Botanical Style & WipsandBlooms

If you caught the last Season's podcast, you'll know making a home has been a pretty big theme for me. Having just moved, I've now got a blank canvas to explore and decorate. I have a new garden and am surrounded by beautiful scenery that I'm delighting in getting to know each season. 

I wanted to be able to reflect the Nature Baby in me that rejoices with the changing weather, no matter what the season. I seek out new flora and fauna and I'm almost always called out on saying "those are my absolute favourite" to each new bloom. I love the way Magnolia heralds the entrance of Spring and thick blossom promises Summer just round the corner. It wasn't until I discovered Selina Lake's book, 'Botanical Style', that I realised I could bring all this joy into my home. 

Botanical Style by Selina Lake

Botanical Style by Selina Lake

'Botanical Style' is a celebration of nature, plants and florals in the home. The book explores Selina's love for botanicals and includes styling and decorating tips for your home. I love how rich in photography the book is, meaning I could leaf through, deciding options that felt more like "me" and my home when the world of interior design felt new and unfamiliar. The book is also helpfully divided into different style sections such as 'Boho Botanicals' or 'Vintage Botanicals'. 

It's meant that once the furniture started going into place, the next thing I turned my mind to was fabrics, plants and little details that brought that happy feeling I get outside, into my home. Things started creeping in...

And then some more things crept in....

Botanicals in my home

It seemed perfect then that this month, Katie and I will be hosting a giveaway for our #wipsandblooms monthly join in on Instagram, giving away a copy of the book. To date, this is my largest Work In Progress: an entire home, decorated to make me feel a sense of joy and security. I'm using a lot of Selina's tips and styling ideas as I turn my attention to places I can put a little texture and tone that reminds me of times spent outside, enjoying the best of the season. 

Find  wipsandblooms  on Instagram

Find wipsandblooms on Instagram

For your chance to win a copy of the book, all you have to do is post an image on Instagram that shows your current making and include a favourite bloom (or plant- keep it truly botanical style!). It can be big or small, styled or natural. It really is all about the process. Add the hashtags #wipsandblooms and if you like, tag Katie (@Ceramicmagpie) and myself (@aplayfulday). You can even let people know it's for a giveaway because that's just a nice thing to do, right? At the end of the month we will pick a lucky winner!

Happy Making x

My copy of Botanical Style was kindly provided by Ryland Peters, Selina's publishers. Views expressed here are my own. To find out more please visit the following link:

Review: Makery Sewing

Kate Smith is the owner of The Makery in Bath, a creative hub that focuses on skills needed for making and specialises in sewing. With The Makery's commitment to helping people improve their skills, 'Makery Sewing' is a good basic book to help you take the steps you need. Inside you will find over 30 projects divided into sections 'Home', 'To Wear' and 'To Give'. 

A review of Makery Sewing by Kate Smith

A review of Makery Sewing by Kate Smith

The Highlights

The book is beautifully styled so it's a delight to pour through and get in the mood to make. Each project has a clear picture at the start of that section with an arty styled shot of the materials you'll need sandwiching the instructions. The instructions are clear and I like the fact that each new project starts with a little info bubble on how long you should expect this to take you. 

Beautiful styling inside this basic sewing book

Beautiful styling inside this basic sewing book

The projects are not costly as they are mostly quite small and easy to achieve. They shouldn't need a great deal of specialist equipment and in fact, hand sewing instructions are given for the really easy to achieve projects. This would be a good book to take nibbles in sewing before splurging on some fabric for a bigger make. 

Tools and materials are really clearly laid out at the start and there's plenty of diagrams and schematics, simply drawn, should you need. They remember to tell you to trace the patterns at the back of the book so you can use it again and there's a tips and techniques section at the back of the book too. Very user friendly for a novice like me. 

The Projects:

I really liked a lot of the simple items in the 'Home' and 'Give' sections. Highlights include the Foldaway Bread Platter, the Sweet Tin Footstool and Hooped Laundry Bag. I was a little less convinced by some of the 'To Wear' projects as there could have been more simple modified tees, upcycled skirts etc. I suspect the aim was to keep things to a very small yardage of fabric without sizing so that it was a really entry level book. Lots of bags and a dog collar was a little uninspiring though. 

Patch Pocket Tee Project from Makery Sewing

Patch Pocket Tee Project from Makery Sewing

I do think I will have a go at the Patch Pocket Tee project to help me familiarise myself with my sewing machine. I think many of the projects would ease you through the skills you'd need to eventually progress to dress making should you wish. 

Food For Thought:

Something that might have worked well would have been a rating system or suggested progression of skills. It's arranged by inspiration which makes for a happy flip through and to dive in wherever whimsy takes you. I know I'm guilty of biting off more than I can chew when excited though so would love something within the book to help me pick a project by skills needed too. 

Advice and Tips from Makery Sewing

Advice and Tips from Makery Sewing

I would recommend Makery Sewing for novices and those looking for cute ideas for materials they might already have and wish to use up. It's very sweet and I'd be interested to see more from The Makery. They have a good eye for cute projects and simple but effective technqiues that appeal to those new to sewing. 


My copy of Makery Sewing was sent for the purposes of review by the Octopus Publishing Group. Views are entirely my own. 

'Online Marketing for Your Craft Business': A Review

I received some pretty exciting post this week and I wanted to share the book that has eaten all my free time this week as I've hungrily gobbled my way through it. If you are thinking about a career change into the crafting industry, already dabble but want to make the full time jump or already run your own business but have been unsure how best to connect with your audience, then this is most certainly the book for you. 

Hilary Pullen's 'Online Marketing for You Craft Business' is an essential manual for all craft businesses with clear steps laid out of how to get your handmade products discovered, shared and sold on the internet. Hilary knows her stuff- she's been creating communities, managing social media and creating blog content for some time and is well respected in the industry. If you're a craft blogger in the UK, you might know her from her personal website, CraftBlogUK, a directory and one stop shop that brings together the Craft Blogging Community within the UK. 

Picture courtesy of Hilary Pullen (c)

Picture courtesy of Hilary Pullen (c)

It's fair to say I was excited when my preorder of the book finally arrived as I've read several articles Hilary has written about her work and have always felt highly inspired by the possibilities that a strategic approach to online marketing can bring.  The benefits are huge and not just in terms of bigger sales either. A great online strategy will provide you with loyal fans, product feedback, better rankings in search engine results pages, a better awareness of your work and most importantly perhaps, a greater interest in your brand of products. Hilary skilfully outlines this is a way that is supportive and encouraging and the actions you will need to take are neatly laid out in a way that's not overwhelming but achievable. 

I wouldn't need to be massively experienced in the ways of marketing to access this book. Hilary's writing style is friendly and accessible without being too distracting from what I need to know.  Each page is beautifully presented too with plenty of white space and pleasing layout that draws my eye to reinforce key ideas while making things bite size and easy to digest. I love the graphic design and illustrations throughout that stop this being dry and unwieldy. 

Hilary knows a lot of people in the business and she peppers her book with useful tips on how to make online marketing work best for you as well as inspiring quotes from the likes of Tilly and The Buttons, Patricia Van Der Akker (of The Design Trust) and Timothy Adam (of Handmadeology). This isn't just showing off her formidable network of contacts, Hilary is showing you just what it takes to make it work. Making it work has been very much on my mind lately as you'll know if you took part in our #makeitwork Twitter hangout

The book is laid out in a really logical way, building from why you'd use these strategies, to the nuts and bolts of how each element works, through to how to have a cross channel approach. The part I really liked most though was that you can easily navigate to one particular section and start there. The book works as an entire learning journey but also allows you to cherry pick a topic that particularly resonates at that moment for you. Anything she cross references to previous sections is easy to find so it doesn't just become a load of marketing jargon that feels cold and unfathomable. 

I feel that for £14.99, you're getting a lot of useful information that you can come back to and review time and time again when you feel like you're missing something, or are ready to take it up a level. If you're really thinking about getting your hands on a copy, Hilary is currently offering 20% discount on signed copies

I was so impressed with what I was reading that I reached out to Hilary and she will be joining me for a special podcast episode that will go live on the 18th October 2014. Tune in to hear from one of the leading experts on how best to market your online craft business and get an insight into what some of your favourite craft brands are doing behind the scenes to inspire you. 

I bought my copy of 'Online Marketing For Your Craft Business' from Amazon

 

Update: Wow what a response! I need to add a few details for those asking:

1. Yes, there will be a digital version. I will update when I know the release date.

2. US version is likely to be released on 21st November 2014- save the date!

NEW!

With Spring rapidly approaching and the start of a new month, it is fitting that today I am welcoming Alana Dakos as this month's blog and podcast sponsor! Today is an especially good day because it sees the long awaited release of Alana's latest Collection, 'Botanical Knits 2'!

'Forest Foliage', (c) Alana Dakos

Here's a teaser for those of you who can't wait:

'Continue to embrace the beauty of nature with Botanical Knits 2. In this follow up collection, traveling cables, organic textured stitches, and lacy stitch patterns make a reappearance, along with easy to read charts and written pattern instructions. From the cables of a heavy sweater coat to the delicate stitches of a lace shawl, the essence of plant life is worked into each of the 4 sweaters and 8 accessories included in this book'.

'Bare Branches', (c) Alana Dakos

Botanical Knits 2 is available as an ebook ($18) or to pre-order in print ($22 plus shipping). Everyone who pre-orders the book in print will receive a complimentary ebook to download right away. Those who pre-order will a;sp receive a botanically inspired gauge measuring bookmark as well as a new complimentary knitting pattern designed by Alana Dakos with their book shipment in June. To get your preorder, simply click on the button in the side bar. 

The Botanical Knits Ravelry Group has KALS for each of the designs which you can find here

'Thicket', (c) Alana Dakos

Want to find out more? I'll be featuring the latest Collection in the next podcast and you can win a copy. So join me on 16th March 2014 to celebrate Botanical Knits 2. I can't wait to share it with you!