Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Thursday, 14 April 2011

bonny babies & chubby children

The first ever nationwide sizing survey is out today and it shows children are significantly taller and fatter than their parents were at the same age.  Both typical waist-lines and height have increased over the last 30 years.  Girls are typically 2cm taller, with waist measurements up by 8cm, and boys are 4cm taller, with waists up by 7cm.
I was asked what I thought by reporter Tamsin Smith for BBC Breakfast TV.  It's a sensitive issue and I'm sympathetic to parents with children who are larger than average as I was definitely a 'bonny' baby.  
a bonny me - apparently aged only 18 months!
In fact I recently found an old pattern for a dress that Mum used to make for me with sizing for girls and "chubbies"!  I think it's affected my designs. 
I try and make clothes that will flatter the skinniest minnies as well as covering little tummies.  But undoubtedly I have a huge advantage over the mass manufacturers because I'm able to cut a bodice a little larger and mix and match it with a skirt that's a little longer to fit your child.  But the high street retailers will have to adapt their sizing to reflect the changing shape of today's generation of children.    

I'd love to know what you think.

Friday, 18 March 2011

cut your own Cloth

If you've ever fancied having a go at making your own clothes or simpler projects like scarves or bags then Cloth Magazine (www.clothmagazine.co.uk) is for you.  This new, handy A5 size mag is packed with lovely ideas to inspire you to design, make and wear your own creations.

I was flattered to be asked to come up with a new design that readers could try for themselves.  The result is my new 'Baby Annie' sundress*.  (Issue 7, spring).  Mum and I put our heads together and I hope we've come up with a design that will encourage you to have a go.  You can download the pattern here. 

If you don't feel up to it, I'm more than happy to make one for you - they are now available online in the Liberty print of your choice for £32.99.  (The 3 original samples are also on sale from £9.99)

* Peak Princess fans will know that all my dresses are named after my friends' children.  This latest one is named in honour of my friend Janneke's little girl.  I thought it was apt as Janneke's a designer too.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

how to tie a bow

 My handmade Liberty print bridesmaid dress collection was inspired by a visit to the V&A Grace Kelly exhibition with my Mum in the summer.  Nearly every dress had a beautiful big bow on it. 

But when it came to actually tying the bows I had a nightmare.  My Mum (a couture dress-maker) reassured me that she used to have exactly the same problem - which used to exasperate her boss who had to tell her over and over again.  She patiently taught me and left me with example bows but every time - ribbon in each hand I'd nearly be in tears.  She lives in London and it's not easy to explain over the phone. 

(I do wonder if it's a dyslexia type thing.  Mum has dyslexia and though I have no problem with my reading I'm terribly in the car with left-right directions, as my husband will testify.)

But by the power of You Tube I've discovered this fabulous video by this American gentleman's outfitters 'How to Tie a Bow Tie'.  It's brilliant and I could listen to his gentle accent forever.

So for any customers - this is how you do it!  Simple.

Friday, 4 February 2011


Been meaning to post these for a while - one of my lovely new prints (already nearly out of stock as some's reserved for a wedding but more in the pink version).  It's called Eliza's Owls.

These are my Harvey Moonbeam dungarees - now available in smaller 3-6m and also a little ruffle pinafore (hopefully arrived in the USA already).  Oh and not forgetting Emily Pickle's darling hair bobbles. 

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

farewell Mark, welcome back Millie

I have finally used my last metre of Liberty's pink paisley Mark.  I had to cut it extremely carefully but have managed to get a baby romper as well as a baby hat and a baby headband out of it.   (Hat pics coming soon - reversible with Milo - adorable).

 The very last offcuts have gone to a lovely customer, Becky Warwick, who turns them into wonderful Isla Baby products like products like these Valentine cards using Liberty Millie.  (I've just reordered a roll of Millie from Liberty which is one of my original and favourite prints).

Monday, 10 January 2011

new year, new liberty prints!

Eliza's Owls - blue
Happy New Year!  It may be grey and dull outside but my sewing room's a cheerful riot of new spring prints.  Liberty's new limited edition Arts Fabric range is inspired by children's literature so there are owls, puppy dogs and enchanted woods - perfect for little boys and girls alike.  There's also a colourful patchwork print in pink or orange as well as good old fashioned sweet peas.
Eliza's Owls - pink
As with all my handmade childrens clothes for girls and boys, it couldn't be simpler.  Browse my online shop, pick the style you like from my range of babywear, dresses, skirts, shirts trousers and tops, and then choose from my range of more than 50 Liberty prints.

Milo - pink
Milo - orange
Mirako - Toyko street scene
Moritz Pea
Plum Dog - green
Plum Dog - pink
Tuesday Trees - blue
Tuesday Trees - pink
Tom's Jets - blue

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

bridesmaids galore

Somehow I can never quite believe that a roll of fabric in my sewing room can be turned into something as magical as a little girl's dream dress...
...but this week I've had two lovely reminders of the magic of dress-making.

I met Shelley Baker (The Studio, Mickleover, Derby) via twitter & was immediately impressed by her portfolio.  So I was flattered when she asked if she could borrow two of my 'Bella Luella' puff sleeve bridesmaid dresses for a photo shoot at Langley Priory, near Castle Donington in Derbyshire.  These are two of the pics (click here to see more).  Can't wait to see more.   

And the cherry on my beautifully iced cake was opening my copy of Conde Nast Brides magazine to see the exquisite summer garden party fashion shoot, styled by lifestyle ed, Polly Atkinson, featuring two of my new 'Grace Kelly' shirt-waister pleat pinafores.


Friday, 10 December 2010

A little bird...

...is one of a handful of websites and newsletters that I swear by to help guide me through the clutter of cyberspace shopping.

Like most people I sigh when another junk mail drops into my inbox but there are a select few that buck the trend - the only downside is being distracted from work while you coo and sigh over the latest delight.

What distinguishes them is a love of what they do, knowledge and passion and a hefty dose of wit and humour.  And though I've not had the pleasure to meet any of them personally, they all engage with their readers with sweet little messages on email or twitter.

My latest pick of the bunch is A Little Bird, set up by Daisy Garnett and a Francesca Martin who met at Vogue.  They describe the site as 'an opinionated guide to what's on'.  As a former BBC Radio 4 producer how could I resist any site described by the Guardian as 'Radio 4 meets Vogue online'?  Being opinionated is key - nothing more dull than the wishy-washy.  Strong editorial opinion makes me trust what they say.

Similarly Kate Carter's Fashion Statement for Guardian Life & Style is a mid-week must read.  Take for example last week's profile of fashion goddess Anna Della Russo.  Though I confess I usually scroll straight down to the faux-pas of Fashion Graveyard.

Another fabulous newcomer is Chic Little Baby blog.  Also formerly of Vogue's parish, Maggie Westhead is Associate Shopping & Style editor of Time Out magazine, London.  She seeks out the best sales, the coolest shops and the most delectable buys.

If you're a print junkie who seems the pleasure of glossy pages, then Angels and Urchins is for you.  Editors Annie Reid and Emily Turner infuse the magazine with their personality.  The quarterly publication's perfectly complemented by Claire Gill's weekly newsletter.  A concise, colourful digest to what's hot in London.

If you want to dress up your home, rather than your children, take a peek at Ellie Tennant's Home Shopping Spy

For the man in your life, Oi Polloi can't be beaten.  This Manchester retailer's enews letter is like Saville Row meets Noel Gallagher.  Describing itself as the antidote to stale and uninspired menswear it's also a trail-blazer in how to sell online.

Last but not least word has to go to Times Top 40 blogger Dulwich Mum.  Relentlessly funny, DM has made twittering into an art-form.

Monday, 22 November 2010

My ideal home

A big thank you to Ellie Tennant, Deputy Ed Shopping Ed and Home Shopping Spy at Ideal Home for picking my handmade Liberty print cushion covers for Ideal Home magazine's Christmas Gift Guide

There's a certain irony in my being featured as I'm terribly organised when it comes to designing and making gifts for other people to give to each other but I never get round to making clothes, curtains or cushions for myself.

My ideal home would be full of hand-made cushions, upholstered seats and patchwork quilts.  Yet the cushions on our beaten up but beloved Chesterfield are shedding feathers and a desperate for new covers and I haven't had time to buy a single Christmas present - not even the smallest stocking filler. 

And my god-son and god-daughter have only just got their birthday presents (from June and October respectively!). 

Perhaps making more for myself should be my New Year's Resolution!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

I promise I will do my best...

...to make a dozen scrunchies simultaneously for a dozen girl guides.

I was a little apprehensive to say the least when Sarah asked if I'd teach 1st Chinley Guides how to sew for their Craft Badge.
So last week I piled lots of my Peak Princess dresses into a suitcase along with the wedding dress my Mum made me, along with pins, needles & thread.  Sarah brought lots of pretty fabrics, elastic and ribbons.  We had two very old sewing machines that had seen better days.

I think my teaching methods are best described as organised chaos but the girls took to sewing like ducks to water.  A few were even enquiring about the price of sewing machines.  (Personally, I love the fuchsia pink John Lewis mini-machines for just £50).

This evening was part 2 with the second group.  Some of the more adventurous went straight on to hair bands and hanging hearts.  And Caitlin had even made herself a floral mini-tote bag over the weekend.

We started making newspaper patterns - wide and short for fatter, less gathered scrunchies and long and narrow for bunched up, thin ones.  I suspect the scouts might find a few pins on the floor when they are next in.  Next was pinning right-side to right-side (perpendicular to the machine needle); then seaming (a cm from the edge); pulling inside out with a safety pin; sewing ends rs to rs to form a tube; threading elastic and Bob's almost your uncle.  Just a little outside seam and voila!

Thank you girls! 

Friday, 29 October 2010

chic little baby update

Thanks to Maggie at Chic Little Baby for featuring my latest designs for boys and girls up to 8-9 years including my Finley Oskar long-sleeved boy's shirt.  I'm very flattered as Maggie's not just a top blogger but also a top fashion journalist who's worked for Vogue.  She's now the Associate Shopping & Style editor of Time Out magazine, London. Keep an eye on her blog for next month's competition for your choice to win a Peak Prince Liberty print shirt or Peak Princess winter smock frock.

Friday, 22 October 2010

I could do that!

One of the best things about starting my own business has been discovering the wealth of help and support that's out there.

Two key people helped me out in the very early days.  One was Sue Scholes from our local Business Link.  She listened to my plans, made sensible suggestions and was a mine of information about the nitty gritty like Trading Standards.  Regular meetings with her kept me focused and a free marketing course was the source of inspiration for my tagline ...with love sewn in.  My google ranking jumped to page one after I learned the dark arts of Search Engine Optimisation at another of their free courses.  They've just published an interview with me in their quarterly Business Connect magazine.

Another was Emma Jones at Enterprise Nation.  I was totally intimidated by business advice books by Dragons and other city big shots.  Emma's 'Spare Room Start Up' was a breath of fresh air.  Down to earth & full of common sense.  I read it in one sitting (a late night!), took her advice and emailed her.  She kindly interviewed me and posted it on the brilliant Enterprise Nation website.  It was one of my first pieces of PR and a huge confidence boost.  They've just done an updated interview with me (Lissa's Story - I could do that!).

But undoubtedly the biggest source of help and support has been friends and family.  Mum's become my design consultant and quality controller, my in-laws are my graphic design team, my sister-in-law put me in touch with Liberty of London and is always at hand for astute advice on pricing, my older sister taught me to take half-decent photos, my younger sister's retail eye rescued my branding and I've now lost count of all the forebearing friends who've let me use their children for modeling and fitting sessions.  Suffice to say, the biggest thanks has to go to little Tilly Toadstool - my god-daughter.  Without her there would be no Peak Princess.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

bye bye Mark

I've just cut this 'Anya Rose' denim shift with Liberty 'Mark' print lining and pleat and realised I only have a metre of Mark left.  How sad.  Mark has a special place in my heart. 

 It was one of my original collection prints and this is the dress that Sunday Times Style magazine featured.  All good things have to come to an end.  So goodbye Mark and hello Felicite, Pep, Lou Lou Isabella, Toria.  (Click here to see the full range of my prints).