Soul Food Studio

Envelope Notebook

Amanda Russell

My theory of leading a more sustainable life goes like this. Don’t try to change too much in one go, successful change is about taking mini steps towards establishing new habits.

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I’m aware I use fresh clean paper for list writing and feel it’s something of an extravagant use of resources for something I will shortly be throwing away. As a stylist I’m a great list writer, it helps me get to the next place, a disposable task, rarely is a list for keeping. Of course I can list write on my mobile but I’m the kind of person who is better with constant physical reminders. With this in mind I decided to wean myself onto using scrap paper instead.

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I am intrigued by the printed patterns on the inside of envelopes. Questions crowd my mind, what does it mean, are they traditional patterns, where was the custom started?

Being a natural hoarder I can’t bring myself to bin this beauty, they are saved to use in lots of ways covering boxes, in collages or as gift tags.

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I am drawn into the magic of stories about how an inconsequential doodle on the back of an old envelope has lead the way to a great design. With this spirit in mind why would I want to use fresh paper for list writing and planning when I can use such beautiful paper which arrives at my door for free?

I re-purpose each of my treasured envelopes into two useful pieces of paper, using scissors to cut off the margins, over laps and folds. When I have a few, I stack them together, punch a hole in the corner and keep them together with a split ring clasp, a large safety pin, twine or whatever takes my fancy.

Book Review: Mad About the House by Kate Watson-Smyth

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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With a big move coming up I was more than delighted when a review copy of Mad About The House by Kate Watson-Smyth arrived. With over 15 years writing about interiors there’s not much journalist Watson-Smyth doesn’t know about putting together a great interior. It’s a complete, how to on defining your own unique interior style to make your home work for you. Between the covers there a mine of practical good sense tips as well as advice on how to bring that extra edge of wow to your interiors.

Though I’m a designer, stylist and have forever been involved in interiors it certainly doesn’t mean I‘m not still hungry for new ways to make a house into a stylish home. Rest assured this is not glossy coffee table book packed with out of budget fashionable interior images. It’s rather more a work book, future proofed with drawings and carefully chosen photographs, coupled with good solid classic interiors advice to guide you towards defining your interior style.

The book is divided into three sections, the first leads you through the minefield of finding inspiration on the way to defining your style, which includes invaluable information on using colour. To guarantee the success of your interior projects the middle section contains a chapter on every room in the house, each covers details specific to the function of the room, along with lighting, storage and furniture. The crowning glory is found in the last section where Watson-Smyth gives the low down on top design hacks gleaned over her many years of experience.

Creating a stylish home to feel proud of doesn’t necessarily mean splashing the cash and expending eye wateringly large sums of money. This book is there to guide you through sometimes difficult style and decorating dilemmas. It helps you target the look you want to achieve in your home to reflect your own personal style while spending your budget wisely.

Mad About The House by Kate Watson-Smyth is published by Pavilion.

https://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/mad-about-th

‘Love My Dress’' Blog Post

Amanda Russell

The wonderful ‘Love My Dress’ has featured ‘A Beautiful Shoreline Wedding’ by stylist Nancy Straughan using some of the vintage Stoneware vases from my shop!

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From the blog… ‘I stumbled upon some of these images on Nancy’s gorgeous Instagram account and knew that I had to share with all of you. Inspired by the colours of the shoreline and with subtle and elegant hints of the coast, these styling ideas are completely relatable and achievable for your own wedding.

“After deciding that I wanted to launch my styling company back in December 2017, I took to Instagram stories to see if anyone would like to be involved in a shoreline inspired styled shoot. I was blown away by the generous responses as I never really believed that anyone would be so kind to donate their time and skills to my project.” to read the full blog post click here!

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La Rentre: The Start of My Plastic Free Journey

LivingAmanda RussellComment

Returning from the summer break, to school and work brings the wonderful feeling of new beginnings, there’s nothing like it to restore the resolve and tackle projects with vigor and confidence. Though this event repeats through our lives strangely we don’t have a name for it, in France it’s called, La Rentre.

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With the enforced a break, foot off the accelerator, leaves clear space to reflect on the direction life is taking. Since seeing images of the polluted sea with the drifting islands of plastic debris harming both the environment and wildlife, I’ve been mulling over how to make the changes and embrace a plastic free life. There’s the itch to throw myself into a passion of dramatic change, discarding old ways in favor of new, but I know from experience that’s a risky strategy, set the bar too high and there’s the risk of abandoning the short lived changes. I’m in favour of making easy to adopt, incremental changes that can be absorbed into life to seamlessly create a new version of normal.

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Following the route into a plastic free life I’m thinking, small changes for easy wins. The exciting part is that in the not too distant future the adjustments will feel normal, having been effortlessly absorbed into life. Giving up plastic carrier bags for reusable cloth tote bags was an easy win as was swapping disposable rollerball pens for newly resurrected fountain pens which was a joy. This is the beginning, there more changes in the pipeline, watch this space!

Please can you tell me about any changes you have to get closer to plastic free.

If you like this post check out my post on Going Backwards to go Forwards: Rediscovering the Joy of Writing with a Fountain Pen

Kintsugi: The Glam Rock of Ceramic Repairs

CraftsAmanda Russell
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With its lush floral bouquet and wreaths, when my large blue and white transferware platter broke it was too special to throw away. A while before I was given a Kintsugi repair kit as a gift and my broken platter was the ideal candidate for a trial run of this technique.

The ancient art of Kintsugi, is the glam rock of ceramic repairs. This elegant method of repair was developed by the Japanese who believe a ceramic piece, once repaired is more beautiful than the formerly undamaged piece.

After repair the china will stand up to gentle use, clean by wiping over with a damp cloth. The platter is perfect for a huddle of plants, or to hold a selection of metze dishes or fresh fruit.

While gluing the pieces together an extra pair of helping hands can be useful to maneuver the china into place, particularly if they are large pieces.

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To get hold of your own Kintsugi Kit visit - https://humade.nl

 1. Wash the broken china in warm soapy water to remove dirt and grease from the broken edges of the china, rinse and dry.

1. Wash the broken china in warm soapy water to remove dirt and grease from the broken edges of the china, rinse and dry.

 2.  Using a lolly stick mix together equal parts of the two part quick dry epoxy adhesive.

2.  Using a lolly stick mix together equal parts of the two part quick dry epoxy adhesive.

 3.  Stir a small amount of the gold dust into the adhesive to colour it.

3.  Stir a small amount of the gold dust into the adhesive to colour it.

 4. Use the lolly stick to spread an even layer of gold adhesive along both broken edges of the china.  5. Wait a minute for the adhesive to start going off before bringing both halves together and then holding together firmly until the adhesive has set. Before the adhesive completely hardens brush over with gold dust.

4. Use the lolly stick to spread an even layer of gold adhesive along both broken edges of the china.

5. Wait a minute for the adhesive to start going off before bringing both halves together and then holding together firmly until the adhesive has set. Before the adhesive completely hardens brush over with gold dust.

 6. When the adhesive is completely dry, bring a warm glow the gold adhesive by burnishing gently with a soft cloth.

6. When the adhesive is completely dry, bring a warm glow the gold adhesive by burnishing gently with a soft cloth.

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Peter Pan Collar Blouse

CraftsAmanda Russell
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With their crisp coolness I cant resist a mans poplin shirt. Here’s a beauty I transformed into a desirable Peter Pan collar blouse, perfect for long hot summer days. Using embroidery scissors and a stitch ripper I unpicked two shirts ready for remodeling, a striped one for the body and white for the collar. I traced the pattern for the shirt and collar from a favourite old blouse I’d had for several years.

You will need:

  • 2 old cotton shirts I for the body of the shirt another for collar
  • thread
  • pins
  • dress making and embroidery scissors
  • measuring tape
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • greaseproof paper for pattern making
  • stitch ripper

Steps:

1.         Cut three bias strips 3cm wide, 60cm long. Open out one of the sleeves, at the widest section make a 45 degree fold.

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2.         Use a pencil to mark 3cm intervals along the fold line, pencil to draw a straight line joining the marks. To make bias strips, cut along the fold line, then along the drawn lines.

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3.         To make long bias strips join strips together.

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4.         Right sides together place 2 strips at 90 degrees to each other, sew to join

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5.         Trim seam and press open.

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6.         The back of the blouse is made from the front button opening of the old shirt. Pin the paper blouse pattern in position with a button at the top of the opening and allow for seam allowances.

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7.         Cut the out front and back section, then sew together at the shoulder.

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8.         Cut four collar pieces from the second shirt and 2 from bondable fabric stiffener. Iron fabric stiffener on the reverse side of two collar pieces. Pin and sew two collar pieces together, repeat with the remaining pieces. Trim the seam and cut notches on the curved seems, turn right sides out and press.

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9.         Pin and tack the collar pieces in place on the neckline. Take a long strip of bias binding, pin and tack along the neck line over the collar edge, sew in place. Trim along sewing line, cutting notches along the curve.

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10.   Fold the bias binding to tuck in the raw edge, fold again and pin and tack, before sewing down.

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11.   Pin and sew bias binding around the armholes.

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12.   Sew the side seems together, neatening edges with zigzag stitch. Finish the arm holes by turning the bias binding to cover raw edge, pin, tack and sew in place. Hem the bottom edge of the shirt, folding up by 2cm and press, then to neaten fold raw edge in on itself. 

Wild, Romantic Shoreline Wedding Styled by Nancy Staughan

StylingAmanda Russell
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When talented stylist Nancy Straughan puts her mind to a project you know it’s going to look stunning. With wedding season in full swing Nancy used her wealth of styling know how to create a beautiful otherworldly experience peppered with unexpected twists. Thinking outside the box stylist Nancy designed her take on the elegant romance of the Lady of the Lake combined with the raw passion of Wuthering Heights.

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The first floor assembly room of The Drapers Arms a beautiful Georgian Islington pub is the ideal location for an intimate wedding venue. Here natural light streams in through the tall elegant sash windows, lighting up the duck egg blue room with its painted checkerboard floor, period fireplaces and dark bistro style chairs.

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Elemental, the theme draws on a rich combination of bleached and watery tones combining them with a comprehensive collection of textures, from silks to twigs and coral, to fresh and dried flowers. To make her spell binding vision a reality she drew a group of skilled artisans around her, do check them out to see more beautiful work by them, details below.

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Location

The Drapers Arms http://www.thedrapersarms.com

 

The People

Stylist, Nancy Straughan http://www.nancy-straughan.com

Stationery, Paper Knots http://www.paperknots.co.uk/

Photography, Caro Hutchins http://carohutchings.com/

Flowers, Hazel Gardiner https://www.hazelgardinerdesign.com/

Cake, My Little Cake Tin https://www.instagram.com/mylittlecaketin/

Props, Re-Found Objects https://www.re-foundobjects.com/

Extra crockery Limehouse

Ceramics http://www.limehouseceramics.com/

Stoneware bottles, Soulfoodstudio https://www.soulfoodstudio.com/shop/

Calligraphy and signage by Hannah Watt https://www.instagram.com/hannahlwatt/

Embroidery by very talented friend, Olivia

 

Book Review - Modern Lettering: A Guide to Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering by Rebecca Cahill Roots

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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With the infinity of the holiday season stretching away into the future, I get excited there’s time to get to grips with a new hobby. Packed with all the know how to improve my hand writing, Modern Lettering: A Guide to Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering by Rebecca Cahill Roots, arrived in the studio at a very opportune moment. 

All this time we’ve been beavering away behind computer screens we’ve all but abandoned our handwriting skills. Meanwhile the cult of celebrating the individual has been on the rise. With its lack of humanity and the predictable regularity of computer text, our neglected handwriting, is having a moment embracing the intervention of the human hand over machine. Rather than leaving our handwriting skills dormant there’s a big move to dust off the art form and use it to create beautiful and special projects, from the heart. Imagine being able to address envelopes in a stylish and eye catching way, writing special stationary for weddings, or designing unique invitations, this book gives you all the tools.

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Don’t be alarmed by the words calligraphy or hand lettering, this is the kind of lettering that excels because of its individual hand drawn quality. Within the covers you will find a complete manual to get you writing beautifully, its packed with insider know how along with plenty of detailed knowledge, making the learning process a whole lot easier. 

Full of quirky illustrations this practical workbook of how tos, gently eases you into hand lettering. Divided into sections, illustrated diagrams lead you through the basic tool kit and of the anatomy of the pen before you get started on mark making. There are practice pages for all the letters starting with how to form them including useful information on the names for each part of the letter. There are handy tips on making it your own, along with useful trouble shooting advice. 

 

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And the book isn’t limited to the mechanics of letter forming, once you have mastered the skill there’s plenty more help on designing your page, combining different styles while exploring a variety of media. The book finishes with a plethora of beautiful examples of projects using your new skills.

If you are ready to take on the satisfying challenge of smartening up your handwriting skills while getting the individual edge, look no further than this invaluable volume. It guarantees your new skill will elicit enthusiastic oohs and ahhs of envy and admiration.

Book: Modern Lettering: A Guide to Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering by Rebecca Cahill Roots

Published by Batsford

Price £14.99

 

Going Backwards to go Forwards: Rediscovering the Joy of Writing with a Fountain Pen

Crafts, Interior, StylingAmanda Russell
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With their generous flow of ink and near instant drying, my addiction to gel pens stretches back over many years. But, I miss using a fountain pen, the right nib brings the feeling it’s possible to write for miles. On a few occasions I have seriously tried to get back into using them, however I felt replacing empty gel pens for cartridges in landfill was neither sustainable nor tackling the root of the problem.

As an interior stylist, the constant flow of ‘bits’ through my life swiftly leads to an ugly build up and an urgent need to declutter. While tacking my accumulations of clutter in the studio, I inevitably uncovered my stash of old fountain pens. The question of what to do with them skated across my mind, closing the box and running away seemed attractive. A jumble of different makes, brings the inconvenient headache of both sourcing and storing a broad selection of refill cartridges, making fountain pens a complicated option to adopt.

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Lining up my cache of pens reminded me of the joy I have using them. Rather than ditching them I felt tackling the problem of keeping them charged with ink was worth one more shot. A recently invaluable discovery is Cult Pens, who stock a wide range of writing supplies and deliver speedily. I had a buzz of excitement as I ordered ink and reservoirs for the pens, a small change was about to become a reality on my journey towards a more sustainable life.

Making the swap back to using a fountain pen feels like a big win. There’s the aesthetic pleasure of holding a pen coupled with the delight of welcoming back an old friend, Waterman’s turquoise ink, in its design icon, quirky shaped bottle, that’s tip able for easy fill. A moment of peaceful reflection is brought to Sunday evening as I round up my pens, ready to fill for the week ahead. And incase of emergencies there’s always a few cartridges in a tin ready waiting in my bag.

 

Constance Spry Vases for Everyone

StylingAmanda Russell

With her innovative approach society florist Constance Spry brought bohemian vision
to floristry from the 30s beyond the 50s into the 60s. A visionary, her books on flower
arranging and cooking influenced a generation of 50s housewives. Much copied,
mantle vases in her style became a must have for every 50s homemaker hungry for
her look.

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Their cool and classic designs are perfect for making a bold statement, adding style
to any interior. The vases often come in a family of sizes, a different one to cater for
all your floral needs, short or long stemmed.

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Follow the 30’s society florist example and add more than just flowers. Extend a
bunch of market or garden flowers and make them altogether more interesting by
mixing in gnarly twigs for height, vine trails for waft, infill with garden foliage then add
flowers.

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Or generously plant up with a cushion of moss studded through with spring bulbs, or
fill to overflowing with fresh fruit, with bunches of grapes and summer stoned fruit.
Ring the changes by displaying it empty, as a stand alone sculptural piece. Your
imagination is the only limit to how you choose to style your vase.

When you’re looking for these vintage pieces expect signs of wear. More often than
not the surface of the glaze will have slight crazing and there will be scattered iron
spots on the interior, which add to the character of ceramics of this age.

If you are interested in seeing more, go have a look in my shop, where theres a big
selection.

Book Review, Garden Style: Inspirational Styling for Your Outside Space by Selina Lake

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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With the recent upturn in the weather, once more it’s time to get back into the garden and embrace the wide-open spaces. With immaculate timing a review copy of the gorgeous Garden Style: Inspirational Styling for Your Outside Space by the talented stylist, Selina Lake, arrived in the studio. The garden has greened up, here I am falling in love with it all over again, ripe for any garden porn that comes my way.

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 Lakes style is approachable and practical, full of beautifully styled shots it is a wonderful book to reach for when you are looking for new inspiration. Divided into chapters, each covers a different theme. Garden Inspirations is the opening chapter, here Lake shows us the spaces and plants she enjoys, as well as encouraging the reader to look for places to help develop their own individual style. I love the chapter name, Decorating Your Garden, it includes advice on choosing furniture, rounding up ways to display plants and also how to get essential decorative details like lighting into the space. Further chapters are about creating garden rooms as well as relaxing and eating outdoors and the one that presses my buttons, wont be any surprise to my readers, as it’s all about Bringing the Outside In, including details on foraging and very usefully tips to help you create your very own cutting garden. 

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Lake envelopes us with the idea a garden is an extra space for escaping to, it’s your own other worldly corner. Peppered through out the text are useful style tips along with very doable, attractive projects, for instance, use small vintage bottles to hold posies to jazz up a picket fence. I suggest mixing up one of the recipes for botanical cocktails, settling down in a verdant corner to have a good read of this book, a beautiful and informative garden companion.

 

   
  
   
  
    
  
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    Garden Style: Inspirational Styling for Your Outside Space by Selina Lake  Photography: Rachael Whiting  Ryland Peters and Small £19.99         http://selinalake.co.uk      http://www.rachelwhiting.co.uk

Garden Style: Inspirational Styling for Your Outside Space by Selina Lake

Photography: Rachael Whiting

Ryland Peters and Small £19.99

 

 

http://selinalake.co.uk

 

http://www.rachelwhiting.co.uk

Book Review: WREATHS: Fresh, Foraged & Dried Florals Arrangements by Katie Smyth & Terri Chandler

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell

Foraging flowers and foliage, is now a thing, we all delight at coming home with a handful of hedgerow discoveries, but how to make the most of our collection?

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I was sent a review copy of the book WREATHS: Fresh, Foraged & Dried Florals Arrangements by Katie Smyth & Terri Chandler. It gives a glimpse into the world of flower arrangers, Worm, packed with insider knowledge into how they achieve their original and contemporary approach to wreaths and flower installations. Exuberant and full of life, the can do flower company aims to bring the delight of natural foraged flowers to your home or venue.

With their characteristic enthusiasm they set out to demystify the art with a wealth of fresh new tips for constructing and building up original floral installations so they look their very best. Even if you are not into creating with flowers the book is a must for the beautiful images alone. Photographer Kristin Perers, creates serene moments of floral calm leaving us all wishing they were part of our lives.

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Liberated from more formal arrangements this book reflects the recent move away from monoculture flower arrangements towards a more seasonal approach, as often as possible, using foraged and farmed British flowers and foliage. People who know me will be aware I am always looking for new ways to bring the outside in and I love the crazy, mad, romantic almost Midsummers Night Dream vibe of Worm designs.

The detailed recipe for Meadow Ball, makes the concept approachable, I’m itching to sling a hook in the ceiling and get on with it. Another design I am keen to try is the Late Summer Chandelier, which uses a gnarled, ropey clematis vine as a base. The smell from the Giant Pine Wreath promises to deliver an intoxicating perfume, so that’s a must when the time comes round. And for sheer vibrancy the Autumnal Wreath would be the star at a Harvest or Thanksgiving celebration.

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Dip into the pages of this beautiful book, Wreaths, with its glorious images and all the tools and know how to develop your own instinctive floral style,  you will be ready to create a wreath to celebrate each seasonal event when it comes along. 

WREATHS: Fresh, Foraged & Dried Florals Arrangements by Katie Smyth & Terri Chandler (Quadrille, £14.99)

Photography: Kristin Perers

Worm London http://www.wormlondon.com

Kristin Perers http://kristinperers.com

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Styling Interiors with Plants

StylingAmanda Russell
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Take your time and have fun styling with plants, here are a few tips to set you on your way.

  • Move plants around and give them a new spot so they don't  look samey and static. Move them around and style up with a variety of  hero objects, you might have a collection of pots, a favourite beach find or a treasure picked up on an adventure

 

  • Before you get cracking with the styling, first tidy up and clear your space. Remember beautiful styled images are about what's in front of the camera. You maybe very aware of the cluttered corner behind you, but so long as the view in the shot is clear, nobody else needs to be any the wiser. Tidying completed, gather together the pieces you have chosen to work with in one place.

 

  • To construct the narrative, choose plants of different heights, leaf shape and colour. Start to layer up the plants along with the hero object. The rich texture of green on green gives the hero a backdrop shine out from. Alternitively choose just one plant or a frond or leaf and display alone in a vintage ceramic vessel with a couple of shapely pieces. With space around, you will be able to observe the design and beauty of the plant and leaf construction. 

 

  • Remember, be generous at all times. Try a variety of groupings, taking images as you go along a clear space where your hero sings in glorious isolation can have as much impact as a large curated collection. 

 

  • Be brave, remember rules are there for breaking. Try a variety of groupings taking images as you go along. When you look back over them note how very slight changes to the styled arrangement can make a world of difference. 

Easy, DIY Roman Blind

CraftsAmanda Russell

I couldn’t resist this print fabric and a roman blind is the perfect canvas for showing off the mid century design. Below I show you how to design and make your own really simple roman blind, lets do it right now!

You will need:

  • Pre-corded Roman Blind kit, I used one from John Lewis
  • Pins, needles, thread
  • Dressmaking scissors
  • Fabric, I used Villa Nova fabric

Measure the width and drop of your window for finished blind size. Add 1.5cm to the both sides and 6cm to the length, then cut out the fabric.

Wrong side up turn in the sides, fold the fabric over by 0.5cm and then a further 1cm, pin in place and sew down.

Take the loop tape off the head rail, turn the top of the blind over by 1cm, then pin the loop tape in place 0.5cm below the turn. Sew the loop tape in place along both edges.

To make the pocket for the bar on the lower edge fold the fabric up by 0.5cm then again by 4cm, sew in place.

To find the positions for the rod channels measure the length of the blind then divide into 6. Mark positions for the rod tape on the reverse of the blind, draw a light line from one side to the other.

To calculate the length of the channel tapes add 2cm to the width of the blind measurement then cut the channel tapes. Turn the side of the channel tape in by 1cm then using the lines you drew on the blind sew in position leaving one end of the channel open.

Cut the rods 2cm shorter than the width of the blind, insert into the channel through the opening. Turn in the tape by 1cm then close the opening by sewing onto the side of the blind, repeat for each rod.

Once you’ve made your Roman blind install it following your kit instructions, I used a pre-corded kit from John Lewis.

Must Have Boho Bench

Amanda Russell

Transform a softwood bench into an on trend luxe padded seat by painting, dying, and a bit of sustainable up-cycling. Currently there are lots of tribal inspired fabrics out there so grab a bit of the action with this gorgeous upholstered bench.

boho-bench.jpg

You will need:

  • Nornas Ikea Bench
  • 2 meters thick wadding
  • Black paint
  • Paint brush
  • Dylon Goldfish Orange machine dye
  • Old velvet curtain
  • Old rug
  • Staple gun
  • Old duvet
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Scissors
  • Saw
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Invisible marker pen Korbond

Step-by-Step

  1. Following the makers instructions dye the velvet and leave to dry.
  2. Saw off the edges of the bench so that there is no overhang.
  3. Paint the bench black and leave to dry.
  4. Cut a double layer of wadding the size of the bench top plus enough to drape over the edges. Cut away the corners and then staple the wadding to the underside of the bench.
  5. Press the velvet before using. Reverse side up drape the velvet over the bench, leaving enough for a 2cm seam allowance along the bottom edge.
  6. Fold the corners and  mark with a pen remove the fabric and sew the corners down, then cut away the excess fabric
  7. Right sides out place the velvet over the wadding covered bench and staple the velvet into position on the underside.
  8. To make the cushion. Cut an old duvet to the size of the bench top.
  9. Cut the rug into two pieces, the size of the bench top plus 1 cm all the way round.
  10. Sew the old duvet round its edge to the wrong side of one piece of rug.
  11. With right sides facing sew the piece of rug with the duvet attached to the other piece of rug. Sew round three and a half sides.
  12. Turn the cover through the correct way and then slip stitch the opening closed.

Tips. To get straight edges when stapling, start from the middle out, staple in the middle of one side and s then staple on the opposite side, then staple from the middle out along one side and repeat with the opposite side, then do the other two sides in the same way.

Book Review - Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
Making Winter cover.jpg

Winter can be a tough time for many with the shrinking of daylight hours and the near constant grey weather Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell is a manual of creative projects designed to help keep the winter blues at bay. During winter months because of the lack of sunlight mood elevating serotonin is at lower levels often leading to gloomy moods, crafting is known to raise levels of serotonin which in turn helps boost mood. Drawing inspiration from the natural winter world Mitchell has designed a beautiful survival manual of simple craft projects calling on a variety of skills to help people escape low moods during the winter. With perfect timing, at the darkest time of year, the book arrived on my desk to be reviewed.

Making Winter p27.jpg
Making Winter p51.jpg

It is an attractive book with beautiful images of domestic cosines and creativity inspired by nature. Divided into chapters, each themed around the different phases of winter, there are several projects to fit the theme with clear step by step instructions. In High Days and Celebrations there's a recipe for streusel cake, a berry cocktail and woodland wreaths, it's a varied selection and none are too time consuming. I enjoyed the outdoors chapter Nature as Nurture, here Mitchell gently coaxes us out of the house, subtly persuading us with the promise of crafty joys such as preserving autumn leaves or making silver fossil pendants after a good walk observing nature. As a stylist I'm always trying to bring nature into interiors and there are lots of examples of this, and don't we all love spreading the love with specimen blooms in vintage bottles. There are also very beautiful crochet projects which I lust after, the hawthorn wrist warmers, with a bobbly berried design is very nearly enough to tempt me to pick up a hook and have a go.

   
  
   
  
    
  
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     Making Winter , with its beautiful images and full of plucky hope is a wonderful happiness manual to inspire, a great gift for a crafty friend, whether or not they find the winter months taxing.   Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months  by Emma Mitchell, out now in hardback, priced £14.99 (LOM Art).     If you liked this book review then why not read my book review of  Making Concrete Pots, bowls, and Platters by Hester van Overbeek

Making Winter, with its beautiful images and full of plucky hope is a wonderful happiness manual to inspire, a great gift for a crafty friend, whether or not they find the winter months taxing.

Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell, out now in hardback, priced £14.99 (LOM Art).

 

If you liked this book review then why not read my book review of Making Concrete Pots, bowls, and Platters by Hester van Overbeek

Book Review - Millinery, The Art of Hat-Making by Sarah Lomax and Rachel Skinner

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
9781784943547_hi res.jpg

Now more than ever we all want to learn new crafts and skills and the New Year is as good a time as any to start mastering one. Sadly, hat wearing has been relegated to special occasion wear, the book Millinery, The Art of Hat-Making by Sarah Lomax and Rachel Skinner has a varied collection and wearing one to top off a carefully curated outfit is made a real possibility. With its beautiful timeless illustrations, variety of hat designs and detailed techniques it gives plenty of information to help you get started creating your own unique hats. After a detailed browsing of this book, as an eclectic designer, maker, I felt fired up with ideas for the many possible occasions for sporting a distinctive and elegant hat.

PeakedCapWB.jpg

Have you ever wondered how a hat shape is made from a flat piece of fine woven straw or how to create a distinctive trim that is guaranteed to lift a bought hat from ordinary to extraordinary? With a wide choice of hat shapes and embellishment to create, Millinery is the book for you. A beautifully designed volume it is divided into two sections. The first covers the nitty gritty with equipment, materials and techniques each supported by text and images. The second section has twelve very different hat projects with easy to follow step by step instructions. Choose from soft sewn hats to a gorgeous feather creation to a full on felt trilby. I am drawn in by the detail, and long for a neat feathered tear drop, complete with the swish and flourish of a long plume. 

hats89488.jpg

Emphatically, yes, I would recommend Millinery, as it gives a glimpse into the art form and plenty of information for you to successfully make your own high-end millinery. With its wealth of inspiration and variety of techniques it won't be long before you have created a unique hat collection.

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    Millinery, The Art of Hat-Making by Sarah Lomax and Rachel Skinner  Published by GMC £16.99  Available from  www.thegmcgroup.com   If you like this book review why not read my review of  The Gentleman’s Wardrobe: Vintage Style Projects for the Modern Man by Vanessa Mooncie