Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Kimono crazy

Another collection I designed for Makower UK recently was called Kimono, based on the designs of Japanese kimonos. Having lived in Tokyo for four years, I built up a rather hefty collection of kimono fabrics and often use them as inspiration for my designs. I decided to do this collection in a vibrant colour palette of purples and reds and introduced gold elements to bring out the colours.

With many of the collections we do, we like to include a panel design. This time I incorporated Japanese ladies wearing kimonos, with other traditional Japanese images. I wanted to use young, modern women as opposed to the more traditional geisha ladies and each one wears a vibrant kimono with a contrasting obi belt. These panels can be used for many different projects. Some people choose to keep them as they are and just quilt around the edges of the squares to use as a wall hanging. Other people cut them up and use the squares as cushion panels or as appliqu├ęs for other projects. The actual size of this panel is 24" x 44".

It's always great to see my designs in stores and I couldn't resist buying some for my fabric collection. I chose the stork design and think it would make a great coin purse or glasses case. Watch this space!

Monday, 7 January 2019


It was lovely to see my fabric designs in Creative Quilting recently, a shop based near Hampton Court. The fabric collection is called Woodland and I designed it for Makower UK. It's inspired by the flora and fauna of the British countryside and uses a pleasingly soft colour palette of blues, greys and teals. When I designed this collection I wanted it to be as versatile as possible so that it could be used for quilting, as well as for home decor projects and for dressmaking.

When I design a collection, the designs all have to complement each other, with a selection of 'mother' prints (which are more detailed and are the main designs for the collection) as well as smaller, co-ordinating designs that complement each other. The designs have to read well on the shelf of a fabric shop as well. This is how they looked in Creative Quilting and I was really pleased with the outcome!

Many shops make up a project using the fabrics that they are selling so that customers can get a better feel for how they could be used. Creative Quilting had a quilt design hanging on the wall which worked really well. You can see a picture of it below.

You can see a wider selection of the Woodland collection below. I created each design in Photoshop and used a linen texture background which gives the designs more depth.

I couldn't resist buying a selection of the fabrics and now I just need to decide what to do with them!
Watch this space....

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Gorgeous green

I do love a shot of green and when I saw these fab boots in TX Maxx recently I thought 'Could I get away with these?!' They are made from a Chinese-inspired design in a fabulous emerald green satin fabric with a woven bird motif in gold and silver thread.

I then thought what a wonderful match they would make with my Cheeky Leopard clutch bag which comes in the same colours! It is also a fab emerald green colour and has a gold woven bird design. This fabric is a vintage Japanese obi fabric that I bought when I lived in Tokyo. The obi is the 'belt' that goes around the kimono and often comes in vibrant colours and designs.

This clutch goes beautifully with a little black dress and what a great accessory the boots would make with the bag! Quite an outfit. As you can see, it's big enough to fit all the essentials for a night out and has a magnetic snap closure.

What I love about this bird design is that it is very stylised and draws inspiration from origami bird designs. I also love the placement of the birds, as if in flight.

Now I just need to find an event to wear them to!

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! It's always good to start the year with a resolution or two. My new year's resolutions aren't very ground breaking I'm afraid. In fact, I only have two! The first one is to read more books and the second one is to wear more lipstick and I've already managed to do both today! I love this vibrant red lipstick by Bourgeois, and the book was a christmas present from my dear friend Laura. It's the perfect gift for me as it's set in New York which was my home for 12 years (and where I left part of my heart) and is described by one critic as 'a delicious and memorable novel that will leave you wistful - and desperate for a martini'.

I also wanted to start this year with a boost to Cheeky Leopard's exposure, and am chuffed to say that we have an advert in the January edition of Mollie Makes magazine.

Turn to page 83 and you will see one of our leopard print purses nestled in with other fab leopard-inspired items. I especially like the leopard print badge by Isabella & Us.

The purse has been photographed against a pink and white spotty background to bring out its fun nature and match the pink and white polka dot lining.

The caption accompanying the photo is short but sweet and perfectly sums up the ethos behind Cheeky Leopard and its products.

Here's to a happy and prosperous 2019!

Friday, 28 December 2018

Feeling festive

This time of year can have its ups and downs but I feel like I've made the most of it and done some fun things in and around London this festive season. On Saturday 22nd I met up with my good friend Faye, who I've known since college and we had a lovely time wandering around the South Bank and Covent Garden and taking in the atmosphere.

It was great not having an agenda so close to xmas, and when we felt like a drink we decided to try out a fab little cafe called Boki on Earlham street. It's steps away from Seven Dials which was beautifully lit up for the season and is an independent coffee shop at the front, with a fab little retro-style bar at the back.

We sampled a selection of cocktails in interesting combinations. They offered an array of unique coffee cocktails, but my favourites were the selection of house-infused gins.

I then headed off for a few hours of ceroc dancing at Shepherd Hall, a venue in St Thomas' Hospital that has stunning views over the river and Houses of Parliament.

On Sunday 23rd I headed over to North London with my friend Subashini. First we went to Exmouth Market for an early lunch in Coin Laundry, a laid back neighbourhood bar and restaurant.

After filling our bellies, we had a little wander round the independent shops on Exmouth Market. One of my favourites was a shop called Marby & Elm, a letterpress stationery and design shop where the majority of the products are actually made in the shop.

As a designer and maker myself, it was fab to see a small business working so well and to see the product actually being made in front of us. I loved the sense of humour infused into many of their products too. I bought the card below and am planning to use it as a prop for some of my product photos.

From Exmouth Market we trotted up the road to Sadler's Wells theatre to see Matthew Bourne's iconic Swan Lake production which took our breath away! Such a stunning performance.

To finish the evening off, we stopped off at Skylon on the South Bank to have a cocktail or two whilst looking out over the lights of London. Perfect!

Christmas day was spent with my family at my sister's house and it was a perfect day with lovely presents, scrumptious food and silly games at the end.

Happy New Year to one and all and here's to a wonderful 2019!

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Celebrating Snoopy

I recently went to the 'Good Grief, Charlie Brown' exhibition at Somerset House, an exhibition that explores the much-loved cartoon and its creator Charles M. Schulz. One of the main things I took from the exhibition was its comment on social affairs and how enduring these themes are!

Peanuts was the first popular comic strip to introduce complex philosophical ideas about the meaning of life but it was presented in a modest and understated way.

Schulz created 17,897 strips during his life and they reached a truly global audience in an era long before digital communications. Through the cartoons, themes including failure, anxiety, love and loss were addressed as well as commentary on faith, race, war, feminism and gender-fluidity.

The Snoopy character was inspired by the Schulz family dog, Spike. He was mischievous and independent with a big personality.

Schulz loved language and words and incorporated some of his favourites regularly into his cartoons, such as 'Aaugh!', "Good Grief!' and 'Blockhead'.

Schulz also enjoyed denoting sounds in the cartoons and treated text in a way that mimicked the sound. Words such as 'Bonk', 'Pow', 'Zoom' and 'Whap' were given individual characteristics particular to their sound. Even 'Z' denoting sleep, was given a distinct treatment, and a sigh was bracketed with two asterisks on either side to maximise the exasperation - **sigh**.

Lucy's shouting needed special attention and when she was doing some loud shouting Schulz would use a B-5 nib which made heavy, flat, rough lines for maximum impact.

Schulz's female characters were confident, complex and headstrong and Lucy was particularly strong. Female readers took her on as a role model who knew her own mind and wasn't afraid to let anyone know it. Peppermint Patty, who was better at sports than any boy, was also taken up as a feminist icon. Schulz was an early supporter of women's rights and he regularly introduced themes into Peppermint Patty's storylines that challenged gender norms.

Schulz's skill in controlling the flow of ink from his pens and nibs produced a line that came to life. With a few simple pen strokes he animated the characters, creating a range of emotions that encompassed every mood and feeling.

He also used his line work to create effects such as rain or snow, or the dust from the Pigpen character.

The exhibition also includes a range of artworks by contemporary artists who have been influenced by Peanuts. I loved this oversized knitted piece, inspired by the sweater that Charlie Brown wears. The piece is called 'Charlie's Flag' and the artist, Francois Curlet, identifies with the Charlie Brown character and his insecurities.

The same motif has been used in a series of pottery pieces and gives it an ethnic feel when applied to that medium.

Artist Mel Broomfield is drawn to the psychological themes Schulz used and especially Lucy's 'Psychiatric Help' booth. Brimfield finds it amusing the the neighbourhood bully sets up as a shrink. In this piece, she draws herself as Peanuts characters, which fill an oversize silhouette of Lucy's head and act as self portraits in an ongoing therapeutic dialogue.

Look up close and enjoy the variety of questions and observations that the artist asks herself.

Artist KAWS has regularly used the Peanuts strip as inspiration. These pieces reflect the inner world of Snoopy but also reminds us that we often attribute human traits to non-human entities, something Schulz achieved with Snoopy.

This exhibition was surprisingly insightful and I'm so glad I went. Even better, there's a room full of beanbags where you can chill out and watch Peanuts films for as long as you want to!

Friday, 30 November 2018

Lounge Leopard

The leopard trend is very hot in fashion right now but it also seems to have influenced the home dec trends too! Although I love a leopard print, I'm not sure how much I could carry off in my home. Whilst braving Westfield last weekend, I popped into the fab new H&M Home shop and was taken by these rather fab leopard plates and trays.

I then spotted the best tree decorations for a Cheeky Leopard christmas tree, these wonderful leopard baubles. Imagine having a whole tree covered in them?!

I decided to look online and see what other lovely leopard home items were on offer. There was quite a choice, but I've narrowed it down to some of my favourites. This lampshade by Love Frankie makes quite a statement and would work well mixed with pared-down decor to make it shine. Check out the flash of hot pink on the inside!

This leopard money box from Audenza is a great gift idea and makes a fab ornament too. I love it on this hot pink pouffe with the dark teal wall behind.

Linen House do a smart scatter cushion and I'm rather in love with the pink chair in the photo too!

If you're looking for leopards to cover your wall this one should do it! It's a border design created by Cole & Son and features leopards above and leopard skin below.

For those who like a little more subtlety in their home, this gold spot wallpaper from John Lewis alludes to the leopard print without shouting it out. Paired with a leopard lamp, also from John Lewis, it makes a nice fresh statement.

Needless to say, Cheeky Leopard has some leopard items to offer. These offerings include a roomy cosmetic bag that could also be used as a pencil case or gadget pouch and is great for carrying smaller items  in your travel bag.

To go with this, we also have sweet little coin purse which can fit small change or is a great way for storing earphones.

Now you can wow future contacts with this business card holder. It certainly makes a statement!

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