Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Sew Simple Quilts and Patchworks

17 Designs using Kaffe Fassett’s Artisan Fabrics. By Kaffe Fassett

Published by Taunton RRP in UK £17.99

Last weekend was the Festival of Quilts at the NEC Birmingham. It is a fantastic event with lots of exciting and stimulating work on show as well as masterclasses and lots to see and do. With this in mind I have reviewed a new patchwork and quilting book by Kaffe Fassett.

Unlike most ‘Sew Simple’ books Kaffe Fassett manages to create easy to make projects and yet at the same time make them look sophisticated and very appealing. I have long been an admirer of Kaffe’s since he first came to the UK as a young painter who morphed into a knitwear designer. He took on tapestries and then mosaic before turning his hand to quilts and fabric design.

The secret of his success has to be his wonderful use of colour and the way he uses different patterns together. He had an exhibition of his work at London’s Fashion and Textile museum and my lasting memory of it, was being enveloped in a riot of colour and pattern.

Throughout this book he uses his artisan collection that is inspired by different types of fabrics from different cultures from around the world. He uses both Ikats and batiks and uses them with quilting cottons perfect for the projects in this book.

The project each come with clear instructions and their own assembling diagrams. The projects include throws, quilts, cushions and simple stylish garments and fun projects for children, a tent and a pillow bed.

A lovely practical book. Distributed in the UK by GMC Publications.

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Bohemian Style at Home by Kate Young

published by Thames and Hudson at £14.95

Bohemian style is characterized by free-flowing fabrics, bright colours, and a multitude of clashing patterns, textures and materials. Heavily inspired by the1960’s and 1970’s free spirited way of life, it is one of the most versatile styles of decoration.

The book opens with the author’s definition of bohemian style.

         ‘It is all about telling your story, and being as creative as you like. Every bohemian home is as unique as the person who creates it and the only things they all have in common are a lack of formality, an incredible sense of wellbeing and a big dose of unrestrained recklessness.’

         The book explains the different takes on bohemian design- whether you are a minimalist Scandinavian, glam, rustic, mid-century maximalist or colour lover- and how you can adapt the style to suit your tastes, needs and budget.

The room by room guide gives a key to mastering bohemian style- something that is often perceived as hard to get right simply because it lacks hard and fast design rules.

The book is dotted with wonderful images that will inspire the reader to create their own bohemian home.

Kate Young is a freelance interior stylist, blogger, social media influencer and writer. Her enormously successful Scandi-Boho blog, Kate Young Design, was nominated for Cosmopolitan Blog of the Year in 2015, and her  home has been featured in various publications, including EKBB Mag, and Abigail Ahern’s Interior Crush.

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KIT KEMP design threads

This, Kit Kemp’s third book, and it is about weaving together spaces that are dynamic and diverse in their own right, but with a thread of creative connection running through each and every one, so as to create a house or hotel that resonates as a harmonious whole. The book explores the outside spaces that have become rooms in themselves – places to sit and breathe and just be. In contrast, the fun of designing an hotel’s event spaces is in creating rooms that entice, inspire and transport you to somewhere else altogether. The townhouse and pied à terre featured here are proof that you don’t need to have huge rooms to create interesting spaces –it’s about playing with light and interesting textures, mixed in with all your favourite things, that make it feel so personal and perfect.

As she says in her introduction

‘I like my interiors to capture the imagination in some shape or form. When you leave a room, something should stay with you, making you want to return, if only to recapture that magical spell all over again.

My interiors might have a handwritten and distinctive style, but it is an adventure to create a new room.

There is always a new fabric or craft to discover, a new vista to be revealed, a little treasure to unearth.

Most of all, I want a room to last – if it is lovingly created and beautifully detailed, it will forever be a joy. Happy moments and treasured memories are integral to our comfort and surroundings.

To be curious is important. To want to pick up a plate and turn it over to see where it’s from or touch an interesting fabric on a curtain or footstool, to feel the raise of its weave and the softness of its yarn, is all part of immersing yourself in an object’s story.

I love to watch the people in our hotels stop in their tracks to look at something that’s caught their eye. I’m always looking for pieces that tell a unique story –maybe of a person or a time in history, of a particular handcrafted technique, or even just something with a combination of colour or pattern, or a found object re-purposed in an unusual way, that takes you unawares.

These are the ‘design threads’ I like to weave throughout all the interiors I design, whether it’s a living room at home or a bedroom in a hotel, a pied à terre or writer’s escape in a shepherd’s hut at the bottom of the garden.

A beach bar inspired the Caribbean vibe of the showroom I was asked to design for Turnell & Gigon in the Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour. The folkloric motifs that pepper so much of

what I do, from fabrics with Chelsea Textiles to room murals created in collaboration with artist Melissa White, have now come full circle in a new collection of fabrics and wallpapers with Andrew Martin, a second dinner service with Wedgwood and even the interiors of my own colourful little shepherd’s hut. Nature has always provided huge inspiration for the way I team colour palette and pattern, so it’s always a joy to ‘bring the outside in’ to many of the rooms I design.’

Kit quotes Virginia Woolf’s book, A Room of One’s Own, As well as giving us one of the greatest feminist debates about women and fiction, equality and women’s rights, it also left us with the valuable notion that, if you do not have a comfortable room and feel at ease with your surroundings, it is much more difficult to be creative.

Creating comfortable, functional and well-designed interiors is not rocket science, but it is very often misunderstood and underrated. Having a pleasant and happy room of one’s own is important for our wellbeing. To be able to turn the key in the lock and find oneself surrounded by much-loved objects and the colours that make us feel cheerful must surely be one of life’s greatest luxuries. To illustrate the point, Kit’s first chapter

explores an elegant townhouse in London. It is colourful and

finely detailed to make the most of every space. There is a winding path to the front door painted in ‘Invisible Green’, where tumbling plants and climbers soften the entrance. The sash windows are painted a softer green against the white of the walls. The French windows in the drawing room lead out to a small round table, perfect for drinks on a sunny evening.

Inside the front door, in contrast to the green outside, is a bright yellow walling fabric by Pierre Frey, disguising the cupboards for storage and coats

For the second chapter of the book called Making an Entrance Kit chooses to show case her design for The Whitby Hotel in Manhattan. Apart from negotiating the engineering and architectural plans, her major concern was to create a space that would pique the curiosity, delight all the senses in an adventurous and colourful way, and make visiting or staying a worthwhile experience.

The book shows her designs for both Wedgewood and Andrew Martin. A Manhattan Penthouse, a pied à terre , gardens, a Beach Bar and creating a collection are all featured. And a final chapter called Sleeping Around. Another plus for me is the book is dotted with recipes in the same way that Nora Ephron’s ‘Heart Burn’ novel was. This book will take pride of place on your coffee table and is a total inspiration if you are doing up a house or even just a room.

By Kit Kemp with Fiona McCarthy

Photography by Simon Brown

Published by Hardie Grant

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Want to Master the Art of Punch Needle And make accessories for you and your home?

Look no further than the book Punch Needle

by Arounna Khounnoraj

Published by Hardie Grant £14.99

Photographs by Catherine Frawley

Punch needle is the very modern take on rag rugging, it uses  a tool to punch yarn or strips of fabric into a stretched base fabric to create a series of stitches. In the same way that you embroider or cross stitch over a printed or drawn design, so you can create your own needle punched pieces of work.

         Having just been to the Autumn Winter 2019  home ware collections, this craft is so on trend and this book  will enable you to make some of those fabulous textural, soft products yourself.

         The author, Arounna Khounnoraj is a great pair of hands to help us master the art of needle punching. She has a masters degree in fine art and in 2002 set up, with her husband John Booth,  her multi-disciplinary  studio Bookhou in Toronto.

         Together they explore a variety of printing and embroidery techniques through making utilitarian objects such as bags, home goods  and textiles.

         Inspired by the seemingly never-ending ways you can combine different stitches to create contemporary homeware, Arounna has been instrumental in the current modern punch needle renaissance.

         The book opens with an overview of the fundamentals as Arounna teaches in her studio workshops. As a result the ‘how to’ sections are as simple and clear as possible. Most projects only have two components – the punching and the making. Each project has a design drawing, and step by step instructions, for both the punching or hooking element of the work, as well as the means to turn the punched pieces into a wide variety of different items. There are charts featured throughout to help recreate the designs given in the book.

There is also a web site at bookhou.com/pages/patterns so that you can download patterns if you are nervous about drawing them freehand. The tools and materials sections are small, as so little is required of this craft. You are shown how to stretch a frame and how to transfer and image. You are guided on how to create the stitches and how to fid inspiration and design your own patterns. The finished projects are lovely and once you pick up this book, you will want to be making.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Print Play

Screen printing inspiration for your life and home

Jessie Wright & Lara Davies

Published by Hardie Grant

Published by Hardie Grant

Print Play is the perfect description of this book. It is about printing and and at the same time playful and fresh.

The authors Jess Wright and Lara Davies are “Home-Work” – two textile designers and screen printers from Melbourne, Australia. The creative duo have worked together for the past 7 years teaching screen printing and design, as well as bringing their own colourful textile designs to life! Jess and Lara’s obsession with colour and pattern is tangible and is evident in everything they create! Enthusiastically converting ideas from their imagination to reality (usually with music playing in the background), the pair produce screen printed textile prints that are thoughtful and fun.

Adding a little objet d’art to the simplest everyday items, these textiles become functional and are turned into tote bags, make up bags, cushions and even wallpaper. The book opens with a really great contents page, a real appetite wetter, with small images of some of the projects you can make.

The instructions for printing are very clear and easy to follow. There is a section on different kinds of inks, things to consider when choosing colours, and both the authors describe their own preferences when it comes to colour and design and they also show their own design processes.

You are told about creating an inspiration board and then you start on the projects that on the whole are easy and incredibly effective.

This is hand holding at its best. A really great book especially if you are new or inexperienced when it comes to printing.

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Bowerbird

Creating beautiful interiors with the things you collect

By Sibella Court

This book was published a couple of years ago and it is one of those I love to go back to time and again as a visual source book.

In BOWERBIRD, Sibella reveals her approach to collecting and collections. She shows how to procure the elements of a collection, how to organize and store them, and how to display them in creative and ever-changing ways. With the help of BOWERBIRD, you will view your belongings in a whole new way.

What is a bowerbird?

‘A bowerbird is an Australian native bird that builds a reed-y ground nest and goes to extraordinary lengths to decorate it with ‘stolen’ goods and found objects such as shells, bones, pegs and shiny milk caps. I have been referred to as a bowerbird, and like to think of myself as a finder, keeper & curator of collections & beautiful things.’ Sibella Court

Bowerbird is an exquisite inspirational book of beautifully styled selected and collated collections. As the author says

‘Think of each chapter as its own Cabinet of Curiosities. Although my ‘collections’ are loosely tied and not dictated by discipline as a museum cabinet may be, I like to consider all objects as significant and of equal importance regardless of rarity, value or acquirement. They are based on memory, relationship, experience, ‘the find’, the hunt and location.’

Sibella shows you how easy it is to create an emotive interior, to be surrounded by the things you love & treasure, and make any environment a reflection of you. By looking at the collections in the book she is hoping it will inspire you to start your own collections.

Collecting & fossicking

‘As a bowerbird, I do get fixated on things and enjoy the focus it brings to shopping expeditions and forages through markets. I have never tired of this, and have a love of early morning jambon baguettes & cafe au lait whilst scouring & scrambling the trestle tables and back of vans at Porte de Vanves or other such markets, finding treasures & pre-loved goods: textiles, porcelain, lampshades, ephemera, tableware, stylist-wares, cutlery, small furniture pieces and other flotsam & jetsam’.

Objects can be found in many places from beaches and forests to shops, markets, dealers, auctions, sidewalks the internet and friends.Be prepared to be on the lookout. Different things can motivate you with collecting; it may be the space you are in, it may be a certain period of history or new ideas, or a visit to a museum, historic house or gallery.

The book opens with a chapter called Toolbag & Tacklebox

These items are the basic tools & tackle you’ll need to help you organize & display your collections. They are collections within themselves.

They are utilitarian, beautiful in their simplicity and can add to your display – and include the hand-forged exposed nail your art hangs from, vessels en masse to house your natural history finds, lead pencils sharpened with knives to write on your labels and walls, glass domes to create your mini 3D worlds, the perfect string to holdup flags, kites, lights & anything else that needs to hang, as well as all different types & colours of tape.

The other chapters in the book are divided into the following categories, beach combing, objects trouve, zoologie/entomology, tinctures, apothecary &alchemy, smiths & tinkers draper & mills, ephemera, honest & humble, oddities & curiosities, magic, tricks & lucky dips and finally where she sources her collections and the books she looks to for inspiration.

The images are beautifully shot by Sibella’s brother Chris Court.

Published in the UK by Hardie Grant

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Craftfulness

Mend yourself by making things

By Rosemary Davidson and Arzu Tahsin

Published by Quercus books

As somebody who is a craft author and maker of many years, when I saw the title and strap line of this book it resonated with me. 

In the introduction the authors, both makers, describe how they realized that craft is their therapy.

‘ Working with my hands to make a thing-whether it’s a sketchbook or a piece of weaving or drawing –fulfils some essential function of me. It feels predestined, it’s a part of my DNA. I can’t imagine not having a project on the go. There would be a hole in my life, a sense that there is something I should be doing. When I’m making I am focused, resolved, connected to the work I am shaping. Afterwards I feel refreshed, invigorated even, and always more energetic for what is going on around me. I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as I’m making, I can do all the other things being alive requires of me. I equate my daily craft practice with, if anything, meditation.” Azru Tahsin, editor, crafter and one of the authors of this book.

         The co-author Rosemary Davidson describes being surround with materials from which to make as a small child. Her grandmother was a seamstress and so Rosemary had access to beads feather and threads from a very early age.

“When I’m making I have room to think. And to do my daydreaming.” she says.

         Neither woman wishes to set up a business crafting things so they wondered why do they craft. This book comes up with some very plausible of the answers.

         ‘ We make things because we enjoy it and because our crafts make us feel better. It is when we return to our sewing, knitting, bookbinding or weaving that we achieve moments of calm. When our energy is low, making something energizes us. Making reaches into the place where ideas are sparked and where problems are resolved.’

          The authors admit that they are not craft experts, or feel particularly ‘artistic’ in the conventional sense of the word. They both work as freelance editors, but it is by being menders, dabblers and gung-ho experimenters that they are convinced there are health benefits to be had by practicing as often as possible a craft that inspires and challenges.

‘Through making and mending things, we contend that you are also potentially making and mending yourself’.

 The book is divided into three sections. The first, and for me the most fascinating part, explores what is meant by creativity and the importance of craft in our lives. The authors explore the latest research on how working with your hands and making things can have a huge impact on your mental well-being and happiness.

         The second section of the book deals with how to deal with negativity, how to stretch your imagination and flex your fingers.   The final part of the book has a projects section that gives techniques for a number of crafts including weaving on a frame, knitting, drawing making a simple clay pot and darning and mending. There is lots of helpful advise including inspirational web sites and a recommended reading list.