August 4, 2015

DIY Totes Saving Lives

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For the last few years every 4 months me and Al head into the city together to give blood. Before we started going together I must admit I’d been too chicken to go alone. For so many years I had been meaning to go. You know, when that ‘I need to...' thought pops into your head, you think about it for a minute and then before you know it, it’s gone and life goes on. The best intentions with the worst follow up.

It wasn’t just fear of the needle (it still gets me every time) but lack of planning and actionable accountability. That’s why I’m really happy it’s now part of our routine. We go, give blood, drink coffee and eat snacks, and then treat ourselves to more food at one of our favourite restaurants, all the time happy that we have potentially saved someone’s life. A great day out! In fact I usually come away wishing I could go more often.

That’s why I wanted to get involved in this campaign.

Anthony Nolan is a pioneering charity that was the first bone marrow register in the world. This campaign, cheekily named #IGiveASpit, is highlighting just how easy it is to get onto the stem cell transplant list and have the chance of actually saving someone’s life.

Now I have to once again admit I have always been a little scared of signing up as a stem cell donor, but after watching this video it seems the process is very similar to giving blood. So easy - I never knew! And it’s even easier to sign up. You can watch the video to find out more.

To introduce the campaign Antony Nolan sent me a t-shirt* designed by Ashish to customise. I was keen to create something I would really use to highlight the cause instead of a one off, blog post topic. So I decided to completely transform the t-shirt and turn it into a tote! I wanted to go for something really eye-catching to attract attention.

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#IGiveASpit T-shirt* | Needle & thread/sewing machine | Scissors | Copper pipe | Fabric pens


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1. Lay the t-shirt out flat and cut off the arms above the seam. Then cut off the neckline. Turn the t-shirt inside out and sew the front and back bottom hems together.

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3. Turn the t-shirt to the right side again and cut along the shoulder seam.

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4. Take what is left of the arms and tie the front and back strips together half way down. Insert the copper bar and tie again over the top of the bar. Repeat these steps on the other side.

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Obviously everyone who joins the register is gratefully received but Anthony Nolan is working hard to encourage more men to sign up. So whoever you are, sign up here and then get any man in your life to sign up as well.

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Double trouble (or double the lives saved in fact!), please head to Twitter or Instagram and tag a man in your life with the hashtag #IgiveASpit, you can link to this post or the campaign’s page to raise awareness and show you are doing something amazing!

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* You can grab and customise your own t-shirt from the Anthony Nolan eBay site or from YrStore in the Topshop and Topman flagship stores on Oxford Street to join in with the campaign too.

This post has been sponsored by Anthony Nolan but all opinions are my own.


August 3, 2015

The Fool Proof way to Stop Creative Jealousy

The Fool Proof way to Stop Creative Jealousy

That little voice has a lot to answer for. That nagging, sickening whisper that somehow knocks the wind out of you and leaves you useless and wondering why. No one wants to feel inadequate but it’s particularly biting when it comes to feeling like something you put your heart and soul into just isn’t good enough. However hard we try jealousy has it’s way of seeping in through the smallest crack we leave open. More often than not, exactly when we’re feeling especially vulnerable already.

Believe it or not there are some benefits to recognising that jealous feeling when it strikes. Stick with me here for just a moment. Jealousy can help us understand our own aspirations and give us direction. When you see something you wish you were doing then maybe you should be paying more attention to your own needs. But when it comes to debilitating jealousy - the type that stops you producing anything that is a true reflection of your own experience and skill, but leans us closer to straight up plagiarism - that’s not on. We need to find an answer.

The reason I wanted to write about this subject is because I’m no stranger to jealousy. As much as I don’t like to admit it I have moments of blogger envy every day. I wish I could take photos like this blogger, or I wish I’d had that idea or their styling expertise. These pangs, whilst momentarily sucking the life out of you, are actually a good thing. They remind me to keep striving to improve my craft. They keep me on my toes and give me new goals to work towards, but amongst the productive jabs every now and then a much more decremental resentment sneaks up and knocks you clean out.

There are lots of ways to avoid this type of jealousy, non any better than the other. Some people avoid any kind of influence that would create these feelings, choosing only to follow blogs or creative entrepreneurs outside of their niche. But I am way to curious for that. I’m submerged in this DIY world and I wouldn’t have it any other way! So I had to find another way and it came from an unexpected place.

When I first had the idea to start We Make Collective I initially wanted to create all of the tutorials myself. This meant I would get to experiment, learn and explore every possible avenue I could in one creative technique. I’d get to expand on and develop my own skill and basically play with great materials all day long! Living the dream!

But then I realised I was missing out on a great opportunity, not only could I use the Collective to work with some of the people I admire most, I could also create a truly unique collection that featured tutorials out of my own technical experiences and creative influences, and offer more ideas and skills than just those I have learnt. If I hadn’t decided to work with so many other people I think I would have missed the whole value behind We Make Collective. Working with the people I admire creates a much more comprehensive and quality site for everyone involved.

Taking it one step further and working with independent suppliers who might otherwise be our competitors was a natural progression. Yes, I would not be making a big profit by outsourcing so much of the work but the value here is not in the financial gains but in the quality of the service which we have the chance to create.

One of the benefits of choosing this route is that I get to use all the knowledge I’ve earned from my blogger obsession and work with some of the people I admire most. It’s here that I realised just how important it is to collaborate not just to build an amazing resource but for my own emotional advantages. Working with other creatives that I could easily be envious of has softened the blow.

I’m also lucky that my work with Design*Sponge also gives me an avenue to work with even more of the people I admire. It’s in these collaborations that I’ve become less jealous of my coworkers and genuinely happy for their achievements. Part of this is getting the chance to really see the person behind the perfectly styled blogs and websites. When you realise it’s a real person behind the gloss with real stuff going on it their own lives it’s much harder to keep harbouring negative feelings.

So my advice is to get the know the real people behind the window display and perhaps even collaborate with them! I realise that this is not always possible but it’s important to look further than the surface not just for your own peace of mind, but to create a better space for your own audience too!

July 31, 2015

Home | The Easy way to Find Your Signature Style

Habitat inspiration

 Textured Throw | Seagrass Basket | Print | Coffee Table | HYDE Sofa | Clay Vase | Metal & Wood Lamp | Happer Rug

I did promise you it's going to be a week of news here didn't I? So as well as launching the We Make Collective this week (I still can't believe how well that's going!) I also have other news. If you follow me on Instagram you probably already know about it - I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures. We've started looking for a studio!

Up until now I've been working from our flat which (luckily) has a spare bedroom which I took over and use as an office. The problem is I'm outgrowing the small room and taking over the rest of the house with props, materials and general mess and clutter. When I'm working on bigger projects I spend half my day piling furniture up on one side of the room to give me a space in which I can actually fit a piece to photograph it! Apart from getting the chance to flex my muscles (...) this is not ideal.

One of my biggest irks is that my living room is no longer a relaxing space for me. It's cluttered and there's too much furniture. Looking around it's just one big storage space rather than an area to enjoy. One of the most exciting things about moving into a studio will be getting this room back and as soon as I had made the decision I was mentally (and Pinterestingly) planning how to whip this space back into shape!

My biggest problem with decorating is that I'm influenced by too many different styles. I have conflicting ideas of what I think I like and what I'm actually drawn to and instead of coming out as an eclectic masterpiece, I'm left with an awkward mismatch that just doesn't quite work out.

So I'm shifting my focus. I want to trust my gut and not be scared to make decisions that are not on trend. But working out how to do this takes planning. Instead of jumping in thinking I know what I want, I'm going to plan and research like I would any other project. My worry is I'll just plan myself into the awkward mess again because you know what, there is just TOO much choice! But I have found the perfect solution and it's so simple it hurts. It's something I already have and I know you will too. Are you excited?

I'm going to tell you all my secrets now!

You're thinking 'just get to the point!'

Ok, for reals this time. The easy way to find your signature style is...

PINTEREST! Revolutionary, I know... But while we've been Pinning away, saving everything we love to carefully curated project boards for others to enjoy, we've forgotten they are a useful resource for us too! (Well, I have anyway. The rest of you might be a little more savvy than me.)

Follow Francesca | Fall For DIY's board Home Details on Pinterest.

My 'Home details' board has 1077 pins of rooms and details I just love. Not the things I think I should, not the things I can afford or think I need. Just pure aesthetic joy. What better place to start? I've been trying to figure out what I'm naturally drawn to and all this time I've been ignoring I have this huge resource literally at my finger tips.

So after looking over the board I think I can see some clear themes emerging. I love a clean look with accents of colour. Most of the colours are bright but at the same time earthy (I don't know if that makes sense, but it does in my head), muted perhaps. There's a combination of natural, raw materials next to minimal and glossy and the look is generally more grown up and traditional than I thought I would go for.

This is so far from what I have been trying to achieve. In my mind I want an all white, very modern, very minimalist look with bright, bright, bright colour accents. These ideas are so different. When I take a second around my living room I can see them colliding and clashing. I can see exactly where it's going wrong and while it might take a while to correct it at least I now know how to.

I'm starting with these six product which I think encapture my signature style and working from there. I'm being patient with progress. It isn't going to happen overnight. I'm hoping instead that investing in key pieces over a longer period of time will create a more cohesive look than being won over by the latest trend. Come back to me in six months and we'll see if it's working!


July 29, 2015

DIY Gold Kintsugi Ceramic Planter

Fall For DIY | Gold Kintsugi Ceramic Planter tutorial

Between me and Alex we can get through quite a bit of tableware at home. Like a clumsy comedy duo we have a problem with breakages. My problem seems to be my elbows. While I can keep my hands in check, when it comes to watching where the rest of my arms are and what they are about to knock over I have tunnel vision. The absolute worst example of this was elbowing a whole bottle of tequila we bought back from Mexico last year onto our kitchen floor! Tequila and glass everywhere. No margaritas for us...

Fall For DIY | Gold Kintsugi Ceramic Planter tutorial

Apart from the tequila bottle, I've found a way to reuse a lot of the breakages and (in my opinion) make them so much better! These Kintsugi DIY repair kits from Mora Approved let you professionally fix your crockery in minutes and is so easy to use. You can put your broken pieces back together again with beautiful accents of gold running through the ceramics. In fact this piece looks so good I wish I'd broken it into a few more pieces before putting it back together again! I'm already looking for other items I may accidentally (ahem!) break so I can experiment more with the kit!

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