Monday, 30 April 2012

handmade goodness

Recently I've been coming across (by various means) a lot of very talented people and the cute, clever and crafty things they make. Both the Christmas and Spring Crafty Fox Markets were awesome but more recently I went to the open launch of Selina Lake's new book, Home Spun Style. In keeping with the theme of the book (handmade goodness) there was a mini indoor market set up near Brick Lane featuring a number of little stalls. Below were some of my favourites.

She reupholsters stools and chairs, as well as selling these amazing vintage crochet blankets and super pretty bunting.

They sell pretty lamp shade frames in a variety of sizes and shapes giving you a chance to pick out a vintage fabric to cover it. They also sell the most beautiful paper. (I bought some and I am determined to try my hand a decoupage!)

Abigail and Ryan are an awesome duo who together make very pretty homewares indeed. Illustrator Abigail and graphic designer Ryan make their own fabric to create peg bags, teatowels, cushions and more!

Emma had a number of crocheted garlands at the market but these ones from her etsy shop are my favourites.

She had some very cute cushions and sunflower lavender bags on sale at the market but I can't find them on her website so I'm a bit gutted, should've got it then and there! But these lovely things are available online - cushionscards and this set of dolly birds.

Now this awesome lady was not at the book launch, more's the pity (I think she's actually based in Australia) but she's on here all the same because she makes very cool dresses from beautiful vintage fabrics (so it's kinda in the same vain as the other good stuff in this post). This is her Annie Dress - I love it muchly.

Friday, 27 April 2012

other people's houses

Aside from the fortnightly (ish) hand modelling stint at the studio, my work also provides me with another escape from the office: the monthly location shoot which is exactly what it sounds like. The quilt is taken to a usually gigantic beautiful house to be photographed in situ. Location shoots are long tiring days, there's a lot of hanging around, tea/coffee making & drinking and cat petting (the cats belong to the houses, sadly we don't have a designated location shoot cat that we take around with us....maybe we should though...). The houses we use can be anywhere in London which on occasion can lead to lateness/getting lost when trying to find the properties. On the plus side I'm learning a little bit about lighting and styling shots as well as where the quilt works best (beds, sofas, folded on things). However, the best thing about locations shoots (apart from the very rare offering of free food&cake) is the opportunity to look around some amazing houses. I mean I'm never going to be able to afford anything like the places we shoot in but, maybe because I'm nosey, it's fun to see how people style their big and beautiful homes. I know I'm not alone, why else would there be magazine features, tv shows and books on the subject of looking at how other people (fairly well off people) live. After six months of snooping around exploring using some gigantic houses for work purposes and taking a few of my own snaps, I've built up a little gallery...












1. I loved the little girl's bedroom, it was so neat and pretty and decorated with the cutest things - bird mobile and tiny tiny clogs! <3
2. The kitchen in this house was fabulous, lots of antique cabinets and dried flower arrangements. Highlight was the miniature drawers with the cutlery instead of knobs.
3. Again, the girl's bedroom, such an adorable bed plus she had a nodding dinosaur!
4. This house was huuuuuge. The kitchen was my favourite room, full of light and pretty things.
5. This house was full of mirrors and pretty glass bottles - the picture on the left is taken in the lady's walk in closet (it was bigger than half my entire flat).
6. Awesome kettle
7. Robot lamp - I really want one of these.
8. Tintin poster :)
9. This house had a massive garden - the biggest I've seen in London - complete with swing seat, two play houses, a tree swing (always wanted one of these when I was little), a trampoline AND a fibreglass life sized cow! The picture on the right was a little annex room looking out over the garden.
10. I loved the little boy's bedroom at this house - one wall is a world map and he had the most amazing chest of drawers containing Tintin comics.
11. Of all the cats (nearly all of these houses have cats) we've met on location shoots this one was the most beautiful and so unbelievably soft.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Tuesday's Tees - competitions

This week you're getting double the love with Tuesday's Tees (you lucky things)!

First up I regularly follow this lovely blog - one sheepish girl - and today she's giving you, me and all you t-shirt fanatics out there the chance to win a tee designed by Dowdy Studio - a husband and wife team who make lots of cool stuff including awesome tees! These two are my favourites - grand piano whale and a very beardy viking - what's not to love?

Click here to enter the competition and you could win a tee of your choice!

Secondly, we're heading over to Ohh Deer who are also holding a have your design printed on a t-shirt! 
3 winners will have their designs printed on tees to be sold on the Ohh Deer website (you get to make a profit too) but hurry, the competition ends next Tuesday 1st May. There's already been a plethora of entries which you can 'like' on facebook - they say that 'likes' will be taken into account in terms of choosing the winners...
check out the submitted tees and competition details here. I very much want this one to be a winner - it's

Tuesday's Tees - Super!

Whilst on my merry jaunt around the covent garden area during the easter weekend I came across Super Superficial - and what do you think caught my eye? Graphic tees of course! (You'll have to forgive me if you've known about them for ages - it was all very new to me!) Four of my favourites below.

left to right

And, for good measure, here are four more super tees!
left to right
Captain Obvious by Threadless
Better Call Saul by Busted Tees
Cocaine Barbecue via Rumplo
Science is a Verb Now from Best T-shirts Ever

Friday, 20 April 2012

Reading & Seeing 5

Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists
No doubt you'll all have seen the adverts for this: the latest animation with a heart made of plasticine and a soul (and sense of humour) that's quintessentially British, the new film from Aardman. I actually saw this at the end of last month but I still wanted to mention it, if only to say: it's great! If you have missed it at the cinema, do catch it on LoveFilm or Netflix or however you crazy kids watch the latest dvd releases. The animation is superb, the plot is a little hectic but as long as you keep up there are some good laughs to be had and amusing scenes to enjoy. Overall it's a rollicking piratical ride Aardman style, complete with a heroic manpanzie. Perfect mid-week viewing (the alternative option was The Hunger Games which I am still intrigued to see - Battle Royal 12A, it baffles me). 

God Bless America
So what's wrong with America (according to Bobcat Goldthwait - the director)? Pretty much everything. What is the best way to express your total disgust for the way society has become obsessed with the idea of 'celebrity' and 'reality tv', not to mention what a load of morons we're all turning into? Get a shotgun and start blowing people away. This plan of action is, of course, extreme and as regular people it's just not something we'd do. What God Bless America let's us witness is a normal man tipped over the edge to the point where he feels that a killing spree (featuring only those who deserve it) is the best and only option.  Grim, yes, but there are moments of humour too. More importantly some of the uncomfortable observations Goldthwait makes about society are exagerated but clearly rooted in truth, so ask yourself, do you really need to watch Britain's got Talent and the extra stuff they churn out about it on itv2 after? (One thing I do disagree with is the slating of Juno - I love that film.) Watch it. It's a bit like Hobo with A Shotgun mixed with Falling Down.

The Cabin in the Woods
From writer Josh Whedon - writer and sometime creator of some amazing shows and films - The Cabin in the Woods is one of two April film releases he's had a hand in (the second is Avengers Assemble which I want to see too). I'm not going to reveal much plot-wise because it's fun to watch it unfold. The concept is v.clever, the story moves at a pace, it's gorey and jumpy in places (NB: I am completely rubbish when it comes to horror and gore and therefore hid my face in my hands at several points, if you however like your horror movies this will seem quite tame. Yes, it is rated a 15. I scare easy), the script is good (not your typical slasher flick stuff) and the humour - and tone - is dark. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this film but I did. Sci-fi lovers will appreciate one cameo appearance in particular.

Troll Hunter
This came ages ago but we've only just got around to seeing it (as part of our first LoveFilm delivery). This Norweign film sees a group of students who follow and eventually team-up with a mysterious man who turns out to be, you guessed it, a troll hunter. The film dictates that trolls have always existed but an organisation has been set up to keep an eye on them and keep them a secret (and kill them as and when they start causing suspicion amongst regular folk). The audience watches the film through the hand held camera belonging to the students throwing the viewer into the thick of the drama and suspense, it also makes the trolls seem more real. However, more often than not, it's what you don't see (or at least clearly) that's more frightening - including the abrupt end. The fantastical subject matter and grim consequences are joined by some amusing episodes including one involving some dead bears and a van of polish men. Perfect rainy, week-night watch.

TV wise - I'm lapping up the new series of Mad Men, Game of Thrones and catching up on the second half of The Walking Dead series 2 - it's taking longer than would be expected because it puts me right on edge so I can't watch too many episodes in a sitting (Mitch is super patient with me).

Replay (1987)
Written by Ken Grimwood and winner of the World Fantasy Award, Replay is centred around Jeff Winterson who dies of a heart attack at the age of 43. Only he doesn't die, instead he finds himself back in his college dorm room in 1963. Everything is exactly as it was when he was 18, but he's only 18 in body, his mind is that of his 43 year old self, full with the knowledge of what it yet to come. We follow Jeff as he lives out his first replay and how he takes a very different path compared to his original life. He uses his knowledge of the future to make vast amounts of money through betting and the stock market. As a result, he lives a very comfortable life. But again at the age of 43 he suffers another heart attack and 'dies' only to wake up again in 1963. The reader witnesses the numerous life cycles of Jeff but there is a catch: each time a replay begins it always reverts to Jeff's first life and starts further forward than the last time until eventually his last replay is but minutes long. This book is amazing. I came across it at a free Science Fiction exhibition at the British Library last year (I went on my own and spent a good two hours wandering about). I know I love science fiction but the concept of Replay is just awesome. And the way the plot twists and turns is just genius - I don't want to say what happens in case you read it, which you most certainly should! I pretty much related the entire story to Mitch in so much detail he said he feels like he has read it, so I don't want that to happen on here! I highly recommend this book.  It blew my mind.

Wild Abandon (2011)
From the author, Joe Dunthorne, who brought us Submarine, comes his second novel Wild Abandon which focuses on the ups and downs of communal living, or to be specific, one particular commune in Wales. At the centre of the book (and commune) is a family - Don (dad), Freya (mum), Kate (17) and Albert (11) - or rather a dysfunctional family, Don and Freya's marriage is rocky, Kate is longing to leave and start afresh and Albert is convinced the world is going to end rather soon. Their extended family is just as bizarre, and by extended I mean regular members of the commune (Marina who is also convinced the world will end soon and Patrick - a pot-smoking older gent who's extreme paranoia leads to a stint in the hospital). It's amusing in places but it mostly made me thankful that my parents hadn't set up a commune and raised me in it. Kate's character was the one I found easier to sympathise with because at that age you just want to fit in and showering with your brother at 17 is a bit odd. I haven't read Submarine (I really should) but I absolutely loved the film adaptation so Wild Abandon had a lot to measure up to and, to be honest, it fell a bit short.

Fables 3-5
This series is so addictive, I rattled through volumes 3, 4 & 5 in the space of a week. Obviously because it's a comic there aren't as many words to read but there's still lots to take in. I read them mostly on my commute to and from work which proved to be a little embarrassing on more than one occasion. In these three volumes there were a number of sex/nude scenes which of course is fine when your reading a novel - who would know - sadly in a comic it's very obvious. I'm guessing most of my fellow passengers didn't see but those sitting next to me on the tube would have got an eyeful! One man gave me a very reproachful look and I wanted to say - 'look, it's not porn, it's Fables ok'. But one man seeing boobs at 8:30 in the morning on the tube is better than a carriage full of people hear me say porn. Don't let these stories deter you - the nude scenes are minimal and the story is awesome.

Dangerous Liaisons (1782)
Or in it's original French - Les Liasons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. Comprised of nothing but letters, it tells the story of the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont - friends, ex-lovers and rivals to extent in the game of ruining the reputations of respectable men and women of society through unsavory and scandalous means. The novel details their actions to ruin and corrupt two particular individuals. The Marquise de Merteuil's target is Monsieur de Gercourt but in order to take her revenge on him she aims to corrupt his young wife to be - innocent and fresh from the convent, Cecile - by encouraging her to have an affair with another man. The Vicomte de Valmont sets his sights on seducing the pure and virtuous wife of a magistrate, Madame de Tourvel. Their conquests intertwine and it all ends up, as you'd imagine, quite messy. If you've ever seen Cruel Intensions it's loosely based on the plot of Dangerous Liaisons, only loosely as the book doesn't end quite so perfectly. Yes, people get their comeuppances but other characters suffer who don't really deserve it. I confess that it took me aaages to finish it, not because I didn't like it (because I did), but because it's very dense. The epistolary format is great but quite heavy going, some of the letters (between the Vicomte's aunt and Cecile's mum) are not as exciting as those between the Marquise and Vicomte. Whilst reading, the English student in me really wished I could have studied it, there's so much rich text to break down and analyse! Oh well, at least I finally got around to reading it, which you should too! Highly recommended.

Friday, 13 April 2012

easter weekend round up

And what a fabulous weekend it was. I started work on a new project, indulged in a little typography, organised my fabric stash, spent a lovely afternoon in Covent Garden with the parents, went to the London Graphic Centre (it's full of pretty much everything I want to buy - pens, paint, craft supplies, paper, card, notebooks, more pens - it took some serious restraint to only spend a fiver), stopped off at Dover Books (a tiny little bookshop selling the most beautiful design books) and picked up Print & Pattern (courtesy of m&d), visited Mitch's family in Essex and took part in an extremely fruitful egg hunt (seriously, I've never seen so much chocolate), spent a very rainy easter monday watching A LOT of tv - catching up with the new episodes of Mad Men and Game of Thrones *joy* and lastly, gave the blog a bit of a re-style!
Here's a sneaky peek at the inside of Print & Pattern - it's full of beautiful prints and patterns (duh) by illustrators and designers. It's written by, or compiled by, Bowie Style (aka Marie Perkins) and originally started out life as a blog. Actually it is still a blog, if you like design and patterns you should check it out, Bowie Style is there posting up even more beautiful prints. Not only is the book (and blog) a pleasure to flick through it's also quite inspirational...hence my bank holiday doodlings :)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Roll Up Roll Up

About a month ago I developed my first roll of film from my Golden Half camera. I said it before when I used up my old disposable camera and I'll say it again: there's something quite exciting about the wait - the wait for your pictures to be brought to light, to see whether you did in fact leave the lens cap on for half the roll (not half but quite a few times in my case). I've never really thought about exposure and shutter speed before but now I shall definitely be taking 'light source' into consideration (digital makes everything quite straight forward). It was nice to see that the odd few pics came out alright from these attempts but for the most part I'm going to think of this first forray into the world of 35mm film as 'having a go' and a process of trial and error.

The Golden Half Camera takes two pictures per frame, or should do when you've got the hang of it. I struggled to keep portrait pics and landscapes pics together but you can always cut them apart to make cute little pics I suppose. Anyhoo I finally got around to scanning them in for you to have a look! Ta-da!











1&2 were taken outside Selfridges on Oxford Street. They had a rather mesmerising window display involving a wooden structure and colourful plastic balls. These two are very dark. One thing I've learned is that I should definitely invest in flash for my little Golden Half so that it can continue to capture things after sunset :)
3-5 were taken at Brixton Village. Mitch & I went to Toast where they give you a selection of lovely breads, a variety of condiments and your very own toaster to make your toast just how you like it.
6-8 were taken at Brockwell Park. The horizontal pic of Mitch and my parents is one of my favs.
9 was taken in Brixton, it's an art installation of origami cranes made from all sorts of paper.
10 is of the mansion at Bletchley Park. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Tuesday's Tees - His & Hers

Here are mine and Mitch's latest tees. 
I actually got mine a while ago which must mean it's time for a new one...! 

Annie's tee is from Uniqlo's collaboration with Laura Ashley. They did a whole range of different t-shirt styles and pretty floral prints but  there's not much left! (On a side note I thought I'd have a look at the Orla Kiely collection for Uniqlo but they've all gone too - they must've been nice!)

Mitch's tee is from Urbanoutfitters. Nine times out of ten boys get better tees than girls. There are some t-shirts at UO at the mo including this lobster one (it's for boys though, obviously) and this pretty v-necked one (which is for girls, yay).

Friday, 6 April 2012

good surprises

Over the last week or so I've been super lucky to be on the receiving end of some lovely little surprises, so lovely in fact that I thought I'd share them.

Last Tuesday after a long day's location shoot my boss gave me some beautiful pink tulips (we rarely have flowers in the flat so I was pretty chuffed). When I got home I found that Mitch had bought me a new pair of red converse (to replace my v.knackered pair with holes in the soles). It was a completely unexpected but a perfect gift (thanks Mitch, i love them). Lastly my order from Ohh Deer had arrived - it's a plain paged notebook (with a v.pretty cover). I can't wait to fill it with doodlings and ideas!

Also last week my friend offered me a free ticket to visit John Keats' house in Hampstead, with a promise of some tea & cake AND a good ramble on Hampstead Heath, how could I refuse?! We ventured out to north London on Saturday. It was interesting to see where Keats' had lived during the last two years of his short life. I studied him at Uni and found his poetry to be a lot more engaging than some of the other romantic poets on the course. The museum has lots of paintings and illustrations of Keats as well as his death mask. The house is laid out and furnished in a similar way to how it would have been in the 1820s. One room contains information about Fanny Brawne, John Keats' love and recipiant of many letters, who lived next door to Wentworth Place. She was interested in fashion, altering her own clothes and scrapbooking from fashion magazines of the time. Keats and Fanny were engaged to be married when Keats died in Rome of TB at the age of 25. My friend recommended that I watch Bright Star, if I do I'll have to have something cheery to watch after it. The stroll over Hampstead Heath is best described as: bracing. It was super windy and very cold but the view from the top of the hill is quite amazing - all of London is at your feet!

So the Sunday scone wasn't really a 'surprise' but it was a nice little treat as I rarely get to spend weekend mornings with Mitch. But, when he's not working we head to Relay Tea in the village and enjoy a homemade scone with jam & clotted cream washed down nicely with a vanilla chai tea. If you're ever in Brixton at the weekend I'd recommend a visit, they make lots of other baked treats too.

The final surprise in this little series happened on Wednesday. It was another photo shoot, in the studio this time, with the very talented lady who made the quilt for the magazine. On this occasion she was making three patchwork projects also for the magazine. The last time I saw her I'd mentioned that I'd learned to knit was thinking about buying some needles - she's a knitter too. Long story short she turned up at the studio with a large bunch of knitting needles for me! I think there's about 7 different pairs! But that wasn't all. She also gave me a pair of trainers which she'd only worn once because they didn't fit her properly. And they're not just any trainers - they're limited edition nike trainers with a floral liberty print :D a-mazing! I put them on straight away and wore them all day (childish? me? never). As for the needles, I really can't wait to have another go - next stop, yarn!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Experiments in Dressmaking

Not since year 8 textiles have I ever attempted to make an item of clothing (it was a particularly bizarre pair of trousers with flames around the bottom - god knows what my 13 year-old self was thinking), until now. 
Behold! March's craft projects (I'm a little behind in posting them up here but better late than never)!

First off I made some pj bottoms using the brush cotton I got from my trip to the Goldhawk Road. Luckily I had a pattern to make them so it was relatively straight forward although as you can see I made the leg width about twice the size it needed to be (and they are a little bit on the long side). However, pjs are supposed to be loose and comfy and these certainly fit the bill!



Close up of fabric

Secondly I made this summery top. There was no pattern for this experiment so I used something I already own to gage the measurements. I actually ran out of the floral fabric and had to use the plain cotton for the panels under the arms but I guess you'd never know if you saw it. Also, the collar was a last minute add on and came about due to an error on the neckline.

Learning curve - important things to know for my next adventures in dressmaking (because I have some more ideas!)
  • Always have more fabric than you think you need
  • Double hemming is a basic rule and should be followed at all costs
  • You can always make things shorter but once you've cut something you can't make it longer
  • Measure accurately (leaving ample room in the chest department - they aren't forgiving and won't oblige you in the slightest)
  • Nothing hides a neckline mistake like a pretty collar ;)

And whilst we're on the subject of March's sewing achievements...I finally finished my quilt!
It looks tiny on our kingsize bed but luckily it's a perfect size for snuggling under on the sofa. 
In the pic above you get a sneaky peak at the blue gingham backing but the one below gives you better idea of the size. That's me holding it up with arms out stretched so it's not that small :)

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