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Updated: 2018-02-14T22:46:33.478+00:00

 



Lovely Little Thing

2016-02-24T14:23:08.981+00:00

The past few weeks have creeped along, as days seem to do here in January and February but in the last week or so I've felt a noticeable change of the pep in my step with the days becoming longer. It makes such a huge difference to me when it's not completely dark at 4:30pm! Light! Bring on the SUN! Ahhhh. Keeping busy is the best cure for the winter blues, I think. I finished reading Life After Life, which was wonderful. I've also been doing the usual crafting. Finally finished a simple scarf and now I've started sewing the quart coat but I probably should have done that in the autumn because now I'm feeling a bit over winter and would rather sew summer dresses. I made a detour for a while to make some of the Purl Soho City Gym Shorts. Love those, but I must finish the coat! I also have a few little Easter dresses in the works for the girls. AND it does help to have some lovely press about your life and work from wonderful magazines to get you through a winter funk. I'm really happy to have been featured in the current issue of Mollie Makes and in a stunning Chinese magazine called Little Thing. Just look at the top image of the amazing pop-up cut out illustration in issue 43 of Little Thing! I had read about Little Thing on blogs and enjoyed browsing through issues at Jessie Chorley's shop when I saw them there last time I was at her shop. And so I was over the moon when a great inspiration to me, stylist Emily Chalmers (who is responsible for much of my decorating book collection), wrote to me to ask if she could write an article on me for Little Thing! YES, of course, I told her! Each issue has a theme and this one is illustration. While I'm not an illustrator, Emily felt some aspects of my crafts and my book would fit well with the issue.So... the issue is out now and when I opened the magazine to my page I was surprised to see the feature was so long, 6 pages. Although the magazine is in Chinese, it's beautiful to look at and the links to people's web sites are written in English so you can still look things and people up that interest you. Below are just a few more images from the magazine. It's ruly a pleasure to look through even if you can't read the text. If it is not sold where you live, you can order from the Little Thing web site. [...]



In Bloom

2016-01-16T20:00:27.144+00:00

I love Christmas and the weeks leading up to it--the ornament making, cooking baking, tree decorating, shopping, wrapping, Christmas music, seeing family and friends, food, food and more food--I love it all. But I'm equally over it almost as soon as 25 December passes! I'm ready to put all the decorations away, clean out closets and cabinets and think of things I want to accomplish in the new year. I don't make resolutions as such, but I often make a list of things I want to get done around the house and goals I'd like to achieve. This year some of those include ordering many photo books and yes, I've made a long list of them. Lois is now 7 and I've only been meaning to to that for all of those 7 years! (Only just today I uploaded her 5th birthday photos to an album online.) I want to organize and clear off the 2,000+ photos on my phone and about a bazillion on my computer, which I have a hard time keeping up with regularly. I want to keep challenging myself with new sewing patterns. Though I still haven't knocked out the quart coat it's next on the sewing table, yay! Ah, there are really so many things on my list! I'm sure it would be a bit boring to hear me rattle on about too many more of them, but one crafty thing I'd also like to learn is how to make beautiful paper flowers, and I think it would be a fun activity to do with the girls as well. I've made some basic paper flowers in the past but never detailed, intricate or particularly life-like flowers.Last December when I went to New York, I saw the most beautiful paper flowers at John Derian's shop. I didn't realize they were paper until I was very close and was stunned to see that the geraniums I was looking at weren't real. I saw striking displays like this and this. So beautiful! John Derian carries Livia Cetti's flowers, under the her company name, The Green Vase. They are stunning works of paper art. I'd love to take one of her workshops in NY. But seeing as I'm a long plane journey away, I will get her book, The Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers, and give it a try solo. The photo above is from The Green Vase's instagram account, which is filled with paper flower beauty. I also recently learned of The Cobra Lily paper flowers. This photo below is from The Cobra Lily web site. Stunning! So much more paper flower beauty on the web site. And I'll be keeping an eye out for more paper flower inspiration and posting it on my pinterest. [...]



Holiday Cheer

2016-01-19T20:29:58.152+00:00

I love holidays and Christmas is a favorite. This year we're staying in London for Christmas, which we've only done one other time in the 5 years we've been here. Even when we go away, we always decorate a bit, 2013 being a favorite, before we re-arranged our house. I thought we'd go all out decorating like mad, but I'm a little behind in all the things I had planned. But it's still quite festive and we've done a good bit of Christmas crafting and baking. We made a lot of paper snowflakes, which are addictive and really easy to make. They're in our front window and so pretty to look at in the evening light.I made the girls an Advent calendar with little pouches, which they've gotten a kick out of this month. Each pouch has two little chocolates and a treat of some sort. I've filled them with things like bendy pencils, pretty paperweights, and some special pouches have mystery cards that send them on a treasure hunt of sorts around the house. Sometimes those cards lead them to a trinket or little gift of some kind or tickets to something like ice skating or to see a film. I made little happy tree cards and wrote the hunt instructions on the backs of them.We also made some carolers out of toilet rolls. I just love these little carolers, they are so cute! I saw the idea on pinterest and had to copy it with the girls. They mostly just painted the toilet paper rolls and I did the rest. Every time I look over at them, I can't help but giggle. Of course we mailed Christmas cards and have done a lot of gift wrapping. I had pinned some Evie Barrow printable gift tags and decided to use them this year. They are so fun and cheerful. I also ordered some custom wrapping paper made from many favorite instagram photos from Wrap.me, which was actually hard to take scissors to but it's really great wrapping paper. And we always make Christmas cookies using a great recipe. It's hard for me to let the little ones decorate the cookies how they want to. I'm always struggling not to micromanage them into creating something less messy, but mess is an inevitable and huge part of the fun of being a kid. And then there was decorating the tree. Our tree is so pretty. I think we picked one with a really nice shape and fits so well in our front room. It's filled with Christmas cards from this year and years past and so many of our beloved ornaments. Tomorrow we'll make our gingerbread house, and of course I picture the sophistication of one of these, but with the tots being the lead builders, I have a feeling it will be more of a sideways, icing smeared gumdrop pile, which will still be fun to make even if not entirely edible. We'll also go to Christmas eve dinner at a great local pub, which we're all looking forward to. Lois has already picked out her "high heels" to wear with her Christmas dress. Right now though we're all just enjoying Google play Christmas stations and the holiday cheer. Here's hoping you and yours have a wonderful, cozy Christmas! [...]



Little Christmas Dresses

2015-12-19T17:45:01.914+00:00

I'm so happy I finished the girls' Christmas dresses! I wasn't sure I'd get them finished in time (I'm pretty slow at sewing actually) but I got them done with about a week to spare before Christmas. These actually went a lot faster than I was expecting. Since I've made the pattern once before for the girls for Easter, I was already familiar with it so I knew they wouldn't be too challenging but they do have a lot of steps, and I needed to make two, so there was that to consider time-wise.Whenever I sew something I think about people who make handmade clothes for a living and I'm always so impressed and awestruck that many people actually do make clothing for a living. I realize once you get really good, you get a lot faster, and you hire help, but hands and machines can only go so fast! On the flip side of that, I think about shops like and H&M and am flabbergasted that heaps of clothing can be mass produced and sold at such low prices. Even if machines are doing a lot of the work, they can't do all of it. I shop occasionally at H&M and other inexpensive chain retail stores and often leave feeling really guilty for spending so little on clothing! But these two little dresses I definitely don't feel guilty about. This is the Oliver + S fairy tale dress pattern, which is a great pattern, very easy to follow and so cute. I especially love the sleeves and the collar. (In these photos I hadn't sewn in the hook and eye to close the back securely but those are done now.)When I was thinking of what pattern to make, I had the fairytale dress pattern in mind in a plaid of some sort and then when I saw this example on the Oliver + S instagram feed, I knew I wanted to make it in that same tartan plaid. While cutting the fabric, I tried to be careful to consider the placement of the pattern of the plaid so both dresses were equal. I wanted the line of red to run down the center of the dress under the collar and wanted the darts to be symmetrical to the pattern.Same for the back of the dresses. It took me a good hour fiddling with the fabric and the zip on Lois's (pictured below) to make sure the pattern lined up well and that the skirt of the waist met up evenly. (After sewing in one side of the zip tape, I always close the zip and then snip a small part of the zip tape that is just opposite of where the waist seam lies on the opposite side of the zip tape.)This pattern does take some time, mainly due to its being lined and a good bit of hand sewing involved. The lining is hand sewn in along the zip and the hems are hand sewn. They also have a layer of tulle adding fullness to the skirt. The dresses are so pretty and they fit the girls well. They are also really excited about them, which makes me happy. I was worried Lois might roll her eyes. Yes, at 7 years old I've already gotten some "mom, that's so not cool!" looks from her about other things, but she loves her dress. The dresses are pictured here by the Christmas tree when the girls where at school earlier this week, but I'll post a photo of them wearing them next week along with some photos of our merry making around the house.[...]



Sewing Jeans!

2015-12-03T10:12:48.293+00:00

My head is a flurry of Christmas to-dos and excitement right now. So much to do, so little time! This week I want mail our Christmas cards, most of which go to the US so need to be mailed soon, make stockings, start the the girls Christmas dresses, which will be a Christmas version of the Oliver + S fairytale dresses I made a while back, and wrap lots of presents. The girls and I have been having fun making some Christmas crafts and are looking forward to getting our tree this weekend as well. Soon I'll post photos of our merry making. But now, I'm happy to have finished my most ambitious sewing project that I tackled solo, which is a pair of jeans! They are Jamie Jeans, a pattern by Named Clothing. When I saw the the pattern on the web site, I thought, woah, those are some great looking jeans! And how amazing do they look on their model? I love the contrasting piping on the pockets and the shape is great too. I wanted to step it up this year and challenge myself with some more ambitious sewing patterns and this was one of them.I admit, though, that these sat cut on my sewing table for many days. I would read over the instructions and felt really intimidated, and I bought some nice denim at Cloth House for them, which I was afraid to ruin. I wanted to use nice denim in case they did work out well but was still a little nervous to do so. I also used some beautiful ikat fabric for the interior pockets from Cloth House as well. I hunted around online to see if anyone had posted a tutorial with photos to help me along and found the Indiesew Jamie Jeans sewalong. The instructions and photos are amazing in this sewalong. After just a few steps in the pattern, I stopped reading the pattern instructions and just followed the sewalong. I chose to do the baste and fit method and needed to make no changes, though now I know the waistband needed to come in a bit because it gapes a little at the back, and I probably could have taken them in a bit more around my calves (and taken them up a bit more), but then again, I have pretty thin legs and prefer when they don't look like little twigs. The fly was a teensy bit confusing and I re-did it three times. I was lucky I didn't ruin the fabric unpicking so many times. And I found it challenging to get the topstitching neat. But I finally got it to a point that I was happy with.The back pockets were easy to make but a little tricky to be sure were even and centered properly. I love being able to choose where the pocket rests though. It's so often that I find jeans I like, but where the pocket sits is odd or I don't like the stitching on them. So it's great to be able to choose where your pockets rest. How amazing are these back pockets? So cool! But I wasn't feeling that ambitious yet, so I went for the pocket instructions in the pattern instead. The front pocket was fun to construct and makes for really interesting looking front pockets. My waistband is the area that could use the most improvement and needs to be re-done, which I'll do after Christmas. Mine turned out super skinny. I'm not sure where I went wrong with it, but I just wanted to get them done to move onto Christmas stuff, so I rushed a bit and probably should have waited. It's so skinny that I didn't bother with the belt loops but will add those when I re-do the waistband. My button hole for my jeans is junk too! My machine kept eating the thread and jamming while I did it. But I'm still really happy with the jeans and and super excited that I made them. When I put them on after I was done with the waistband, I was about to burst over how well they actually fit! I can't wait to make another pair.Andrew took a few photos with me in them with our Canon as well. Yay for jeans! I highly recommend the Indiesew sewalong for these. The only area that could have been a little clearer to me, is when you topstitch the fly, you have to topstitch it down to the zip. For most intermediate or advanced [...]



Favorite Outtakes

2015-11-08T18:15:39.216+00:00

October was a busy month! My mom was visiting, which was great but she got a terrible cold while she was here. Still, we did get in some fun time, like going to Columbia Road and Liberty on a few days. Despite not feeling well she was really helpful with our girls since Andrew was away for a bit of that time. My book launch events were great as well. It was a lot of fun to meet people who are genuinely interested in crafty shops in London and to sign my book for them. Quite a strange feeling to sign your own book but one that was very enjoyable! And it was fun to bake some cute sewing themed cakes and cupcakes. Feedback about my book has been really positive so far. People seem to love the illustrated maps by Ryn Frank and that it's arranged by section of the city, making it easy to search by area. One thing I've noticed is how many people remark on its size, that it's bigger than they were expecting. While I initially thought of having a small guide in a square format, about 6x6 inches, the publisher and I decided it might have more visual impact if it were larger. The size is 9.5x7 inches. I do think the larger photos are more impressive. It was very hard to choose a small selection of photos for each shop, so I thought I'd share a few outtakes with you. For a shop like Loop, for example, I had so many photos I would have liked to include! What you see above and below are what made it into the book.And here are a three favorites that didn't make it. I had a lot of fun using my macro lens for a handful of photos, like these three below, but many of them didn't make the cut in the end. Wayward is another favorite in the book. I love the way this shop looks in photos! The darker colours always help lighter and brighter colors look more dynamic. Rumor has it that Andrew, the owner, is doing a major re-arrange, so readers might be surprised when they go in to find a completely different looking Wayward which I'm sure will be equally stunning. Below is how Wayward looks in the book and then a few outtakes from it. I especially like the dramatic theater quality of this image below. I hope you enjoyed a little peek inside my book and at a few of the outtakes! If you'd like a copy of the book, it's available on Amazon in the UK, WHSmiths, Waterstones, and Amazon in the US and Barnes and Nobel there as well. If you want to find out if the book is in your city, you can check your local bookstores or write Black Dog Publishing to find it near you. [...]



Picking Time

2015-10-13T14:11:37.351+01:00

My head is still buzzy over the release of my book and I have more photos from it that I'd like to share. For each shop feature I could only choose a handful of photos for the spreads, and for some shops, like Loop, I had about 75 that I would have liked to include! It was sooo hard to choose the final photos. I thought I'd do a few posts on some of my favorite shops in the book and post some of those photos that didn't make it in. But there is life for us outside of my book! A few weeks ago we went fruit picking and all had a great time. How could you not have fun fruit picking? We went to Maynard's Farm in Wadhurst, which is right around the corner from one of my favorite shops, The Old Haberdashery. If you go fruit picking, be sure to stop into Sonia's shop. If you appreciate vintage trinkets and haberdashery, sewing, knitting, embroidery, handmade items or crafts in general, you will love her shop! On this day that we went to Maynard's, Sonia had a stall at a vintage fair, so we drove a few minutes to see her there rather than her shop.I love watching Lois and Ellie fruit picking. I think it's important for them to see that food doesn't simply show up on a grocery store shelf by magic and I want them to have a sense of where their food comes from. I hope we'll have our own garden one day, but for now, it's good to be able to do a bit of picking at a PYO farm. On the weekend we went, apples, raspberries, blackberries and plums were available to pick. We mostly picked apples but got a bit of everything.Lois and Ellie did about as much eating as picking, but that's half the fun!I've also been getting my cooking mojo back, which had escaped me for a while. Andrew and I both go through ups and downs when it comes to dinner inspiration. The best thing I find to do when I'm in a cooking slump is pull out a favorite but easy recipe, like a lemon ricotta pesto tartine with a bowl of soup from La Tartine Gourmande. A perfect, easy dinner on an autumn day! [...]



London Stitch and Knit: You're Invited

2015-10-01T18:58:05.616+01:00

I have quite a bit of catching up to do on my blog. We went fruit picking a few weeks ago and the girls had a blast and I have some really pretty photos to share, and last week we few to the US for a wedding, which was super fun but a bit tiring to go so far with the tots for just a few days. We've been home four days and still struggling with jet lag, argh! But before I can get to those things I wanted to announce my book launch dates, one of which is at the Decorative Living Fair next week. I'm so excited to be doing this fair! It's a favourite of mine. Here are a few photos from two years ago. I've been busy stitching on price tags (going a bit overboard, perhaps!), making fabric bookmarks, pin cushions and a few more little sewn bits to sell alongside the book. And my mom has been making things as well and will be with me at the fair. I'm so excited she's coming in town to help me. Stag and Bow will also have quite a few beautiful haberdashery bits for sale with me. For my other book launch events, I'll be at Fringe and Stag and Bow on the 17th and at Rye Books on the 18th. Hope to see you on one of these dates! Yesterday I got to see my book for the first time and I was over the moon! I'm so happy with it and hope you will enjoy it too. I've posted a few photos of the interior on my instagram



In Love Sewing

2015-09-15T13:41:28.665+01:00

Life is whizzing by, and as usual I feel like I'm having a hard time keeping up! I have a backlog of photos I want to post on my blog but they need editing first, and there's projects to tackle, things to sew, lists of stuff to get done, a wedding in the US next week to plan for. I know some people who manage to do IT ALL like Alicia and Artemis, two of my greatest inspirations, but alas, I'm afraid that as hard as I try to get a lot done, I never seem to get nearly as much done (or so well) as they do! Honestly I feel like most of my waking hours (if I'm at home) are spent picking things up and putting them away--I guess that's the life of a mother consistently distracted by clutter and mess. I always try to remind myself of one of my favorite quotes: "a perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life" which is also the title of a favorite book by Mary Randolph Carter. Clutter or no clutter, I keep trying to get a lot done... I've finished some sewing, an Anna dress that I LOVE. It wasn't quite finished when I took this photo but I'll post that one soon because I'm so happy with it. I also have a few ambitious patterns awaiting on the sewing table. In other news our little sweetie started school. She's so cute in her little uniform and so happy to be going to school with her big sister! And happily there's a good bit of excitement about my book this month and more coming out next month. This month my book is featured in Love Sewing Magazine as the book of the month, yay! And they've chosen to feature my sewing room as well. I love the way they put the text inside my fabric wreath I made a while back for Christmas. It's a great magazine for the dressmaker and they do a good bit of general craft and home sewing features as well, and the magazine is only going to get even better now that Amy from the blog Almond Rock is the new editor. I'll have some launch events in October and will post more on that later this week or early next, another exciting thing on my to-do list![...]



Lake District Road Trip

2015-09-03T23:01:30.080+01:00

We bought a car, woohoo! Though I realize the photo above is of a sailboat not a car... getting to that. It's a pretty big deal since we've not had a car for almost 6 years, and with two children, I'm amazed we made it that long without one. Granted our neighborhood has just about everything we need on our doorstep: butcher, baker, candlestick maker (not really that last one but I couldn't resist adding it because I'm a goof), fishmonger, wine shop, school, doctor, playgrounds, parks, all of these things within a 15 minute walk and a few of them a one minute walk, just around the corner really. We order our bulky groceries online (laundry soap, paper towels--you know, the boring stuff) and the rest we get locally, so that part of life without a car is pretty easy for us. Sometimes, though, it's been a royal pain! I have been reduced to tears on more than one occasion, standing at a bus stop in the freezing rain with two equally wet, freezing children and thought, this is nuts! We'll still take the bus to many places, but I'm really happy we finally decided to buy a car. It will make some short trips in the neighborhood easier, like picking up a very tired Lois from playdates after school rather than having to practically drag her home walking. And it means more road trips! We usually rent a car when we want to take a road trip, but that gets really expensive and is a bit of a hassle. Gotta go get the car, do the paperwork, pay the deposit, hear the sales pitch about insurance and whatnot, install the carseats each time, etc. I'm still not completely comfortable driving on the other side of the car and road, but I'm getting there. So, for our first road trip, we decided to go to the Lake District.The drive would normally take about 6 hours from our house, but because we went on a bank holiday weekend, it took about 8 to get there with traffic. It didn't really feel that long and our girls were pretty good most of the way. We stayed at Bank Ground Farm, which was great. When we arrived it was dusk but just light enough to see how beautiful it is there. Bank Ground Farm is on Lake Coniston with a stunning view of the lake, mountains and countryside. We stayed in the B&B there but they also have self catered cottages. Our preference is self catering since that's more fun and less stressful with the girls, but because we booked this trip a bit late in the season, that was what was left. The B&B was very relaxed and comfortable and the food was amazing. If you decide to stay there, definitely plan a meal there. Same for the afternoon tea--their cakes are some of the best I've had.We had a bit of rain but some beautiful blue skies part of the time as well. We went on a little hike, walked some footpaths through the countryside, hired a row boat and went to Brantwood, the former home of John Ruskin. The little piles of black in the photo below are cows. I was thinking I should mention that because I'm not sure that is obvious! Lois and Ellie think fairies live in moss, so they are often carefully inspecting moss on rocks. It's really cute. Lois and Ellie had a blast on the farm, running around like wild half the time. Lois says we need a much bigger garden! I wouldn't mind that either. We often leave our Canon at home during holidays because it's just so big and heavy and I always wish I had all our lenses with us when we do take it. But we decided to bring it with us on this trip since we weren't trying to pack light as we often do when we go by train. I was happy to get a few good photos of the girls this time around. I decided not to bring the Canon in the row boat though for fear it might get wet, but I snapped a few with my phone. I have a lifeproof case, so I don't worry about it getting wet. Kind of pricey but worth it if you plan to take it n[...]



Summer Days

2015-08-26T13:51:51.469+01:00

Ah, I wouldn't mind having that view again today! Beautiful blue water, warm breeze, sunshine, sand... all with family. We're back in London and have been for almost two weeks now. Alas, it seems like so long ago that we were in the US at the beach! We had a great time though, and I'm grateful we get to go home every summer for a few weeks and see our families and try to make the most of our time. We went to Cape San Blas in Florida, which was perfect. It's a bit remote compared to other summer beach cities in Florida, so it wasn't packed with people, which made being there all the more relaxing. Our girls had a great time with their cousins--lots of time body boarding in the ocean, swimming in the pool, games on the beach. We also drove to North Carolina to go to Asheville, a city we like a lot, and then up to Baltimore to see more family.I have lots of photos from our trip in my instagram. (Scroll down a few pages of my instagram to see those.) I've posted a few here, but is that silly, to re-post what's already in my instagram? I do that often, I realize, but now I'm trying to decide how to handle that aspect of documenting my life. I love instagram, but then just re-posting what's there onto my blog is redundant, don't you think? Then again, I want to share things that I did where I've only taken instagram photos of whatever that experience was. Does anyone else have this dilemma? Maybe I should leave my personal life to instagram and less personal things with photos using our nice Canon to the blog? Obviously not a major issue in life to sort that one! My head is a bit of a cluster swirling with so many things like this and much more, like events to promote my book, patterns waiting to meet the scissors on my sewing table, books I want to read (finished The Goldfinch and reading The Girl on the Train now), recipes I want to cook, ideas for making Christmas gifts (doesn't it always sneak up so fast?), some holiday planning... And it goes on. But it's nice to remember simply enjoying the moment, which is always easy to do at the beach.[...]



The Perfect Beach Tote

2015-07-25T22:55:24.495+01:00

We're at the beach having a great time in Florida with my family. I was a little worried about the weather before we got here. It was looking pretty bleak. A dark and stormy beach forecast did not make for ideal visions of beach bliss. But it turned around quickly and we've had great weather every day! Before we left I was on the lookout for a new beach bag. My boat tote has seen better days and I've been wanting something a bit more hardy that can stand up to the wear and tear of general life dragging (mostly spilled, dripped, crunched kid) stuff around in a bag. And that made me think of Susan Hoff's tote bags made from recycled sails. I love her bags. I first saw them in San Francisco at Gravel and Gold and wrote about them in a shopping guide to SF for Mollie Makes a while back. I was reminded of them today in Remodelista where her live-work space is featured this week. The look of her home is very similar to the style of her bags--rustic, simple, and clean-looking with a good bit of white with hints of color. You almost get the sense of a breath of fresh sea air looking at the photos.And her bags that I covet... simple and beautiful. I love that there is often something off-center or asymmetrical about many of them. You can see more of her bags on her web site. Photos of Susan's home by Dalilah Arja. [...]



Beautiful Things

2015-07-14T10:53:59.318+01:00

I've been in a bit of a funk lately. More of a slump than a funk, but something that went from relieved to be finished with my book to sad that it is officially finished. It's not often that I have such a big project in my lap at once. It seemed to go from full speed to stop in one day. I'm still very happy it's finished and am looking forward to another big project. In the meantime, I've been up to the usual stuff... sewing, housework (seriously, how is there always so much laundry to do? We need less stuff!), reading.... And I'm looking forward to going to the US next week to visit family and go to the beach, yay! I'm also daydreaming of having our own house one day and what it would look like (just a tad pricey to buy a house in our current neighborhood, so we're not sure when that will happen or where it will be). I've been eyeing my pinterest for inspiration, which I haven't looked at much in months. Some of my favorite images are of colorful interiors. A few of my favorite photos are are the work of Anna Spiro of Black and Spiro, a shop in Australia, and the blog Absolutely Beautiful Things. I used to read her blog often, but as with many blogs, I read them less and instead check their instagram. She, like many bloggers, seems to do less blogging these days and more quick social networking like using instagram. I love looking at her instagram for inspiration. Her style mixes modern and vintage perfectly and is polished while still welcoming and cozy at the same time. I'd love to get her book to read about her decorating tips. I especially love how she mixes prints and paintings of varying styles and colors so well. She's a master at hanging pictures gallery style.This is just a little look at her style from a recent hotel project of hers, the very beautiful boutique hotel, Halcyon House. Oh the blue and white, the geometric wallpaper, the pops of color! I love it all. But really I love everything she does. So while I continue to avoid the mountain of laundry, I'll enjoy her beautiful things and dream of being at the beach next week! (Photos from here.)[...]



Back to Sewing

2015-09-09T13:53:44.763+01:00

For the last few months my sewing machine has been collecting dust. That's not to say my head wasn't completely immersed in sewing. I was actually more involved with sewing more than ever while working on London Stitch and Knit. I have never been to so many great fabric and haberdashery shops in such a short amount of time or written about so many all at once. My head has definitely been deep in fabric, thread, needles, patterns... I've just not been on the actual sewing machine again until last week. I really have not had any extra time. I completed photos in more than 45 shops and wrote features on all the shops, including chapter introductions and a resources section for my book in 3 months, mostly working on it after our girls went to bed and on the weekends (when I wasn't visiting the shops taking photos). If Ellie had been in school full-time that would have been a bit easier, but I had her two full days a week and she can't watch Peppa Pig all day after all. But now the book is just about finished and I've had time to do some actual sewing. One project that's been on my list for about a year is the Sew Over It Betty dress. I have some vintage curtain fabric that used to be in Lois's room that reminded me of fabric I saw on Mad Men, so I thought it would make a good Betty. It was really easy to make. I didn't get the zip to the top well the first time, though, so I re-did it. Other than that, the fit was good and I didn't need to do too many adjustments. Here's to getting back to sewing!



ACE Camp Days

2015-06-11T21:38:09.514+01:00

I had a great time with my friend and chef Alison Bell hosting an ACE Camp London culinary tour. The group was great and we ate and ate and ate! We went to soooo many good places: St John, NOPI, Borough Market, Maltby Street Market, Marylebone farmer's market, Neal's Yard Dairy, lots of exploring in Shoreditch, Soho--where we had a great tour by Jenny Linford--and Everyone had plenty of time to explore and venture out during free time. Lots of campers went to the V&A, Selfridges, and plenty of other shops and restaurants that weren't on the itinerary specifically. One highlight was going to Alastair Hendy's home, where he has an amazing kitchen (the whole place is amazing, but the kitchen in particular is dramatic because you can look down into it from the upper floor where his living room is). Above is my delicious lunch at his house. He gave a talk about his food styling and photography work and then he cooked us an amazing lunch, which he let us all style. So much fun! Now I want to take an ACE Camp. I'm looking forward to seeing what camps Angela Ritchie has planned for the rest of the year and 2016. Here's a look at our London culinary tour.Alastair Hendy and his kitchen shown from above. (And I'm happy to have gotten down to his Home Goods store in Hastings... more on that soon.)Just a few amazing things in his kitchen! He is a food stylist after all. Donuts at St John at Maltby Street. Yum. The kitchen where we stayed in Marylebone, right along Regent's Park. The cheese room at La Fromagerie in Marylebone. Liberty. Always a must when playing tour guide to any visitors.Bone marrow feast at St John. An outing to Lamb's Conduit Street where everyone enjoyed Persephone Books. Lunch at NOPI.For our first night with the group I made meringues for Eton Mess, pistachio rosewater meringues from the Ottolenghi cookbook.And my BFF from San Francisco, Caroline (shown on the left, me right), was one of the Ace campers! I missed her as soon as she went home but it was great to see her. [...]



Snapshots from Cornwall

2015-09-03T23:10:40.302+01:00

I've been so busy lately that our holiday in Cornwall with friends almost seems like a distant memory. The days just seem to rush by and it's hard for me to keep up with everything that I need and want to do. I imagine many people feel the same way, juggling the responsibilities of housework, kids, work and play. (I feel like I say that all the time!) It was great to have a break from our regular routine, though, and I wouldn't mind being back there now. The weather this week there is amazing. Unfortunately the weather wasn't great most of the time we were there, but we all had a wonderful time anyway. Our girls played with their friends from morning till night and had so much fun together. We went on some lovely short hikes, went to the beach, went to the Eden Project, Rick Stein's fish and chips, we cooked, played in the garden at the house, had an Easter egg hunt, and had a relaxing time just lounging around. The house we stayed in was amazing. I highly recommend it if you're looking for a place to stay near Bude. Here's a look at our holiday in Cornwall though instagram.Miss Ellie in our fab kitchen, the size of a swimming pool. I'd love a kitchen this big. No bumping into each other here!An actual swimming pool, and a natural one at that. The waves were coming up over the edge and filling the pool. Ellie with Andrew trying not to blow over in wind on the beach.Cozy by the fire. Glorious plants at the Eden Project. Rick Stein's seafood and fish and chips shop. The best fish and chips I've ever eaten!  Andrew's homemade morning buns. One of the many delicious things he made. Chickens hunting for Easter eggs. Ellie hunting for Easter eggs. A short break on our hike.  A little stream near the house.And a big stream on our drive. We look forward to visiting Cornwall again one day. It's truly such a beautiful part of the country. [...]



Pretty In Pink

2015-06-18T23:08:16.563+01:00

Right now we're in Cornwall with some friends in a beautiful rental. More on that soon! It's a nice little break from life at home. I'm happy to be away from our own house to escape our daily routine and to have some time with friends. Most of my time the last few weeks has been spent dashing around London taking photos in amazing fabric and knitting shops for my book. I really haven't had much time to do anything else. At night I work on editing the photos and doing the writing as well. I'm trying to get the bulk of the photos out of the way first though since that part is the most time-consuming.I've made a little time for sewing too, thanks to the fact that I took a class to finish something. I took the ultimate shirt class at Sew Over It and loved it. I had a hard time choosing the fabric. I wanted to like it enough so that if the shirt turned out well, I'd actually wear it, but I didn't want to spend a lot in case I wrecked the shirt. I ended up picking a really pretty pink print at Sew Over It just before class. It wasn't cheap, but as soon as I saw it, it reminded me of all the little pretty blossoms budding on trees and I really wanted it for the shirt. I love seeing spring in bloom and have been trying to make sure and stop and smell the roses, or notice the pretty blossoms, as it were.I didn't take photos of my shirt in progress but here it is finished. I'm glad I took a class to make it because the cuffs and collar were a bit tricky and I'm not sure I would have been able to do it well by myself. I almost wrecked it doing the buttonholes. Even though I've done buttonholes before, it's been a while. I practiced but still had trouble getting them neat. I need one more button for the top but decided to use what I had anyway. I'm really pleased with the collar and cuffs though. And the fit was really nice without altering the pattern, just a little tinkering needed on the darts. Here's a quick snap with my phone of me wearing it before we headed out of town. [...]



My Book! London Stitch and Knit

2015-09-09T13:53:14.885+01:00

Lately I've been working on a big project that I'm super excited about. I'm writing a book! It's a guide to London's fabric, knitting and haberdashery shops and will be published this autumn. I'm also doing the photos for the book, which is wonderful because I get to go to so many amazing shops and capture how beautiful they are. It's been hard though to keep my wallet from jumping out of my purse at every shop! I've had the idea for the book for a while and I'm really happy that it's now a reality. I keep a lot of sticky notes on my desktop (too many, what a mess they've become!) and one of those notes is fabric and knitting shops I come across on blogs and various web sites or magazines. I make a note of them so that if I'm planning to go to an area of London that I've not been to before, I can check my sticky note and see if any of those shops are nearby. As the list of shops grew, I thought about how wonderful it would be to have a guide to them, with lots of pretty photos. I hunted around to see if any such guide already existed and came up with nothing. So the idea quickly sprouted into a book proposal!Of course then I had to figure out how to write a book proposal, but there's tons of information on how to do that online so it wasn't too challenging. I also had a graphic designer friend help me make a beautiful mini-book version to submit with the proposal. I figured the more a publisher could envision the book, the better. Without an agent, I submitted it to four publishers and had four enthusiastic replies. Ultimately Black Dog Publishing was the best home for it. They've done many really beautiful books on art, architecture and crafts.I designed the current cover for the book, which might change a bit, but the overall style will be what you see above. And below is a teensy peek of what you can expect from some of the photos, and I'm also super happy that Katt Frank will be illustrating a map for the book. I love her work. Just look at how beautiful her illustrations are! I can envision wonderful sewing bits just like her coffee illustration below. I'm so excited. Feel free to follow my instagram for peeks in some of the shops. My blogging might be sparse over the next month or so, but you can see what I'm up to there, if you'd like.[...]



Let There Be DIY Light

2015-03-02T13:03:18.836+00:00

Every day our colorful family room is looking more finished! I'm happy to have found some great vintage school chairs on ebay with the perfect teal colored paint. We all love them. School chairs are a safe bet, I think. Lamp shopping, on the other hand, is tricky for me because there's often one element of a lamp that doesn't interest me, and actually the lamps I tend to be most drawn to are really expensive. So I've taken to doing some lamp DIY. I've been having fun customizing lampshades for a few rooms and now have the bug to customize some actual lamps as well after completing one. Inspired by my friend Paula who turns interesting and unusual industrial things into lamps, like pulleys, pipes and all manner of other odd bits, I decided to give it a go myself.I found this metal piece at the flea market a while back and loved it and thought I'd simply use it as a vase. It's quite heavy and made of something concrete-like material. I took it to my local electrician and he wired it up as a lamp for me. In the US you can buy lamp kits and do this easily yourself but here I haven't found any such kits, though I imagine it wouldn't be hard to pick out individual parts for a lamp. I did need a hole drilled so I'm glad the electrician did that for me. I covered it with a vintage tea towel that I also bought at the flea market. I traced out a simple pattern by rolling the shade on pattern paper and then I glued it to the lampshade around the rims with textile glue. Super easy and can be done in about 15 minutes. I still need to add a bit of trim to the inside to cover the raw edges better, but it's looking nice to this point. This is now my favorite lamp, and I have my eye out for more unusual things I can turn into lamps with pretty customized shades. Here's to some fun DIY! [...]



Stardust

2015-03-10T13:41:03.389+00:00

This past week has been a bit tiring. Lois was out of school for half term and Andrew and Ellie have been ill most of the week. Lois has two speeds: high and off, so between her energy level and their colds, it was not the easiest of weeks! We did make our ice cream sandwiches on Monday, though, which was (mostly) fun. We made this recipe again. They are quite tasty and really cute too! We used stardust and glitter strands to decorate the sides. I love it here in the UK that so many food brands have much dreamier names than their US equivalents. There, the stardust would likely be "colored edible glitter" and the glitter strands "sprinkles." I prefer stardust and glitter strands! If I ever have my ice cream business, I think I'll have some stardust and glitter strands on hand. And my ice cream dress, and I think this pattern would make a good one for scooping as well! Our girls LOVE to help do anything, which is often not helpful at all, but you gotta let them do it. When the kitchen goes into full explosion mode, which it did soon after these photos, I try to remind myself that this is just a sliver of time in life and they will be grown before I know it. Like stardust, just a scattered remanent in my memory of days gone by. So, when they and the kitchen were covered in chocolate, I tried to take a deep breath and remind myself it's only stuff to clean up, and more importantly that it was super fun for them to make a complete mess! We didn't just make messes this week though. We actually did a lot of fun things, including an outing to the Tower of London and to the Surrey Docks Farm. You can see a bit from those outings and more of what we've been up to in my instagram. [...]



A Hint of Spring

2015-02-18T22:02:07.973+00:00

Spring is in the air! At least it's visible here and there in little blossoms peeking out of the grey days, which are often the backdrop of winter here. And green! I'm noticing much more vibrant green lately. The promise of spring has me feeling buzzy and energetic so I'm getting a lot done. Well, I'm getting more of some things done than I planned, like sewing, and almost nothing done of other things I need to do (sorting and filing paperwork, blah). But I wouldn't want to miss all this spring action sitting beside the filing cabinet. This week included a really nice walk in the park with Ellie, making some valentine's heart garland, sewing a few Oliver + S ice cream tops for Lois and making a tooth fairy pillow for Lois.It had been weeks since I took Ellie to Peckham Rye park. It's a really beautiful park near our house with lovely flower gardens, a playground, and duck pond. We mainly just wandered the paths and admired all the little blossoms. Little sweetie wanted to touch, smell and chase everything (squirrels and birds) in sight. I love Valentine's for the crafting and made a simple garland out of some scrap hearts. My garland started with hearts dangling in a row of 3, 4, or 5 from one thread but it hung too low because we figured we'd have a fire over the past few days, so I cut them shorter and made a garland of one row of hearts. Really simple but pretty cute. I made Lois two Oliver + S ice cream dress tops. They are so cute and were really easy to make. I should have made her one size up as these will be snug in just a few months, but I'm still happy with how they turned out. Such a simple shape. I'd like one for myself! I probably should have cut the top fabric in the back so that it wouldn't be upside down when it was complete, but I didn't have much of this handwriting fabric so I decided not to worry about it.Lois looks adorable in them! Just a quick model shoot with my phone here because it's not easy to get her to stay still for long!And here's her little tooth fairy pillow I made just in time to pick her up from school on Friday. Another quick photo with my phone. I used a felted sweater and made up the shape and design after seeing something similar in a shop. It has a tiny pocket on the back. It's so cute. I can't wait till she looses her next tooth! We intended to make these ice cream sandwiches again today, but that will have to wait till tomorrow. Today I took Lois out on a Valentine's date to Islington to the Little Angle Theater and to Ottolenghi for lunch. We were a little worn out once we got home so we'll look forward to doing that tomorrow![...]



Sewing Goals

2015-08-26T13:46:07.020+01:00

Sew many patterns, sew little time! In my last post I didn't mention just how many things I want to sew this year. I had a goal in mind of 2 wearable garments a month, either for myself or for our girls, but now I'm thinking that was quite ambitions with all the other things in life I need and want to do, and I don't want the pressure of the goal to take the fun out of it. So now I'm thinking 1 wearable garment per month is more realistic for me. I know some people are able to knock out more than a few projects a month, amazing sewists like Fiona and Katie, for example, whose blogs always inspire me. With the two little ones dangling from me half the time, I'm not sure I can devote enough time to two garments with life's other commitments, but I will still try! I've been matching up fabrics with some of the patterns I want to make. A few patterns are the Sewaholic cambie dress in view A this time, Sew Over It's wrap dress, and their pussy bow blouse. I'd love to make their Betty dress in some curtain fabric I have. Once when we were watching Mad Men, I noticed Peter's sofa was almost exactly like the fabric I have, which came from a hotel in the 60s in San Francisco (so I was told by the person in a vintage shop who sold the curtains to me). I think the print would make a perfect Betty, but I need to be sure I have enough of the fabric. I had to re-wind and take a photo of the sofa and match it up with my fabric, which is shown on the right. Pretty close match, eh?I'm also signed up to take the Sew Over It Ultimate Shirt class, which I'm super excited about! A few other patterns I'd like to make are a Vintage Vogue pattern I bought at Ray Stitch. Last spring when I was in their shop, I saw the dress on a mannequin in the window and was trying to figure out my size based on their sample since the vogue pattern sizes seem to be based on unrealistic Barbie bodies. They offered to let me try it on and I loved it, though it looked better on me when I was standing up (I should have sat up straighter). My mom took the photo below with her phone. So now I'd like to make one for myself! Gosh, there are many more things I'd like to sew as well... some things by Pauline and Alice, and some from Papercut Patterns. I've pinned most of the specific patterns I'd like to make here on my sewing board. Of course the little ones could use some cute clothes as well. For them, I have a few Oliver and S patterns ready to meet the scissors. But enough chatter about it! I must get started. My wrap dress fabric is just dry enough to cut it. Only a handful of hours left before I need to get the little ones from school, so I must get the sewing machine humming before time gets away from me today! Update! Four days later...I've almost finished 2 wearable garments since I wrote this post! I made the Sew Over It ultimate wrap dress, which I love more than I expected, and I'm almost finished with their pussy bow blouse pattern. I wanted to finish the blouse last night (date night!) but realized cuffs on a blouse a a bit of a mind-bender! But I'm happy to have almost completed 2 garments in January.  A late start to the year, but a start indeed! Here I am in the wrap dress and also again in the blouse before attaching the sleeves, which I'll do tomorrow. Soon I'll write a fuller post on sewing these patterns with some better pictures as well. [...]



A Bright New Year

2015-01-07T22:13:19.188+00:00

I hope you had a great Christmas and Happy New Year! We had a wonderful time visiting family in the US. I tend to post everyday pictures regarding what I'm up to on Instagram, much more so than on my blog, so if you're interested in seeing more of our daily lives, feel free to browse my Instagram feed. I have some pictures from our recent trip to the US there. It's always hard to come home after the holidays. I think I'm fortunate in that I love my family and love being around them, and I miss them even if I've just seen them. So when I know I have to come home, living so far away, I always like to have a few things to look forward to. One of those things this time was finishing up our house re-arrange and buying some last pieces to complete our colorful sitting room downstairs. I've made some good progress since we returned home because I was able to bring home our new Lulie Wallace painting that I had shipped to my mom's (it's the floral painting on the right in these photos.)We love our new painting! I was waiting until I was able to get it from my mom's before hanging other things because I wasn't quite sure how to place everything until I had it in person. I'm going for a much brighter, and a bit more modern, look than my usual style, which often mostly consists of earth tones. We have a turquoise tile surround above our stove, which I love, but it never looked quite right with our darker, earth toned things, so those things are now in the front green room. I've been looking at colorful inspiration photos for so long. Originally, I thought I'd choose one inspiration photo and start there, but the color scheme actually came first from a wool blanket that's now on the sofa, which has bright pinks and oranges. I love a bit of black and white with bright colors so I knew I'd incorporate black and white as well. I hung our Lulie with a few other things in similar colors--an old painting Lois did (below the Lulie), a "dolls" print by August Wren, a plate by Katy Leigh, and a color card from Colour Makes People Happy. I bought the "M" and the floral wall sconce at Graham and Green. I plan to fill in the wall more, but this is a start. I'd be happy if it ended up having this vibe. We need a few more things to complete the room, like a sideboard, a mirror to go over it, a few more lamps and new chairs, all of which we will likely have by the end of this month. But you can see how the downstairs area is taking shape. And the green room is looking more finished as well. I hung pictures on one wall that was blank and I had a painting framed, which is also now hung. I updated the green room post with those photos at the bottom of that post, for anyone who's interested.In other news, I'm also looking forward to and super excited about a Cook's Tour in London that I'll be hosting with chef Alison Bell and Ace Camps. I LOVE Ace Camps, which are creative learning workshops with incredibly talented people in amazing cities all over the world. I would like to sign up for all the workshops myself, so I'm really grateful to have the opportunity to actually host one of their "explore" culinary camps. Just check out who Ace Camps has worked with in the past! I'm especially excited to work with Alison again who I met at the food styling workshop I helped host with Beatrice Peltre last summer.(Still tinkering with the shelves and what I'd like on them. I think I change them around a little everyday and I have my eye out for more fun stu[...]



Merry and Bright

2015-12-23T16:38:47.552+00:00

Even though we always go home to the US for Christmas, we still like to get in the spirit at home and decorate the house a bit and I always send Christmas cards. We use Tiny Prints for our photo cards. Sometimes I have photos of all of us, but this year I chose two photos of the girls. I always find styles I like from their selection. This year we bought a small tree and put it on a table. It's just about the same height as Lois and fits our favorite ornaments perfectly. Lois actually carried it home herself! I love ornaments and each year we buy a few new ones. This year I bought them from John Derian's shop in New York. I bought Lois and Ellie some ice cream ornaments and Andrew a beetle. I also love cards and family photos in Christmas trees, but this year I just put a few family photos since the tree is so small. I made a few ornaments to look like little gifts wrapped in some of my favorite papers.  We used Lois's star from last year.And I stuck some of the Ann Wood horses Lois made in the tree. I'm crazy about these horses and want to make more. I didn't think to include them in the tree until I saw Ann Wood's tree,  which I love. Downstairs, where we spend most of our time, I simply added a few things to the mantle.  And Lois and her friends helped me make a few decorations and ornaments.Our Ann Wood tweety here is going to keep an eye on our house until we return. I'm very happy to be home with our families for Christmas. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year![...]



Melanie Barnes for 91 Magazine

2014-12-19T18:52:13.891+00:00

A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Melanie Barnes of the beautiful blog Geoffrey and Grace when I went to shoot her cozy house and cute makery beach hut in Worthing for 91 Magazine. In addition to being a busy mom, Melanie is also a talented crafter who sews children's clothes and accessories from vintage fabrics. She also runs a shop with two other talented crafters out of their beach hut studio / shop named Margot. The feature is on how home and work life influence and inspire each other and it's just one of the many features that make up the current beautiful issue of 91 Magazine. Head there to read the article and learn more about Melanie and Margot. Below are a few photos that didn't make it into the article to give you an idea of Melanie's homesupun vintage style.And a few from the very adorable beach hut, Margot, that aren't in the feature. [...]