Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Skinny legs and logos go into fashion hibernation - the canadian press

NEW YORK — It's probably safe to retire - or at least put to rest for a long winter snooze - your skinny-leg pants. Once the first signs of spring start to stir, the favoured silhouette will be loose and easy.

"Wide pants - if you invested in the dramatic floppy leg pant that just skims the ankle, you are in luck. These are still a big trend for next year," says Avril Graham, Harper Bazaar's executive fashion editor.

That's the thing about fashion: Almost every look - good or bad - comes back, even if it's slightly tweaked. The key is gauging how fast the boomerang is moving.

Take Uggs, for example. EBay style director Constance White says the cosy, furry boot is already a must-have item again for many women - and it's a trend driven by consumers.

"The fashion gods forgive me: I will not throw out a pair of Ugg boots. ... They dipped - came off the radar and weren't 'it' anymore - but they've had the huge rise in popularity again. All you have to do is look on the streets and you'll see hundreds of women and girls who just think they're the cutting edge of fashion all over again," White says.

Some other likely top (and not) looks of 2009:

-Sandy neutrals and tropical colours are likely to make a splash, but there might be a changing of the guard for regal purple, which has reigned for a few years. Painterly prints had a shorter run, but Graham says they too are on their way out. "Best to look for sweet florals," she advises.

-Safari styles, whether they're vintage Yves Saint Laurent or new Banana Republic, are enjoying a high point on their arc of popularity. That's good news, says Graham, because it's an easy look for most women to wear.

-The 1980s continue to both inspire and haunt fashion, but if you ever wore harem pants and highlighter colours the first time, you might consider giving only a wink to the decade with bangle bracelet or fluorescent accessories.

-A low-platform heel is a shoe that takes you through every season and most occasions, says eBay's White. If you're cleaning your closet, extreme platforms can get tossed, but hold on to all your peep-toe shoes, she advises.

The popular gladiator-style sandal will triumph again this summer, but it'll be even more aggressive looking with higher heels.

-The big-statement necklace popular last year is still a trend, but it's one you can cut back on.

"If you've accumulated three or four, part with two of them," White says. "Instead, hold on to any bracelets - cuffs or stacking bracelets, especially. They're fresher, new and they're going to be hot right through spring and summer."

-Logos are out and subtly is in. "It's not the right time for flash," declares Graham.

Castoffs can make your wardrobe -

Vintage clothing stores can yield treasures if you know how to look
Chantal Eustace
Calgary Herald

With a little digging, you can find pieces to treasure at vintage and second-hand clothing stores.
CREDIT: Photos, Ian Smith, Canwest News Service
With a little digging, you can find pieces to treasure at vintage and second-hand clothing stores.

Call it what you like -- vintage, preloved, used, junk, lived-in, gently worn, unwanted wear, time-warp or consignment -- done right, other people's casto s can transform a dull outfit into something spectacular.

Buying someone else's unwanted Levis is economical -- and especially relevant in these uncertain financial times. It's ecological too, a stylish way to help the polar bears.

"I think the main reason people shop vintage is because they have a very unique and defined sense of style and vintage clothing enables them to express themselves as an individual," says Carly Lenarduzzi, owner of Mintage, a Vancouver vintage clothing retailer. "With so many cookie-cutter clothing stores, vintage clothing is a breath of fresh air."

If you do it right, that is.

It can't look too ratty. It shouldn't make you look like an extra from Austin Powers, or worse, a cast member from the original Beverly Hills 90210. It shouldn't look like it is something old that you wore in your youth, or something you never stopped wearing.

And it definitely shouldn't be stained, smelly or infested by bugs.

If you're new to second-hand shopping, make sure you stick to basics like denims, skirts, T-shirts or coats. Leave the tutus to the pros.

To help you get into the groove, we've compiled some shopping tips and tryouts. Pretty soon you'll be mapping out your own route, consigning your prom dress, and stepping out in a rockabilly shirt with a pair of mod boots.

Or just bragging about the $5 you paid for your new cashmere sweater.

Armchair Shopper

If you're really a vintage virgin -- and you don't want to dig -- find a comfy chair and go online.

There are loads of great web-sites that sell preloved apparel, including the obvious and easy eBay. Or, click away for some vintage couture at It is a virtual treasure trove of used designer duds, including brands like Versace and Dior.

Be Bold

A little digging in consignment shops (look under Consignment in the Yellow Pages or enter "consignment clothing Calgary" into an Internet search engine) and you'll be bragging to your pals about your $15 Oxfords or $20 Burberrys.

Don't let the sometimes drab exteriors put you o . Be bold. Find your deals!

Or better yet, bring in your old stu when you go. Eventually, you'll be earning money to shop. (Well, sort of.)

Paradise Found

Charity thrift stores like those operated by the Salvation Army o er up some of the best deals in used shopping opportunities, along with a solid dose of good karma. There are fashion treasures to be found among the mountains of stu , from paintings to tea cups to sofas and china kittens.

Procrastination Not Allowed

If you see something you like, pick it up immediately, reflect on it later. Chances are, if you leave that Saskatchewan Wheat Pool T-shirt or faux fur jacket and plan to return -- it'll be gone.

So get digging.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Crafty Things : What I made for X-mas!

Felt X-mas Hearts for the Ladies.

Felt Fortune Cookies with Faces for the Dudes.

Felt Monster & Bird Pins for the little ones.

Food Love : Banana Crumb Muffins!

I meant to post this recipe for my last Etsy Bloggers Carnival but since I was x-mas slammed, I didn't get a chance to post it until now! These are the most delicious banana muffins ever - great for breakfast or any time really. I stole the recipe from!

What you'll need:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt

3 mashed bananas
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup melted butter

optional: nuts

optional: Delicious crumb topping (highly recommended)

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespons flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of butter

(I don't really go by this to do the crumb topping, I just pinch and eye ball it!)

The specifics:

Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, ready when toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 10 big, fluffy, and delicious muffins.

(Don't try to get 12 out of the batter, you'll end up with smaller, less fluffy and delicious muffins - for more just double the recipe!)

Here's how to make the most delicious muffins ever:

1. Gather above ingredients and vintage Pyrex since its so cute and awesome for baking.

2. Sift dry ingredients, melt butter, lightly beat the egg. Put your banana, sugar, egg, & butter in the same bowl.

3. Mash together bananas, sugar, butter, & egg. I like to use a potato masher, works great! Keep mashing until your ingredients are well blended and banana pieces are roughly the size of peas.

4. Add banana mush to your dry ingredients and stir.

5. Optional Crumb Topping: gather together ingredients & use pastry cutter to blend topping.

6. Fill baking cups with batter almost to the top, or roughly 3/4 full. Sprinkle with Crumb Topping and bake! I like to use an ice cream scoop, makes things super easy!

7. Bake 18 to 20 minutes. Cool. Then eat majorly delicious muffins!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lova Revolutionary : Handmade Flower Embroidery Hoop featured on What Katy Did Blog

Flower Embroidery Hoop from Lova Revolutionary : Handmade + Art. - - was featured on

Pop Couture -

December 21, 2008
The Medium

Pop Couture

Sometimes the Web is most satisfying when it confirms a cliché from the world offline.

I’m thinking of the captivating street-style photoblogs, which display snapshots of chic pedestrians in cities around the world. Such blogs exist for Tel Aviv, Stockholm, Moscow, Sydney, Seoul, Berlin, Dublin, London — you name it. Survey them one morning over coffee, and you’ll feel like a boulevardier of the whole world, breezing past one stunning creature after another, free to cruelly assess or dumbly gaze — at supreme leisure and invulnerable to reciprocal scrutiny.

What can be learned from a global anthology of fantastic-­looking people? First off, you might find that looking at people on city streets is almost a perfect allegory of Web-browsing. Tellingly, the major Chinese search engine, Baidu, takes its name from an ancient poem about the search for (what the portal’s FAQ calls) “a retreating beauty amid chaotic glamour.” Anyone encountering the bedlam of the Web seeks a resting place, even — at times — a literal or figurative embrace. The suspense of that exploration is mirrored in the story you find on the street-style blogs: the search for a quiet connection with beauty in a metropolis of strangers.

But what specifically do the photoblogs teach about fashion? The novelty of Aladdin pants, the sweetness of dove gray, bits and pieces of style — gestalts, vibes — the same vague revelations you might discover while walking in the Harajuku neighborhood in Tokyo or the French Quarter in New Orleans. Dozens of street-style blogs for Muslim women show inventive ways to wear a hijab and eye makeup. Some stylish people on the blogs look chipper and resourceful (Tokyo); some look pampered (Cape Town). Others appear proud (Stockholm), playful (Austin), radiant (Copenhagen), easygoing (Nairobi), celebratory (Buenos Aires), ferocious (London). The street-style blogs palpably lift the mood: human beings in their natural habitats and chosen adornments seem suddenly ingenious, unpredictable and above all beautiful.

That feeling mounts at the best sites — Face Hunter, Style-Arena, Stockholm Street Style — and peaks with a glance at The Sartorialist, the bellwether American site that turned this kind of cruising-photo­blogging into an art form. Fathered by Scott Schuman, a onetime employee of the men’s clothing enterprise Chess King who (though he detoured through a career in high fashion) never lost his eye for the sharp-dressed Everyman, The Sartorialist features not just handsome people but also handsome photographs. The site’s generous, near-gilded portraits are especially pleasing when contrasted with stock rage-filled fashion spreads in glossy magazines. Schuman’s images have no edge; they’re all creamy center.

On an average day at The Sartorialist you might catch two students, she with a pink bow at her neck and he in a shrunken flannel shirt, loitering not far from a humorous-looking bearded man in a military-band jacket, who himself preens not far from a row of sophisticated winter women in dark stockings, heels, furs and vividly colored August-weight dresses.

Indeed, the street-style blogs of the world are so trippingly delightful and spontaneous that, while you forget your cares in your money­less world tour, you may also forget all societal gravity and natural laws and snob hierarchies — until. Hold up. At Garance Doré, a French blog named after its proprietress, you hit a hard truth, the immovable cliché of style: Paris. The Web came, the European Union, Tokyo style, war, Sarkozy, the crash of global markets. And still everyone dresses better in Paris.

At least, I mean, they look sublime at the house of Garance Doré. Raised by a high-stepping mother who wore Mugler and Alaïa, Doré is a fashion illustrator who in 2006 became “a little frustrated with the commissions I had, and in particular by the lack of contact with the readers” (as her freshly translated bio puts it). She closed the audience gap with a blog — as so many do; at first, it showed sketches and captions and now features photos of people she encounters. You know, just people, regular people, like an ethereal redheaded It Girl outside a Karl Lagerfeld show, or the sultry French model Valentine Fillol Cordier at the Palais Royal.

A friend of mine won’t look at Garance Doré because he says it fills him with longing he can’t bear. I feel nearly the same way, though I don’t stay away; I’m pleasurably overwhelmed. Somehow Garance Doré gives viewers the sense that they are in the urban splendor too, or could be, or should be — strolling or sauntering, rather than linking and clicking. And at this moment in cultural history, when the allure of Europe and Paris and the sumptuous, leisurely life is assumed to have faded, we’re not on guard against it. Garance Doré should come with a caution.

With their scarves and coats in muted colors, steady gazes and rosebud mouths, the figures who pause at Garance Doré seem somehow sainted. Unlike Schuman, Doré publishes photos of faces alone (often set above full-body shots), so her focus is less on silhouette and proportion and more on expression and complexion. While Schuman’s camera is curious, Doré’s is smitten. Her figures glow under her attention. They’re nearly aflame.

As a rule, the street-style blogs don’t take many ads. They’re not advertorial, either. I haven’t seen any that systematically caption their photos with information about brands, labels, prices. And if you think you might try to replicate one of the looks, you’re thrown back on your wits and your own wardrobe: the sites don’t suggest places to shop. A proposed “shopping guide” that was forever “premiering soon” on The Sartorialist seems to be stalled.

On the other hand, in this time of a downturn in traditional media that’s said to be both “cyclical and secular” — meaning that there’s a recession on and that the businesses are fundamentally changing and moving online — the street-style blogs suggest a new way of displaying fashion and, down the road, monetizing fashion reporting. Vogue’s Style File blog at, which features celebrities and breaking fashion news, rarely draws a single comment. By contrast, a Garance Doré post of an unnamed woman in houndstooth and stripes drew 78 comments, in French and English. Sartorialist posts regularly draw more than a hundred. People return to these sites, and stay a long time. In the fashion frame of mind, some viewers would no doubt click on ads for e-tailers that might sell them clothes, jewelry, accessories and cosmetics.

It’s also worth noting that if it’s the styles of New York and Paris that play the best online, nothing in the taste of the times should be all that confounding to people who know the rules of traditional fashion. Although of course even the great Garance Doré — who seems to me to be the guardian of all style — can get confused. Recently, Doré reported that she came across a stunning young woman with “une allure incroyable” in black eyeliner and a vintage blue puffer coat. Doré speculated that she might be from an exotic land, perhaps where grog is drunk. (At times, the French fashion world seems to be intoxicated by Scandinavian beauty and style.)

Though Doré addressed her in English, the alluring woman was entirely French, called Marianne (“Comme la République Française,” the woman added helpfully). It turned out that she was Doré’s neighbor in Paris. A stylish Parisienne? Quelle surprise.

Post a Comment at The Medium


Points of Entry


THE STREET: Seeking men and women fully dressed? The joyful street-style blogs are for the traveler who likes the sit-in-a-cafe-and-observe part and can be brought around — in the recession, anyhow — to the from-the-comfort-of-your-home part. My favorites are the pristine ones that don’t have muddy, trashy party pictures that really belong on MySpace. I like a point of view, lucid pictures, some analysis and lots of air in the design. That means: Face Hunter (London and beyond), The Sartorialist (New York and beyond), Garance Doré (Paris), Copenhagen Street Style, Stockholm Street Style, Altamira NYC, Stil in Berlin, The Style Scout (London), Style-Arena (Tokyo by neighborhood; see especially Harajuku, which first defined street style), The Streetswalker (Tel Aviv), Toronto Street Fashion, Styleclicker (Munich), On the Corner (Buenos Aires), Austin Style Watch, 2 Threads (Australia), The MidWasteland (Chicago), Miss at the Playa (miscellaneous), Hel-Looks (Helsinki), Look at Me (Moscow), Shanghai Viva, Glam Canyon (London), ReykjavikLooks.

Fashion books give stylish insights -

Fashion books give stylish insights
Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Several recently released fashion and style books might make wonderful holiday gifts -- or a treat for yourself.

You probably haven't heard of Ike Ude, a Nigerian-born artist, filmmaker, photographer, writer and editor of aRUDE Magazine.

His work is showcased in the New Yorker's hefty coffee table tome, "Style File: The World's Most Elegantly Dressed"(Collins Design, $65). Inside are brief profiles, including large, captivating color and black-and-white photos and easy-to-read Q&As on 55 folks from around the world whom he considers style arbiters.

It's an impressive list, including fashionably influential but obscure people known only to the most informed. A handful of designers made the cut, among them John Galliano, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Christian Louboutin, Mary McFadden and London corset king Mr. Pearl (Mark Pullin). There are also models, journalists, celebrities and other creative types, ranging from perfumer Frederic Malle and actress Isabella Ferrari to burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese and Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley.

The profiles alone make the book worth the price, but the 223-page opus provides more. There are annotated albums featuring the work of famed photographers such as Francesco Scavullo, Coreen Simpson, and Maripol. And Ude examines several periods notable for fashion in illustrated essays, including the Motown look and Belle Epoque.

The seriousness of the book is reflected in prestigious contributors who are not known to lend their names to just any piece of work. In the foreword, Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, describes Ude as "the black prince of elegance" who is "exquisitely aware of the performative nature of fashion."

Harold Koda, curator-in-charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, explains why the book matters as more than a collection of fashion pictures and personalities.

"The creative possibilities of dress as a personally expressive medium are available to us all," he writes in a five-page introduction. "Because even a gesture suggesting an inattention to fashion -- say, pulling on an unwashed T-shirt with sweat pants and flip-flops to pick up the Sunday morning paper -- is a statement of attitude and identity. Nuanced narratives are articulated through dress and position us in relation to others."

There's been a dramatic growth in the popularity of vintage fashion over the past decade, with more references on runways as designers exhibit a fascination with nostalgia.

But how do you breathe new life into period-dated, era-related pieces? Emerging fashion designer Bridgett Artise's solution is to cut them up and creatively stitch them back together with pieces of other garments for up-to-the-minute style.

With help from Miami-based free-lance writer Jen Karetnick, Artise tells you how in "Born-Again Vintage: 25 Ways to Deconstruct, Reinvent, and Recycle Your Wardrobe" (Potter Craft, $24.95).

"My niche is bringing together the matchless quality of vintage with a dash of trendiness and edge to create a fashion-forward conversation piece," says Artise, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology and creator of the B. Artise Originals fashion brand in 2000.

The 144-page book includes instructions and photos that show how looks can be remade for each season, plus tips on doing vintage accessories right. There's also a handy list of chain craft and used clothing stores, such as Jo-Ann Fabrics, Goodwill and Plato's Closet, as well as a state-by-state directory of vintage outfitters that includes Crimes of Fashion, Hey Betty! And Yesterday's News in Pittsburgh.

If the book's title sounds like a reference to faith, it is.

"The personal challenges I've conquered have given me new faith not only in life but in my own abilities," she says. "Prior to designing, I did very little that associated my passion for fashion with a career, and my path was somewhat foggy and unclear. However, through the pain of losing a loved one, my interest in clothing design came to the fore as a coping mechanism. 'Born-again' for me means being given a second chance at happiness. It is, therefore, no accident that I use old clothing in my designs."

Even the fashion-challenged can benefit from Isaac Mizrahi's latest book, "How to Have Style" (Gotham Books, $30).

Hundreds of instructive, often humorous color and black-and-white photos throughout the 223-page paperback illustrate how real women -- not towering, reed-thin catwalk models -- can turn the page to a new chapter of chic, regardless of how they categorize themselves.

With his trademark wit and extensive knowledge base, Mizrahi addresses 12 specific scenarios, ranging from how to have style when you're on a budget or when you're traveling on business to when you're waking up "from a jeans coma."

Also valuable: Sections that describe and illustrate wardrobe must-haves in footwear, handbags, jewelry, watches and bras.

For women, Mizrahi is to fashion what Richard Simmons is to fitness with his straight-talk, almost-Smurfy approach.

He begins the book by telling women how to be inspired, how to describe and discover their style and how to find their own style team. But before any of that, he stresses, they have to accept themselves as they are.

"I have something to say, girls," he writes in a brief preface. "Before you can think about having style, you have to learn to look in the mirror and like what you see. Too many women are taught to hate the way they look and are encouraged to change everything about themselves from their lips to their bust sizes. I can give you all my style tips and ideas about your hair, makeup, and dress, but none of this is going to do anything for you if you don't learn to accept yourself and love who you are."

Post-Gazette fashion editor LaMont Jones can be reached at or at 412-263-1469.
First published on December 10, 2008 at 12:00 am

Retro back in fashion again -

By Austin Bogues, Times Staff Writer

Published Friday, December 19, 2008 3:44 PM


In her search for the perfect holiday party dress, Jessica Shrader wanted something that would be different, yet classic.

When she and her boyfriend rode past and a saw a sale sign at Buffalo Gal Vintage she decided to stop for a look.

"It was incredible," Shrader, 23, said. "I had no idea what I was going to find." There it was, the perfect black dress, for $134.

The style of the dress Shrader bought mimics vintage fashion, like something Audrey Hepburn might wear in Breakfast at Tiffany's. "It's just timeless," Shrader said.

The shop's owner, Desiree Sheridan, knows a few things about vintage and retro looks. Her store specializes in refurbishing old garments into the classic, stylish looks that are making a comeback. Sheridan worked in theater for years in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Over time she acquired scores of old costumes and outfits from estate auctions. She restores each garment to its original condition, or matches it with a similar set from the same era.

"I make it mainstream, so you can incorporate it into today's wardrobe," said Sheridan, who has experience working at antiques malls and opened the shop three months ago on Martin Luther King Jr. Street N.

"It was a big risk, going into business in the midst of a recession," Sheridan, 46, said. But she's confident that the growing interest in retro fashions will sustain her venture.

The retro inventory in Sheridan's shop includes clothing dating from the 1880s up through the 1970s. The shop also sells shoes, lingerie, handbags, ties, jackets and other apparel.

Some of the items look as though they could clothe the cast of The Great Gatsby or a country western drama. Some are inexpensive, equivalent to the price of a dress off the rack from JCPenney or Dillard's.

Sheridan does a great deal of research to make sure the restoration of the garments is accurate.

"She's got an encyclopedia mind," said Emily Miller, 24, who has worked as a seamstress for Sheridan. "She knows exactly what period and what the history of a piece of clothing is."

Most dresses have to be hand-sewn because they are so intricately made. Then, there are also large dry cleaning bills before clothes hit the rack.

In addition to the vintage clothing, Sheridan's business also offers pin-up photography, letting customers pose in retro wear. She works with several photographers such as Rachel Baker, 33, who specializes in fashion photography. "It's kind of like fairy tale-ish," said Baker.

Last week, she worked with model Justina Guggino, 24, on a variety of photos in Sheridan-provided clothing. "I just think the whole style is coming back, everything from the 1940s," she said.

While vintage costume styles may be in demand, the number of shops that sell a wide range of this type of retro apparel is limited. Sheridan's closest competitor is across the bay — Jill Wax's La France in Ybor City.

Wax's store has been in business for more than 35 years, over which time she has seen the cyclical trends of fashion: "Your 1920s was reproduced in the 1970s; your 30s was reproduced in the 1980s."

Wax said that the most popular decades young customers come looking for today are from the 1960s and 1940s. "You have that popular '60s show Mad Men now and a lot of kids come in for clothing like that," she said.

Austin Bogues can be reached at or (727) 893-8872.

If you go

Buffalo Gal Vintage is at 1219 Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg. Visit www.buffalogal or call (727) 290-8468.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Embroidery Hoop Wall Hangings @ Lova Handmade

Kitsch, but classy: Vintage-clothing seller Holly Pickering has given her 1950s memorabilia a sophisticated home

Interview by Rhiannon Harries
Sunday, 7 December 2008

I approach my house the same way I approach the way I dress. A lot of people expect me to wear head-to-toe vintage but I've always found it more interesting to mix retro and contemporary than to go for historical fidelity. It leaves more room for personality and means that every last detail doesn't have to be completely perfect.

This is the room that sold this house in north London to me – there's lots of light but it's soft and peaceful. It's our main living space so it isn't a considered, put-together room at all, but I'm pleased with the way that it has evolved slowly. My boyfriend is really keen on 1950s kitsch, whereas I try to keep things a little more understated. I think we have the balance right – the wackier objects are offset by the calm colour scheme and the natural wooden floor. It's lively, but hopefully it's also quite sophisticated.

We've both been really lucky in that we have inherited lots of wonderful things from our families. The old Japanese pachinko machine on the wall is from the 1950s and was given to us by my boyfriend's father, who found it at Camden Market. The chicken perching on top is a reissue of a 1950s game – you shoot at it and it lays an egg. Most of the time it's just decorative but when we have kids – or men, in fact – round to visit it's the instant entertainment corner.

The wooden chair belonged to my grandmother and when she passed away I wanted to keep one thing to remind me of her house. It looks different here, though – as if it was made to be tucked into a bay window. It goes well with the 1940s Japanese picnic hamper, which my grandfather brought back from Japan, where he spent his childhood.

The animal skulls on the shelf belong to my boyfriend. He collects them because he likes their sculptural quality. They are all animals that have died of natural causes and he gets them from a company that supplies them as props for TV and film. The fish is a piranha from the Amazon and was a present – it's been preserved and sealed but it still seems to drive our cat wild, which is worrying.

The glassware is all 50p charity-shop finds that I pick up when I am back home in the north-east. There, I think people are put off by anything that reminds them of their grandparents' houses, but I think if you put it in a modern context you can transform a piece and make it feel relevant again. So while they are all chucking this stuff out, I am there buying it all up.

In Poland, Style Comes Used and by the Pound -

December 14, 2008

WARSAW — At 9 a.m. on a recent December day, several dozen shoppers all hurled themselves at the door of a second-hand clothes store here, like a rugby scrum hitting a wall. Those stuck outside could only watch as a surprising mix of young hipsters and graying retirees sprinted upstairs, first to where the fur and leather coats awaited.

In a scene repeated daily, whenever the latest delivery has landed, the battle was on for the best finds at the store, called Tomitex, where everything, including the fur, sells for roughly $7 a pound the first week after delivery and as low as 75 cents thereafter.

But this is not a tale of people buying used clothes in the midst of recessionary gloom. The global economic crisis has yet to hit a majority of Poles.

Thrift stores here have become impromptu laboratories of the changing mores and attitudes in a country adjusting to newfound wealth. Young Poles here in the capital are now confident enough in their ability to buy new clothes that they at last have taken to wearing old ones. Those eking out a living on fixed incomes, especially retirees, still lack the means to do otherwise.

And so the hip and the strapped meet at secondhand stores like Tomitex, on Nowowiejska Street in downtown Warsaw.

The pronounced stigma of buying used clothes in a poor country was once a powerful deterrent for shopping — or at least admitting to shopping — at secondhand stores, known here by the derogative colloquialism lumpex, which translates as something like bum export. That stigma has been replaced among the young by a playful attitude toward vintage clothing and bargain-hunting that would not be out of place among their contemporaries in London or New York.

It is all part of the ferment of a capital rife with traffic jams as the new and used imported cars have outstripped the capacity of the roads to carry them all. One boutique for the latest new styles, aptly named Luxury & Liberty, has opened in the former headquarters of the governing Polish United Workers’ Party, which also previously housed the Warsaw Stock Exchange since the end of Communism.

Poles, who under Communism had few choices for clothes, now have the entire spectrum, but the full breadth is only available to a few.

The gulf between the haves and have-nots is wide, and the two sides are increasingly bumping against each other quite literally.

“I think the elderly people connect this with the past in Poland, in the ’80s, the queues,” said Melanie Kucharska, 21, wearing black boots, jeans and dangly earrings, and braving the throngs to sift through the latest delivery with a pair of friends. “But it’s trendy now to go to secondhand stores,” she said. “I can dress in a different way than half of Warsaw does.”

Asked about her better finds, Ms. Kucharska, a student and nanny, recalled her greatest triumph: a ballerina-style dress with a big bow in the front, which she thought was from the ’50s or ’60s.

Older women, by contrast, registered their extreme displeasure at finding a reporter and a photographer at Tomitex, expressing emotions ranging from embarrassment to anger. “It will make me seem poor,” one complained. Others hurled the kind of colorful expressions usually reserved for use on ships at sea.

“Older ladies here are proud and so fashionable,” said Ania Kuczynska, 33, a fashion designer in Warsaw. “You can see that they aren’t very rich, but they’re elegant and they have their own style.”

Ms. Kuczynska said that after socialism consumers placed a great emphasis on labels and logos, to prove that their clothes were new and expensive. A willingness to embrace used clothes signals a new maturity in a city finding its way in fashion, Ms. Kuczynska said. “It’s just the next step in our reality, in our growing economy,” she said. “The times are changing.”

It is a trend that has just begun to touch the mainstream here. Marcin Rozyc, a local fashion journalist and stylist, described his surprise when he traveled to Amsterdam several years ago and found well-to-do young people in thrift store fashions.

“Young people had everything from secondhand, but also carried the newest bags from Chanel,” Mr. Rozyc said.

The broadening of the fashion spectrum through the arrival of designer boutiques and stores made a more experimental approach to clothes possible in the first place, he said.

Luxury & Liberty opened in September, describing itself as a “concept multibrand store” with a bar and restaurant, where the winners of the transition from socialism and their children can buy a Vivienne Westwood bag for around $460 or a Diane von Furstenberg coat for just over $1,000, or 3,159 zloty. “The biggest luxury is liberty,” reads one part of the store’s philosophy statement. “Luxury and liberty are inside us. All we need to do is focus on them and find them.”

At the Tomitex, there was plenty of focus on display, but not much luxury.

“I can’t afford to spend 400 zloty on a new coat,” said Edyta Sudzinska, 47, neatly dressed in brown pants and a black coat, as she left the store on a recent morning. Ms. Sudzinska, who works as an extra, said she lived off just 1,200 zloty a month, putting 500 zloty toward rent in her one-room apartment.

“For many years we’ll be wearing used clothes, till we get to an E.U. standard of wages,” Ms. Sudzinska said. She said she had noticed the trend among buyers who lived at or above Western standards. “Now even people who earn well buy here.”

Four years ago, the Tomitex chain had just six stores, according to its co-founder, Piotr Malecki. With business booming, the number of stores has mushroomed to 25 in Poland and an additional 5 in Ukraine, aided, he said, by an emphasis in the media and the broader culture on the environment that made recycling and reusing hip.

Mr. Malecki, 34, no relation to the photographer of the same name who was cursed in his store while taking pictures for this article, said that typical lumpex shops in smaller towns were going out of business. Used, he said, was O.K.; low quality no longer sufficed. “Even in those small towns, people want to feel good in their clothes,” he said. “They don’t want a shop where everything stinks.”

But his cash cow is still the higher price for the new deliveries. In Warsaw, he worried about one location frequented by a mostly older, poorer clientele, but should have had more faith in the discerning, younger crowd.

“Our clients know exactly where and when the new deliveries will take place,” Mr. Malecki said. “They ride around Warsaw tracking them.”

In Ukraine, by contrast, he said that all that mattered was the lowest possible price, regardless of quality. “The middle class is small, meanwhile the rich are willing to pay three times as much for an Armani as in Paris or New York,” he said. “In terms of quality, it’s really quite a Dumpster. It can be compared to Poland 12 years ago.”

At the Nowowiejska Street Tomitex store, women burrowed elbow-deep into crates of scarves. One woman made off with a pair of French Connection jeans; a man picked up a Derby County soccer jersey with an Adidas logo. The goods are weighed on scales, once at the register and again at the door to discourage theft.

Disputes between the customers, on the other hand, are harder to prevent.

“They curse each other and they do fight, but rarely,” said Ania Jaroszewska, 23, who was watching the second scale at the door. “It’s usually a random thing, when they grab at the same time and say: ‘It’s mine! It’s mine!’ ”

Michal Piotrowski contributed reporting.

Get the personal touch -

Sarah McInerney
December 11, 2008

What do you do if your meat-eating, duck-shooting uncle turns vegetarian in the lead-up to Christmas?

You go online and find someone to make him a felt animal head mounted on wood, of course.

Handmade craft has had an extreme makeover since the days of crocheted coathangers and bags filled with lavender.

While "feltadermy" and clocks made from Tupperware would be some of the more "out-there" examples available, much of the craft you can buy online is original, contemporary and well made.

One of the biggest sites is the US-based, an online marketplace for "all things handmade". It launched in 2005 and now has about 1.3 million members, 200,000 of whom are sellers.

Its offerings range from the ever-popular bags, jewellery, clothes and art to the more specialised interests of dolls, paper goods and needlepoint.

Despite its innocuous nature, the arts and crafts business is proving to be a lucrative venture for Etsy. Sales made through the site have jumped from $US166,000 ($255,500) in 2005 to an estimated $US87 million by the end of this year.

Etsy spokesman Adam Brown says avoiding mass-produced goods yields many benefits. "You know where it's coming from," he says. "You can have a direct conversation with the person who made your item and you can find out about the methods of production.

"You have the ability to source things that are near to you so you can reduce your carbon footprint.

"I find there's a personal satisfaction in there being a story behind every purchase."

Adelaide-based artist Karena Colquhoun sells coasters, greeting cards and pocket mirrors under the brand Magic Jelly on Etsy as well as Australian site

She says it has changed the direction of her business and created another revenue stream that she wouldn't receive from exhibiting in galleries.

Being on Etsy also gives her international exposure, she says.

"For emerging artists who want to sell affordable artworks, it is a great medium," she says. "You get great feedback as well. "There are financial benefits of not having it in a gallery and having a cut taken.

"That direct link with the buyer is really good. They're normally really generous with their time, they want to talk to you about your work and you find out what connection they have with it. It helps with inspiration for future work."

Bec Davies started up in July 2007. She was selling T-shirts at the Glebe Markets and decided to create an Australian designers' directory.

"We got such a great response to the directory and there was a move into the high-end handmade," she says.

"People were making really impressive handmade stuff that didn't have that 'few stitches missing' aesthetic. We saw an opportunity to grow the website."

She now has more than 500 Australian designers selling through her site.

Some are full-time artists, such as Colquhoun, turning their artworks into consumer items. Others are mums at home, students and hobby craftspeople wanting to earn a few extra dollars.

"Everyone is creative and I guess by selling it, it's an extra sweetener," Davies says. "You get a buzz out of something you've made and that someone wants to buy it."


Online artists community

Aussie grown

International crafts

Or for a more tactile experience, check out these handmade-focused markets:

Young Blood Designers Market
When: Twice yearly, next market tomorrow and Saturday
Where: Powerhouse Museum, Harris Street, Pyrmont, Sydney

Melbourne Design Market

When: Twice yearly
Where: Federation Square, Melbourne

Handmade Market

When: Launched in November this year
Where: Albert Hall, Canberra

The Finders Keepers Markets (formerly the Hope Street Markets)
When: Twice yearly
Where: CarriageWorks, Eveleigh, Sydney

This story was found at:

Sneaky Shopper Secrets -

Super-Secret Ways to Save on Holiday Gifts


Dec. 7, 2008 —

This holiday season, many Americans are looking for ways to cut down on spending, but getting great gifts for your loved ones doesn't have to cost a fortune. "Good Morning America Weekend" has teamed up with Shop Smart Magazine to help you with your holiday shopping.

Be like a shopping spymaster and prevent overspending with these super-secret ways to save!

Cut Out the Middleman

Boutiques carry handmade gifts from artisans and crafters, but you can save by purchasing directly from the source. is like the world's largest craft fair. Etsy is a venue for connecting buyers and sellers and is not directly involved in purchases, so there is no third-party mark-up on prices. These handmade gifts are unique, the prices tend to be reasonable. Since you buy directly from artists and crafters who set up their own shops on the site, you can also find out how an item was made.

Buy Refurbished Products

Save money on coveted electronics by buying a refurb. The refurb market is no longer filled with fly-by-nights. Trustworthy brands like Apple, Amazon and Sony are selling refurbished versions of their products. Also, check return policies. Crutchfield and offer full-refund guarantees on refurbs returned within 30 days. It's safest to buy refurbs from a reputable retailer or a manufacturer; you should not rely on your credit card for extra protection, since many don't cover refurbs.

Buy in Bulk

If you don't want to be a Scrooge and cross friends and neighbors off your shopping list, save your money by buying gifts as a pack and then individualizing.

Trick Kids With Size

Their "big ticket" gifts don't have to be big in price. Kids are often fooled by size -- thinking the more room presents take up under the tree, the more fun and flashy they are. So this year, buy big inexpensive gifts like art easels or snow sleds.

Google Your Way to Savings

There is no longer a need to ever pay full price. Before you check out online, Google "promotion code" and the name of the product to find additional savings.

Let the Internet Find Sales for You

These days, you no longer have to go in person or online to your favorite stores to find out when they're having a sale. Web sites like will do it for you. Email alerts will keep you in the know when your favorite stores are offering big markdowns.

Get Cash Back

Free-membership Web sites, such as and offer cash back for making purchases that you were already planning to buy. Just sign into their Web site, then shop with their listed merchants, like Target, Banana Republic and Barnes and Noble. Plus, you can earn points that you can redeem for rewards or gift certificates on future purchases.

Getting crafty -

When the times call for handmade, and you say 'not by me'

By Erin McKean December 7, 2008

WE ALL GET it: we're in a recession. This holiday season, ostentatious and lavish gifts are out, and cozy, heartfelt, handcrafted gifts are in.

Which is all very well . . . but unless you've already been doing handicrafts for years, you may not be in a position to retool immediately for the new DIY holiday economy. The dirty little secret of handicrafts is that, although the raw materials can be inexpensive, the tools and gadgets that make crafting easier - or, in some cases, even possible - can be pricey. Pliers for jewelry-making, hot glue guns, screenprinting frames, and sewing machines can run you into some serious cash before a single adorable fuzzy stuffed monkey, personalized journal, or beaded bracelet emerges from your new home workshop.

And even a quick capital investment in the tools of the trade won't help you if you happen to be among the many who are, sadly, craft-impaired.

Thankfully, as with so many other modern problems, you can find some help on the Internet. This Christmas, why don't you outsource your crafting?

It may sound cynical, or even oxymoronic, to have the "hand" involved in your "handcrafted gift" be somebody else's. But it's the thought that counts - and the thought was still yours, right? In addition, you'll be supporting small creative businesses, which is heartwarming any time of the year.

Many websites allow you to make personalized items quickly and easily: Upload a digital image and you can get anything from T-shirts to stickers to posters to mugs and messenger bags imprinted quickly. A single sticker costs as little as $3. T-shirts cost $14-25, and posters are $20 and up. and CafePress are two of the best-known; (based in Australia) has high-quality shirts and a very simple interface, but you'll pay international shipping charges. If all you want is a simple T-shirt, and you have a printer, Avery iron-on T-shirt transfer paper is an easy solution - and it now comes in a version that works on (much cooler) black T-shirts. If you're stumped for artistic inspiration, Dover Publications offers dozens of CDs of clip art images, for everything from art nouveau to African folk art ($15-20).

If you want to say "I care enough to have someone else do it by hand," it's hard to beat, a huge online marketplace teeming with crafters who will often personalize items as well. Etsy seller MiChiMa will make you custom stuffed felt letters, perfect for spelling out a niece or nephew's name or just to give a friend a favorite word - at a dollar a letter, even "antidisestablishmentarianism" is cheaper than a ticket to the Sox. If felt's not your thing, Etsy seller wiremajigs will do custom wire writing for you for 60 cents a letter. Yippihippi will make you a giant sparkly monogram resin pendant in any letter you choose ($18) and Button Divas will make you 10 customized pocket mirrors, keychains, or bottle openers, for $17.50: perfect for sharing an in-joke with a group.

You can still get the personal touch without personalization: Lots of sellers on Etsy make unique, offbeat items that will make somebody special feel special - and your budget feel ample. Handmade fleece whale hats (from fabricninja, only $30) or jangly, modern bracelets made of anodized aluminum rings (in any combination of six colors, from ivyteakettle, $20.50) are inexpensive pleasers. Comic-book wallets ($5) from DumbKidDesigns make great stocking stuffers, as do siskastudio's $7.50 mini-notebooks printed with images of vintage bicycles. For something more elegant, you can try feralgirl's hand-stitched leather business-card wallets for $22. Simplyneckties offers silver ties printed with hipster-friendly images such as unicorns, Bob Dylan, DEVO, and Bono for $11.95 and up; FrenchPress sells a fantastic 7x17 poster of multiple letter E's, of hand-set wood type printed on a Vandercook printing press, for $10.

And if you can't find something you like on Etsy, the site even has an "alchemy" service that lets you post a request for a particular item you want but can't find (one recent poster wanted a "ninja-related present for husband"), and a "recent custom creations" link for examples of items recently commissioned, like the hand-stamped deer coasters that were ordered as a present for someone's father-in-law.

You could also outsource your gift-making to the recipients themselves, by giving make-your-own kits as gifts: That way you're not just giving a thing, you're giving an experience, too. Etsy seller MadeByCara had a make-your-own Hanging Pirate ornament kit for $9, and seller "myimaginaryboyfriend" offers a make-your-own two-robot ornament kit for $15. For $29, you can buy a kit from AnnieHowes that has all the materials you need to make five Scrabble-tile pendants. A girl of any age would be happy to get KissNaturals DIY lip-balm kit, which makes 10 pots of lip balm ($19.95). And at you can buy an LED Light Art kit for $14.95, which can be assembled with only a few simple tools.

You can also outsource your homemade gifts nearer to home: Could you offer to run holiday errands for a friend in return for a few extra batches of her Christmas cookies? Pay a local teen to wrap your presents? Buy CDs from a friend's band, or a collection from a college radio station? Warning: The holidays are usually a bad time to ask your crafty friends to make extra presents for you to give (if they don't offer first) since they are probably over-extended with their own gift-making.

So even without the right tools, or the right chops, you can have all the rough edges and puckered seams of a handmade holiday, for about the same cost - and in a fraction of the time. Your nearest and dearest won't have seen your present dozens of times already in catalogs or stores; it's also highly unlikely that, whatever you give them, they already have one - or were even aware that one existed. You'll be creating that best of all present-unwrapping reactions: The sudden intake of breath and the "How did you ever find this?"

Erin McKean is a lexicographer ( and craft blogger (

Arts & Crafty: Budget-minded gifts at Etsy -

05:19 PM PT, Dec 5 2008

Cecilyink_09calendar2If you think of calendars as gifts that shout "I didn't know what to get you," check out these ideas from artisans at

Satsumalynn has a wall calendar inspired by Japanese textiles perfect for fans of letterpress. It's $44, and you can see a photo below. Another, CecilyInk had a $14 printed calendar, whose modern graphics in pumpkin, chartreuse and raspberry, sure to brighten the desk and mood of a co-worker. (Photo at right.)

Scouting around for deals on Etsy, you'll also find personalized teacher gift sets by saratams; a calendar that doubles as postcards by SureAsBlue; calendars with reminder lists by pixelimpress; and a letterpress calendar by SycamoreStreetPress that benefits orphans in Ethiopia. Also worth a look are artistscs28, InkspotWorkshop, pistachiopress and TurtlePapers (search for them under "sellers: usernames").

And if your list is bigger than your budget, try littlebrownpen, AnaPapeterie and bluetricycle. For $5, you get a PDF file that lets you print as many calendars as you need. They're perfect as party favors, too.


But don't wait too long to order. You'll find that supplies are limited.

— Jan Molen

Photo credits: Top, courtesy of CecilyInk. Bottom, courtesy of Satsumalynn.

Arts & Crafty: Budget-minded gifts at Etsy -

Arts & Crafty: Budget-minded gifts at Etsy

05:19 PM PT, Dec 5 2008

Cecilyink_09calendar2If you think of calendars as gifts that shout "I didn't know what to get you," check out these ideas from artisans at

Satsumalynn has a wall calendar inspired by Japanese textiles perfect for fans of letterpress. It's $44, and you can see a photo below. Another, CecilyInk had a $14 printed calendar, whose modern graphics in pumpkin, chartreuse and raspberry, sure to brighten the desk and mood of a co-worker. (Photo at right.)

Scouting around for deals on Etsy, you'll also find personalized teacher gift sets by saratams; a calendar that doubles as postcards by SureAsBlue; calendars with reminder lists by pixelimpress; and a letterpress calendar by SycamoreStreetPress that benefits orphans in Ethiopia. Also worth a look are artistscs28, InkspotWorkshop, pistachiopress and TurtlePapers (search for them under "sellers: usernames").

And if your list is bigger than your budget, try littlebrownpen, AnaPapeterie and bluetricycle. For $5, you get a PDF file that lets you print as many calendars as you need. They're perfect as party favors, too.


But don't wait too long to order. You'll find that supplies are limited.

— Jan Molen

Photo credits: Top, courtesy of CecilyInk. Bottom, courtesy of Satsumalynn.

Harrington: Etsy made for crafters, locals find -

By Carly Harrington (Contact)
Friday, December 12, 2008

Even though Jenese Patanella pushed numbers for more than 25 years as an accountant, the 46-year-old mother always considered herself crafty.

It wasn't until Patanella made a couple of purses for her daughters that she saw an opportunity for a new career.

"My daughters wanted Vera Bradley purses. I just couldn't justify paying that much," she said. "When they took the ones I made to school, everybody loved them."

In January 2007, Patanella opened an online shop, JPat Purses, on

Patanella is one of dozens of East Tennesseans who are selling their handcrafted wares on Etsy.

Etsy is an online marketplace akin to eBay, but it is strictly for buying and selling all things handmade.

A few clicks on Etsy and you can find everything from clothes and art to jewelry and furniture. (You will have to create an account to buy an item.)

Setting up a retail shop is free. Etsy, however, does charge a fee for listing items, and it takes a percentage when the item sells. Sellers set their own prices.

Some local online shops include Monkey Sprout, Catchen the Sun, Leatherpedia and Big Daddy Lane Creations.

Even retailers with brick-and-mortar storefronts like Lilly's Bead Box and Yee-Haw Industries have a presence on Etsy.

Micki McBee, who has been operating Babycake's Cupcake and Marshmallow Online Bakery since October, said she's been thrilled with her sales to date.

"It's done 100 percent more than I thought. I'm very happy with where I'm at," said McBee, a 45-year-old mother of two who lives in the Halls community.

Most of McBee's cupcake recipes have been passed down from her mother, who was a brunch chef at the downtown Holiday Inn during the World's Fair.

McBee says she would love one day to have a physical storefront, but right now, she's just trying to supplement her husband's income and get the word out about Etsy.

"A lot of people don't know about Etsy. They know about eBay and Yahoo but not Etsy," she said.

Teresa Minton, whose online store is called Smokey Mountain Scents, said most of the people who do shop on Etsy understand the "quality and love" that goes into making something homemade.

The Dandridge mother, who homeschools her children, sells a variety of natural candles as well as bath and body products.

Minton started selling in November 2007. While the overhead is low, there are up-front supply costs. She said it took about a year to begin seeing a profit.

"It's additional income," Minton said. "It's another outlet for me."

Among shop owners, the site has become fiercely competitive.

Patanella said she's concerned Etsy will become so big that it will become like eBay.

"It's gotten so saturated," Patanella said of Etsy. She has since expanded her product line to include coin purses, wallets and gadget cases.

Patanella admits she doesn't make nearly as much as when she was an accountant, and she's working harder than ever.

But, Patanella said, "I'm having so much fun."

Business writer and The Bottom Line columnist Carly Harrington may be reached at 865-342-6317 or

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Etsy Bloggers Street Team : Featured Etsy Blogger of the Month : December : Spotted Cow Soaps

Spotted Cow Soaps @ Etsy is our featured Esty Blogger of the Month of December! Spotted Cow Soaps features a delicious and delightful assortment of bathing products and accessories to make bath time relaxing, aromatic, and of course, clean! Spotted Cow Soaps has a great selection and a wide variety that includes natural soaps, lotions, fizzies, bath salts, bubbles, scrubs, and more! You can also check out a fine array of accessories such as organic wash clothes, loofahs, & bath puffs! Don't forget to stop by Spotted Cow Soaps blog, to find out about sales, giveaways, and lots more. Spotted Cow Soaps is a great etsy shop for holiday gifts & stocking stuffers!

Here's a few great products from Spotted Cow Soaps:

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Handmade Items @ Lova Revolutionary : Handmade + Art

hand painted chop sticks with vintage fabric carrying case

flower embroidery hoop wall hanging / plaque

love birds set of 4 embroidery hoop wall hangings/plaques

lova handmade knit cotton baby beanies gift trio

New Vintage Hand Bags @ Lova Revolutionary : Vintage

vintage tan leather etra convertible clutch / shoulder bag

vintage black pleated leather toni handbags clutch

vintage dooney & bourke small beige & tan shoulder bag

vintage harry levine black satin evening bag

Lova Revolutionary : Vintage

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Etsy Bloggers Street Team : Blog Carnival : National Brownie Day!

For yummy homemade cake like brownies, one of my favorite recipes comes straight from the back of the cocoa can!

What you'll need:

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla
6 tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (if desired)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sifted flour

1. Cream butter or margarine, sugar, and vanilla; beat in eggs.

2. Beat in cocoa & flour until smooth, stir in nuts if desired.

3. Bake in greased 8 x8 x 2 inch pan at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Eat when cool!

Way Cute Project from Paper and Stitch - Holiday Gift Wrapping

Holiday Gift Wrap Tutorial for Type Lovers @ Paper and Stitch

December 2, 2008

Here is another wonderful idea from Laura of Lupin! This one I am DEFINITELY going to use because I have some loved ones that are pretty interested obsessed with type. Again, make sure to check out Laura’s shop, right here and blog right here! Take it away Laura (I just love having her as a guest poster)…

Most gifts I wrap involve a tag somewhere along the line, but for a few parcels this year I’m skipping the tags and using names and other messages as the decorative element:

The idea behind this look is really simple - though it takes a little time to put into practice - and will make your parcels really stand out! I think it’s an ideal way of decorating gifts for men and boys who (let’s be honest now) probably have no interest in a “pretty” or “chic” looking parcel and can’t undo a ribbon to save their lives. This is certainly the giftwrapping idea which has had the most positive response from my boyfriend!

First up you need to make some letter templates. Print out the letters you need using your computer - you’ll need a pretty big font size but this will depend on the size of the presents you’re wrapping, and remember to set them as “outline” to save ink! I used Arial set to bold to make nice fat simple letters, and I should have printed out a whole alphabet in different sizes to save time as I just kept thinking of more people this idea would be great for.

I just printed my letters onto paper but if you wanted to use them a few times (or just to make using them easier) you could print onto card instead. Cut them out and you’ve got your templates:

To really save time you could print the letters directly onto coloured paper… but doing it the long way you can use a variety of decorative papers or use up all those small pieces of giftwrap you get left-over after wrapping your parcels. Draw round each letter with a pencil and cut it out, remembering to reverse the letters so they’re the right way round when you turn them over (if that makes sense!). Then use some prittstick-type glue (something light that won’t seep through the wrapping paper you’ve used) and stick your message onto your parcel.

I used bright red giftwrap on nice shiny gold paper for nephews and neices who like something cheerful…

.. and more muted, subtle choices for our friends - vintage sheet music and an old map of London…

… and lovely gold lettering on kraft paper, which is probably my favourite:

I’m sure you can think of lots of variations - letters cut from pictures in glossy magazines for example would work really well on brown paper, and plain white letters (nice and easy to print straight from your computer) would also look pretty cool.

Love this tutorial! I think I'm gonna try it!