Reversible Cape Tutorial

DIY Reversible Cape by Ash

Reversible Cape Tutorial
Reversible Cape by Ash

For each tutorial I publish, I add our ‘Upload a Photo‘ link so that readers like you can post the results. It helps me to know if a tutorial works, and offers first-person experience for the next reader who tries the instructions.

To the reader, apparently this translates to, ‘I CHALLENGE THEE TO A DUEL’. It’s like I took off my glove and slapped ya across the face with it. You guys are always outdoing me! I feel like you didn’t even want a pop tab bracelet last summer. You just wanted to blow me out of the water.

Well, ya got me again. After following my simple hooded cape tutorial, DIY Fashion reader Ash decided to put me in my place by making her cape reversible. This is another one of those moments when I look at your submissions and go ‘Doh! Why didn’t I think of that!’. Yes, behold, a reversible, shimmering, huge-hooded cape:

Reversible Cape
Reversible Cape by Ash

Then look at my brown one.

Rain’s Cape:

DIY Cape Tutorial
DIY Cape Tutorial by Rain, decidedly not reversible.

Yeah. If you reverse it… you get more brown! Ash really handed my ass to me on this one. Nice work!

To get some tips from Ash (clearly I needed ’em) check out photos of her reversible cape and read about her project experience.

See, I’m on to you, now. I’m steppin it up a notch. I might even buy special lights to photograph my craftiness. It’s on like Donkey Kong, readers.

Think you made it better than me? Share a photo of your DIY Fashion creation, and tell us all about it. I’ll post your photo on the tutorial so that you can properly shame me in front of the next reader.

World A'Fair lanterns

A World A’Fair: Eat, Drink, and Dance Around the World in Dayton

Rain Blanken World A'Fair
Cheers! It’s World A’Fair time, again!

Every year, our family spends an afternoon circling the globe. The annual ‘A World A’Fair’ festival at the Dayton Convention Center here in Dayton, Ohio, teaches me something new every year. Except not to over-eat. I’ll never learn that one.

Various cultural societies from around the Dayton area gather each May to showcase their heritage, and to enjoy the payoff for months of hard work. It takes a lot of people practicing performances, creating delicious food offerings, and organizing activities and events for this weekend of celebration.

Booth Decorations

The booths at A World A’Fair range from festive to outright beautiful. Some countries have their own isle, with crisscrossing streamers and traditional decorations. This year, Vietnam actually offered some of their booth space as a little dine-in restaurant, which was brilliant for all of us that were holding at least a drink and two food pieces at one time.

The Korea Booth

World A'Fair Vietnam BoothEach booth is a peek inside another part of the world. You could say that A World A’Fair is what I do in between trips to Epcot. It’s just enough food, shopping, and education to tide me over until our next trip. World A'Fair lanterns Lanterns Dayton World A'Fair Lanterns Dayton World A'FairYeah, I went a little crazy with the lantern photos. Can you blame me? This was one of the coolest displays. Here are a couple more from the Korea booth:

A traditional kkwaenggwari gong. Or at least, that’s what the sign said.
Korea World AFair
Not sure what is happening here.


World A'Fair Ireland
My people!

My great-great grandfather was a McGary from Ireland, so we always spend a little extra time perusing the land of the ginger. I got a sunburn a few days later just to prove my Irish mettle.

World A'Fair DaytonThe girls in Ireland told us about the Matchmaker Festival that takes place in Ireland at the bar depicted above. They did such a great job recreating the building! The story goes that matches made at this bar in Ireland are meant to be. Better get photo proof with the husband just in case this faux bar counts for luck!


World A'Fair Germany
I didn’t see an explanation for this display.


World Afair brazil

I forget which country, but this was cool:

World A'Fair display World AFair Mask


Chinese Paper World Afair

At the China booth, they explained how, during the New Year celebration, people in China make cut-outs using paper in the lucky color red. Paper crafting on new years? Sounds awesome to me.
Chinese Drum
China Lanterns


A lot of countries have displays like the one below, where they showcase traditional costumes and have information that you can read about certain festivals or traditions.Czech World AFairThe Netherlands also had this working wind-up organ:

Netherlands Organ Netherlands World AFairWe stop to hear this organ each time we come to A World A’Fair. One year, they let me kids crank it up and they received ‘Juinior Organ Grinder’ certificates. I knew they were monkeys!
Here is the organ in action:

I forget which country this was, too, but I really like their display over the walkway:

World AFair


The Scotland booth has had these wooden photo cut-outs for as long as we’ve been coming to A World A’Fair over the years. We always have to snap a photo. The kids always make the same faces.
World AFair Scotland

World A’Fair Food

Food World A'Fair Dayton
Dumplings from the China booth.
Chinese Food World A'Fair
Eating and learning, all in one convenient location.

Of course, my favorite part of any festival is tasting all of the food. I’m not out to eat a meal, I just want to taste a bit of everything. The serving sizes at A World A’Fair are perfect for tasting a little bit of what every country has to offer.

We tried at least three empanadas from all over the world, baklava in Turkey, cream puffs in Germany, mochi from Japan, and gyros in Greece. My husband, Mr T, always tries the haggis in Scotland, but this year they were all out. That means everyone actually ate all of that haggis.

World A'Fair Food
Empanadilla de Carne and Alcapurria in Puerto Rico
World A'Fair Drinks
My new favorite wine, available at the France booth.

World A’Fair Performances

All day, every day of the World A’Fair event, there is dancing, music, and even workshops for guests to enjoy. One year, we were treated to a taiko lesson from Japan. This year, we stuck to the larger of the two stages to take in a few acts.

World A'Fair irish dancers
A stompy performance from the Celtic Academy of Irish Dance
World A'Fair Dancer
Chinese ribbon dancing.

China Ribbon DancerRon Swanson Yeti

Stop! See this guy? The one with the magnificent Ron Swanson mustache to match his pelt? Here, he is exiting the stage after his country’s dance.

My husband, in his infinite wisdom, approached him and called him a yeti. To which Yeti Ron Swanson scoffed and started weaving a tale about how he was a creature who warded off winter with the cacophony of bells strapped to his butt. He took the time to teach us all about it, and shake his ass in boisterous abandon. But I must have been mesmerized by his Nick Offerman charm, because now I forget which country all of that happens in.

Half the reason to attend A World A’Fair is conversations like that.

World A'Fair Bagpipes
Bagpipers performing right at the Scotland booth.

Even though I have enough Scottish in me to enjoy the bagpipes, the performance from France was by far my favorite, as my good friend Karla was part of the group! She deftly cross-stepped her way across the stage as two handsome Parisian men tried to woo her.

World A'Fair Dance
Karla Peters enchanting the audience.
World A'Fair Dance
Yep, this is the lady who choreographed my wedding dance!

World A'Fair Dance
A World A’Fair happens each May at the Dayton Convention Center. If you’re looking to eat, drink, dance, and maybe even learn something, I suggest marking the calendar for this, one of Dayton’s best annual events.

How to Sketch Fashion

How to Sketch Fashion

How to Sketch Fashion
How to Sketch Fashion, with super stock photography.

Learn how to sketch fashion designs with these five easy tips from Rain Blanken.

Fashion sketching is not only a great way to carry a concept from paper to runway, but it’s also fun for brainstorming. If you are interested in pursuing fashion design, it is important to keep sketching. Sketch meat dresses and Star Trek uniforms… sketching all kinds of fashion will help to keep your creative mind sharp.

How to Sketch Fashion
How to Sketch Fashion

1. Use ‘croquis’

Crochet? I love crochet! Croquet? They play that with flamingos on Alice in Wonderland, right? Nah, croquis are yet another word that is not ‘croissant’. Sadly, not everything can be a croissant. In my article on, learn how to use these pre-made models to get right to fashion sketching without having to draw hands (agh, they’re the worst!)

How to Sketch Fashion
Fashion Sketching Tools    Photo: Getty Images

2. Fashion sketching tools

Which tools work best for sketching your styles? Colored pencils can give a lot of detail, but sometimes lack to get bold ideas across. Let’s take a look at the advantages/disadvantages of various mediums.

How to Sketch Fashion
Fashion Flats   Photo: Getty Images

3. Fashion flats for details

Fashion flats are a lot like the technical drawings that you’ll see on sewing patterns. They give a lot of insight as to where seams and notions are placed to make a garment work right. Not the most flashy corner of the fashion world, but necessary if you want your pants to stay up.

How to Sketch Fashion
Add Fabric Swatches    Photo: Getty Images

4. Add fabric swatches

Sample swatches are the perfect excuse for my fabric hoarding. In this part of the article, I’ll explain how fabric swatches can give you a great deal of perspective on the finished garment.

How to Sketch Fashion
Fashion Sketch Inspiration Board     Photo: Getty Images

5. Make an inspiration board

Getting your thoughts out of your head and onto the wall may sounds like a redundant exercise, but this is actually a great way to collaborate your ideas with others, and just give your inspirations time to breathe and morph. Plus, if your designs are out on the wall, it makes you accountable for finishing that project when your buddy asks about it two weeks later.

How to Sketch Fashion
How to Sketch Fashion

6. From design to creation

Above is an example of taking a design concept from paper all the way to the finished costume. You can see a few changes made along the way, but the sketch and notes indicate the fall of the fabric, colors, and tone of the design. Don’t be afraid to mess up that notebook.

How to Sketch Fashion
How to Sketch Fashion      Photo: Getty Images

See the full article on for all of my tips on how to sketch your own designs.  I hope that my tips give you a bit of inspiration and the courage to just jump right in and start creating. Not every design is a winner, but they all contribute to the development of your skills!

Share your designs with me on Facebook.

Upcycled T-Shirt Tutorials

Upcycled T-shirts: Ways to Turn T-Shirts into Something Else


Upcycled T-Shirt Tutorials

During my six year contract for, I’ve thoroughly explored the world of turning t-shirts into other forms of fashion. Since the jersey material is so easy to manipulate, and t-shirts are so plentiful, they make for a popular muse.

Here are my 10 Upcycled T-Shirt Tutorials:

Racerback Upcycled T-Shirt Tutorial

1. Above: My original design, the Trident Braided Racerback is a project for the experienced t-shirt refashionista. You’ll use a looping technique that actually braids and strengthens the straps.

Upcycled Tube Top

2. Above: This upcycled tube top can be used both as a skirt or a top. This is a great project for t-shirts that have large print, like this Hogwarts t-shirt that was three sizes too big for my sister.

T-Shirt Roses

3. Above: I used scraps from the Trident Braided Racerback project to create these little t-shirt roses. They are a quick and easy project that will eat up your scrap pile.upcycled-t-shirt-halter-top

4. Above: This halter top was created out of a men’s t-shirt that had no womanly shape to it whatsoever. My sister masterfully transformed it into a halter top for a perfect fit.

Upcycled Tank Top

5. Above: The above tank top only came in men’s styles;a boxy mess that can easily be refashioned into a fitted tank top, without even sewing a stitch.

Upcycled T-shirt Skirt

6. Above: This long skirt makes it possible to keep a large logo on a t-shirt skirt without it being right up by your waist. In this topsy-turvy design, the logo ends up on the bottom, along with the t-shirt collar, so the design hints back at it’s t-shirt roots.

Upcycled Tank Top Bag

7. Above: An old tank top, or one that is stained beyond repair, can make a quick and handy grocery bag.I used two tank tops on this design to create a durable tote that can hold a lot of weight.

Upcycled T-Shirt Dress

8. Above: The Yellow Submarine t-shirt dress above was created out of one of the many XL t-shirts that haunt my local thrift shop. The extra material is great for creating this easy jumper dress.

T-Shirt Babydoll Top

9. Above: This babydoll top uses a casing and some yarn at the bust to create definition and a better fit. The arms are cut off and I’ve added some matching trim and buttons to the design.


Photo copyright Ruth Ingram, Used with Permission

10. Above: If you are a t-shirt collector, or know one who is on your gift list this year, a t-shirt quilt is the perfect sentiment. You can save vacation or team memories for a lifetime, cuddling up with Margaritaville in front of the TV every night.

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Ways to Tie Dye

How to Tie Dye, What to Tie Dye, and How Some More

Back in 2008, wrote an article for on the basics of tie dying. Six years later, all three of my kids have not only learned how to tie dye- they have dyed everything from socks to scarves. I’d say we milked this craft for all it’s worth.

Still, I’m willing to bet that I haven’t seen the last of my tie-dying days. I’ve got far too many hippie friends to keep my hands out of the dye for long.

Here is a collection of my many articles on how to tie dye:

Ways to Tie Dye
DIY tie dye tutorial from Rain Blanken

DIY Tie Dye: This article tells you how to properly prepare clothing before dying, includes several tying techniques, and instructs on what type of dye to use.

HIstory of Tie Dye
Tie dye: ancient, and I don’t meant the 60’s.

The Early History of Tie Dye: Where did tie dye come from? Did you realize that this fun outdoor activity is actually an ancient practice?

How to Tie Dye
Watch the foot!

What is Fiber Reactive Dye? Have you ever wondered why tie dye won’t completely wash out of clothes? Learn more about the chemical reaction happening in your favorite shirt.

Ways to Tie Dye
What kind of fabric can you tie dye?

Which fabrics are best for tie dying? Learn what type of fabrics take fiber reactive dye the best, and why t-shirts are such a popular choice.

Crumple Dye Tutorial
Crumple Dye Tutorial

Crumple Dye: Create a cool marbled effect. This is the easy dip-dye method that I used to create the scarf for my Zhaan costume… in fact, that’s my scarf in this tutorial!

Do you have a favorite tie dye method? I want to try to dye shapes, next. I’ve seen it done in a few online tutorials, and I’m ready to turn my fingers green, again.

No-Sew Mosaic Quilt

No-Sew Mosaic Quilting Idea

No-Sew Mosaic Quilt
No-Sew Mosaic Quilt by Blue Desert Roses

I am loving this beautiful quilted work submitted to me via by Blue Desert Roses, for not only the patriotic theme (my mind is already lingering somewhere around Memorial Day), but also for the beautiful mosaic pieces. The tiny bits of fabric were actually placed with Steam a Seam, eliminating a good deal of time and work.

No-Sew Quilt
Steam-a-Seam available at

What a great idea, I can’t wait to apply this method to make some tropical mosaic bags for the summer. I can just see a lot of fish and octopi assembled in Caribbean tones.

Get more tips from Blue Desert Roses on creating these mosaic hangings, and see her other work on Artfire. I’m going to get started on my beach bags… what would you make with this mosaic method?

No-Sew Mosaic Quilt
No-Sew Mosaic Quilt by Blue Desert Roses
Decoupage Phone Case

The Three Emotional Stages of Reading Vogue

Decoupage Phone Case
Cutting up Vogue for the sake of my own dime-store fashion.

I recently created a decoupage glitter phone case by mining expensive patterns from Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Pierre Hardy from the latest Vogue. I’m pretty sure it’s what Anna Wintour intended when she gathered these full-color photos of expensive fabrics. Thanks!

Having recently visited the Vogue offices in NYC, perhaps this lent me an ounce of self-awareness. I soon realized I was cycling through what I now call the Three Emotional Stages of Reading Vogue.

The Three Emotional Stages of Reading Vogue

Stage One

The first emotional stage of reading Vogue is  Judgement. This superficial step requires a pen, and is where one turns into a poor man’s Tim Gunn. Half of the fashions get an ‘Oh honey, no‘. The other half create a bulging-eye and drool affliction akin to an anime character in love. Flipping through Vogue involves the most bipolar emotions that one can experience.

  • Example: I am the GOD of fashion. I, and only I, will decide who gets a mustache and who doesn’t in this rag! Those shoes are my new heart! That girl had her makeup applied with a shotgun!

This stage is optimized by reading with a friend, preferably a tween.

Stage Two

The second emotional stage of reading Vogue goes deeper, and is straight-up Self-Loathing.

  • Example: Why can’t I afford a nice Michael Kors bag? Do you realize that there are pop stars half my age that have a pile of these on the floor of their maid’s bathroom? They probably wipe their butts with scarves from Coach. Maybe not regularly, but in the history of time and space, some twerp celebrity has done this at least once in the VIP area of a club I could never get into. I had so many dreams of stardom in my youth. Dreams that flat-lined into a life of mediocrity and 9-to-5 imprisonment. Never mind, Michael Kors, I don’t deserve you. This model needs a devil beard…

Once you have shed most of your self-esteem, it is imperative that you power through the celebrity interview and move on to the next stage. Whatever you do, don’t put down the Vogue while in the throes of Self-Loathing.

Stage Three

Luckily, the third emotional stage of reading Vogue is Blinding Inspiration (or, Sour Grapes). Only out of the ashes of self-loathing can we emerge as the phoenix to creative rebirth! This is the point where one decides that they somehow don’t want to be able to afford those gorgeous Manolo Blahniks because, dammit, you could make that look yourself. We begin to view Vogue as part of the man-made fashion machine, and pat ourselves on the back for gleaning inspiration for our own genius from those all-too-glossy pages.

  • Example: Who are these fools that spend so much on mere accessories?! I’m so Jedi for making such a zen decision about the value of material objects. I could make all of this crap in my sleep. SO FRUGAL! CREATIVE, WOW!
Caution: Never stop reading an issue of Vogue until you’ve reached this final creative renaissance of spite and indignity. If the process is interrupted, you’ll be stuck back on Self Loathing for, eh, maybe a day. To quickly cure an interrupted Vogue session, read something by Rachel Dratch or splurge on a top-tier appetizer at Chili’s. Dollah dollah bills, ya’ll!

Once I reach the last stage, I have been successfully spit out of the back cover of Vogue and I’m ready to start creating. I can now fully appreciate the work of the designers within as I move forward with my own style via the inspiration they provided. Which is what I think Vogue should be all about.

DIY Glitter Phone Case

Prada Your Phone: DIY Decoupage Phone Case Tutorial

DIY Decoupage Phone Case Tutorial
DIY Decoupage Phone Case tutorial by Rain Blanken

DIY Decoupage Phone Case Tutorial

I was recently challenged to create a killer glitter phone case tutorial for But what is there to a glitter phone case tutorial? Add glitter to glue, then apply to phone case. Let dry. Not exactly the most informative or exciting read. Instead, I added a decoupage element to my case that adds this season’s hottest Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Pierre Hardy patterns to my phone case.. without the designer price tag.


DIY Decoupage Phone Case Tutorial
Everything you’ll need to refashion your phone case. Just like Anna Wintour intended?
Decoupage Phone Case
Cutting up Vogue for the sake of my own fashion.

The phone case was my blank canvas, so right away, I set out on an inspirational hunt through Vogue. I cycled through what I call The Three Stages of Vogue Readership, and came out the other side with lots of inspiration.

Mixing Glitter Glue
Wasting glitter should be a federal offense.

There are more than a few glitter-glue tutorials online, but I have to disagree with most of them. They are always carting out a big ol’ bowl of glitter that poses nicely for photos, but isn’t very practical. We’re only painting a phone case, here, so I don’t need a lot of glitter-glue. Put a dollap on a tupperware lid next to a nearly-equal pile of glitter.

I even used just a blob of glue, then mixed white glitter into one side of the blob, and my other glitter colors into the other sides of the blob. Stop wasting glitter, internet!

Apply the glitter-glue to the phone case, starting with light colors first.

Working with the lightest colors first will make mistakes much easier to fix.

Here is what the dried first layer will look like:

DIY Glitter Phone Case
Let dry overnight. Here is what the first layer of dried glitter looks like.

Not quite solid coverage, so we’ll hit it with another coat:

DIY Glitter Phone Case
Push the second layer of glitter onto the first, filling in any gaps.

The second coat is more about filling gaps. Use a stiff brush to push the grainy glitter mix in there like you’re filling holes in concrete. I’ve never done that before, but this is how I picture it. Don’t let this layer dry before applying your magazine cut-outs.

Now that my ‘beach’ is in place, I can start adding my magazine cut-outs. I put a bit more glue on the spots where I was going to place my pieces, because the glitter-glue was still bumpy. I also swiped the back of each cut-out with glue. Push these into the wet glitter-glue a bit to sink them in.

Let this dry completely, then come back and add a coat of decoupage glue to the tops of your cut-outs, and about 1/8″ away from them. The goal here is to create a seal around each piece. Let dry, then add a second coat. If you’re particularly rough on your phone cases, come on back for round three. Let dry at least two days before you use your phone case.

DIY Glitter Phone Case
Rain Blanken’s finished decoupage glitter phone case.
Tusken Armor Paint

Female Tusken Raider Bib: Day Four

Tusken Raider Bib
What we are working on today.

I’m back with another costume update for my female Tusken Raider costume. The female Tuskens showed up in Star Wars Episode II. I’m making this costume for MARCon, happening May 9th-11th, 2014.

Last time, I completed the ‘bezel’ oval bits by using a Sculpey mold and Model Magic. Easy peasy. Today, I’m ready to attach the bezels and paint the armor plates on the lower ‘bib’.

Gluing Tusken Raider Bits
Gluing Tusken Raider Bits

I used some E600 to attach the Model Magic bezels to my armor plates. If you didn’t tune in last time, the armor plates are made up of just cardboard and paper mache. Believe it or not, these saltine crackers are going to be awesome female Tusken armor!

E600 was probably not necessary here, but I was foolish enough not to make extra bezels in case of an emergency at the con, so I really want these to stick. Forever.

Painting my saltine armor.
Painting my saltine armor.

I used Dazzling Metallics variety of DecoArt paints in Splendid Gold, Champagne Gold,
Worn Penny, and Rich Espresso. The first layer of paint is a mix of Worn Penny and Splendid Gold.

Female Tusken Armor
Painting pockmarked armor pieces.

As you can see at the top of the above photo, I got a little excited with painting and actually painted a couple of armor crackers before sticking on my bezel. Don’t do that! I should be okay, because it was just a thin layer of paint, but the bezels could come off if you are gluing them on top of paint. I quickly realized the dum-dum nature of this practice and stuck on my bezels before painting.

Tusken Armor Build
Gluing painted pieces to the cloth.

I added two coats of the Worn Penny/Splendid Gold mix. The second layer had decidedly more of the Worn Penny color. I’ve seen female Tusken armor that looked way too gold and didn’t like it, so I want to stay closer to a bronze color, here. When the two layers were dry, I started gluing the armor to a rectangular cloth that measured a few inches taller than all of my pieces. I used just Mod Podge to glue, with a piece of paper underneath the cloth so that it didn’t stick to the finish of my fine imported desk (that means it’s from Ikea).

Building Tusken Armor
Spacing the rectangles tuned out to be easy.

From my reference photos, I gathered that the space between the armor rectangles was exactly as wide as one of the armor pieces. Yay! That made things easy. I just used spare pieces to measure as I went. This is also how I measured and created the long, bottom piece. Haha, Longbottom.

Tusken Raider Paint
Finishing the paint job with more of a bronze color.

I don’t recommend this, but I got antsy to move things along. I should have finished painting all of my armor pieces before putting them on the muslin. But, instead, there I am at about 1 A.M., carefully trying to keep paint off of the muslin. All the best costuming happens after midnight, anyhoo.

Tusken Armor Paint
More painting on my female Tusken armor.

For the details, I added the Rich Espresso color to the pockmarks, and blended the Champagne Gold onto the edges. This gave my armor much more dimension. A mix of the Rich Espresso and Worn Penny will also create the illusion of shallow dents.

Now that I’ve got some paint down, it really feels like this costume is moving along! I’m really happy with the first of my dried and painted paper mache pieces. They totally look like armor and are super lightweight.

Back to Day 2 | Day 5 Coming Soon | Female Tusken Raider Build Index