Sophie Kingo Blogs

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


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


Oyster card holders (for sale)

When I moved to London in 2008 I did what all new Londoners do and bought my first Oyster Card. I then got my job in Bethnal Green and moved to Finsbury Park. My daily commute was about 80 minutes and my zone 2-3 travel card cost me about £80 per month. If there was one thing I have learnt living in London is that Transport for London (TfL) certainly knows how to charge for the pleasure of using London transport. So, when something the size of a credit card was costing me so much and looking miserable in a standard black TfL pouch I decided to make an oyster card holder. I didn’t have a fabric stash at the time so I raided my sister’s collection and chose a turquoise geometric print cotton remnant and a yellow cotton remnant. I also cut up an old pair of wool trousers of PBM’s and hand sewed them together. Et voila, I had something much prettier to keep my valuable oyster card in.

Fast forward 20 months and a load of sewing later I decided to make some oyster card holders from my stash of West African print cloth (ntoma) to give as gifts and to sell in my Etsy and Folksy shops so that other people could have some ntoma brightening up their commute. I only sold a few through Etsy, and have the impression that as Etsy’s so vast it’s relatively difficult to sell anything on there. Especially when people don’t seem to have the same inclination to leave feedback like they do on eBay. So, in the run up to Christmas PBM took the remainder of the oyster card holders in to his school (he’s a teacher) to show to the women in his department. They went down a treat and PBM sold them all. I even had to give him the one I’d kept at home for my sister for Christmas and make a new one for her so that his colleague could buy two for her friends as gifts.

In the run up to Christmas I had pretty much spent my free time making gifts for people – see here for what I sent to Denmark, and here for what I made PBM. So it was inevitable that, by the time Christmas had been and gone I’d be left twiddling my thumbs, fingers twitching at not having anything to make. Last Thursday (30th December) I therefore decided to make some more and see if I can sell them. We have a wedding to pay for after all! And here they are, all 16 of them – 12 are made using West African ntoma, the other four I made with Liberty Lawn Cotton.

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Do get in touch if you’d like to buy one. £6 for 1, or 2 for £10. Plus £1 postage.


Ghanaian Chic

Projectbrownman has been an avid follower of The Sartorialist for some time now and can often be found swooning over some of the outfits featured. In more recent months PBM stumbled upon Street Etiquette, my favourite of the two.

The owners of Street Etiquette “provide the vision [of menswear] from an urban perspective and look to connect with individuals worldwide.” The guys, Joshua and Travis, are apparently influenced by a variety of boundaries and eras. So it’s probably inevitable that PBM should enjoy poring over what the (rather handsome) boys of Street Etiquette offer us on the style front. As, to me, a similar style is evident in PBM’s wardrobe. He is a recently self-confessed slight dandy.  He has always enjoyed a good hat or two and has in the past year added a variety of silk handkerchiefs to his wardrobe which consists of beauties such as Uniqlo moleskin skinny trousers, TM Lewin skinny shirts, a plethora of ties from the heady heights of Tom Ford and Kenzo down to Pierre Cardin, second-hand Greenwich Market waistcoats, Topman tweed jackets, Zara blazers, Muji trench coats, Sophie Kingo scarves and Fred Perry shoes. In the summer PBM had also commented that he needed more accessories and elements of his background in his wardrobe and asked me to make a bracelet from him from leather thong and wooden beads. I did.

In November PBM started reminding me how much he’d like a quilted jacket. No wonder. He’d seen the boys of Street Etiquette looking fly in Ralph Lauren. So I made it my mission to buy him a quilted jacket for Christmas. But Barbour just couldn’t deliver, and my budget wouldn’t stretch to £400 for RL Polo. However, on the same blog post I came across a wicked idea for one of PBM’s Christmas presents, which also happened to fit with his desire to have more accessories and links to his Ghanaian heritage. And this is the photo that spurred it:

The present idea – watch with a Ghanaian cloth strap and beads. Not fallen leaves.

For the bracelets I already had the wooden beads from my jewellery making stash, and just had to order some elastic. However, for the watch I had absolutely zilch of what was required. This required some thought. eBay was the most obvious choice for a watch face as I couldn’t be doing with a December trip down Portobello Road. Buying a watch off eBay wasn’t too easy – many of the watches were either seriously nice and pricey vintage watches, brand new H Samuel types, or metal bracelet watches. I came across a few suitable specimens but kept either missing the boat or being massively outbid. Nice looking gold plated watches which wouldn’t break the bank were apparently not so easy to come by. I had managed to beg some proper woven kente cloth for the strap from Ma Mary, PBM’s Mum, but was massively failing on the watch face front. Eventually, a week or so before Christmas I got lucky and won a gold USSR Sekonda from an eBay seller in Hessle, East Yorkshire. I received just in time to cut off the new black leather strap and replace with the kente strip. And here’s the outcome, below. PBM likes it.

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It’s cold and time for headbands

So, I’d be surprised if anyone out there hadn’t realised the weather has taken a turn for the worse. Whilst I’m not lucky enough to be venturing outside to make snowmen, London is experiencing minus temperatures, and I’m feeling it. On Friday PBM and I ventured to his sister’s house to see 1 month old twins.

Whenever we’ve visited this bunch we take the train to Victoria and Victoria Line train to Highbury and Islington, followed by a 15 minute walk North through Highbury Fields to get back to our cosy flat. And this Friday night it was ridiculously cold, what with a bitter northerly wind. I had luckily enough pulled out my super thick thinsulate gloves on Friday morning after experiencing dry, cracked knuckles from my beautiful Lisakingo handwarmers and naturally had my cream beret with me too. However, the beret wasn’t enough to save my ears from the inevitable earache of which they have become accustomed. So it was called for that I need a new hat. A longer, thicker one this time that better covers my ears. However, with a lacking supply of wool for a full hat, and with a dash of inspiration from Lisakingo’s leaf design headband on Saturday at the Dansk KFUK Christmas Market, I pulled out a skein of leftover yarn from my cardi and started on a cabled headband. This was my first attempt at cable and it was surprisingly straightforward. There was no need to fret about overcoming such a hurdle. It was in fact easy peasy. And so here it is – worn on its own and over my beret. I hope you like: