Posts Categorised: News

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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INSPIRE ME – with The Sleep Room

I am always inspired by someone who can create a really successful business from scratch and that is exactly what Charlie Marshall – owner of furniture and accessories brand – The Sleep Room ( soon to be renamed Loaf ) has achieved.

The Sleep Room is one of the fastest growing companies in the UK and it’s no surprise. They have the right mixture of stylish, lovely products, and good customer care.

So, I am really happy today to be featuring Charlie today on my ‘Inspire Me’ post….

How did you start The Sleep Room? Was it something you always wanted to do?

It wasn’t something that was part of the big life plan for me. I started off with a soup factory, something at the other end of the scale to beds. It was my first business which I set up in 1999 and sold in 2007. It was an incredibly tough learning curve but we eventually became the supplier of choice for clients such as Pret a Manger, Pizza Express, Caffe Nero, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Eurostar. It was possibly the best learning experience I could have hoped for and it made my objectives for starting The Sleep Room very clear. After selling Primal Soup, I bought a new house and went off to find a new bed. After a really stressful Saturday, traipsing around the usual suspects, I made the decision then and there to make bed buying hassle free and the process quick and simple. So two years, 187 mattress factories, four continents and some seriously comfy beds later, The Sleep Room was born in January 2009.

What inspired the name change? How did you come up with the name Loaf?

We wanted to move outside the bedroom to offer products for the whole home. And while we were planning the launch of our sofas I had the nagging feeling that we would have to start making excuses as to why The Sleep Room was offering sofas. This was only going to get worse as we launched kitchen tables etc! I then thought that if I could choose any name in the world it would be www.loaf.com as it fitted in with our whole ethos of relaxed elegance and four letter brand names are easy to remember. But I reckoned that there was no real chance of it being available. But by complete luck it turned out that the domain was available and so after a week of haggling with some nice dude in Florida the site became ours.

What do you consider to be your signature product?

Our best sellers are our French beds. We’ve had them since we started and they have remained consistently popular. I don’t really consider any of our products as being signature as we’ve carefully chosen and designed them to complement and work well when you put them together.

I love your vintage style furniture – have you always been a lover of retro?

I wouldn’t say I am a lover of retro per se although I do have quite a bit of mid-century furniture in my own home. What I have always loved is mixing pieces up from different eras: an old French bed with a 20th century Knoll side table and some fifties Danish lamps gets me going, for example!

What would you say is your main ethos?

Treat your customers as you would want to be treated yourself. I personally hate shopping as I don’t like being confronted with a large choice. So at The Sleep Room we only offer a select range of products I would be happy to have in my own home which are both great value and look nice.

Can you offer some advice for new online companies?

Think of your website as you would a bricks and mortar shop: invest in as good a website as you can and it will save you a fortune as you grow.

What’s in store for Loaf for the rest of this year and beyond?

We want to become a British institution known for amazing products and service. We’re already one of the fastest-growing companies in the UK, but we’re thinking much bigger. We’re planning on extending our offering to cover the whole house within the next 18 months (we have floor rugs, kitchen tables and chairs coming out at the start of next year). And after that we’ll be opening an enormous destination outlet complete with kids pool in summer, ice rink in winter and all sorts of other fun things to make it as fun an experience as possible.

I’m looking forward to that :) Thanks Charlie !

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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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INSPIRE ME – with 2d Scrumptious

Todays feature is focused on Steven Lenton – the talent behind fabulous character based print company 2d Scrumptious and children’s book illustrator.

Steven, is also an animator and illustrator who has Art directed BAFTA winning animations.


Where do you get the inspiration for your wonderful 2d Scrumptious prints?

My original inspiration was Crouch End where I live – this was a great starting point for the creation of a range of characters, dogs and beloved local landmarks. This lead to more dogs designs, then the Royal Wedding and Diamond Jubilee. My new work is going to feature a range of Zoo animals in tweed!


  

Can you tell me about your children’s books that will be available to buy soon?

My first release is a board book with Little Tiger Press called ‘Five Christmas Penguins’ This fun book has a very eye-catching, red shiny cover and will available exclusively at Sainsburys from September. I am currently working on the follow up to this featuring a family of very cute Snowmen.

My second is a picture book written by award-winning author Tracey Corderoy entitled ‘Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam’ all about two robber-dogs that discover the wonders of baking! This is with publisher Nosy Crow and is out next March.

Is this something you’ve always wanted to do?

Yes I have always wanted to make children’s books and create a brand/products. Anything that involves designing characters is something that I really enjoy so this is a great way of inventing new characters every day

How did you make the transition from animation to illustration?

When I had long animation contracts I would work on my own ideas and characters in the evenings and weekends – it took years to build my confidence to finally work on my first prints for the exhibition in Crouch End that I did with Mia Nilsson at The Haberdashery cafe. The exhibition went really well and these prints are still selling well today. From this I built a portfolio suitable to send to Children’s book agents and publishers and fortunately I was signed up.

You have a very long list of work credits – I’d love to know if you have any personal highlights so far?

My first job working at Ragdoll has a special place in my heart. Visiting the Teletubby set and working with the creators of this show and In The Night Garden was a great experience and I learned a lot about TV production. Holby City was also very different – I was starstruck on a daily basis, having lunch next to members of the Eastenders cast in the BBC canteen was truly surreal!


What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone wanting to start a career in your field?

Its such a cliché but keeping drawing really is the key. Using observational drawing as the basis for all your work is the best way to create original and refreshing design.

What does the rest of 2012 hold for you?

I’m working on a new brand idea involving a collection of very charming little characters. I will also be starting work on my second Nosy Crow book and preparing for the book launch of ‘Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam.’ I’m very excited about this as there will be lots of activities for little ones and fun products based on these two loveable dog characters!

You can find 2d Scrumptious prints, cards and other lovely goodies at notonthehighstreet.com Thanks to Steven – I am in awe !

 

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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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INSPIRE ME – with Beauvamp.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 15.00.19I’ve made no secret of the fact that I really like this brilliant company. My Beauvamp lampshade gets more attention than me, which is fine :) because it’s a real feature and I love it.

Alice, owner of Beauvamp specialises in making one off and limited edition pieces and everyone is unique because they are handmade. Her designs have featured on BBC2 and she has been working on some other really interesting projects recently too… I find her work very inspirational. p00pk9cp

Alice, I think you have a great eye for colour, is this something you’ve always had?

Well, I’ve always loved colour and as much of it as possible. I like a real mish mash and don’t shy away from a good clash! Big splashes of colour can brighten up your day and are great to have dotted around the home. I tend to keep my walls and furniture in pale colours such as white, greys and creams, this helps to really make your colours jump out from the crowd.

Did you study textiles or design?

Not straight away. I used to work in the events industry putting proposals forward for corporate client events, such as set and stage design, team building activities and theming ideas, which was fun but only ideas on paper. I actually decided that I wanted to design and make for myself and see the finished product. I have been interested in interiors since before I can remember and was forever changing my bedroom furniture around as a kid and decorating my walls with all sorts of nik naks. Design was always my favourite subject at school but then ventured off into marketing and events later realising I was destined to come full circle. I eventually set off on a furniture renovation course learning all the tricks of the trade and two years later, BeauVamp was born in 2007. It’s been great to be able to set up my own business working from my home in Derbyshire whilst having enough time to also spend with my 2 boys. I have 2 workshops and a fab sun room in the house from which to create my designs.

Where do you get the inspiration for your wonderful pattern and colour combinations?

All sorts of places. Travelling through India and across South East Asia was a real eye opener with amazing fabric patterns and colour combinations in the local markets. Catwalk fashion from the 40’s right through to the present day along with interior and craft magazines are another great source for seeing what’s evolving and new out there and then creating your own take on things.

How long does it take to create each lampshade?

It really depends on the design, but I usually spend over 2 days preparing and making a standard lampshade with just one fabric and trim. Lampshades with more fabrics and fringing can take longer.

Working in a patchwork method I mainly apply a range of fabrics over the top of a sound base fabric, this allows all sorts of light weight fabrics to cover the shade that would not normally be suitable if using the old and traditional method of stretching. Working in this way means I can really play around with the fabric patterns for example when working with stripes, each panel can be cut to a different angle, i.e. horizontally, diagonally, vertically and so on. Or a number of different patterned fabrics can be applied to just one shade. There are an abundance of fringing options available from hand sewing my own ruffle trim in fabric to applying glass beading, tassels, feathers, pom poms, the choice is never ending, a real wonderland mix! BV2
BV1

I’d love to know more about the vintage lampstands that you revamp?

Yeah, I have been working on these more recently and have attached a few pictures for you to see. I salvage original vintage stands and recondition them. I have them professionally re-wired if needed and then prepare them for paints and fabrics. Paints used are usually from the Farrow & Ball or Little Greene collections and then the fabrics are applied again in a patchwork manner using a fabric adhesive. The fabric is then coated in a special matt sealant that makes the fabric hardwearing.

Do you have lots of interesting commissions coming up?

Well, I’ve just finished some exciting projects, one of them being the new Zizzi restaurant in Victoria, London, where I got to work with B3 Designers on providing the lighting ( pictures attached). I’ve been told they are submitting the restaurant into the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards, so that’s all very exciting and I wish them the best of luck. http://www.restaurantandbardesignawards.com/

I’ve also been busy producing lampshades for the recently featured Ann Robinson Show on BB2, My Life In Books. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01czf06

I also have a few more potential projects in the pipeline for a pub chain and hope to be launching my new online shop shortly www.beauvamp.com …… watch this space! Please note in the mean time all my current stock can be viewed on the following link www.notonthehighstreet.com/beauvamp

If anyone has any question or ideas they would like to discuss just drop me line at alice@beauvamp.com and I will be glad to assist.

Thanks Alice. A very clever woman ! :)

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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.

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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