Friday, 15 June 2018

Orla Kiely

As a textile designer myself, I'm always interested to see how other textile designers choose to work. Many, like me, freelance for wholesalers, retailers or work for an agent who sells their designs for them, but every now and then you get a textile designer who makes a name for themselves and recognition for the beautiful designs they do. One of those people is Orla Kiely, who is well known for her graphic patterns which are instantly recognisable. She now has an exhibition of her work on at the Fashion and Textile Museum and I headed down there to check it out.

The exhibition features over 150 patterns and products as well as collaborations with photographers, film directors and architects. You quickly get a feel for how much she has done over the years that she has been designing. The walls were covered with a random patchwork of all the designs she has done, many of which I'd forgotten about.

Her well known 'Stem' design (similar to the one above) has been used on everything from handbags to oven gloves and has been reproduced in a varying style and colour but always manages to keep the essence of the simple leaf and stem design that is instantly recognisable.

The designs above appear simple but have obviously been well thought out using a balanced colour palette and a variety of scales within each design to give it interest. For example, the design above (bottom left) uses a very simple black and red floral and leaf motif, but by alternately enlarging the flower, it creates more interest within the design.

The designs above are fun and playful and I love the abstract nature of them. Look closer at the green design and you see that it is a selection of little people tipping their hats to one another. The simple yet clever design below shows swimming ladies. I love the Art Deco feel to the design.

Orla Kiely has used a lot of animal motifs in her designs. In a lot of cases their simple, set layout creates a new design where the negative space is just as important as the positive. I like the simple inclusion of a selection of colours in each of the foxes faces below.

Orla Kiely was always interested in fashion from an early age and the styling of her fashion ranges were often inspired by the 60s and 70s, as were her textile designs. For this exhibition she created garments that showed a play on scale.

She created nine enormous garments based on previous collections in iconic prints (above), and alongside those she had the most beautiful little dolls wearing the same print but scaled right down (below).

Upstairs in the exhibition there is a selection of garments from past collections. One of my favourites was this dress that had a fab graphic print of a 1960s shoe. The model was also wearing similar shoes.

And last, but definitely not least, there was a wall of handbags! Heaven. They had all been organised in order of colour and nearly made me weep with joy!

In the mid-90s, whilst showcasing hats at London Fashion Week, Orla Kiely's father noticed that few women actually wore hats, but they all had a bag, and so began a key addition to the Orla Kiely collections. She started with cotton bags, but soon moved on to more durable versions, often including a quirky touch. My favourite bag was the one below.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Watermelon heaven

I've been getting quite crafty recently! My latest craft project was to create some gift bags for my niece's upcoming 9th birthday party. Being a nine year old girl, she naturally likes all things pink and preferably with a unicorn, mermaid or pineapple on it, so these watermelon pouches seemed the perfect compliment. All you need is some pink paper, a black pen and some tape.

I found a fab tutorial at It was really easy to follow and a great project to share with both my nieces. We each had a job to do - Lila was colouring in the watermelon seeds (easily drawn with a black marker pen), I was doing the sticking (slightly fiddly, using double-sided tape) and Flo was attaching the green washi tape and filling the pouches. It was a great way to get crafty as well as spend some fab time with my beautiful nieces! You can see the finished result below. We decided to use a combination of red paper and pink paper to mix up the colours a bit.

I'm a bit partial to watermelon designs myself and have a watermelon item in my store - this fab little tissue holder. Each melon is printed in gold and they sit on a pale pink ground.

Other fruity items include this sweet little strawberry coin purse which can be used for storing small change or as a headphone case.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

True blue

I'm always on the hunt for new inspiration and when I decided to start a new design project based on blue and white pottery, I headed off to the Ashmolean museum in Oxford to get inspired.

Founded in 1683, the Ashmolean is the museum of art and archeology for the University of Oxford. It contains collections ranging form Egyptian mummies to modern art and is a great place to spend a few hours pottering about and getting inspired. I love the modern interior which marries perfectly with the traditional architecture of the exterior.

I spent most of my time on the second floor which is called 'West Meets East'. It showcases ceramics from China, Japan and Europe as well as many other amazing items.

It wasn't until I started looking properly that I realised how many cultures have used blue and white pottery through history. It makes it amazingly varied as a project idea.

I'm always looking for an interesting motif or a novel layout. I love the simple yet sophisticated placement of the image on the plate, above left. The floral uses up a small amount of the plate, so that the negative space is just as important as the image itself. The plate below uses a stunning image of a dragon. I'm now wondering how I could incorporate a dragon into one of my designs!

I love the shape of the two vases below and could see them working well as circular cushion designs.

Most collections I design contain three or four main designs, but the collection also holds together better with smaller co-ordinates. The two images below show some great co-ordinate ideas. The plate on the left almost has the feel of a patchwork design, incorporating a selection of small geometrics.

I love the idea of combining cultures within one collection and enjoy the challenge of how I approach this, whilst creating an interesting and cohesive group. Below is a little taster of my first design for this blue and white collection - a selection of blue and white pottery!

Friday, 1 June 2018

Nautical nautiness

It's been a while since I've written on my blog! But I'm back and embracing the beginning of summer. I recently went on a trip to the lovely seaside town of Whitstable and it inspired me to start creating some nautical-inspired items.

Whitstable is situated on the north coast of Kent and is famous for its oysters. It also has a lovely selection of shops and cafes to meander around. The harbour was full of brightly coloured boats and we came across this friendly fisherman too!

Wherever I go, I like to do research into design ideas for new projects and I often come across some fabulous inspiration on the high street. The two items below caught my eye as I love the loose, abstract style of them both. The image on the left is a canvas bag from Seasalt and the image on the right shows bathroom items from John Lewis.

I was also interested in the designs below which I saw on candle boxes by Linea at House of Fraser. The design on the left is a loose geometric that is designed in nautical colours of red, white and blue that co-ordinate nicely with a nautical collection. The design on the right uses an abstract wave design and reminds me of many designs used in Japanese art and design.

Below you can see a few of the nautical items I now have in my store. I love a lobster print and the card case uses a fab graphic lobster design with a red and white polka dot lining. The tissue holder is made from a canvas navy blue and white anchor fabric and comes filled with tissues, ready for any summertime sniffles. The fish cometic bag and beach hut cosmetic bag are large and roomy and great for using on vacation, either for toiletries or as a case for storing chargers and gadgets.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Merry Christmas!

A very Merry Christmas from Cheeky Leopard. Thanks for all your support through 2017 and here's to a happy and fruitful 2018 to all.

Friday, 22 December 2017


It appears that sausage dogs come in all shapes and sizes at Cheeky Leopard! I love this cute sketched dachshund design and the yellow is such a happy colour. I've made it up into lots of fun items for my store including a coin purse, card case, glasses case and tissue holder. Each item has a contrasting black and white polka dot lining. You can find them in my store here.

The coin purse is great for small change or can be used to store headphones.

Use the card case for travel cards, business cards or credit cards.

The glasses case is big enough to fit a large pair of sunnies.

The tissue holder is nice and bright and easy to find in your handbag.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Toucan play that game

Whenever I go somewhere new, I always try and seek out the local fabric shops and see if I can snap up a new addition to my fabric stash. On a recent trip to Bath I did just that, where I was lucky enough to come across a fabulous toucan fabric which I decided to pair with a black and white polka dot print.

So far I have made a cosmetic bag and tissue holder combo.

Both items use the polka dot fabric as the lining. The cosmetic bag is big enough to fit makeup and beauty items, or could be used as a pencil case or gadget pouch for storing chargers.

The tissue holder makes a fun addition and fits snuggly inside the cosmetic bag.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

True Blue

This blue beauty has just been added to my store. It's a silk scarf made from vintage Japanese kimono pieces that I have sewn together. It is long and thin, wraps around the neck several times and is perfect for accessorising any outfit.

I've taken time to go through my extensive collection of kimono pieces and find the perfect combination of fabrics to go together. The fabrics include florals and geometrics and some have a hint of red and cream, while others are multi colour, mixed up with some solid blue silk.

Why not mix and match cultures and wear your Japanese kimono scarf with this stunning ikat fabric clutch bag which you can find in my store here.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Sparkle Sunday

It's only 10 days until the Sparkle Sunday event at Elleray Hall in Teddington! Cheeky Leopard products will be on sale along with handmade aromatherapy gifts, jewellery, ceramics, vintage glass, womenswear and menswear and gourmet gifts. There will also be tea and cakes, and face painting for the kids! Please pop along and say hi, it would be lovely to see you there.

Sunday 3rd December
Elleray Hall
Elleray Road

Friday, 17 November 2017

Kimono scarf

I've been playing with another kimono silk scarf and it's just been added to my store. This time I decided to use an autumnal colour palette of black and terracotta.

I love the combination of styles and it was really fun choosing the selection of fabrics and deciding which one was going to sit next to each other.

I tried to mix up the colours so that they alternated between black and terracotta or between floral and geometric so that the prints and colours were spread out.

The scarf is long and thin and can be draped around the neck several times.

This scarf makes quite a statement and is a great decorative element to any outfit.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

New notebooks

I recently decided to add some new items to my store, these gorgeous little notebooks! I designed them myself and I decided to use images that have been popular in my store. The items that sell the best are the Boston Terrier fabrics and cat designs, so I decided to use those and create some sweet book covers. It was a lot of fun designing them.

Both the notepads are A5 in size and they are made from recycled card on the outside with a staple at the spine to hold the pages together. There are 48 lined pages so that you can jot down your ideas and thoughts. These books could be used as a journal, a diary or something to keep lists in!

The Boston Terrier design is on a yellow ground and has tonal tossed hearts surrounding the dogs' heads. This makes a great match with the Boston Terrier coin purse.

Look closer at the cat design and you will see that some of them are wearing pink glasses or bow ties. The design is on a pale grey ground and would make a great match with the cat cosmetic bag.

Look inside the front cover of each notebook and you will find a space to personalise your book.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Magenta madness

I love the colour magenta and there is a lot of it in the stores right now, from fabulously sky high stilettos and damask dresses from Marks and Spencer, to a bejewelled suede clutch bag at Dune.

It reminded me of all the pretty pink items I have in my store.
The coin purse below is made from a lovely thick linen fabric.

The clutch bag below is made from an Indian sari that I collected on my travels in India. The sari has touches of green in it so I decided to make the lining green to match!

The fabric for the handbag below was bought on a trip to Istanbul. It's made from a stunning ikat fabric, where the design is dyed onto the threads before they are woven.

And if you're looking for something a bit smaller, this card case below is perfect. It can be used for storing credit cards, business cards or travel cards and is lightly padded.


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