Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Meet 'Bou', a little owl I made last night. He crinkles - babies like that. I had been planning to make zip pouches, but realised that I had the wrong kind of zipper foot for my machine. I remembered this great video tutorial I'd seen a few days ago (see below) and it was such a simple, easy idea I thought I'd give it a try.
I love the fact that it's so easy to find great, simple ideas on the internet. I didn't need to watch the whole tutorial or watch it again it to make this because it gives you an idea for making something very cute with very simple techniques.
Bou is made from a mix of recycled and new materials, including an old jersey dress of mine for the back (nice and snuggly but a bit hard to sew) and reused ribbons from gifts for the feet and tummy. I also used the wrapping from a packet of delicious chocolate biscuits we finished last night to make the crinkle texture. I love not having to throw something away!

Monday, 28 November 2011

giveaway over at Little Somethings {Closed}

Lovely Lo of Little Somethings (don't you love all those 'L's'?) is holding a group giveaway with some sweet things donated by her readers... including me!
I've been enjoying following Lo's blog for a little while now, especially her inspiring Green DIY project. I am looking forward to making this cosy snood with some of my worn-out sweaters:
Lo is also the talent behind Printed Peaks - a shop where you can find pretty geometric necklaces, each one unique and handmade.
There will be six winners in the giveaway, one for each prize... which means I get to enter it too, yay! And here's what you can win from me:

Friday, 25 November 2011


I drafted this post a while ago, and was waiting before posting it so that the recipient of the object it features (Desi, my giveaway winner) would receive it beforehand and the surprise wouldn't be spoiled. 
Unfortunately the parcel never reached it's destination, which is very sad because there were a number of one-off items in it and it can't be reproduced. Desi has a lovely attitude and invited me to imagine someone else enjoying the contents. (Of course I'm going to send off another little parcel, however...!) And I'm glad that there is at least a photo of one of the gifts she should have received...

I thought I'd share something about my process for making personalised collage badges (pinback buttons). I recently had the opportunity to make one for Desi who won it in my giveaway last month. I love working to a brief. She asked for the word ART on the badge, with the colours blue and yellow.
The first thing I do is get out all my magazines (vintage and contemporary) and bits and pieces of paper ephemera for inspiration. I wanted there to be art "hidden" in the design of this badge as well as more obviously in the text. I found this gorgeous glowing blue in a magazine image of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci - perfect for the background. So I got out my circle cutter.
I knew this old Vermeer calendar would have some lovely yellows. I thought I'd use some painted yellow as a background for the text.
This curtain, radiant with the light coming through the window looked ideal. For cutting I use small sewing scissors which I only use for paper.
I decided to decorate the badge with a flower from some of my Japanese chiyogami paper. I aim only to use recycled paper in these badges but sometimes new materials just seem to work (I love everything Japanese as you may have noticed by now!) I also might use a printed digital image if there's a specific requirement that can't be found easily.
Once I've laid out the pieces I need to check it all fits within the cutting guidelines. The middle circle is the size of the final badge.
Then I get to work on the text. I like to cut out different coloured and shaped letters, a bit like in those anonymous letters you see in cheesy murder mysteries! I really like the poster-like, collaged effect it gives.
I love to use vintage magazines and newspapers with their pretty, old-fashioned typefaces (I like to use the images too). I sometimes get distracted by the content...
Check out this ad for soap: a women's role was so well-defined back in the 1950s! The pathway was all mapped out: a women went from her parents to her husband and then her job was to look after him and the home. I love the fact that women can choose other options (as well) these days. But I reckon we'll look back on ads of today and realise they were often quite oppressive to women too...
The hardest thing is finding letters that go together in terms of size, shape and colour. I am very particular about this. It can take a long time to find the perfect letters, with a combination of white and coloured backgrounds, the right combination of fonts, the right size and angle... I lay them out to check how they'll look. This badge wasn't too hard as there were only 3 letters.
Then it's time to glue it all down! I love this glue because it dries clear and is nice and clean to use. I was using quite large shapes for this piece but when I have small shapes I sometimes need to use tweezers to position them.
Ah, my lovely badge-making machine! It was a birthday present from my dad a few years ago. It's seen a LOT of use already! Almost everyone I know has one of my badges ;)
And voilà, the finished product! What a shame that Desi may never receive it. Inspired by her attitude, however, I will imagine that wherever the parcel ended-up, somebody, somewhere may be carrying ART around with them.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

ribbons & bows

I'm a little bit obsessed with bows at the moment.  I'm starting to think about wrapping presents for the holidays and have been looking out for vintage ribbon. I'm also thinking about making fabric bows. I love this giant bow t-shirt tutorial, such a cute idea:
sweetheart bow t-shirt tutorial by I Still Love You
And I couldn't resist browsing Etsy and making a treasury full of ice-blue and frosty white ribbons and bows, perfect for winter gifts.
Don't most things look better with a bow on them? They can be sharp and sexy...
Marlene Dietrich {source}
...or cute and kitsch...
kawaii nail art

...or fun and quirky...
brilliant bow tutorial by Beth Wilson
I didn't think they could be dangerous, but you never know...

amidarose on Flickr
For me, they are an absolute must on presents, and must always be recycled carefully and saved for craft projects or to wrap another present.

flyhoof on Flickr
Using recycled materials can make fabulous ribbons for wrapping.
andymangold on Flickr
And sometimes the simplest length of string is all it takes to make a perfect bow.
cocoknits blog
So, what are your favourite tips for wrapping with ribbons? Do you have any favourite bow tutorials? And what do you do with the ribbons once you've unwrapped the gift?

Friday, 18 November 2011

au revoir, à bientôt!

I'm off to France for a few days to visit the French family. We'll be going here:
Biarritz beach
and here:
and here:
Jardin Massey, Tarbes
And my little one will get to hang out with his French grandpa. Have a lovely weekend and see you next week!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

owls at home

A quick visual tour of some of the lovely owls around our house and where they come from...
wearing my wonderful new barn owl brooch from Blue Eyed Night Owl
owl print by Sinta - a gift from my lovely man in 2009
Ollie the Owl by Ivory Clouds

a vintage perfume bottle holder - a present from the lovely lady I wrote about in this post
I love the name of the perfume and the vintage label. It doesn't smell so pretty these days however!
image from my son's adorable bedtime book, "Bonne Nuit"

A musical owl (it plays "twinkle, twinkle little star") I bought for my son in Toronto, when I was pregnant. I used to play it to my belly each night. Twinkle twinkle little star was the first song I sung to my son when he was born and I could swear he recognised it!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

more fun with circles

Lately I've been making some little brooches from circles of fabric. It's a neat way to use up little scraps leftover from other projects. 
They were inspired by this brooch, shown below, which came with a Noa Noa cardigan and which I wear all the time. I was looking at it and realised how easy it would be to make one myself.
original Noa Noa brooch
The photo below shows my first attempt: red felt, with a mix of vintage and new fabric, sequins and a bead. I used two circles of felt, to hide the stitching at the back, and put some stuffing in the middle to give it some volume.
My next attempt was the green one shown in the first photo. But my favourite is my third attempt, shown below, with 2 circles of vintage fabric, a little pearly star button and a sequin. I'm so happy with how it came out that I'm going to give it to a friend for her birthday (I'll be making more for Christmas gifts too).
I think they'd be even lovelier made with real-wool felt, but I have plenty of felt stocks and for me it's important to use what I already have. In time they will get all lovely and frayed and crazy like the one I based them on!

Monday, 14 November 2011

circle collage

my circle collage
Yay, I completed another thing on my creative to-do list! (I have to say that I've also added in other projects, so even though I'm being slow, it's not quite as slow as it seems).

This circle collage was inspired by Karena of Magic Jelly (check out her wonderful Flickr set). I loved the two beautiful collages she posted so much I wanted to try it out for myself.
Collage by Karena of Magic Jelly
Like Karena, I also wanted to use scraps of ephemera and recycled paper. However I found I had to spend quite a bit of time choosing material and rearranging the composition (which went against her idea of the 'speedy collage'). It was a little like playing Sudoku - I wanted all the blocks and lines to have a visual logic to them.

My circles also have a concept running through them: travel. Here are some of the sources (if you click on the image you can have a closer look):

a globe from a Vermeer painting (from an old calendar); a boat seen in the sunset on the Thames (from a 1950s magazine); decorative motifs from Indian paintings (another calendar); an excerpt from Coleridge's poem, 'The Ancient Mariner' (a loose page from an old book); an envelope from Paris; a piece of old, 1940s map; scraps of Japanese chiyogami paper; a poster for 'Les Amants de Venise' from an 1950s newspaper; images of rusty surfaces and logs from a catalogue.

It was a lovely project to do. Thanks for the inspiration Karena!

Friday, 11 November 2011

my doll buttons are tired of waiting

Some time ago my lovely man gave me these sweet fabric-covered matryoshka-style buttons as a present (he found them on Etsy but I don't know where: if you recognise them as yours please let me know!) They are so sweet, with their little fringes, pink cheeks and red headscarves. But they are still in their packet, waiting to be used!
As I'm feeling a bit busy and tired and have a lot of craft projects on the go at once at the moment, I thought I would reach out to all you creative bloggers out there and ask for your ideas for what I should do with them. They are waiting patiently for me to bring their colourful cuteness to life!
As you may know from this post, I love matryoshka. I've noticed that recently Russian dolls have become a popular motif for decorating just about everything. I'm not surprised, as they are simple, striking and colourful, so they make great designs. Here are some of the sweetest non-nesting matryoshkas I've found:
felt matryoshka bookmark from Blue Eyed Night Owl (I'm giving this as a Christmas present to a friend who has an incredible matryoshka doll collection)
matryoshka headphones {source}
cookies! {source}
A little tour of the myriad matryoshka manifestations on the web has certainly got me thinking about ways of incorporating the motif in my own projects. How about you, do you love Russian doll designs (like I do) or have you had enough? And what about my buttons, any ideas? Thanks for your creative thoughts!

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