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Repro Depot {new arrivals}

Fabric! It’s constantly on my mind because there is just so much that you can do with it, especially with all the fun patterns that are available out there, affordable sewing classes, online tutorials, informative bloggers who sew and share… It’s a great hobby to take up. I haven’t heard much in blogland about Repro Depot lately so I thought I’d highlight a few of their new arrivals, particularly the elevator keys in yellow or purple.

Tips: The elevator buttons to cover an inspiration board,
the cane for a chair or bench, the paisley to trim a white duvet…

If you would like to learn how to sew but think you’re not talented enough (something readers express to me very often) then I think it’s time you embrace your amazingness because girl, you can sew — I just know it! Maybe you are stressing yourself out for no reason. Sewing is not rocket science, it’s pretty easy once you learn the basics and it can be a lot of fun once you start pumping out product. You know what helped me get over my fear of sewing? I can often expect perfection out of myself and you know what? Expecting perfection is the best way to kill creativity. So I decided to roll with it and start off small with pillow covers and such. Then I advanced to drapes. Then quilts, which I must admit I’m not as patient with the quilting process. I found what fits my personality best – projects that take no more than a day so I can reap insta-rewards. I’m not into projects that take weeks or months because I lose interest and it ends up in my TBC pile. To Be Continued. It should be called my RIP, or Rest In Peace, pile because once things end up there I rarely complete them. So for me, quick projects work best.

Another thing that helped me to see the importance of sewing is to view it as I do cooking. What motivates a person to prepare dinner? Outside of the pleasure of creating with your own hands, making others feel happy and cared about, and the self-esteem boost you get when you taste your delicious dish, you cook for a very basic reason: you need to feed yourself to survive. Eating is an important part of life. And what does any new cook do to learn how to prepare a meal? If you didn’t learn from your family then you’ll need to train yourself. First, buy kitchen appliances and tools and learn what they are capable of, then you purchase supplies (food, spices, etc.), grab a cookbook, watch cooking shows, buy books, etc. Then you practice, practice, practice! You will burn things and some of your cookies will taste like wallpaper plaster, but you press forward and ultimately, you’ll whip up some great meals and even start to learn what you enjoy cooking more (casseroles, gourmet, baking, basic meals, etc.). It’s the same with sewing. You’re bound to mess up at first, but over time you’ll start to produce things that will make you feel very proud of yourself. You’ll start to see where your strengths lie (maybe you do really well with pillows and blankets, but find box cushions a nightmare).

Once you convince yourself that you should make sewing a part of your life just as you have with meal preparation, you’ll be able to motivate yourself to carve out time to learn it. I was lucky, my mother sews very well and taught me a lot when I was a child and when I’m stuck now, I just call her and she’ll walk me through it. Years ago, women made clothes for the family and repaired them as needed. Women made everything, from cheese to butter, to blankets and aprons. This was long before Made in China and the Gap. Nowadays, between take-out meals and Target, we no longer need to create things for ourselves. It’s kind of sad if you think about it. My mother made all of my clothes before I insisted on wearing what only kids flaunted in school — Levis, Jordache, Chic, and Izod. And how can I forget the Members Only jacket that I had to have. My mom also made our drapes, shower curtains, shades, clothes for my dolls, pillows, she loved to decorate and frequently changed the decor in our home with fabric. When I have children someday, I’d love for them to be able to look back and say that I taught them how to sew. Even my husband can sew, thanks to his mother. He recently repaired a hole in a vintage wool coat and added new buttons to a shirt – simple things but to pay a tailor to do it would have taken time (driving to/from the shop) and money (paying to have the work done).

That’s why I support the handmade movement — we can buy handmade but we can also learn to make our own things, it’s inspiring! Plus I think it’s just good that we learn the basics as women — cooking, cleaning, sewing, etc. because our families appreciate our work and it’s what makes us so special as women I think, that crafty ability we seem to be born naturals at. Of course men can be crafty to (look at Christian on Project Runway, he can out sew any girl!), but how cool is it as ladies to be able to kick butt in the office and at home. Plus it saves us money to make some of our own stuff and gives us a huge dose of joy because there’s nothing more exhilarating than to step back and view a homemade meal or a completed sewing project. What a burst of self-esteem. And with blogs, flickr, and all these terrific online communities, you can share what you’ve made with others which will motivate you to keep at it.

So with that, I’m going to take up sewing again. I’ve put my machine away for the past 6 weeks and I’m starting to feel a need to sew up a little something again before Spring, as I’m rarely indoors once the weather is nice. Anyone want to sew a little something up too? Refresh your sofa with new pillows for Spring, add a table runner to the credenza, linens to your table — these projects are all relatively easy so why not decide on something and give it a whirl, girl?

(images from repro depot)

Posted in textiles on February 25, 2008

Blissliving {bedding}

Pamela wrote in today from the online bedding boutique Pillows and Throws to tell me about some of the latest contemporary floral patterns from Blissliving. I receive lots of emails asking for bedding suggestions so if you’re looking for a good resource on the web you’ll want to bookmark Pillows and Throws. In addition to Blissliving, they also carry bedding from Inhabit, Jonathan Adler, Koko Company, Denyse Schmidt Designs, Unison, Plush Living, In-Fusions, and Twinkle Living plus shipping over $100 is free.

For more bedding resources, click here.

Thank you Pamela for the tip!

(images from pillows and throws)

Posted in textiles on February 21, 2008

Tracy Porter {home}

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned the work of the talented Tracy Porter on decor8 before. Time to talk Tracy! Let me tell you how I first found out about her because I didn’t discover Ms. Porter on my own. It was through my friend Sondi that Tracy’s work came into my life back in ’01 when I moved from my Boston apartment into a huge barn in the country. I was completely overwhelmed by having to decorate a massive 2-story space with a mostly open concept on an extreme budget (under $300!).

Bohemian inspired Tracy Porter Rosewater bedding.

While I loved the old wide pine floors and the ceilings that went on forever, I was newly married and only had 3 rooms of furniture to fill a home with 7+ rooms, 2 bathrooms, a huge entryway, and a loft space. I had to tap into my creativity like never before. I relied on sewing and making things by hand a lot more back then. One can get lazy when there’s no longer a strict budget to follow… That’s when I started a little eBay store selling French-inspired vintage finds from flea markets — the money I made was what I used to buy things for my barn.

A few of my Tracy books. :)
A picture of a glass cloche with a deer inside that inspired me back
then from one of Tracy’s books.

I remember Sondi visited from Maine right when I moved into the barn and felt drained and taxed from having such a large home. Perfect timing. She had with her piles of books to inspire along with her little truck so we could go to junk and antique stores to find goodies. It was our decorating girls weekend, a weekend I highly suggest for times when you’re stuck in a creative rut. One of the books Sondi had was Tracy Porter’s Dreams From Home. The Porter design vision as it was then felt a little busy for my taste, but elements of it appealed to me so I picked up a few of her books and allowed the diverse mostly country styles to influence a few of my decorating decisions in the barn – I painted the dining room pale mustard, made cafe curtains using French toile for the windows out of pillowcases, installed a petite chandelier in my walk-in closet, and started using cloches as table centerpieces. I was a city girl gone country, an apartment dweller suddenly in a ginormous old barn. I needed Sondi, Tracy, and anyone else to encourage me that I could do it.


Since those days, I no longer have my eBay store and my husband and I live in a different space (a carriage house now, we joke that eventually we’ll have a home that wasn’t first constructed for animals!), and of course my style has evolved along as I’ve (gulp) aged. But I’ve held onto books like Tracy’s because they helped to inspire my overall design sense along with my travels, family, and other influences of course and so I find it hard to get rid of them. I can tell from Tracy’s website that her style has evolved as well and parts of it I really like, like the blue Napoleon cabinet and the writer’s desk and chair. In addition to furniture, lighting, and objects for the home, there is a complete collection of clothing, shoes, bags, and jewelry. Tracy is a busy lady! See for yourself…

Gorgeous Skylark bedding. Aw, just look at the transom window over that doorway. I vow to have them in my home someday, I’m so sad that so many have been removed from old buildings here in America. They aren’t only charming, but they fill the room with light saving on energy making them very responsible and pretty.

Tracy is one designer that was a huge source of inspiration for me at one time and only recently have I tapped into some of her work again – like the gorgeous bedding and furniture that she carries. It’s exciting to be at a point where I can look back to trace the steps of my own design journey. I’m sure you can trace your steps as well and if you haven’t, give it a try today. Sit down with a pen and paper and list all the people, places, and things that have had an influence on your personal design sense. You may unearth some interesting and fascinating finds!

Who has inspired you? Please feel free to share them with us. :)

Psst: Tracy is a blogger and you can ‘meet’ her right here via a video she recently posted. Fun!

(images from tracy porter)

Posted in inspiration, textiles on February 20, 2008

Ellie Curtis {prints and pillows}

Nicole from Etsy Love just wrote to me about Ellie Curtis, a London designer with a brand new etsy shop where she sells some pretty amazing pillows and prints based on her whimsical illustrations (love her unexpected color combinations like violet with orange). Ellie takes her drawings and creates screen prints onto paper and fabric with crisp modern results. Her inspiration? “I often like wandering around places like the British Museum, the V&A, or the Pitt Rivers in Oxford to soak in the many different objects and their owner?s associated thoughts, worries, beliefs,” she says.


In the past, Ellie created brooches that I found pretty enough to post so I have to share them to you today. I’m not sure if she plans to make them again or carry these in her etsy store, but I wish she would at least consider it. I’d love to pin them to throw pillows, especially the butterfly.


Great unique work, it’s really refreshing. Thank you Nicole for the tip!

(images from ellie curtis)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, etsy, textiles, walls on February 15, 2008

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