We Are Scout - Hunting. Gathering. Making. The Good Stuff


Archive: Oct 2008

  1. London shopping: Westfield


    As you’ve probably already heard, London is now home to the largest shopping mall in Europe. With over 265 shops, and 47 places to eat, the new Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush is sprawled over 9 different postcodes.

    For me, it just doesn’t feel like London. Bondi? Yep. Birmingham? If you say so. White City? Just down the road from the BBC? Not really. I guess the sense of weirdness (tinged with sadness for “ye olde London”, whatever that is) will fade in time as it becomes an accepted part of London’s retail landscape. Not that I’ve actually had the opportunity to see the new shopping centre in person, as I’ve made a point of staying away from the opening week shenanigans. But I’m an Aussie girl – I grew up with a Westfield virtually on my doorstep, so it’s something that’s not entirely unfamiliar. It’s also going to make trading that more difficult for London’s smaller independent shops, especially in the lead-up to Christmas this year.

    But it’s not all bad news. There’s job creation, for one, and surely it will do something to boost the miserable economy right now. And I’m actually pretty chuffed to see two excellent Australian fashion labels, Leona Edmiston and Mimco amongst a premium line-up of designers including Prada, Dior, Miu Miu, Twenty8Twelve, Joseph and Amanda Wakeley. Here are some looks from the latest Leona Edmiston collection for Spring/Summer 2008:



    Her kids' range is very sweet, too:


    The thing about Leona Edmiston is that she knows how to cut a supremely-flattering frock for grown-ups. I remember seeing her first range and thinking that they didn’t look like much on the hanger. But as soon as you slip on one of her signature jersey dresses, something magical happens as the fabric skims the bits you want to cover up, and clings to all the bits you want to show off. Talk about silver linings…

    Westfield London
    Wood Lane
    London W12
    Tel. 20 8600 9005
    Click here for a Wee Birdy map
    Opening hours
    Nearest tubes: Shepherd’s Bush and White City

  2. I *Heart* Fridays: I *Heart* creating with kids


    I get so much pleasure out of doing creative things with Roxy. Before I was a mum I used to sometimes babysit friends’ children during the school holidays, and I’d always have crafting days planned. Now I love spending time at Roxy’s pre-school doing craft activities with the children. Kids love creating things and it’s a wonderful way to interact, connect and bond with them. Mastering a new skill or showing off something they’ve made gives them immense satisfaction, pride and confidence. As an adult the satisfaction comes from giving them the encouragement and the means to achieve that. You don’t have to teach children, they are all creative. And it doesn’t really matter what is made, the joy is in engaging the imagination and the visual expression of it. The joy is in the act of creating.

    I recently bought a book called The Creative Family. How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections. You can see it here. When I bought it a friend commented that I am the last person they would have thought would need a book like this. The reason I bought it was for more inspiration – I always feel like there is more I can do to nurture Roxy’s innate creativity. The book is a really lovely resource which has a lot of depth to it, rather than just being a ‘how to’ project book. It focuses on creating traditions and connections within your family, and even if you don’t consider yourself creative the author, Amanda Blake Soule, demonstrates how you can reach your creative potential. Amanda has a beautiful blog – click here to check it out.

    Roxy has been very keen for me to teach her how to sew because she has always watched me doing it. So this week she cut out some felt hearts for her first sewing project. She chose the felt and embroidery thread colours and decided what she wanted to make. Hearts are big in her world at the moment and she’s very adept at cutting them out because she’s been practicing for a long time with paper hearts while watching me make Heart Boxes!

    I tied a knot in the end of the thread and made the first stitch for her and she was off. Roxy patiently and carefully stitched around her hearts and was thrilled beyond belief at her ability to sew. And now she’s hooked… as I type she’s pulling at my arm saying “come on mum, let’s sew!”. You don’t need to give your kids plastic toys with all the bells and whistles. The simple things they make themselves or you make with them are far more satisfying on every level.

    This simple mask was made out of a huge ivy leaf, some string and sticky tape and it gave Roxy, a.k.a. Leaf Girl hours of pleasure. Unfortunately Leaf Girl uncharacteristically didn’t want her photo taken that day.

    Happy creating… Happy Friday.

  3. Top Bird loves: The Best Of Tatty Devine


    I had a sneaky peek at the Spring/Summer 2009 Tatty Devine line-up this afternoon, and it's gearing up to be another winning kitschsy-cool collection with amazing attention to detail. There are some really sweet retro themes, including some rather lovely birds. Stay tuned for pics in the New Year.

    In the meantime, Tatty Devine has launched its latest Best Of collection, featuring a carefully edited selection of their top 50 pieces. This year designers Harriet and Rosie grabbed a bunch of their favourite creative friends to model for the campaign, and awarded each person with their own "Best At". Here are some of my favourites, featuring Barbara Ryan (and the record charm bracelet), Mimi Berry (and the birdy brooch), Amelia Gregory (and the lolly necklace), and Eithne Farry (and the red squirrel pendant):





    Harriet and Rosie say that "these inspirational people all work very hard at
    creating and organising fantastic things for all of us, whether it's
    making music, magazines, art and graphics, designing hats, handbags,
    haircuts and shoes, or leading the knitting revolution. They all wear
    Tatty Devine in their everyday life as well as when they're on show." It's a really lovely, heartfelt campaign, and shines a light on some of London's best independent creative talent. The Best of Collection is available now at their Brick Lane and Soho shops, as well as from the Tatty Devine online boutique.

    Tatty Devine
    236 Brick Lane
    London E2 7EB
    Tel. 020 7739 9191
    Opening hours:
    Tuesday to Sunday 11am-6pm
    Tube: Liverpool Street
    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

    57b Brewer Street
    London W1F 9UR
    Tel. 020 7434 2257
    Opening hours:
    Monday to Saturday 11am-7pm
    Tube: Piccadilly Circus

    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

  4. Gorgeous, gorgeous, just gorgeous!


    I’ve just discovered stylist, writer and photographer Pia Jane Bijkerk via Daily Imprint. Natalie has interviewed Pia as part of her Burst of Inspiration series. Read the interview here.

    These images…

    Image Source: Pia Jane Bijkerk


  5. Inspiration: Tania Hayes

    Image Source: Tania Hayes

    Last week while I was driving I heard the inspirational Tania Hayes talking to Richard Fidler on ABC 702’s conversation hour. I got to my destination and sat in the car listening for another 40 minutes because Tania and her story are so compelling.

    Tania is the ambassador for Carer’s Week, which was last week. When she was just 22 her then fiance Warren was diagnosed with a brain tumour. At the time Tania was an aerobics instructor and Warren worked in real estate – they were young, fit, and in love, with the world at their feet. Following numerous operations, complications and mishaps, and more than a year in hospital, Warren became wheelchair bound and totally dependent on Tania. That was about 13 years ago. Since then Tania has been Warren’s fulltime carer and now mother to their 2 year old son.

    It is Tania’s ambition to inspire as many people as she can to stay strong throughout even the darkest obstacles in life and never lose hope. Her message is simple: no matter what may befall you, with love on your side, nothing in life is ever impossible.

    Tania is the most remarkable, optimistic, vibrant and energetic woman, and her story is compelling and very humbling. She has recently written a book called Love Has No Limits. You can listen to the interview here and read more on Tania’s website here.

  6. More on Advent Calendars


    Following up on my post earlier this week about advent calendars I have found some examples that I hope will inspire you. Although the traditional paper and card versions can be nice – see the funky vintage example below – you can make something really fun if you think outside the square.

    This vintage advent calendar is from dave at grain edit, via design*sponge. (These 2 blogs are amongst my faves and are daily reads.)

    A sweet idea using baby’s socks pegged on to a line. Instructions here.
    Image Source: Martha Stewart

    Various sized boxes pained, numbered and stuck to the wall
    (Blu-tac would do the job without damaging the paint).

    I like the concept behind this, but I’m not keen on the execution. A different arrangement of the boxes and colour palette could result in a stunning ‘installation’.
    Image Source: Martha Stewart

    There is (of course) a Flikr creative advent calendar group, from which I sourced the following ideas.

    I love this simple and contemporary idea of clipping a mixed selection of things to a coat hanger.
    Image Source: carambatack, here

    Deorated tins.
    Image Source: spinningjennie, here

    These homemade envelopes would be easy and quick to make.
    Image Source: fishbowl fish, here

    How divine is this?! Little slipper pouches made from beautiful fabric.
    Image Source: Carla Alexandra, here

    If you’re planning to join me in making an advent calendar be creative with the format and materials and create something that’s uniquely yours. Just because the concept of an advent calendar is very traditional – and often people’s perception is that they are very, well… folksy – there’s no reason why they can’t be contemporary and cool, as evidenced by the examples I’ve shown. Think about using funky wrapping paper, scrapbooking papers, vintage books, maps, or even old letters. Fabrics could include vintage tea towels or tablecloths, felt, hand stamped or painted calico, etc. Take inspiration from trends in homewares and fashion. Look in magazines and on the internet. Get creative!


  7. You Ask, Birdy Answers: Sew-your-own patterns


    The best bit about writing a blog is reading all the feedback, and there has been lots to read recently, especially in response to my post about the slow fashion trend. Here's what a wee birdy called le bug had to say:

    “I think the slowest of slow fashion would be if I made my own clothes … know any good sewing pattern shops/online shops?”

    Kudos to you for going down the make-your-own route, le bug! I’m always super-impressed by crafty people who dig out the old Singer and knock up a skirt on a rainy afternoon. There are actually some excellent online sources for patterns, as well as some good starting points for absolute beginners (like me). Here’s a list of my very favourite online sew-your-owns and other crafty sources:

    1. Built by Wendy
    Wendy Mullin (of Built by Wendy) is a New York-based fashion designer who’s designed a line of home sewing patterns for Simplicity called Built by YOU. I really love the simple smock and frock pattern, which has variable sleeve and length options. I know a few birdies who have tried and tested Wendy’s patterns, and give them a big thumbs-up (but warn that they tend to be a bit on the small size).

    2. Paintergirl’s Knicker Making Kit

    Pop artist Gemma Jones (aka Paintergirl) has recently launched her own knicker-making kit, which has been selling like hot pants on her Etsy shop. The pattern shows how to make your own customised pair of knickers from an old t-shirt – the ultimate in make-do and mend! The pattern has been trialled by some 20-odd Kaotic Kraft Kuties who have reportedly gone on to “run, dance, make-out and pick up wearing them.” Nice one.

    3. Burda Style
    It mightn’t sound overly sexy, but Burda Style is actually an amazing resource with a plethora of free patterns, sewing how-tos and a supportive online sewing community. Check out this sweet and simple shift.

    ScooterBabe2 4. Sublime Stitching
    OK, so this isn’t so much about making an entire outfit, but these too-cute embroidery patterns
    will make you some lovely embellishments. They’re a snip at US$3.50,
    and can be used to decorate everything from t-shirts to tea-towels.
    Check out the vital organs kit
    and stitch some ovaries on to your undies. Chain stitch has never
    looked so sexy! Great DIY Xmas gift ideas, too. (Londoners can also
    pick up Sublime Stitching patterns at the V&A Museum shop.)

    5. Sew Mama Sew
    Another good resource for fabric and patterns, Sew Mama Sew features some excellent options for babies and kids, like Oliver & S patterns for toddlers. I also like the fabric messenger bag pattern, which would look good in a strong Marimekko print (although IKEA has an excellent range of retro Scandi-style fabrics at the moment, a snip at £1.59/metre).

    6. The Make Lounge

    Sewing novices in London can learn the basics with a workshop at The Make Lounge in Islington. I like the sound of the Survival Sewing workshop, which teaches basic hand-sewing skills so you can tackle your own repairs and take up hems and cuffs. Handy stuff. Check out the upcoming workshops, which include fun projects like making a leather cinch belt and Japanese-style stitched journals.

    The Make Lounge
    49-51 Barnsbury Street
    London N1 1TP
    Tel. 020 7609 0275
    Nearest tube: Angel

    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

  8. Inspiration: Francesca Raft

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    Over the weekend I saw an exhibition called Reveal by Francesca Raft. Francesca uses a muted colour palette and simple compositions that suggest vast landscapes and skies. Her paintings have a gorgeous soft glowing light about them.

    Francesca says: “I am fascinated by the simplicity of light, colour and form… the landscape, the essence of nature… the resonating beauty that makes one experience the desire of longing and possibility… I strive to capture this in paint.”

    Reveal is on at the Depot Gallery II, 2 Danks Street Waterloo until 1st November. Catch it if you can.

    Image Source (except gallery image): Francesca Raft

  9. Shakespeare meets Blade Runner

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    This beautiful necklace looks like the love child of an Elizabethan collar and a futuristic cog. The combination and layering of the soft fabric and the hard reflective acrylic is inspired. This Cait Collar Neclace is the work of Singaporean jewellery designers Vivi Masturah Lim and Aaron Kao of Vice and Vanity.

    How would you care for such a sublime piece of jewellery? “No crocodile attacks, nuclear fusion or genetic experiments.”

    As you would expect, the design of the Vice and Vanity website is also very cool.

    Image Source: Vice and Vanity

    Laser cutting, as used by Vice and Vanity, is huge at the moment and is being used to create everything from jewellery to homewares, art, and furniture. The materials that can be laser cut are as varied as the applications and include leather, felt, timber, bamboo, acrylic, stainless steel and cardboard. There were quite a lot of people selling laser cut leather jewellery at the design festival I went to on the weekend. I must admit that in my spare time (huh, what’s that?!?) I have been sketching designs to have some laser cut jewellery made for myself. I’ll show it to you when – or if – it comes to fruition.
  10. How many days?

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    I must check in with my friend who is counting down the days til Christmas. By my calculation it’s about four and a half weeks until the beginning of December – I can’t bring myself to count the days – which is when I will have to have my advent calendar completed. I am finally getting around to making one for Roxy. I’ve been meaning to do it for a couple of years and figure if I get started on it now I might just be able to cross it off my list this year.

    I love the idea of the advent calendar and can’t wait to see the anticipation and excitement on Roxy’s face each morning when she gets to open a little package. I might even take a photo each day to record it for her. Sometimes there will be sweet treats, but there will also be notes saying something like Today Mummy and Daddy will take you for a swim and a watermelon picnic, or Today we’ll go to the craft shop and you can choose some things, or Tonight we will eat at your favourite restaurant. Of course I will do some swapping of treats the night before so things fit in with our schedule the following day!

    At the moment I have chosen materials and have a rough idea of what form I want the advent calendar to take. I’ll keep you posted on the progress and will include a progressive tutorial each Tuesday for the next 4 weeks.You’ll see from the photo below my colour palette and material selection: wrapping paper, cotton fabric scraps, wool felt (or you may prefer to use more fabric) and embroidery thread (optional). There will be more materials required, which I will list next week, but these are the ones to start thinking about as they will provide the pattern and colour. Next Tuesday I’ll show you my idea and outline the project. It would be fun if we could do it together. Your advent calendar needn’t follow my tutorial – you could create something original. I’ll find some examples to inspire you and post them later this week. I’d love it if you were to email me photos of your finished advent calendar creations and I’ll share them here. Are you in?