Sunday 28 November 2010

Books for Christmas

I think books are a great present for anyone who loves sewing and crafting and there are so many amazing ones to chose from. Here is a selection of books that I have given or been given and a few I wouldn't mind adding to my bookshelf too.

Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing (above) is beautifully laid out with straight-forward projects that you would actually want to make, (rather than just look at). I have this book and have made loads from it including several doorstops, a draft excluder and door tidy.

Meet Me at Mike's and the new and nearly available Sew La Tea Do are by Pip Lincolne from the brilliant blog Meet me at Mike's who has without doubt the best about page ever. These would make very cool gifts. I love any book that is spiral bound, and this book is not just about sewing, it shows you a number of different crafts.

If you or someone you know loves all things Japanese and Zakka, then have a look at Zakka Sewing. You will be pleased to hear that the instructions are IN ENGLISH! I bought this book a few years ago, and still enjoy looking through the gorgeous projects and planning what I will make. I even have some felt for the teacosy on the cover (despite the fact I don't ever use a teapot).

Anna Maria Horner has several books out. As you would expect they are beautiful, Seams to Me  would make a lovely present for someone new to sewing or Handmade Beginnings would be perfect for a new mum.

If you fancy designing your own fabric by printing at home, then I recommend Printing by Hand book (which I mentioned before here). It comes with some beautiful stencils to use and covers stamping, screenprinting, stenciling.

Or if you plan to have a go at printing your own fabrics through Spoonflower, then here are some great reference books.

I use Pattern and Palette Sourcebook all the time, I can't recommend it enough if you struggle to find colours that go together.

I have mentioned this book before too (I was given it for Christmas last year!), if you are a fan of 1950's fabrics and Lucienne Day you will love The Fifties by the V & A.

The Petit Pattern series of books has been on my Amazon wishlist, FOREVER. They are quite pricey but maybe worth the investment if you are a fan of a particular style. The  Scandinavian and Japanese ones are my favourites of course.

Scandinavian and Japanese petit pattern

And finally if you or a friend are thinking of doing your crafty thing for a living then I also recommend Craft, Inc (there is a brand new sequel Creative, Inc too). They are written for the American market, but the advice and ideas are relevant elsewhere in the world. Also it's a really pretty book, I'm a sucker for the curved edges on the pages.

Honestly I could probably carry on all day suggesting books, I have had to stop myself from suggesting a hundred pretty kids books and coffee table books. But if there are any good sewing books you would recommend, please do share with a comment.

Sunday 14 November 2010

Patchwork your life

Check out this Patchwork Pattern Maker on the V & A website. It's really simple to use, all you do is upload your photo, select the area you want to make a patchwork of...

And, ta da! a patchwork. You can choose the number of colours and pattern complexity, although I found that the more complex patterns didn't work so well.

You get some good instructions on how to put it all together too.

I wonder if anyone has used this to make an actual quilt? It's fun though, not least of all because you can make patchworks of random objects around the house, your kettle, back door, favourite armchair, and of course, your cat.

My cat's face, perfect for a quilt.

Saturday 13 November 2010

Boden Spring/Summer 2011 Preview

Back in May I was lucky enough to go to a preview of the current Autumn/Winter range by Boden. And yesterday I went with the lovely Amy to a preview of the Spring / Summer 2011 collection. There is something wonderfully optimistic about looking at summer clothes while the rain lashes down outside.

I have so many photos, if you are offended by endless photos of pretty clothes and bags, please turn away now. This is a condensed set, I've put them all on Flickr if you want to see more.

want to be a smooth skinned teen again?

The first collection we saw was Teen Boden - you know I am a fan. This wholesome collection was shot in Cornwall and you just want to buy into the whole idea. This year's range sees a larger 'XL' size added on for all those 30 year old's that are actually wearing the clothes, it's roughly a 12/14. As with the grown up range too, there were some beautiful nostalgic prints that I would snap up in a second for M is for make.

Look at this gorgeous sheer top, so simple to make in terms of design, you could draft it yourself and if you could source a fabric like this, you'd need a few french seams. Here is the same top with a vest top layered underneath, you could make a hundred of them.

I really loved the simplicity of this range, the dress in particular reminded me of the designs in Japanese craft books.

And one highlight from the boy teens...

Next, a new collection called 'Boden Limited Edition'. This is aimed at a slightly younger age group of late twenties/early thirties and the garments have a quieter colour palette with some serious embellishment.

With the tag line 'Once it's gone, it's gone for good' this collection addresses a couple of the issues I have with 'normal' Boden. Firstly, sometimes the colours and prints are just a bit to mad for me and secondly, should you brave one and go out wearing it, you are quite likely to see someone else wearing the exact same thing and try as you might to be cool, it's kind of uncool. Boden prints are unmistakable. Limited edition and quieter palette, yes please.

I love the muted colours and prints, Boden can do prints like no one else. But the embellishment was a little too much for me in places, that's just my taste though. Take this top, I adore this print, the colours are exactly what I would choose, and with the jacket (from the main collection) it looks gorgeous. But the embellishment round the neck would put me off.

In some garments though, it was AMAZING. Take a look at this cardigan which is a 'store in your wardrobe and wear twice a year for special occasions for the rest of your life' kind of thing.

The details are breathtaking...

I loved this skirt too, it's the kind of thing I'd love to make. And the coat, I wish I'd got more photos of this, but like the cardigan above, it's the kind of investment buy you would bring out for only the most special occasions. It had gold threads running through it and hook and eye fasteners that looked like you had sewn them on yourself at the end of the most amazing sewing project. And the lining, the details are perfect.

I loved this whole outfit, the colours are perfect. The mac had a really pretty lining (there is a pic on Flickr), the metallic skirt, and the grey top which I would like to pretend I had made. I wish I'd taken more photos of the top but I didn't really want to start wrestling the mannequin, it was quite a civilized affair and the ensuing mannequin domino effect may have ruined the atmosphere.

So while this collection is aimed at me, infact I am edging towards being to old for it. It still felt pretty grown up to me. Perhaps just for special, weddings, parties, not the park or school run, well maybe not a whole outfit.

Next up the main women's collection. It was all staged so beautifully, infact it almost put me off the clothes a bit I was so taken in by the details.

Apparently the room took 16 hours to set up, which surprised me as I would have thought it took a lot longer.

I've talked before above finding inspiration for staging your crafty products when selling them, if you can find the time to set up something like this, they would look amazing.

Here are a few highlights from the collection, the accessories were gorgeous, so many scarves to buy, can you have too many? If you love scarves, I guarantee you will buy one from this collection.

Shoes and bags - every girl's dream? I wonder if it would be possible to re-create this kind of display at a craft show? The pink satchel - it's mine by the way, don't even think about wanting it.

Here's my bag with one of those scarves you are going to want to buy.

I love the metallic bags that Boden have been doing lately, Amy and I were very excited about this one, it has a really pretty lining. You could fit everything in here, makeup, keys, phone, nappies, packets of raisins, maybe even your kid too, it's that roomy.

Loved these books, and the frothy pink presence on the left is actually a bag.

I wasn't sure about this necklace when I saw it, but looking at this photo and with this top, I really like it. Maybe you could re-create it at home.

The print on this top was everywhere, the invite, the posters...

Even the cushions...

This was my favourite rail of the collection, the colours were more muted, with quite a wartime feel like the teen collection.

You are probably going to want to buy this, the other colours are gorgeous too...

And you'll see this around the playground, a Boden pac-a-mac.

Very exciting news for all you mummies to be, Boden are finally doing a maternity range. There was only on show, but what do you think?

From mummies to kids and babies. There was the usual collection of pretty prints, dresses and skirts.

Here are my favourites... loving the collection of different blue prints on the right, and the floral dress had a beautiful detail around the next that I couldn't get a clear picture of unfortunately.

Loved the applique detail on this white dress...

There were some very cute short suits, but the logistics of getting a child to the toilet when wearing one of these might put me off!

The wartime feel was evident in the girl's range too, look at this beautiful outfit,

and in the baby collection too,

There was a baby changing bag too, in a beautiful Marimekko inspired blue flower print.

I didn't spend that much time photographing the boys collection, my boy will only wear orange and dinosaur prints (preferably together), when I explained this to the lady from Boden, she found me not one but two dinosaurs.

I also loved these, again, there is no way my son would entertain the idea of wearing them, but I can dream...

A few weeks back I had an email from Boden asking customers what they should do next, what a brilliant idea. Maybe I should do that at 'M is for make"? Had I replied I would have said a limited edition collection as I know Whitestuff have done this with their strangely named 'So Glad and Very'. So it's a tick there, and maternity, done, another tick. Boden have covered the whole age range, it's quite impressive - does any other shop do this under one label?

Brides would be an obvious choice too, but I saw 2 ivory dresses that would make beautiful understated wedding dresses, and have spotted another in their Limited Edition collection.

After seeing their prints adorning cushions, homewares would be an obvious choice, like Amy Butler or Orla Kiely who have successfully branched out in that direction too. Although maybe that would be too much?

I also really like the way Boden are creating whole outfits for those of us incapable of putting one together on their own (ie me).

So what do you think? I hope I didn't lose you half way, probably my biggest post ever, and there are even more pics on Flickr, head over there if you need more.

Did you find any inspiration here for things you would like to make? Amy pointed me to to Adventures in Dressmaking for tutorials on recreating details you have seen on clothes in the shops.