If you’ve been following my blog for a few months now, you may have discovered that I like to sew (geek), enjoy making patchwork quilts (super geek), design and stitch pillows and window treatments for myself (uber geek) and well… I absolutely love fabric (okay, that part is cool). You also may have heard me rave about Amy Butler Designs. I posted about her in early March, but now that it’s officially Spring and her new collection just released, I had to mention her again.Amy’s stunning collections, Belle and Forest, feature dozens of new prints inspired by nature, oozing with pure happiness in fresh vibrant prints. These super-yum fabrics can be used in many of your creative projects from seat cushions to making fun Barbie clothes for your little girls collection. If you have a daughter, you could ask her to work on a sewing project with you, she could help select some pretty fabric and together, you could stitch up new duvets and panels for her dollhouse.
As I write this, I’m transported back in time to when I had this super deluxe handmade dollhouse that my aunt and uncle crafted for me out of wood. I remember the day the package arrived and how excited I was as I stood in my living room in awe, clutching my cookie monster, gazing at all the rooms in my new dollhouse wide-eyed and amazed. My aunt took the time to also design and build every single piece of furniture inside – none of it was plastic – only teak, pine and birch was used to construct this mid-century modern Barbie townhouse. My aunt even installed funky wallpaper in each of the rooms and hand-painted the artwork that ‘hung’ from the walls. My mother then embellished the place with duvets (well, we called them bedspreads back then) and fancy window treatments. We worked on sewing projects for Barbie fashion and decor for hours and many, many years after that little house arrived. Sewing with my mother made for many bonding moments. I think fabrics draw women together. Little girls with moms, friends with other friends. Maybe that’s why I’m so inspired to create things, often in a workshop environment with other women. Sewing can be so much more than a creative hobby, especially if you pull together your children or a few friends and enjoy it with some good music, homemade iced tea (I’m really going back to my southern upbringing now) and a basket of sweet rolls.
If you don’t know how to sew, no need to feel left out. To get a feel for using fabric in creative ways, start small. I’m barely past the basics myself, so don’t worry, it takes time and patience with yourself. For now, take it in baby steps. You can quickly add some of Amy’s fabric to a vase: read this article about a no-sew DIY project. You can also invest in a great electric staple gun, sold at your local hardware store, and make everything from inspiration boards to display over your desk to padded headboards and new dining room chair pads.
If you truly love home design and yearn to stretch your dollar, I suggest taking a few sewing lessons at your local fabric store and then, invest in a basic sewing machine. I own a Bernina that I’m very happy with, and it cost only $350 USD. When you think of how much you’d have to pay a seamstress for two simple rod pocket panels, the machine pays for itself after you’ve completed only one or two projects for your home. My seamstress charges $150-200 for one window valance. (this fee does not include the cost of fabric, lining, trim, rods or installation fees.) See what I mean?
If you do sew, or plan to get started soon, Amy carries easy to follow patterns for creating everything from pillows to handbags, available at many fabric stores and on various websites. Just google “Amy Butler Patterns” to locate them. She even posts free patterns that you can download from her website. I’m loving her birdie the cat download – it’s just toooo sweet, don’t you think?
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing Belle and Forest, and if you would like to talk about your current sewing project, or if you have questions about getting started, post a comment below and I’m sure you’ll find others that will reply and inspire!
(photos from amy butler)
Okay so I was researching eco-friendly textiles for a project I’m working on and came across Mod Green Pod over at the wonderful Treehugger. For those of you that shy away from “green” products because you think they’re more hippie than hipster, think again.
Green products can be quite colorful and fun, especially when you consider the designs at Mod Green Pod based right here in lovely Boston. Using 100% organic cotton fabrics and creating only vinyl-free wallpaper, you can’t help but adore their products and their cause. Going green never looked so, well, exciting…
(photos from mod green pod)
Just when you think life can’t get any sweeter, you stumble across the most fantastic Mibo wallpaper and suddenly, you slip into a shopping spiral that leads you blissed out and amazingly broke. But, you know what, the house looks good and sometimes that’s all we design junkies really care about.
So, I’m sure you’ve all seen Mibo lighting, gosh they’re cute and they’re being plugged all over town. I haven’t seen the wallpaper get much press, so I figured I’d step up to the plate and let you know that it does exist, it’s real pretty, and it is totally worth checking out. If wallpaper isn’t enough, Mibo had to go and make more cute stuff for us to freak out over. Look at these throw pillows and ceramic mugs, will ya? I heart Mibo…
Since I’m experiencing sensory overload, I need to go get some fresh air and try to stare at some white space for a moment. Don’t worry, the candy is still coming. I’ll be back with more yummy things soon…
(photos from mibo)
Just in from decor8 reader Julie… “I don’t think I’ve read where you’ve mentioned Clarissa before. She is a UK based designer. Great stuff. She just recently released her 2006 line online. You can also find her lampshades, etc. at Heal’s. Anyway, I thought her designs might make a good article for your blog. I just returned from a trip to the UK and her stuff is even more impressive in person.” – Julie
Julie you couldn’t be more spot on! With her new line of lampshades, wallpaper, photo albums, pillows and throws, I couldn’t be more excited to share Clarissa Hulse with all of you. Show of hands, how many of you have been to London? I don’t want to sound like a travel snob when I say this, but I’m been about 15 times because I’m a total travel geek/anglophile – I love all things British. I nearly went broke traveling as a single girl, so it’s nothing I can brag about too much. I lived on ramen noodles for a period in my life just so I could afford airfare. Seriously. My obsesssion began back in 1996 during my first British encounter. Got a moment? There’s a story to all of this…
A friend of mine in Boston (Matt) was into this tall lanky girl (Katrina) who was from Wendover Bucks in England. They were in touch here and there, but nothing serious except for the major crush he had on her and of course, her amazing accent didn’t help matters any. Matt said she had a cute brother, which sparked my interest because I also was into cute accents (still am). Weeks went by, Matt was still in touch with Kat, and I was hearing all these stories about her cute brother who was also a BA flight attendant. That interested me because how could knowing a man that has a free pass to venture the globe be a bad thing? Unbeknownst to me, Matt slipped Kat my phone number to give to her brother who was soon to visit Boston.
I was going about my life as I always had until my roommate slipped a note beneath my bedroom door. It read:
“Jo called from London. He’ll call you later. He’s in Boston. Cute accent”
That picqued my interest faster than you can say ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod! It was, I think, 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning (summer 1996) and I was sleeping in again as I always did on Saturdays after being out with my friends the night before. Scrambling around my room with note in hand, I raced to my wardrobe to pull out something cute and headed for the showers, tossing a thank you into the air as my roommate stood there amazed to see me surface so quickly after waking me only a second earlier. Cute accent just may call back, I thought. I must be prepared. Shower. Shave. Perfume. Viola!
The call never came. A few hours passed. My shoulders slumped. Forget it, I thought. This is dumb.
I laced up my inline skates and went outside for awhile. After skating to complete exhaustion, I pulled myself up the stairs to my apartment and heard the phone ringing. Must. Find. Key. As a fumbled around trying to fit the key into the lock, hands shaking like a drunk needing vodka, I pushed open the door and raced to the phone. It had stopped ringing. A few words sprang out of my mouth that I won’t repeat here as flopped down on the sofa thinking of how pathetic I’d become waiting for mystery brit to call. I noticed my roommate had gone for the day, so I cranked up the stereo and started stretching to work out my leg cramps. As I stretched, visions of Hugh Grant raced through my head. Would this boy behind the accent be tall and willowy with that ever so stylish floppy brown hair falling into twinkly brown eyes? As I fast forwarded, envisoning a wedding in England (yeah, I told you already, pathetic) the phone rang again. Nearly breaking both legs, I grabbed it and instantly transformed my voice from out of breath skater girl to husky 900 number babe. “Hello, this is Holly”, I meowed.
Long story short, caller was young Brit, we had a thing for a few years that amounted to nothing, but I racked up some serious frequent flyer miles to the UK, had the time of my life in England and France with him, and had the opportunity to meet a lot of great friends through it all. What does this story have to do with Clarissa Hulse? Absolutely nothing and somewhat a lot at the same time. Although the story has nothing Clarisa about it, the experience of being in London, shopping, taking in the culture, exploring the city… All of these images pop into my mind whenever I post about British designers. I think that’s why I’m so drawn to them. When you have experienced a culture and made friends there, you have a certain connection to the land. If you’ve had the chance to travel, you know what I mean. I connect everything I post to some part of my life.
I hope to visit London again, maybe this year, and if I do I promise to share the adventure with you, only this time it will exclude boys and include toys. Home decor to be exact. But for now, we can drool together online as we browse websites showcasing gorgeous products from Londontown, like Clarissa Hulse.
p.s. I’ve added a lot of London links to the shopping column this week, so don’t forget to browse those for more fab shopping.