organising

Jam jars

One of my favourite finds in Japan last year were some very cute jam jars picked up in the kitchen section of Loft.

Jam jars

What I like about them is that there is no thread for a screw-top lid, which means they look very pretty with their lids off.

Here, one is storing home-made taragon infused mayonnaise.  When they're not storing food in the fridge they look pretty as little vases.


All in one place

I have a large quantity of hand sewing needles for all different purposes.  I use straws or milliners needles for hand quilting, embroidery needles for cross stitch, small quilting needles for applique and then ordinary sewing needles for taking up a hem or stitching on a button.

Needlecase mosaic

Until now I haven't had a home for all those stray needles other than in a pincushion or stuck into the end of the ironing board.

I made the little dragonfly cross stitch into a needlecase with woollen 'pages' for the needles.


Coat care

I have a customer who orders Townmouse coats for her four children each winter.  Her youngest has 4 or 5 to choose from, because all the hand-me-downs hang in his cupboard, alongside his own.

Coat My customer tells me that she has the coats hand washed.  I quizzed her on how she washes them, as I've always taken them to the dry cleaner. 

Here are her tips.  Wash the coat in tepid water with white vinegar.  Hang it in the shade to dry completely.  Then put it in a cold drier to fluff up the pile.

I've always used the best quality fabric I can find for the coats I make - pure wool or cashmere from Italy.  So I've been hesitant to try hand washing.  I tested this washing method on an old cashmere coat of Henri's and it worked wonderfully.

So if you're dragging out old coats from last winter that are looking bedraggled, or putting away winter clothes for next year, you may want to give this a try.


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.

Storage1

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.

Storage

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


Busy as a bee

The studio is a hive of activity today.

Summer armoire  

I have been sorting my new summer stock and finding a home for it all.

Summer armoire 1

I thought I should have a bit of a tidy up and make everything look presentable if I'm going to open the studio for two days this week.

Summer armoire 2

The armoire is what visitors to our house see through the studio window beside the front door.  Actually, you can see the armoire from the front gate.  So it makes me happy to have it tidy and full of yummy new things.

Summer armoire 4

The chicken-wire doors are very handy because I can use them as extra display space.

I do love the below photo from this favourite book from Martha Stwart.  I have a bit of a thing for armoires.

Martha-armoire

So I was very happy when I found similar storage boxes in a local Melbourne shop.  They came in a stained wood so I painted them my favourite shade of French grey.  They are very handy for displaying t-shirts and baby bodysuits.


A new toy

I have a new kitchen toy and I'm loving it.  I haven't bought a new kitchen gadget for many years.  For me, having to cook children's meals every night has taken the shine off being in the kitchen.  Not any more.  I haven't been this enthusiastic about cooking since Will and I moved in together.

SoupThis machine combines the function of about 15 kitchen appliances, plus your stovetop.  You cut, chop, mix and cook your ingredients in the one bowl - brilliant.

With very little effort I have made chicken stock, potato and leek soup, chicken curry, banana and choc-chip icecream, porridge, frothy hot chocolate, my Nana's famous shortbread - all in the first 24 hours.

Shortbread1If it sounds like I'm bragging I'm not, because the machine did it all for me.  I just pushed the buttons and stood back and watched in amazement.

Yesterday I spent the day food shopping and stocking up on lots of pantry items - things I haven't cooked with in years.  I dragged out all the old spice jars from the back of the pantry and started again, filling them with new, fresh quantities.

Mosaic439506

This weekend I want to make ministrone, wheat free pizzas, pineapple and coconut icecream ... the list goes on.


A clutter shutter

The other day I was in the shop where I bought my comptoir and I came across two sets of these old, weathered French shutters.  I think they are oak but I could be wrong.

Shutters_2

The hinges are completely rusted so at the moment I can't move them.  I want to join the four panels together and use them as a concertina screen.  I thought they could be a nice way to hide some of the clutter in the messier corners of my studio.  They might end up in our front room though, as they are in harmony with the other bits and pieces in there.


Too much fabric

Is there such a thing as too much fabric?  Probably not, but when trying to store it all I begin to wonder.  My studio feels like a fabric shop at the moment.  I have more fabric than I know what to do with.

Fabric

I have about 12 rolls of Liberty in the corner that I'll be dropping to my manufacturer soon for summer production.  On the bench above is a selection of mostly Japanese fabrics that I use for creche bags.  These are some of the new fabric options.  They get cut up and put in a drawer, so that when an order comes in all the pieces are ready and waiting.

Fabric_cut

I have several drawers like this in my studio - one for bag pockets, one for side panels, one for handles and pocket facings.  It might sound highly organised, but it certainly doesn't feel like it.


What's your style?

Last year Will had a meeting in New York to discuss a business opportunity with these guys.  I guess in a nutshell they are style consultants (and seemingly a lot more).  He came back from the meeting with a copy of their book, "Nothing to wear?".

Nothing_to_wearI'm not much of a reader of self help books so this sat on my bedside table for a while.  When I did pick it up and have a read I'm surprised to say I really enjoyed it and got a lot from it. 

The start of their process is to define your style.

They describe 5 styles:

Classic - Simple, clean and traditional; eg, Grace Kelly
Chic - Sharp lines that come together in an effortless way; eg, Audrey Hepburn
Whimsical - a thoughtful combination of colours and patterns that appears ethereal or romantic; eg, Sofia Coppola
Bohemian - Relaxed, hippy or funky; eg, Sienna Miller
Avant-garde - An ultramodern style that makes a dramatic statement; eg, Cate Blanchett

GraceThe premise is that once you know your style you can make more considered fashion choices. 

Since I read the book I've certainly become a more efficient clothes shopper in that I don't get distracted by clothes that don't fit my style.  I've probably also got a more cohesive wardrobe that I can mix and match more easily.  I've since lent the book to a few friends who have also raved about it.

My style is a combination of Classic and Chic.  What's your style?  You can do a short quiz to determine your style here.


The things you do

I've got scrambled brain after a very busy morning.  We had a little photo shoot here today with our three boys and two very pretty girls who are family friends. 

We arrived home from Queensland last night, and I still had a few garments to make for the shoot.  I put tired boys into bed and retreated to the studio to make two skirts and a coat.

Coat

Before I went away I forgot to get buttons for the sample coat.  Last night I went trawling through my button tin in the vain hope there would be three or more red buttons from last winter.  No such luck.  What I did find though, was the spare button from a red coat of mine from a few seasons ago.

Button

So my coat was dragged out of the wardrobe and stripped of its buttons for the shoot today. 

I managed to pull all the required outfits together - just.  It was a bit close for comfort this time.  We lucked a sunny day though and I think we got some lovely shots. 


Fabric sleuthing

Yesterday I spent an enjoyable couple of hours fossicking around some of Melbourne's interior furnishing and fabric stores in the company of a very talented decorator.  It's all part of the sitting room project - to have it furnished and ready for use by winter (only 4 years after moving into our house!!).  We unearthed some treasures in the form of utterly sublime fabrics from my favourite Italian brand, Loro Piana.

Mosaic395875_2

The marle look fabric is a cashmere, silk, linen blend for curtains.  I've never been more excited about a fabric.  Then the windowpane check might go on an ottoman.  The silvery card is a wallpaper sample.  I will be ensuring that any leftover fabric scraps come back to me for my stash.

The combination is all rather subtle.  Some interesting textures and accents will be needed to lift it.  Right now I've got a lot of junk in there to find a new home for before some rugs arrive on Friday for a little try.