Archive for July 2011
July 29, 2011 in diy craft projects, homemade
This is a lovely way of wrapping up gifts which involves using very simple and accessible brown paper with string and ribbon. These are actually copies of my book that were sent as gifts when it was first published and I took time to personalise each one.
Add bits and bobs you have around the house to these staple ingredients and the result is unique. The wrapping turns a potentially simple gift-wrap into a very special one and once unwrapped, the tags and pictures can be kept by the recipient.
To begin, I wrap the parcel up as neatly as I can using double-sided tape to stick down the flaps either end and in the centre. I then tie the string, ribbon or sequins around the package and add the rest piece by piece.
The keys were left over from another project, where I had sprayed them with an off white matt-finish paint. These are old keys but they’re not vintage or antiques, just cheap everyday keys. A lick of paint makes all the difference.
The postage stamps were from a big bag of stamps I bought at a flea market and are always great to add interest to projects. I always keep little off-cuts of ribbon too, which are perfect for tying tags or little bows and knots with but add a splash of colour and interest. The sequins add some glamour and are a contrast to the utilitarian brown paper.
I embroidered the flowers on water colour paper with a sewing machine using the embroidery foot and stitched them freehand without a pattern. If you’re not confident with that you could pencil draw or trace a flower onto paper and follow it with the sewing machine. If you want to learn this technique there is an illustrated step-by-step project using it called ‘Stitched Portraits’ on page 110 of The Homemade Home.
Adding tags to write your gift message, writing a poem or scribbling some words makes it personal and fun!
July 27, 2011 in news
It’s a dog’s life on photo shoots. Well, it is if you are one of these doggies! By coincidence, each of the three location houses we have shot in for my next book have had canine companions. I couldn’t help snapping them while they relaxed and we did all the work.
Say hello to Tiggy, Dolly and Hespah.
We have another three photo shoots to go but don’t worry, my next book isn’t about dogs!
July 25, 2011 in handmade goodness
I definitely have a love for sparkles, sequins and a bit of decorative adornement, it must be the magpie in me. A beautiful piece of jewellery can lift an outfit and make you feel special. They can also be displayed in a corner of your room when you are not wearing them and make it feel special too. I put my favourite brooches and necklaces on display in my bedroom so I can enjoy them when I’m not wearing them and they give me a glimpse of joy as I walk past them.
They have been collected over the years, some as gifts and others as treats to myself. They’re all precious to me but not in an obvious way. There is no gold or diamonds involved, the value comes from the fond memories of parties and places and friends and the makers that I bought them from originally, and the love and attention that went into their making in the first place.
The button flower brooch above is by Grainne Morton, a friend from my college days in Edinburgh, who specialises in making amazing, unique pieces from found objects. I bought it at Origin where Grainne had a stall as a gift to myself for completing The Homemade Home , so it has a special place in my heart and sits on my bedroom shelf. I love the sparkle , the pattern and the shape.
The two lace necklaces above are by another of my friends, Emma Cassi who makes the most lovely jewellery from vintage lace, beads and sequins. Beautiful to wear, they add a delicate little shimmer in just the right way.
The necklace below is by Aiko Machida and is an origami ball made of leather. I bought it from her at Origin several years ago (I’ve been going to the Origin craft show every year since I left college) and I always receive lovely comments every time I wear it.
You can always make your own jewellery too with a bit of creativity. The brooch above is one that I made as a project in my book The Homemade Home. It’s a simple collection of pieces of broken, vintage jewellery, buttons and ribbon threaded onto a kilt pin to create a quirky, unique brooch.
Jewellery with a handmade, feel can also be bought on the high street at reasonable prices too. These brooches are all from a favourite shop of mine – Hoss Intropia – but shops like Accessorize and Anthropologie have a good selection too. I added my own touch to the brooch above, a little fluro pink ribbon to the neutral brooch just brightens up an outfit with the right amout of embellishment. The black beaded branch was given as a gift by a dear friend and looks wonderful on a coat.
So whether handmade, homemade or high street, lovely jewellery can decorate your outfit or your bedroom and give you a lift whenever you see it.
Do you have a favourite piece of jewellery?
July 21, 2011 in news
Well, I’m about half way through writing and shooting my next book so thought I would give you a little update!
I had forgotten just how all-consuming writing a book is and it has been a hectic few weeks so far – conceiving ideas, making, writing, propping, styling and shooting the book plus juggling being a mum of two little ones who want my attention. It’s exciting, creative and fun but also a lot of hard work!
We have completed three shoots so far in three amazing locations and the look and feel of the new book is really starting to take shape. I can’t wait to show you more and tell you all about it.
I can’t give any details away yet but as soon as I can I will share them here first so do check back soon or follow things on Twitter or Facebook.
But judging by the photos we’ve taken so far it’s going to be lovely!
July 19, 2011 in diy craft projects, flowers
This is a very simple idea that can transform a simple vase into something unique and individual to you and your home. The great thing is it isn’t permanent and you can change it to suit your room and decor as you wish.
First step is to raid your fabric box. You could choose similar tones as I have here, or mix them up and go a little bonkers with your fabric choices with patterns and bright colours to match your flower arrangements. If you have any fabric leftovers from other projects then that can work well, matching your vase to a cushion in your lounge or a throw on your bed for instance. All the fabrics I used here are leftovers from other projects so match things I have all around the house which makes the vases versatile.
I then raided my kitchen cupboards and chose a variety of sizes of vase and I also used ordinary column drinking glasses which are perfect too. It works best if they have an even column or rectangular shape as they are easier to wrap (shaped or conical vases are trickier). They are all simple, classic glass vases that I have bought over the years from places like Ikea, Habitat and Sainsbury’s.
To wrap them, measure the height and circumference of your vase. I use a fabric tape measure for this, wrapping it around the vase or glass and adding 10mm – 20mm for the overlap. This will give you the dimensions you need to cut out a rectangular piece of fabric that will wrap around with a little bit of an overlap to help fix it on.
Place some double-sided sticky tape along each short edge of the fabric. Peel off the backing of one strip and stick this to the glass, then wrap the fabric around and stick the other end down back on to the fabric where it was first fixed.
If you like, wrap some string or ribbon around the middle and your new look vase is complete, just add water and flowers!
It works for all sizes of vase – as long as you have enough fabric!
I wrapped string around this one in a similar way to the candle gift idea I posted a couple of months ago.
All of the flowers and leaves in the photos above are just picked from my garden but you could easily choose a fabric to go with a wonderful bouquet of fresh flowers.
You have to be a little careful when filling and emptying the vases not to get the fabric too wet or get dirty flower water down them, but mine have remained really quite clean. If this does happen you can easily peel the fabric off and wash it or try a different fabric for a new look. The sticky residue from the tape can usually be scrubbed off with soapy water but if it won’t budge then a turps-based solvent or white spirit can help remove it if you want to return it to its original look.
It works for large vases too and can be a great way to hide unsightly stems.
A quick and simple idea that allows you to match your vases to your decor and that costs next to nothing!
July 12, 2011 in news
I was honoured to be contacted earlier in the year by the lovely team at Elle Deco Norway for an interview with me and feature on my home. It arrived through the mail this week and looks fab – though I can’t understand any of it unfortunately! It’s a great issue and I always love getting a peak inside the homes of people in other countries. Thank you to everyone there!
The photos are by the talented team of photographer James Merrell and stylist Melanie Molesworth who I used to assist. Melanie also wrote the book Junk Style which was one of the first books about flea market style.
I would love to visit more of Scandinavia in future, it’s on my ‘must go to’ list. I’ve not made it further than Copenhagen in Denmark (which is beautiful) and my husband has been to Stockholm in Sweden but Norway is a definite must-visit, especially after seeing the lovely things in Elle Deco Norge!
I’m a big fan of embroidery and love stitching so it was great to hear that the UK’s Embroiderers’ Guild liked my book and wanted to feature it in Embroidery magazine. The new July/August issue has an interview with me and features the stitched portraits project from The Homemade Home. I even got a mention on the front cover! A big thank you to Jo and the team.
July 8, 2011 in diy craft projects, homemade
When you have a special occasion or big party to go to, making a new necklace or brooch is a great way to re-vamp or glam up a favourite outfit. I made this choker necklace to match a dark blue party dress of mine. I love the dress but wanted to give it a new look as I’ve worn it a lot.
This choker is a simple piece of grosgrain ribbon that I hemmed at the ends and added simple ties to the back to fasten it. It’s embellished with embossed birds made of silver foil card, old buttons, sequins and metal snap fasteners – all simply stitched on. I then finished it with an antique brooch I had picked up at a flea market. The blue suede leaves I bought from one of my long-time favourite haberdashery shops VV Rouleaux – probably the best ribbon shop in the world.
It didn’t take long to make and made my outfit feel brand new. Plus you get the added benefit of people asking where you got it from and you can say “I made it!”
Have a fun weekend everyone!
July 5, 2011 in diy craft projects, homemade, interior styling
Here’s a little lamp I made that sits in my studio and makes me smile, so I thought I’d share it with you. It also shows how the stripped back lampshade idea works as well for little shades on table lamps as it does for larger shades, like the one made for the Decorate book launch.
I originally made this shade for an Elle Decoration magazine story I did 7 or 8 years ago and still really like it. If you look through my tearsheets you’ll come across a picture of it’s original incarnation. I bought the blank wire frame new and then hand cut and embossed silver leaves from metal craft sheeting and wired them to the bottom of the frame along with some crystal beads. You could also strip an old lampshade and do something similar.
The lamp base is vintage and I bought it from a flea market last year whilst on holiday in Croatia. I had it re-wired by an electrician when I returned home.
I bought the crystal bead bulb cover years ago and have not been able to find another one since – if you know anywhere that sells them please let me know! They’re great for diffusing the light from the naked bulb. I perched the silver bird on top for a little bit of fun, it seemed the perfect home.
The antique mirror frame was a buy from a little curiosity shop and the little girl in the photo is my Mum when she was a toddler – sweet!
July 1, 2011 in news
I love Japan and my thoughts have been with everyone there since they suffered terribly in March. I was fortunate enough to visit Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka on a sales trip when I was textile designing full time and fell in love with it. It is so inspiring, full of the most amazing things and probably the best place to go shopping in the world!
Back in February this year my home, my daughter and I were photographed for a new magazine-book (a ‘mook’) called Liberty Chic in Japan. It arrived through the post last week and I thought I had to show it to you. The photography is beautiful and included a little bit of Liberty pattern in almost every shot. I was delighted to be featured alongside the homes of jewellery maker Emma Cassi, Apolline who makes the most amazing dolls and Marie-France Cohen, the founder of the gorgeous Merci in Paris, which is one of my favourite shops (along with Liberty).
My daughter Leila, wearing a Liberty print dress that I made for her, wrapping a strip of Liberty fabric around the lamp in her bedroom. This is the lamp from my book that was customised for the shoot by wrapping Liberty print around parts of the wire shade.
The bottles, lavender heart and lavender bags above are all projects from my book The Homemade Home. My son was at school that day but he was happy too as his drawing of an elephant made it on to the front cover if you look closely!
Liberty Chic is a 60 page magazine-book that features interiors and fashion, homes, clothing and products that all have a Liberty print focus. It is in Japanese only and comes with a Liberty print tote and mini pouch. It’s available from Hugowar.com.
Thank you so much to Masaki and Makiko, and to Teruyuki Yoshimura for the wonderful photographs. It is something we will treasure forever.
By coincidence, this was my work desk yesterday – a lovely Liberty print muddle!