Posts Categorised: Lifestyle/Fashion

INSPIRE ME – with Serendipity Studio.

The very talented woman that is featuring today on ‘Inspire Me’, actually inspired me for my first ever blog post. I made two retro style dresses.

Kay Whitt is the owner and designer for classic yet modern clothing and accessories sewing pattern company Serendipity Studio and author of successful craft books –  Sew Serendipity, Sew Serendipity Bags and soon to release her third….

  

What inspired you to start designing patterns?

I have sewn all of my life. Even as a teenager, my mother and I would manipulate commercial patterns to suit our tastes, so I think designing has always been in my blood. I spent the first several years of my career as an elementary school teacher, but I yearned to have a business that was centered around sewing.  It seemed like a natural progression to take what I had been doing for myself all these years and make it applicable for everyone. I design my own slopers with specialized software that helps me grade the sizes for my designs. I have been in business since 2001 and consider it the best decision I ever made for myself!

  

 Is there anything in particular that you enjoy designing the most?

That is a tough question to answer since I love all aspects of the design process! Every type of design presents with its own set of challenges. The most challenging types of designs are probably jackets, followed by dresses, then skirts as the easiest. For any design, my favorite part is after the pattern has been tweaked for the fit. This is when I get to play with the design, adding little details and coming up with the different variations. This is where I get all the fabrics out and mix them around to get the look I am after. So there probably isn’t a favorite type of garment for me, I love designing them all!

 Talk me through a day in the life of Kay Whitt….

I usually start my day checking email and attending to orders. Once that is done, I get on Facebook for a while and talk with fans and friends, then settle into whatever needs to be addressed for the day. Sometimes I will spend days at the computer working with designs and writing instructions (or writing blog posts), other days I spend in the studio getting samples created. The late afternoons and early evenings are reserved for working out and getting dinner together. I usually save my evenings for doing handwork on the sofa in front of the TV with baseball or basketball in the background. I have gotten really good at listening to games so I can keep my eyes on the work I am doing!

  

 Do you have a proudest career moment to date?

My proudest moment was when my first book, Sew Serendipity, came out in 2010. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing a lot of work come together in a lovely package ready for others to enjoy! I enjoyed the process so much that I wrote a bag book, Sew Serendipity Bags, which came out in the fall of 2011. I am due to have a third book out this fall, so the book writing thing has been quite rewarding, even though it is a lot of planning and work.

  

 Any advice for someone wanting to start sewing but not sure where to start?

I suggest starting with a small project that can be finished in a short amount of time. Pillows and simple bags are a great way to learn the process of choosing fabrics and do some basic sewing without getting too involved. I think getting to see a project come together quickly is key so that you are inspired to try another in short order. Once you are on the path of honing your skills, a simple skirt is a great project and a wonderful way to break into garment sewing.

  

How is the rest of 2012 shaping up?

2012 has been flying by so far. I am amazed that we are already almost halfway through the year! I find myself wondering where the time went. I have a few appearances and speaking engagements over the summer, and of course I will be working on the fall collection of pattern designs before too long. I already have a long list of ideas to explore, so there should be some exciting stuff come October. Plus, my third book is scheduled for release in the fall as well! It’s busy and happy times here at the studio.

Thanks very much to Kay for sharing her work and inspiration with us ! 

Pop on over to the Sew Serendipity site to have a look at more of Kay’s superb patterns and books. You can also find her patterns online throughout the UK.

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Happy Camper :)

sewing bag pattern camper retro travel

So here it is – my new weekender travel bag !

Having first bought this supremely cute camping retro fabric from the fab online Brighton store Ditto Fabrics to make a 50s dress, I decided I didn’t want to lose any of the pattern in gathers or pleats.

camper fabric retro colourful fun textiles print

The gingham was for two reasons – one, if I had used the same for the sides the pattern would have ended up upside down as it went round and two, gingham is really fifties and I think works well with the cool ladies and gents in the fabric.

I was slightly nervous about making the bag pattern up ( it’s by Amy Butler ) only because I’ve never made something before like this. I’ve made bags but not something that where peltex ( to keep the sides firm and upright ) is needed. But, I am really happy how it has turned out :) The bag feet are an addition to the pattern – they were from a site called bag-clasps.

What do you think ?

Hope you’re enjoying the glorious sunshine :)

Feel free to use my images – just add a link back to LucyLovesYa.

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A Medley of veggie love..

Well, my friends, it is National Vegetarian Week.. . Being one myself ( well, pescetarian on occasion if we’re going to be pedantic :) ) it gives me great pleasure to share this veggie mega mix of loveliness with you…

  vegetarian shoes  

How cool are these cake earrings from Dolly Dagger ?.. Bit of fun and very carroty ! Never one to miss a chance to show off some Poetic Licence at Irregular Choice cuties, this “The Right Stripe” pair are fab, I love the cherry charms. Beyond Skin as you may already know are a great company that make beautiful, shoes and accessories – all vegan.

    

Jospeh Joseph make the best worktop savers. I love these character ones. They’re so cool. What do you think ? This Stuart Gardiner seasonal Guide mug is a nice idea for a budding gardener friend. Cool huh ? Everyone needs at least one good vegetarian cook book.. this is from Oliver Bonas.

    

Berry Red are selling a Step by Step Vegetable Patch guide is to suit anyone, no matter how much space you have to get planting. Plantabox.co.uk have a big selection of personalised wooden crates for all occasions. Worth taking a look if you’re looking for something unique. Anything that makes life easy has to be a good thing – what do you think of the Living Larder here by Sparrow and Finch ? You can keep all your herbs and vegetables right near the back door. Yey !

    

For the kiddies – The little fruit tupperware box set is from Oliver Bonas. I think the gardening set here by Moulin Roty at Berry Red would make a really nice gift. It has seeds, real little pots and everything needed to get started. Last but not least.. this “Even Pirates  eat their vegetables” print from illustration company Crumpettytree.co.uk would be a really helpful thing to have right near the kitchen table… speaking from experience :)

Did I do good ? :)

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My home made 50s wedding dress…

Wedding 2As I may have mentioned *ahem*.. a few moths ago, Andy and I got married.

I’m not sure what possessed me at the time to want to make my own dress in only a few months, but I’m glad I did. It was a really great experience and I learnt so much about dressmaking.

I was lucky to have some help from Sarah Belinda who knows loads about wedding dresses – it was invaluable, let me tell you !

My hair flower was from Rose Garden Accessories and the heels –  Rachel Simpson.

Our wedding photographer was Laura Babb she was really great to have around. Have a peek at her site..

Wedding1Of course there was the little issue of needing to make three little bridesmaid dresses too….

One night whilst sitting at my sewing machine, literally covered in silk dupion threads I did question my sanity…. but got there in the end !

Andy wore a Paul Smith suit – he looked very handsome and rather retro :)

Wedding 6We got married at The Theatre Royal Bury in St Edmunds and it was an amazing day. The crew were so helpful. We chose this venue partly because it felt right as both of us come from an entertainment background *jazz hands* although it was quite low key and easy going really.

The wedding was inspired by the 50s, my love of kitsch and of course the theatre itself… Dahhhling :)

Our light up letters hired from the super lovely company Vowed and Amazed..

The main thing for us was that everyone felt at ease and that we avoided doing anything that was alien to us. It’s sometimes hard when you’re in the thick of it but it’s important to be yourselves… in my opinion.

Weddign 3How clever is my friend Juliet ? The cake she made for us was just so amazing. The stage looked really effective once the curtains were back with the pom poms and disco balls hovering above us all whilst we ate curry and then some theatre ice creams…. :)Miserable Man sang at the ceremony and he was brilliant. So chilled. I really recommend our band later in the evening too – Ready Steady Go.

Wedding7Hope you like these pics ? :)

If you’re thinking of making your own dress and want some tips – get in touch..

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 All Photography Copyright Laura Babb 2012.

INSPIRE ME – with Bombus.

Today my ‘Inspire Me’ feature is focused on Amelia Coward, owner of unique découpage gift company Bombus.

Mixing vintage style with modern design, the Bombus ethos is “making something out of nothing” – producing pieces such as bespoke map art, Up-cycled stamp art chairs, cards and jewellery to name but a few….

Amelia, what is your early design background ?

People often ask how I got into découpage and I realise that this was something my mother had introduced me to at a very young age. She would give me scissors and an old magazine and I would cut out small images and organise them in piles. She then taught me how to glue the pictures onto large pebbles and varnish them for door stops.

and your formal design background ?

 I studied textiles and weave at Central St Martins; followed by postgraduate study at The Royal College of Art. After several years working in the commercial textiles and furniture industry I was keen to get back to doing something handmade.

The Bombus story ?

It started in 2003, when I découpaged vintage cowboys and Indian comic strips to a 1950s coffee table. I used it for a shop window display as a prop and it sold within hours. This technique was applied onto chairs and a range of home-ware products. Customers were keen to commission special pieces using their own choice of comics and vintage papers. The light-bulb moment came when I stumbled across a box of old maps. The concept of applying maps to the products, took my designs to a whole new world of eager customers. I now had a waiting list of people wanting their own choice of map location applied to the products.

Nine years later…

We are now a team of seven and working out of our dedicated studio space in a converted stable block on a farm in Kent.

Do you have a Signature product ?

The Bespoke Map Heart. Everyone loves maps and certain places hold special memories. The beauty of our bespoke map collection is that the customer can choose their own map location. You can be as detailed as a street name, as broad as a whole country or anywhere in between.

What was your inspiration ?

In 2007, when my partner and I moved house, I made a Valentines card using a vintage map of the area we were moving to. It was a simple idea but I realised that it could potentially be a good commercial product.

Any advice for a designer thinking of setting up in business ?

Get your pricing right. We time each part of the making process against a stopwatch, so we know the exact cost of labour. There are the obvious costs of materials of course but it’s also critical to remember stuff like VAT and the commission percentage if you are selling via a third party. Keep checking your price against your competitors and contemporaries. We always try to aim for a profit margin of at least 45%. You can’t be sentimental about a product that isn’t going to make you any money.

What does 2012 hold for your brand ?

We’ve had a great year so far. We exhibited at a trade fair in January and now sell via more than 30 independent retailers across the country, including Liberty of London who stock some of our greetings cards. We sell via our own website of course and have two storefronts on Notonthehighstreet.com We are exhibiting at another trade fair, Pulse London in June, where we will be launching new collections and developments of our current range. We’re in early stages of developing a textile collection, which we’re very excited about. And following frequent customer enquiries we’re also currently designing a wedding stationery collection. We’re hoping to ‘soft launch’ the wedding stationery in autumn this year with a full launch in the spring of 2013. We just wish there were more hours in the day!

A big thanks to Amelia and her company – I have much admiration for her. 

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Com’pleated’ 50s dress ;)

horrockses vintage dress pattern fabric  horrockses sewing pattern

Dress finished ! The gathers of the skirt pattern went out of the window and in came some pleats ( also very vintage ! ) Mainly due to a slight shortage of fabric, but actually it’s turned out for the best and the shape is very flattering.

What do you think ?

The Horrockses fabric that I bought is now out of stock at the V & A for the time being but having chatted to like minded folk, we would all love to see it in the shops nationwide. Hope this happens some day soon :) Oh, and have you entered my Diamond Jubilee Horrockses Fashions Giveaway yet ? Direct your eyes to the right of this post to enter !

polka dot fabric pattern  fabric pattern inspiration sewing fun quirky  butterfly pattern fabric print

I’m making a 50s polka dot dress this week for my lovely friend and some girls dresses with really bold prints. One in a Momo Alice Kennedy Owl fabric and the other a pink butterfly/kitsch. Honestly, I fall in love with fabrics on a daily basis – and these ones are uber cute. Will post them up later this week :)

Also working on my own pattern for an Art Deco skirt. It’s amazing being able to make what’s in my mind now and can’t wait to start choosing the fabrics.

I just wish there were another 24 hours in each day ! :)

Feel free to use this dress image – just add a link to LucyLovesya – Thanks.

Please do share the love by clicking below …. xx

Beautiful Brighton – Part 2

B1Well, where do you start with great shops in Brighton ? There’s a fair few.

But, I have several that I head straight for ( salivating all the way ) when I’m in Town. What I especially love about these ones is that they have all started out in Brighton.

It will come as no surprise that Irregular Choice on Bond Street is high up on the hit list. I go all giddy when I enter their establishment. They sure know how to make a girl happy… and not forgetting their men’s ranges ! Their shoe, bag and clothing designs are so clever and unique. The sparkly jewellery section is hard to tear yourself away from too.

They also stock Poetic Licence shoes.
Since Dan Sullivan, the designer opened the first shop, they have gone on to open others in New York,  London and Hong Kong.. along with ranges in many other well known shoe stores.
It’s always nice to know though that this one is where the magic began. B2

Dolly Dagger is a vintage inspired Boutique at Brighton Place. You may well have visited their lovely website already ? If you’re looking for a pretty prom 50s style dress or a fitted 40s number then I absolutely recommend this place. I find their clothing to be very well made. They have lovely cardigans, the leopard print one being my favourite :) They also stock other brands including a nice selection of shoes and some awesome jewellery pieces by designers such as Tarina Tarantino and Steven Shein along with their own fab range. B3

There is a fairly new shop called This is Not a Butchers ( website coming soon ). You won’t miss it if you’re heading up Bond Street. It’s full of really fun, colourful homeware including lovely lighting. They’ve got great gifts and I noticed although this was my first visit there, that the staff are really friendly. Always an important factor.

In Kensington Gardens you will find Get Cutie. They are a Boutique, who handmake their dresses, skirts and homeware. They use really gorgeous unusual retro style fabrics – which they stock per metre too. I’ve been a fan of this company for a long time and they are always very helpful online when you make an order – and will make your desired dress if it isn’t in stock ! B4

The fabric shop I pretty much jog too when in Brighton is Ditto Fabrics, again in Kensington Gardens. I love the people who work in there and they have a superb selection of across the board fabrics – If you’re a dressmaker or just love gawping at lovely material, have a look at their site. The prices are really reasonable. B5

I could go on and on but I think these are enough to be getting on with :)

xx

Got me my Pattern Cutter ‘ Wings ‘ :)

skirtHey, it’s Monday Morning already ! Hope you had a great sunny weekend.

I had a really ace Saturday, it was full of energy and I learnt loads about pattern cutting and made myself a cheeky little skirt with a super sweet print all over ! Like it ?
The course was over in Greenwich, South East London with Miss Libby Rose.

Libby runs all kinds of sewing courses from her premises for all sewing abilities , along with selling her own, most fabulous retro style clothing and cute fabrics.

It was so nice wandering through the vibrant market stalls to get to Libby’s studio, to then get to spend a whole day focusing on sewing and learning new techniques with a great teacher and meeting some really interesting people AND in such inspiring surroundings ! I felt really at ease and Libby made me loads of my herbal teas throughout the day :) Thanks Libby !

I took a few pics later in the day of some lovely little shops inside the Market.. Oh, and of the Irish band that rocks up outside the local pub on a weekend. Their celtic sounds were drifting in through the window right next to where I was pattern cutting and I remember thinking.. could this be more perfect ? sew2

The Home Front was rammed customers. I recommend this shop if you’re passing by the market.

This amazing shop is called The Flood Gallery Junior ( the grown up version is next door to them ). It is floor to ceiling, bright and fun, family orientated art prints from some of the best illustrators from around the world. Again, I recommend ! sew3

….and here they are… the high energy Irish band that got me doing little jigs…

photo8

xx