DIY fashion: designers' tips on what to make from home

Jo Jones and Helen Seamons

Sew a patchwork quilt with Next in Fashion’s Daniel Fletcher

Creative director and star of Netflix’s Next in Fashion, Daniel W Fletcher has plenty to get on with while in social isolation, designing a collection for Fiorucci as well as one for his own brand. In his down time, he is taking up a DIY challenge to make a patchwork quilt based on a dress he made during the filming of Next in Fashion, using other designers’ leftover scraps. The design – inspired by concerns over the melting polar ice caps – is an arctic landscape.

“Ever since the show, I’ve been inundated with requests to make similar quilted items, so I thought this was a good opportunity to show people how they can do so themselves.

“You can make it from any leftover fabrics you have. This time, I used some leftover damaged denim from my studio as the quilt base. I don’t imagine everyone has that lying around so use what you have.

“Heavier is better for the base so it can hold the appliqué – maybe some old curtains or an existing blanket that needs some love. If you don’t have enough to do a blanket, you could use the same technique to make a cushion. For the appliqué, it could be old clothes, tablecloths, tea towels – anything you can get your hands on.

“I went quite abstract with my pattern, but you could come up with a more elaborate design.

“Mine took me five hours on a sewing machine. You could hand sew it instead. It’s going to be a much longer process but could be very therapeutic, which is something we could all do with right now.”

Difficulty level: intermediate
Equipment needed: an old blanket (or similar), scraps of fabrics, thread, sewing machine needle

How to:

“For the nitty-gritty, head over to my Instagram – my wonderful sister captured the whole process.”

Crochet a small rug with menswear designer Liam Hodges

Liam Hodges has recently moved house, so his time in self isolation has been spent unpacking and making rugs.

“I learnt to crochet last October and have found it really relaxing. For our AW20 collection, we crocheted a lot of squares as embellishments. I’ve kept it up and even tried to make a skipping rope when I first went into isolation.

“I had been wanting to make some rag rugs and started working out how to crochet graphics into them. I made the graphic in Photoshop so that each pixel represented each crochet stitch.

“I thought doormat-size was perfect. I have mine by the door to remind me to keep positive and take the [government] advice about staying in seriously.

“It took me around two and a half hours to complete and is made up of old, shredded T-shirts for the coloured section and yarn made using Wool and the Gang offcuts for the main black areas, so it is entirely made from waste.”

Difficulty level: intermediate
Equipment needed: an old T-shirt, a crochet hook, yarn and scissors

How to:

“Use our how-to digital zine on Instagram, which has the pattern as well as instructions on how to crochet.”

Sew a shark mascot with designer Christopher Raeburn

Designer Christopher Raeburn’s team are adapting to the current situation by releasing weekly creative tasks via their #RaeburnAtHome initiative.

“This project is to make one of our shark mascots. We have always featured animals in our collections, initially as a way to highlight and support endangered species through our WWF UK partner. The Shark is one of our most popular animals; we keep it in our collections each season, but it always evolves.

“You need no more than one square metre of fabric – even less if you are conscious of pattern placement for waste reduction. Using a variety of smaller cuts of fabric is encouraged though as this adds pops of colour and texture to the final shark.

“Not only is reusing and repurposing old fabric a more interesting way of working, but extending the lifetime of garments is instrumental in reducing planetary impact. When people are spending more time at home than ever before, now is the chance to pull out those bits that we no longer use and give them new life.

“Unless you are an absolute master, it should keep you busy for about 10 hours. We only recommend a sewing machine for ease and speed – top marks for effort go to anyone tackles it by hand.”

Difficulty level: advanced
Equipment needed: a sewing machine, fabric, scissors, thread and paper.

How to:

For the full instructions click here; you can download the shark pattern here. It is designed to fit on A4 paper.

Sew a kimono-inspired garment with designer Edward Crutchley

Designer Edward Crutchley’s lockdown aim is to set himself a project each day. His first was to cut a pattern for and sew a one-piece kimono-inspired garment. Next up is making miniature sculptures of the kings and queens of England using modelling clay.

How to make Japanese clothes by John Marshall is a book I have on my shelf that I thought it would be great to lose myself in during isolation.

“I love traditional Japanese clothing and now is the perfect time to study. What I love about kimonos is that they are traditionally dictated by the fabric – they are the width they are because that is how wide the looms could weave. For a fabric geek like me, that’s a dream.

“A traditional kimono pattern looks like some different-length rectangles put together, but nothing is ever that simple and it takes a lot of skill to construct a traditional kimono properly. The one I made is much, much easier.

“I used three metres of fabric left over from the last collection, but you could make it with two metres if it’s 150cm wide, or you can easily add seams to the patterns or patchwork fabrics together. Repurposing old curtains or a bed sheet would be perfect.

“It took me around four hours to complete – there are only three seams and three hems. I tried to make it as simple as possible.”

Difficulty level: advanced
Equipment needed: a sewing machine, two to three metres of fabric, thread, scissors, paper and dressmaking pins.

How to:

“The pattern I made is available to download for free here. The step-by-step sewing guide is saved on my Instagram highlights.”

Make a shrunken crisp-packet necklace with Tatty Devine

While social distancing, Rosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine, the designers behind Tatty Devine jewellery, are doing daily making challenges.

“It’s amazing for your mental health and the perfect antidote to these strange and unsettling times. This so-called shrinky necklace is something we did as kids. We first made one as Tatty Devine in 2001. It was very early days, when we made jewellery from whatever we could get our hands on. We enjoyed having to eat crisps.”

Difficulty level: beginner
Equipment needed: old crisp packets (not foiled or metallic, such as Chipsticks or many supermarket own brands); a chain necklace (whether new or something you already own); greaseproof paper, a baking tray, a damp tea towel (for safety reasons), an old tea towel, a hole punch, a regular jump ring and two pairs of flat-nose pliers.

How to:

  • Set your grill to medium.

  • While the grill is warming, fold the greaseproof paper to make it into rough envelope shapes and pop your empty food packets inside – one wrapper per envelope.

  • Put the envelopes on a baking tray under the grill. The packet will start to shrink and curl up. You don’t want them to burn or blister so watch closely.

  • As soon as they are shrunken enough, remove the baking tray, quickly place a folded tea towel on top of the envelope and slam your hand down to flatten your “shrinky”.

  • Use a hole punch to make a hole somewhere on the packet.

  • Open a regular jump ring with the pliers and thread the packet on to the jump ring, then put the jump ring on to the necklace and close it.

You can stop with one pendant or layer up for a charm effect.

Knit a scarf with dancer Meshach Henry

Despite having no previous knitting experience, dancer Meshach Henry has made three scarves in as many days, documented on Instagram by his partner, the Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw.

“I always said I would learn a new skill like plumbing or plastering if I ever had a lot of time on my hands. But they aren’t ideal skills to practice in this current situation. So, having seen knitting supplies in a craftshop window recently, I thought, ‘Here’s my new hobby.’

“I purchased a thick wool because it looked easier to use and less fiddly. I bought 10mm knitting needles, which I thought were an average size but later found out are strangely big – but I’m really happy with the chunky effect they produce.

“What I like about knitting is that you can see your physical product. As a dancer, I rarely get to see my own work, so to be able to see and hold this tangible thing is a whole new world for me.

“My intention is to move on to knitting jumpers. I want to create a matching jumper for every scarf, just to keep things interesting.”

Difficulty level: beginner
Equipment needed: knitting needles and wool

How to:

“I taught myself by watching an eight-minute Knitting for Total Beginners tutorial on YouTube. The tutorial taught me how to cast on in the first instance. Then there are follow-up links to a second video that teaches you how to change knitting style and how to cast off.”

Make drinking glasses with former British Vogue fashion director Lucinda Chambers

Lucinda Chambers is co-founder of fashion brand Colville and online shopping platform Collagerie and was fashion director at British Vogue for 25 years.

“I was in Paris six months ago having a glass of water in the Bon Marché and I noticed the glass looked suspiciously like the end of a wine bottle.” When Chambers investigated she found a world of home crafters making their own tumblers from pre-used wine bottles.

“I found an inexpensive kit on Amazon,” she says. “Each glass is a labour of love as I sand them by hand; it’s strangely therapeutic.”

Difficulty level: medium
Equipment needed: empty glass bottles, a glass cutter kit (available online, for instance from Amazon).

How to:

“The kit has everything you need to make the glasses: a stand, saw and markers that you place on the empty bottle at the height you require your finished glass to be. You can make French-style low tumblers or something taller. Once you’ve cut the bottle you need to sand the cut edge smooth.”

The internet is full of videos, such as this one, that show you more details.