Laura Ashley Xmas Crafty Workshop

Thursday, 18 December 2014

On Sunday I was invited along to the Laura Ashley Festive Craft Workshop for Manchester bloggers, held at Rosy Lee in the Northern Quarter. I was really looking forward to it all week, if you're a regular reader of This Fashion is Mine you'll know I'm quite a crafty person. Lots of lovely Manchester bloggers were all in one room (more than I'd ever seen before in fact) and we were met by Ministry of Craft and the Laura Ashley team who led the workshops, teaching us how to make two Christmas DIYs using bestselling Laura Ashley prints.

First up, we made gift bags (or present sacks!) with a bunting design. I was a little taken aback to see all the sewing machines - my sewing skills are ok but using an unfamiliar machine is always a bit daunting. But the team were so friendly and helpful, I quickly got used to the new controls and the DIY was suprisingly easy to do. It's inspired me to create more mini present sacks for popping gifts into.

After a little break and lots of canape treats we headed to the paper craft area and were taught how to make gift boxes and fancy oversized bows. A selection Laura Ashley wallpaper was provided for the gift boxes, the perfect thickness for making these boxes (I'll be digging out some scraps of wallpaper I have left over to make more!) The gift bows looked really complicated but they were in fact super easy to make. Just lots of strips of paper, made into figures of 8 and then piled on top of each other!

Thank you to Laura Ashley and Ministry of Craft for such a wonderful afternoon - I trotted home with my goodie bag and crafts feeling very proud of myself! The Laura Ashley guys have already popped a blog post up about the event which you can read here and see more photos from the day.

DIY Paper Flower Lamp

Monday, 15 December 2014

This Christmas, three of my best friends and myself decided we would make DIY presents for each other. This obviously suited me down to a tee! I couldn't wait to get going and I had all their presents completed by the end of November. I had the idea of embellish lamps for a while and originally I was going to decorate the lampshades with fabric flowers. After a long battle with an international ebay seller and a missing parcel I scraped the idea of fabric flowers and chose to make my own paper (or card) ones instead!

I love how these have turned out. I put myself under a strict budget to make sure I could afford all the items I needed, (plus wrapping stuff and Xmas cards) so these DIY lamps are actually really affordable. We swapped presents on Saturday night, when we could all get together, and the girls loved their lamps - so now I can finally pop the tutorial up on here for anyone who wants to give it a go.

What You Need

Small Lamp
Flower Craft Punch
Silver and White Pearlescent Card
Small Flat Back Pearls
PVA Glue (extra strong)

I bought my lamps from a home-bargain type shop. They were about £5 each. You can choose whatever colour you like. I went with a mushroom grey lamp and made silver and white pearlescent flowers. I bought my card at The Range and ordered everything else on eBay.

Start by punching out your flowers. Using card that is too thick will break your craft punch (so stick to thick paper or thin card) I found I needed approx 80-90 flowers per lamp. Yes - that's a lot of punching! Even so, I bought two A1 sized pieces of card and I still had lots left over even after making three of these lamps. So if you're just making the one, you'll be ok with two A3 sized pieces. 

You're then going to want to curl the flowers to make them slightly 3D and stick out from the lampshade. I pulled a thumbnail along each petal, curling the flower slightly as I went. This is something you have to practice but it becomes second nature after doing a few. 

Once we have our 3D flowers, were going to use PVA glue to stick a pearl into the centre of each one. You only need a tiny dot of glue - squash the pearl down and let it dry. The glue I used dries completely in about 10 minutes. This is a project you can do while sitting in front of the TV.

Now it's time to start attaching them to your lampshade. Remove the shade from the lamp base to make it easier to hold. Using a small blob of glue applied to the back of each flower, start sticking, one by one on to the lamp. I alternated with white and silver card. You'll find a pattern begins to emerge and you can follow this so no two flowers of the same colour end up touching. If there are any funny gaps left at the end, just pop a flower in! It won't spoil the overall appearance as long as the lampshade is pretty full. Go slowly, allowing time for the glue to dry. I spent a few hours on each lampshade. Treat them with care while the glue is still wet, once it's dry the flowers should be firmly attached to the lamp.

Plug in and switch on to see how the light bounces through your flowers! It's like a whole new design once the lamp is on. Don't leave your lamp unattended for any length of time, these ones take low-voltage bulbs and don't get too hot but a powerful lamp may overheat.

If you liked this DIY please check out the DIY Archive page for more of my crafty tutorials...

Product Photography | Tips & Tricks

Friday, 12 December 2014

My blog article for Pixc Photos went live last week! It's full of tips on how you can produce your own in-context and creative product photos for your online shop. Creative imagery helps increase sales and desirability of your products but I think these photography tips will also help those of you just wanting to improve your blog images. You can read the article here and I'd love to hear your feedback.

"Product photography is all trial and error. Take lots of photographs. Do you need images from every angle? Portrait or landscape shots? Try adding in props, then taking them away. Frame your product well. Sometimes that means the product sits right in the centre of the image. Such as a perfume bottle, surrounded by flower petals, sitting on mirrored glass. Or sometimes it’s better to place your product slightly to one side of the frame following the ‘rule of thirds’ technique. An armchair to the right shows off the fireplace behind it and is illustrative of a real home layout. It all depends on what you are selling."  - read the full article here.

How To | Pop Up Photo-Booth!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

In today's post I'll be sharing how to create your own pop up temporary photo-booth (including prints) for any parties or celebrations you might be planning this festive season! Whether you're hosting a birthday gathering or planning the Christmas party of the year - a photo-booth for your guests to pose and pout in can be such a fun addition. It gives guests something to do between dancing, drinking and chatting. They can take home mini prints just like a professional photo-booth, little photo memories of the night.

What You Need

Fabric on a rail works well, you can use shiny curtains or something relevant to your party. Alternatively choose a plain wall with lots of space surrounding it and decorate!

Doesn't have to be top quality, a point and shoot or iPhone will do! You can set the camera up on a tripod and keep its settings fixed at the right levels or put someone in charge of photography for the night. You can take it in turn with your friends/guests or choose to open the photo-booth for '1 hour only' and take charge of the camera yourself.

Remote control for camera 

Fun props to pose with
You can buy cheap sets on eBay, this is where I bought my cardboard glasses, hats and lips on sticks! These are really easy non-threatening props that anyone will want to pick up. But if you fancy going all out you can collect together outfits; hats, wigs and clothing for people to dress up in.

I made these tissue paper flowers for my pink themed pop up photobooth. You can find out how I made them here. Hang them just in front of your backdrop, you could even tape a cross to the floor to guide people on where to stand!

How it Works

Set up your backdrop in a corner or quieter area of the room. Have everything to hand, and set up your tripod/camera/remote combo. Take a few test shots to make sure your camera is pointing at the right angle. Then enjoy! Grab props, pose with friends and take lots of pictures!

Design Your Photo Strips

You might want to layout your favourite photos into a 'photo strip' template. Like the vintage photobooths that print 4 photos in a vertical strip, or you could set out 4 photos like I've done during my photo-booths. Black and white or full colour? I used Photoshop to design the layout and had the template ready so I can drag-and-drop my favourite photos on the night and have them ready to print.

Printing and Sharing

You don't have to print your photos, but it's always nice to give party guests something to go home with. And the printed photograph is rare these days. I used a Canon Selphy printer (bought on eBay) which does 4x6 inch prints (here's a blog post about it) Alternatively you can choose to put all the photobooth pictures online the next day! A private Facebook photo album works and then you make it visible to all those who came to the party. Guests can download their photos of tag themselves.