Just dropping in very quickly this morning to show you a few pictures of these little beauties:
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?)
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.)
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…
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.
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.
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:
And how many of these beauteous items did I give out all night?
Still, a business card is a step closer to a fully fledged business, isn’t it?
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.
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).
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:
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.
The pebble beach was edged with pathways made of wood. Some new, as above, some older, as below.
The paths going through the middle of the beach were equally appealing:
As was this series of steps leading to the beach:
And finally, out on the pier, a little more weathered wood…
…and is there, anywhere, a more glorious sight than white railings and a turquoise sea?
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.
I’m a huge fan of good packaging. When I really get started on the great fabric project and open my Etsy shop, I want everything I send out* to be so beautifully packaged that the recipient feels they’re getting a present in the post.
Which was just how I felt this morning, after taking delivery of a parcel containing something I’d ordered for the baby from The Round Window.
When I’d opened up the brown box, this is what I found inside:
Stunning, isn’t it? That gorgeous cheerful yellow paper, the baker’s string tied around it, the little acorn note…
The parcel itself was just like a lovely present. I almost didn’t want to open it up it looked so beautiful.
The cheery little acorn (the motif from her online shop) had a hand-written note on the back, thanking me for the order.
And when I unwrapped the twine and turned the parcel over, there was even a matching acorn sticker, in place of sellotape.
Packaging just doesn’t get any better than this, does it? In all honesty, I’m not sure that even birthday or Christmas presents I’ve been given have been wrapped as beautifully! (Apologies to anyone whose ever given me a present and is reading this…)
I feel completely inspired to try and produce something as attractive as this for my own packaging when the times comes to actually start selling some stuff in my own shop.
Oh, and the icing on the cake? This was what was inside. A little stained glass egg man, that I’m going to hang in the window of the sproglet’s room.
Beyond amazing, no?
(Apologies for all the superlatives in this post. In my defence, it’s not every day something as nice as this arrives at your door…)
*I might be making a big assumption here that I’ll get any orders at all, ha ha.
It’s hardly in the same league, but I made some of my own gift boxes for Christmas presents last year. Take a look at my free template and tutorial if you’re inclined to do the same.
My visit before Christmas to William Morris at the Tate made me realise just how much I love floral patterned fabrics.
Florals used to have a bit of a reputation as chintz, but you only need to take a look at some of the bold, bright William Morris patterns to blow that idea straight out if the water.
I’d love to attempt a fabric design with a repeated floral pattern myself one day, but, frankly, trying to come up with a clever design that would match perfectly for all the repeats is enough to make my head hurt right now.
For the time being, I thought I’d just round up some of my very favourite floral fabrics to share with you on this bleak, cold Friday morning, in the hope it makes Spring feel a little closer…
Click on any of the pictures to go through to the relevant websites to buy the fabrics, if you’re so inclined, or just get more info.
1. Liberty print
You couldn’t have a list of floral fabrics (or, for that matter, any sort of fabric) without including a Liberty print. The hard decision here was whittling down the wonderfulness to just select one…
But I’ve finally settled on this Castile B Tana Lawn fabric.
Apparently, it was designed to represent the Elephant & Castle urban forest campaign of 2011 that was set up to redesign the area in London and save trees. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything looking even remotely like an urban forest whenever I’ve been through there on the bus, and actually I’m slightly shocked that this most beautiful fabric has been inspired by what I think is probably the ugliest area of London, but there we go…
I love all the details in this: the spade and buckets, the weird frog-like creature, the snail. And I’m all about gardening right now, so seeing a representation in fabric couldn’t please me more.
2. Borderline fabrics
In a similar gardening vein, I discovered these gorgeous figs the other day, from Borderline fabrics in World’s End.
There is something utterly succulent about this print, isn’t there? The lovely purple figs sitting alongside the fat leaves.
I’d never heard of Borderline fabrics before, but the website says they specialise in fabrics for upholstery and curtains with designs produced from archive sources. Sounds right up my street, I might have to go and wander round the shop in the near future.
3. Florence Broadhurst
This wonderful fabric is called Japanese Floral and was designed by Florence Broadhurst:
If you’ve not heard of Florence Broadhurst (and I hadn’t til about, oooh, five minutes ago) she sounds just as fabulous as this pattern. She was born in Australia, performed on stage around Asia, founded an arts academy in Shanghai, then moved to London where she ran a dress shop in Bond Street as Madam Pellier, then returned to Australia and started a wallpaper business. I like the sound of this woman!
There’s a full biography on the Signature Prints website: Florence Broadhurst. Have a read if you’re interested, and check out the amazing photos of her too. I love her hair almost as much as I love her designs.
4. V&A Quilts
The V&A did a whole exhibition on quilts a few years back, which I didn’t manage to see as I wasn’t in the country at the time.
However, being a total addict of the V&A online shop, I did see (and purchase much of) the special collection they made, based on some of the old designs (in conjunction with Liberty, I believe). This is my favourite of all the designs:
I think it’s just called “Petals” – which is as sweet a name as the pattern itself. I’m working on a quilt for my sister that has this fabric in it, so I’ll share more pictures once I get that finished.
5. Joel Dewberry
From something small, delicate and old-fashioned, to something big, bold and 1960s-looking… This is called Sunflower in Sunglow and is by Joel Dewberry.
I first saw this fabric on the blog Delia Creates, where she used it to re-cover a chair. (I know I mention that blog a lot, I’ve got something of a blog crush going on…) When I read the post I wasn’t sure what I wanted more: the amazing re-upholstering skills she displayed or the fabric she used.
This is just so cheerful, retro and bright that you couldn’t help but smile if you sat down on a chair made of this fabric, could you?
So, there you have it, five floral fabrics. I was originally planning on sharing ten, but I think this post is quite long enough now, so I’ll return for a part two at some point in the future.
In the meantime, you can take a look at my Pinterest board fabulous fabrics if you want to see more gorgeous designs.
Poor old wolves, I’ve only just noticed what a terribly bad press they get. Vilified in literature, always the bad guy (especially in 17th Century children’s books), it seems all they’re good for is blowing down adorable pigs’ houses or dressing up as old women in order to trick innocent young girls into being eaten.
What’s brought about this sudden realisation, you ask. (Or, I think you asked, I couldn’t quite hear over the sound of a howling wolf outside the window of my cottage…)
Well, I’ve been trying to update my blog banner and, given my well-documented love of vintage images*, I thought it’d be easy enough to find a cool retro picture of a wolf (for my blog name, y’see) and stick it up there, maybe with a cool retro image of London too.
Ha! How wrong I was. I spent a good few hours trawling all my favourite free vintage picture sites and, sure enough as I’d hoped, I came up with hundreds of images of wolves. But the wolves weren’t being very nice. They were growling fiercely at woodmen, galloping maniacally across moonlight-illuminated fields while foaming at the mouth, or, worst of all, grabbing tiny babies in their jaws and carting them off to their lair, as the baby’s mother looks on in terror and fear…
Nope, the past few centuries haven’t recorded wolves in a fair and unbiased fashion pictorially.
Then to top it all, as if the poor wolf’s name wasn’t blackened enough, they became the symbol for new age hippies everywhere who suddenly wanted to run with them, dance with them, sing with them, howl with them, god knows what else with them.
What has the poor wolf done to deserve this? It’s just a shaggy dog, really and everyone loves dogs. Heck, we even love foxes. You couldn’t throw a stick in a design shop at the moment without it hitting into some fox-emblazoned piece of homeware or clothing.
So, come on people, let’s bring the wolf back in the from the cold. And so I give you, the cute lovable wolf. (Well, maybe not quite, but at least a few cool old pictures of some non-completely terrifying wolves, anyway):
All photos found on the New York Public Library Digital Archive: click on the photos to go directly to the right page. For more cool copyright free images, check out my Pinterest board Free graphics.
Before Christmas, we trotted off to Tate Britain to meet some friends and visit the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition. The highlight of the exhibition, as far as I was concerned, was room number six, entitled Paradise. A room devoted to William Morris.
I flipping love William Morris. I love the ornate details, the colours, the grandeur, I love how his designs are fabulously floral without being twee.
But what really inspired me, aside from the individual beauty of the designs, was seeing all of his different work in this room and realizing just how much he was involved with. There’s wallpaper, of course, textiles, curtains, books with stunningly ornate wood engravings… There’s even his four poster bed, festooned with the Kelmscott Tree fabric.
As the Tate website says, his firm, “produced tiles, furniture, embroidery, stained-glass, printed and woven textiles, carpets and tapestry for both ecclesiastical and domestic interiors, examples of which are included in this room. In 1891 Morris founded the Kelmscott Press for the production of high quality hand-printed books.”
That’s quite a list! Everything from fabric to furniture, glass to books. For someone with plans and desires to set up a new fabric business, but who has a serious problem trying to weed through millions of different ideas and settle on doing one solitary thing, this was just what I needed to see. Why not try and do a bit of everything?!
Of course, my biggest problem is that I don’t exactly have the talent that William Morris did. But realising that even the greats sometimes take a scattergun approach, rather than refining and refining one specific discipline, was highly encouraging to me.
I didn’t take any photos of the room (well, you’re not allowed to, so I obeyed the rules), but I strongly recommend a visit if you’re in London before January 13th. There are all the details on the Tate website: Pre Raphaelites, Victorian Avant-Garde.
Here, though, are a few William Morris patterns that are currently available, which are bringing me a bit of joy and good cheer on this gloomy January morning. I hope they do the same for you.
All photos are copyright Morris & Co and if you click on the photo you can go straight through to their website.
Along with my great fabric project dream, I have another business yearning: to open a craft shop on the high street where I live. I’ve recently moved across London and one of the things I miss the most from my old neighbourhood is the fantastic cheap and cheerful craft shop on Stoke Newington High Street, which I used to pop into at least once a week for something or other.
It stocked everything from coloured card, all lined up in a highly appealing rainbow stack, to fabrics, cheap wools, stuffing, paints and so on. Really, anything you could think of that you might need to complete any sort of craft project was lurking somewhere in that shop (sometimes covered in a few years’ worth of dust, it’s true, but always there somewhere).
Where I live now, there is no craft shop within walking distance. There’s a small, very expensive wool room in the back of a rather chichi and very expensive kitchen / clothes shop. And there are a couple of toy shops that stock a few arty things for kids, but that’s it.
So, a definite gap in the market. And I’ve longed most of my life to run a little shop. The nature of the shop changes by the day / season / year. Sometimes I think a deli is the most appealing, other times a second hand bookshop, or maybe a plant nursery. (The holy grail would be a coffee shop with deli attached, second hand bookshop upstairs, plant nursery in the garden and a space for craft classes. Sigh.) But a lovely craft shop, with all the wares arranged appealingly by colour is sounding right up my street just now. And, of course, I could stock all of my own fabrics in it.
All of which is a rather long intro to the thing I actually wanted to talk about in this blog post: DIY crafting kits. This is, clearly, something else I can stock in my fictional shop, when I get round to writing a business plan and opening it up…
So, to get myself a little more inspired, I thought I’d round up some appealing make-your-own kits. Some are for adults, some are for children. Absolutely all of them I want to buy right away and make…
First up, two from the children’s classic toy maker, Galt.
These chime birds are a great idea for kids. Sew together a little bird mobile, complete with wind chimes. The birds play into the ever-popular vintage vibe with their cute fabrics. Do eight-year-olds buy into the current vintage zeitgeist? I don’t know, because I don’t have an eight-year-old, but if they do, they’d be sure to love this.
A bit less trendy but just as cute, is this sock rabbit kit. The box boasts that it comes with “real toy eyes.” I’m not quite sure why that’s so exciting, but if toy eyes do it for you you’re onto a winner. Okay, sarcasm aside, I love the whole thing, including the eyes.
Nepotism alert, for the next kit is from a company run by a good friend of mine. Trug is her new venture of kits for children. She’s got a few (check out the Trug Facebook page for details) but my favourite is this lavender bag kit.
This make your own doorstop owl from Maia gifts is hardly a make your own kit at all. All you need to do is fill it with rice, but for the really lazy DIYer, this would be a particularly pleasing result. I just love owls at the moment. And foxes. I know, I know, there’s no originality in this brain of mine.
I’m not such a big fan of tapestry, but this London bus cushion by Kirk and Hamilton is quirky enough to tempt me (though the price tag is decidedly offputting).
John Lewis stock a huge range of amazing kits and I can’t resist but put a fair few in here:
From Sass and Belle, make your own felt dinosaur. He looks frightening but a bit limp at the same time. I especially love that this isn’t too perfect but retains the whole homemade look…
Also from Sass and Belle, this fabric fox is a little terrifying in some ways. He looks a little like a roadkill fox. Perhaps more appealing to adults than children, but, like I said, I love me a fox, so I couldn’t resist this little critter.
As an actual knitter, I always find knitting kits a bit odd – you pay much more for buying some wool and a pattern than if you just, well, bought some wool and a pattern. Still, this knitted tea cosy is really awesome and the kit would be a great way to introduce a newbie to knitting.
And, veering away from fabric or wool based kits, I’ve just stumbled across the following almost-irresistible DIY kit: make your own insect house. Why wouldn’t you, really? Even the tin this comes in look nice. Ah I’m a sucker for packaging.
All-in-all, a rather excellent round up just in time for Christmas, methinks. But tell me, in this one-day-to-be-realised craft shop of mine, what other DIY kits should I stock? What favourites do you remember from childhood? And what would you like to buy now?
My (soon-to-be) sister-in-law and niece were staying with us this weekend and they brought some gorgeous presents for the baby. My sister-in-law has impeccable taste in children’s clothing, so the Gap onesie and jumper she gave him were just stunning. Even better, they would look just as good on a boy or a girl…
I get a bit of a bee in my bonnet about the instant genderfication of babies (not a word, but it should be). Right from the minute they’re born, the sex of the baby is seen as one of the most important things about them: boys dressed in blue and girls dressed in pink. Even congratulatory cards always scream “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” as if the baby’s gender is the relevant bit of information for celebration.
I spend ages, when giving new baby cards to others, looking for non blue or pink ones, without the B or G words emblazoned on the front. It’s amazing how hard it is to find nice gender-neutral cards that simply congratulate someone on the actual existence of new arrival, rather than the fact it happened to be a boy / girl…
And then we get to baby clothes… Well, suffice to say, it’s even more difficult to find unisex baby clothes (once they’ve outgrown the ubiquitous white all-in-ones anyway). When I come to the point of designing the fabrics for my baby range, it’s really important to me to make baby clothes that can be worn by boys and girls.
The trick, I suppose, is to pick new designs that haven’t yet been appropriated for one or other sex. Personally, I think a tractor is a great motif and would be fabulous for a boy or girl, but put one onto a jumper and you can guarantee everyone will think it’s a boy inside. I also want to make sure I stick to neutral colours where possible. I am imagining some heritage greens and greys…
Anyway, enough ranting, instead here’s a round up of some of my favourite unisex baby clothes available to buy at the moment.
Click on the pictures to go straight through to the websites where they’re for sale.
Baby Gap is my favourite shop when it comes to high quality, well-designed and well-fitting baby clothes. The only reason his whole wardrobe isn’t Baby Gap is the prices. While I’m sure the quality of their product justifies the cost, I still can’t afford to spend £15 on a T-shirt that will only last for two months. That said, we’ve been lucky enough to receive a few items as presents. The few pieces he does have are absolute staples in his wardrobe…
From their current winter collection, this cable jumper is utterly adorable:
And the shade of green on this jumper is just beautiful. (Plus, a cow is super cool):
I’ve never shopped in Next baby myself, but we’ve received a few presents of Next clothes and I’ve always thought they’re made from nice fabric and fit really well. These baby sleepsuits are very cute:
I have to confess, I can’t stand the Mothercare white newborn “essential” collections: I think the cotton is cheap and becomes hard and misshapen after a few washes and the shape of the babygrows is far too wide at the waist. But once you move past day-long babygrow wearing into a world of T-shirts and jumpers, Mothercare really comes into its own. And you can’t beat these prices…
I really love pretty much everything from Organics for Kids. We’ve been lucky to have been given a couple of their babygrows. Their farmyard range at the moment is stunning:
So, there you go, a few nice options in the shops at the moment if you want some non-gendered baby clothes. I notice that I’ve only put in babygrows and jumpers here. I suppose trousers / skirts really do end up being for boys or girls… (Well, skirts anyway. Even I would draw the line at dressing my baby boy in skirts, and I do purposefully put him in pink now and again.)