A truly beautiful Minxy mix of charm, inspiration, practical advice, and pretty projects to simplify and beautify your life and home. - Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity
A few of you asked if I’ll be doing any Christmas craft this year, and I’ve certainly been working on decorations for magazines, even if my own home is looking decidedly un-festive so far.
Here’s a few projects I made for Australian Women’s Weekly’s December issue. Grab a copy from any newsagent for the instructions or create your own riff on these simple ideas: French linen and Liberty print fabric (torn into ribbon strips) from Calico & Ivy, old printer’s letters from Lawson’s Auctioneers, hessian sack from Reverse Garbage and pompom wool from Rozelle Markets.
My tips? Have fun, and keep it low-fi.
The campaign I’ve been working on with Vinnies finally launched across the nation yesterday, so now I can share some images from our fabulous fashion shoot back in August, styled head-to-toe with clothing & accessories from Vinnies stores.
This was such an incredibly fun project for me to be involved in. I’ll continue to be a Brand Ambassador for Vinnies – we’re making a series of web videos early next year with tips on how to update, alter and completely overhaul Vinnies clothes. Read below for more on the shoot & stay tuned for lots more news in 2013.
Vinnies was the first place I really started shopping and experimenting with fashion as a teenager, and it’s continued to provide so many of my wardrobe staples since then. So you can imagine how excited I was when they asked me to style the retail campaign (beyond). What wasn’t there to love? I was given carte blanche to all Sydney stores and told I could borrow anything I liked for the photo shoot. And I had the pleasure of working with the Vinnies marketing team to craft the campaign; a seriously inspiring bunch of people.
We worked out why people need Vinnies clothes – for work, casual and special occasions, and events such as music festivals – and sourced real people rather than models to show how they’re really worn. None of the images from the photoshoot have been retouched – they’re all as they were shot on the day. I love that we didn’t use models or retouching; these were real people with connections to the charity in one way or another, and it just felt right.
Photo shoots are always stressful because there’s so much riding on getting it right, but ours was a blast. I was creative director as well as a model, and loved every minute of it. We just had fun with the clothes and poses, and everything else fell into place. There were at least fifteen people involved – can you imagine re-scheduling that amount of people if we didn’t achieve the shots we needed? But the team at PMP Digital were professional and talented, as were our brilliant hair & makeup artists. The vibe was buzzy and fun but still completely relaxed.
Visit your local Vinnies to see some of the posters and advertising created with the shots from our campaign, and keep an eye out for booklets in Avant Card displays all over. They’re even running a competition to win $500 worth of Vinnies fashion and a day out with a stylist (yours truly) to help you spend it. Yes, that’s a whole lotta clothing!
Yet another sneak peek at the next book with this quilt, similar to one appearing in The Crafty Minx at Home, which will be out early next year with HarperCollins (more to follow soon).
If you can’t wait till then, grab a copy of this month’s Australian Women’s Weekly for instructions. This took all of a day to create with vintage fabrics and beautiful new linen, Liberty print etc. from Calico & Ivy and Publisher Textiles. It’s my third quilt ever, and definitely my favourite.
A while back I received an email asking me to style a photo shoot for Vinnies. My first thought was ‘aargh, no time’ because it was the first day shooting my next book, and I couldn’t wrap my head around anything else. Then it occurred to me I was being presented with one of the best opportunities I’ve had since starting up The Crafty Minx.
I am so proud to be a newly-appointed brand ambassador for Vinnies. Vinnies, how I love thee – let me count the ways:
1) You cemented my love of fashion. When I was 12, I visited you with a bunch of tear sheets from Dolly and The Face and nary a clue on how to dress myself. Before long I was reading up on the 60s and 70s, and performing my best impression of a bygone rock star, much to my parents’ dismay (Janis Joplin is not a suitable role model for a teenage girl). Vintage fashion and a history lesson to boot – bonus.
2) You do good and help me do good, in a way I can contribute. Your charity keeps people off the streets with food in their bellies and access to your significant network of resources beyond government organisations. I am in awe of the work you do, and who knew the good I could do just by donating my well-kept but pre-loved clothes? Think: warm and fuzzy.
3) Your stores have soul, and a whole heap of buried treasure ripe for discovery, if one knows how to look. The thrill of finding a mint-condition Sonia Rykiel jumper for $8 can’t be beat. It just can’t. Or that naughty secretary look I rocked for years, thanks to your proliferation of eighties power suits and silk pussy-bow blouses. I heart you Vinnies, big time.
In a few short weeks I will be helping Vinnies produce a new retail campaign to draw people to its stores. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram for sneak peeks at the shoot and my finds, and stay tuned for pics of our real-life models sporting Vinnies from head to toe, including yours truly.
I have quite a few friends who work in retail or own stores and by all accounts, it’s a tough time to be trading. On the upside, it means successful businesses have to be super canny about stocking unique items which work for their customers, providing a special experience for shoppers and excellent, above-par service. I have such respect for those who seem to be making it work without sacrificing on quality or staff. That’s why I think Calico & Ivy is the best haberdashery in Australia. It’s just a joy to pop in there for a visit whether you’re purchasing or not (and of course it’s so lovely, you always will) and see the latest range of Liberty prints or manager Sarah’s quirky market finds. Duck Egg Blue is another special store you don’t find everywhere, and Jodie McGregor Florist is excellent for flowers, candles and other select homewares. The staff are always gorgeous and helpful, and won’t freeze you out even if you’re only keen to browse.
Another favourite store is My Messy Room in Summer Hill. Predominantly stocking kids’ clothes, owner Stav also has an impeccable eye for cute craft items, books and accessories. And they sell the new-season range of Paper Wings, my favourite brand of girls’ clothing on the market. Oh how I wish I could buy every piece for Olive! I was in there briefly and they’d constructed the most beautiful window display with pompoms and a neon spray-painted cane armchair. Pop in if you have a chance – my bet is you’ll find excuses to head back there as often as possible if you do.
The talented duo at MillaMia have done it again with their new knitting pattern book, Little Rascals. These are fun, funky, cute and supremely stylish knits for wee ones, out soon. Now I’ve learned to knit (thanks to The Corner Shop and the class I took a few months back) I’m going to attempt one of these. Catering for ages from newborn to seven, the variety of patterns spans dresses, cardigans, onesies, jumpers and accessories including blankets, scarves and hats. With 19 to choose from, there’s something for every level of knitter to try.
For a chance to win a copy, tell me: what does your favourite knit look like and why do you love it so? Entries close Friday 31 August.
Mine’s a pale pink cashmere cardigan from Brora. I’ve worn her every winter for the past decade and she still looks new, without a sign of pilling. That’s what I was wearing the weekend James proposed, on the top of a mountain in Scotland just outside Inverness. We were holing up at our pal Katie’s sister’s rural bolthole, and spent most of the long weekend drinking red wine and playing cards by the open fire. James confessed he would have asked earlier if I hadn’t been so crochety in the preceding weeks – there’s nothing like cashmere to make you act like a lady. Good times.
Tell me, who’s your best woolly friend and what scintillating adventures have you shared?
It’s done. All the photographs for book 5, out next year, and most of the hard work behind me for this one. I’ve loved every minute of the shoot and can’t state enough how excellent the team is. Everything just clicked and had a really charged, special energy about it. I’m already plotting a way we can work together again in future – I’m sure we will.
My focus started to shift this week back to my wee girl and how little time we’ve been spending together lately. At the moment she’s in pre-school 3 days a week but we had to step it up to 4 over the past few weeks, and the balance tipped towards too much for me. It’s all work and no play with her gone, and when she has been here I’ve been preoccupied and distracted. But it’s only temporary. We had the best day together last week.
There were errands to run – a visit to the shops and my patient optometrist, with Olive fanning out textas and art paper all over his office floor and asking a thousand questions about the eye-test machine – and of course some work to wedge in, but there was a leisurely 2 hours spent playing at the park and treats at Bourke St Bakery, a play date with friends and yes, there was craft. By 10am we’d made several beaded necklaces for guests to her upcoming 4th birthday party, and decorated paper and old egg cartons with these fab neon pompoms I found at Spotlight. Then, in the afternoon, invitations and collage, and I let her use the sharp scissors for about 7 seconds before she helped me make a baked dinner. A truly full day.
I’m so happy Olive has finally reached an age where we can make things together and she’s absorbed by it for a good few hours. It just gets better and better. And the attention span has expanded enough to include trips to the zoo and even Cirque de Soleil – hooray. My girl is coming into her own.
Don’t mistake the recent silence for inertia – it’s been all systems go here preparing for an upcoming photo shoot for the next book, which is in a few short weeks. It’s all top secret as it won’t be out for a bit, but I’m having a ball making things and running about town collecting bits and bobs for the great reveal.
I’ve fallen head over heels in love with the gorgeous designs at Publisher Textiles along the way, and am kicking myself for not discovering them sooner – particularly as their warehouse studio’s close by in Moore St, Leichhardt.
Owner/designer Mark Cawood prints by hand in the studio and it’s a veritable den of delicious & diverse prints, from seventies-inspired florals and curlicues to edgy pixelated digitals. J’adore.
How darned cute are these? Socks from the new Koigu Magazine in ‘Autumn Berries’ and some scarves to make you wish for colder weather.
I’ve almost completed a crochet project with Japanese Koigu yarn in various shades from lemon to hot pink, and it’s such a buzz to work with. Not for the delicious texture alone, which is soft and fine and anything but sticky, but the delight in watching its variegated colours play out. And it looks amazing on smaller items such as roses or scarves for little people. I’m going to give the knitted iPod case just completed at my Corner Shop workshop a go in a zesty lemon-lime-tomato combination next, with Koigu from Calico & Ivy Balmain.
Now the days are getting cooler, I’m keen to be knitting and crocheting when I can. And I’ve gotten to the sweet spot with crocheting where I can watch a film or chat and still concentrate on keeping up a pattern, which is heaven.
The challenge this winter? To learn how to make socks, so I can give a pair or two to friends with mid-year birthdays. Wish me luck.
Esther Han interviewed me for this piece in the Sydney Morning Herald today.
Apparently dressmaking courses are seeing a huge surge in popularity, with much of the buzz about recreating all the vintage-style frocks we’re going in for of late. Lovely news (or at least nicer than the other headlines I read this morning) because not everyone can find a true vintage frock to fit, much as they’d like to.
I’ve been dying to make a vintage frock from scratch for aeons. Inner Westies should try the Summer Hill Sewing Emporium if you can’t get to Beverley’s classes in Penshurst, or any of the squillion on offer at TAFE.
Convinced? For inspiration, see Cara Mia Vintage for some lustworthy original designer pieces from the likes of Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Pucci, Moschino, Vivienne Westwood and Ungaro. Cara Weinstock’s pieces had me positively drooling at the last Love Vintage.