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July 2008
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September 2008

August 2008

Renovation inspiration

My favourite book as a child was, without doubt, "A Little Princess" by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  Possibly because of my love for this story I was rather enchanted by the idea of an attic bedroom with a bed under the eaves.

Bed under eaves 

So when we came to renovate our house 5 years ago I was excited about what we could do with the boys' bedroom.  Because we were building on the boundary of our property and putting a garage under their bedroom, we had height restrictions.  This meant the ceiling had to be sloped. 

Bed under eaves1

Some fun creative solutions were in order. 

Built in bed1

I collected a file of ideas sourced from magazines.  The English mags had many good examples of attic rooms, as the Londoners are good at making use of all available space in their old houses.

Built in bed

I particularly loved the built in beds.


I also loved the idea of the boys having their own private space within a shared bedroom.  A private little nook that was theirs only.


I wanted them to have their own shelves for treasures.


I loved the little pigeon holes above these beds for their books and toys.

Window seat

An inviting reading space was on the wish list to encourage a passion for books.


These last two images show what we ended up with.  I got my window seat for quiet reads (above).  The bench the cushions sit on is actually the space the garage roller door goes up into.  We were very tight for space vertically so we had to make use of every spare inch.

Max's bed 

You can see the pigeon hole idea above Max's bed.  The two beds are separated by bookshelves so they each get their private space.  One can be reading with the bed-light on, while the other sleeps in peace.  You may not be able to make it out, but the ceiling is sloped above their beds.  The central bookcase is divided into thirds vertically.  The first third has shelves facing into the room, the middle section has shelves facing the first bed, and the third section has shelves facing the other bed.

I hope you enjoy all these photos.  I still love looking at all the clippings that inspired our renovation.

Design evolution

Yesterday I picked up my stock of Beach Tops from the manufacturer.

Beach Tops

It's hard to believe that the initial inspiration for the Beach Top was this Michael Kors outfit.

Michael kors dress I was sitting at the hairdresser at the beginning of the year flicking through a Vogue magazine and came across this.  It was the contrast bands of colour at the neck, hem and sleeves that caught my eye and I wanted to replicate.  Because I used cotton voile for the body of the top, I couldn't finish the neckline in a similar way without the seam of the contrast colour showing through the fabric.  If I'd done it in a more complicated way the manufacturing would cost too much and would risk being too complicated to guarantee a quality finish.

So I shelved the idea of a neck finished this way (until maybe next winter when I use a heavier weight fabric) and adapted a pattern from a few summers back.

Beach Top  

I find it curious how a design idea evolves into the finished product.  There's no connection between the initial inspiration and the end design, but that's what sparked the idea.

All mapped out

I've got a lot of stock in the house at the moment, and there is the issue of how to store it in a presentable and easily accessible way.


I had some brown cardboard traylike boxes that were a bit ratty looking.  This morning I dropped into the beautiful Zetta Florence store in Armadale and bought some of the Cavallini wrapping paper.  Their wrapping paper is so perfect that it's frame-worthy.  In fact we have this same paper - a map of Venice - framed in Will's study.

Using two sheets I cut and taped it to the cardboard box.  Now this storage solution is looking much more presentable.


I think next I'll have to invest in a roll of contact paper, to cover it and make it a little more durable.

Yay for colour

I am getting so much out of my drawing classes.  I think this is going to be my new obsession.


Our class is very fortunate to have Jenny Phillips as teacher.  Jenny doesn't normally take beginners classes, and hasn't done for years.  Through circumstances though, Jenny is taking us through the basics, so we are benefitting from her great talent and passion for the art. 


This week we started playing with colour.  Using only 6 watercolours, we are creating these colour cards, which will become our reference for matching colour to our plant specimens in the future.  While we were mixing and painting Jenny told us about her tour of the paper mill in an old building in France, and how they make the paper we were painting on - the same method they have used for centuries.


All that wonderful information makes for a much richer learning experience.  Jenny has shown us images of different brands of paper under a microscope so we can better understand how the paint bonds to the paper. 

Colour cards

She has described the fibres of the sable brushes we are using and the way the scales on the individual hairs hold the paint, and why you get a finer point on a sable brush than a synthetic brush.  It's all fascinating.  I never pursued art at school or university so this is all new to me.  I have no idea how to work with paint so I'm lapping up every morsel of information.


My paint palette, with the six colours I will need to create all other colours.  There are two blues, two yellows, and two reds - a cool and warm of each.

A local source

The other day I was reading the lovely Speckled Egg blog (another of my favourites) when I happened upon this post about an Australian based stationery supplier.  I was very excited to read they have a store right here in Melbourne called The Source.


Curiosity got the better of me and I headed into the city to visit the store.  Not surprisingly, I couldn't come away empty handed.  My favourite was this dot grid notebook - quite handy for doodling and getting the scale right.

Monogram Will 

I also picked up some moleskin journals and sketchbooks - that I will hopefully fill with some ever improving botanical sketches.

Tashi stays home

The boys' school celebrates Book Week with a parade today.  All students go to school dressed as their favourite book character.  Max went as Zac Power (complete with a spy-phone from a box of Rice Bubbles).

Tashi cover Tom loves the Tashi books.  Last night we made a Tashi hat together using pattern card, wool jersey and aluminium foil.  He was very upset to wake up this morning too sick for school with a dose of flu.  Who wants to miss school on a fun day like this?

So we've taken some photos of Tom in his Tashi hat to email to Daddy and Granny.


Tashi2 Right about now, I think it's time Tashi left the house. 

He and his little brother are going into destruction mode, so we're off to the park with the dogs.  (The Panadol must have kicked in.) 

I think we'll leave the hat behind.

Perfectionist patternmaker

I find patternmaking can be an exhausting process because by nature I'm a perfectionist.  This makes developing a new style for the range a long, drawn out exercise as I go through multiple revisions, metres of patternmaking card and many samples.

Short longs

On the bright side, by the time a pattern is production ready I am very confident that it fits well and looks good on.  Having three fit models in the house is very handy.  The boys each have a few pairs of new Short Longs to wear this coming summer.

I'm glad I have the (limited) pattern and garment making skills myself, as outsourcing this many revisions would be an expensive process.

I was a bit stumped last week because I really needed to see the shorts on one and two year olds.  Our youngest is nearly four and my friends' children are now older too.  Then I struck on a bright idea and called up the creche that Tom and Henri went to.  Fortuitously, it's 20 metres from our front door.  So I headed over to the creche with sample garments in hand to find two willing fit models and a helpful carer.

I'm pleased and relieved to say the Short Longs went into production last week and will be ready soon.

What a week

It's been a huge week, an exhausting week, but a good one.  I'm always a little aprehensive when I launch a new range, as I never know how it will be received.  So it's exciting (and a huge relief) when the response is positive. 

To make the week even sweeter, the immensely talented Isabel from Rosa e Chocolat gave me a Brilliant Weblog award.

Also, a new tag is doing the rounds.  I was tagged by Jen at Chalk:

What are the last 3 things you purchased?

  • children's dinner for tonight - Shrek sausages (if I called them chicken and spinach sausages the boys wouldn't eat them);
  • a woolen jumper from Boden - I love it;
  • next month's bookgroup read,

What are the last three songs you downloaded?

  • Kung Fu Fighting (for the boys)
  • Viva la Vida - Coldplay
  • Six Gnossiennes - Aldo Ciccolini

What were the last three places you visited?

  • Flinders
  • Mt Buller
  • New Zealand

What are your three favouite movies?

  • Goodwill Hunting (because I love maths - seriously)
  • The Big Blue
  • Stealing Beauty

Entrance hall What are your three favourite possessions?

  • our house - I will never tire of our house
  • the watch Will gave me when Max was born
  • my comptoir

What three things can you not live without (other than family and friends)?

  • Haigh's chocolate
  • a cup of tea to start and end the day
  • our two corgis - one is sleeping at my feet in the studio now

What would be your three wishes?

  • for my children to always be happy
  • a solution to global warming
  • yeah, ok, and slimmer thighs

What are three things you haven't done yet?

  • lived overseas
  • an elegant cartwheel (and probably never will)
  • given up the hope of having another child (or more accurately, talking Will into it)

What are your three favouite dishes?

What three celebrities do you want to hang out with most?

  • I'd prefer to watch them from afar and hang out with friends instead

Name three things that freak you out?

  • spiders
  • public speaking
  • walking into a room full of strangers

Name three unusal things you are good at

  • spatial relations (jigsaw puzzles, lay planning, packing a car boot)
  • remembering long strings of numbers (credit card, drivers license, passport numbers)
  • forgetting people's names and forgetting to return phonecalls

Sophie digard What are three things you are currently coveting?

  • a piece of land on the Mornington Peninsula
  • a Sophie Digard scarf
  • a holiday with Will in a faraway place

Name 3 bloggers you are tagging (and giving a "Brilliant Weblog" award to).

Happy weekend everyone!

Drawing class number four

In this class we did a bit of theory on foreshortening.  I confess to not feeling very inspired in yesterday's class.  I couldn't find that zone where the mind relaxes and the drawing starts to come more easily.

Foreshortenend leaf

I was distracted by the mounting number of orders I have to get out.

Mail I'm just about to wander around the corner to post the parcels I managed to pack yesterday.  Fortunately today I have someone helping me pack and ship.  I also have an exploding out basket of items waiting for additional things to be ready with them - like t-shirts that require an applique.  So the parcels ready to go are all the straight forward orders.  It's the outbox that's stressing me.

Better get back to it.