Sunday, 16 June 2013

EXPLORE | Magical Books: From the Middle Ages to Middle Earth @ Bodleian Library, Oxord

“Let us suppose that this everyday world were at some one point invaded by the marvellous! – C.S Lewis

As a Father’s Day treat, my family and I ventured into Oxford to explore the Bodleian Library’s Summer exhibition – Magical Books: From the Middle Ages to Middle Earth.

Across the paved courtyard and through one of the tiny, Latin covered doors, an exploration of childhood tales, magic and fantasy was enveloped.The dimly lit, compact cove contained ancient books, manuscripts and illustrations from the Bodleian archives which depicted mythical beings, magical practices and enchanting tales, both fictional and factual.

Included in the collection were treasures linked to some of arguably the greatest childhood (and adulthood) tales and their authors - a map of Narnia drawn by CS Lewis; an original illustration by JRR Tolkein; the working pages of Philip Pullman’s The Dark Trilogy amongst many others. 

The picturesque Bodleian Library, Oxford

When imagination and fantasy are channelled into fashion, magical things happen. You just need to look through the collections of McQueen and Westwood to be taken on a sartorial fairytale.

The Bodleian exhibition is open until October but, for those unable to make a quest to the ‘shire, is explorable to an extent online here.

Friday, 7 June 2013

MAKE | Lace Panelled Shirt


The catwalks have been swamped with subtle injections of lavish fabrics such as lace, velvet and leather adding a hint of glamour to otherwise classic pieces. One such timeless wardrobe essential is the simple shirt, a much-shwopped item found in an array of materials, shapes and colours and inhabiting the wardrobes of most.
It’s quite easy to give this old faithful a new luxury lease of life while creating a versatile look for both day and night. The opportunities are endless with this DIY technique and you can experiment with different materials and colours to really spice up those shirts.

DIY shwopped shirt with lace 

  • One shwopped shirt
  • Lace (we used old lace curtains!)
  • Sewing Machine
  • Pins
  • Paper and Pencil (to trace pattern)
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors

DIY shwopped shirt 
Cut out the back panel of your shirt leaving a ½ inch gap from the seam as you’ll attach your new lace panel to it later.

DIY shwopped shirt

DIY shwopped shirt 
Using this removed panel as a pattern, pin it to your lace fabric and cut out to create the new back panel. Again, add a ½ inch to the outline to attach it to the shirt with.  You could also trace around the back panel plus ½ inch on paper to make a pattern.

DIY shwopped shirt 
Now the fiddly bit. Turn the shirt inside out and pin in the new lace back panel matching up the ½ inch around the seams.
When it’s all even and looking fabulous, carefully sew into place along the shirt’s original seam and hem the bottom edge. If you want to be really precise you can trim around the excess material on the seams so it’s all neat.

DIY shwopped shirt
Sit back in your ‘new’ shirt and bask in the glory of being a DIY fashionista.
To pick up a shwopped shirt, or material, find out where your local Oxfam shop is.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

MAKE | Memories Board


DIY memories board
This DIY is the perfect way to display those photos, pictures, postcards and letters which are shoved in a shoebox at the back of your wardrobe. This craft can be cheap and easy and bring a unique, colour co-ordinated accessory to any room.
It’s easy to just charity shop by your dress size but don’t neglect pieces which catch your eye for their prints and patterns as there are plenty of ways they can be used in different projects. This craft uses a Shwopped M&S dressing gown with a fantastic, retro print.
Shwopped fabric
You will need...
  • OLD PINBOARD (or stiff cardboard)
  • SPLIT PINS (make sure they are long and strong enough to pierce through the padding)
DIY memories board
1. Lay your chosen item right side down on a flat surface. We’ve used this old M&S dressing gown picked up in Oxfam.

2. Place your pin board on your clothing and draw around it.

3. Cut it out leaving a good few inches around your outline to ensure it will easily cover the board with padding. Put this to one side.
DIY memories board
4. Cut open an old pillow and spread the padding over your board evenly, just enough to give it a bit of cushioning.

5. Put your patterned fabric on top of your board and padding. Tuck the edges round the sides of the board, pulling tight, and temporarily secure with pins. Keep adjusting to ensure the fabric is pulled as tight as possible.
DIY memories board
6. Turn the board over and staple around the edge of the excess fabric, keeping the fabric as tight as possible and tucking the corners in neatly.
DIY memories board
7. Hammer a tack or pin into the side edge at each corner of the board or wherever you would like your ribbons to begin from.

8. Cut several lengths of ribbon long enough to stretch over diagonally across the board.

9. Knot the ribbon around the tack at one corner and pull it down tightly to the diagonal opposite corner and tie to that tack. Repeat this on the opposite corners. We are using wrapping ribbon which will split if punctured but if using fabric ribbon you could just tack through it to hold it in place.
DIY memories board
10. Take a split pin and push it through the centre point formed by your crossing ribbons. Use a pin to create an initial hole if necessary and hammering it can help force it through the pin board. When it punctures through the other side be sure to bend it flat so it doesn’t catch or scratch.

11. Repeat this process for the amount of ribbons you want on your board. Insert split pins at every ribbon cross point and tuck the ribbon around the head.
DIY memories board
12. To hang the board you need to cut and attach another length of ribbon or string to the back of the board.  We stapled ours. Hang your new memories board pride of place and use to display your favourite photos, letters, pictures or knick knacks.

TOP TIP 1: You can paint the golden heads of the split pins in complimentary or contrasting colours using paint or even nail varnish. You could also glue buttons on top of them for a quirky, crafty look.
TOP TIP 2: Cut your pinboard into a shape or letter for a really individual creation.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

READ | Vogue - June 2013

VOGUE // JUNE 2013 // PG 89

I loved this article in last month’s British Vogue by Polly Morland, author of The Society of TimidSouls, which gave insight into her quest of ‘how to be brave’.

In the pages of her book, she has sought out and compiled stories of the world’s most courageous people triggered by her own timid soul. She told Vogue: “I was underequipped in the courage department…little by little I realised how much I’d love to be brave, or at least a little bit braver."  

It got me deliberating the subject myself.

My mind automatically deems courage an act of extreme bravery or action; something life threatening, transforming or with high levels of risk. This is still true and I can’t begin to imagine what depths the courage arises from to tackle such feats. Then there’s also the self-imposed courage it takes to throw yourself out of a plane or swim with sharks which is again triumphant.


ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage

a young man who shows courage or fighting spirit.

endure or face unpleasant conditions or behaviour without showing fear

However, I also believe courage seeps into the everyday too. As well as the generally confirmed forms of valour, there can also be an extremely personal level of bravery. A single step outside your comfort zone can take a tremendous amount of bravery. Traits such as speaking your mind and standing up for yourself take bravery. Snap, spontaneous decisions, take bravery.  Sometimes, with events such as the monstrosity in Woolwich not to mention global sufferings, it can feel brave to even leave the house on a daily basis.

Yet avoiding being brave can leave you stuck in your mousehole. In her article, Polly said: “Fear turned out to be absolutely central to their mettle, the intuitive bedrock from which their bravery sprang.” We’ve all heard those vacant inspirational phrases such as ‘do something everyday that your scared of’ alongside the ‘YOLOs’ but maybe there’s a whiff of sense amongst those treacly words. Is it fear that forces us out of the safety zone into a more fulfilled life?

As also mentioned, it seems this craving for bravery in such an unstable environment has triggered a reaction on the fashion front too. Loud prints, bright colours, bold ensembles and ‘crazy’ designs could all be deemed as ‘brave’ by the wearers. Statement style evokes individual strength and fearlessness and defies mass conformity and in the end, is vital to the future of the industry.

“I’ve learnt that it’s in looking and thinking beyond your own bubble, your own immediate comfort, that courage starts to grow,” Polly said, words my own timid soul and I will be taking heed of.

Polly Morland’s book, The Society of Timid Souls – the namesake of which was a group for stage-frightened wartime performers on the Upper West Side, is now downloaded onto my iPad and top of my reading list.

How would you define bravery? Who would you classify as brave and why? Is it important to be brave?