Love it: Creature Comforts

It would seem that I have a bit of an addiction to creatures ...

I have made knitted and fabric creatures - which I like to call Critters - for a while now and even have made my friends a few with personality traits and facial features and all!  Friends also, have bought me or made me creatures too and so I think its starting to become a bit of a collection!

So, I thought I would share with you some of my Creature Comforts.

1.  This was a monster making kit that I was given a few years ago by my friend Stef.  You got all the fabric, felt, stuffing and glue in a kit and just had to put it all together.  I think one of his eyes must have fallen off in a move at some point, but I love him because he is a bit odd shaped and a one off!

2.  Some people will probably have these at home too, it is a Munny, this one was given to me by my friend Vic.  You are supposed to draw your creatures features on it, but I quite like it plain as it seems to already have its own expression.

3.  A sock monkey!  There is always room for one of these in your life.  I used to go to a pub in Putney where you could get the kit and sit and make your own sock monkey over a few drinks!  This one reminds me of my first few years in London and the sock monkey family me and my friends made.

4.  This random parrot is from a Mexican Restaurant - well just about restaurant, in New York.  I was there for a culture trip with the other students from my Masters course.  It was a hazy night of burritos in a basket and mojito cocktails with a loooooong drinking game of 'Have you ever'.  The aim of the game is that one person says something like ' have you ever seen Topgun?' and everyone who has, drinks a little sip.  This can get quite funny quite quickly, the more people think of things to try and learn about everyone else.

I do like things and objects and am always attracted to these little items when out and about, but also, I love the little faces and personalities they seem to have.  Just like people collect dolls or my little ponies (like Sammy), I seem to collect odd little creatures and people seem to keep buying them for me.  It probably gives them really easy present ideas, because I am probably most likely to love something a little weird and quirky.

These little Russian dolls, were given to me from my friend Sam (another one) who brought them back from Prague I think.  I used to have them all in one, but then I thought it would be nice to see all the little ones.  They sit on my window sill smiling at me every morning, I am pretty much a morning person, but every little helps as they say!

These little Panda beauties were given to me by my friend Jenean from the V&A show 'China Now' a few years back now.  The Hurt, Happy and Evil Panda's sit on my shelf on top of their little boxes, which I cannot bear to part with, they also make very handy display stands.

Inanimate objects which give so much pleasure, maybe I am a little sad, who knows, but everyone has some sort of ornaments around the house, perfect for catching the dust as my mum would say! Mine just happens to be little creatures of all shapes and sizes!  Does anyone have any creature comforts in their house?  Please do comment below to tell all.

reporting from the creature house,

Love it: Oscars Red Carpet 2013

Aside from Jennifer tripping over on the way to collect her Best Actress Award and Adele being all kinds of Amazeballs, the Red Carpet was what I was watching for on Sunday night, as usual it did not disappoint! We were treated to tulle ruffles, nude tones, glitz and sparkle a plenty. Here are a few of my hits, and a couple of misses.

Back Jewellery! I said it would be big this year, both Winning Actress and Supporting Actress, Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway were sporting this trend.

Jennifer Lawrence in Dior Couture at the 2013 Academy Awards.
Jennifer Is my pick for best dressed in nude tones. I adore this Dior! It looked amazing even when she tripped up the stairs on the way to pick up her award, she looked like Cinderella loosing her shoe on the Palace steps. She couldn't have picked a better dress to trip over in, she still looks beautiful.

 The other ladies loving nude tones on the night were Anna Seyfried in McQueen, 
Anne Hathaway in Prada (nice from the front, a bit messy round the back)

Amy Adams in Oscar de la Renta and Kristen Stewart in Reem Acra
Normally not a huge fan of Kirst at award shows but I love this on her!

Not a lot of black this year but the Gorgeous Adele looked stunning in this Jenny Packham gown.

Of the ladies that went for a splash of colour my Favourites were Reese Witherspoon in this cobalt Louis Vitton fish tail gown,

Kerry Washington in Miu Miu, you know how I feel about coral at the moment and Jennifer Aniston in Valentino, Nice to see Jen in a bold colour for a change.

 My Favourite dress of the whole night was this Gucci Masterpiece that Jennifer Garner wore to accompany her award winning Hubby Ben Affleck. The colour, the ruffles, the jewels, the soft up do, everything... to die for!

I don't normally show you the outfits I didn't like but there were some not so delightful choices this year that couldn't go by without a mention.
Jennifer Hudson, whose dress by Roberto Cavali is OK, I don't know why she opted to have her hair down? surely she spent all evening un-tangling it from all those sequins? 
Melissa McCarthy in David Meister looks like she is wearing Christian Grey's bed sheet, I know she is a big girl, but this is not a winner.
Halle Berry has worn some of my favourite awards gowns of all time but I am not loving this Versace one, its a bit to 80's meets Egypt for me. 

As for Louise Roe in Monique Lhullier.... there are no words.

Hope you enjoyed the awards show if you watched it, I am off to watch Adele sing again whist making myself some back jewellery!

Sammy xxx

Make it: Gold and Neon Pink

We did a big spring clean at home this weekend, and  I found some bits I had forgotten about to do some DIY's, I am looking forward to having a go at a few of them over the next few weeks. I will share the results here when I'm done. In the meantime here are some great DIY ideas to bring a little sparkle and neon in to your life this week. I am Loving Gold and Neon pink together at the moment!

5. Paint the inside of gift boxes with a splash of neon

Can't wait to talk all things Oscars tomorrow!
Sammy xxx

Link for the week: Lichtenstein Exhibition at the Tate Modern

Roy Lichtenstein, 'Whaam!' 1963
Photo courtesy of
I thought with this weeks link I would share with you an exhibition which I think is a must see!

The Tate Modern has a retrospective of Roy Lichtenstein's work from now until the 27th May and it will be well worth a look.

I saw some of his work a few years ago now while at the Guggenheim Bilbao and the scale of some of his work and the colour is amazing!  For all those not sure about art, it may well be just what you are looking for to get your thinking about art in a different way as its imagery is so powerful, there will always be something for you to connect to.

As the Tate website says "Lichtenstein is renowned for his works based on comic strips and advertising imagery, coloured with his signature hand-painted Benday dots. The exhibition showcases such key paintings as Look Mickey 1961 lent from the National Gallery Art, Washington and his monumental Artist’s Studio series of 1973–4. Other noteworthy highlights include Whaam! 1963 – a signature work in Tate’s collection – and Drowning Girl 1963 on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, New York."

I definately advocate that there is an art form for everyone and that people take for granted what art is and think it is not for them or there are unfortunately others who think that art should be for a specific set of people!  Those people are wrong by the way.

Anyway, I was looking at the 'What Katie Does' blog, as I have been reading on and off and saw that the lovely Katie had managed to get into a press night for the Lichtenstein exhibition (exciting!) and so was able to take photos - this never happens in real life!  So I thought it only fair to share with you the blog and the post about it so that you can see what is on display and, like me, begin to really really want to go and see it for yourself!

Its on my list of things to do this week for when I am pottering about on my days off, well needed after last week's half term!


My Top Ten Oscar Winning Movies

It's only two days away, this Sunday is the 85th Academy awards which will take place in Los Angeles. As I'm sure you know by now... I Love the Movies and any event that involves a red carpet! Here in the UK we do pageantry very well, we are the Kings and Queens of historical pomp and circumstance, but if anyone knows how to throw a red carpet awards shindig it's the good folk of California!

So, we on Tuesday we covered the fashion and today we are talking Movies! I am by no means a movie buff, I am a film fan, I love watching movies {Steve and I have a ridiculous dvd/blu-ray collection, and spend obscene amounts of money on i-tunes} Action and 80's Horror are my genres of choice.  Today I am listing my top ten 'Oscar Winning' movies for you.  They may not have all a won 'Best Picture' statue but they are my winners for sure. 

Nominated in 2009 for 13 Oscars including Best picture and Brad Pitt for Best actor in a leading role. Won 3 for Best art direction, Best make-up, Best visual effects. Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett in the story of a man who ages backwards, whats not to LOVE.

Nominated for 3 Oscars including Best visual effect in 2011. Won 2 for Best art direction and Costume design. This one is a little sentimental, I loved the Disney version so much when I was little, I had not one but two Alice themed Birthday parties, and my mum made me an Alice costume that I wore until the seams burst. This Tim Burton - Johnny Depp adventure did not disappoint. We went to the cinema to see it for my 29th birthday, and my Girls bought me a giant tea cup filled with Alice themed goodies.

Was nominated and won in 1995 for Costume design. Guilty pleasure revealed, Who doesn't love a bunch of Drag queens on a road trip in Australia on a giant sliver bus?? not a surprise it won for costume design, anyone for a dress made of flip flops.... anyone?

Nominated for 3 Oscars in 2006 for Sound mixing and Visual effects. Won for Best Make up. Another story from my childhood amazingly brought to life on screen. the visual effects are stunning and the Kids who play the Pevensie Children are just gorgeous. Aslan exactly as you picture he should be and voiced by the master Liam Neason

Nominated for 3 Oscars in 1995 including Best Art Direction and best sound.
Won for Best Cinematography
If you have one of those days where you just need to have a good cry, watch this film. Seriously I can't even watch the first ten minutes without a box of tissues near by, because I know whats gonna happen! Starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Henry Thomas and Aidan Quinn, some seriously great acting to be seen as well.

Nominated in 1987 for 4 Oscars including best editing and best sound editing.
Won for best original Music for the song 'take my breath away' 
An epic 80's cheese fest, including 'that' Volleyball scene! Amazing how a seemingly innocent film about a Naval flight school is hailed as a Gay cult movie, what is so Gay about four hunky young men playing volleyball I ask you (giggle)

Nominated for 3 Oscars in 2008 including Film editing, sound editing and sound mixing. Won all three catagories.  Frankly any excuse to drool over Matt Damon is good in my book, especially when he is being all 'Hard Ass James Bond esq' as Jason Bourne (Yum) on a serious note I have watched all three of the Bourne Movies over and over and am still not fed up of them.

Nominated in 2001 for 12 Oscars including Joaquin Phoenix for best supporting role and Ridley Scott for best director. Won 5 Including Russell Crowe for Best Actor and Best Picture. Aside from being Russell Crowe's best role ever, a gorgeously epic movie, again probably watched it over 20 times, I even have Max marked down for 'Boy names' for future little ones. Oh and lots of gruesome killing scenes (got to love a bit of movie blood)

Nominated for 6 Oscars in 1940 including Best art direction and Best Picture.
Won 2 for best Original score and best original song for 'Over the Rainbow'
In at number two, also Number two on my best movies of all time, the Queen of old school Hollywood, Judy Garland and the best Musical song ever. Still can't believe that this film was made in 1939! I have loved it from childhood. It will be a film I show my children and say 'this is what the Movies is all about'

Nominated for 8 Ocsars in 2011 including Best Original Score and Best Original Screenplay. Won 4 including Best Visual Effects and Best Cinematography. This is the film that knocked the 'Wizard' off my number one spot, in My All Time Top Ten in 2010. I saw Inception twice in the cinema and have watched it over and over on blu-ray. The concept, the acting, the music, for me everything in this film for me is perfection!

That is my top ten, hop over to Wikipedia for the list of all the Oscar winning films from the last 84 years and go to check out this years nominees at the Oscars website.

Will you be staying up late like I will be to see who wins what? I cant wait!
Sammy xxx

Guest Review: Design Your Career Conference

Our friend Becky from The Craft Closet went down to the Design your Career Conference in Bournemouth recently and so we asked her to do us a little post so that she could share with you what she learnt!  Enjoy.

I recently attended Design Your Career, a two day event in Bournemouth offering a one stop shop on how to establish and run your own creative enterprise. I have returned with a goody bag full of business cards, a notebook full of scribbles and a wealth of information and inspiration!

The organisers; Craft Coffee and Cupcakes put together a weekend of speakers, networking opportunities and workshops which covered topics including branding, social media, networking, blogging, accounts and promotion.

For a full list of speakers from the event have a look at the website, but here’s some of my favourites and some of their top tips …….

Laura Mulhern from South West Artwork shared a great insight into social media. She described Facebook as your business “magazine”, great for visuals and should be regularly updated like a physical shop window, and Twitter she referred to as a “party in the kitchen”, perfect for networking but remember the rules of social etiquette! Be a sharer, not a show off!

Laura also talked about the importance of daily engagement, keeping all forms of social media current and up to date. Engage with people who aren’t necessarily in your direct circle but might have similar interests through the hash tag and daily trends.

Brand was another popular topic over the weekend, with an interesting talk by Mark Master from The ID Group. He focused on the importance of building a relationship with your customers as people will buy from businesses they; Know, Trust and Like.

If, as a business we have a personality and opinion it makes it easier for people to distinguish who we are and what our business is about. This clear brand image will reinforce the idea of knowing, trusting and liking a business.

His other recommendation was to “over deliver”. Go the extra mile to build a dialog with your customers, focus on what you can do for them, provide a service they will want to use again and again and will recommend to others.

Available throughout the first day, were a number of one-to-one workshops where experts offered advice on a range of business topics. Unsurprisingly, the most popular experts were online retailers Not On The High Street, who were offering feedback on products or ideas. From the people I have spoken to who attended the event, NOTHS were making some very constructive suggestions for how a product could be made more commercial, or more attractive to their specific customers. This focused feedback I felt was great, really useful. As a curated online retailer the products they support must represent a certain standard of quality. Other popular online shops such as Etsy & Folksy offer creative business’s a fantastic opportunity to sell online and build a name for themselves but you are surrounded by such a wide range of products, that making yourself stand out in these circumstances can sometimes be difficult.

Joanne Dewberry talked more about selling your gifts online and at craft fairs with lots of honest and practical advice based on her business experience with Charlie Moo’s. With a real evident passion for sharing her knowledge about running a small business, (whilst also raising a family!) her talk was really inspirational and encouraging. Key points she raised, which every one noted down included:

Research where you will be selling, this might be online, in a shop or craft fair and see what the key words are used to describe products.

Look and see if your market is already saturated and what the pricing range is.

Good photography is vital! Look and see how other people have styled their products. People won’t buy a product unless they can see it.

More marketing knowledge came from Patricia Van Den Akker, Director of the Design Trust, and a speaker I was really excited to hear from! Patricia is a business advisor, trainer, coach and mentor for creative entrepreneurs, so she had lots of advice for us. Focusing on marketing our business, we each brainstormed a Marketing Plan during her talk, discussing our niche, specialism, values and strengths.

I made lots of notes during her talk and I would highly recommend heading over to the Design Trust website for a wealth of information for small businesses, it’s a fantastic resource.

One point she made that highlighted previous statements that people will buy from people they know, trust and like, was that “what we do is not unique, but why and how we do it is.”

Lastly, a highlight of the weekend event for me was the talk by Wayne Hemmingway; who’s core philosophy is to “improve things that matter in life”.

He talked about his market days selling handmade and vintage clothing at Camden with his then girlfriend Geraldine after spending the rent money on band rehearsals. Building their fashion business ‘Red or Dead’ whilst remaining true to their values, eventually taking their stock out of Harrods and moving to the High Street in Top Shop and Selfridges. Even now they have stuck to their ethos of selling affordable designer products with a range of tile design available at Tops Tiles for example.

Although he wasn’t talking about how to start up in business, he was very inspirational explaining how his own business had emerged when his upbringing, curiosity and core values met with opportunity.

Throughout the weekend, we heard a variety of people talking about the many things we can do to improve our business from social media to branding, marketing and networking. But each speaker, whatever their topic, mentioned one word on several occasions, essentially it all come down to opportunity - Have an open mind, to see opportunities where you might not have expected them. Work on building relationships with customers and peers so that more opportunities might arise.

As Wayne Hemmingway said, “Do not fear failure, embrace it”.

Becky x
The Craft Closet
* The organisers, Craft Coffee Cupcake plan to make Design your Career a regular event, so be sure to follow them on Twitter & Facebook 

* Joanne Dewberry also has a new book out: Crafting a successful small business.
It has gone straight on my Amazon Wish List! 

We think Becky must have had loads of fun and wish her and Nic all the best with getting through all those notes and getting more and more of their work out there.  They have already been seen in crafty magazines and so you should definately check out The Craft Closet for some presents!

Right, I am off to make some notes of my own!


Who's who: Hatastic!

This month's who's who is all about a fantastic milliner, Chloe Haywood who is a Designer and founder of Hatastic.  Chloe designs and make hats, headpieces and hair accessories from her workshop at the end of her garden in Surrey - Just near H.  She also facilitate's workshops for hens, parties, team building events, museums and children, which is how H knows her - so we thought we should have a chat!

How did you start?

It all began with my want of a finishing an outfit for a wedding where I was wearing ivory. I wasn't the bride and couldn't find anything in the shops that wasn't bridal and that fitted my ridiculously small head. So I made a small headpiece from bits and pieces I had at home. I had some lovely feedback from people at the wedding so I decided to challenge myself into making a different one for each of the five weddings I had that year. I was then commissioned to make a bride and her bridesmaid’s individual pieces... Then I discovered Folksy and set up shop! That was in 2009 and it was still a hobby then...
But in 2010 it all started getting exciting, so I decided that Hatastic! was my business!

What's Next?

2012 was crazy busy with shows at Milan and London Fashion Week, oh and Birmingham and Alternative Fashion Week, London and intense (but beautiful) photo shoots, a new website and lots of workshops, I was quite pooped by Christmas! So 2013 is going to be a little more calm. I have a few things in the pipeline, but I'd like to take time concentrate on another collection, whilst carrying on my workshops and look forward to my 2013 collection hitting Fenwick, Bond Street in May 2013. Exciting!

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to the beginning?

Hatastic! started as a gut instinct, and that is what has driven me throughout this process so I wouldn't like to say that's a bad thing. But, it's always a good idea to not jump at the first hurdle if you're not sure. Take a step back and breathe a little and then see how it lies. It's surprising how some things seemed like a brilliant idea at first, and then turn out to be a bit of a turkey!

We think that Chloe's advice sounds very sensible to us, sometimes you can get so caught up in the idea that even when it starts going wrong you don't notice.  But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try.  Who wants to look back and realise they were the one who never gave things a go!

Live it.  Love it.  Make it
H & Sammy

Make it: Red Carpet Worthy Dress Patterns

At Sew Crafty, we have five books of dress patterns for our customers to choose from. We stock Simplicity, Newlook and McCalls and can order Butterick and Vogue. As it is Awards Season and the 85th Academy Awards are this Sunday, I thought I would pick out my choice of the best 'Red Carpet' worthy patterns from our catalogues.

I am biased about the Newlook Pattern above as I used it to make my Wedding dress. 
We saw lots of trains and fishtails at the Golden Globes so I'm sure we will see more at the Oscars.

The panelling detail in the bodice of this Simplicity pattern is totally red carpet worthy, very similar to the Zac Posen that Kelly Osbourne wore to last years Emmy Awards

Kelly Osbourne in Zac Posen at the 2012 Emmy's

Vogue Patterns were made for red carpet occasions, a wealth of choice is on offer but this fishtail, bow adorned gown is my winner. Again very close to the styles in the Zac Posen 2013 summer collection.

 Crystal Renn & Erin O’Conner in Zac Posen at The 2012 Metropolitan Opera Season Opening Night “L’Elisir D’Amore”

Butterick is my favourite pattern book for dresses, day and occasion. This 1952 Retro pattern is a gorgeous example. I love the version with the wrap piece attached. A bit of extra embellishment and it could be as stunning as this Dior gown worn by Andrea Riseborogh.

 Andrea Riseborogh in Dior

This frothy tulle number looks a little tacky on the pattern example sleeve, but as you can see, fabric choice and embellishment can make all the difference. A very similar style seen here a couple of years ago from Marchesa at the Oscars worn by young actress Hailee Steinfeld.

It just goes to show that fabric choice and embellishment goes a long way towards a red carpet look. Most of these patterns are, I would say, for intermediate sewers.  But maybe if you have an event to go to that requires a gown, have a think about having one made to measure? 

I am looking forward to seeing who is wearing what on Sunday night, and who walks away with an award of course.

Sammy xxx

Link for the week: Half term fun

Photo Courtesy of The Lightbox

It's half term for me down at the museum and so it all gets a bit crazy with activities, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  I love seeing what the kids imaginations get up to and I have alot of fun myself!

We have lots happening, but with many things fully booked it's going to keep me pretty busy!

Check out what we are up to down at The Lightbox and other Surrey attractions of course on the Visit Surrey Website.

I thought though a bit more of a general how to deal with half term for those of you with kids would be good.  So this weeks link should help some of you out and keep it low cost, which is always nice!

Also, for those of you who get half term off but don't have kids then check out Time Out or View London if you fancy going to the big smoke! Or I would thoroughly recommend your local papers/websites as they will also have loads of ideas. 

Perhaps going to the cinema or theatre might be fun or even a big long walk in the park!  Or check out some of our tutorials in the archives on the blog and see what you can make!  Comment below if you make or do anything fun and if you have any recommendations for me for the week after as I am having a few well deserved days off!

Live it

We Won! Dorset Cereals Little Blog Awards

More exciting news down at 'Live it. Love it. Make it' HQ, we won January's Little blog awards from Dorset Cereals! They have a monthly draw of votes for each of the blogs on their website and we managed to win January's, which gets us off to a great start to 2013!  We put ourselves down as a bit of fun really, just to see whether we could win the coveted egg cup and egg cosy!  I mean who wouldn't, look at it!

Not only that, but we won a case-full of Dorset Cereal goodies!  I think we will try a few of the recipes out on their website to make with this little lot, along with just eating it of course!  Looking forward to trying out the new bars too!

You may have already seen the widget in the sidebar to the right, which showcases our lovely award along with the little certificate you can see in the photo.

So for all those who voted for us, a big Thank You goes to you and a big thank you goes to Dorset Cereals for having the awards and also for our bumper crop of goodies!

You can nominate a blog or your own blog at any time and have people vote for you, the blogs all stay on the page and so each month you can have more and more votes and more and more cereal I am sure if you keep winning!  Maybe a big collection of egg cups too!

A big Live it. Love it. Make it Thank you!

H & Sammy, xxx