Wednesday, 30 May 2012

5 Tips for Fabric Shopping

Fabric shopping is one of my favourite things ever. I love it when a project gives me an excuse to go and browse, but sometimes it can be daunting if you don't know quite what you are looking for. I learnt so much during my degree on how to shop for fabric and I thought it might be nice to pass on some of that wisdom. So I've compiled together my top 5 most useful tips to follow when fabric shopping:

1. Know where to go.  Half the battle is already won when you find a supplier that you can trust, both in terms of quality and the best value for money. In London I always hit Goldhawk Road first. Not only does it have the best prices, but because there are so many fabric shops condensed on one street you will nearly always find what you are looking for. Often the shops are in conversation with each other too so they will know what the others have in stock and can direct you to the right place if you ask their advice. 

2. Think about the qualities you need from the fabric.  Does it need to drape or hang or have a stiff structure to it? Do you need a shiny or a matte finish? Does it need to be soft to the touch and will you need to add a lining? It may sound really obvious, but you need different fabrics for different jobs. Taffeta will make a great structural garment but wont hang very well at all, whereas a cotton jersey will have a lovely drape to it but would be terrible at creating a solid shape. Even if you don't know exactly which fabric you are looking for, make a list of the qualities you need from it and someone will be able to help you with exactly the right thing.  

3. Go with an open mind. Some of my best design decisions have come from finding a fabric that I would never have thought of normally while shopping for something else. I find that a trip to a fabric shop is a really good research tool even before you need to buy anything, particularly if you are still in the process of finding the perfect colour or print. Be sure to handle the fabric, see what it looks like far away, test how it hangs and most of all collect samples to take home with you! If you are delicate about it you can usually get a few of these for free, particularly if you have a good relationship with the shop itself.

4. Think about how you will be working with the fabric. Do you need to dye it? In which case natural fibres are your best bet as manmade textiles such as polyester can be quite resistent to dye. Does your project require a lot of machine work and will you need a special needle to tackle the material? There are a lot of technical aspects to consider that are easy to forget when you fall in love with a fabric. But even if a fabric seems perfect, you will soon change your mind if it is a pain to work with. 

5. Cut a deal! Haggling is always a sensitive area and you must tread carefully so as not to insult anyone or damage any future dealings with the shop. Whenever possible, buy in bulk because this is when you are more justified to politely ask for a discount. For example, I recently bought 200m worth of fabric in one go (I know eeek!!) and managed to get quite a sizeable discount because I have shopped with the seller before and could pick it up that day at their convenience. The important thing to remember is that they still need to make a profit on what they sell you, so remember to always be respectful of their trade. 

I hope these tips have been useful for some of you! And sorry about the blurry iphone pictures, I was in a rush getting too excited about all the shopping ;) 

Does anyone else have any tips that I haven't thought of? 

x Rachel 

Monday, 28 May 2012


Thanks to all that entered my very first giveaway to win the handmade Hot Air Balloon Brooch! The winner picked at random is..... 

Jennifer! Congratulations! I will be in contact :) 

x Rachel 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Meanwhile on Instagram...

Behind the designing scenes//Keith showing off his tummy//tea and apple cake with good friends//almost don't want to give this away//a GIANT celebratory cup of tea//silly shorts//puppy sitting cutie Miso//Soho Theatre has a nice bar//I got feathers in my hair. 

There's something about the sun coming out that makes life seem extra lovely, don't you think? 

x Rachel 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Art Journal Challenge #5

It's been a while since our last Art Journal Challenge, so I thought it was high time for another one. 

CHALLENGE #5 - Sew it Up - Use either hand stitching or free embroidery on a machine in your journal. 

This is one that I have never tried but have wanted to for ages! If you don't know what I mean by free embroidery, it's basically drawing "freehand" with your sewing machine or a needle and thread. Now, I know a lot of people will see sewing and freak out... But trust me you definitely don't have to be an expert with a needle and thread or a machine! I think free embroidery works best when it is a little bit messy - just like everything else in life - how convenient ;) 

As always, I will be sharing my result of this challenge later on next week. If you have a go at the challenge - or any of the previous challenges 1, 2, 3, 4 - then I'd love to see your work! Please send a link or a picture so I can share it and we can all feel pleased with ourselves for making pretty things. 

In other news... The very first Pointless Pretty Giveaway has just 5 days left until closing! Don't forget to enter to win this little pin badge and some other special thank you goodies :)... ENTER HERE.

Thanks again to all those who have already entered!

x Rachel

Friday, 18 May 2012

DIY Chalkboard

I didn't realise how easy it was to make chalkboard paint until I made my own. There are a lot of different "recipes" out there... I just mixed normal acrylic paint in my chosen colour with a very cheap powdered interior filler. I didn't measure amounts and just guessed until the consistency seemed right, but as a rough guide use about half as much powder filler as paint. 

To make your chalkboard:

1. You will need: a piece of wood in your desired shape and size, acrylic paint, powdered interior filler or un-sanded grout, paper doilies, glue, chalk.

2. Mix your chalkboard paint (see above) and cover the wood in a couple of coats, making sure it dries evenly. 

3. When the paint is completely dry, use sand paper to even the surface. Then rub chalk over the whole board and wipe it off again - this primes your chalkboard.

4. Make a boarder using paper doilies in a variety of different sizes and glue them into place. You could give them a coat of PVA glue over the top to finish it off but I liked the effect without. 

I think next time if I were to make this again I would use a roller to paint the board rather than a paint brush, as you can see the brush has left a bit of a rough texture that couldn't quit be sanded away... But on the whole this was quite a fun little project. Let me know how it goes for you! 

x Rachel 

P.S Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win a little hot air balloon brooch!  At the moment it looks like you'll have a pretty high chance of winning ;) 

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Etsy Bests - Art Prints

Today's Etsy Bests is all about the art prints! I always get a hankering for buying art for my walls when I am about to move house. I think it's because I start to imagine a brand new space that I can make my mark on. Here are some of the prints I found while browsing Etsy that I would definitely buy if I had the money....

1. Red Mushroom print from Vintage Dictionary Art.

2. Expand Your View print from Handz

3. Quilted Fox print from Gingiber

4. Vintage Constellations print from  Miss Quite Contrary.

5. The Little Deer Prince print from This Years Girl

Aren't they lovely? I think my favourite is the vintage constellations print - right up my street! How about yours?

x Rachel 

P.S Don't forget to enter the Pointless Pretty Giveaway! I can't wait to send a little package of pretty things to one of you! 

Monday, 14 May 2012

A Pointless Pretty GIVEAWAY! - CLOSED -

When I started this little blog just over 6 months ago, I didn't realise how much I would love it. I have "met" and been inspired by so many talented and lovely people through blogging, and being part of this amazing worldwide community has become completely essential in getting through my first year out in the real world. So the reason for all this gushing is that Pointless Pretty Things has just reached its first 100 followers... I know that this isn't a massive deal and I don't really like making judgements based on numbers of followers, but I just think it's a nice opportunity to celebrate and say THANK YOU to you all. So without further ado.... 

I am hosting my first GIVEAWAY! 

It's just a little something I made... A sweet handmade brooch that will be delivered with love and some other little surprises to one lucky winner! 


- You must be a follower of Pointless Pretty Things through Google Friend Connect. 

- Leave a comment below with your name and email address (and a hello!) so you can be entered and easily contactable. 


- Become a follower through bloglovin' 

- Tweet about the giveaway. 

- Share a link to the giveaway on your blog.

For each entry leave a separate comment so your extras will count! 

The closing date is Sunday 27th May and it's open to both national and international readers. 

Good luck! And thanks again for reading :) 

x Rachel

This Giveaway is now closed. Thank you to those that entered! I will announce the winner on Monday. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Summer Ball Designs

Ta-daaa! My designs for Central's Summer Ball are finished and ready to be revealed to the world! Some exciting meetings have been happening and now that the designs are all drawn up it's time to get shopping, sourcing and making - my favourite :)

The next few months are going to be very busy and exciting while we start bringing these ideas to life. I can't wait to see how it turns out on the night... 

x Rachel 

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Art Journal Challenge - On Holiday!

On our lovely Scotland holiday, we set up a little art challenge. Our lighthouse had a lovely sunroom looking out to sea - the perfect painting room! 

The best thing about sharing an art challenge on holiday is that you get to see how everyone interprets the new surroundings differently. It was so fun to see all the paintings together at the end! Also other people sharing the challenge is the best motivator to get it done. 

This one is mine... I was quite pleased with it considering that painting landscapes is not usually my cup of tea! 

Does anyone else do this kind of thing on holiday? 

x Rachel 


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