Crochet Star Blanket

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If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know how much I enjoy crocheting in my spare time alongside running the party shop. I’ve recently started a new venture named Tea, Cake and Crochet, involving crochet lessons from home with the odd sweet treat… or two! (no need to worry at all though, I still absolutely adore parties so you can still visit my shop and blog for your regular party fix. I have some very exciting things planned for it this year, so please stay tuned!)

So, back to the star blanket…I’ve wanted to crochet one for a while now and some would say I am fairly late to the party. However, I’m so glad I did it. It was such an enjoyable make and it is absolutely perfect for experimenting with colour combinations. It didn’t use a lot of yarn at all, so it’s perfect for ‘stash busting.’ (in non crochet terms, using up leftover yarn which you have stashed away!)

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Several months ago, I found out that a friend is expecting a baby boy. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to crochet a star blanket. It was a complete suprise, she did not have the slightest clue that I was crocheting it. Being such a regular social media user (particularly Instagram) it was very tempting to share my progress but I managed to resist as I didn’t want to ruin the suprise in any way! It was so worth it, as she sent me the loveliest message expressing her gratitude and sheer happiness about receiving it, which made it SO worthwhile.

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Now it’s been safely received, I am really happy to share the final result with you. I used the Celeste Nursery Blanket pattern, written by Lynne Rowe. You can find this in Issue 47 of Inside Crochet Magazine. This issue is not available in stores any longer as it was published in 2013, but there are ways of downloading digital back issues. I used the ‘Pocketmags’ app on my iPhone and had no trouble with it at all (other apps available).

I decided to roll the blanket up and make a bow out of some lovely blue ribbon I had in my craft room. This seemed like the nicest way to present it. I then wrapped it in some blue tissue paper and enclosed one of my ‘with love greeting cards’ from my shop. Do you like it? It feels like a job very well done to me and I couldn’t have been happier with it! Do you have any crochet projects on your hook at the moment? Feel free to comment below so I can see them, I love to see what my readers are up to!

 

My feature in Your Home Magazine

Several months ago I was approached by a local journalist who writes articles for a number of interior magazines. The journalist expressed a real interest in my house and asked if I would be interested in an upcoming magazine feature. At the time, it wasn’t yet decided which magazine it would be featured in (if any), but I was thrilled to later discover that ‘Your Home Magazine’ decided to run the feature in the ‘February 2017’ issue.

The journalist and photographer spent a whole day in my house once the house had been given the ‘go ahead’. Photographs were taken and a recorded interview was conducted, which would later be included in the magazine.

If you’re a regular reader, you may remember a craft room tour I gave you last June. I run the party business and blog full time from home, so it’s always been really important to me to make my surrounding space as inspiring and cosy as possible. I absolutely love prettifying my workspace and I’m constantly moving things around and adding more beautiful things to it. I treat the rest of my home very similar to this, as you may gather from the photographs, and I really do have a lot of fun with it.

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Felix and Mabel took centre stage on one of the magazine photographs, so they are now famous, probably being admired by many… *giggles..* Blossom (our red miniature poodle, pictured left) was not living with us at the time, so she wasn’t included in the photo shoot. She’s not one to miss out though, so here she is pictured below, reading the article whilst Felix takes a long, lazy afternoon nap!

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Mabel (pictured above) is certainly not one to miss out on a blog feature, so here she is posing in my craft room for you.

It really did mean a lot to be featured in the interiors magazine. Our experience of buying a new build house really wasn’t the best, and at times, I am happy to openly admit that it has been very testing. As first time buyers, our budget has been stretched which won’t come as a great suprise to anybody, so I feel we’ve had to work just that extra little bit harder to fill and decorate our four bedroom house.

In someways, this has worked out absolutely perfectly, as the house has had a lot personality and charm injected into it – something which can sometimes be more of a challenge to achieve when the house has been decorated out of a catalogue. I definitely have nothing against that way of decorating, but for somebody like myself who loves handmade touches – it couldn’t have worked out better.

After living in the house for what is coming up to two years this year, inevitably there are a few more things we would like to do to the house. This to me is quite comforting as I love a good ‘work in progress’ and it means everything can be well considered.

I have some really exciting things planned for my shop this year, particularly in terms of my stationery range, and I genuinely feel like it’s going to be the best year yet for my business. I hope you’ll stay with me to see where the year takes me! All the very best for 2017 and thank you for reading!

Behind The Scenes at Paper Doily: My New Craft Room

Hello all! First of all I would just like to apologise for the slightly longer than expected delay in updating my blog. You may have seen my earlier post about the new build house we moved into last August? Anybody who has bought a house will understand the upheaval and its possible effect on day-to-day living. In our case, we’ve had builders in pretty much every day over the course of a year, yes really! Well, that aside… whilst I’ve been trading during this time making beautiful party decorations and stationery for my Etsy and Notonthehighstreet shops, my blog has been somewhat neglected. This is now set to change as I am back in action, yay!

So, I’ve made a few changes to my workspace over the past week. I ran out of space in my original room and we are lucky enough to have a few spare rooms. I thought this post would be the perfect opportunity to give you a little tour of my new craft room, how does that sound?

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My pegboard from Block Design has got to be my most favourite item in the entire room. It’s super handy for storing all of my craft accessories, particularly the ones I use every day. Obviously no peg board is complete without pretty things… You know those things which you don’t actually use on a daily basis but just like to admire?…. (phew, glad I’m not the only one!)

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You can see a close up here. I’ve used blu-tack to display my favourite prints. As it takes centre stage in my room, I wanted it to look vibrant and cheerful and I think it looks just that!

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No craft room is complete without a companion, right? For those of you who don’t know, this is our rather adorable Mabel. Mabel is our 1 year old miniature poodle and is wonderful company. She also has a nephew called Felix, who is our much loved 2 year old miniature poodle. Together they are double the trouble but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Here they are together, striking a pose!

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Luckily, the craft room is big enough to house two ikea desks. The one shown above is for crafting and drawing. I love my trusty desk storage as it keeps everything nice and tidy and very easy to reach. No drawing space would be complete without pretty decorations above it and some gorgeous eye candy in the form of a jug of flowers, would it? The desk to the left of this houses my iMac, printer, scanner, camera and all other technical equipment.

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Opposite my two work desks are a number of trusty ikea shelves which house all of my craft materials, tools and accessories, packaging, books and magazines etc. Even though this is a really functional space, it’s important to me that it remains beautiful, so I like to have lots of handmade touches scattered around that area to cheer me up.

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I love listening to the radio when I’m working. We live in such a peaceful area, it’s nice to have a bit of background noise to keep me inspired. The trolley shown above houses all of my glittered and patterned papers, stationery, scissors and all sorts of other handy bits. As you can probably tell, the shelves have pretty much reached full capacity now and there are still lots of things stored on the floor! Eventually, I’d like to have another form of storage in here, but it feels perfectly workable right now. The large jars you may be able to spot are from our wedding a few years ago, they were used for tasty sweets and have now taken on the role of craft storage!

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Both of my desks face the window and it’s really nice having some green space to look at every now and then. It’s a nice little reminder that I live in Somerset and it’s one of the most beautiful places to live in the country. In the winter I like to light tealight candles whilst I’m working (and I have been known to get the fairy lights out too!) This just makes the room feel extra cosy and perfect for working in whilst sipping a lovely hot chocolate loaded with marshmallows of course!

The memo board opposite my desk is super handy for staying organised. I usually stick floral post it notes to it.  I added my own ribbon to it which seemed a bit more unique than the standard brown twine which it came with. Not that I have anything against twine – I love it, as you can see from the other photos!

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We have the most comfiest crocheting spot upstairs, in what we call the ‘daybed room’ which is located opposite my craft space. Whenever we have visitors, this is where they stay. I have a fair few of my handmade cushions in here and it’s just a really lovely, peaceful space to have a break in during the day. Usually you’ll find Felix and Mabel snoozing in here during the day. Felix likes to throw all of the cushions all over the floor… just to make things extra comfy I imagine! (It’s a dog’s life) I have been told by a few people that this room has reached its maximum cushion capacity…. Is there even such a thing?

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That’s all from me for now, although I couldn’t help but share this photo of Mabel with you, doing what she does best…. posing! I hope you’ve enjoyed having a peek into where Paper Doily Party Shop is based. Happy crafting!

Paper Doily Makes: Illustrated Wedding Cards

I’m happy to announce that I have just launched a new collection of ‘Will you be my…?’ Wedding cards, yay! I really love designing stationery. Anything floral and pastel coloured makes me very excited and since my own wedding in 2014, I’ve been very interested in wedding stationery.

 

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My greetings card designs generally begin with some initial sketches. I then use my trusty lightbox and a black pen to refine my drawings ready for scanning. I then use a combination of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, which is where most of the fun happens. I’m lucky enough to own a professional printer which means I can print most of my cards from the comfort of my own craft room. This is really handy in terms of personalisation, as additional names and colours can easily be added! It also means that I can launch several designs at once to learn what the most popular designs are.

This is the main design, isn’t it lovely? I loved the design so much, I’ve used the same one throughout all of these three cards, but have changed the text on each one. Here’s the first one:

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What are your thoughts? Did you send any bridesmaid cards for your wedding, or are you planning to? I had small wedding, so despite having some of my closest friends there along with my family, I didn’t have any bridesmaids. However, I can totally appreciate how absolutely lovely it is to have them and to treat them to special cards like these!

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Now for this version. There are some absolutely adorable images online of flower girls and there is some beautiful stationery to match also. I warn you though, once you get started on those wedding blogs, you can say goodbye to a good few hours! I can imagine this flower girl card being perfect for a lovely little girl.

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Last but certainly not least, is the maid of honour version. I’m an avid Instagram user and have noticed an increase in brides-to-be having maid’s of honour. Have you? I really hope these cards are a success. Even if they put a smile on one special person’s face on opening, that’s my job done! Do keep your eyes peeled as I am looking to expand my range on Etsy and Notonthehighstreet.

Paper Doily Makes: My Personalised Greetings Card Range

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Happy Friday all! How has your week been? I thought I’d post a little update on the greetings cards I’ve been working on this week, available in my NOTHS and Etsy shops. I’ve designed two brand new cards, featuring my favourite colours. If you can’t get creative with your favourite colours when you’re busy designing, then when can you? I’ve decided to run a trial on personalised cards to see how much my lovely customers like them. After offering non personalised greetings cards before, with some success (but admittedly not as much as I’d hoped) I am feeling positive about these ones! What do you think?

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I love the idea that personalised cards can potentially be treasured as keepsakes for some time. I always feel special when I’m given a lovely card, as I really appreciate the time that lovely person has spent choosing and sending it, particularly when social media and email is so prevalent now! Imagine how special the recipient would feel to know they have had a card designed especially for them?

I figured Personalised ‘Bridesmaid Thank you Cards’ and personalised ‘Happy Birthday Cards’ were a good place to start, but I hope to roll more designs out very soon. In the mean time, I hope you have a lovely weekend wherever you are in the world. Thank you so much for reading and I hope I’ve inspired you!

My Craft Swap with RubyRedcrafts

I recently had the pleasure of taking part in a craft swap with the lovely RubyRedcrafts. It was the first craft swap I’ve ever participated in and it was so much fun. I’ve been following Rachel from RubyRedcrafts on Instagram for some time and after seeing all of her beautiful makes, I was able to gain a real sense of what kind of things she liked. Here’s what I made:

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Anybody who knows me well, knows that I absolutely love crochet. I taught myself to crochet several years ago and have been happily ‘hooking’ ever since! I just find it so incredibly therapeutic (unless of course I’m following a very tricky pattern) and I love how easy it is to add colour. I run a local, fortnightly crochet group in a cafe, so a lot of tasty cake and warm hot chocolate was consumed whilst this was made. As Easter is coming up, I thought it would make the perfect garland. I’ve made quite a few crocheted party decorations similar to this and I always have so much fun with them.

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Pastel felt flower gift tags with pink twine, need I say any more? Rachel spends a lot of time in her craft room and plans to use these as organisational tags for all of her crafty bits. The felt flowers were all cut by hand by myself. I drew a brief outline of each flower on thin paper to start with to use as templates. After choosing the felt and cutting out each shape, I used a mixture of hand sewing and hot glue gun, with some added embellishments. The brown gift tags came from my local craft store and were the perfect colour, as the pastel colours really shine through against the background colour.

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Rachel and I agreed on three items, the third being these tall, patterned heart cake toppers, perfect for decorating beautiful cakes with at special parties and events.

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This wrapping paper I used to wrap the gifts in was perfect, as it felt so seasonal. The Spring like colours and delicate flowers stood out to me whilst choosing the wrapping paper and the pink twine was the perfect addition!

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These fabulous handmade gifts were Rachel’s craft swap to me. How stunning are they? I love each and every one item Rachel sent and was so overwhelmed that they were created with love especially for me. I’ve now placed the gorgeous padded heart garland in my kitchen. The patchwork needle case is displayed proudly in my craft room next to my sewing machine. It will definitely be used as I’ve been thinking about teaching myself to make patchwork quilts and accessories for some time now. Rachel also included a beautiful handmade coaster for all of my lovely mugs and look at that little rosette!

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Last but not least, Rachel has an adorable dog named Wilson, so I couldn’t leave him out. I have two miniature poodles named Felix and Mabel, and they both love Lily’s Kitchen bedtime biscuits. They are the perfect treat for lucky pooches!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and do get in touch if I’ve inspired you! Have a lovely week.

 

Homemaker Magazine features Paper Doily

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Today is a very special day, as I’ve been featured in the current issue of Homemaker Magazine as their Reader Maker. Issue 40 is out for sale today and is absolutely wonderful. Friday has surely got to be the most perfect day for any magazine of this kind to come out, right? An entire weekend ahead dedicated to stitching, knitting, crochet and patchwork? Yes please!

Reading the article this morning really got me thinking about how much I’ve achieved with Paper Doily since setting it up in 2014. It’s easy to get caught up in day to day living without taking the time to look back and appreciate the milestones you’ve made along the way.

I’ve received a lot questions lately about what advice I have for crafters starting out on a similar business path. I feel the above article really sums a lot of these questions up, whilst hopefully inspiring others, giving them the confidence they need to get going. Having faith in yourself and your work throughout the good times and the bad times is a fundamental quality in staying on the path to success. There will be absolutely wonderful times ahead where you feel you are on top of the world, followed by the times where life/day to day tasks just get on top of you completely. Keeping your faith, continuing to put in the hard work required and staying motivated are important qualities, and ones which will see you through well!

I thought it would be very helpful to share my top 10 tips for starting your own craft business with you, derived from my experience since starting out almost two years ago.

  1. Write a business plan and ask yourself what it is about your product/s that potential customers will want. Do you feel your products will be desirable?
  2. Who are your customers and where will you find them?
  3. Establish who your competitors are and ask yourself what your business can offer differently. Originality will set you apart from the rest.
  4. Have a marketing/advertising strategy. You can offer the most amazing products but without making a name for yourself and making others aware of your products, your business just won’t be sustainable long term.
  5. Spend a reasonable amount of time on pricing your products, it should not be an after thought. Find out what your customers are willing to pay and what other business costs to factor into your pricing model. Ensure you are not operating at a loss and avoid a ‘race to the bottom’ by lowering prices if you are struggling to sell. Instead, assess whether you are reaching the right target market and make adjustments to the product if you feel it is necessary.
  6. Identify your suppliers and try to make a good/long lasting relationship with them.
  7. What is your key asset? What is it about your business that will help you win potential customers?
  8. Stay motivated. There will be times when life just gets in the way of business (as explained above). Have some coping strategies in place. I live in the countryside and tend to take myself off on a long stroll. I’m also a serial list maker, so I tend to break down difficult tasks into small pieces if the task at hand seems too much.
  9. Stay on top of your accounts. Google drive is very handy for this. It will help you to avoid long amounts of unnecessary work when you could be doing more enjoyable tasks, such as being creative (as you do best!)
  10. Have fun! Remind yourself why you started your business in the first place and constantly come back to this at moments of struggle. It will keep you motivated and will help you to stay grounded!

 

I really hope you enjoyed reading. If you have any more questions or comments then please let me know, I’d love to hear from you. Have a lovely weekend and thank you so much for visiting my blog!

 

Paper Doily Makes: 10 festive crafts I’ve made this month

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1. Christmas preparations are in full swing here and what better way to use up leftover felt balls? I went through a foam wreath buying stage several months ago, with plans of making lots of new ones for my shop. I have so many creative ideas running through my head on a daily basis, it’s easy to forget good intentions like this! I recently had a bit of a clear out of my craft space and suddenly remembered what they were for. I’ve made two so far, one Christmas themed one and a pink and purple one. I’m amazed at just how much they transform a space! The crochet christmas decorations were inspired by this months Simply Crochet Magazine (issue 38).

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2. You know how I mentioned above that Christmas preparations are in full swing here? It wouldn’t be Christmas without some festive cake toppers, right? These ones certainly made me smile and undoubtedly add a lot of cheer to your standard Christmas cake.

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3. I recently purchased a set of ‘love’ stamps and some new ink with the intention of making these. They are bound to look gorgeous on Christmas presents and were so easy to make. I bought some blank gift tags and added my own twine for a rustic look. I then used my trusty heart shaped paper cutter to cut out the patterned papers. Once the hearts were in place, I got creative with the hand stamping and voila! If you’re anything like me and are planning on making a lot of homemade gifts this Christmas (including chutney and jam, which are favourite options of mine) these are the perfect labels!

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4. As you may already know, crochet is a huge hobby of mine and definitely takes up a large proportion of my spare time. I couldn’t resist making a festive garland in kitsch Christmas colours. The piece of driftwood used as a photographic prop to drape the garland on, travelled all the way from Sandymouth Beach on a recent weekend away. How special is that? If you’re feeling inspired, head on over to Cherry Heart blog for the ‘twinkler stars’ pattern. I can thoroughly recommend it.

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5. I couldn’t just stop at one set of gift tags, they were far too addictive and enjoyable to make. After sorting through my huge stash of Christmas papers, I came across these. If you’re looking to make your own gift tags, then you must invest in a star paper cutter (and some pretty twine, as there’s always space for twine, right?) The beauty of handmade gift tags is that they can be made to suit your gift wrapping theme perfectly! They also look wonderful sitting under the tree and have a unique touch of handmade.

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6. I went through a phase of making lots of washi tape pegs several months ago and found them so addictive (like most crafts). I still have a HUGE washi tape supply and seem to have accumulated a large amount of these pegs. Gift wrapping has never looked so lovely. They seem to make everything look that extra bit special. They are particularly useful for Christmas parties, especially if you’re having a sweet festive buffet and would like your guests to take home some home baked sweets and treats.

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7. You must be noticing a theme with the gift tags? I just love them (in all colours, shapes and sizes). These scalloped gift tags have a particularly crafty feel to them and I can definitely see my presents looking extra fabulous when it’s Christmas time next month! I like to use matching ribbon or twine to give them that extra special touch. Make sure you have your best fountain pen ready for writing on the reverse side!

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8. Christmas is all about that extra bit of sparkle isn’t it? These glittery heart cake toppers are a favourite of mine, particularly if you’re looking to make a non traditional set of cake toppers for your Christmas cake. I used my heart paper cutter to cut out the shapes (2 hearts of the same size, per cake topper). I then used some double sided selotape on the reverse side of half of the hearts, which held the bamboo skewers in place nicely. To finish off, I took all of the remaining hearts and placed them on top of the skewers, (with the sparkly side facing me) and pressed down to stick in place. This was the end result, of which I’m rather pleased with!

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9. Felt ball garlands are perfect when made this time of year. They look absolutely beautiful draped over a Christmas tree or hanging from a fireplace. I just can’t get enough of making them (in all colours and shapes and sizes!) I wrote a tutorial on how to make your very own here.

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10. Any christmas crafting wouldn’t be complete without a large mug of hot chocolate, right? The cream and marshmellows are such a yummy addition. You should go and make one right this instant, you know you want to!

Paper Doily Makes: Crochet Rose Garland

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Hello all! Do you remember my crochet rose cake toppers blog post which I posted earlier this week? Well, I still have the crocheted rose bug and haven’t stopped making them ever since. Have you experienced that feeling when you’ve crocheted something so many times, you’re able to memorise the pattern? Yes, that! If you’d like to take a peek at the pattern, you can follow the blog link above to the original post. I warn you though, it’s addictive!

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I’m very impressed at how versatile these crocheted roses are. If you’ve visited Paper Doily Party Shop you’ll know that I’ve made my fair share of garlands over recent months. I just love the fact that they can transform any space into something beautiful, particularly when used for a special occasion. I just had to share my recent creation with you. This particular garland was made for a special friend who wanted to brighten up her home. Obviously I couldn’t let it out of my workroom before taking some gorgeous photographs of it. 

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What are your thoughts? Have I inspired you? Garlands are one of my favourite party decorations and I absolutely love making them. I’m definitely planning on making more. Would you be interested in seeing some DIY party garland blog posts? Do let me know if so, as it’ll be very enjoyable task. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Paper Doily Party Shop: Stationery Collection

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I’m very excited to finally reveal what I have been working on over the past few weeks. Since opening Paper Doily Party Shop in July of last year, I’ve had a huge amount of fun experimenting with different products and designs. In this time, I’ve been designing a wide range of handmade party products, which were all inspired by the amount of fun I had designing and making my own wedding decorations in April of last year.

After graduating with a Textile Design degree from Chelsea College of Art and Design several years ago, I decided that I had spent far too much time on the computer, having specialised in Digital Print Design and felt that I really wanted to re connect with the making side of things. It just so happens that within this time, I’ve really missed being creative on the computer and have decided that Paper Doily Party Shop will be moving towards beautifully illustrated stationery.

I’ve received an amazing level of support so far. Part of my stationery range was chosen to be featured at the Etsy Wedding Fair in London this weekend. I’ve also been featured in Perfect Wedding Magazine, Homemaker Magazine, Bustle and Sew Magazine and a Salt-Water Sandals campaign. I’m also gaining a lot of support from all of my lovely followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you as the reader and all of my customers, which I am incredibly grateful for, so thank you.

I’m feeling very positive about the change in direction and I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of my journey with you. What are your thoughts on my designs so far? Have a lovely Sunday and speak very soon!