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Posted on August 10, 2016

Designing the French Riviera S/S 2017

For the last week I’ve been obsessively designing patterns for the Make it in Design ‘Beginner’ Summer School. It’s been so much fun!

The brief was for simple, stylised designs for multiple applications across fashion and home.

The colour palette was provided as Pantone colour samples and I used these by colour matching them in Photoshop/Illustrator using the eyedropper tool (I haven’t worked out how to load Pantone palettes yet).

My first thoughts were of palm trees, ship’s wheels, sunsets and prawns. A heady mix for the French Riviera jetset!?

Palm Tree Line Drawing

I’d forgotten how tricksy Illustrator is. Why can’t you move between artboards and still have the colour selected? #firstworldissues

I managed to learn a few new Illustrator skills in the process. Like adding gradients (a key element in the design brief), and isolating different elements of an image-traced live-paint group to change colours.

After playing about with the below design for a while, I couldn’t decide which version I liked best – thoughts?


Then I had to remind myself: gradients don’t repeat, but they still look nice for a single placement.

I can see this design on a beach towel, face cloth, napkins, plates (especially picnic plates!), t-shirts, a beach bag. Loads of possibilities.

The limited palette really helped me to focus on the designs, and re-use colours where I would normally have gone for more of an obvious impact. I think it’s proven to me how much cohesion it creates too. That’s particularly true with the pink ship’s wheel design below. I created it in another colour way (not shown here), and had fun playing with scale.

Here’s a few of my other favourite designs for this brief:

French Riviera SS17 'Graph Prawn' surface pattern designFrench Riviera SS17 'Leaping Prawn - with Gradient' surface pattern designFrench Riviera SS17 'Pink Ship's Wheel' surface pattern designPrintFrench Riviera SS17 'Leaping Prawn' surface pattern designFrench Riviera SS17 'Sunset Palm' surface pattern design

Most of the designs are simple grid repeat vector patterns, but the ‘Graph Prawn’ is a single ‘placement’ design. He’s cheeky isn’t he?

Which one is your favourite? I’d love to know.

***Update, Update 15.08.16***

So excited to find out that I WON one of the ’20 ways to draw…‘ books for sharing my pattern-progress on Instagram. Taking this as a sign to focus more on my patterns and design work!

Posted on July 15, 2016

Reflections on a Boutique Eco Pod Retreat

Two weeks ago the husband and I headed North to a tiny place called Appin, near Oban in Scotland. We were going to an Eco Pod.

It felt cool, adventurous and loaded with anticipation; the trip had been booked for months and it was a place I’d wanted to stay for a while.

Eco Pod Boutique Retreat, Appin, ScotlandThe sun came out briefly as we drove over the narrow bridge, in awe at the sight of Loch Awe.

It soon started pouring again as we arrived at the Castle Stalker View CafeI was glad I’d brought wellies and a rain mac.

A winding path led through the woods like a mystical fairy trail. The leaves seemed more green, the rustle of nature amplified; more noticeable, the air laden with purity and relaxation. We’d arrived. The door was unlocked.

Eco Pod Boutique Retreat, Appin, ScotlandThe Eco Pod was much bigger than we’d imagined, but looked just as luxurious as the pictures on the website promised (we stayed in Pod 1).

Except it was cold. The weather didn’t help, but even looking back over the pictures now, a shiver goes down my spine. (Did I mention it was cold?)

The hot tub was wonderful – the second time.

The pod features a Japanese cedar-wood affair, and for hygiene it requires to be run fresh each time. So far, so good. But on our first attempt the gas ran out resulting in less than luke-warm water, followed by a freezing shower.

The situation was quickly rectified after a desperate voicemail, text, and a hot breakfast in the cafe. (Thanks Jim.) I felt warmth for an hour, and then it was back to the Eco Pod. It was raining and we could see our breath in the air. (Did I mention it was cold?)

Eco Pod Boutique Retreat, Appin, ScotlandEventually the hot tub came into its own. The view was unadulterated tranquility. The view is the reason to visit. The view is worth every penny.

We took our own champagne and a basket of goodies left in the fridge meant we didn’t go hungry (eggs, smoked salmon, cheese, chocolate…)

Eco Pod Boutique Retreat, Appin, ScotlandOne thing the Eco Pod does guarantee is privacy and isolation, but when you want it, there’s an Apple TV, iPod dock and Wi-Fi. And a hairdryer. (If you need that kind of thing in the rain-strewn wilderness.)

On the Saturday we headed into Oban. Read more

Posted on July 2, 2015

Skinny-dipping Bucket List: Season of Adventure – Wk5

This week has been…busy.

But nevertheless, I was first in the queue for the Get Messy Art Journal prompts for the week, and I’m revelling in the Season of Adventure.

So: the bucket list. I’ve never actually written one. Until now.

My first page took me splashing into a skinny-dipping tangent, with silver and blue-black fingerprints to personalise the page:

Skinny Dipping in the Season of Adventure

I love the idea of the fingerprints making this ‘thing’, this item, this bucket list entry, my own. Mine.

My personal, frivolous, secret, not-so-secret wish (longing?), or perhaps I just feel like this is one I won’t get to do because time, like water, like waves, slips on by and skinny-dipping tends to be a pursuit carried out spontaneously on a teenage, or twenty-something whim.

Mmm. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, my main bucket-list pages were set alight by this double-spread fashion image of the girl jumping. It has such energy and spirit, driving the adventures to come. Read more

Posted on May 11, 2015

How to make a floral hairband in 3 easy steps

Floral hairbands in multi-colours on hairbands, but also on elastic hairbands. I’ve seen them around the last few years. I wanted one.

Sometimes they feature crowns of white flowers that remind me of crafting daisy-chains in the long grass by the tennis courts on my school lunch break.

I never wore a crown of flowers when I was at school, and I think particularly because of that fact: I decided to make a floral hairband for myself. (Without using glue!)

Fabrics flowers & elastic

1. First, I gathered some fabric flowers and little corsages that I’d made some time ago. Oh, and coloured elastic.

When I was sifting through my stash, I was drawn to this eau de nil green and the lilac chiffon and the grey spot tulle.

2. After cutting the elastic to my head measurement, stretched to a comfortable fit, I used my sewing machine to stitch the two ends together.

3. Using my glamorous polystyrene ‘assistant’ to plan out where I wanted each element to go and experiment a bit with the design, I pinned everything in place and stitched the rest by hand.

The centre decoration is from a super-fancy hair bobble that I didn’t want to wear as a hair bobble. Now it has a new lease of life in a simple, low-key but fun floral hairband for spring/summer:

Floral Hairband Floral Hairband side view Floral hairband modelled on the head

It’s quite grown up really. Not too over the top.

I wore it to IKEA to test it out. I felt happy and summery. No-one laughed or stared or pointed.

There’s been a lot of rain and wind ever since, but next time the sun shines I’ll be the one rocking the floral hairband vibe.

And I liked it so much, I started another one, just so I’d have some colour options, you know?

Orange Floral Hairband side view Orange Floral Hairband

Make a floral hairband unique to you and be the envy of your friends!

Happy sewing :)

Posted on April 17, 2015

Perpetual beauty in nature

This week I’ve mainly spent in the garden with my Dad.

And it’s the perfect time of year to notice the perpetual beauty in nature that just keeps on giving.

A view of camellia's smiling down

Never does a tulip wonder if it is the right colour or too tall or too thin or fat or the wrong shape.

A rose doesn’t attempt to change its petals.

The grass just grows where it seeds or is planted.

Weeds spring up and they never feel inferior or wrong or bad or guilty.

The sun shines and clouds appear and the rain pours from the sky without a thought or a worry, because that is what nature intended. Read more

Posted on April 6, 2015

The Time is Now #the100dayproject

I’ve had a few days off. From making. From blogging. To just relax. Read. Go to a family wedding and get hideously drunk and intoxicated on life. To dance. To sleep. To dream.

And I recommend it.

Because now I’m inspired and ready to get back to work and create lots of amazing things using words and coloured pencils and paper and wool and anything else that calls to me. Like my camera.

Cherry Blossom

And it’s the Get Messy ‘Season of Brave’ for art journaling. Perfect.

Are you feeling brave? Is there something you want to start for Spring?

Read more

Posted on January 13, 2015

The inspiration of flowers, colours & Spring trends

At this time of year flowers can be a gigantic mood booster.

Wild flowers, bunches of bright yellow daffodils (I’ve seen them for sale already!), or just photographs of flowers in the garden from last summer.

I give you my pretty pink camellias and bright blue grape hyacinths and dazzling white daisies: the inspiration of flowers.

Flowers in the garden Grape hyacinths in the gardenFlowers in the garden

But more than that, the words that we use to describe colours can infuse the mind with the connotations of that colour.

Vermilion, fuchsia, bronze, eau de nil, emerald, sapphire, amethyst

See what I mean?

Visualisation is so powerful.

And then I rediscovered some long-forgotten scrawls from the days I used to avidly attend trend seminars. The descriptions of Pantone colours for two (or usually six) seasons ahead, combined with references to textures and prints had me swept away; dreaming, designing, intoxicated by the words and the approximation of their physical manifestations.

Imagine these:

Electric blue, acid yellow, voluminous swatches, crazy stars, flags, polka, red, orange, drops of colour, fluorescent accessories, rich jewels of intense and saturated colour, brushed, shiny, pockets of unpopular colours, clashing patterns, bizarre yarn, anti-minimal, special feel, no grey, too much, not enough.

I wrote of a bird’s nest of complexities and would find no-end of inspiration sorting out my stash of beautiful fabrics and haberdashery. I’ve always been a magpie.

I would buy Liberty prints and one-off hand-painted prints from The Cloth Shop in SoHo, London, or intricate handmade ceramic buttons from Barcelona. How I loved that life!

Breton stripes and ‘nautical’ and florals for Spring? Of course – it wouldn’t be the same without them!

Bunch of Spring flowers

Let’s keep the momentum going by bringing the colours of nature in all their eclectic beauty into our homes, wardrobes, crafts and imaginations and not get beaten down by grey days.

Because grey is rather sophisticated, as it goes…

Posted on December 2, 2014

Collage Club: GREEN

When I first sat down to think about the theme of GREEN, here is what sprang to mind:

grass, trees, fields, weeds, landscapes, recycling, renewal, clean, fresh, simple, calming, eco-friendly, pastures, countryside, stalks, stems, flowers, hillsides, moss, nature, beautiful thoughts, serenity, spinach, peas, apples, pears, green for ‘go’, and my own little creative space which is painted a fresh and minty green.

And then I thought of all the colours that come under the auspices of GREEN.

Olive, pine, chartreuse, sage, bottle, Spring, meadow, mint, forest, emerald…

And then I thought of some associations of GREEN:

Green with envy

Dirty green money

Green-eyed monster

Some of those things are nasty. And they lead me to thoughts of wicked witches with vials of green poison.

But I wanted my collage to embody good green things; the positive connotations.

In the end I took inspiration from the green and verdant space of the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress in Helsinki. There were fields and hillsides of flowers and weeds growing wild as nature planned it, or at least that’s how it seemed. It felt tranquil and natural and beautiful and simple.

I planned out a green background with a tangle of green shoots and stems of flowers and leaves and thought it would be nice to tie that in somehow with recycling. I wanted to use images of the recycling sign as the flower heads. I considered trying to draw one, or searching for one online, or photocopying one from some packaging.

But then a little green brochure came through my door from the council, promoting the recycling targets in my area. It was full of recycling signs and lots of different greens. It was perfect!

So I give you my GREEN collage; my field of flowers and weeds and my message of recycling to ensure we will always have GREEN in our lives:

GREEN Collage

Materials used: Green handmade paper, council recycling brochure (read and recycled – upcycled – into collage-art), pattern-edged scissors, PVA glue, patience, imagination and many GREEN thoughts.

Thanks so much to Karen at Leaf and Petal for hosting this month’s collage link up on her blog.

This post was originally published on my blog The Magpie Diaries.


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