31 Jul 2015

July Favourites

Monthly favourites time again! July has been very different for me as I have actually had some time away with no internet or phone reception  -  it was not fun for me. Lessons learnt that I am not good with un-voluntary internet withdrawal. It did mean that I had a chance to read a couple of books which appear here so I suppose I can't complain really.

I am so late to the party with this one but if you haven't yet picked up a copy of #GIRLBOSS do it now! If you are a small business owner or not, if you like sassy girls who have done well for themselves,s then this book is for you.

Accessorize new nail polish range, particularly the packaging, Totally in love with these little potion bottles with rose gold lids. Pixi glow tonic is also a new fave, it has improved my skin so much over the last month.

I have owned a Filofax for years, mostly using it as an address book. It wasn't until I discovered the intense planner community online earlier this year that I looked again at my trusty six ring binder. The fact that I can combine my love of paper crafts and keep a better track of all the crazy parts of my life is a winning combination for me. I have a Mint A5 Domino for my diary and daily to do's and an original lilac A5 for projects and notes.

MrKate.com is my new Youtube /blog obsession! I love this trendy/kooky DIY fashionista. Who wouldn't! She and her team make great DIY, interiors and fashion videos. This girl boss also has her own jewellery line and a range of temporary tatts that are to die for. #newgirlcrush

I am in a DIY frenzy over here, getting lots of projects off my desk to make way for some big announcements from Sew Crafty over the next few months, keep your eyes peeled you will hear all the news here first. Hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Don't forget to tell us your favourites in the comments below.

Sammy xxx

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29 Jul 2015

Mythbusting: Photography

It is time again for another Myth busting post, and we thought it was about time that we covered a topic that we get asked a lot about, Photography.

1. Doesn't it take lots of expensive equipment to take a good photograph?

Absolutely not. Some of my favourite images that I have, have been taken with my phone, my old battered SLR and even disposable cameras, sometimes your limitations can be a great motivator. Great photos are not really about what you take them with but more often they are to do with the subject matter. Concentrate on angles, horizon lines and composition. but most importantly the thing or person you are photographing.

2. But don't you need a special space or studio?

Not really, it is nice to be able to have a space set aside for photography, a place near good natural light is best and a flat surface is always helpful, but not essential. The only thing I would recommend is a few pieces of white foamboard. you can use it as a flat surface and to reflect light to where you need it and reduce shadows. Try heading outside if the weather is good, or experiment with texture and patterned backgrounds to create interesting images.

3. You need expensive computer programs like 'Photoshop' though right?

Photo editing of some kind can take an image from good to great but you don't need to be a Photoshop master do get there. There are lots of free programs that you can download. We both like and have used Picassa in the past. but there are loads more out there to try. If you are unsure where to start, try looking for tutorials on YouTube for the editing software of your choice, there is bound to be someone else who has mastered it and is willing to share their tips.

4. But people on Instagram just use their phones and no editing?

It is pretty unlikely that you will see a great image that has not be edited, and many of the images created by bloggers and brands have not even been taken on a phone at-all. Many bloggers/ vloggers and brands use DSLRs to take images for their blogs and websites and will also use those images for their insta accounts too.

5. Cameras are so complicated with so many buttons, I don't know where I would start?

Auto mode is a great place to start, build your confidence with the basics like composition and subject before practising with your cameras settings. Practice makes perfect, try taking your camera around with you more and snapping away at little details whilst playing with your settings, take the same photo over and over with a different setting each time and you will soon come to know which ones produce the results you are looking for. Usually you can see the settings information on the images when you load them into your editing software to see what worked and what didn't.

We hope that has answered a few questions that you may have had, if you have any more or any other myths you would like us to bust, please leave them in the comments below and we will be happy to bust those myths for you. Our next one is Social Media, so if you have any for that too, you know what to do.

Sammy & H

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27 Jul 2015

Quill London Beginners Calligraphy

Last weekend, I popped along to the Quill London Beginners Calligraphy class over in Islington in a side room to The Blacksmith & Toffeemakers pub (which  by the way is very lovely).

I have never done any calligraphy before and so it was a great afternoon to try my hand at something really different.  Our teacher was Imogen Owen for this class and Quill London founder Lucy was there to start us off and let us know where the cake was!  Very Important to keep us going.

Imogen, started us off by showing us each step before we then went off and practiced back at our tables.

The First practice was to learn the up and down lines and practice shape and some lettering.  We were given ruled paper to put under our paper to keep us straight too.

Next up was to practice lettering, we were able to trace over Imogen's practice sheet first and then do our own on other sheets, following the style.

The last task was to practice writing words and joining up those letters.  I found this part difficult as I was working with someone else's handwriting style.  I think a bit more practice with the calligraphy pen in my own style is in order, but that's the great thing about learning a new skill hey, practice makes perfect.


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24 Jul 2015

Make it: Fabric Storage Bin with Zazzle

If you saw our post on Wednesday about designing fabric with the lovely guys at Zazzle you will know haw much we are loving the site, so today I am showing you what I made with the fabric I designed. When I saw that Zazzle.co.uk offered a heavier weight twill fabric in their 'design your own fabric' range I knew exactly what I wanted to make. I had my design printed on the heavier weight fabric so I could have a go at making some cute fabric storage bins.

To make your own fabric storage bins you will need: Medium to heavy weight cotton fabric, felt, cotton to line your bin, thread, scissors and a sewing machine. 
As I always say you can of course sew this project by hand if you don't have a machine. 

Step 1. Cut out a 20cm square of all your fabrics to use as your base, then cut an 80cm by 25cm piece for the strip that will make the sides. Place the felt at the bottom, the lining next then the main fabric on top and sew around the edges leaving a small gap to turn it right side out. 
Step 2. Do this for the base and the side strip, sewing up the gap that you used to turn it through. 
Step 3. With right sides together sew the two short edges together with a large zigzag stitch.
Step 4-5-6. Open out your tube that will be the sides of the bin and position the back seam to the back of the bin, using quilting clips attach the bottom of the bin to the sides. 
Step 7. Stitch all the way around the base removing the clips as you go with that large zigzag stitch as before. 
Step 8. Turn the whole bin right side out and turn down the lip to create a more stable top.

And there you have it, a cute little storage bin for sewing supplies, stationery or well whatever you like really. I am using mine on my sewing table as a handy catch all for my fabric scraps, so much more glam than the plastic bag I was using before! 

Check back to see what H has made with her fabric in the next few weeks. Don't forget to share your photos if you have a go at making some of these with #livelovemake we would love to see your versions and what you use them for! 

Have a lovely crafty weekend
Sammy xxx

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22 Jul 2015

Design your own Fabric with Zazzle

A few weeks ago the lovely people at Zazzle got in touch to tell us about their fabric printing service. Having recently said farewell to the fabric printing service from By Hand London, Sammy was so excited to have a try and see what Zazzle had to offer. They offered us a free sample of the fabric to have a play with so watch out for a tutorial coming on Friday using the fabric Sammy ordered. Sammy has bought t-shirts and merchandise from them in the past so she knew that their quality was great, but we were not sure how simple it would be to design our own fabric with Zazzle or how it would turn out.  

We both started by having some fun in Photoshop and created a .jpg file that we could upload to the site, this is Sammy's above.  H had fun with the background eraser tool on Photoshop so she could use one of the colours from Zazzle - more on that below.

Once on the Zazzle site it was then super easy to upload the image we had designed into their fabric creator.  H used one of the background colours on file, whilst Sammy's was all together on the .jpg file.

Then you get to play around with tiling the pattern, rotating your design and playing with the size of your print.  You can use the tiling options or not, so that's always good for choice.

We love that you can view your design in lots of different sizes, it loads the images with your design on really fast so it is easy to get a real idea of what your fabric will really look like with the handy thumbnails underneath the main picture.

There are seven different types of fabric to choose from, but don't get too excited, some of them are priced at over £60 per metre, which we feel is a little pricey, even for high quality custom printed fabric. The combed cotton is the cheapest option at £26.95 per metre, The pima cotton that H chose was £30.40 per metre and the cotton twill Sammy chose was £37.90 per metre. You can order by the fat quarter though which would keep the cost down for smaller projects. 

When our fabric arrived we were really happy with the quality of the fabric and the quality of the printing on H's fabric was beautiful as the colours were very true to her design. Sammy's fabric on the other hand was sadly not so perfect.

She was a little disappointed because the fabric looked like it had been double printed, it makes the design look a little blurred. She would have been more disappointed if we had paid the £37.90 that it would normally cost. 

When Sammy spoke to the team they said that they would absolutely replace the fabric, if we wanted, as it was gifted to us anyway, She decided that it would be fine for the project that she had planned. Good to know that if there was a problem as a paying customer that they would go the extra mile to sort it out. 

The Zazzle team said:
We have a 100% satisfaction policy at Zazzle, so if a product is unsatisfactory, and the customer provides a photo like you did here, they would be offered a replacement or refund. Customer can call our freephone number 0800-6-929953 10am-6pm Monday to Friday or email us here http://www.zazzle.co.uk/about/contactus.

So overall we would highly recommend Zazzle if you had a special project in mind that you need some bespoke fabric for. We would say that the price makes it a little risky if your not 100% sure you are going to use it for something really worthy of it. 

It was unfortunate that Sammy's fabric wasn't perfect, even big companies make mistakes sometimes but at least they offered to sort it out properly. Everything about the process was easy and fun. Sammy love's designing fabrics and she is looking forward to having a go again soon as she already have a few deisigns and projects in mind.

Have you tried the fabric service from Zazzle? Are you looking to get some fabric printed for a special project? Let us know in the comments below and don't forget to come back to see what Sammy has made with her fabric on Friday.

Sammy & H, xxx

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20 Jul 2015

H's RA Summer Exhibition Adventure

I love a good gallery visit and you may have noticed (if you are a long time reader) that I love going to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition every year.  Last year I was not that impressed as it was starting to feel a bit samey, but this year, thanks in part to an injection of colour from Michael Craig-Martin, they have upped their game!

Also, due to being able to take photos in the gallery spaces, I can share all the joy with you guys.  You have never been able to take photographs before and they are now asking you to share, so that's another plus from me!

If you have never been to the Summer show, it is an exhibition made up from artworks that come from well known artists right thru to people who submit the work they do on their kitchen table.  Every year there is an artist who takes on the overall curator role, keeping all the other artist rooms in check.  This is what makes it so special and so different.  So lets take a look at what I saw.

The gallery spaces at the RA flit between the small to the large and so there is always going to be a different hang in each room.  This year Michael Craig-Martin had painted some of the walls in these vibrant colours, which many would think compete with the artwork on display, but I love!  I think it makes the artwork look great and gives a totally different feel to the gallery spaces.

I love the way some of the artwork is hung, it is never uniform and always interesting, I do wonder how they get away with hanging some pieces quite so high, as I know we couldn't at the place I work.  A good example is the way in which the pictures are hung in the middle picture above.

These are some of my favourite artists, from Fiona Rae on the left who I have loved for a long time and a new love from Frank Bowling to this Rainfall stunner from Ermioni Avramidou which is Acrylic ink on paper.  It really looks like it is wet.  I could sit and look at these for hours.  I find it fascinating to see what people love and hate in galleries, it's all about individual taste after all.

 The architecture room is always one of my favourite's.  One of my favourite things to do when I was at uni is make models and so this may be why.  I loved this colourful model, only annoyed as I didn't manage to get who it was by.  This sculpture by Tim Shaw is huge and considering it is actually made from painted foam, polythene and steel - it looks very like a bronze sculpture close up.  I couldn't do a post about the RA show without showing the stairs!  Truly the best way to enter and leave the building!

I couldn't resist showing a few more of my favourites of the show and all by new artists - to me.  Which is another great reason I love going to the show every year, finding new artists I like.  I love how this piece by Gordon Cheung is hung with all the other smaller ones around it and the mysterious nature of the painting is great too.  This large moon quickly got my attention and Jock McFadyen has done a brilliant job of pulling you into the picture.  Lastly but by no means least was the X room which was dedicated to Tom Phillips, A Humument, this was one of my favourite pages.

Talking of Tom, here is a little more about the piece.  There was a whole book, individually drawn on pages that had been worked and reworked by the artist.  You can find out more about the piece here.

So all in all, I think you could say that I really enjoyed the show.  If you get a chance between now and the 16th August to go, I really would check it out.  But hopefully if you cannot make it, this has given you a good flavour of what it's all about.

Can't wait for next year!

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