Not in the Party Mood? These Quotes Will Help!

Life

Theoretically, I think parties are great. I love them, because what’s not to love, right? But in reality, we all know the stress that comes with trying to get out the door when you really don’t feel like it — be it because you’re not coping well with a winter bug, your hair is not cooperating or you just don’t want to deal with people. And I think that today, of all days, is the perfect time to offer some helpful tips that’ll have you feeling fabulous when you venture into the social wilderness this evening. As always, we can seek some inspiration from the iconic fashion and beauty quotes out there.

Tonight is the one night of the year when the pressure to have the best party EVER is higher than any other night of the year. I’m not going to be able to keep you from getting arrested or anything dramatic like that. But I can give you my favorite tips that I use to make myself feel great when I’m heading out the door and dealing with busy social occasions. I know the social butterflies among you will not know what I’m taking about. You’ve probably been bouncing around for hours in anticipation of the night ahead. But for the rest of us, I’ve collected my favorite quotes to put some spring in your step this NYE.

I too hear the voice that says you could just stay home in your pajamas with hot chocolate and movies, and YES… it does sound tempting. But NO! We are going to do this thing; you and I together! We are going out, and we are going to feel fabulous doing it.

1. YOU ARE UNIQUE, AND THAT MAKES YOU AWESOME

It sounds cheesy, but embrace who you really are! (Anyway I love cheese so I never really understood why cheesy is perceived as such bad thing!) Trying to be someone you aren’t takes so much energy, and will leave you feeling (and looking) exhausted.

2. HAPPY, HAPPY JOY JOY

Little Orphan Annie sang, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile,” and she was right. Thinking happy thoughts really lifts your spirits and studies have shown that women are considered more beautiful if they smile.

3. DON’T LISTEN TO THE MONSTERS

We all have them — those horrible little monsters in our heads that whisper, “Are you really going to go out wearing that?” Don’t give them that headspace: Kick them out, hold your chin up and think, “YES I am gonna wear it, and I look fab.”

4. EMBRACE WHAT YOU LOVE TO WEAR

I’m gonna follow up this quote with a quote by Iris Apfel: “I always feel that if you’re gonna be uncomfortable and unhappy in something, just because you think it’s in or it’s chic, I would advise you to be happy rather than well-dressed. It’s better to be happy.”

5. WEAR SOMETHING CRAZY

I love clothes with lots of colors and fun prints, and I even started making my own dresses because I couldn’t find anything wild enough to satisfy those two criteria. If you’re wearing something daring and notice people looking at you, the voice in your head can say loud and proud, “They must think I’m fabulous and inspirational!” And not, “OMG why are they looking at me? Is my hair a mess? Have I spilled wine on myself? Is my skirt tucked into my underpants?

6. WE PROBABLY WOULDN’T AGREE ON THE TYPE OF SHOES, BUT…

Victoria Beckham once said that she can’t concentrate in flat shoes. Well, I’m the opposite! I’ve tried, but I just can’t do heels! I have some fab flats though, and I really enjoy wearing them and knowing that you can do glam and pretty without torturing your feet!

7. NOTHING TO WEAR?

Boy do I know this feeling! Go with what you feel like on any given day! That will make you the most comfortable; don’t try to wear something that induces self-doubt or unease in any way.

8. WE LOVE J. LAW

The lady speaks the truth! Don’t try to compare yourself or your style to people from TV-land; you just don’t have the resources they do!

9. BE FIERCE!

What more to say but, “RaaaarrrrRRRRRRR!”

So in conclusion, remember that you are excellent, wear what you love and be happy! Sounds simple right?

I wish all of you a fantastic NYE. And even if the night does not go as expected (because it never does) try to have a smile on your face when the clock strikes 12! I know I will! I’m so excited to wear my self-made crazy dress for the first time!

First published on Bustle Dec 2014

Images: Author

Cute Sheep, Poisonous Plants and a French Dress.

Sewing

Proud moment of the week: I made a Belladone!

I bet you think I’m talking about Deadly Nightshade Atropa belladonna right? (Because I know my readers are down with the latin names for plants and stuff). The name “bella donna” means “beautiful woman” in Italian and the plant got this name because it was used in eye-drops by women to dilate the pupils to make them appear seductive. Can I hear a collective What the hell??

No no, don’t worry, this post is not about the poisonous plant which causes delirium and hallucinations, the sewing people among you will already have suspected that I have indeed made a Deer & Doe Belladone dress! There is nothing poisonous about this darling dress, as you will see from a quick search on Pinterest, thousands of ladies all over the world have made their versions of this pretty French pattern.

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My first stop for any sewing project is Bobby Sewing, Joanna has an impressive range of fun and colourful fabrics and always points me in the right direction. This time I was doubting between the classy and glam Dynasty Scallop and the Mini Sheep both from Timeless Treasures. If I’m honest, I have to admit that I knew all along I would go for the sheep, the only reason I hesitated was that the Dynasty Scallop would make such a beautiful traditional NYE glam party dress, with it’s elegant 1920’s pattern in gold and dark turquoise. Joanna swiftly reminded me that I don’t do traditional and so off I went with my two and a half meters of Mini Sheep loveliness!

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I was very lucky to be able to take part in a workshop with Lady Lieke from Bouquet of Buttons and Miss Ellen from Studio Elf, I certainly would not have been able to do it without their help! As you can see above, Ellen’s dress turned out wonderfully, I love her gold/pink shiny piping on the waist. You can see some photos from our mini-workshop in an article I wrote for Bustle, you did know I’m a fancy-pantsy writer now right?

I decided to add a black lining to the entire bodice of the dress because I like it like that. I also added yellow piping to almost every visible edge because I felt like it. (You can do whatever you want if you sew, next step: world domination!) Both of these pattern changes made it very complicated to arrange the overlapping shoulder pieces and I’m not sure I did it all in the right order, (didn’t read the instructions eeeek) but lets just say; on the outside everything looks fine!

When I made my first skirt and sewed it up forgetting to first add the pockets, I vowed to never again make anything without pockets. This dress is no exception, and what beautiful pockets they are, if I do say so myself!

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Thankfully, I managed to get the dress finished in time for NYE, but also in time to enter the December Sew It Up Party Dress Sewing competition. I was lucky enough to win their last Sew Along competition with my skirt without pockets! I’m really looking forward to seeing the other entries! YAY for self-made party dresses!

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The end result is truly on fleek, I’m gonna be the belle of the ball on NYE (see what I did there?).

Ta Daaaaa….

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Sewing Tips for the Pseudo Dressmaker

Life, Sewing

It has happened to the best of us: The shopping disaster day. We drag ourself from shop to shop, searching for that perfect dress and go home empty-handed and frustrated. But what if I told you that you could make the dress of your dreams, and that it would fit you perfectly? Want to try sewing a dress for yourself, but don’t know where to start? Well, I’m here to share my beginner sewing tips and tricks to get you started.

Growing up I thought that making my own clothes was something out of my reach, for this I used the best scissors that now a days you can get at sites like trimmeradviser.com. I believed only certain people (like my cousin Aisling) possessed the sewing gift. These days, more and more people are taking up sewing as a hobby, and whilst I will probably never be able to make a wedding dress or anything delicate or detailed, I too have caught the sewing bug. And I learned this secret: If you concentrate and believe you can so something, then you can MAKE IT WORK.

DIY, in general, is the talk of the town these days. You can make your own christmas decorations, concoct your own face masks and delight your whole family with homemade gifts for the festive season. Along with this upsurge in craftiness came TV shows such as Project Runway and The Great British Sewing Bee, bringing sewing back onto our screens and making it hip and trendy again. Other trends that are super popular right now are up-cycling and retro-style, both leading to a heightened interest in sewing, of course.

There are many reasons to start making your own clothes. Amongst them are these:

  • Possessing clothes that fit you perfectly. You can take measurements of every imaginable body part and adjust your pattern exactly to suit your shape. At a time when people are standing up and refusing to conform to the body norms of the fashion industry, it feels very empowering to make clothes for your body.
  • Wearing your own style. I personally love colorful clothes with playful prints, and you will often find me enviously browsing the four to eight-year-old styles in stores! The last dress I made was from the Camelot Fabrics Frolicking Forest range, labeled children’s pajama fabric, but I’m cool with that! Now I have a dress with the cutest little foxes ever on it. Who else can say that? At the moment, I’m working on a red dress with funny little sheep on it, and OK, I admit I sometimes get not-so-positive comments. But they are never really mean; some people just don’t understand.

“Wow the kid you’re making that dress for must be really big, how old is she?” From a friendly, well-meaning old sewing lady

The thing is, I love wearing fun, colorful fabrics. It makes me happy and I refuse to conform!

  • Avoiding mainstream production companies, because they’ve got enough money, right?
  • Knowing for sure that you have in no way contributed to child labor or extreme chemical processes involved in the manufacture of many clothing in our stores. It is relatively easy to find organic cotton and ethically printed fabrics.
So those are the reasons. But before I give you my sewing tips and tricks, I have a confession to make: I am a lazy sewist. I cut corners, I skip steps and I ignore instructions if they seem too complicated. I am by no means a good example, and people who sew professionally (or who have actually studied sewing) would tear their hair out if they saw me working. But here is my advice none the less. Writing this article, I kept hearing Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen” in my head, so you should read the below in his voice. It adds to the effect!

WHEN PREPARING TO SEW:

  • Find someone knowledgeable to translate the pattern into understandable English for you. I have found that owners of fabric shops are great for this (if you buy your fabric there and bring your pattern along, they’re normally delighted to go through it with you).
  • Join some sewing groups on social media; it is nice to chat with people who are working on the same pattern as you. These groups can be great for getting advice on small questions, like which color accents to use. Not that you always have to follow their advice; you can change your mind at any second! For my dress (featuring mini sheep fabric designed by Gail Cadden), I decided to go with a yellow accent, when actually in the beginning I really thought I would go the blue/green direction.
  • Surround yourself with other sewing enthusiasts and plan sewing dates, find sewing workshops in your area and get involved. Sitting in a room with a few sewing people is great motivation and helps you avoid getting distracted from the task at hand. It is also fun and you can all learn from your mistakes together. Last weekend, I met up with two fabulous sewing ladies I met on the internet to sew together. Lieke from Bouquet of Buttons supplied the location and cupcakes and Ellen from Studio Elf provided the patterns and pretty accent ribbons.
  • Eat, drink and sleep YouTube tutorials.
  • Find some free beginner patterns online and print at home. There are also several patterns that cost under a dollar, such as the Danielle dress which I used to make my fox ensemble above. Mine is without sleeves because I didn’t have enough fabric, but that just shows that you can make your own variations of any pattern.
  • Get lost on Pinterest for a few hours! Before I start making anything, I search Pinterest to see how other people have made it. That way you pick up loads of inspiration about fabric choice, color combinations, possible adaptations and decide which options are best for you. This step is also very valuable to help imagine what your finished dress could look like. I thought the grey velvet Danielle looks terrible, but when I saw a few versions on Pinterest I decided I loved the pattern (I have already started working on my second one).
  • Do not think you are going to make cheap dresses or save money on clothes. Good quality fabric, thread, workshops, pattern and sewing books all cost money. You just have to try not to think about it, enjoy the time spent making your creation, and the thrill of wearing something you made all by yourself.
  • A very important thing you must do as soon as you buy your fabric is to throw it in the washing machine and give it a wash on your normal cycle. Imagine making a perfect fitting dress and having it shrink the first time you wash it? That would be too painful for words. That being said, I have to admit I am guilty of skipping this stage when I buy new fabric, and start sewing it up like an excited child. If you are like me and don’t have the patience to wash and dry the fabric, you should at least steam iron it really well before sewing. I’m pretty sure that people are soon going to start noticing the consequences of me being afraid to put my creations in the wash! Having a bit of patience in the beginning can save you a lot of stress in the end!

ADVICE FOR SEWING DAY:

  • Prepare nibbles before you start; it is awfully frustrating to have to leave your sewing table to go make something to eat. We were lucky that our wonderful sewing tutor Lieke is also a fantastic cook and sorted us out with some yummy cupcakes!
  • Tie your hair in an up-do. You need to concentrate really hard when cutting out your fabric; if your hair is long and falling in your eyes it will drive you crazy. Not to mention the risk of cutting off a lump of your hair while focusing on your pattern, true story, right Lieke? OK, maybe not this kind of UP, but you know what I mean!
  • That photo reminds me of another important tip: Wear comfortable clothes! I’m talking tracksuits or pajama comfort level; get cosy and make yourself feel lovely because you’re going to have to concentrate. (I’m starting to think I have serious concentration issues considering how many times I have mentioned it in this article!)
  • A top tip I got from my fashion designer BFF based in China is that if you lose your concentration and feel like everything is going wrong, take a break. Put the kettle on, grab some of those nibbles and think about something else for a minute. Ploughing on will not get you your focus back; you will just make some serious mistakes.
  • Get to know your feet! I’m not talking about the ones on the ends of your legs but the little shiny parts you attach to your machine. I somehow ended up with a machine without any extra feet, and so I never learned about them. After discovering the world of sewing machine feet and buying some, my sewing has come on in leaps and bounds. It’s amazing how easy certain tasks become if you use the right foot for it.
  • When tracing and cutting your pattern, use weights to keep it in place. I used sticky tape in the beginning and always ended up damaging my pattern. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something heavy!
  • Check and double check each step before you sew (tearing out your stitches and starting again is an annoying and slow process). It is also quite difficult to do without poking holes in your fabric and destroying the whole friggin’ thing. If you DO have to rip something, use a seam-ripper. Do NOT go at it with a scissors, you WILL cut holes where holes should not be, and that is bad: very, very bad.
  • Make sure you are ONLY sewing what you intended to sew and that there are not extra layers folded under the unforgiving needle. I don’t want to admit how often have I sewn my soon-to-be fabulous new dress to the sleeve of my bath robe.
  • Don’t plan anything major for the rest of your day. I’m always surprised by how exhausted I am after a few hours of sewing. You need to concentrate, but it is so much fun that you don’t realise how much energy is required until you sit down afterwards.

And so, I hope I have encouraged you to give sewing a try. Not only is it fun, but if I can do it then you certainly can! My tips and tricks may not be conventional, but they helped me and hopefully I’ve saved you from learning them the hard way.
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First published on Bustle 23 Dec 2014
Images: Author; Burdastyle.com; Getty; Giphy

Why I’m Buying My Son a Lammily Doll For Christmas — And Why Our Fear of “Average” Kind of Needs to Go

Life

The Lammily doll was born in 2013 out of a Photoshop experiment (oh, the irony!) by Nickolay Lamm, who wondered: What if fashion dolls were made using standard human body proportions, rather than proportions that would only allow for half a liver and a few inches of intestine? His Photoshopped image went viral, and one year later the Lammily doll arrived on my doorstep — a Christmas gift for my two-year-old son. Yes, you read that correctly. For my son.

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate Lammily’s coming to be. The crowd-funding used to create the first Average Barbie raised $501,000, which is five times its initial goal. And before anyone ever held a Lammily doll in their hands, 19,000 dolls were sold via pre-order. These figures are solid evidence — in my mind — that there is a need, an opening, a welcomeness for this kind of product. People are hungry to see images they can relate to and identify with. We are tired of being constantly bombarded by representations of the human body that are unrealistic, unattainable, and, quite frankly, make us feel bad about ourselves.

I see the success of Lammily as a loud statement against unethical Photoshop practices and size-zero mania that mainstream media and, let’s be honest, the fashion industry perpetuate on a daily basis. Lately, however, it seems that the message is finally sinking in. I mean, Calvin Klein using a healthy-looking model in the brand’s latest campaign was a pretty big deal considering these underwear gurus traditionally favor a much more slender figure in their ad campaigns. I bought Lammily because she is part of a sea of change that I hope will make the world a better place. How often can you be a part of something that positive, really?

Something that’s really interesting to consider when it comes to Lammily is the use of the word average in the advertising surrounding the doll — their tag line being “average is beautiful.” Critics have wondered whether the use of this word would limit the popularity of the doll, but personally, I am glad they stuck with it. Because being “average” — however you define the term — isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Critics have also suggested that marketing Lammily as “average” is an insult to kids with other skin tones, but Lamm was quick to address this in an article for Huffington Post. And after all, you have to start somewhere, right?

In the future, I see the Lammily line including dolls of different ethnicities and different healthy body shapes. I also see some special edition dolls based on inspirational role models: sports stars, actors, leaders. And, yes, of course I want the Lammily line to include male dolls.

Belgian stand-up comedian Henk Rijckaert has a sketch about this topic. Rijckaerts’ viewpoint is that if everyone aimed to be “average,” the world would be a better place. Society teaches us that we must be successful at all costs (from our careers to our families to our overall happiness). We have to achieve something, make our mark on the world, have our 15 minutes of fame. From a very young age, children are lead to believe that they can grow up to be something great — an astronaut, a movie star, an inventor — when the actual fact is that most of them will spend their adult lives sitting behind a desk in order to pay the bills. Ultimately, this means that there are a lot of people in the world who are disappointed with what they have done in life, when actually they are doing quite okay in the grand scheme of things.

Imagine a world without the competitiveness of wanting to be richer, more successful, prettier, thinner than your neighbor? Sounds peaceful right? Rijckaerts’ 2013 tour was entitled “Swarm,” a name that was inspired by a flock of birds flying together — no bird faster, bigger, or better than the rest; a huge group in which everyone was equal and worked together to make something beautiful. Imagine if our society worked like that?

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When discussing such issues with friends, I recently received some feedback along the lines of, “Kids don’t think about body image.” “Kids don’t think that Barbie is real.” “Barbies are just toys; they don’t have the psychological impact you seem to think they do.” I agree that children before a certain age do not consciously think about body image issues — perhaps it doesn’t come naturally — but we have to be aware that they see and absorb everything. And the age at which children are beginning to develop body-image issues might be getting lower and lower. A couple of years ago, Body Bliss Central reported on something that gave me shivers: “Five-year-old girls and boys, in Australia, in 2009, are being admitted to hospital for voluntarily restricting their eating because they think they’re too fat.”

Their article about “Negative Body Image Barbie” also says:

Until we’re about seven years old, the part of our mind that we call the subconscious is wide open and taking in everything going on around us. The subconscious mind has no filters, no evaluation processes, no cognitive challenge mechanisms, it simply absorbs and stores information exactly as presented. By the time we complete the first seven year cycle of life, our conscious mind is starting to take over. That’s why our subconscious beliefs and values run our lives as adults — at least until we dig them out, make them conscious, and make different decisions.

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Growing up, I loved my Barbie — what with the wonder of her groovy, ’80s leg-warmers. I played with her often, and I can’t say that it really damaged me! My crippling body image issues probably came from somewhere else, right? But I’m going to err on the side of caution here, and that is why my two-year-old son is getting a Lammily doll for Christmas!

Now all I have to do is stop my mother from convincing me that it is a collector’s item, and that I should keep it in the box! I understand her point, and for a split second I thought about buying a second one to keep in the box. Who knows, Lammily could be the product that tips the scales in the fight toward healthier body-image representation in toys — and that’s something that all children of all genders need in their lives. And hey, maybe the doll could even make me rich in 50 years time. But for the moment, I would prefer to have it enrich my son’s life. I would prefer it help instill the idea that you don’t have to be an astronaut, a movie star or an inventor to be valued — to be worth something. “Average” isn’t the plague we deem it to be. It’s okay. And it can even be kind of good.

And to all of those out there who clicked on this article to read why I bought a girls’ doll for my male child, well, here’s hoping for a day when that question no longer exists.

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First published on Bustle 12 Dec 2014

Photoshop me pretty.

Life

After reading about this photoshop experiment: I Asked 21 Photoshop Experts From Around the World to Make Me (A Plus-Size Woman) Beautiful — Here’s What They Did and seeing the results, I was curious what the result would be if I would photoshop the photo. (By the way, High-Five to Iceland!)

I’m no photoshop expert, but I do edit some of my photos, by playing with contrast, light, saturation, more saturation, vintage filters and removing distracting things from the background.
If I am having a particularly bad skin day I will photoshop away any visible blemishes, simply because it’s easier than putting on make-up for the same effect.

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I started thinking about what I could change on the photo to make her look more beautiful and the very thought disgusted me. I had not expected that I would feel so strongly about it. I felt like I would be abusing her if I changed the structure or shape of her face. Also I think she looks just fine the way she is, who wouldn’t love to have those fabulous lips!

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To be able to do this job you have to believe that there is something wrong with the model, that they are ugly. This is not the case with me, I believe that everyone is beautiful in their own way. (Yes I know #BARF right!) I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t bring myself to send out the message “This woman is ugly and I fixed her” because this also gives the message that “YOU are ugly”, if a fashion model needs to be digitally fixed, how could you think otherwise?

I have always known that photoshopping happens and that seeing overly photoshopped images creates a ‘reality’ that is impossible to achieve. But it was just today that it hit me just how wrong and damaging it really is. I’m a bit slow on the uptake I guess!

Here is the result of my editing, apart from the usual steps mentioned above I also gave the lady lipstick and eyeliner. Then I was getting into the hang of it so I whitened her eyeballs a little bit because they had turned yellow from my overenthusiastic use of the vintage filters! I also removed the wall corner from behind her head. The edits I did were mostly to do with changing light, atmosphere and not really anything to do with the model herself. I was improving the photo, not the subject matter.

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The task was to make her beautiful, I think she looks fantastic, but then that little voice in my head asks me; “Does this mean that you believe that you can’t be beautiful without makeup?”. I don’t often wear make-up but there are some situations when I will not go out without it, because I want people to think I look nice. Is that wrong? Possibly, probably, but that is a question for another day.

Looking at my ‘creation’ again I start thinking “Ugg it’s too much, I should tone down the ‘make-up’ a bit”. So even though I did some editing, I still do not feel completely comfortable about it! I’m gonna stick to my retro filters!

Photos used with kind permission from Marie Southhard Ospina

Down with this sort of thing

Life

On my daily school-route cycle I pass a piece of graffiti that bothers me greatly. Complaining about grafitti is not something that I normally do, I am happy with most things that bring colour to our world but I’m making an exception for this one. It is an image of an old grinning guy flashing his underpants from under a trenchcoat. Someone has added gold private parts which does give it a festive feeling but doesn’t take away from the awfulness of it.

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The image has been there for years and it gives me the creeps every time I see it. What about people who have ever been attacked it such a way? I can only imagine how traumatic it much be for them. It makes me think of the young girl who was raped not far from this spot last month. She, her family and friends must very sensitive to and scared of such predatorial types.

Maybe I’m too sensitive, maybe I shouldn’t let it bother me so much, but I have decided to try and do something about it!
Follow me on my crusade to rid our streets of this flasher!

Step one in any crusade: Send a tweet about it!

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Step two: suggest a realistic alternative.

The local autorities have recently been working with graffiti artist SMOK to bring some colour to the area and I think it would be fantastic to have his work here. Hopefully they will pick up on my twitter suggestion to ask him to make something to cover this wall.

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Step three: Wait and see….

I’ll be back with an update as soon as I get one.

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Soft Cactus in sun

Sewing

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I made this scarf with three prints from the first range of  Soft Cactus fabrics based on a George and Milly design.
This range was fun to work with because of the matching colour palates and pretty designs.

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The second range has just been released and I am looking forward to choosing a project to work with them.
I love the new colour range, my favorites turquoise and mustard are featured strongly.

Oh and did I mention that it’s just €10 per meter!?

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Lena

Music, Painting

Lena

I want to be more aware of passing time. A year flies past as if it was a month… Four years, five years… whoosh…

When I was in school each year seemed like a century. Time went by so slowly and each new year was clearly outlined and defined by a class title and new teachers and separated by exams and summer holidays.

In ‘grown-up’ life the years have no boundaries, the weeks go on and on and it is difficult to differentiate one year from another in your memory.

But for Lena… the passing of time is still a tangable concept…

-January 2011 dobre repliki pl
-Acrylic on canvas 50x60cm fake rolex kopen

The wonderful model for painting also very talented singer, her group is called “Paper Army”. You can listen here and follow here! link replica watches