We don’t know what 2021 has in store for us yet and it can be hard to find joy and a sense of optimism amid the uncertainty. The answer for me is to spend this part of the year planning the creative projects I want to pour my time into over the next twelve months. Perhaps for you it’s a list of books to read or maybe you’re planning home renovations, planting a garden or organizing your sock drawer. Creativity and growth takes many forms. One thing I have learnt over the years is that if I don’t make time for making then the days turn into weeks, weeks into months and before I know it years are slipping past and I still have the same pair of socks on my knitting needles.
Today I’m going to share a personal list of projects that I want to delve deeper into in 2021 – perhaps it will give you some ideas or inspire you to make your own, completely different list?
1. Getting back into knitting. Since moving to SoCal knitted jumpers are no longer pride of place in my wardrobe. Even on the coldest day it is too hot for wool so this most therapeutic of pastimes has slipped from my life. As all knitters know, the act of knitting is about so much more than the end product – getting lost in color and texture as we plan projects, the mind-clearing meditation of counting stitches as we work and the slow burning joy of bringing something into existence row by row. I need this kind of joy back in my life – perhaps I’ll knit cup holders, perhaps I’ll knit stuffed toys – I am just happy to be part of the knitting community again.
2. Lino cutting and print making – I have been dabbling in lino cutting and block printing fabric on and off for a couple of years but this year I want to re-wind a little and take some time to master the basics. I love the work of Emily Louise Howard (thediggingestgirl on insta) and am starting the year by working through her book Block Print Magic.
3. Sketching and pen and ink drawing – if you didn’t go to art school and therefore feel like you’re not allowed to pick up a pencil and start drawing (I’m sure I’m not alone in this?) then consider this your permission slip. Drawing is the gateway to so many art forms – to get yourself off to a good start I recommend investing in a set of drawing pencils, proper artists eraser and a sketchbook. Try sketching things around you by really looking at them – don’t fall into the trap of drawing how you think they should look. Keep your marks quite loose at first and hone the final shape gradually. Unhook from the idea of getting your drawings to look perfect (or even good) – the goal is to show up and try and fill up that sketchbook.
4. Watercolor painting – another technique that has been on my to-do list for ever. I’ve bought myself The Joy of Watercolor by Emma Block and am planning on working through it in the Spring once my mind is filled with sunshine and color again.
5. Last but not least, let’s not forget that to move forward we must discard the old baggage that is weighing us down. Releasing ourselves from old goals can be surprisingly hard to do – I’m going to take a moment this week to identify the things that are no longer serving me and then bid them adieu. Hanging in my utility room are a dozen or so bags containing half finished projects of mine from the last 10 years – I am going to go through them one by one and return most of them to their respective supply boxes or just straight up throw them out!
2021 may have plans for us but we can still have plans of our own – it’s never to late to start, or start again. Time spent creating is never a waste of time no matter what else the year brings. I’ll be rooting for you this year!
Well, I didn’t see that coming. We’re now in week 6 of lockdown here in California and the girls have adjusted to our new normal fairly well considering the parks and beaches here are closed and they are now confined to the house and back garden. During the first two weeks I felt this strange sense of optimism and enthusiasm for our new life at home and threw myself into homeschooling and planning all the craft projects I would now (surely?) get around to. I kind of knew at the back of my mind though that this was maybe a coping mechanism and perhaps not sustainable for the long term and sure enough, fast-forward to today and those positive vibes have evaporated, I suspect never to return. I don’t know about you but Im having to work a little bit harder just to do the basics. It’s the same feeling I used to get pre-children if I read too many gossip magazines in one sitting or stayed in my pyjamas until 3pm. There is an undercurrent of heaviness which runs through the days – and especially the evenings – at the moment.
During the early days of the lockdown I began a project which I had wanted to tackle for a long time but kind of accepted I would never get around to. This dolls house belonged to my younger sisters and I was beyond thrilled when they passed it on to my girls a few years ago. It is handmade and definitely not something you would find in a toy shop, with the odd jagged edge and surprise nail protruding. There are pencil marks and wobbly windows and it is just so imperfect and handmade, I absolutely love it. It looked as though it had undergone a restoration at some point prior to coming to us – as well as the original victorian style dollhouse-scale wallpaper there were a some 1990’s paint effects which had to go. Overall the dollshouse had been well loved and looked ready for a fresh start.
I have always been something of a hoarder when it comes to craft materials so in my previous life working for an Interior Design company in London I used to quite often save discontinued fabric and wallpaper sample books from the wheelie bin. Although I whittled down my collection quite a lot in preparation for our move to the US, I did bring some wallpapers by Harlequin and GP&J Baker along for inspiration. Although I’m not an Interior Designer myself, I am in my element surrounded by wallpaper and fabric and I really enjoyed the process of choosing which wallpapers to use, then choosing which sections to use for which walls and sometimes having to carefully cut and paste motifs to trick the eye into thinking that the larger prints run seamlessly from one wall to the other. Progress was fairly slow as each wall had a slightly different shape so I had to make a paper template first to check for fit before cutting the actual wallpaper.
I began with the bedrooms, choosing fairly conservative polka dot prints (lockdown living must surely have had a subconscious hand in my choice of a restful, neutral taupe for the master bedroom!). As I moved downstairs though I realised that, rather than choosing the small-scale prints most suitable for a dolls house, I could make good use of some of the larger scale prints that I truly loved, giving a more modern feel – like a giant wall mural!
The dolls house sits on top of a mid-century coffee table in the playroom and is visible from most angles of our main living space. Seeing these papered rooms makes me smile and I like to think of what future generations will make of my design choices. My next task is to repair the front of the dollshouse which broke off during our move and I’m planning one or two updates to the exterior – inspired partly by the painted surfaces in Charleston Farmhouse and partly by the Dorset farmhouses I was familiar with as a child. The dollhouse looks quite devoid of life when it’s not occupied by my old Sylvanian Families so I would like to add one or two hand-painted touches – a cat skulking along the side wall perhaps or a bird perched on top of the chimney.
I highly recommend dolls house tinkering as a quarentine activity (kids or no kids) – if you dont have one you could try Ebay or check out pinterest for cardboard dolls house ideas. However you spend these weeks I hope you stay safe and well.
This quick-to-make bow scrunchie is the perfect sewing project for using up fabric scraps or up-cycling a favourite garment that’s on it’s last legs. You could rock a different one every day of the week or make one to match all your favourite outfits. This DIY bow scrunchie also makes the perfect present – you could give them as holiday gifts for your entire class, make matching ones for your #girlsquad bachelourette party or use them as stocking fillers!
Hello and Happy New Year! I really wanted to share some photos from the last couple of months by way of a little catch up. I’ve been taking Sara Tasker’s new e-course Gloom & Glow which has really helped me see the magic in these dark and gloomy days and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of getting out into the fresh air in search of photographs (and also hiding indoors with my fairy lights and blankets). Continue reading →
Winter where I live can be pretty brutal – grey skies day after day, freezing temperatures (but seldom snow to make it pretty), rain, going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark…
I can think of two things though that help make Winter better wherever you are – hot pyjamas straight off the radiator and going to bed with a hot water bottle! The pyjamas you can probably figure out for yourself but I’m excited to share my new and improved Quilted Hot Water Bottle Cover sewing tutorial today! Continue reading →
It’s been a while since I sewed a new garm so I’m excited to share some photos of my finished bomber jacket today! The pattern is, of course, the Rigel Bomber by Papercut Patterns – a simple, unlined bomber jacket with welt pockets. I chose a pink sweatshirt fabric (rather more lurid than these photos make it appear…) as I wanted something warm, comfy and easy to care for. Also, since it’s super cosy, fleece backed sweat-shirting, I thought it might be nice to see the contrast in texture on the inside of the jacket.
I learned a couple of things while working on this project. One thing, which is blindingly obvious in hindsight, is that (of course) if you choose to make details like ribbing, zips and welt pockets in a contrasting colour then any imperfections will stick out like a sore thumb. But if I stand at a jaunty angle like this then perhaps you won’t notice 😉 The other is that although this is a simple enough jacket pattern, jackets are inherently more difficult than dresses as they don’t look ‘pretty’ in-and-of themselves and don’t ‘spark joy’ in quite the same way. Also there are more straight lines and corners to match up so if something is slightly off then it’s harder to sort of ‘use the force’ and ease on down the road and lose the excess in the side seams (or wherever – hope it’s not just me that sews like this!).
I’m hoping this will be a good addition to my day to day getup, especially once the temperature drops a little more. I’m already planning a silk version for work but think I might try lining it this time – and maybe skip the pockets to save myself a whole load of time (and a little bit of heartache – my overlocker chewed up two side panels as I tried to make the inside of the pocket situation look neater). Thinking about the pockets just then made my heart feel all heavy and then it hit me – making jackets feels a lot more like ‘tailoring’ and a lot less like ‘dressmaking’ – more mathematical somehow with fewer nice, curved seams and pretty necklines. One thing I have realised though is that I desperately need to sew more every-day things so perhaps jackets are something I’ll come to enjoy more with practice?
One last thing (to do with my upside down feet). Long story short, my tripod is broken. I really wanted to show off these trainers which are by New Balance though as they just go so well with the jacket – what a coincidence 😉
Most of my DIY projects are born out of necessity. When my optometrist advised me to spend 20 minutes lying down with a heated eye mask every few days I didn’t need much convincing. Later that day I had my finger poised to order a £12 rice filled eye bag from Amazon when I had a lightbulb moment and realised that I could totally make it myself!
I decided to make a tutorial as I think everyone should experience the delight of a warm eye compress. This tutorial is simple to follow and contains a free template that you can download as a PDF. The finished eye mask is generously sized and just the right weight – it even doubles as a warm neck/shoulder compress too! A heated eye mask is really good for the various ducts and glands in your eyes as well as being super relaxing. I like to take mine to bed and pretend it’s a spa treatment…