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.

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.

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.
DIY Decoupage Necklace

DIY Decoupage Necklace

DIY Decoupage Necklace
Cold as Ice Project DIY

High above the street, on the 3rd floor of the M & J Trimming flagship store, designer Michelle Levy was revealing the next Project DIY set to me. My eyes lit up with instant inspiration, and Michelle and I were soon excitedly swapping design ideas.

Rain Blanken and Michelle Levy
Rain Blanken and Michelle Levy

It was Fashion Week in New York City, so my brain was already spinning with inspiration by the time my mother and I had ducked into the 6th avenue store. Inside, things had only gotten worse for me. From ceiling to floor, M & J Trimming was a mecca of all things craft. Picture the New York Pubic Library, with books towering above in all directions, tucked away in every available space. Now, turn all of the books into feathers, buttons, beads, lace, and fabric. That’s the M & J Trimming store in Manhattan.

MJ Trimming NYC
MJ Trimming NYC photo by Rain Blanken

So, after being hit in the face with Fashion Week and the cavernous possibilities downstairs, I was ready to word-barf all of my ideas in the studio room with Michelle. She showed me a mock-up with a blank acrylic plate and all of the jewels included to decorate it:

DIY Decoupage Necklace
Pieces included to make the Project DIY statement necklace

By the time I had left the studio, I had so many ideas for my own Cold as Ice statement necklace. But, not every week can be as magical as Fashion Week. Back home, I had ten more projects to complete, and then our car met it’s demise via a patch of ice on the road. I was not looking forward to participating in anything named ‘Cold as Ice’.

When I finally opened my Project DIY Cold as Ice box, all of that inspiration came flooding back… and all I could think was spring. Check out how I turned my winter misfortune into a spring rejuvenation with the Cold as Ice project:

DIY Decoupage NecklaceI had never expected that a ‘Cold as Ice’ project could putt me out of the winter blues, but it turned out to be just what I needed. See how I made my Cold as Ice DIY Decoupage Necklace at…

Burlap Rose Tutorial

Rain’s Burlap Rose Tutorial

Burlap Rose Tutorial
Rain’s Burlap Rose Tutorial

If there is anything that I love about crafting fashion, it is the way that it brings people together. Recently, I bumped into Kirsten Nunez in the virtual cocktail party that is Twitter. Like all great conversations, we started out by complimenting each other on our stuff. She’s a DIY Fashion maven like myself, so it’s only natural that we start pointing at each other.

Burlap Rose Tutorial
Rain’s Burlap Rose Tutorial

Kirsten asked me to do a feature tutorial on her blog, Studs and Pearls, with a twist; an accessory that took only 5 steps to complete and followed a floral theme.

I ended up brainstorming a brooch that embodied the way I feel in New York City; a little lost and obviously from out-of-town, but definitely fabulous.

Check out my burlap rose tutorial on Studs & Pearls. I think you’ll be surprised at how easy it was to create this country-bumpkin beauty.

Ruby Slipper Tutorial

Rain Blanken Make Ruby Slippers

Make Ruby Slippers
Make a pair of ruby slippers with Rain’s tested and fool-proof step-by-step tutorial.

Make a pair of ruby slippers with Rain’s tested and fool-proof step-by-step tutorial.

Tonight on the Oscars, a beautiful tribute to The Wizard of Oz reminded me that movie magic can inspire in audiences of all ages.

Ruby Slippers
Ruby slippers can always bring you home, but it’s more fun to step out in them.

And Whoopie’s high-heeled salute to Dorothy’s ruby slippers reminded me that wearing a piece of the action can bring the silver screen adventure to life. When you make a pair of ruby slippers, you’ve got a piece of movie inspiration to take with you. Dorothy needed confidence, tenacity, and faith to get through Oz, and sometimes a day at the office needs some of the spirit of Dorothy Gale to back you up.

Make Ruby Slippers

Make a pair of ruby slippers to conquer your own yellow brick roads this week. I’ve tried and tested this tutorial, and if you need any help, ask me personally on Facebook.

Celine Shoes

DIY Celine Heels?

Weird Celine Shoes
Rain seeks to uncover the secrets of these weird Celine heels.

These incredibly weird shoes made their debut on the Celine runway last fall, and are sure to inspire some of the looks we’ll be seeing in stores this spring. In my heart of hearts, I wish that I could give you some kind of excellent tutorial on how to make these for yourself… but any advice I give you would fall as flat as a Pinterest cake recipe.

Celine Shoes
Looks like a bathtub knob and a floaty goo thing from Spencer’s.

Celine Shoes 2014 Style
Celine Shoes 2014 Style with geometric heel.

Okay, maybe I could make the following pair by screwing a draw pull into the toe of a shoe, but it would take a bit of special engineering to make it look right:

Celine Shoes
Celine Shoes with a case of the crazy toe. Golf ball and rock. I’ve got this.

After a short bit of brainstorming on Twitter yesterday with @diycouture, I came up with a possibility to substituting the heels of these shoes with a ball, or other small object:

DIY Celine Heels
DIY Celine Heels?

This is a sketch I quickly drew up and snapped a photo of, so sorry for the quality. I’m thinking that the object you use to make the substitute heel would have to be smaller than the height of the heel. Otherwise, It would have to be the exact size. Too large, and the heel will tilt forward. But a smaller object could be paired with a number of spacers.

I think that maybe you could use flat wooden beads sandwiched with cut pieces of stiff felt to build up the rest of the height until you’ve got the right size of heel.

What do you think? Could it work?

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More DIY Fashion:

Tarnished Jewelry Headband

How to Tarnish Jewelry and Metal with Nail Polish

How to Tarnish Jewelry and Metal
The Baroque & Roll styles were too gold for me, so I learned how to tarnish jewelry using nail polish.

When I opened the latest Project DIY box, I was nearly blinded by the plethora of gold within. It was like a treasure trove. Unfortunately, I’m not that into gold jewelry. Find out who was my inspiration for turning all of this gold into looks that were more my style, and learn how you can transform gold pieces into tarnished treasures.

Suggested look from Project DIY:

Baroque n Roll Ring BraceletRain’s look:

Tarnished Metal Jewelry
Rain’s take on the bracelet, with tarnished metal.

I couldn’t wear all of that gold, so I creatd a tarnished look using…

Nail polish!

I’ve admittedly been painting a lot with nail polish lately, but this time, it was all about creating a very specific look. The nail polish colors in purple and brown really helped to dull down the gleaming gold. Check out my other designs compared to the originals:

Make Jewelry Tarnished
Tarnished bracelets by Rain Blanken
Nailpolish Tarnished Jewelry
I added a bit more of a purple color to this one to give it a little edge.

Suggested look from Project DIY:

Project DIY Headband

There were so many cool details on the metal pieces provided that were just lost by the flat gold look. Adding nail polish really helped to make all of those filigree details stand out.

To tarnish your jewelry, first apply nail polish with a small paintbrush. The brush included in the bottle may be too large and clumsy for this kind of work. Use a tissue to wipe the excess polish off of the surface of the metal, leaving polish in all of the nooks and crannies.

Rain’s look:

Tarnished Metal Headband
Rain’s look: with added stones and a tarnished metal.
Tarnished Jewelry Headband
Green stones to match my eyeballs!
How to Tarnish Jewelry and Metal
I have to stop making this face in photos.

Suggested look from Project DIY:

Baroque EarringsRain’s look:

How to Tarnish Metal
Rain’s earrings with nail polish applied as a faux tarnish.

Let your faux tarnish dry completely, then use a toothpick to rub off any spots that you want the gold to shine through.

Read more about the Baroque N’ Roll Project DIY box and how I transformed the bright gold pieces to match my eyes and personal style.