A design blog to capture a collection of thoughts from a bowerbird who is in love with unique design - fashion, furniture, art, photography, interiors, jewellery and creative minxes

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nanna Craft

Nan with her origami fabric flower

Close up of the detail in the fabric flower. It's perfect even thought it was made by aging hands!

It’s not often that both sets of grandparents’ are still alive and completely, “with-it” when you turn 29 (one set in their late 70’s and the other side 91!). I'm lucky enough to be in that situation and this weekend I spent time with with my mum's parents, Nan & Pop.

For as long as I can remember both of them have been making things with their hands. Growing up and living on farms conditioned them to be very resourceful and these skills have definitely stuck with them as they’ve aged. They both cook up a mean country meal with cakes baked using my great-grandparent’s recipes’ and pop is a natural craftsman with wood-turning.

Nan has been into needlecraft since before my mum was born. My school holidays were spent at their home with Nan teaching me an assortment of handcrafts - candlewicking, shadow embroidery, patchwork and dress making .I’m sure all were taught to keep me occupied and give her a little peace and quiet!

Yesterday, Nan showed me her current patchworking project, an origami patchwork wall hanging from, “Flower Origami” by Kumiko Sudo.

I fell in love with the perfectly folded fabric flowers and the contents from the Flower Origami book. It got me thinking about other applications for these little folded fabric flowers. Stitched together they’d make a beautiful cushion cover or add a pocket and it could be a purse. You could even string them together to make a garland decoration – possibilities are endless!

Nan was horrified when I told her I’d put these pictures on the blog but I think her skill is something to share – what do you think?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Colours for winter (continued)

Camel colour board for my winter wardrobe

Grey colour board for my winter wardrobe

To work out the colour combinations for my winter wardrobe, I’ve continued the colour mood board idea. This time, I looked at colours grey and camel and nominated seven matching colours that worked with each (and would suit my colouring).

Grey has been paired with denim blue, dark faun, black, ivory, khaki green, blush pink and mustard yellow.

Camel has been paired with black & white stripes, cream, olive green, burgundy, warm grey and denim blue.

Now that the colour boards are complete, I’ve decided to ONLY buy & make clothing items that match the following colours:

• Denim blue
• Khaki Green
• Burgundy
• Black (or black+white)
• Ivory
• Dark faun
• Blush pink
• Camel
• Grey
• Mustard yellow

This should result in a very functional winter wardrobe with lots of interchangeable outfits!

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chanel inspired tunic

sketches of my chanel inspired tunic

My inspiration board: I love the brooch detail on the Oscar de la Renta dress (top left image)

I have a confession – I’ve jumped the gun with creating my winter wardrobe by purchasing fabric before I’ve finished designing! I knew it was going to end in $$ added to my credit card the moment I entered Tessuti's but the yummy Missoni fabrics and Fendi linings were too tempting to walk past (especially with a SALE sign out the front!)

the fabrics I bought...

From left: black/white wool (for a cape), terracotta cotton/stretch (for shorts), brown plaid wool stretch (for tunic), brown felt/cashmere (for coat), boucle (for tunic)

I had decided on the colours for my winter wardrobe, which helped me show a little restraint when choosing fabrics. I was able to cull my selection from 10 different wools, jerseys, cotton blends to 5 different types of fabric (are you proud of me Cade?)

I want to make a tunic for work, so the boucle (I think that’s the right word? Can anyone confirm what it’s called?) fabric in khaki’s, pink, brown etc. looked perfect. So hence, the drawing above of my Chanel inspired dress!

Vogue had a pattern sale on last week so I stocked up on 10 new designs. I bought pattern V8146 for the work tunic. I’m still undecided on whether I should make the matching jacket? What do you think? Is it too much for someone aged under 35?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

French = Style

doodle from Paris (please excuse the lady with chicken legs, my pen got a little carried away!)

I was in Paris early October 2010 and while sitting ‘alfresco’ in the heart of the Maris I started doodling the fashion and style that was walking by (hmmm, actually, the word ‘doodle’ and ‘Paris’ should not be in the same sentence, maybe sketch would be a better word??)

Anyway, I re-discovered this ‘sketch’ today and I took the following inspiration for my winter clothes:

* Always wear a scarf

* Buy a chic umbrella (dodging puddles with a newspaper over your head is a total no, no)

* A tailored, cropped jacket works with most things

* Tights! (Note-to-self: stick at the gym)

* Tan ankle boots – winter staple

* Funky glasses will always make you look uber arty (think Johnny Depp)

* Stripe tops should be a mandatory

* Find THE perfect white shirt ASAP

* Update my ballet flats

* Can’t go wrong with grey, red, tan and black

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Colour Boards + Trouser and Blouse Ideas

sketches of the pants and blouse I would like to make

images from hypeed

After trawling through images and magazines, I’ve started to refine what I want in my winter wardrobe. I’ve set a goal to make about 30% of items for my wardrobe and have them completed by the end of May! You, as my audience, can have front row seats as I sweat through each stage of the creative process!

I’m only in phase 1 (research), however please feel free to critique / comment along the way.

mustard yellow / gold colour board

I’m in the process of reviewing colour combinations for my winter wardrobe. I’ve decided to pair mustard yellow with indigo blue (denim), dark faun, black, cream, warm brown (copper?) burgundy (red wine) and warm grey.

I’ve also started reviewing patterns for a pleated pant and a front tie blouse based on some images I found at Hypeed. At the moment I like the Burda Style Marilyn Trouser #6065 and the McCall’s Misses blouse M5884, however both will need a bit of editing.

Next colour review will be camel…..

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Winter Wardrobe

I know it’s insane to be thinking about a winter wardrobe in 40+ degree C heat but that’s exactly what I did this weekend. I want to sew a few key pieces for my wardrobe this year, and given my track record, I need to start months in advance to get anything finished in time!

Working from my feet up I’ve started a mood board to decided what colours and styles I’ll work with this season.

Lula magazine always inspires me so that’s where I started….

At this stage my wardrobe will include some of the following:


Mustard yellow/gold/camel


Copper brown/cinnamon

Burnt orange

Mushroom pink





Denim blue










Key Pieces

Black hat

Solid colour skirt


Plaid button up

Mustard yellow cardi

Denim shirt

Sparkle top

Leather Jacket

Jersey+leather pants

Knit vest



Silky camisole

Ankle boots

Oversize top/jumper

Roll neck top

Cowl neck dress

I drew these shoes from images I found on the net. I’ll use this as a starting point for the ankle boots I’d like to buy.

I’ll be sketching the other items I’d like to buy/make over the coming week and will be happy to share once their done.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Strawberry Fields

After months of tendering to my strawberry plants I am finally reaping the first fruit of my labour. Creating this first little plump strawberry was no easy feat for my plants. They have come back from the brink of death too many times to count on one hand. They’ve been starved of water, hit by huge wind gusts and battled against the resident bugs that call their pot home. So a big CONGRATULATIONS goes to my little strawberry plants and well wishes for the many more (hopefully) little plump strawberries that will pop out over the coming weeks!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Limelight - Interview with Miss Be Designs (Wendy Rattray)

Above: Miss Be (AKA Wendy Rattray)

A selection of works from the Miss Be Collection

“I love how resin can capture time in a new contemporary piece”

While Miss Be Designs may be unknown to many of you, it is currently my favourite accessory brand and it’s sole creator Wendy Rattray (AKA Miss Be) is the talented minx behind all the wonderful creations.

I met Miss Be last week and I’m in total admiration of her journey thus far. From humble bean counter to a shining new design talent in under a year, Miss Be is on the road to major success.

Originally from a small town in the North East part of Scotland, Miss Be moved to Australia 8 years ago. She’d visited Australia the year before and fell in love with our way of life.

Not long after returning to Scotland a transfer opportunity came up with her company so she packed her bags and moved to Sydney. Arriving mid week around lunchtime she was shocked by the number of Aussies who were drunk and disorderly in pubs all around Sydney. She’d heard how much Aussies liked to drink but didn’t realise it included weekdays – little did she know it was Australia Day!

Making jewellery was a hobby Miss Be started back in Scotland. Always the creative, she’d dabbled in painting and silver work but fell in love with resin. “I love how resin can capture time in a new contemporary piece”.

Starting with object art, Miss Be quickly moved into making resin jewellery pieces. Spending time on her hobby after work and on weekends, she refined her techniques. “Resin is a very manual medium to work with. It takes a lot of practice to finish without any imperfections. It’s affected by so many things like temperature, time of day, time of year…”.

Feeling frustrated and bored in her accounting job, she found herself moving between companies trying to find happiness. “It took a long time before I realised it wasn’t the job it was me.” Wanting to break free into something more creative, a chance visit to a jewellery store in Paddington started the ball rolling. “The owner commented on the jewellery I was wearing and wanted to know who made the designs. It was the first time I thought I could make a business out of my hobby.”

Knowing that it would be too hard to work full time and try and establish her own brand, she resigned from her job, converted her second bedroom into a studio and created “Miss Be Designs”. Miss Be Designs is a brand about “moving away from fashion fads to being who you want to be…having independence...a brand for the nonconformist who dares to be bold”.

Combining resin with man-made and natural objects such as clocks, leaves, fabric, and feathers, Miss Be collections preserve a moment in time and create a unique, wearable piece of art. “Just because a bird no longer exists doesn’t mean its feather can't live in a different form”.

Now 8 months on, Miss Be is busy in her studio handcrafting ten pieces of jewellery a day. Even with years of experience “the end result is still unpredictable…it’s a nice surprise when the mould comes off and the final product takes form.”

Despite demand for her work growing, Miss Be is 100% committed to keeping all her pieces individually handcrafted. “It would be easy to follow suit and bow to the pressure of moving to mass production to get costs down and increase margins, but I want to keep my work unique, special and made with love.”

This year, Miss Be hopes to produce a new collection every couple of months and she’s currently working on a range that will “…capture the seasons through flowers and colours.”

Miss Be designs can be found in retail stores in Sydney and Melbourne and the “Time” and “Nature” range is part of an exhibition at Painters' Gallery in Mona Vale NSW Australia. Miss Be has also exhibited at markets like The Finders Keepers and she has an online etsy store. Miss Be encourages anyone interested in her work to join her Facebook Fan Page to keep up to date with new collections, outlets and news.

I've owned my Miss Be “Australian pheasant square ring” for about a month and it's barely come off my finger! I can’t wait to add another Miss Be design to my accessory collection!

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