Saturday, June 20, 2020

DIY fashion -- the kissoff edition

I know you've been waiting for the new Designer D.I.Y. from the New York Times.  After several weeks of just dumb ideas, the Times has apparently changed its focus to good ideas executed poorly.  (As a reminder, last week the directions on how to decoratively patch your jeans were so lame that we surmised people would resolve never to take up needle and thread again.)

This week, another decent idea; this time it's not the quality of the directions that's low, but the quality of the materials and technique.

The idea, courtesy of jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth, is to make a necklace with painted paper flowers.  I checked out Neuwirth's website and this appears to be the necklace that inspired the project.  If you can't afford $43,900 for the original, with flowers carved from semiprecious stones, you can now make a lookalike for only about 4.39 cents, assuming you have some paints on hand.

Irene Neuwirth

Draw some flowers on "plain white paper" and paint them, each one different in size and color.  Let the paint dry.  Cut out the flowers.

New York Times Styles section

Cut a 30-inch length of ribbon, twine "or something similar."  Arrange the flowers on the ribbon and fasten them on with double-sided tape.  Tie the ribbon in a bow behind your neck.

New York Times Styles section

Now wasn't that easy?  Neuwirth tells the Times she made hers in three hours "with pauses to take the dogs out, sit in the yard, answer emails."  (We can tell.)

Now wasn't that a kissoff?  Isn't it going to look more like a Brownie troop project than something an actual adult might wear?

I can think of how you could use the identical project plan and make something quite nice, as throwaway fashion goes.  First, you could use better paper.  Even housebound NYTimes readers might be able to find index cards or the back of a greeting card or a piece of high-class junk mail to paint on.

Second, you could put some kind of finish on the flowers to make them a bit more sturdy and stain-resistant.  Most people don't have matte medium lying around, but they could dilute some Elmer's white glue and paint it on.

Third, what's with the double-sided tape?  How many people have double-sided tape lying around, as compared to regular single-sided tape?  More important, how much sticking power does a one-eighth-inch-wide piece of double-sided tape have?  (Because if you use a piece any wider than that, it's far more likely to affix itself to your dress than to affix the flower to the ribbon/twine.)

Wouldn't it be easier to use single-sided tape and just whap an inch-long piece across the back of the flower to hold it to the ribbon/twine?  Or wouldn't it be much nicer to paint twice as many flowers and glue them back-to-back with the ribbon/twine in between the layers?  You could even glue a layer of cereal box in between for a really sturdy necklace that wouldn't fall apart the first time you wore it.

If you're lucky enough to be the arts-and-crafts leader of a Brownie troop, this project might be a great idea.  If you're looking for a fast do-it-yourself project to perk up your wardrobe, I'd recommend spending three hours cleaning out your closet instead.  You might find something cute that you haven't worn in a while.


  1. these resumes of the projects from NYTimes are such fun to read and your comments, thank you. Irene in N Ireland

  2. I needed a laugh, and this was it.. Why they aren't employing you puzzles me...

  3. Headed to the closet.... I am not artsy and your directions pushed me to find something cute in the closet......

  4. The finale left me with raised eyebrows! Hey, don't put yourself out, pricey designer. Her original necklace put me in mind of some flower-shaped clear buttons from my grandmother/mother's button collection. Sure, they are not carved from gemstones, probably molded glass but I'm guessing if I color them up a bit, I'd have as pretty of a necklace, and surely prettier than your can't be bothered but fine, here you go, paper fiasco. At least you are keeping us entertained, Kathleen!

  5. Thank you for another dose of incredulous humor. Your ending reminds me of what my husband often says: "Shop in your closet."
    It's actually a pretty good idea.