Lockdown Life: Dolls House Renovation – Part 1

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!

Nursery…
Master Bedroom
Living Room
Kitchen

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.

A Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress (and one epic, life changing relocation)

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll probably know that we moved from Surrey in England to the South Bay area of Los Angeles late last Summer. It was an opportunity we grabbed with both hands and now after six months of Southern Californian living I can safely say it was the right one. I am loving these sun filled days and now that the boxes have been unpacked and I’ve found my feet, my creative energy is flowing again and I’m bursting with ideas.

The Myosotis Dress by Deer and Doe Patterns has been steadily populating my Instagram saves since it was released a couple of years ago so felt like the perfect thing to dive into after putting sewing life somewhat on hold over the last year. Below is my finished dress and some thoughts on this pattern!

This dress is perfect for me because it has a really flattering, breezy shape but crutially, the dress makes a pretty shape all by itself and stands away from the body. Meaning I’m free to slouch around inside it or sit down without any uncomfortable, stiff edges digging in to me. I also love the sleeves which are breezy like the skirt but provide a good level of coverage and comfort if there is a chill in the air. The only part of the dress I’m not totally sold on is the collar – whilst it does provide a counterpoint to all those ruffles, it was quite fiddly to sew and I cant help but feel that a collar-less version would be more flattering.

I found this pale blue viscose/lyocell blend at Joanne’s Stores and loved the fluid texture (I love the look of chambray but find it quite stiff in reality) which is perfect for this pattern – the ruffled skirt and sleeves have a lovely weight to them. I think the pattern would also lend itself nicely to a double gauze or silk too.

I’m definitely going to make another one without a collar and will come back to share it here soon. In the meantime you can browse tons of Myosotis dress inspiration from the Instagram sewing community by checking out the hashtag #ddmyosotis.

HOW TO MAKE: A LINOCUT PRINTING BLOCK [DIY TUTORIAL]

How-To-Make-A-Linocut-Printing-Block-DIY-Tutorial_edited-1Spring has finally sprung here in the South-East of England – everything is a really vivid shade of green and bursting into life. The ferns in my back garden are unfurling long, sinuous tendrils which inspired me to make a patterned fabric featuring this intricate botanical. I had wanted to try linocutting for a long time so this felt like the perfect opportunity. I loved the process of designing and (armed with my Mum’s old linocutting tools from her art school days) carving my printing block and thought it might be helpful to show you the steps I took in case you feel inspired to try it too! Continue reading

HOW TO MAKE: A FRESH FLOWER CROWN [DIY TUTORIAL]

DIY-Fresh-Flower-Crown-22

Flower crowns always bring a smile to my face – probably because they remind me of summer and festivals! Making one from fresh flowers is the perfect way to add some seasonal colour to a photo like this and a great way to put your fading bunch of flowers to use. This was a spur of the moment DIY earlier in the week when I found myself with a bunch of chamomile flowers, a free hour and a sunny garden to work in…

Continue reading

DIPPING MY TOE INTO INDIGO DYEING…

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My very creative and talented Auntie Madeleine taught me how to make indigo dye last weekend! I’ve never worked with a natural dye like this and had no idea what is involved – it’s a delicate balancing act between all the ingredients, the temperature, even the humidity and the air. I’m looking forward to sharing more of the process next week, and showing off my new Shibori dyed muslin squares! In the meantime you can hop over to Madeleine’s website here and see some of her amazing handmade textiles.

SCANDINAVIAN FOLK ART INSPIRATION

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From left to right: Pattern from a 1960’s Polish coffee cup, Swedish illustrator Ingela P Arrhenius, illustration by Amy Blay, interiors and still  life photographer Joanna Henderson, tea-towel available from Hummingbird Factory via Etsy, vintage art via The Animalarium, interiors and still life photographer Joanna Henderson, antique Dala horse, linocut print ornaments found via design blog Du Abu.

Lots of colourful, Scandinavian style folk art has been catching my eye on Pinterest this week! It must be from sewing with all these fun printed jersey fabrics from Europe for Orla 🙂 I love some of the simple screen printed shapes that use just one or two colours – screen printing is definitely on my to-do list for next year. Also check out the lino cut print Christmas decorations on the bottom right! I think next year might be all about printing for me. I love the cheerful, painted furniture too – especially when mixed with Scandi style embroidered textiles!