Life in the Slow Lane

As many of us rediscovered the comforts of home and embraced nature during lockdown, a rising lifestyle trend called cottagecore emerged to the fore. It’s not a new trend but has certainly gained popularity over recent months.

Simply put, cottagecore it is a trend that celebrates simplicity, the home and rural life. There has been time to rediscover traditional skills and crafts including things like baking, gardening, knitting and sewing. And for many there has been a return to nature, a craving for cosiness, and a yearning for a slower, sustainable and more soulful way of life.

Recent events have also made us look at our homes and has led to a huge rise in re-decorating. Try getting paint during lockdown! The need for cosiness and safety have become high on the agenda and as a result the cottage aesthetic has become increasingly sought after.

The cottage look has always been popular, but people are actively seeking to ‘cosify’ their homes.  It’s all about creating an inviting, wholesome, rural feel whether you live in the country or the town.

If you like the idea of creating this look, start with simple elements such as neutral colours, muted tones and rustic carpentry. The look embraces feminine, floral patterns and the clutter of life, with things like dried flowers, jugs, plates and photos.
Warm whites, soft pinks and duck egg blues are perfect for the walls. Layer the look with cushions, floral linens and textures like knitted items and crocheted blankets to give a cosy feel. Pottery, baskets and life’s treasures will add to the nostalgic, country look.

Salad Days

Back in March we were facing lockdown, and like so many people I turned to the garden.

I love growing vegetables, but somehow this year it seemed really important. Watching the young seedlings emerge gave my days a real sense of purpose. Gardening is never straight forward, and a late frost meant I had to start again, but despite all the challenges by June we were enjoying delicious salads with lettuce straight from the garden. I’ve grown it in pots and in the flower borders instead of my usual flowers.

Now in July, we have an abundance of lettuce and it is starting to bolt. Not one for waste, I decided to make lettuce soup. It’s delicious served hot and equally good chilled for a light summery meal.

Ingredients
Serves 4 – 6

2 tbsp oil
1 onion finely chopped
250g/9oz lettuce leaves, trimmed, washed and thickly sliced. Any salad leaves will work.
400g/14oz potatoes, cut into small chunks of about 2cm/¾ inches
800ml/1⅓ pint chicken or vegetable stock
100ml/3½fl oz milk (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Rasp of nutmeg – this really makes it!

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion for 5–6 minutes, or until softened and beginning to brown, stirring regularly.
  2. Add the lettuce and potatoes and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover loosely with a lid and cook for 10–12 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and blitz using a stick blender until smooth. If the soup is a little thick, add a splash of just-boiled water. Or for a creamier tasting soup you can stir in the milk just before the end of cooking. Season to taste with plenty of salt and pepper and a rasp of nutmeg.
  5. Ladle into warmed bowls and, if you like, top with swirls of cream and chopped herbs. Delicious!

Summer vibes during lockdown

If we can take one positive from recent weeks, it has to be the time we’ve spent connecting with nature, whether it’s in our gardens, a walk in the park or venturing into the countryside. We have noticed the birdsong, the busyness of insects and the onset of summer.

If you follow my social media stories, you will know I love the changing seasons and studying the flora and fauna. This year some of my plants, like the clematis and peony have been the best they’ve ever been, and they give a lot of joy.

Nature plays a huge part in my design process. I have a couple of hardy fuchsias in the garden.  The delicate flowers can really pack a punch of colour and that’s what I wanted to try and reproduce in my Fuchsia pattern. As with all my fabrics, it has been printed onto a soft cotton linen, which is perfect for curtains, cushions and blinds.

Heads Up – choosing curtain headings

Beautiful curtains can instantly transform a room from drab to fab. But it’s not just about the fabric, curtain headings also play an important part in the overall look. There are many different styles of curtain headings and they all give a different effect.

I thought I’d share some of the popular styles of curtain headings that have been used with my fabrics. It might give you a little inspiration for your next project.

There’s no right or wrong style, it’s all down to personal choice, but some styles might suit your room better than others.

Pencil pleats
Pencil pleats are the traditional standard heading for curtains and suit all types of track and pole and most fabrics, patterned and plain. The pleats are gathered evenly across the top of the curtain using a drawstring tape. Simple and versatile, pencil pleats create a smart, formal window dressing but opened up a little, also suit a relaxed setting. They are suitable for most styles of room making them a popular choice.

Pinch pleats
Pinch pleat curtains have groups of structured pleats separated by flat sections; the hooks are then inserted at each pleat. Pinch pleats give a more formal tailored look and the curtains tend to hang in more uniform folds. It’s a very popular style, but I wouldn’t recommend attempting this if you are new to sewing; it’s definitely one for the experienced curtain maker. Pleats can be double or triple as shown below, and it’s worth bearing in mind that this style requires more fabric to achieve the look.

Eyelet curtains
Eyelet or ‘ring top’ curtains give a clean, modern look. Eyelets can work with slightly less than double fullness, although double fulness is recommended to give a nice ‘wave’ when the curtains are closed.

Cartridge Pleats
Cartridge Pleats are another way of creating a chic, modern look, giving a stylish ‘wave’ to the curtains.

Cottage pleats
Cottage pleats give a pretty, soft gather and are made by setting the curtain tape a few inches below the top. This style suits a traditional country setting and florals are a perfect choice.
The top frill can be short or long. The longer it is, the more it will fold over. For added interest you can sew a coordinating band of fabric along the top.

If you are looking for a curtain maker near you, please have a look at my stockist page, they will be more than happy to help you with your next project.

It’s a Classic!

When it comes to colour, one of the all-time interior classics is set to become a huge buzz in the year ahead – and it’s blue.
Earlier this year, the colour trend-forecasting company Pantone, announced their 2020 ‘Colour of the Year’. And this year it’s Classic Blue; a wonderful rich blue reminiscent of the evening sky at dusk. It sits between royal blue and navy blue and is a perfect colour for the home. It gives a room a feeling of sophistication and luxury whether it’s used in fabrics, on the wall or as a statement piece.

Blue is associated with calm and serenity, which makes it ideal for bedrooms. It’s the kind of colour that sets a relaxing tone.
It’s also a popular shade for bathrooms and coastal properties, reminding us of the sea and the sky.

I have quite a few blues across my fabric collections – there’s something for every room whether made into cushions, blinds or curtains.

Spring is the ‘classic’ time to start planning your decorating schemes, so please let me know if I can help. It’s time to have some fun!

Jacqueline x

In the Pink with new Raspberry

It’s been a busy time in the studio, working towards a new collection of fabrics. It’s always an exciting time seeing the painted designs emerge as fabrics.

The patterns are now in their final stages of colour selection, although the darker evenings aren’t very helpful with this process because you really need natural light to see their true colours.
Choosing the colours is fun, but it’s also the part that I find most difficult. The temptation to add oodles of different colours is huge, but as a small, niche company, I can only bring you what I think are the most enticing choices.

My new collection will introduce a couple of new colours and in this photo, you can see my new raspberry shade. I’m very excited about this colour and I’m looking forward to using it in my own dining room.

If you’re not familiar with my design process, take a look at my short video which takes you behind the scenes in my studio.

Warm harmonies

There’s a definite shift in the seasons. The nights are cooler, seeds and fruits are starting to show in abundance, and the hues in the landscape are changing. Autumn is a season of exceptional beauty and we can look to nature for colour combinations that work perfectly together.

Highlights from Maison & Objet 2019 Design Fair are showing a trend for warm harmonies, such as mustards and burgundy.

Using warm yellow shades in the home boosts optimism and happiness, and they can be balanced with more subtle colours such as neutrals, greys and soft pinks.

Autumn is the perfect time of year to plan a room makeover. Planning a new look doesn’t have to be a large-scale project; it’s surprising how a few small changes like cushions can give the room a whole new feel.

I’m always happy to put fabric ideas together for you, so please get in touch if you would like some help.

Summer Brights

Blue sky and summer flowers can’t help but lift the spirits.

I’ve put together some of our pretty fabrics to get you in the mood for Summer. They mix and match beautifully, just like the abundance of happy annuals in our gardens.

If you’re a little unsure about mixing patterns, try using my Pinstripe fabric. It’s a delicate hand painted stripe that’s almost a plain: perfect for co-ordinating with other fabrics.

 

I hope you’re enjoying the Summer.

Behind the scenes

Have you ever wondered how your furnishing fabrics start off?

I’ve had so much interest in my design process and curiosity about my studio, that I decided to commission a short video with the help of Jemma Cholawo. Between us, we made a short film to show the development of my designs and the inspiration behind my work.

When the day of filming arrived, I was feeling excited and a little apprehensive. As a designer, I’m happiest working quietly behind the scenes and so having to speak to the camera was a totally new experience for me. Funnily enough I’m not usually short of things to say until faced with a microphone! However, Jemma was great and soon put me at my ease.

Surprisingly for a short film, it took over half a day of filming. There was also a lot of pre-planning before the day of filming. I now understand why a film takes so long in the making, but it was a hugely interesting experience.

We had a lot of fun putting this together, and I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my world. Just click the image below to follow the link, or visit the studio tab.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

When stylist Selina Lake contacted me about her forthcoming project, I was very excited to hear her plans. Selina explained she had been commissioned to style the Alitex greenhouses at RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year. If you’re not familiar with their greenhouses, you must have a look, they are seriously stunning! Think National Trust and Kew.

Alitex stand Main Avenue

Selina is well known for her botanical styling and was the perfect choice for the challenge. She explained how she planned to create a show stopping Floral Party inside the larger greenhouse and an entomology theme in the other greenhouse, hopefully highlighting the importance of bees and garden insects.

If you’re familiar with my work, my Field Study and Busy Bee designs were the perfect choice for the entomology theme. When Selina asked if my fabrics could be made up as cushions and used as part of the display, I was already reaching for the needle and thread.

Setting-to on my trusty old sewing machine I made the cushions, packed them up and sent them on their way. But things don’t always go smoothly behind the scenes and the cushions went missing. With deadlines looming, I thought the only thing to do was to make up more cushions. And with the help of our local courier, Knights Delivery, they were driven up personally on the same day; the cushions arrived on time!

After all Selina’s careful planning, the Alitex stand was awarded 5 stars form the show organisers. It’s such a boost for my small studio to have been a part of the display that captured the imagination of show judges and visitors alike. Here are some photos that will give you a flavor of the display.

You can read more about everyone involved in bringing together the 5 star award winning Alitex stand here.

Photos by Julia Currie Photography and Lorna Syson