Archive for the ‘Soft furnishings’ Category

Fresh Design Finds: Affordable geometric designs at Matalan

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Gorgeous new geometric design cushions, pouffes and storage stools, all at affordable prices

If you love geometric designs, then head over to Matalan and take a look at their new range. Amongst the new offerings in their living department are some fab new pieces all featuring on trend geometric designs in appealing colours.

The cushions are great value at only £6 each and the pouffes look more expensive than they are. If it’s lounging around you like, then check out the large floor cushions. The storage stool combines style with practicality and there are similar products available to match it.

These are the pieces that grabbed our attention:

a) Handloom pouffe in navy (also available in grey) – £50

b) Triangle floor cushion in grey – £30

c) Geo jacquard cushion in orange – £6

d) Geo jacquard cushion in cream – £6

e) Trellis floor cushion in orange (also available in blue) – £30

f) Geometric print storage stool in black - £25


British design classics: Harris tweed

Monday, March 14th, 2016

What image do the words ‘Harris Tweed’ conjure up for you?

If you immediately think it’s the preserve of the ‘hunting, shooting and fishing’ traditionalists, then you’re in for a surprise. Harris Tweed has reinvented itself as a top luxury fabric, and can be found in smart homes in the shape of anything from cushions to handbags.

The Harris Tweed story

The name ‘Harris Tweed’ is strictly controlled, and only cloth produced on the Outer Hebribean islands of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra can qualify.

The islands have a long history of weaving, using wool from island sheep and dyed with natural vegetable dyes, but the cloth as we know it today was born in the middle of the 19th century.

Lady Dunmore, widow of the Earl of Dunmore who owned Harris, asked to have their clan tartan re-made in tweed. She was so delighted with the results that she began to market it to friends across the country, and the UK began to hear the name of Harris Tweed.

The natural colours of Harris Tweed reflect the beautiful, soft tones of the Western Isles. Image: Morguefile

As all the cloth is made entirely by hand by skilled weavers, supply remained low and the cloth became the ‘must have’ fabric in the upper reaches of society, with several famous socialites promoting it.

In 1906, the cloth had become so successful that imitations had started to spring up all over the country. The Harris Tweed Association (later the Harris Tweed Authority) was created to verify each piece of fabric, and, if genuine, stamp it with the famous Harris Tweed Orb.

The industry brought work to a poor area, and much of the population of the islands was involved in it. When the Hattersley domestic loom was introduced in the 1920s, over 1,000 were sold to islanders.

By the 1930s, although the cloth still had to be made on the islands and woven by hand, millspun yarn was allowed in addition to handspun which increased the production enormously. Small producers began to spring up, employing several weavers, whereas previously each weaver had spun and woven their own yarn individually.

A traditional crofter’s cottage on the Isle of Harris. Photo: Morguefile

By the 1960s, production of Harris Tweed had leapt to over 7.5 million yards a year, which was exported all over the world. It was now at the peak of its popularity, and Harris Tweed was worn to climb Mount Everest, take part in sailing expeditions and even walk down the Hollywood red carpet.

By the 1980s, sales started to decline as fashions changed and modern, lightweight fabrics started to take the place of traditional cloth.

In the 1990s, double-width handlooms were introduced meaning that weavers could produce larger pieces of cloth, more fitting to a modern market, and the industry enjoyed a revival.

Harris Tweed today

Today, Harris Tweed can be found in home accessories, clothing and even dog leads and collars for the country’s smartest pooches. Here are our picks:

1. Herringbone mix Harris Tweed dog lead, My McDawg

Individually handmade from Harris Tweed and lined with moleskin fabric for strength, this dog lead, £24.95, carries a ‘genuine’ label and is strong and durable enough to last for years. Available from My McDawg.

2. Harris Tweed clock in Macloed tartan, Juniper and Jane

This quirky clock will be a real conversation piece. Made by hand in Scotland, it carries a ‘genuine Harris Tweed’ label to guarantee the authenticity of the fabric. £49.95 from Juniper and Jane.

3. Harris Tweed hipflask, SWIG

This official Harris Tweed hip flask features a stainless steel flask, contained in a pouch of Tweed. It can hold up to 170ml (6oz) of your favourite tipple, and has a flat bottom so it will stand up on its own. Handmade on the Isle of Skye using exclusive Harris Tweed, sourced direct from the weavers and mills on the Isle of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, it costs £69 from LimeLace.

By Sara Walker

Natural charm: 10 linen accessories for your home

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

10 best natural linen home accessories

When it comes to home accessories, there’s nothing quite like natural linen for adding an individual touch. Made from the fibres of the flax plant rather than the cotton plant, linen is rougher, more open weave and less uniform than cotton, giving it a more textural feel that’s perfect for soft furnishings. We pick out ten of the best accessories to add the linen look to your home.

1. Linen lavender heart, Jonny’s Sister

Personalised linen lavender heart by Jonny’s Sister

A simple lavender heart, personalised and filled with lavender from Provence. Handmade in England, these hearts are made from 100 per cent Irish linen, and have a cream gros grain ribbon hanging loop and a mother of pearl button. Made to order, £18 from Jonny’s Sister.

2. Ribbon-trimmed linen drum lampshade, Isobel Stanley Design

Linen lampshade by Isabel Stanley Designs

This contemporary linen lampshade is trimmed with grosgrain ribbon, and is available in a range of different colours. Comes on its own, or you can order a lamp base separately. £40 for shade only, from Isabel Stanley Design.

3. Linen roll top bar stool, Sweetpea and Willow

Linen roll top bar stool by Sweenpea and Willow

We’re really hankering after this beautiful stool. Upholstered in beige linen fabric and complete with elegant aged brass studding that continues round the back, it would look perfect in a kitchen or garden room. £263 from Sweetpea and Willow.

4. Linen cushion with grey leaf design, Nutmeg and Sage

Leaf design grey linen cushion by Nutmeg and Sage

A luxury linen cushion handmade with a wool felt leaf design and finished in crocheted linen yarn, perfect for natural colour themes. It comes complete with a luxury feather cushion pad, and is available in a range of sizes and colourways. £76, available from Swanky Maison.

5. Linen box cushion, Fermoie

Grey linen box cushion by Fermoie

A box cushion, perfect as a seating pad – this has three dimensional structure to make an upright chair more comfortable. also available as a ‘conventional’ cushion in different sizes. £96, available from Fermoie.

6. Rustic linen cushion covers, Nkuku

Rustic linen cushion cover from Nkuku

For a more affordable linen look, we like these rustic linen cushion covers in blue and natural stripes with a button front. In a range of sizes, they’d look great on garden furniture or in a conservatory. Prices start from £19.99, covers only, from Nkuku.

7. Tumble bed linen, LOAF

Tumble linen/cotton blend bedding

This bedding looks like linen, but as it’s a blend it’s easy care as well, making it the best of both worlds. There’s a subtle stripe that will complement most colour schemes, and the set includes fitted sheets, duvet covers and pillow cases that can all be purchased separately. Prices start from £15 from LOAF.

8. Taupe linen cushion, the French Bedroom Company

Taupe linen cushion from the French Bedroom Company

Handmade from 100% pre-washed Indian linen with a concealed zip in taupe, this cushion makes the perfect accessory for your French bed or sofa, and the rough-cut edging gives the smart linen a relaxed finish. Available in two sizes, prices start at £35 from the French Bedroom Company.

9. Cream linen lace doorstop, Melody Maison

Cream linen and lace doorstop from Melody Maison

For a subtle touch of linen, try this doorstop finished in cream linen, with a crocheted lace band around the middle and a cream tie at the top. Was £12.95 from Melody Maison, now reduced to £9.95.

10. Red stripe linen cushion, Coastal Home

Red stripe linen cushion from Coastal Home

A French linen cushion with a sack cloth weave and a classic nautical stripe in a deep red and light oatmeal running through the centre of each side, this cushion comes complete with a duck feather inner and is handmade in the UK. £32.95 from Coastal Home.

By Sara Walker

(Top image courtesy of: Mliberra/Shutterstock)

Fabulously fresh fabrics by Yuyu Design Studio

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

If you’re looking for fabric designs that are uplifting, zesty and full of life, then check out the collection from Yuyu Design Studio.

Founded by Jules McKeown, Yuyu fabrics meet all these requirements and more. They’re vibrant, colourful and many have retro style influences, with images such as flowers and birds featuring heavily.

The fabrics are ideal for using for various home projects, including cushions and curtains, and many would be well suited to use in children’s rooms.

These designs caught our eye in particular:

Chirpy 1

Chirpy 1

Fiesta Floral

Fiesta Floral

Bloom 5

Bloom 5

Retro Lounge 4

Retro Lounge 4

Bella 4

Bella 4

Bloom 3

 Bloom 3

The Yuyu fabrics can be purchased via Spoonflower, who ship internationally. We’re impressed at the range of fabric choices they offer, from basic combed cotton and heavy cotton twill, to silk crepe de chine and faux suede, and suspect there should be an option for all your home project needs.

Sewing tutorials that won’t get you all stitched up

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Beginners home sewing guide

A positive attitude toward DIY is the hallmark of a good British home. Unfortunately, those tricky cushion covers and patchwork quilts are not always as easy to construct as we’d like. While a homemade pair of curtains or toy for your child might give you domestic goddess status, the reality of constructing it probably includes sharp needle pricks, dropped stitches and muddled instructions.

In order to help you get in the DIY spirit, we’ve found some DIY sewing tutorials that won’t leave your hands bleeding or your mind reeling.

Specialist Websites

Specialist websites such as and www.sewmamasew.comcan help you on your way to being a master of the needle and giving your home that loving DIY touch. If you’re lacking inspiration as to how you can incorporate your sewing masterpieces into your home, the McCarthy and Stone Pinterest page can show you how to make DIY chic in your very own space.


Muddling your way through Pinterest can be a daunting task. With ‘pins’ of food, clothing, decorations and general oddities, this DIY website can leave you wishing you had the talent of your Pinterest peers. However, in many cases you will actually be left with wonky initials sewn ‘off centre’ on an even more poorly sewn together cushion cover.

Thankfully we’ve found some easy peasy tutorials from the internet’s most creative website that will help you try your hand at DIY soft furnishings without drawing blood!


Sometimes you just need a more kinetic set of instructions. While Pinterest can offer you a wide range of picture-based tutorials, for those trickier stitches and patterns, video-formatted ‘how-to’ options might be just the answer.

YouTube is full of a wide range of video tutorials for nearly any form of sewing DIY. From perfect cross stitch to elegant lettering, the website can cater to nearly all of your decorative needs.

But for those of you just starting out, here is a beginners video that will help you learn some simple techniques and tricks to enable you to get started with your sewing adventures. If you wish to find more videos, remember you can simply search what you’re looking for in the search bar at the top and find the perfect video for you.

We hope now you can pick up your needle with confidence and start lifting your home towards DIY heaven. Just use these simple and easy tutorials that won’t leave you all stitched up. 

**Guest post**

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Jardin Boheme Lulu fabric and made to measure curtains

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Fresh Design geometric trend curtains

Harlequin’s Jardin Boheme fabric collection is full of vibrant and eclectic designs, including the lively Lulu design.

The repeat pattern design consists of tiny triangles, and it’s a really good choice for anyone who likes geometric style decor. If you’re a dab hand with a sewing machine and fancy whipping up your own cushions or textile accessories, the Lulu fabrics are available to purchase by the metre from various stockists.

If it’s curtains you’re after and the thought of making them yourself sends you into a cold sweat, never fear, made-to-measure curtains are available.

Wallpaper Direct (who, funnily enough, also stock coordinating wallpaper) have a range of made to measure Lulu curtains available in several colourways. Whether you have a curtain pole, or a curtain rail, there are designs to suit both – choose from pencil pleats, pinch pleats, tab tops or eyelet curtains.

It’s a simple design, but really effective, and we think the design has a contemporary vibe to it. We’d hang in them in our living / dining room or bedroom for a fresh, funky feel.

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