Monday, 31 January 2011


Cushions are the cheapest and easiest way to update a room and there are plenty to choose from on the High Street and online.  They are also very simple to make, even if you only know how to sew straight lines! Having moved house last September we are looking forward to decorating after this week, when we finally have central heating fitted. In between choosing colours for rooms I am busy looking at fabric for making cushions as I refuse to buy them when I am pretty good at sewing straight lines!  However I know time restraints can leave us looking to other shops and designers for that instant room update.  Therefore I've had a look to see what fabulous indie designers have to created in hues of plum, as this will be the feature wall colour in the lounge.

from Sew Sew


Friday, 28 January 2011

Fabric Friday - Snapdragon

Today is of course Fabric Friday yet I am going to steer away slightly from textile designers this week to share with you the work of Snapdragon.  Yesterday Jane of Snapdragon tweeted that she had just received lots of lovely fabric parcels in the post, kindly donated by various people.  I swiftly responded that I wanted to live in her world as I would love to randomly receive packages filled with fabric, scraps and vintage pieces. But there is a reason that Jane reguarly receives random fabric parcels.  Snapdragon designs use remenants of fabric, often destined to the bin to bring to life Janes sketches that she collects throughout the year. 

The summer months see Jane growing cut flowers and from reading her blog I know her garden looks amazing.  This is when her inspiration is at it's peak surrounded by flowers, bunting, cakes, chickens and seedheads.  Jane then transfers her sketches to fabric, using every last scrap of each piece and adding details with freehand embroidery, making every item unique. 

Having quit her office job in 2000, Jane retrained in horticulture, moved to the Scottish countryside and started Snapdragon.  A dream I am sure many would love to follow, how often do I hear of people wanting to quit the rat race and earn a creative living?  Jane and Snapdragon are proof that the dream is possible, with lots of hard work and dedication.  And just to make that dream even the sweeter Jane works from a fabulous vintage airstream caravan set amongst the flowers in the cutting garden.

I'm sure you will all agree Jane's designs are fabulous and her mirrors and badges make great gifts or favours and I need to buy all of her cards as they would make great pictures on my office wall, brightening even the greyest of days with thoughts of summer.


Snapdragon products are also available throughout the UK at many outlets.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Book Review - New Decor by Elizabeth Wilhide

For so long we lived with neutral shades where minimalism ruled, as if we were afraid of making a personal statement by adding colour to our pale interiors. This trend has now shifted and the use of colour, pattern and accessories to decorate our homes is back with a vengeance! Although putting together a bold interior can prove daunting, there are plenty of homes magazines and books offering advice and inspiration.

Elizabeth Wilhide aims to ease the concerns for those of us who want to bring together colour and pattern in our homes. New Decor is a book that helps explain the new styles, encouraging the reader to mix old and new, 'the new decor isn't about recreating the past or side-stepping the present'. This could mean 'a baroque chair made of Perspex, a toile de Jouy wallpaper featuring gritty urban scenes' or perhaps 'a contemporary chair upholstered in a traditional print'. Willhide takes the reader through the stages of decorating a room using this idea of new decor.

Willhide deftly guides us through choosing colour palettes and using these in creating feature,striped or spotty walls, with excellent instructions on how to recreate some fabulous designs. Wilhide also helps the reader to use coloured lighting to 'create evocative shifts of mood and atmosphere'. Moving on from colour we are taken to the 'print room' and shown ways to use pattern in our homes. No longer is bold patterned wallpaper reserved for grand settings, but can add a dramatic effect to a feature wall or be used to decorate an entire room. Vintage prints which used to adorn homes many years ago have been reproduced just as fashion designers crossover in to the world of interiors. Contemporary wallpaper sees an increase in the scale and size of the repeat, with traditional producers reproducing archive patterns in bolder scales and new designers creating even bolder collections.

Having been taught to use colour and wallpaper Wilhide advises the reader on how to choose and use fabric in the home. Due to new materials and new print technologies textile design has never been so popular, ever more so with the trend to make things by hand. Textiles allow us to update a room and add depth by mixing textures in our choice of soft furnishings. In New Decor the author guides us through choosing fabric for cushions, curtains and looks at transferring these patterns to floors as well.

Now with the canvas almost complete, Wilhide offers style advice for choosing 'objects of desire'. Obviously finishing touches are as much about personal taste as choosing the initial colour palette. These finer details may take many years to create as we collect items to compliment our interiors.

The final section of New Decor helps the reader understand and plan the practicalities of decorating and designing their home. Willhide teaches us how to strip wallpaper, prepare walls for painting, choose the right fabric for the right job, dress windows, make square cushions, sand floors and create a lighting scheme, to name just a few things covered in this useful final chapter.

New Decor is an incredibly informative book, guiding the reader through many aspects of interior design, offering clever ideas and practical help. I think New Decor is a fantastic book to have to hand when considering updating any home, as Elizabeth Wilhide not only takes away the fear of mixing old and new but openly encourages it.

New Decor by Elizabeth Wilhide ISBN 978-1-84400-492-8 Publisher - Quadrille

(This post was first published on UK Handmade)

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Etsy Treasuries

·   Today I am thrilled to welcome back Viv of Poppy Sparkles to explain about Etsy Treasuries.  I have never put together a treasury and I am sure they are a great way to build your network in the Etsy marketplace.  I would also like to tell you about Viv's fantastic new blog where she shares her insight into building a creative business online, Viv Smith : Online.

       Etsy is so much more than just a collection of online stores and there are a whole host of ways you can interact on Etsy, whether it's for fun or to increase your exposure and direct traffic to your Etsy store.  

What is an Etsy treasury?

A treasury is a gallery or showcase of items curated, or selected, by an Etsy member from the host of items available on Etsy. They can be for all to see, or you have the option to mark as private.

Cosy Nights - An Etsy Treasury I curated that made the front page of Etsy
     How do you create a treasury?

You can create a treasury, by going to the treasury home page  and clicking the ‘create a list’ button.  It’s simply a case of copy and pasting the URLs of items into the relevant spaces. I find having two browser windows open useful for this  - one open for the treasury and then one open for a search of Etsy. You click on images and move then around until you are happy with their position in the grid.  Don’t forget to click the ‘save’ button – nothing worse than losing a beautiful treasury. I know, it’s happened to me before when the internet connection crashed - I think I nearly cried, well maybe not, but I wasn't a happy bunny.

·         Why create a treasury?
  • Networking – treasuries are a great way of connecting with other buyers, however fleetingly. Often sellers will want to check out your work following inclusion in a treasury. It is also likely that they will promote the fact that they’ve been featured in a treasury, which will hopefully lead to people clicking through to your Etsy shop.
  • Karma – if people see you featuring other’s work, they’ll hopefully feature you.  You really do get out what you put in.  The handmade community recognises and rewards those that contribute.
  • It can help you understand the importance of keywords, good product photography and other key elements to improving your chance of selling online. I take a real pride in my treasuries, choosing fabulous items and images.  Each and every treasury I create I aim for front page worthiness and it’s made me realise how much work I need to do in order to get my own photographs up to scratch. As I search for particular items on a theme or colour, I start to gain an insight into the kind of words buyers or other treasury makers might be using – I can then look at my own product keywords.
  • It’s fun – like virtual window shopping and a great way to discover new items.
Retrolicious 4 by yumalum

·         Top tips for creating treasuries:
  • Theme it for an aesthetically pleasing look – by colour (2-3 complimentary or contrasting shades work well) and/or subject
  • Vary it – use a range of different items from different categories if you are going to aim for front page status. A treasury just of one type of product is very unlikely to make front page - an exception was calendars at New Year. 

  • Be seasonal - capture the current mood or holiday. So, if it's Spring think of spring colours, blossoms etc. Near Valentine's Day hearts and romance are an obvious choice that will be popular.
  • Use keywords to help people find your treasury eg colours used, textures, items, theme etc
  • Contact every seller featured – include a link to the treasury and links to your social media (I do a message that I can quickly copy and paste in the convo box to all sellers I feature to save time).  If part of your motivation is networking and promoting yourself, then this is crucial. Most sellers will want to promote the fact that they have been selected for a treasury.  I take a screen shot of all my features, pop them on my facebook with a link to the curator’s shop and often also blog about treasury features too, providing additional promotion for someone.
  • Get a screen shot as soon as you can, so you can blog and/or facebook your treasury. If an item in your treasury is delisted, as opposed to sold, then it will disappear from your treasury.
  • Share it! Facebook, Blog, tweet, stumble....! 
Written by Viv Smith, owner of Poppy Sparkles, jewellery creator, supporter of handmade and social media addict.

Thanks Viv, I'm hoping to get a spare hour to give it a try this week!

Poppy Sparkles

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Business Wednesday - Noisette Marketing

Noisette Marketing launched their new website yesterday and are here to help independant creative businesses.  They are the only marketing agency in the UK to specialise in marketing and PR for handmade buinsesses.  Having worked with clients around the globe since launching in 2009, Noisette Marketing loves to work one-to-one with creative entrepreneurs to develop a winning marketing strategy and visual branding that will make your business stand out from the crowd. 

Isa Maria is at the helm of Noisette Marketing and is already known to many through her work with UK Handmade and the British Sellers On Etsy Team.  With over 10 years experience in marketing and a first class honours degree in Design Management aswell as designing for her online shop, Noisette Kids, she is perfect to head up the team to help independant creative businesses. And her talents have been spotted furhter afield too as she posted an article yesterday with one of my favourite blogs, Design Sponge, who's reader subscrition is phenomenal.

The Noisette Marketing team is growing so ensure the agency can offer you complete marketing, PR and design packages to ensure your creative business grows in 2011 and many years to come.  I am very excited to announce that I have joined the team as a Wedding Consultant, helping creative businesses in the wedding industry develop their marketing and PR plans. Full details of my services will be available from Noisette Marketing in the next few days.

This really is a very exciting time and I hope one of the team can help you with marketing your creative business.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Survey - Plans for 2011

Today I am hoping you will help me in answering 10 quick questions to help me with my planning for this blog.  I really value your opinions and am thrilled to have so many regular followers. Please just click the survey link below and I promise it won't take too long!

Thank you for taking the time to complete the survey.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Fabric Friday - Lotta Jansdotter

Today I am going to share with you the fabulous Scandinavian inspired designs of Lotta Jansdotter.  Although based in the US Lotta Anderson, the designer behind the label whose designs clearly reflect her Swedish homeland, taking inspiration from the seasonal nature seen near her childhood home on Aland, an island between Sweden and Finland.  Yet it is visable in her use of colour the vibrancy of her travels as an adult, to Portugal and Japan.

{image courtesy of Shelterpop}

For many years San Francisco was home to Lotta, having moved there when she was 20 years old.  Determined to find a creative career she enrolled on various art courses at the local community college, but is was when she attended a screen printing class everything fell in to place.  Lotta continued experimenting with prinitng and was very much self taught after leaving the course to concentrate on experimenting with designs and techniques.  Thankfully her entrepreneurial spirit shone through and Lotta Jansdotter launched their first collection. 

{available from Selvedge}

Like so many creative businesses Lotta worked from her apartment in San Francisco gaining a local following for her designs, which caught the eye of the Japanese market, making her a design star in Japan.  Six years after launching in 1996, Lotta Jansdotter opened their first store and moved to a new studio in Nob Hill, San Fransico.  From here Lotta firmly established the Lotta Jansdotter brand across the US and reaching the international market aswell, with hundreds of stores stocking her products and also through sales via her website.
{Handmade Living by Lotta Jansdotter}

Four years later saw Lotta move to the East Coast in a bid to be closer to her beloved homeland and she quickly established herself in Brooklyn, New York, opening a new and larger stucio in the creative neighbourhood of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.  From her Lotta continued to design new collections and has written three books as well as starting a collection for babies, which will be expanded due the popularity of the range.

To read more about Lotta Anderson and take a tour of her New York apartment be sure to buy Elle Decoration this month. (Febraury 2011 issue)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Business Wednesday - Etsy Teams

Today I would like to properly introduce you to  Viv from Poppy Sparkles, who will be guest posting here on Zoe and Drew.  For Business Wednesday this week Viv is going to explain the importance of Etsy teams and building a network within this huge marketplace to stop you just being a little fish in a very big pond.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Viv Smith and the owner, designer and Jewellery maker behind Poppy Sparkles. I’m also a busy mum of two little ones, a twitter addict and a lover of handmade and crafts.

2. When did you start designing jewellery?

I started designing and making jewellery in my early teens. It began as a solution to my parents’ refusal to let me have my ears pierced and the frustration at being able to find trendy clip on earrings. I then progressed to necklaces and bracelets. Mostly I created for myself, but sold at events locally to me. In recent years I started to dabble with selling online and in March 2010 decided to take it up a level and launch Poppy Sparkles.

3. How did you discover Etsy?

A couple of years ago my mum mentioned a website,, had been featured in The Times Sunday magazine. As a lover of handmade I soon fell in love with Etsy and whiled away many an hour browsing the beautiful creations.

4. Did you open a shop immeadiately?

No. I experimented with selling on Folksy prior to setting up Poppy Sparkles and was a bit scared of Etsy – little fish in a big sea syndrome I think. However, after so much browsing I started to feel less scared and as it wasn’t much more work to list an item on Etsy as well as on Folksy, decided to give it a whirl. Etsy is a huge website and it is hard to be seen, but the internet is vast too and wherever you are on the internet, you need to put in the promotion and SEO work.

5. Etsy is now a huge marketplace, do you think it's important to join a team?

I firmly believe that networking is so valuable and the Etsy teams afford an opportunity to network with like-minded people. There are teams for a variety of different things, linking people by area, discipline and various social factors or stations in life. But, what all these teams provide is support and an opportunity to network.

6. How can the new Britsh Sellers on Etsy Team help Etsy sellers in the UK?

The British Sellers on Etsy Team has become somewhat bigger than we ever expected, but is becoming a hub of activity and support for British Etsy Sellers. There’s something for every one from treasury challenges to shop talk. The Team Twitter account I set up, along with the #uketsy hashtag, has shown how powerful social media can be and the viral effect of team members re-tweeting other members’ tweets featuring #uketsy is helping all members reach a far greater audience. As one tweet said last night “I didn’t know there was an easy way to find British Etsy sellers. Have now added you to my favs”. Another tweet was from a seller commenting on how they didn’t feel so lost now there was a community of Etsy sellers coming together on twitter. And, it’s not just Etsy sellers following the team Twitter account, I have noticed some media and PR people have started to follow and I am sure word is getting out there that the quick way to find UK Etsy items is to look up the team account or the #uketsy hashtag.

We’re not just stopping at a Twitter account either. We have a Facebook page being set up and a blog will be launched shortly where we hope to offer a platform for British Sellers on Etsy to showcase their work.

We’ve been a bit blown away by the success of the British Sellers on Etsy team and are working hard to ensure we provide a valuable service to all the British Etsy Sellers in our team. One thing we have all learnt is that collaboration and teamwork works wonders and it’d be great to continue to build a community of UK based Etsy sellers.

Thanks Viv, I look forward to seeing how the British Sellers on Etsy team progresses.  Also wishing you every success with Poppy Sparkles this year.

Poppy Sparkles

British Sellers on Etsy

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Bryonie Porter - Wallpapered Furniture

My regular readers will know how much I love print and pattern in any guise and today I am very excited to share with you a new concept, wallpapered furniture. I first read about Bryonie Porter in The Daily Telegraph a couple of weeks ago and have been dying to post about her fabulous furniture design.

Bryonie Porter creates bespoke pieces by covering modern and vintage furniture in a range of wallpapers.  She then finishes each piece of furniture by coating it in high gloss lacquer.  Whilst some of her furniture may be beyond our budgets, every piece is truly a work of art that justifies its price tag.

Time for some more eye candy!

And for your childrens rooms too.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Print and Pattern in the Home

Back in the Ninties the Changing Room team would bounce onto our television screens offering advice for using colour in our homes. Often the designers would create vibrant, if not sometimes questionable, interiors in other peoples homes, inspiring the viewers to recreate the look themselves. Over the past few years the trend has changed again as we now reguarly use print and pattern to decorate our homes.

Image courtesy of Amy Butler Design

Just as the Changing Room team showed us how to create new designs on a budget, using pattern and print in our homes is no longer for those with big budgets due to the increase in textile designers producing ranges that are accessible to smaller budgets. Amy Butler has designed several fabric collections which work equally well as cushions or bags and some of her designs are even printed on home decor weight fabric so can be used for making curtains. In the past few months Amy Butler has collaborated with UK based wallpaper company Graham and Brown to produce an ecologically responsible range of wallpaper that has been printed here in the UK. All the designs are printed on responsibly sourced FSC base using water base inks. In this new collection there are six colourways, Moss, Midnight, Sunset, Ocean, Field and Stone. Within each colourway there are six designs,that all co-ordinate within their colourway, hence 36 fantastic new wallpaper designs. This range is perfect if you are a novice interior designer or wary of using pattern on your walls, as you can be reassured that the prints will work together or on their own.

Trevelyan from Designers Guild

However we are not all confident in mixing print and pattern in our homes. Putting together a room is a bit like creating a patchwork quilt, carefully choosing colours, patterns and prints that compliment each other. Perhaps you would like a big, bold print for wallpaper, then it would be wiser to choose smaller patterns for soft furnishings or you may prefer to pick the main colours in the wallpaper and use different textures in these colours for your soft furnishings, maybe having monotone velvet curtains and silk cushion covers.

Far Far Away from Harlequin

Often fabric collections are designed to be co-ordinated offering you bold prints and stripes or smaller patterns. Harlequin and Designers Guild offer gorgeous collections for nearly every room in your home, producing wallpaper and textiles for soft furnishings that beautifully compliment each other and provide you with the simpler task of creating a fabulous room. The Far Far Away collection from Harlequin would be perfect for a childs bedroom or playroom, with it’s bold hot air balloon and double decker bus design which co-ordinates perfectly with ginghams and stripes in matching colours. The Juniper collection from Harlequin would be better suited to a living room or bedroom, with cerise being an opulent key colour that seems to bring together the fabric and wallpaper within this collection. Whereas their Amelie collection is a fresher colour palette and the simplicity of the stripes against the floral print may seem an easier choice for those of us that shy away from using statement patterns in our homes.

Juniper from Harlequin

Article first published in UK Handmade Winter Issue pages 54-59

Friday, 7 January 2011

Fabric Friday - Amy Butler Soul Blossoms

image courtesy of Amy Butler Design

It's Fabric Friday and it seems only fitting to start the year with one of my favourite designers.  Amy Butler launched her new collection, Soul Blossoms, towards the end of last year and is as inspiring and vibrant as her previous colections.  Inspired by her travels through India, Amy has used a rich jewel palette and features large floral patterns throughout Soul Blossoms.  Amy describes the collection perfectly on her website as an "interpretation of an enchanted modern passage through the floral delights of India". 

image courtesy of Amy Butler Design

There are three colourways within the Soul Blossom collection, Passion, Joy and Bliss that mix perfectly, giving you a tresure chest of colour and pattern to create with. 

So let's see the lateset creations from Etsy using the fabulous Soul Blossoms collection.

from Faith on Earth

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Business Wednesday - New Etsy Team & UK Handmade Website

For 2011 Wednesdays will be all about small business and I hope to cover lots of interesting topics over the next few months. 

British Sellers on Etsy

Whilst many of us were enjoying a restful New Years Bank Holiday Viv of Poppy Sparkles was taking on the social media for a new team on Etsy.  As one of her goals for 2011 to promote British handmade crafts Viv took on the promotion of the  British Sellers on Etsy team and has already set up a Twitter account with a blog to follow very soon.  By joining forces in a marketplace dominated by American sellers these members, already over 500, hope to gain more recognitiion and help each other to promote their Etsy shops.  So if you have an Etsy shop and are a British seller be sure to join the British Sellers on Etsy team.

Like minded in our mission to promote handcrafted designs I am looking forward to Viv sharing some Etsy knowledge in the coming weeks here in my weekly business posts.

Poppy Sparkles

New Website for UK Handmade

Today sees the launch of UK Handmade new website.  The team have been busy over the holidays creating and updating and as a writer for UK Handmade I am very excited about the new look.  Be sure to take a look!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


Wordle: Zoe & Drew

I thought we would start with something fun for 2011. I created this on Wordle. Why not have a try yourself, you can see which words are most used on your blog and play with the layout and colour scheme too!

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