Friday, 29 October 2010

the world in miniature

I have always had a thing about tiny things! And as a child I really loved playing with the Dolls House my parents made me for my 10th birthday. In fact, it wasn't so much the playing with I enjoyed, as the Interior Decorating. Now that I have daughter's of my own I'm desperate to get my old Doll's House out, redecorate and 'modernise' the whole thing. Unfortunately I think I have to wait a couple of years before the girls will truly appreciate this. However a really good friend of mine, with the same obsession, is much braver than me and has decided to give her 2 year old daughter her childhood Doll's House (more for mother's benefit I'm sure!). Anyway. old habits die hard and I was quick to volunteer some Interior Decorating help. Whilst I've no idea of the size or style of the house I offered some fabric scraps, and then an idea developed.

In the summer I visited the wonderful shop RE (A fab shop hidden behind a petrol station in Corbridge, Northumberland. It really warrants a post of its own) and here I found these wonderful tiny french labels, about the size of a finger nail. I couldn't resist buying them even though I had no idea what I could use them for, in fact I loved them so much I had to buy Sarah some too. The thought then occurred to me that if I made a load of miniature brown parcels then I could use the labels on them.

I find it so exciting when an idea comes together, I decided that I would send not only mini rolls of fabric, with tiny brown luggage labels but a whole set of bedding too. The children happened to be playing together happily (doesn't always happen) and I sat at the sewing machine and made a tiny mattress and pillow.

I love the cotton sheets and pillow case that I edged, using an embroidery setting on my machine, and then I wrapped them up with ribbon and this tiny antique flower, and the blanket is made out of an old jumper. And then I couldn't resist making a set of 3 books to go by the bedside, Tiny Tim, Tom Thumb and Mini Mouse (well I wanted Thumbelina but my writing really wouldn't go small enough).

Thursday, 28 October 2010

trick or treat

I apologise for slightly changing the calming, serene tone of Sarah's recent posts but with Halloween just a few days away our house is going ghoulie mad! Back from a few sunny, relaxing days in Cornwall this morning we were stuck at home in the pouring rain. Thankfully I'd spied some creepy, chocolate fingers in the super market a while ago and, a few match boxes later I had a Halloween project.

Expecting the normal visit of Trick or Treaters on Sunday evening we have made some Trick or Treat boxes. Each visiting spook can choose their own box and discover for themselves what lies inside. The lucky ones will walk away with a chocolate finger, the unlucky ones will be subjected to an old joke - you know the one, where you put a hole in the bottom of the match box tray and stick your own (blood covered) finger through it.

A practical joke that is, according to Boy, 'awesome'.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

pink pasta

My great friend Heather from eggs, cream, honey posted a fabulous recipe for chocolate, beetroot, loaf cake, and it put me in mind about what an underrated vegetable the humble beetroot is. It was sarah ravens garden book that got me back into beetroot, childhood memories of ghastly vinegared stuff staining the plate and the palate had rather put me off. Anyway my kids are very keen on gino de campo's recipe for beetroot potato cakes with smoked salmon (though they like a fried egg on the  top in place of, or as well  of the salmon), and i am very keen on htem roasted with garlic and olive oil, then blitzed with greek yoghurt and feta for a vivid dip. But quite the most exciting thing we've done recently is PINK PASTA!!
Miss B and I made a basic pasta dough - I can't give you quantities just mix 2 eggs and tipo 00  flour till the consistancy is right, it should be firm and elastic, then add some pureed roasted beetroot and knead it in. It is gloriously streakily fuchsia coloured to start with, then softens to a beautiful deep pink. ~(I know the pasta machine ids the least used kitchen gadget - but it does keep children amused for a considerable time as it has all the requisite qualities for an afternnon in the school hols - messy, creative and edible!)
keep pushing it through the pasta machine till it feels right. we turned ours in to taglietelle, which was very popular for a girly tea!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

magazines and weekend reading

I am having an issue with magazines at the moment, I subscribe to various interiors glossies for work, but lately I have been finding them piling up without even opening them, partly this is due to time constraints - there never seems to be a minute free to sit and look at a magazine, but partly it is a lack of excitement. I am really fed up with seeing the same old same olds in every magazine. It would appear that if you pay for advertising then that also gets you oodles of editorial, whilst the concept irritates me I camn understand it, however it means every magazine is full of the same stuff. I want to see newness and quirkyness, i want to see British designers, and graduates who are just starting out being given some press, but most of all I want to see some variety, I really really don't want to see the same fabrics and wallapers from Sanderson, Designers Guild, Harlequin and Romo in every feature in every magazine. I am aware I am ranting now, but it has resulted in me cancelling my subscriptions! - the exceptions being Country Living because they often champion the smaller companies and use some quirkier suppliers for features, and selvedge because it is always beautiful.

 ANYWAY.... I was thrilled this week when an email plopped into my inbox from a lovely lady called lynda felton, with a link to a new online magazine  called COVET GARDEN. Every page is a joy, its an inspiring interiors read. Lynda kindly has allowed me to reproduce some of their fab photos here.
 You can subscribe (free) online here and each month you will receive an e-issue.

 Now i am happy to lose my subscription to the standard magazines becauser i think what is happening online is far, far more exciting. (while I am waxing lyrical about good online magazines SMALL magazine is another beauty that we have featured here before and also free subscription)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

hardaker and pope workshops 2

I am on a roll now with the delivery of 50 pristine cardboard folders today, I think i could get seriously carried away with the techniques cards!!
The idea is that for the morning part of our workshops we will spend some time learning a few hand and machine embroidery techniques and then mount them onto some cards which will complement the set of 'how to' cards which everyone will take home with them.  - Obviously Jo and I were totally unable to just photocopy the page out of a book, they had to look appealing too!!!
places are filling up, especially for the heirloom treasures day, so if you want to book a place let us know by email (i say us, but Jo is the boss - because she is an admin wizard!!!!)

hardaker and pope workshops

jo and I have been having rather a fun time going through our stash of treasures looking for exciting scraps and bits and bobs for our pre christmas workshops.
I can't seem to help myself but I keep gravitating towards all things natural. I think its since my English Home magazine photoshoot (more of that in the next few weeks) where i was obsessed with quails eggs, old pages of text and bits of linen.

we are going to provide lots of materials for people to make either an heirloom treasure or two (mini cushions or lavender hearts or a little picture) or a vintage linen christmas stocking.
send us an email if you would like any details and look for the button in the side bar which has all the information, keep reading over the next few weeks and you will see some examples of the type of things we will be making.

Saturday, 16 October 2010


I was searching for an idea to make for a baby girl, when i came across a picture of something i had made ages ago for Jo's littlest. Jo is a big fan of liberty tana lawn, so this is a great way to use those bits that are too small for clothes. if you want to make an elephant like this, or indeed a family of them would be sweet, then you need to cut a pattern out to the size you want your finished elephant. the pattern should look like a rounded m. Stitch 2 (or more) bits of fabric togetherto make a rectangle, i trapped an ear shape between the seam of the 2 pieces - you could use felt or 2 contrast piece of fabric. with right sides together draw round your pattern pieces and then sew together leaving a gap at the back for turning out. cut around your shape an discard the trimmings then turn it the right way out. press flat and neatly press the seam closed . stuff your elephant - you can use toy stuffing, or dried lentils or lavender. stitch up the gap trapping a folded over piece of ribbon inside the seam for a tail. finally sew a button on for the eye and a crochet flower (optional) for a girly nelly!!
these would be lovely to make from sentimental bits of fabrics - for example your childs old pyjamas or a special old dress.

Monday, 11 October 2010

hardaker and pope christmas workshops

Join us on our one-day sewing workshops
in Littleworth Hall, Amberley, Glos.

Heirloom Treasures - 23 November 2010, 10 - 4

Great for beginners.
We will teach you basic hand & machine stitch techniques,
look at design styles & how to put colours & textures together.
Then we'll show you how to make your own embroidered
lavender hearts or a little heirloom cushion.

Christmas Stockings - 6 December 2010, 10 - 4

Learn how to make a beautiful Christmas Stocking
Using linen & embroidery, we will look at
design inspiration & colour palettes,
teach you some hand & machine stitch techniques,
including applique, before setting you free to create
your own heirloom Stocking.

A perfect start to the festive season.

Each day costs £35 including lunch, tea, coffee, cake,
as well as all materials.

At the end of the day you will go home with
a stitch techniques file & a full set of instructions
for completing or recreating your piece.

For further details or to book please contact us

Thursday, 7 October 2010

High School Musical

One of the problems of having children is that some times they want something so much you just have to cave in! This is what happened when our little girl turned 5 recently. She desperately wanted a High School Musical Movie party. I couldn't say 'No'.

I love a good theme and decided to go down the Stars and Stripes route. I like to have an activity underway when the children arrive to get them involved and help them to forget about their parents leaving them. So I'd cut up strips of crepe paper which the children put into bundles and made into pom poms, which they danced with during the film.

We put up a large screen with surround sound and created bill boards and a ticket office using some cardboard, painted red, and studded with fairy lights and as each child arrived they were given a ticket.

An intermission gave the opportunity to serve the birthday tea, which was literally hot dogs and by apples from the garden, much to the children's disappointment. Then we produced these American Style cup cakes (which Boy and I had spent the night before creating). They also each got an ice cream during the second half of the film (no wonder some of them couldn't sit still!).

They were all sent home with the obligatory party bag. I always go overboard with the cellophane, I figure the contents are largely irrelevant. But, since my guys are really into badges at the moment, I made each child their own shaker style name badge for that personal touch.

And bags of pop corn, of course!

Monday, 4 October 2010

visually beautiful

when i saw this on tea for joy, i saved it. It keeps giving me studio envy! how is it so tidy!! one day i will show you a picture of my studio (it is sadly not visually beautiful!) what is your workspace like? send us a picture and we will have a little show and tell!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

conkering the world

There's nothing as satisfying as a good old family walk. However any one with young children will know that often family walks come with much moaning, need for wee's, falling in cowpats etc and I've mentioned before how we like to give the walk a focus in order to keep the children's minds away from all the thing they could think of to whinge about.

At this time of year there are so many wonderful leaves around that leaf collecting is an obvious task, but today Hubby and Boy started the family off on a quest for conkers. It's a great school boy game and we spent hours hunting for conkers to help Boy in the playground.

We each kept our own secret stash and once we had returned home (and cleared ourselves of mud) we had our 'family conker competition'. There were 3 rounds catering for the different needs of our three children.

1) The largest
2) The prettiest
3) The oddest shaped

Believe it or not each child won a round!

holly anna

I've been hearing a lot about Frome recently. The name keeps popping up as an interesting, arty place and has made it on to my wish list of towns to visit. And today we went. The place is full of crafty/sewing shops (must mention millie moon , a haberdashers to die for!), places selling lovely vintage clothes and more modern and contemporary art as well. It was also the monthly Artisan Market, where delicious local food and crafts were on sale in the cobbled streets of the old town.

It is therefore not at all surprising that this is also the town that my brother-in-law and his fiance have decided to open their shop Holly Anna. And, after (an enviable) few months of scouring auction rooms and car boot sales, today was their opening day.

Having seen the back of their car after some of their early Sunday morning shopping sprees I knew that their shop would be full of things that I would fall in love with and I was not at all disappointed.

They've got a great eye and a distinct style. The shop has been put together in such a way that you want to walk out of the shop with the whole look rather than one individual piece.


I love the way they have used these old milk bottle tags - turn it over and find the price.

And I've been coveting a tailor's dummy for ages. Unfortunately our house really has no space for something this big that, for me, would be purely decorative. For now I'll just have to make do with this photo and dream on!

Suffice to say our Little Girl (who already thought that said fiance is the best thing since the colour pink) was so impressed by it all that she's come home and started to make her own shop!

The next Artisan Market will be a special Christmas one on 5th December and I'm sure it will be an event not to miss. Meanwhile if you are in Frome don't forget to visit Holly Anna.