Dresses for girls: homemade baby presents

A momentous event occurred a few weeks ago. My sister gave birth to a baby girl.

Of course, every birth is pretty momentous — a life is begun where before there wasn’t one — but this was especially astounding as the baby was the first of her generation to not be a boy

Homemade baby present, Liberty print dress and bloomers | Wolves in LondonBetween me and my siblings, we’ve so far produced five boys, so the arrival of a little girl into the mix is most exciting.

Also exciting for me was the chance to make some cute little dresses and bloomers. I love my boys (of course, it hardly needs saying) but if there is one thing I miss not having a girl, it’s the chance to sew tiny girl clothes with beautiful Liberty fabrics.

But that chance I now have!

The sewing machine was retrieved from the attic, dusted off and I got to work.

I made two matching sets, both from the same patterns and, sigh, just look, aren’t they sweet?

Homesewn Liberty baby dress and bloomers | Wolves in LondonThe dress is from the Purl Bee tiny triangle dress pattern. It’s a straightforward, though slightly fiddly sew, I found. Ironing 1/4 inch seams onto every edge was a little bit of a faff and I got a bit bored of trying to endlessly measure them to make sure they were straight, so, well, some of them ended up a tiny bit not straight.

Do any more regular sewers have any tips for good ways of going about that?

Liberty print Purl Bee tiny triangle dress | Wolves in LondonAnyway, other than that, it was very simple to put together and the end result looks lovely. I think my only criticism is that, in the wearing though not so much in the photos, the triangle shape is actually a little bit too extreme — it really does stick right out at the sides. This would probably be fine on a standing-up toddler, but on babies who spend their time lying or sitting, then there’s a little bit too much material in the way.

Liberty print bloomers | Wolves in LondonBloomer cuffThe bloomers are made from a free pattern by Sewing Mama RaeAnna on Craftsy and I was utterly, completely delighted with these. They look way more complicated than they were to make, just using some elastic round the waist and legs to get that cute gathering, and I sewed them up in no time. If I ever have another summer baby (boy or girl) I will definitely be making loads of these as nappy covers as they are seriously adorable.
Green Liberty bloomers | Wolves in LondonThe fabric for both is a Liberty tana lawn*. The designs are called Capel L (the green flowery one) and Lola Weisselberg (the purple, more ornate pattern). The first is available on the Liberty website, though I can’t find the second. I have to confess, I bought both from eBay.

To go with the dresses I had to – of course – make some personalised babygrows using my go-to fabric transfer paper method. I made her older brother a set of printed babygrows when he was born (you can see them here: a very important arrival) and I wanted her to have some of her own as well.

(Please excuse the rather crappy photos, I always have difficulty photographing these: invariably, parts of the babygrow are blown out, while the background looks grey and under-exposed. Three years of making these and I still can’t take a decent photo of them…)

Anteater babygrow homemade | Wolves in LondonTulip babygrow | Wolves in LondonA is for... babygrow | Wolves in LondonThe tulips are a Graphics Fairy image; I just couldn’t resist using some more flowers since I rarely have the chance to put lots of flowers onto my boys clothes. (Not that the sproglets don’t love them, actually, so maybe I should break away from all the gender stereotyping.) The As because her name starts with A. The anteater is from an amazing vintage alphabet I first found years ago, but use at every possible opportunity I get. The French A is from a new discovery: a partial vintage alphabet, also free from copyright.

And that’s the complete set: a load of teeny, tiny, flowery little girl clothes. I’m already planning what to make her for Christmas…

*I realised as I wrote this that I didn’t actually have a clue what “tana lawn” meant, so I have just Googled it to find out that the Tana is for Lake Tana in East Africa where the original cotton grew, and “lawn” is used to describe a fabric made with high count yarns; the Liberty tana lawn is made “without the use of crease-resisting chemicals or irritating allergens, the result is a famous masterpiece of fabric technology: fine, cool, comfortable and durable, with brilliant reproduction of colours and prints.” Which all sounds wonderful, but does explain why I found the fabric creased a lot as I sewed it and I had to constantly iron it out. Not really an ideal quality for an item of baby clothing it has to be said. I did also find, as a very amateur sewer, that the slightly silky quality to the fabric made it a little trickier to sew. But will no doubt be lovely to wear…

Turning one

We’re just back from a lovely week in Somerset and I’ve got lots of photos I want to share with you of some of the beautiful places we visited. However, since I think I would need to change this blog’s name to Gardens wot I have visited if I were to follow on with yet another garden visit post, I’ll save them up for next week. This, instead, is something I found sitting in my drafts, written a month ago when it actually had just been the littlest’s birthday and then left as I had wanted to get some better pictures. I think it’s time to admit defeat on that front and just publish it…

Just popping in rather quickly to share a photo of the T-shirt I made for the littlest’s first birthday at the weekend.


Homemade birthday top
Oh glorious baby chubbiness!

I’m thinking of turning it into a bit of a tradition, this birthday T-shirt thing. Do you remember the top I made for the sproglet’s second birthday last July?

Needless to say, far less time, thought, planning and energy went into the making of this one for the poor old baby. Where the sproglet had a large, well-planned and well-cooked-for first birthday party, last Saturday’s affair was a family only, last-minute organised do, catered by a quick trip to Waitrose to pick up sausages, scotch eggs and the like. We managed to make him a cake, at least, but forgot to buy candles.

Homemade birthday t-shirt
Crumpled and creased, post-action

And as the first guest arrived – my Mum – I was still busy ironing the image onto the front of his birthday T-shirt, cobbled together in the last few minutes before the party officially started.

Ah well, I rather suspect this will be his lot for the rest of his childhood. Hand-me-downs and less fuss made over all the big milestones. I wonder if it might not be a much easier entrance to the world, though, always aware that you’re not actually at the very centre of it, making it all spin round. At some point in time, his elder brother, the sprog, might get a rather rude awakening to all that, after the constant adoration and amazement from his family.

Gorgeous boys, both, in their different ways. I’m very lucky.

PS, I should mention that the image I’ve used isn’t actually copyright free and good for reproduction, so, erm, don’t tell on me. In a bit of a rush, rather than use my normal vintage images sources, I just had a very quick Google.

PPS, If you’ve not already seen it and want to make your own T-shirts (or anything else at all), check out my tutorial for how to print on fabric.

Homemade birthday T-shirts

The sproglet turned two at the weekend and I couldn’t resist making him a birthday T-shirt.


Homemade 2nd birthday t-shirt | Wolves in London
Two today!

(Is this an addiction? Quite possibly. But one I just can’t seem to beat…)

We had a brilliant party in the local park, with a gazebo bedecked with bunting. I felt I was fulfilling my SE London parental duties correctly. (If you walk through Peckham Rye Park on any weekend day in the summer, all you see are children’s parties, the park festooned with bunting, gazebos and balloons. I once even saw someone erecting a bell tent in the arboretum for the afternoon.

I did, actually, forget about balloons, so we walked to our chosen party spot with the sprog pointing at all the other birthday children’s balloons on the way going, “Oh! Balloon! Balloon!”

I made a mental note for next year.)

The sprog wore his T-shirt all day long, spilling not one little drop of drink or cake on it all day.

I thought he might recognise the number 2 on the front, but he didn’t really. But all the grown-ups complimented him on the lovely Quentin Blake drawings.

Homemade Quentin Blake birthday t-shirt | Wolves in London
Who doesn’t love Quentin Blake?

I made the image using one of the free colouring in templates on the Quentin Blake website.

(I found out about these in a great post with links to loads of kids’ colouring in resources on the beautiful blog Kate’s Creative Space.)

I used the central part of the image, put it into a simple black square frame and then just stuck in a giant number 2 into the blank space in the font Curlz MT.

I then used my beloved transfer paper following the method outlined here. And I was pretty pleased with the result…

I thought about writing “2 today” but decided that rather limited the usage (or at least gave the wrong impression for any other day) so I just stuck with a simple 2.

In case anyone else fancies making one, you can use my template here and just insert the appropriate number in place of the 2. This is, ahem *hides face with shame*, a Powerpoint file so it’s super easy to edit…

Download a template for a birthday t-shirt | Wolves in London
Click here to download the template

Copyright of the Quentin Blake picture is obviously Quentin Blake’s, and these can’t be used for commercial purposes. See more on his copyright on his original colouring-in sheet.

I think I’m going to make this an annual tradition; a new t-shirt every year.

Just nine months to go til the baby has his first birthday — I might start planning the outfit now…

Related articles:

I’ve made a fair few different t-shirts now.  (I even have plans to start up my own little shop selling things like this…)

Take a look at the following (all include links to the images I’ve used):

Homeprinted carrot babygrow | Wolves in London
Carrot babygrow
Homemade Russian doll babygrow | Wolves in London
Russian doll babygrows
Homemade elephant T-shirt | Wolves in London
Elephant T-shirt
Homeprinted dog T-shirt | Wolves in London
Vintage dog pic
Vintage image babygrows | Wolves in London
Three vintage babygrows
Homeprinted tomato t-shirt | Wolves in London
Er, tomatoes?!

Things I’ve learnt: blogging

When I started this blog just over a year ago, with the aim of documenting my attempts to start up a fabric line, I thought that blogging was the one thing I actually already knew about.

In past day jobs, I’ve run blogs for big online companies. Blogs that are listed in Google News; blogs that attract tens of thousands of visitors a day; blogs that get commended in newspapers.

I knew about search engine optimisation. I knew the rules of web writing. I knew all about sticky content. I knew the importance of social media for promoting your blog…

And then I started writing this blog and none of it really seemed to apply.

What has this little snail got to do with blogging? Why, absolutely nothing. I just found him in my garden yesterday… (Though, if I tried hard, I’m sure I could spin some laboured analogy about taking things slowly, etc etc…)

What was the point of going all out on optimising every single post, when it might be something I was only writing about once and was hardly central to my overall blog?

I didn’t like the look of my web accessible boring factual, descriptive titles – they weren’t inspirational, they wouldn’t make me want to read the articles (even if they were clear and easy to understand).

I felt a bit exposed starting on a really personal project, when I first began, and I didn’t want to promote it on Facebook or Twitter where all my friends could see it and judge. And, worst of all, I simply did not want to write short articles in short sentences and short paragraphs, with lots of white space on the page.

When it came to writing a blog of my own, I just couldn’t see the point in doing it if I wasn’t writing what I wanted to. I’m a waffler. An inveterate burbler. A serious fan of parentheses (perhaps an addict even…) Trying to write my own thoughts in a way that wasn’t natural to me just wasn’t that fun.

What’s more, when I started to pay closer attention to the blogs that I enjoyed reading myself, I saw that many of these broke all the blog rules too.

So I decided that since this was my own time, I might as well do what I want to do, not what know I should do.

I wouldn’t say I have a million readers now (because I don’t), where I used to when I wrote the travel blog for my old website, but I have seen my readership slowly and steadily increase.

But most importantly, while it’s obviously nice to have people reading your blog posts, I enjoy writing them.

So, the main thing I’ve learnt about blogging: don’t worry about any of the rules. Sure, it helps to have nice photos and clear headlines and good social media promotion and all that. But it’s most important to just write what you want to write, the way you want to write it. Somewhere, out there across the ether, there’ll be someone who wants to read exactly that.

Related articles:

Things I’ve learnt is an occasional series, where I talk about stuff I’ve picked up while trying to set up a new business of printed fabrics. I’m hoping that the information in these posts might be informative / interesting / amusing to anyone else setting up their own business.

Other posts from the series are:

A photo a day: August 22nd

Hand stamped bags for wedding favours
Snacks for the road

Oh dear me, no photo for the day yesterday. I was absolutely determined that I was going to manage to post a picture every single day this month, but yesterday passed by in a blear of exhaustion as I’d got up at 3.30am to go to the New Covent Garden flower market for a trial of wedding flowers…

But more on that tomorrow.

Today, a little more wedmin. I spent the sproglet’s lunchtime nap today hand stamping these bags (above) to use as favours. They’ll be filled with either homemade fudge or homemade peppermint hearts, depending on how the sweet making trials pan out at the weekend.

They’re lying out on the dining room table drying off, surrounded by four buckets full of flowers. It’s all very jolly in there — or would be if I didn’t have the curtains closed and the door shut, in order to keep the flowers as healthy as possible.

Related articles:

  • Take a look at the rest of my August break photos. (Sob, though there are only 20 others, not 21 as there should be…)

A very important arrival

Last week I became an Aunt for the very first time.*

One of my sisters had a baby boy and I can report, completely objectively of course, that he is one of the cutest little babies ever to be born.

I’d been knitting a blanket for the new arrival for a ridiculously long time, but of course it still wasn’t finished when he arrived, so I did a bit of frantic knitting while we were staying in Shropshire and managed to finish the second half in approximately one hundredth of the time I did the first half.

Together with the blanket, I put together a whole little new baby present pack. Here’s a photo of the whole thing.

Homemade baby present box
A bunch of homemade clothes for a very special baby. (Not the shoes, though. I bought them. Though I have always wondered how hard it would be to make some of those little leather slip-ons…)

I made three little babygrow tops, in the same style as the baby carrot set I made for my own sproglet, and using my tried and tested method of iron-on transfer paper. (I’ve got a step by step tutorial for doing this, if you’re interested: how to transfer images to fabric.)

homeprinted babygrows
Good lord, it’s hard to photograph white babygrows, please excuse this over-exposed shot. Does anyone have any tips? I don’t think the white background helps, but when I put them on other colours, the contrast is too strong…

I used a vintage bicycle image (which you can find at the Graphics Fairy: vintage bike) because the baby’s Dad loves to cycle. I love the caption underneath: “the dandy horse.”

Home printed babygrow
The dandy horse

For the second babygrow, I found this lovely balloon image, with the word “TOYS” emblazoned across it (also from the Graphics Fairy: toys balloon). Perfect for any child, really…

Homeprinted babygrow
A hot air balloon and the promise of toys!

And the third babygrow reads, “D is for the dirigible, a motor driven balloon.” The baby’s name starts with D, as I’m sure you guessed, and this was far more appealing to me than “D is for dog”…

Homeprinted babygrow
D is for dirigible, not dog or drum or door…

Then I made another pair of the baby trousers in the same elephant fabric I used recently for Laura’s baby. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I can’t stand the persistent blue-for-boys and pink-for-girls, so I always like to use any other colour that I possibly can.

Homemade baby trousers
Stomp, stomp stomp

And, in an amazing instance of learning from my own mistakes, I lined the elephants all up in a straight line this time, so none of them were diving off a cliff. Look, look!

Hem of elephant trousers
All in a straight line, yay me!

Finally, the blanket. It’s called the baby chalice blanket and is a free pattern by Karen S. Lauger. You can see full details on my Ravelry page: baby chalice blanket.

chalice blanket close up
This is a close up of the pattern

The pattern is really beautiful, when finished. Intricate, but yet quite bold too. I found it less pleasing to knit than my previous shale baby blanket which was exceedingly simple to remember, but the overall result is really lovely.

chalice baby blanket
Believe it or not, this is the photo I took after trying to arrange the blanket in a perfect rectangle. Perhaps I really needed to block it once more!

I used a Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino yarn, which is just lovely to knit with (though not cheap…) I think I could have used a slightly smaller pair of needles, actually, but it’s  never worth worrying about that sort of thing at the end of the knitting.

Chalice blanket
Just one more so you can see the pattern repeats again

She was pretty happy with the box, I think. Lots of things to dress my tiny nephew in, when he gets a little bigger…

*If that wasn’t exciting enough, I’ll also become a double Aunt in a few weeks. When I get married, my partner’s niece will officially become my niece too. (I already call her my niece, in fact, but if I do so in his earshot, he always says to me, “She’s not your niece, she’s my niece…”)

It’s been a little while since I’ve joined up with any link parties, but I’ve just seen a new one that’s started on one of my favourite blogs, Dream a Little Bigger, so I’m joining up there this week. Also back to my old favourite, Brag Monday at the Graphics Fairy. And finally remembering to link up with Handmade Monday, A UK-based link party (hooray! they are few and far between) on Handmade Harbour run by the very lovely Wendy Massey who I met earlier this year at the Pinterest party.

Related articles:

  • If you’re looking for something to make a new baby, I’ve got a free tutorial and pattern for a baby bib
  • Or take a look at my tutorials page for more projects that use lovely vintage images

A first teapot cosy and some grand plans

You know my hugely nebulous plans to start up a great fabric empire to rival Libertys?

Well, in an attempt to make them less nebulous and more concrete, I’ve given myself a deadline to have my Etsy shop up and running and actually stocked with things that I’ve made.

(Note the careful way I’m not sharing the actual date of this deadline with you, just in case I don’t make it…)

Quiled teapot cosy
Would you spend money on this?

The first product I want to have ready to sell is a teapot cosy made with my teapot fabric. (I know! These unexpected yet brilliant connections I make! Clearly the mind of a genius at work.)

Great plans, so far, aren’t they? But then, after a while of thinking what a great product I was going to make, it dawned on me that I haven’t got a clue how to make a teapot cosy.

I examined my Cath Kidston teapot cosy carefully and could see that it was quilted, which immediately struck me as frightening. It also had binding on it. Doubly terrifying. I didn’t really know how to attempt either of those things.

But then, while having a little ramble around Twitter, I came across Saturday Sewing Session (www.saturdaysewingsession.co.uk). They have London-based sewing classes and, oh, what’s that I see? A whole entire afternoon class on sewing teapot cosies, including learning to quilt and applique.

[Random interjection here: I don’t quite feel like I’ve got the point of Twitter, yet. Am I the only one? I signed up a while ago, but haven’t yet shaken off the feeling that I’m just shouting into a void whenever I post anything. Does anyone really care about my picture of some ferrets about to have a race at a county fair, or should I save such chat for Facebook? Answers on a postcard, please. Or a 140 character tweet…]

So last Saturday, I hit the well-heeled neighbourhood of Chelsea and sewed myself this little beauty.

Quilted floral cosy | Wolves in London
I hasten to point out, this is not my fabric. I am some years (maybe lifetimes) away from being able to design something as complicated as this. The sewing, though, all my own…

Speaking with absolutely no modesty at all, I say isn’t it quite the prettiest tea cosy you’ve ever seen?

First, we learnt how to quilt the outside covers. As is the way with most things in life, something I thought was going to be really complicated was extremely simple. In this case, it was just as straightforward as sewing a straight line.

Quilted teapot cosy | Wolves in London
Quilting! Me! Neatly!

The clever bit was in the use of a little sewing machine quilting bar, that meant you spaced all of your lines perfectly…

Quilted teapot cosy | Wolves in London
Another photo of the quilting, that’s how proud I am…

Then, we put the pieces together and I was slightly amused to realise that the construction was exactly the same as the method I’d used for my egg cosies at Easter. And there I was thinking I’d invented that all by myself! Okay, the red lining isn’t the perfect match for the gorgeous outside fabric, but it was the closest there.

Quilted teapot cosy | Wolves in London
And the lining…

We were meant to be appliqueing something onto the front of the cosy as well, but by the time I’d done my quilting, I knew that I didn’t want anything else going onto such an elegant fabric (does anyone recognise it, by the way? I absolutely adored it, but the person teaching my class wasn’t sure where they’d got it from…). So, I just tried out a bit of applique on a piece of calico instead.

Clearly, I was having a good sewing day, because this came out wonderfully as well:

Applique heart | Wolves in London
Awww, a floral heart

Actually, maybe it was something in the air of that studio, because I can never sew this neatly at home…

Applique detail
Neat stitching, perfectly in place. Quite impressive for me…

So, a very first teapot cosy. This won’t be sold, but used by me for all my teapot cosying needs. Actually, I think the shape of this one is a bit too tall and not wide enough, so I’ll make a new pattern when I make the ones for my shop.

So, what do you think? Would you part with your hard-earned cash for something like this?!

Related articles:

Linking up at Keeping it Simple Crafts, Lines Across, Sew Can Do and Serenity Now. Head over to see what others have been up to this week.

Things I’ve learnt: screen printing

I have a new love! It’s screen printing!

F is for fish screen print | Wolves in London
I made this with my own fair hands

Screen printing was the very first thing I wrote on my Things to Learn list, that lengthy tome of everything I need to do to get this fabric business started.

I want to print onto T-shirts, babygrows, bags, cushions… …you know, the usual old things. But I didn’t really have a clue how to go about it.

So, I was pretty excited as I went off to my first screen printing class a few weeks back. Excited and a little trepidatious too. I had a horrible feeling I was going to be the least “arty” person there. That everyone would turn up with amazing intricate images they’d drawn themselves and poke fun at me (or at the very least sneer behind my back) for my envelope stuffed full with vintage images that I had not lovingly drawn by hand, but downloaded from the internet.

Of course, I needn’t have worried. I was, most definitely, without a shadow of a doubt the least arty person there. In fact,  I was the only person there who wasn’t a fine art student. (Okay, okay, it was only a class of two, but the tutor was also a fine art student as was the, erm, fine art student who was there using the studio…)

But, not a single one of them laughed at me. I know! It’s almost as if I’m not still at school anymore, but a functioning adult in the real world, isn’t it?

The screen printing process was actually a little more complicated than I was expecting. And used a lot of really big, impressive swanky machines, that I couldn’t possibly hope to get into my spare bedroom. (Yeah, that had been the plan before I set off…)

I’m certainly not about to give you a step-by-step of how to screen print, but this is what I did on the day…

First we drew out our designs on acetate.

This is mine:

Screen print acetate
I actually think this looks even nicer than my final print

I traced out a fish image I got from Old Book Illustrations and the F is from a free downloadable font called Coffee Tin. (I’d printed them out beforehand onto normal A4, but actually if I’d had some tracing paper that I could load into a printer, that would have been the easiest way of doing it…)

Screen printing works by building up layers of different colours on top of each other. The prints I made just had two colours.

For my base layer, I used red. So when it came to printing this layer, I just needed the block outlines of my design.

Acetate design for screen printing
The simple block outline gave all the red parts…

For the top layer, I used black ink. This was where the detail of the images were really going to show and this was more the more intricate design.

We then needed to get these designs onto the silk screen.

I’ve got no photos of this part, but a very brief overview is that we put emulsion on a screen, which, when exposed to light, sets hard. Our designs, put onto the top of the screens, prevent that part of the emulsion reaching the light, so you can wash off that area and the ink goes through later.

Clear as mud? Thought so.

Anyhoo, the end result is a screen through which you can push paint in certain parts.

It was amazingly good fun doing the actual printing and I got a bit carried away and made ten copies of my design. I’m not actually planning on using this on paper (otherwise I would have given it a background colour too) but I thought about doing an alphabet like this on the front of babygrows…

So this was the finished result:

Screen print F for fish
F is for fish

I’m really pleased with the way the F turned out. The way the paint’s come through the design looks pleasingly aged…

Screen print F
Looks like it could be emblazoned on a big top, doesn’t it?

The fish was less successful, however. The middle fins have turned out really well. The tail is pretty good too:

Screen print close up
Though the lack of edges being perfect is, perhaps, a little mistake, I really like the effect…

But the face hasn’t taken as much detail as I would have hoped, nor has the cross hatching on the  main part of his body.

See, this is how the face looked on my transfer paper:

acetate design of a fish
Shall I frame him as well?!

Compared to the end result:

Fish face screen print
Oi fish face!

This is because I didn’t go over the black lines on the tracing paper enough times, so they’ve let a bit of light get through when we were exposing the screens. I’ve still got the design though, so I plan on going over a little more and trying again.

Still, imperfections aside, it’s not a bad first attempt is it?

My main disappointment was that the open access studio is going to cost a lot more than I had hoped.

However, and hold onto your hats people, because here is the first really useful bit of info I’m sharing in this post… …I have found an absolutely brilliant tutorial on screen printing at home from the ever-amusing blog The Art of Doing Stuff.

I need to look into buying the supplies, but it might be, it just might be, that I could set it all up in my spare bedroom after all.

Related articles

  • If screen printing sounds like a bit too much (and I certainly haven’t made it sound simple, have I?!) then have a go at ironing printed images onto fabric. It’s really, really simple. See my step by step tutorial and take a look at a few more tips and hints for getting a really great result. (The last one was another Things I’ve Learnt post!)
  • There are various other projects and ideas I’ve made with vintage images in the vintage images category, if you feel like a browse…
  • And this lovely fish (a smelt, apparently) shows up again in the fabric designs I made on Spoonflower.
  • You can head over to my tutorials page for more projects to make.
  • My only other article sharing things I’ve learnt was about photography. But I warn you in advance, the main point is that I’ve not learnt enough… Ah well. One day.

Small print disclaimer:

The title of this post is a little misleading. The premise for my things I’ve learnt series, is that I discuss things I have genuinely learnt as I embark on this whole fabric business project. Learnt to the point – dare I say it – of being good at them.

It was a great idea when I first thought of it, right back at the very beginning of this blog. I would share information and tips that would hopefully be useful to others, all about setting up a craft business.

But, of the 62 blog posts I’ve written since then, only two of them have been for this series. Why? Because I haven’t yet learnt that much, ha ha.

So I realised that if I’m going to wait until I’m properly really, really good at things, this series is never going to get going.

That, then, is the disclaimer: I have only “learnt” screen printing to the point that I technically know how it works and I have made one, just one, print.  I am certainly not an expert. Not even an amateur yet, really. Definitely not “good”… Just someone who has tried it out.

Linking this post up at the Shabby Nest, Shabby Creek Cottage, Today’s Creative Blog, Skip to my Lou and Sew Can Do.

Beautiful letterpress business cards

Just dropping in very quickly this morning to show you a few pictures of these little beauties:

Letterpress business cards
I feel like I’m coming over all American Psycho, but look at that lovely thick card!

What is that heavenly thing of wonder? I hear you ask. Is it the latest exhibit at the Tate? Is it the winner of the Turner prize? Is it a new work by Hockney?

Prepare to be amazed, dear readers. It’s none other than my brand new business card. (Oh. You already saw that from the post title, did you?)

Letterpress business cards
My sister had tied them up with this baker’s twine for me. Heaven! (Then she’d put them in one her dog poo bags, so the initial impression wasn’t quite as good…)

As I was going to the Pinterest party last night, I thought it might be a good idea to have some cards I could hand out to other bloggers.

I’d love to claim any sort of contribution to the beauty of this end result, but sadly (or, perhaps, fortunately) I had no hand in it.

The wonderfully talented Paola Zakimi, who made the amazing wolf girl on my banner, also created this great logo for me. (If you haven’t already, do take a look at Paola’s Etsy shop Holli, she has some gorgeous illustrations for sale.)

Letterpress business card
The same logo you can see on my About page, this time in printed form

And my sister (the same one whose wedding invitations I showed you before) had a Letterpress plate made up with the design and printed them out for me. (She also takes commissions, so if you want some nice cards yourself, just get in touch and I’ll put you in contact.)

You can just see the indentations of the press if you look closely…

Letterpress business card
Okay, I confess, I just like looking at these from every angle

Since they didn’t have contact details on, I bought myself a little Dormy printing kit, which had great reviews on Amazon. I thought I could easily print all my contact info onto the back of the cards.

I set up two different options for printing; one with just the website, one with more contact info.

Letter stamp
It reminds me of the old cinema signs, where you can replace the film title letter by letter

Then I tried and tried over and over to get a good result with the stamp. Hmmmm. Not so much.

The larger plate with all the info was a complete disaster. But I managed to get a (just about) acceptable result with the website address alone.

Wolves in London stamps
A little bit of subliminal messaging going on here…

After all that practicing, the ink didn’t dry in time for me to take them with me, so I ended up only taking the plain cards. (In fact, it’s still not dry this morning…)

But, if it ever sets, the idea is I’ll have a card with a gorgeous front and an informative back. Like this:

Letterpress business cards
Okay, the front is way better than the back, but I think I can just about get away with the shonky printing of the web address. Can’t I?

And how many of these beauteous items did I give out all night?


Letterpress business cards
Business cards: tick. Now to just set up the actual business…

Still, a business card is a step closer to a fully fledged business, isn’t it?

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Brighton: a plethora of pattern

When I was down in Brighton over the weekend, it seemed as if everywhere I went I saw amazing patterns, embedded into the everyday fabric of the city.

I don’t know whether it was just that I was on holiday, so was looking around me with a little more interest and leisure than I normally do, or whether Brighton really has a lot more glorious patterns than London. (Okay, so I do know the answer to that, it’s clearly the first one, but it’s much nicer to think about an amazing city of patterns…)

I’m really fascinated by pattern at the moment. What with this whole fabric designing malarkey, I’m spending more time than usual noticing the way things are laid out, the geometric repeats of patterns and how you can take inspiration from all sorts of unlikely everyday objects to create really beautiful images.

Here, then, are some favourites that I spotted while we were away.

Mosaic floor, Brighton museum
I’d love to give you a bit of background history on this floor, but I’m afraid all I know about it is that it’s pretty…

We only made a brief visit to the Art Museum, but I had time to admire (and photograph) its mosaic floors (above) and tiled walls (below).

Tiled wall, Brighton museum
Stunning, aren’t they. Plus a little reflection of me for your added viewing pleasure

It wasn’t just in the museums and galleries I spotted nice patterns though. Oh no! Even Brighton’s car parks are beautiful. On the way to use the loo in Debenhams, I was temporarily stopped in my tracks to admire this pattern of sunlight coming through the grid on the side of the car park:

Sunlight in car park
You know, in London, we don’t have beautiful things like car parks.

But, let’s face it, you don’t go to Brighton to admire the car parks. Out on the beach, there was plenty of opportunity to photograph the floor as well.

Beach path
Wood and pebbles, especially lovely patterns

The pebble beach was edged with pathways made of wood. Some new, as above, some older, as below.

Beach path, Brighton
Pebbles and older wood: even better

The paths going through the middle of the beach were equally appealing:

Beach path, Brighton
Have you seen enough photos of different combinations of wood and pebbles yet?

As was this series of steps leading to the beach:

Paving slabs, bricks and wood. Not necessarily a combination I would normally think of as beautiful

And finally, out on the pier, a little more weathered wood…

Brighton pier
As I took the photo, the sea was glittering away through the cracks

…and is there, anywhere, a more glorious sight than white railings and a turquoise sea?

Brighton pier railings
Mmmmm, heavenly view

On a completely unrelated note, I’m off to the Pinterest UK party this evening up in King’s Cross. I was contacted by Pinterest a few weeks ago to ask if I wanted to come along, in a move that felt a little akin to your favourite band when you were younger noticing how much time you’d spend staring at their poster on the ceiling and deciding to ask you to come to tea.

(I have an idea that Pinterest has set up an algorithm that looked at the accounts of bloggers and correlated how much time they were wasting usefully pinning projects they are really going to make one day on Pinterest and then invited the most hopelessly addicted to come and meet them.)

I think somewhere in my subconscious the word “party” has struck terror though. Not having been out a huge amount since having the little sproglet, it’s a while since I’ve been to a party. Let alone one where I won’t actually know a single person. My body, in response, has behaved as that of an 18-year-old going on a date. I have a spot on my top lip. I got really sunburnt yesterday. I cut my ankle just now while shaving my legs.

So, if you’re going along too, and you see someone with a tomato red face, limping along unaccustomed to their heels, a smear of unnoticed baby sick down their back, blood dripping down one ankle and a huge throbbing spot on their upper lip, come over and say hi. That’ll be me.

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