Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

Style Stitches

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Amy Butler is a lady who needs little introduction, we all have seen her fantastic fabric designs, timeless patterns, books and now even wallpaper! For this post however I am only going to concentrate on her new book Style Stitches, mainly because if I don’t I could possibly break the Guinness World Record for the longest blog post ever (and if it doesn’t exist I would be setting a very high bench mark which would be difficult to beat).

I have used Amy Butler’s patterns before and her designs are simple and perfect lines that create beautiful things, and the instructions are easy and precise which means that you can make a garment or a bag with confidence. This book is not an exception and I fully recommend it.

It has a good variety of bags and purses, to suit most tastes and skills.  Most of them have variations, almost as if she had read our minds, so before you can finish saying  “I like the Cosmo Bag but short handles would be better” you will discover that there are instructions for that, or “If the Ruffled Handbag was larger I could carry all my gym stuff” yeap youv’e guessed it there are instructions on how to do that too, she has done all the adjustments so you don’t have to fiddle with the pattern and design.  How clever is that!

The bags vary from a simple tote (with a twist of course) to a pleated clutch, to the most fantastic Take Flight Handbag/Shoulder Bag.  This last one along with the Everything Wristlet have such a beautiful vintage look that they will make you feel like Grace Kelly.

The instructions in this book have not only been written to help you sew together a bag, but to efficiently use the material and your time like a pro.  When you look through the pages you get the impression that attention was paid to every single detail.  Not only on the designs and the instructions, but also on the diagrams, the spiral book format and photos, which by the way not only show the designs in the different alternatives, but in different fabrics to help us awaken our imagination on how to create a unique one of our own.

At times like this when sewing books are being released by the dozen, we have lots to choose from and we can be picky… but if you ask me, I would certainly pick this one as a ‘must have’ for your collection.

Amy Butler’s Style Stitches is published by Chronicle Books, £19.99 (ISBN 978-0-8118-6669-9)

I see it. I like it. I make it.

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

I am seriously thinking about making those three statements my mantra, maybe having them in big letters in my studio, or maybe in my purse so everytime I am about to buy something that I can make myself I will put it back on the rack and head back home with a quick stop at the DIY store…. yes, DIY store.  No, I am not going to start  capentry or plumbing now, but I have just read Erica Domesek’s latest book, P.S. – I made this, and came across her blog and I have realised that to be fashionable we don’t need to spend lots on money on that clutch bag, neither do we need to have many sophisticated machines or tools to make a necklace or a striped t-shirt.  We just need a to be a bit creative, check what we’ve got in our wardrobe and a pair of scissors!

Her book might not be for everybody.  Her style is trendy and very very funky, but I love it!  And what I love most of all is that she is not afraid of turning a normal, basic, everyday bag into something that looks very similar to the ones you see in the latest fashion magazines.

Fashion and craft go hand in hand in this book

Whilst one or two of the ideas and projects in the book might be a bit too funky for me (let’s face it, you will never see me riding my Pashley bicycle in Oxford town centre with sparkly high heels!),  there are lots of things that I could easily modify to suit my own style.  My personal favourites are the ruffle tank (the ruffles are made with coffee filters!), a cowl neck vest that you can make in no time and a stud cuff.

Erica’s instructions in this book are presented as  ideas, guidelines, quick and easy directions to create something modern and inexpensive, do not expect to see exact measurements and patterns to follow.

Perhaps one of the most important things from this book and from Erica’s work as a whole, is her call to be creative, to think outside the box, and reuse things to make something unique and personal which still follows fashion and trends, and above all, to be proud to say “I made this!”.

P.S. – I made this… by Erica Domesek is published by Abrams, £11.99 (ISBN 978-0-8109-9603-8)

Sharing a bit of what I have learned

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

There are many things that I like about my job, but one of them is that I never stop learning new things.  Every day there is something for me to learn, it could be a new way to advertise the shop, or a quilting technique, or what people like or don’t like.

A few weeks ago I went to the Festivals of Quilts at the NEC with Fiona Pullen from The Sewing Directory, and I took a few fabric bundles to giveaway.  The feedback that I got from the visitors was great, but I was surprised that above all the fabrics from Heather Bailey’s Nicey Jane collection were the most popular.  Let me explain this last bit a bit better (before I get into trouble!).  I love the  Nicey Jane fabrics, green and blue are two of my favourite colours, and the design has a retro feel but they are still quite contemporary which makes it ideal for many types of project.  So why I was surprised others share the same idea than me?  Quite simply people were just not buying them, so I thought nobody liked them.

I thought I would introduce you to some creative souls that have made some really cool stuff with these fabrics (in case that you haven’t met them in blogland or Flickr yet).

Beth from Project: Project made this sweet dress with Dream Dot.  I don’t know about you, but I think using a darker colour on the top of the dress with the spotty fabric is such a clever thing but I’d have never thought about it.  It you get a chance, check Beth’s blog, you might get a feeling that she makes things faster than you can blink!

If you want to see simple designs transformed into gorgeous things then you must check Meg’s blog.  She has used Hop Dot in Sky and Lindy Leaf in Blue to make this everyday dress into something quite special.  Meg plays a lot with colours and is not afraid of using fabrics from different collections in the same project, sounds like an easy thing to do but takes a skill to master it.

Now, our next guest is Ivey and she is also VERY talented.  I can’t encourage you enough to check her Flickr account, but if you don’t have time here is just a brief peek of what she has done with Dream Dot and Slim Dandy.  Aren’t they just great?!?!  The little details in both dresses are both very clever and cute.

Let’s move on from children’s clothes to something more grown-up, Corinnea’s dress is something that I would love to make, it reminds me a bit of this dress (but we can talk about that particular one some other time).  Corinnea told me that Ms Bailey inspired her to reinvent this pattern, but I bet she is inspiring more people than she realises with such a lovely dress!  You can read a bit more about this dress, pattern and other lovely things she has made in her blog.

Check this apron, isn’t it great?  This apron would certainly brighten up washing the dishes!  This apron was made my Nicole Owens using Lindy Leaf and Pocket book in MossNicole’s blog is full of beautiful photographs and lovely creations.  In one of her latest post she has a picture of a baby blanket using Nicey Jane fabric, make sure you check it out.

And last but not least is something for the house.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you have come across Anna’s blog already; it is full of inspiration, tutorials, she has an amazing family, just like all the other ladies in this post.  Anna used Lindy Leaf to make these roman blinds; she has used also Hop Dot in Olive as part of a patchwork pillow.

The copyright of all of the photos shown above belong the the writer of each blog and I have been given permission to publish them here.  Beth, Meg, Ivey, Corinnea, Nicole and Anna have not only taught me how one design can be used in so many different projects and to fall in love with this collection all over again; but they have also taught me that the craft network is such a beautiful group regardless of where we are and what we do, we are always here to help each other, even when we are incredible busy or in the middle of our holidays.  Thank you Girls!!!

Lizzet xx

Reviewing: Little “Wrap” Skirt

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

As you might already know I have added to our stock Patterns by Wink Designs.  They are pretty designs for girls and what’s great is, the patterns are downloadable, so you get them straight away.  As well being very pretty they are also very easy to make.  Originally, I wanted someonelse to review them and let you know that they are what the label says.  Unfortunately it was not possible and I almost gave up until my always supportive husband asked me “why don’t you make it yourself?”.  Firstly I didn’t want to do it, because I thought my review might sound a bit too much like an advert rather that that of a non-bias critic, but I guess I will leave it for you to judge.  So please have a read, even if you are not interested in children’s patterns you are welcome to join me in my sewing projects.

Wrap skirt made using Memento and Sun Spots from Amy Butler's Love Collection

Where were we? Ah yes, Wink’s patterns.  I decided to go for the Wrap Skirt for two main reasons: 1) it says it is an easy and quick project, 2) I personally love the design.

Choosing the fabrics was an easy task, not only because I have them in my own house, but because I wanted to make something with Memento in Midnight and Suns Spots in Mint they almost jumped off the shelves.   The skirt is more of a mock wrap-skirt, so even if your child is jumping up and down the skirt won’t fall down.

After printing the instructions, I put together the pattern.  There are 2 main pieces, each one of them is made up by putting together 4 A4 sheets of paper together (this would had been much easier if I had closed the windows, I hope nobody saw me chasing the pattern around the room each time a gust of wind blew through! but nothing to blame the designer for).  Cutting the fabric would had been easier had I not been on the phone with my nan, which resulted in cutting the piece of fabric that wraps the skirt the wrong way (again, no one to blame just my lack of multitasking skills).  Instead of cutting more fabric, I decided to use what I had already cut and make a few changes, so the skirt now mirrors the original design (instead of having to tie it to your left, this one ties to the right, no big deal right?).  Which I could say shows how forgiving the pattern is should a mistake be made by the not so experienced or, as in my case, distracted maker.

Before we pass on to the sewing part I want to clarify that I have not sewn any kind of garment for 3 years; ever since I have been moving my sewing machine from one part of  the house to another but not doing anything with it.  I would also say that I am a beginner with some rough sewing skills.  Having clarified that, I feel now more comfortable  saying that it was very easy to put the skirt together.

Back of the skirt but still so not less pretty than the front.

As always, it does help if you press the fabric to get a neat finish and use the right colour of thread.  I used two because I didn’t like the navy blue thread on the mint fabric.  More importantly, reading the instructions from start to end before you start it is always a must (OK I confess, I only read them after I cut everything, but didn’t go any further until I read all the remaining steps).  Reading the instructions will not only give you a better understanding of what are you going to do, but also the way Marina (the designer) has written them, it makes you feel like she is talking to you, something that you don’t often find with many commercial patterns.

Would I recommend this pattern?  Absolutely Yes!  It took me one afternoon to make it, if I hadn’t been on the phone (or chasing the pattern around the room!) I could have done it a bit quicker.  This is the first time I print and assemble a pattern, but because the skirt is made of simple lines and it is a small garment it is much easier than you think.  I didn’t put the pocket on because I love so much the Memento fabric that I didn’t want to put anything on top.  I also used the main fabric for the ties for the same reason.  The final result was a skirt that suits a little lady but the fun contrasting spotty fabric remind us that she is still a little child, don’t you think?

I must admit that making this skirt has filled me with confidence to try sewing other things, so if you don’t have a little girl to make it for, try it anyway, the satisfaction that comes from making something like this can’t be beaten!

Summer dress for all year round

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

After reading Perry Lewis’ article yesterday in The Guardian I end up looking for clever ideas, cool classic dress patterns with modern fabrics, then I found plain and more basic fabric designs matched with quite contemporary patterns 
… then I found the perfect match!  Clever Mary Jo from Five Green Acres made The Liverpool dress using Denyse Schmidt Prairie Rose from the Hope Valley collection.

The Liverpool dress by Mary Jo

 

I can see that sort of dress/shirt being one of the most useful pieces in any wardrobe all year round.  During the winter I could wear it with trousers, a few layers and voilá!  I would probably use Prairie Rose in Piney Wood instead of the grey colour, but I guess that it is one of the beauties of making your own clothes, you can do whatever you want!

Prairie Rose in Piney Woods by Denyse Schmidt

 

Personally, I love the idea of using a pattern from one designer and the fabric from another.  It makes the whole project even more unique and personal.  If you are thinking of making any of the variations of The Liverpool Shirt pattern, take your time and read Mary Jo’s post, and, of course, show us the pictures!

Reversible bag – Tutorial

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Hello, my name is Lizzet and I am a bag addict.  I love bags of all sizes, shapes, colours and materials.  It doesn’t matter to me if they are useful or just pretty, but it is great when they are both nice and practical.  I was over the moon when I found this tutorial because for me it is a perfect sewing project.  It is easy to make, you don’t need lots of different things to make it, and depending on the type and style of fabric that you choose it can be worn any time time of the day and in all sorts of different occasions.  Because it is reversible, you can choose both fabrics with your favourite colours and be able to match it with almost anything in your wardrobe!

Reversible purse tutorial from MarthaStewart.com

 

I thought of using a floral fabric so I can use this bag all summer long.  I am also thinking of adding a few beads here and there so it could be a perfect match for a nice evening out.  Once I make up my mind I will post the finished bag here, but if any of you have any suggestions about which fabric I should go for please leave a comment  :)

Gardening with fabric

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

I have always admired people that think outside the box.  Clever, creative people that make the most out of things.  Christi Chitnis has that gift.  After clicking here and there I found her blog, Lavender and Limes.  It is very refreshing and full of clever ideas.  I love her photographs and the way she shares her life on the web with us.

One of my personal favourite post from Christi is “Pretty Pots”.  If you ever been in a situation where it is sunny and warm outside but you really want to play with fabric but feel guilty being indoors, or maybe is rainy and grey outside and you wish you were planting gorgeous flowers and plants; then you need to read this post.  Christi has the perfect answer in her tutorial.  Decorate your pots with your favourite fabric!  In other words take your craft every where you go and incorporate it in what ever you do.

Fabric Covered Flower Pots tutorial by Lavender and Limes

 

I am going to make one for our spare bedroom, it will add a warm touch and hopefully our guest will like it too.  I will probably use some of our floral fabric, but haven’t decided which one yet, maybe I will go for this one.

It is such and easy and quick project that you can make it in a flash and there is no sewing involved.