The Lalou Designs Autumn 16 Collection

Over the past few weeks I have been working on a new collection of fabric pendants and earrings for the autumn months. It is the first full, cohesive collection I have created since I began making fabric jewellery pieces as usually I like to create pieces from whatever beautiful textiles I come across on my travels rather than plan ahead to make a collection. After a long time scouring the net to find fabric that I thought would work well, I came across a beautiful cotton range from Irene and Lewis.

Although the fabric has more of a spring time feel to it rather than Autumn,with the mild weather we are having, I felt that it would still work well with clothing and outfits during the next few months. And who says, just because it is Autumn, means you have to wear Autumn colours!

As well as creating floral and organic designs, I have recently been a fan of using birds in my designs. This Irene and Lewis collection features very cute birds on a number of their fabrics and this is probably what drew me to the fabric to start with.

To compliment the pendants in the collection, I have also created a number of spring back earrings. These can be worn as a set with a pendant or on their own but either way they will be a gorgeous addition to any outfit.

To see more of the collection visit my Etsy store at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Laloudesigns

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Back from a break with new Fabric Earrings

Realign

It’s been quite some time since my last post as the last few months have been a bit all over the place and Lalou Designs has unfortunately taken a back seat. Starting with bad news, I unfortunately lost a good friend to Cancer and this took a lot out of me emotionally,  meaning I wasn’t really in the frame of mind for jewellery making. My friend, Rich, was always very supportive of Lalou Designs and was very positive about my business which spurs me on now to keep motivated and build my business. Secondly, good news; I put an offer on my very first flat which was accepted! I am currently going through the buying process and again, with all the paperwork, this meant Lalou Designs was not my first priority. Things are going pretty smoothly with the buy and hopefully (fingers crossed) I should be exchanging soon!

After some time out, I did a little reset in my mind and was ready to get back into jewellery making. My large fabric pendants are one of my favourite things to make as I just love all the different patterns and colours you can find within textiles. These fabrics give me a world of patterns to work with and I especially love finding new fabrics in places that I visit on mini breaks or day trips around the UK. So far, I have only made fabric pendants so I thought it was about time I extended the range and decided to make some fabric earrings.

Fabric floral earrings

Grey Cotton Earrings

I have always been a fan of ‘dangly’ earrings and this encouraged me to make some hoop style earrings with a small fabric button style drop to the earring. When I was on holiday in Cyprus, for my sister and brother in law’s wedding, I bought some spring back earrings which I absolutely adore. The spring back earring finding is so easy and comfortable to wear that I knew I wanted this type of earring for my collection. So far, I have only created a handful of designs but I am currently on the look out for new fabrics to create more so keep a look out.

China blue fabric earrings

Blue and White Floral Earrings

For more Lalou Designs earrings look at my Etsy store.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Laloudesigns

New Fabrics and Pendant Designs

Last month I took a trip to Swansea with my best friend Felicity and one of the first things I did was search out the fabric shops so that I could buy a little more craft cotton to make some new fabric pendant designs. The first shop I came across was Lee Mills Fabrics in Swansea town centre which had a huge array of cotton fabrics (too many to look at properly to be honest) and the second was a gorgeous little quilting shop in the Mumbles, Red House Quilting.

Fabrics from Swansea

Fabrics from Lee Mill Fabrics in Swansea and Red House Quilting in Mumbles

I love to find new fabrics wherever I go, to make new fabric necklaces. Swansea had a lot to choose from but my favourite purchase was the flying birds design as it was very apt after taking a trip to the seaside that day.

Flying Birds Pendants

Flying Birds Necklaces

Daisy Pendants

Daisy Pendants perfect for summer

All of my new designs can be found in my Etsy store or for sale in Gifts For Me and You in Thingwall, Wirral.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/your/shops/Laloudesigns

Lalou Designs at Gifts for Me & You

gifts for me and you display

The month of May has been an exciting one for Lalou Designs as we are now one of the latest suppliers to the wonderful store, Gifts for Me & You! Run by the talented and hardworking Stephanie Fuller and her brilliant team, Gifts for Me & You is a gift shop full of gorgeous handmade items perfect for birthday presents, anniversaries or simply a treat for yourself (after all don’t we all deserve one of those once in a while!)

The shop started life in New Brighton but quickly outgrew their small premises and are now situated in a much bigger shop in Thingwall. A few weeks back, they held a launch party (with yummy cakes, thanks Shirl!) which was packed with people and was a nice chance for me to meet some of the team. As well as selling handmade items they will be holding craft classes, first aid and social media lessons as well as opening late night on a Wednesday and hosting tea/coffee mornings. It seems that Gifts for Me & You is going to be very popular in its new spot.

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For anyone wanting to check out some of my jewellery or any of the beautiful gifts on offer at Gifts for Me & You the address is:

523 Pensby Road, Thingwall, Wirral, CH61 7UQ.

You will get a lovely warm welcome!

Ness Gardens Spring Fair

Ness Gardens Spring Fair

Last weekend, myself and my glamorous assistant (also known as my sister Faye) set up shop at Ness Gardens for the day. Each year, Artists and Makers at Ness run by Natalie Bosworth, hold four fairs throughout the year for local craftspeople in the beautiful surroundings of Ness Botanic Gardens on the Wirral.

The first craft fair we attended at Ness Gardens was their November fair last year; which was busy with lots of people looking for Christmas presents for friends and family. The weather in November was absolutely horrendous with the wind howling and the rain pouring. Last week however, the sun was shining (if not a bit chilly) and this seemed to bring a lot of customers to the fair. As always it was lovely to talk to lots of people and we even had a few ladies visit us who had bought things at the Christmas fair.

Hopefully we will be able to book a stall for the fairs later in the year and will get a chance to see more lovely customers in this lovely venue.

C2C Festival – Country Music comes to London

So it’s been quite a while since my last post and I’ve been pretty busy as well as pretty ill with the flu! Not what you want on your annual leave from work. March has been a great month and it started with a week long trip to London to see family and listen to some country music.

Country-2-Country-2

Each March, the O2 in London house thousands of country music fans for their now annual Country 2 Country music festival. I’ve been a huge country music fan since I can remember; mainly through my parent’s influence and them playing Garth Brooks all the time when I was younger so being able to spend a whole day listening to live country music in the UK is amazing! The first C2C concert was back in 2013 with the headliners being Tim Mcgraw and Carrie Underwood. Tim Mcgraw is my sister’s favourite singer and so me, her and my brother in law decided to get tickets to see Tim on the Saturday night. Unfortunately we couldn’t afford tickets for the Sunday as well so I missed Carrie which was disappointing as I have been a fan since her American Idol days. This year however, I finally got to see her in action as she was the Saturday headliner and it was definitely worth the wait.

Acts for C2C were announced in December and Saturday was definitely the most exciting for me. On the main stage were Maddie and Tae (I have been listening to them a lot since they released their EP a couple of years ago), Sam Hunt, Little Big Town (who we discovered at the first C2C and have seen live since) and of course the incredible Carrie Underwood. As well as the main stage, I was slightly overexcited to hear that Lauren Alaina, also of American Idol fame, was playing at the O2 Indigo. She is one of my favourite Idol Alums (my brother in law also has a crush on her!) so we made sure we were queued up early to see her. After watching an interview with Charles Esten at the Indigo, best known recently as playing Deacon Claybourne in Nashville we queued up at the same venue and ended up front row to watch Lauren. Lauren was fabulous live. Her voice was amazingly strong and she definitely knew how to work the crowd with her Georgia charm. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t sing more songs from her first album however her new EP has some great tracks on it and she sang these brilliantly. Her enthusiasm for being in London was infectious and I wouldn’t hesitate to get tickets to see her live again if she was ever to come back to the UK. Fingers crossed.

carrie underwood

First up on the main stage were Maddie and Tae, another act I was excited to see. Their set was superb and they did a great job of opening the night. With catchy songs such as ‘Shut Up and Fish’ and ‘Sierra’, the girls had a lot of people up and dancing which can be a hard task for the smaller acts. Their energy was high and they put on a great show (my sister hadn’t heard their stuff before and was a fan after!) including a beautiful rendition of my favourite song of theirs, ‘Fly’.

Next up was Sam Hunt, who I had listened to a little bit before the concert; to get acquainted with his music. He seems to be a big hit with some of his country music peers including Lady Antebellum and Keith Urban but in my opinion his set had a little too much of a ‘hip-hop’ vibe for my liking. He had a few good songs that I could sing along with but he was probably my least favourite of the day.

After Sam Hunt, Little Big Town took to the stage with a haunting a cappella version of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’. This got the crowd’s attention and they then lead into their hit ‘Little White Church’. As mentioned earlier, I first discovered Little Big Town at C2C in 2013 and they were so good live, even though I didn’t know any of their songs back then, that I had to start listening to them. They are an amazing live act with great stage presence and their rocky style of country really gets the crowd going.

Finally, after waiting 11 years to see her live, it was time for Carrie Underwood to grace the stage. She opened up with a song from her latest album, ‘Runaway Renegade’ and this set the tone for the rest of her set. For the next hour and a half, Carrie was a powerhouse; singing her best known songs as well as tracks from her latest album, ‘Storyteller’. Her voice was incredible and I was amazed that she could keep belting out the songs so well for that length of time. It just shows what a talent she is. One of my favourite tracks from her new album is ‘Church Bells’ and I did let out a little scream when she started to sing it! It is a great example of the ‘stories’ she tells in her songs and this is a theme that runs through country music and probably why I like it so much. Unlike some music, country artists tell stories with their music and it can be very heartfelt and deep at times.

Although I was enjoying the uptempo tracks from Carrie, I was hoping she would sing some slower songs too to show off her voice even more. She didn’t sing many however she did stop for one slower moment to sing ‘I will Always Love You’ the second Dolly Parton cover of the evening. She did a beautiful rendition and her voice was outstanding, showing why she was originally picked to be the American Idol back in season 4. Finishing the evening with ‘Smoke Break’ and a song from her greatest hits ‘Something in the Water’, Carrie completed the day in style. Her talent was incredible and she was the highlight of the day for me. I can’t wait to find out who is going to be on next year and do it all again!

Stockport Hat Works – Museum of Hatting

So after getting absolutely drenched at the Chestnut Centre last Saturday, me and my friend Stu were contemplating where to spend the afternoon that would preferably be indoors. I was pretty cold and wet at this point! As we drove back through Disley towards Didsbury, Stu spotted a sign for a Hat Museum which I got slightly over – excited about as I love anything textiles related and thought it would be quite interesting; if not a bit random.

Hatting Info Lounge

So off we went in search of the Hat Works. The building housing the museum is an old mill with the words ‘Hat Museum’ emblazoned on the side of the mill’s chimney; something that can be seen on the train when passing through the town and apparently a famous landmark in Stockport!

We arrived at the museum a little late and missed the last guided tour which was disappointing but it did mean we had free admission. The museum is split into three levels with level one hosting hat displays in The Gallery and the temporary exhibitions area which featured hats from designers such as Vivienne Westwood and other couture milliners. Unfortunately I can’t post any of the photos from the couture section due to copyright which is a shame as there were some unusual and ‘way out’ hats including one that looked like a lettuce! Something that every girl needs in their wardrobe; or maybe not!

Woodrow Hats Display

Display in The Gallery

 

The main collection in The Gallery displays British hats from the 1930’s to the 1970’s and with over 250 hats on display there was lots to keep us interested from bowler hats and trilbies to small scale hats used for advertising. Alongside The Gallery is the ‘Hatting Info Lounge’ which features short films to watch.

Cat wearing a trilby

Bizarre cat wearing a trilby!

 

Feather samples

Feathers in your Hat!

At ground level was where I found the most fascinating part of the museum. The first area of this level was set up to show early hat making and included full scale models of machines such as a bow garret; used for preparing fur for felting and a planking kettle; used for turning fur into felt. The planking kettle would be used by hatters to dip ‘fur hoods’ into a solution of hot water and sulphuric acid and then rolled with a hatter’s pin to shrink and thicken the felt ready to be shaped later.

Shaping Hats

In the next part of the ground level was a room made to represent a hatter’s cottage, similar to something I had seen at Quarry Bank Mill last year. Simple and small it wasn’t much to write home about but I’m pretty sure people were living in worse conditions elsewhere; so hatter’s were probably very grateful for their quaint little cottages. Next to this and in the rest of the ground floor was the machinery gallery which including machines for making the wooden hat blocks used for forming as well as the machine press used for shaping hats into bowler hats, top hats etc. I found this all really intriguing as it’s not something you really question; how hats are made; but it was interesting to find out how it is actually done.

haberdashery store

To complete the level was a reconstruction of William White’s haberdashery store, a small wares shop where many outworkers from Christy’s hat factory would buy needles, threads and trims to finish off the hats at home. I loved this part as I work in a textiles and haberdashery company so it is always fun to see how the same type of store would have been set up years ago.

When I told my family and friends that I had visited the Hat Museum their first reaction was to laugh and I suppose it does sound like quite a weird subject to have based a museum on but I found it really compelling. The skills used to make the hats and the history of an industry that is pretty much lost now was engaging and made for a really enjoyable afternoon. Somewhere I would definitely recommend for others to visit if they are ever in the area.