There’s one LA souvenir that I haven’t mentioned: a DIY frame mat for a very special photo of my little girls. I used a cover from one of their torn-beyond-repair Golden Books to frame a photo that I snapped of them during my visit. Considering that I had to cram my craft time in between toddler nap times, it was the perfect quick and easy project to take on. If you have some old books in your life that might fit the frame, click on over to Poppytalk for the complete how-to. Let me know how it goes!
I love a good basic bag that will stand the test of time. This one from MUJI comes kinda close to the coveted quality of Filson so I was very excited to snatch it up and bring it home. The simplicity of the canvas and leather is great but since it’s summertime, I thought that I’d have a little fun with an easy DIY. I chose Ikat weaving as my design inspiration and am so happy with the results! The colors, the lines, all very subtle but they give the piece a totally different personality. I think I might do this in the future with simple cotton totes as re-uasble gift bags…lots of possibilities.
If you’re not familiar with MUJI (I wasn’t until we moved to London) they are an awesome Japanese company that keeps things focused on simple yet practical design. They have barely made their way to the US with stores in NYC but I hope that they expand if/before we move back. I can’t imagine life without them now – they’re like a small-scale, more earthy, back-to-basics Ikea. I couldn’t find my exact bag in their web store but they have a ton of great styles to pick from. Happy stitching!
If you’re like me and have yet to master your green thumb, check out these potting steps and tips that I learned at this weekend’s Handmade KL craft party:
1. Choose your container (white ceramic teapots were provided. i planted the rest into a bowl from our kitchen)
2. Line the bottom of your container with an inch of rocks followed by another inch of gravel. This will help in the drainage of water. (Made so much sense because I always rot my plants that aren’t in pots with drainage holes)
3. Add 3 tablespoons of crushed charcoal which will prevent the growth of bacteria. (Never heard of this but maybe it’s a climate thing?)
4. Fill the container with soil up to half an inch from the top of the container.
5. Gently arrange your selection of succulents on top of the soil.
6. Once you’re happy with the arrangement, top up with soil then gently pack in with the succulents.
7. Brush off any first from the succulents then water them.
It’s as simple as that! I can’t believe that I was so intimidated by potting plants myself. Now, for the real test: maintaining these babies at home. Any tips?
“how to” instructions courtesy of craft party host, Mimpi Murni
In order to receive wi-fi signal throughout the rest of the flat, our router must be placed in a prominent location of the living room. This diva signal initially left us with an eyesore of an ugly, blinking light box and I hated it. I did everything I could to camouflage it by setting picture frames and flower-filled vases in front of it.
One day, after I had complained enough about it, Joe had the brilliant idea to cover it with a book. Heellooo….yes, so obvious and so perfect! A few days later he came home with a vintage book he bought for 50p (cents) and got to work with his trusty blade. It took less than a minute to cut the pages out and bend the spine to widen the overall fit. Once the cover was placed over the router I saw the true brilliance of Joe’s idea – simple, practical, and effective. He was definitely onto a new tech/decor trend of using books to make necessary gadgets feel a bit more homey. Anyone think they’ll give this a try?
On a more sentimental note – are you wondering what the writing and clippings inside the book are? Apparently one of the previous owners, Maud Harbin, had a true love of gardens. When I took a look at the book for the first time I almost refused using it for the project. But since we can’t hold onto everything, I compromised by spending some time flipping through it and photographing my favorite parts.
This book was a gift to her and in it she wrote lists of her favorite flowers, plants, trees and saved paper clippings with quotes and garden-related news. I fell in love with the energy of the book. Yes it is titled “California Gardens”, but you could almost feel how precious this was to her, how much time she spent reading through the pages, carefully curating her own lists and adding her own notes. My favorite find was a hand-written quote on the inside of the back cover that reads “winter cannot dim the glow of the garden.” No ma’am it cannot. Thank you for the inspiration, Maud … and for covering the ugly blinking box.
I love upcycled projects like this, especially when they’re as easy as one two three (cut, iron, sew – oh and of course pre-wash so make that four).
There’s nothing like Christmas to get a crafter’s mojo going. However, as much as I love the excuse to create and decorate, I did refrain from getting too crazy. Since this could very well be our only Christmas here in London, we didn’t want to do anything that would involve buying too much or have to store/sell later. Thankfully we’re pretty simple when it comes to decor anyway so it wasn’t too hard to do.
Other than fresh flowers and the tree, the only out-of-the-box decor we bought were a dozen fair trade glass ornaments and two strands of LED lights (we love them and will never go back to regular bulbs again!). Everything else was re-purposed from items in our home or bought for DYI-ing like the ribbon for the wreath, spray paint for the vases, and the oranges + cloves for the pomanders.
Here’s a quick rundown of each little DIY project:
Orange pomanders: Not much explaining to do here as it really is a “what you see is what you get” type of project. Only tip would be to first poke the holes in the orange with a toothpick so that the cloves go in much easier (and don’t break). As the cloves soak up the citrus from the orange – and ultimately dry it – it gives off an incredible fragrance.
Light wreath: I started by bending a white dry-cleaner hanger into a full circle and closed it using a twisty-tie (like the kind you tie your produce bags with). Then I wrapped a single strand of lights around the circle and then did the same with the ribbon. I used a net-like ribbon so that I could place strategic openings over the lights to secure the ribbon in place. I also just love how the shadows look against the wall when it’s all lit.
Winter-white vases: We recycle our glass but this time I wanted to re-use some of them myself. First I cleaned and removed the labels off an instant-coffee jar, wine bottle, and olive oil bottle. Then I coated them with a fast-drying matte spray paint and in a matter of minutes we had some modern white vases!
As for our tree …we can’t bring ourselves to buy new ornaments and haven’t gotten around to making anything else. But you know what, I’m really digging the simplicity of the tree with just a single strand of lights wrapped around the trunk. When else do I get to have a pretty tree inside the house? It’s pretty cool on its own so I don’t think I’ll hate it if we never get around to decorating it (sorry, mom!).
I don’t normally do style posts since I feel like I get totally awkward when posing but I figured that this cape deserved a proper shoot. Sunday’s mini-countryside excursion (and Eton College’s…sshh…private park) proved to be the perfect setting to hop around and take some snaps. The glow from the sun was incredible and since we don’t get many days like that in London, all of the colors were extra amplified in my mind. Super bright, bold, and almost unreal (hence the crazy Photoshop treatment!).
What’s totally real is how easy it was to make this cape. Rosie’s company, DIY Couture, is founded on making clothing construction easy to understand, and more importantly, do. I am completely head over heels with her approach to creating your own couture designs and here’s why…
My degree in fashion merchandising required me to take sewing courses where all we did was create or work off of technical patterns that were often too fussy or intimidating. DIY Couture simplifies the construction process by speaking in layman’s terms and providing simple visual instructions that have more to do with practicality than technicality. I was super impressed with how she taught the workshop but when I got home and flipped through her “How To Make a Cloak” book, I was floored. The visuals are simple and pleasing to follow and the options for customizing pieces (hood, collar, etc) are very approachable. For example, to create the hood pattern she instructs to lay down a hood from a sweater you already own (and like) and trace to cut – so practical and effective!
I could rave about it for days but as for my personal couture cape, I opted to forgo a hood or collar for a more simple neckline. I also didn’t add a button so that I could keep the option open to use vintage brooches and mix it up as I please. When I realized that not doing any of the above made my cape reversible, I was a very happy girl! Joe later had the great idea to buy vintage cufflinks and use them along the entire front – perfect for reversibility, right? It means that I’ll have to create button holes after all but it’s okay, the book has easy instructions for that too.
But now it’s YOUR turn to make a cape, cloak, or caploak – whatever, it’s couture design!
I’m giving away my copy of “How To Make a Cloak” to one lucky reader. Simply write a comment below, anything you’d like, and I’ll pick a name at random next week. C’mon, capes are so hot right now ;)and p.s. thanks for all of the tweet, comments, and email love from yesterday’s launch of the pond market!!!
My first guest-post for a blog was published yesterday! I was really excited when the ladies from Travelettes asked me to create a project for their new Sunday DIY feature. I took inspiration for the calling cards from one of my fave’s, Pugly Pixel, and I love how they turned out – simple and effective. Check out the full post + photos here.
A BIG thanks to Travelettes for inviting me to join the fun!
Remember when I complained about the lack of sunshine in London? Shortly after I decided to take control and bring the golden rays into my workspace. I had always wanted to frame paper so this was the perfect opportunity to do it – finally, something to make with all of those beautiful sheets of paper from the stationary store!
I opted for a gold, shiny (and I admit, a bit gaudy) paper from Paperchase and paired it with a black metal frame from Habitat. I love the bright glow that reflects from the opposing window, even on the greyest of days. Mission totally accomplished. What I love even more is that I can change the paper in an instant and always have a fresh piece of art. With pretty paper costing less than five pounds I’m definitely tempted to swap often but I think I’ll keep the golden glow for a while.
p.s. a big shout out to my vintage desk lamp! i loooovvvee yoooouuuu.
The great thing about making long length necklaces is that you can simply tie the chain in a knot and not deal with clasps and jump rings (the little round connector pieces). This was such a quick and easy DIY, I’ll definitely be shopping for more vintage buttons!
I finally got crafty with a vintage bowtie I bought at Camden Market a few months ago. I was sifting through vintage neckties and thinking of what I could make with them when this simple black bowtie popped right out and told me what to do.
Surely you can tie a bow out of anything to make a belt but I love the fullness, weight, and perfection of a mens bowtie. Especially when paired with a pretty ribbon.
I’m really happy with the way that it turned out but for the next round I think I’ll try a few modifications: use a more stretch-friendly ribbon (so woven threads don’t break) and find a way to make it fully adjustable to wear either on my waist or hips. A girl needs options, right?
Let me know if you make your own or get inspired to create something else with a mens bowtie…there are so many possibilities!
I bought this camera strap online but was not happy with it once it arrived. It was too wide and slippery for me and I missed the grip of the original Canon strap.
So, noticing that the “Canon” ribbon was simply sewn on, I decided to take it off and stitch on my own trimming. It was very simple to do. I think I spent more time deciding on the trimming pattern than actually putting it all together!
Since I currently don’t have a sewing machine, I first thought of placing the trimming with fabric glue. Though that would have been a good option, the sound and feel of a sewing machine beckoned and I found myself at Sew Over It using one of their machines for just £5 an hour. I had removed the Canon trimming before arriving at the studio so all I had to do was fold over the top edge of the new piece, sew that down, and then sew along each side. The trick is to find trimming that matches the width of the existing strap so that you don’t have to worry about folding the sides in or bulging the fabric.
I’m so happy with the results and love the idea of changing the trimming every so often. Also, this project made me realize that I can’t go too long without a sewing machine…it’s just a matter of time before I buy one of my own.
My favorite soap in the world is from an independent shop in my home-town, Pasadena, called The Soap Kitchen. Made in small batches in an on-site kitchen, the shop is full of beautifully scented and textured soaps that are made from only the best natural ingredients (I absolutely LOVE the lavender oatmeal with shea butter bar!). These soaps literally became all I would use and the thought of being in London without them made me really sad. Like, really.
Luckily, soon after moving here I learned about The Make Lounge, a maker’s paradise that offers creative workshops – including soap making! If I couldn’t buy my natural soaps from The Soap Kitchen, then I could at least try to make my own, right?
This DIY turned out to be more of a group effort due to processing time and allotted space but no one seemed to mind. We had to agree on what types of essential oils we wanted to use since we all had different scent preferences but after that it was smooth sailing with turns on the heat pad, stirring, mixing, and pouring. I’m purposefully leaving major details out because I honestly don’t remember the ingredients and chemical processes (sorry, I should have saved the handout!).
Long story short, it was a totally new type of “making” for me and though it was really fun and interesting to learn, I realized that I may be more of a simple crafter than a mad scientist. That being said, I can’t wait to go back to The Make Lounge to try some other workshops like paper cutting art, book binding, and screen printing – I have a feeling those will be more my style.
Besides, I found some great natural soaps from a vendor in Camden Market that can give me my homemade soap fix :)
When you’re not really allowed to put anything on the walls (stupid landlord) blu tack, string, and clips come in really handy. I wanted to make use of the vintage photos I bought a few weeks ago and thought this might be the best way in the meantime.
While it’s probably something I would have done in my college dorm room, I like to think that the vintage photos mature the whole look up a bit. Oh who am I kidding, we have a sock monkey on our headboard. His name is Earl.
Taking inspiration from this DIY post by Creature Comforts, I decided to play with decorative masking tapes for the first time. For the goods I went to Paper Chase – the craft store in London. It was love at first sight as I walked around the aisles imagining all of the fun to be had.
Once home I got straight to business taping, cutting, and pasting away. The project was super fast and easy and a great way to get my crafting fingers back to work.
With a hand-written note on the back, these little cards were a perfectly simple way to say “Happy Mother’s Day” and of course, “I Love You”.
Any other crafters out there make something for Mother’s Day?