Cushion cover tutorial on Bibelot Magazine

Fancy having a go at making a super simple cushion cover? Well head on over to the Bibelot Magazine blog to find my easy sew tutorial - absolutely no zips required! I do warn you, though, that it gets rather addictive - before you know it, your house will be stuffed full of cushions and beautiful fabric ;)

While you're there, do have a good browse around - there are lots of interesting reviews, how to's, interviews and bits and bobs to get you thinking. Bibelot is described as follows:

Bibelot, “The Little Book of Creative Curiosities”, will be a quarterly craft, design and lifestyle magazine celebrating the hand-made, the ethical, and the unique. Bibelot is about more than craft projects; it represents an imaginative and sustainable way of life. Readers will feel stimulated, uplifted and motivated. Bibelot will begin its life as a blog, an online hub bringing artistic, original and innovative people together. It’s a space for sharing ideas, learning and sparking inspiration!

Crafty bloggers' evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford

So what do you get when you mix a bunch of Oxford bloggers, the Cath Kidston store in Oxford, mulled wine, delicious noms, and some Xmas crafting activities? A whole lot of fun, lots of chatter, much distraction, photo taking and shopping!

I had a really fun evening with NatashaVickiCathrynCatherineDina, and Rosalind. The lovely people at CK had laid on a marvellous feast and prepared some very pretty crafting tables, ready for us to make our own Christmas decorations from a kit.

Bloggers' crafty evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford
Bloggers' crafty evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford
Bloggers' crafty evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford
Bloggers' crafty evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford

We started very enthusiastically, but it wasn't long before the temptations of an empty Cath Kidston store lured us away from crafting.... It was all looking so pretty and so Christmassy.....

Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford

I just adore the wallpaper that runs up the staircase - I'd love a feature wall in this....

Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford

I completely fell in love with the mushroom print and came away with some fabric (I'm thinking tote bag, with a red polka dot lining to start with...), a mug and a plate :) And those pastel spoons looked so good with it, so they came along too...

I think I went a bit mushroom crazy - LOVE this print!
I think I went a bit mushroom crazy - LOVE this print!

As we were leaving, the very lovely people at Cath Kidston pressed a goody bag into our hands. This was inside...

Our goody bag
Our goody bag

As I was rather too distracted to finish the task at hand during the evening (I blame the mulled wine and fabulous company!), I finished sewing my santa back at home and he now has pride of place hanging on the fireplace :)

Cath Kidston Xmas decoration I made

Thanks so much to Charlotte for arranging the evening and to everyone at Cath Kidston for looking after us so well - it was lots of fun.

It's a big day for Cath Kidston today, as the new flagship store in Picadilly has just opened (the largest in the world!). Definitely on my must visit list the next time I'm in London. And watch out for those Cath Kidston taxis!!

The times they are a changin'

Change is most definitely in the air. As we drift into October the leaves are starting to turn and fall, the nights are drawing in and there is a definite chill in the air in the mornings and evenings - I love this time of year!

Soft landing
Autumn pinks

And for me this year, things are changing in a big way. I've just left my job of 9+ years as the Head of the Systems & Information Management team in Research Services at the University of Oxford. It's been a wonderful place to work and I've been privileged to work with many fantastic people that I respect and admire. But I've been battling with chronic fatigue for the last few years and am thoroughly fed up with feeling achey and exhausted all the time and barely able to drag myself through the working week....

So I decided I needed a big change and a chance to rest and recuperate and focus on my health. I'm taking a career break for 6 months or so to give myself the time I need to recover. And a chance to think about what's next. I'd love to do something creative, ideally with my photography....perhaps some freelance work - who knows - the possibilities at this blissful stage are endless :)

If you go down to the woods today….
Every shade of autumn in one tree

I'm planning to spend my time doing lots of lovely creative, crafty things. I want to learn to knit and sew properly, and hopefully crochet too. I am so looking forward to being able to potter about at my own pace, instead of rushing from meeting to meeting....

I have been slowly amassing a little stash of vintage fabrics and I am so looking forward to getting stuck in and making things....I have booked myself into a sewing course for November and will be making a tote bag and a make-up bag as part of the course...and then I hope to get to work on some cushion covers...and maybe an owl if I'm feeling adventurous.

My vintage fabric stash
Destined to be some Blythe scarves and maybe some hats...

I will be able to surround myself with beautiful happy colours in my home. My owl shelf of happiness makes me smile every time I walk into my bedroom. It's had a very special recent addition - the new owl on the far right was custom made for me by the wonderful Modflowers in a pink and aqua colourway, especially to co-ordinate with my owl shelf :)

I'm over the moon with him - isn't he gorgeous? You can read about the making of him on Modflower's lovely blog.

My owl shelf of happiness
My fabulous owl from @modflowers

I'm also really looking forward to doing some more Blythe customisation and photography. I've got lots more faces to matte....These shelves of colour in my craft room just make me smile, even on gloomy days...

My happy shelf #1
Work in progress….
Zahra approves of the new chair

I'm planning to do lots more photography too - I've got lots of ideas for a new line in greeting cards and small prints....I've been hunting out bambis like my avatar over the last few months and will finally have the time to photograph them :)

Vintage teal & yellow: a delicious combo
Finally managed to find a bambi like my avatar :)
Bambis are multiplying!

So, exciting times ahead! But first, I'm off on a special trip to the USA, including a visit to Blythecon New York to celebrate my (gulp) 40th birthday later this month! So my blog will be quiet for a little while. But no doubt I will be posting like a mad woman on Instagram, so you can follow along with me there :) Tara for now! Z xx

Bloggy swap partners

The lovely Ada Bea from Vintage Sheet Addict organised a crafty swap on her blog in Jan/Feb to help spread a little cheer in these gloomy months. I was lucky enough to receive this fabulous rainbow of vintage wallpaper pieces and some lovely vintage fabric. Thank you so, so much Ada!

It's hard to choose my faves - there are so many! I adore vintage wallpaper. The background for my blog is actually a piece of Ada's wallpaper - isn't it just fab? I have mounted some big pieces to mount board to use as backdrops for my photography - you can read about my trials and tribulations getting this to work in an earlier blog post: The magic of Mod Podge.

Ada has the most amazing collection of vintage wallpapers I have seen in the UK. Do go have a browse in her lovely Etsy shop.

Vintage wallpaper rainbow *1*
Vintage wallpaper rainbow *2*

I still haven't decided exactly what I'm going to do with these. One idea is to wallpaper the back of some shelves in a patchwork fashion to showcase some of my vintage china and other goodies I've collected along the way. What do you reckon? What would you do?

Vintage wallpaper: yellows
Vintage wallpaper: pinks
Vintage wallpaper: blues
Vintage fabric rainbow

I swapped some postcards, prints and other goodies with Ada. You can read about it in this lovely post on Ada's blog.

The magic of Mod Podge

Those of you who've been following along for a while will know that I have a bit of a thing for pretty backdrops for my photos. I have amassed quite a collection of pretty papers that I've adhered to mount board for ease of use - I got fed up fumbling with rolls of paper and blu tack...

Up until now I've mostly used wrapping paper which sticks very nicely using double sided sticky tape. But recently I bought some beautiful vintage wallpapers that refused to work with double sided tape. Cue disaster no.1! Impatient as ever, I squirted a whole load of PVA glue generously on the back of the paper and tried hard to smooth it onto the mount board. It refused to lie flat and wanted to ripple. So I got some nice big heavy boxes and laid them flat on the paper as it dried. NOT a good move! This creased the paper nicely and it didn't dry properly. Cue disaster no. 3 - how about giving it a bit of an iron? That gets rid of wrinkles, right? Not a good move! By now I have wrinkly, creased wallpaper on warped mount board. I was almost in tears!

So here's where the Mod Podge comes in. On the recommendation of the lovely Ada Bea that I bought the beautiful wallpaper from, I tried again, with more patience, some Mod Podge and a sponge applicator brush. Much better! This time, I evenly spread a very thin layer of Mod Podge to the mount board using the sponge applicator and set it aside. I did the same to the back of the wallpaper and then very carefully placed the paper on the board (it helps to have two people for this bit) and gently pressed out any air bubbles. I then used a rolling pin (!) to gently smooth out any remaining creases and air bubbles and then left to dry. It worked a dream!

Here's the beautifully mounted wallpaper from Vintage Sheet Addict:

70s vintage wallpaper

And here are a couple of shots I've taken using the mounted wallpaper as the backdrop. Much happier now :)

The golden girl

Handmade love

I get so much pleasure from the fabulous handmade treasures I've found on Etsy, that I thought it would be nice to share them. Here are some of the favourites I've amassed over the last year or so. They live on various happy shelves around my house and make me smile whenever I walk past :) One of my ambitions for 2013 is to learn how to make things like this myself.....

So a huge thank you to all the talented people below and across the handmade community for all the smiles and inspiration!

Jane Foster softies

Above: Jane Foster softies

Mini Dachshunds by aliceapple

Above: Mini Dachshunds by aliceapple

Handmade bunny by Dancingintherains

Above: Handmade bunny by Dancingintherains

Clive the owl by Zeena Shah

Above: Clive the owl by Zeena Shah

Lavender filled owls and bunny from Pouch

Above: Lavender filled owls and bunny from Pouch.

Sleepy owl by Little Tea Wagon

Above: Sleepy owl by Little Tea Wagon

Some crafty weekend fun with embroidery hoops

I've been meaning to do something creative with the empty space above my bed for a while now. I've seen lots of embroidery hoops pop up in various places recently and thought a collection of these with some lovely vintage fabric would look rather nice. So I raided my fabric collection - and voila!

My bedroom walls are a pale aqua and I have a shelf of aqua owls that I wanted to co-ordinate with, so this was my starting point. The blue 70s barkcloth was a real find (from the Oxford vintage Thursday market) as this co-ordinates perfectly with my gorgeous bedside lampshade from follyandglee. It looked a bit plain, so I popped a few doilies in the hoops to cheer it up.

You can get embroidery hoops from lots of craft stores - I got mine from for a few pounds each - it's a really cheap way to make a great unique display :)

Embroidery hoop weekend fun
My owl shelf