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Insight into Sophie Kingo's Afro-Scandinavian inspired clothing and accessories


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New home: bathroom

The thing about our new house is, our love of it has never been the décor. It’s not to our taste – the hall is yellow and grey/purple, the living room a pale brown with gold aztec style border, and the dining room turquoise and green. But it feels right. Yep. We had the feeling when we looked round it. But it needs work and we have plans.

We decorated the loft first as it was a relatively straight forward transformation – a few licks of paint, a new carpet and a load of furniture, with a bit of style thrown in. We were then hoping to start work on the downstairs and our extension plans for a nice open plan kitchen/dining/living area, but have been held up by a not-so-reliable structural engineer. So instead we turned our attentions to the bathroom.

When we looked round our new house, the bathroom certainly didn’t blow us away. But it didn’t send us running for the hills either; it was livable. At our old flat in Highbury the bathroom was a simple (pretty large, actually) cube with nice clean white suite, towel rail, large mirror and large well-laid tiles. Our new bathroom was quite a contrast – black mock flock wallpaper, a black rubbery radiator, tiles on top of tiles, black painted hearth under the toilet, two layers of cork tiles under mock tile lino and a filthy toilet.

We were the first people to live in our Highbury flat, so the bathroom was always clean and well maintained. But when we moved into our new house we realised how grubby the bathroom was. No amount of scrubbing, bleach and toilet cleaner was going to leave it fresh and sparkling. Everything had to go.

bathroom before 1bathroom before 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our plan: to create a simple, modern and light bathroom. 

I had been curating a Pinterest board of inspiration for some months and we had lots of ideas of what we wanted. But there was a long list of stuff to do to get to that. We had to have:

  • the ceiling brought down and a new one put up
  • two layers of tiles removed
  • three layers of flooring removed
  • the door removed
  • the bath, sink and toilet removed
  • the tiled concrete hearth under toilet removed
  • all plaster board replaced and walls and ceiling skimmed
  • pipes moved
  • a new boiler installed
  • a new electrics board put in
  • new lights and fan installed
  • new shower, toilet, sink and heated towel rail installed
  • new tiling done
  • a boiler housing and cupboard made
  • new flooring laid
  • new door hung
  • new accessories

Although we did have to endure several days of no ceiling (and thus regular showers of dust and dirt falling on us), a night without any hot water, several days with a toilet that could only be flushed with a bucket of water and a few days of no shower, luckily Jeffrey and I were in Cannes for our friends’ wonderful Anglo-French wedding for much of the messy work.

Ceiling downBoiler goneold toiletnew floor down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been quite a slow process getting it all done. The finished product? Well, see for yourself.

We decided against getting a bath – shock horror - and plumped for a nice large walk-in shower with drench and movable shower heads, large off-set rectangular white gloss tiles, a wonderful grey rubber floor, a simple white suite and a homemade (by me) roman blind.  We also bought a new Victorian style door to replace the 1960s monstrosity that was there before (sadly we couldn’t find an original reclaimed door at the salvage yard) and got the new boiler boxed in with storage by a carpenter. You can see a full list of items, at the end of this post.

There are a few elements still to be finished – a picture above the toilet and a small bit of boxing in of toilet pipes, for example – but we’re pretty much there. And we’re very happy with it.

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List of items:


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New clothes for me

The last time I blogged about anything I made for myself, was way back in April 2013 when I shared this new dress.

Since then I have done a few bits of sewing – mostly girls’ dresses, tote bags, infinity scarves and zip pouches (which, consequently I haven’t shared on here – d’oh). But this year I found a renewed desire to get making for myself.

So here are three things I’ve made for myself:

A little African print jacket

I love this fabric, so decided to make a simple little item using just three sections and some navy cotton facing. I rustled this up in under 2 hours.

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Another shift dress

Perhaps no surprises here. Yes, it’s another shift dress.

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A maxi

What’s that? Another purple and turquoise dress? Who’d have thought it?

This time it’s a maxi which I made specifically for two occasions: 1) the April Mouse-X premier which the hubby and I helped crowdfund, and 2) my lovely friend Emma’s wedding to Stephane in Grasse on the Côte d’Azur in May. I made this using my wonderful 30th birthday present from my husband – a Supafit dress form (best dress making accessory ever!)

maxi

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New home: a few photos

Knitting and sewing has taken a bit of a back seat of late as we think about (and start work on) our new home. But the creativity has just been redirected.

Back in February I shared pictures of our sewing/spare room that we decorated almost as soon as we moved in. It’s proving delightful – cosy and practical – with lovely peaceful views of East London flight paths and sunsets that the hubby and I find ourselves frequently admiring.

Things have slowed quite somewhat after the loft decorating. We have plans to knock out a few walls and do a new extension for a kitchen/living space, but a dodgy structural engineer put a few hurdles in the way (subsequently, we can tell you who to use and who to avoid if you’re looking for London Structural Engineer recommendations!). But it hasn’t completely halted and we have made some progress (more on the in a future post).

But first, I thought I would share some images of our new home – a 1902 early Edwardian terrace in Walthamstow, East London - from when we moved in back in December.

Bear in mind, this is how we’ve set things up to make it as homely as possible until we tackle the decor, which isn’t at all what we would go for. But these things take time.


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New home: Sewing/spare room

Sewing has taken the backseat somewhat after the last Sophie Kingo market stall at Brixton Market in October 2013. But, fear not, I’m hoping to start up again thanks to a new and dedicated sewing space.

For the past four years, sewing has been confined to the dining table in the cosy living space of our one-bedroom Highbury Stadium Square home. But in December, four years and one week after moving into Highbury, the hubby and I waved goodbye to our first home together and ventured 4.9 miles north east to Walthamstow. To a house. With stairs. Three bedrooms. And a garden. And this means room for my very own sewing area. Score!

I will be blogging our home renovation progress – and heck, is there some work to be done?! – as we go. We will be knocking down a few walls, upgrading the extension, re-configuring and replacing the kitchen, refurbishing the sash windows, replacing the bathroom and decorating every room.

First stop, and complete two months after moving in – the room with the least work to do. The loft.

BeforeOn the left you can see the loft in the hands of a 21 year-old guy who lived in the house with his parents before we moved in. The walls – like most of the walls in this house – were a mucky beige, the floor was covered with dark brown lacquered cork tiles and the staircase was lacquered wood. Overall, the room was nicotine stained, smelled of stale smoke and had years worth of paint painted over everything.

It had to go.

 

 

 

 

 

Our plan: to create a fresh, cosy and practical spare room cum sewing room cum office space. 

With a bit of elbow grease (read several days of painting walls and woodwork), a lick of paint (read three coats of pure white matt emulsion on the walls, three coats of eggshell on the bannister and three coats of floor paint on the stairs), a few minor electrical jobs (thanks to the hubby’s ever expanding DIY skills) and a dash of inspiration (collated on a Pinterest board) we created a spare room that is bright, clean and cosy, with space to relax, sew and admire the views of the top of the Shard, the Gherkin and the BT Tower. And, of course, in the on trend colours of grey, yellow and white.

loftWe bought most of the furniture from Ikea – bed, bedside unit, desk, picture shelf and storage unit, and painted the Ikea chest of drawers the seller left with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paris Grey. 

In my many hours on Pinterest I stumbled upon the wonderful world of pegboards for housing all things craft. Feeling inspired by Slugs on the Lettuce’s home made pegboard, the hubby and I went on the hunt for materials. Unfortunately, it seems pegboards are confined to the shops of the yesteryear, with many now preferring to use slatboard or just plain shelving over pegboard. We couldn’t find any in any of the East London DIY shops. But my Dad wouldn’t have it, so took over the hunt up in Hull. Failing to find anywhere that would supply him with less than an inordinate amount, he set about making his own, marking out and drilling holes every inch along a piece of plywood before attaching it to a frame and painting it submarine yellow on my orders.

Add a few embroidery hoops of West African print fabrics and a flash or two of kente, a simple mirror, an Anja Jane yellow and grey owl print and the screen print of our wedding date my sister did at my hen do to the walls, and yellow Ikea bedding, a grey hare cushion from Habitat and my almost 30-year-old Popple to the bed, et voila. Our perfect sewing/spare/office room is ready to go. Now, while we wait for the builders to get on with downstairs, I’m going to set to sewing.

Pegboard and picture shelf Sewing table

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African print tote bags

In the run up to my inaugural market stall, my Mum made a few items to sell, including two lovely tote bags that sold in no time. So when my husband suggested she make more, she jumped at the chance and made no fewer than nine lovely tote bags/shoppers. None of them the same, all of them beautiful.

And tonight they hit the Sophie Kingo Folksy shop. Check them out and let me (and my mum) know what you think. And, of course, if you want to buy one, you know what to do!


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African print autumn accessories

Last weekend I decided to experiment with sewing autumn accessories. I’d been admiring “infinity scarves” or “cowls” for a while now and decided to try making five up from my lovely African print fabric stash. Two use a lovely mustard, royal blue and grass green kente print fabric and have contrast yellow or green lining and one uses a lovely brown, green and black wax print fabric. Two others are made with a beautiful leaf print fabric – one pink and blue, the other orange, green and blue.

And the best thing? They’re not just for the ladies. As wonderfully demonstrated by my husband and me on a rainy London day, they are unisex. So men and women alike can bring a bit of bright Ghanaian colour to these miserable British autumn days. Oh, and they’re reversible. Bonus!

I’m thinking of making up many more to sell in my Folksy store, so do let me know your thoughts. And keep an eye out for another take on these I have in mind.

African wax print cowl

African wax print cowl

Kente print cowl with green contrast lining

Kente print cowl with green contrast lining

African wax print cowl

African wax print cowl

African wax print cowl

African wax print cowl


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The inaugural Sophie Kingo market stall

Before Saturday, I’d only ever sold online or through friends. That all changed on Saturday, when I set up shop (read market stall) for the first time ever.

I gave the honour of popping my market stall cherry to Brixton Market. Every second Saturday of the month Brixton hosts the Makers Market where you will find local hand made fashion, art, crafts, furniture and gifts. Undoubtedly the perfect place to test out the Sophie Kingo range of African-Scandinavian design.

What a day. It was the hottest day of the year so far – hitting 30 degrees Celsius – and a long one to boot. My husband, J, and I were on the go for 12 hours, busily setting up, chatting to buyers and battling the heat.  But it was worth it. The vibe was great, with so many friendly fellow stall holders, endless varieties of reggae blasting out across the market and a great crowd browsing and buying. Not to mention the friends and family that popped along to wish us well. And we made some sales to boost!

So what next? Well, I’m planning on attending the September Brixton Makers Market. But in the meantime I have an African print newborn dress to make and the items that didn’t sell on Saturday to add to my website/Folksy shop. Then I need to get making more bags, oyster card holders, ladies’ clothing and more. Right after this hot spell has wound down a bit and I’ve mended my pesky broken overlocker needle…

Me and the hubby selling on the inaugural Sophie Kingo market stall

Me and the hubby selling on the inaugural Sophie Kingo market stall

Some of the things for sale

Some of the things for sale

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