3. Cut 2 pieces of your black grosgrain ribbon and 4 pieces of pleated trim to the same length as your finished fabric pieces.

Use an open flame to heat-seal the edges if they are synthetic fibers; if cotton you will have to either fold the raw edges under or seal them with Fray-Check.

4. Sew 2 pleated trim pieces onto each long side of one of the fabric pieces.  Place them just far apart enough so that the 1/2″ wide ribbon placed in-between them will just overlap them in the center.  Do the same for the other fabric piece and remaining pleated trim.

5. Sew each piece of black grosgrain ribbon down in the center of the fabric pieces.

6. Make the bow: (For my bow I made two loops; one a little smaller than the other, and placed them on top of each other, gluing the top loop onto the bottom one, then wrapping the center and securing with stitching underneath. You can make two or one or however many loops you want!  The methodology is the same anyway.  The following directions are for a single-loop bow🙂

*Cut a 2.5″-long piece and a 1.5″ piece of grosgrain ribbon.  Double-thread your hand-sewing needle with black thread, and double-knot the end.

*Create a loop with the longer piece of ribbon, underlapping the ends.

*Push your needle into the underlapped pieces to the inside of the loop, then back through and out, pulling the knot tight onto the ribbon underside.

*Pierce the end of the smaller piece of ribbon and push it all the way down to anchor it onto the underside of the loop you just made.

*Curl the small ribbon around the loop, and anchor the other side of it with the needle and thread.

*Sew an X through all layers except for the tops of the loops, knot, and cut the thread.

*Make one more bow.

7. Use a dab of fabric glue to glue each bow onto the center ribbon of each cuff.

8.  Sew the other velcro strips onto the opposite ends of the fabric cuffs, onto the right sides, the hooked side facing outwards.

Each cuff is fastened by pressing the strips of velcro together on the underside of your wrists.

The stiffness of the ribbon pleats makes it stand out from the wrist more than I had hoped, thus something that is softer or thinner would be a better choice for the pleating.  You could even make the pleating by hand (with the help of an iron) if you were particularly hardcore.

I think they look equally as good with a casual ensemble as with a slinky LBD!

Hope this has inspired you to make your own!
Happy DIY’ing!

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DIY Feature in Vivi Magazine!!

Not, not of me. (I wish!!)  I was very surprised to see in the August issue of Vivi magazine, no less than TWO DIY features!  They call it “Deko” (short for “decoration”)…but it’s DIY, to be sure.

Times are totally a-changing!

Yup, that model on the far left is part of the DIYers since she actually painted on her Balenciaga.  The heart trembles.

If you’re familiar with Vivi, it’s a fashion-forward, extremely trendy Japanese magazine (kind of like Marie Claire…kinda…but with few written features, crammed with product shots and street style photos, as well as the same familiar models wearing the latest and trendiest) – and it’s packed to the gills with trendy photos of all the latest clothing, shoes, and accessories.  It’s a consumer’s heaven!

Unlike the Gothic and Lolita movements in Japan, where many followers are extremely crafty and make their clothing, accessories, jewelry, and bags from scratch (and there are many magazines devoted to this…my fave is ‘Gosu Rori‘), the trendy “Gal” – style has never espoused making anything yourself…unless it’s wildly complicated nail art, or maybe, recently, adding Swarovski crystals and deco objects to your cell phone, compact mirror, pen, business card holder, or date planner.  (“Deko”; i.e., “deco”rating your accessories with crystals and plastic objects, has been a trend for the last two years, but it didn’t seem to reach beyond the ream of blinging out your accessories.)  Nope, its mantra was “buy, buy BUY!” and where to buy, what’s the newest, what’s selling the most, how to navigate a sale, etc.

Above, from right to left: Frill Socks by adding lace; Super Destroyed Denim by cutting and bleaching: M.J.-Style Oxfords by adding crystals; Studded Vest by ironing on stud trim

Since the mid-nineties (or even earlier), there has been a “remake” subculture, mostly centered around Harajuku, where girls and guys would refashion their clothing and accessories – upcycle them, if you will.  Many shops in that area solely deal in used clothing and upcycled clothing, and there are quite a few brands that create fashion-forward, gorgeous pieces using only recycled materials.  (guriguri is one of my ABSOLUTE FAVES – their bags are to die for, and with a price tag to match.;-)

Above, from right to left: Fabric-Lined Basket Bag; Lace-Trimmed Shirt; Metallic Trim Headband; Lace-Inset Tee

But this is not making items from scratch, like the Gothic Lolitas; nor is it upcycling, really.  It’s unequivocally D.I.Y.: i.e., adding low-cost embellishments and using a variety of techniques to add value and trendy style to a piece.

“Trendy DIYs”: (clockwise from top right) Short-Sleeve Sweatshirt; Fringe-Shoulder Tee; Damaged T-Shirt aka the Balmain; Bejeweled Sandals; Frilly Lace Angel Tank; Bleached Denim.
Bottom Row, left to right: “3 stylists take on a plain white T”: French Blouse with pearls, ribbon, and gold buttons; Fabric-Collared Button Tee; Shredded and Safety-Pinned

So this is HUGE for all this to be in such a mainstream mag.  The projects are cute and still look “Japanese” (though many of us out there who’ve been following the DIY movement on the internet and blogosphere can say that we’ve seen a lot of this already)…but this is a huge leap forward in terms of attitude and fashion-consciousness for this style.  It is yet anther facet of consumer culture (instead of buying the piece ready-made, you now have to amass the tools and materials to add to the store-bought item), so it may indeed start spreading through this subculture, so focused as it is on “new” and “trendy” and “pretty/sexy.”  I am so keeping tabs on this!

The second feature in the magazine: reader-submitted “Kobe Craft Club” (a group of girls who get together to do DIYs – like the Japanese version of the SixSixSick girls?!): (from top left, clockwise) CUT OFF/RESIZED DIYs: Loose Denim Shorts; Loose T; GENERAL HAIR ACCESSORIES: Ribbon Corsage; Flowered Corsage; RECYCLED ACCESSORIES: Triple-Chain Necklace; Stuffed Animal Charm; Long Necklace Strap

I do wish that one of the features had made mention of these projects that have already been shared on the internet by many other crafters, and offered no resources for people who are interested in DIY’ing more.  And I certainly doubt Tavi, Keiko Lynn, and Julia Frakes being icons of DIY – though all their blogs are arresting and creative for other reasons.  Another disconnect that Japanese pop culture seems to have with the rest of the world.  Ah well.  Things are definitely moving forward!

 from top left, clockwise: Lace on a Canvas Tote; Corsage Denim Shorts; Corsage Mini Skirt; Pearl-Embellished Tank; Applique Patch Dog Clothing; Ribbon & Lace Dresses Basket Handbag; Flowered Box; Softserve Ice Cream Jewelry Box [the epitome of the
Sweets Deko movement of the last 2 years]; Flower Makeup Pouch; Flower Bear Series mirrors; Frill Blouse w/ Leopard Hem; Beaded Bikini; Studded Leather Vest

I also found a book at the bookstore called “Deko Remake” which appears to be the official designation for DIY’ing your clothing and accessories (thus distinguishing it from the Japanese “Deko” bling embellishment movement and from the “remake” or upcycle movement)…more on this book and its contents later.

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Vivi Model Elli-Rose and Boyfriend Gui at Home in Tokyo

I just came across the website The Selby through Fatlace. I was completely unaware of its existence up until now – but am so glad to have stumbled upon it! Photographer Tod Selby has compiled an online photo-journal of people and their homes around the world (Tokyo, Brookly, London, Los Angeles, Manhattan, Milan, Paris…) Seeing people, photographed in their homes, and the variety of living spaces they inhabit – so cool. (Am I also a little creepy for being curious about how other people live??)

Fabulous photography – arresting characters – a voyeuristic peek into the lives of others – what more is there to say?

Except this…I was doubly surprised at a collection of photos of model Elli-Rose (click to link to her personal blog – in Japanese) – a model anyone who reads Vivi Magazine will recognize instantly. There she is, in the home she and boyfriend Gui inhabit in Tokyo – lolling around, playing with their kitten, opening up their closets, being frank with the sex-talk…v. interesting to see her like this. I had no idea – nor that she was only 20! (Or maybe I did and I forgot.) It’s always interesting to see a more intimate portrait of people who you know so well by sight but in reality…don’t know very well at all.

more of Elli-Rose’s apartment here

I love the photographer’s selection of items he photographs around their apartment – the tiny minutiae and objets so seemingly insignificant – it really gives you a feel for the owners’ personalities. I was ROFL over the “Super Premium Catty Milk” above! Those silly Japanese and their penchant for English words on their products!!

Definitely check out The Selby is you have a free moment (or a free hour) for more intimate looks into other people’s spaces – and to satisfy the inner voyeur we all know is there.;-)

-Carly J. Cais

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Don’t Buy, DIY: Embellished Short-Sleeve Sweater

Okay, there’s not much of a price difference there, but still…

Fa la la la la! I love the holidays!!

But one thing I don’t love is all the correspondence it entails. Email just won’t cut it at this time of year.

Sorry for the short absence from the WWW – just been overwhelmed with sending holiday packages, cards, New Year’s greetings, baking Christmas cookies, and gift-shopping.

7 packages, 27 cards, 11 packages of cookies, 9 holiday letters with photos later…I always overachieve this time of year and end up dropping off the face of the planet for about a week. Plus, spending an hour and a half standing in line at the post office yesterday (in THREE separate lines – one for parking, one for the automatic postal machine, and one for the window) can put anyone into a bit of a bah humbug mood. Or make one go postal. Yuk yuk yuk. Can anyone relate?

But I love the holidays – all the festivities of, all the traditions – seriously, the most happy times growing up.

So anyway…
I wanted to share a DIY I finished a little while ago with all of you.

Perhaps you or your SO has a fuzzy gray sweater or fleece in need of a makeover?

Who says winter sweaters have to be long-sleeved? This one is super-cute with armwarmers, gloves, or another layer underneath for when the weather outside is frightful.

Scanned from Vivi December 2009 issue. What can I say – I love this magazine maybe a bit too much!:-)

So I figured, why not make this from an oversized sweater? (after the jump)


You Need:
oversized sweater (nubby knit or fleece, preferably men’s)  //  9 faceted sew-on jewels

scissors  //  pins  //  needle and thread  //  sewing machine  //  sewing machine needle for knits

How To:

1. Cut off sleeves and trim neckline into a V-neck.

2. Turn under sleeve cuffs and stitch raw edges down. (not pictured)

3. To size the sweater smaller (if using a men’s sweater), try on sweater and pinch extra fabric at back of neck until V-neck lays properly on your collarbone (i.e., not too wide). Have a friend stick a pin in the excess, take off the shirt, and turn inside-out. Pin in a line down the center back, all the way to the hem.

4. Unpick the bottom hem of the shirt so you can flatten the line you pinned all the way down to the cut edge of the fabric. (Probably about 1″ or so on either side of the line you pinned.)

5. Sew CB line all the way to the cut edge. (not pictured)

6. Turn hem under once more and re-stitch hemline. (not pictured)

7. Cut off excess of CB seam. (not pictured – obviously, I got lazy here)

8. Turn under seam allowance around neckline, and stitch down. (not pictured)

9. Sew jewels around neckline.


I’m thinking about resetting the sleeves so the shoulder seam is shorter, which I think might make this less matronly and more like the original.

But maybe I’ll leave it as is!These little jewels were in a multisize pack of 25 for about $3.99 at Jo-Ann’s. And the shirt was $6.99 at Goodwill. Super-warm!

Happy DIY’ing…and Happy Birthday to me! (It’s today!) Not quite sure the appropriate emotional response…but hopefully I’m another year wiser! (Maybe to avoid the P.O. after December 15 next year?)



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