Becoming Arounna Khounnoraj

Arounna Khounnoraj is a Canadian artist and maker working in Toronto where she immigrated with her family from Laos at the age of four. While her education includes a master’s degree in fine arts in sculpture and ceramics, it was through subsequent residencies that she found her current focus in fibre arts. In 2002 she started bookhou, a multi-disciplinary studio with her husband John Booth, where Arounna explores screen printing and a variety of textile techniques such as embroidery and punch needle. She creates objects such as bags, home goods and textile art. 

In recent years Arounna work has created a social media sensation. From wall art to cushions and bags, her punch needle pieces highlight her botanical and abstract designs and her sense of colour have brought a modern, new life to an old technique.

She is the author of Punch Needle: Master the Art of Punch Needling Accessories for You and Your Home, which was published in April 2019. In 2020 she released a book on Visible Mending and she is currently working on her third book based on Embroidery.

A group of punch needled surfaces and artworks leaned against a white wall.

Becoming Arounna Khounnoraj

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.?

It’s hard to choose just one, I consider myself an artist first but being self employed I really rely on my self taught business skills and what I try to do with my writing and social media is to share with my followers the different ways I work and techniques they can apply to their own work.

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?

I was born in Vientiane Laos, but came to Toronto, Canada with my family when I was four. Growing up in Toronto was a major influence. Even though I lived downtown in a very urban setting, Toronto is, nevertheless, a city of neighbourhoods that are very eclectic and diverse so I experienced a variety of cultures. It’s also a city with pockets of nature and I think that all combined, an environment like that helped me create work that is also eclectic but with an emphasis on natural things.

Of course family life was also influential. As immigrants we lived modestly and made much of what we needed and used. Food, clothing, repairing things ourselves when they are broken helped create a definite DIY mindset that has always stayed with me.

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

I grew up in a household with makers, not necessarily artists but definitely makers – using our hands. So, I don’t think it ever occurred to me to be anything else but a maker too.  I have always made things with my hands and it brought me the most joy so it only seemed natural to go to art school and follow a path of making art.

What sparked your interest in mending? 

When I was younger I would mend my clothes whether they needed it or not so I had some experience. But more recently, mending just kind of happened since it is really just an extension of the kind of hand work and stitch work that I was already doing. Studio work for me has always been about trying new things and new techniques, whether it was patchwork, appliqué or decorative stitching, it was already part of my studio practice. Having a family and kids especially, certainly gave me a new application for these activities. 

But also, I‘ve always been the kind of person who not only believes in an economy of means, but I hate to waste materials, both in my own studio and in life in general. So reuse, and by extension mending, is a  natural part of how I work. 

Arounna and her daughter in a light-filled living space.

What are three words to describe your style?

Natural, simple, organic

What is your educational background and how has it shaped or changed your current career

I started with a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Ontario College of Art and then Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, then finished with a Masters from University of Waterloo. 

School has been very influential in shaping my current path. I worked in a variety of media, ceramics, multimedia sculpture and fibre arts, while at school and it is certainly there that I found the artistic interests and methodologies that continue to define my work. Jumping ahead a number of years when I started to make utilitarian work, especially products, I found that those disciplines and ways of working in a studio continued. I’ve always thought of our workplace as an art studio, a multidisciplinary space where artistic interests and vision could be applied to everyday things. Working with materials, details of design, surface decoration and use is not that far from what I was concerned with at school.

Have you ever made a big career switch? If so, what prompted that? Are there aspects of a prior career that you incorporate into what you do now? 

Not really, I’ve always been making things one way or another and finding a way to market them. The only real switch was from working in a studio art practice that entailed singular installation work in sculpture, to production work with textiles and printing.  That happened in a rather unplanned way with a residency that I accepted in a textile studio and simply being open to spending some time trying something different.  After I finished, I continued to work on smaller, more personal fabric based items concentrating on drawing and printing as forms of surface design. Although, differences aside, I think both have a lot in common in terms of artistic vision, and by the things that inform them – natural imagery, organic forms and belief in the handmade. 

What inspired you to become a textile artist?

A layout of craft supplies, punch needle projects, and art.

More than anything else, working with fabric was always an activity that I enjoyed and was always around me. I always had a connection to it, starting when I was young. As I grew older it became an even more important activity. I became aware that working with fabric was more than a personal activity. The very idea of sewing, or stitchwork is so related to the concept of women’s work and domestic work. I was always inspired by the ideas, the techniques,  and the continuity of the work as tradition. Seeing the work of others who take an idea and pass it on as something wonderful and beautiful is amazing, and being a part of that is inspiring.

What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?

If I have to pick one, I suppose the piece(s) I’m most proud of in recent years are a series of little stools that John and I made together. He designed the wood stool specifically to fit a punch needle seat. We had always talked about collaborating on such a piece and it was great to see it happen.

Where do you find inspiration for new creations? 

I’m not sure I look for inspiration for new pieces. The possibilities for what I’m already inspired to do seems endless. I think every maker or artist becomes aware of different possibilities they could explore in their work. So, perhaps just new applications and working at larger scales. 

a patchwork project bag made by Arounna Khounnoraj

How do you make social connections in the creative realm?

Working in the studio on your own work is quite often so focused, and busy, that it’s sometimes hard to connect to other makers in real time. But having spent as much time at craft shows as I have, I’ve been able to meet a wide range of artists and makers that I find time to connect with, creating a soundboard for each other.

In addition, through social media I’ve been able to connect with so many people all over the world who work in similar activities as I am, or simply enjoy what I do. Social media has allowed me to connect with teaching opportunities, collaborations with others and enjoy the work of others.

How has social media influenced your work?

I cannot tell you how important social media is. It really works in partnership with other aspects of business and studio work. Most importantly it helps tell the story of who you are and what you do. And when it comes down to it,  to make connections, the narrative is really important.

Social media and studio work are definitely connected, but it is more than just documentation. I spend a fair amount of time creating work and instructional content not just for web sales but specifically for social media. Sometimes too much time. In the end, I can’t say that my work in terms of design has changed in response to social media, but it certainly has changed the way I work, and the success of a product.

What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?

When I just started our business I was still in art school mode, and I was looking at artists like Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith. But I remember seeing the show of makers from Gees Bend at the Whitney around 2002, and I was blown away. There are a number of people and studios I am fond of now like Mina Perhonen.

A collection of patchwork blocks made by Arounna Khounnoraj

What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days?

I sometimes watch TV and movies when sewing, just something to have in the background. I’m fond of British Crime dramas and anything post apocalypse.

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from?

One piece of advice that I always try to remember is that if I like my work, I know that someone else will like it too. I think it’s a variation on trusting yourself regardless of how things are initially received, or how fast or slow work progresses. Trust yourself, trust your direction, just work hard at making the most of it. Not sure who sent that my way. 

What is your workspace like? Has it changed at all since the beginning of the pandemic last year? 

We were fortunate enough to buy a storefront that had a small shop in the front and a small studio in the back and our home above. Over the years we renovated and expanded to include a sewing area where my mother and I have machines; a small shipping area, and studio space – printing and cutting table. There is also a quieter, more private studio space on the second floor for when I feel like stepping away from production. 

Since the pandemic, only family members are with me, and the showroom space has turned over to more work/organization space (and plants). It’s definitely quieter, but we’ve tried to maintain a degree of normalcy. 

A patchwork blanket made of indigo squares in various shades.

How do your surroundings influence your work?

There are a couple of things that influence my work. Firstly, having a diverse series of spaces that are specific to each task allows me to work efficiently, and gives me enough space to work at anything that comes to mind. Secondly, I live upstairs, so I don’t have to leave to work. Some might see this as potentially burdensome, but with young kids it was great, and it lets me be connected to work whenever I want, which I find both convenient and liberating actually, since I love to work.

Describe some habits that keep you motivated and productive. How do you climb out of a creative slump?

I have a tendency to be a little impatient, but in a good way. Not sure if that’s a habit, but it means that if something is on my mind, if I have something to do or a design that needs development, I’ll just do it. I don’t like leaving things lingering, I’d rather finish things or make decisions as soon as I can. It means that things are always moving along, and seeing work in its final form, especially when I’m excited and happy about it, is really motivating. 

I also make sure that every day I have time to sit back and draw, whether analogue or on an iPad. I find it relaxing actually. Letting your mind just go, focusing on nothing else just for a little while can be very helpful to keep you in your groove, and suggest new ideas. As long as you have work on the table, there is always something to do.

What is a typical day like for you? 

Depending on the day, after the kids are off to school, or virtual school, I usually do emails first thing. We do shipping two days out of the week so that pretty much structures our day for us. If it’s a non shipping day I’ll make lists of any orders. If anything needs to be made we’ll start that, otherwise I’ll either cut or print fabric or both for my mother who does a lot of the sewing, so we always have stock, as much as we can. Afternoons tend to be working on social media posts or photography, taking advantage of the afternoon light. Shipping days are similar except with a lot of packaging. When it’s not too busy I fit non production work in, working on new projects and finally, at the end of the day, a little drawing. 

What is one skill you wished you learned when you were younger?

My mum is a wonderful cook and I really wish I took more interest when I was younger to be as accomplished as her. The problem is that she was always happy cooking for us and I was happy letting her.

Someone stands on a bench holding a white punch needle blanket above their head. The punch needled parts are in lots of colors and look like confetti dots sprinkled throughout the blanket's surface.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?

My advice would be to not hold yourself back. Try everything even if it’s for one time only.  You will never know how it could add or change the way you work and it might enhance it for the better. Don’t feel you have to be an expert in one thing and only have to do that one thing forever. These days there is so much access to online help, courses and many great kits available.

Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business?

Our business was financed by our part time jobs when we were starting.  Don’t worry if you have to have a job in order to finance your business, as you figure it out you will be less dependent. I would try to focus on not growing too fast, to really understand the work that you want to make and understand your audience. Knowing these two things are actually the most important business decisions you can make. If there’s equipment or material that you need that you can’t afford, think about renting it or borrowing from someone who does. If there is something that you can’t do right now, then try it a different way. The important thing is to work, try new things, but keep working.  When we started we did every craft show that we could. Some good, some not so good. But even a little income was good. Same for online. Be patient and learn to trust yourself, (and it is something we have to learn). Eventually you will find a rhythm and your income will start increasing. 

Is there anything more you would like to “become?” 

In terms of both inspiration and work, one of the defining aspects of my work has been its relationship to nature, working organically, and specifically, my love for botanical imagery. I have always been interested in plants and I think if I wasn’t making, I would like to learn more about botany.  I think somehow cataloging  them by painting/drawing or by photographing them.

floral punch needle pillow in warm oranges, pinks, yellows, and greens.

What do you hope to accomplish within the next 10 years?

My 10 year goal is to try to move away from the constraints of production work and focus more on designing, perhaps working with other studios in creating my work.  For the work I do myself, I would like to do larger, more art based pieces that would allow me to slow down, focus, and really delve into a project.

 

What Iris Apfel Can Teach Us

Iris Apfel June Book Club Artwork

Who Is Iris Apfel?

Iris Apfel is one of the most iconic women in the history of fashion. This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned her! Here’s another post where we share some of our musings about Iris. Self-proclaimed “geriatric starlet,” Iris Apfel started as an interior designer with an innate interest in fashion. She really became known when her noteworthy wardrobe made its way into an exhibition at the Met. From there, her career as a fashion icon blossomed.

She didn’t stop there! At age 98, she signed a modeling contract with IMG, blowing all former female model stereotypes out of the water. She even came out with her own sunglasses line a few days before her 100th birthday! From interior design, to transforming the definition of modeling, to her eclectic and show-stopping style, to simply living a full life, Iris Apfel can teach us so much.

Embracing Maximalism in an Age of Minimalism

We are living in an age of minimalism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always against minimalism. When done correctly it can be lovely. The problem is that it’s become an overwhelming default that squashes so many opportunities for creative expression. If you’re interested more of my thoughts on neutrals and default colors, read this post. Anyway, I’m not here today to focus on minimalism. I’m here to talk about Iris Apfel, who is an example of totally owning gorgeous maximalism. Iris Apfel can teach us so. much. Here’s how she can help us embrace maximalism when minimalism is so overwhelmingly present.

What Iris Apfel Can Teach Us

Don’t Fear Patterns and Colors!

I remember buying clothes with my mom as a kid. She’d always offer up the same advice: “pick something that will go with everything!” There’s a myth that’s been circulating for many years that neutral solids match better than colors and patterns. My mom’s not alone. Many people stick almost solely to neutrals, not because they don’t like color or pattern, but because they feel intimidated. Which is totally understandable! Neutrals are, admittedly, easy.

But are they satisfying? Iris Apfel sure shows us that there are many, many examples of bold color and pattern combinations that look exquisite together. They’re less common because it’s intimidating to jump into so much color and pattern, but maybe that’s what makes them so wonderful. So to those wanting to incorporate more patterns and colors into their lives but feeling intimidated, remember that Iris would tell you to go for it! You can do it, just be confident in those bold choices and don’t let others dissuade you. As Iris would say, “When you don’t dress like everyone else then you don’t have to think like everyone else.”

The Bolder the Better

Speaking of bold choices, is anything every really too much for Iris Apfel? Probably not. She teaches us that, rather than airing on the side of caution when it comes to your wardrobe, go big or go home! She would probably put it just that candidly, too.

She’s the perfect example of really diving into colors and patterns and showing us that bolder really is better, in her case. After all, she did say, “color can raise the dead.” When you own bold patterns and colors like Iris Apfel, they are striking, completely show-stopping, and do much more than any combination of neutrals could to. So be all in! The key is to be decisive and intentional. A half-hearted effort just doesn’t produce the Iris Apfel effect.

Mix and Match!

Another one of my mom’s common statements was something along the lines of “don’t wear multiple patterns together, they don’t go.” Well Iris Apfel would most likely say the exact opposite: Why opt for a neutral that goes with everything when you can go for a wild, wacky combo? And who says multiple patterns can’t compliment each other exquisitely?

Rather than always going for black because it will match everything in your wardrobe, try branching out. Unlikely combinations can sometimes be best.

Speaking of unlikely combinations, don’t fear mixing high and low fashions. Iris Apfel was famous for shamelessly mixing designer brands with flea market finds, and patterns, colors and textures of all different eras. The eclectic mix became her signature, and she knowingly broke all rules and conventions. Isn’t the saying something like “learn the rules so you can break them?”

Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize

Don’t let me finish out this list of what Iris Apfel can teach us without including accessories. Iris’s iconic glasses, boas, and bold bangles with forever be remembered. Nothing is too thick, chunky, or big for her. Accessories can do wonders for an outfit that feels like it needs a little something to be complete.

And again, Iris Apfel audaciously merged antiquity with modernity with striking success.

Dress for Yourself, Not to be Stared At

Above all, fashion is and should be very personal. It’s all about you, or it should be. As Iris says, “I don’t dress to be stared at, I dress for myself.” Iris has us convinced that fashion should be fun, and it’s the most fun when it feels true to YOU. Ultimately, “The important thing is to be comfortable so you can get on with your life.”

In the Shop

If you’re looking for something to remind you of Iris Apfel, check out our shop! Nothing helps with inspiration like seeing Iris Apfel’s face every time you open your book and see this bookmark. Or looking up at the wall by your desk and seeing this print! If you’re wanting to prep for the holiday season early this year, we’d recommend this Iris Apfel ornament.

More Inspiration

Loved this post on what Iris Apfel can teach us and want to be inspired by other amazing women? Check out our Becoming series, where we highlight female creatives and how they became who they are! You can also be inspired by these in the mood for posts, where we draw style and design inspiration from artists, creatives, and things we love throughout history.

One last note before you go: Iris Apfel has collaborated with H&M to release a new collection this spring 2022–STAY TUNED! I’m positive we’ll have more to say where that came from.

 

 

 

 

How to make a quilted coat

7

Everything you need to know to make a quilted coat

Now, I knew I couldn’t make it on my own because I’m very much a novice seamstress and didn’t want this to be “lessons from a fool”, so I reached out to one of my favorite local sewing inspiration sources, Romy-Krystal Cutler of Sew Like Romy, to make it happen. Romy has a knack for knowing the latest and greatest trends and making them her own. I’ve been following her for awhile because she does such a great job. And guess what?! She does it during nap time! Romy will be giving us an expert’s tips on how to get the best results.

Fiskars new sewing tools

We are big fans of Fiskars for all sorts of paper crafts and DIY tools, so we were thrilled to learn that they had a new line of sewing tools too. We got our hands on their classic rotary cutter, and their comfort grip rotary cutter, along with their new Sewing Essentials Set, which includes their classic orange handle scissors (a classic), thread snips, which came in handy for this coat, acrylic ruler, measuring tape, and sewing gauge for accurate measurements, and a seam ripper. It’s so helpful to feel prepared! As nerdy as it sounds, I’m pretty stoked to add the sewing gauge to my arsenal for Paul’s hems!

They also equipped us with seamstress scissors, which cut like BUTTAH! And please note: no one better use them for paper! Do I feel like my mother OR WHAT?!

How to make a quilted coat

Romy did an amazingly thorough job with this tutorial. Let’s go!

How to find awesome vintage quilts:

I scoured Etsy, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace for vintage quilts that I loved. If you know the style of quilt pattern, search that term, or search “antique quilt” or “vintage quilt”. You could also search “quilt topper” only as there might be more available there. 

Materials:

See above

Buzzwords:

  • Bias Tape/Binding: Narrow strips of fabric cut on the bias used to finish edges. Can be bought premade.
  • Heavy Duty Snaps: These are to close your coat. They come in two options — Sew-in and heavy duty hardware. The heavy duty requires extra tools to secure them in place.
  • Thread Snips: Small, sharp scissors for precision cutting loose threads.
  • Muslin: Plain weave cotton fabric, usually sheer. Used for toiles.
  • Toile: A test version of a garment in cheap fabric.
  • Grade: Trimming your seam allowance to a smaller width.

Preparation:

Not all quilts are the same. Be sure to check that your quilt will fulfill your warmth needs. For this particular coat there was no batting and the back was muslin. If you find yourself in the same position first head down to Tips and Tricks.

Selecting your size. Consulting the finished measurements and comparing these to an existing coat in your wardrobe is a good place to start. If you want to be extra cautious, a toile is an even better place to begin.

Read your patterns instructions and gather all your supplies.

Instructions:

  1. Measure yourself and determine which size of your chosen pattern you are going to use.
  2. Prepare your coat pattern pieces and cut them out with paper scissors.
  3. Lay out your quilt, pin down the pattern pieces, and cut out all pieces for your coat using your fabric scissors. Refer to the cutting layout of your pattern to ensure you have it right before you cut!
  4. Follow the coat patterns sewing instructions.
  5. When the pattern states to finish or serge the seam you will be using bias tape to finish the edges.
  6. For the inside seams: Sew the bias to one edge of the seam, fold over. Grade ¼” (cut down) the other seam and then pull over the edge with the bias to one side and sew down.

7. Follow the pattern instructions to bind the edges of the coat.

8. Lucky last part: Attach your sew in snaps to the front.

9. Do a happy dance and enjoy your new coat!

Tips and Tricks to make a quilted coat

Pro Tip 1:

The top design of a quilt can come just by itself (commonly called a quilt top). They’re usually cheaper since they weren’t made into a formal quilt. The one used on this project was such a case. To get it ready to turn into a coat the steps are simple, the “fabric sandwich.” To complete this you will need to buy backing fabric and batting. Once you have those on hand you create the layer sandwich: Quilt top on top, batting in the middle and the backing fabric on bottom. Once that’s together secure with safety pins throughout to keep the layers from moving. Using a walking foot and quilting thread, you’re then ready to quilt the pieces together. Best part: the design is entirely up to you so the sky’s the limit.

Pro Tip 2:

Reversible coats are not only super functional but so fun! Bias tape is your best friend here. Finish one edge with bias tape and fold over the edge. Grade ¼” (cut down) the other edge of the seam and then pull over the edge with the bias tape and sew down. Presto reversible! Just be mindful of your pocket placement and snaps if you decide to do this!

Pro Tip 3:

Hand sewing can seem never ending but it’s made a lot easier and faster with beeswax. This helps strengthen and stabilize the thread and prevent tangling and shedding. A great investment for the long run with any hand sewing.

Pro Tip 4:

Try on your coat before you add your snaps/buttons. The placement of these on patterns are recommendations but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will suit your body. Try it on and mark where you want your snaps for the best fit.

Thank you, Romy for your expertise. I hope you all have a good experience making your quilted coat! Please show us the results with #LarsMakes! 

This post is sponsored by Fiskars. Thank you to our brands who allow us to make beautiful, original content for you! 

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday

Here are some more small businesses to support this Small Business Saturday! I’ve grouped them into categories, but most of them are women owned and led! Enjoy! Anymore I should know about? I love learning more!

I also had to throw in a lot of our own stuff because what type of business owner would I be if I didn’t! We appreciate your support!

Crafts/Creative/Kits to support on Small Business Saturday

  • Fabled Thread. Upscaled embroidery kits. They’re so beautiful!
  • Neon Tea Party. Marissa makes crafting fun with these great kits!
  • Creators Club. Sara has created this awesome monthly subscription to learn about art for kids!
  • Flax and Twine. Anne has taken arm knitting and weaving to the next level. Her kits are so good!
  • Purl soho. The golden standard of kits!
  • Sweet Red Poppy. Kim has some awesome sewing and Cricut classes!
  • The Crafted Life. Rachel has curated the most colorful crafting supplies!
  • Yayday Paper. Amber of Damask Love has a crafting subscription that looks super fun!
  • Elle Cree. Paint by number kits! I had so much fun doing mine!

 

Artists/Illustrators to support on Small Business Saturday

Ok! Now for artists and illustrators who are in our Lars Print Shop but also have their own shops! They create their own worlds and I love seeing how they do it!

Floral prints by Chaunte Vaughn on a mint green wall

Poppy I print by Rachel Smith

Iris Apfel June Book Club Artwork

  • Yas Imura has a beautiful print in our shop!
  • Helen Dealtry creates the most unreal florals! We even have some of her designs on stickers in our shop!
  • Samantha Hahn is a wonderful letter artist who opened up a shop of rainbows called Maison Rainbow! We have one in our shop!
  • Merrilee Liddiard sells the most beautiful handmade dolls as well as printables. She’s an incredible artist! We have a Frida Kahlo print of hers in our shop.
  • Angie Stalker. Her works bring FUN into our shop!
  • Yelena Brysksenkova was one of the first artists I heard of when blogs became a thing. She has an Etsy shop where she sell her items but we also have some awesome things of hers!
  • Jessie Kanelos Weiner is a talened watercolor artist who has some wonderful things in our shop. She also has a new calendar out with Rizzoli!
  • Jessyca Gomes. I love the style of this Brazilian artist. She has the cutest children’s prints in our shop!
  • Jacqueline Colley has some awesome Christmas prints in our shop!

Phew! That was an epic list!

Utah based small businesses

You may or may not know that Utah has a ton of businesses that you’re probably familiar with and if not, get to know them! Here are a few of my favorites!

  • Heirloom curates the most beautiful items with soul!
  • Harmony. Anything bright and colorful for making projects, go here!
  • Gathre
  • Chatbooks
  • Hello Maypole curates fun colorful felt balls!
  • Mochi is a fun kid’s shop that just opened up a brick and mortar in SLC
  • Mabo just released a collab with Gathre that’s perfection!
  • Koo de Ker has a perfectly curated collection of womens wear.
  • Nena and Co is ethically made handbags. I love everything they stand for!

Splurges

lewis home

Children’s Shops to support on Small Business Saturday

  • Lewis Home. Organic basics for kids–I could live in their stuff forever if I could!
  • Winter Water Factory. Organic basics for kids with a focus on prints. We’ve done a few collaborations with them!
  • Raduga Grez has THE BEST children’s toys. They’re art.
  • Pehr has some of my favorite clothes for my boys!
  • La Coqueta has dreamy children’s wear
  • Oeuf’s winter collection right now is a dream!
  • Tubby Todd

I can’t believe we made it through that! Are you still here? Happy shopping! 

BLOOM Inspired Style

BLOOM Lifestyle Photos

Here are a few of our favorite photos from the BLOOM lifestyle shoot:

We had to work in a quilted jacket somehow. I’m in love with this one!

The floral embroidery on that blue dress is just exquisite! I knew we needed it as soon as I saw it.

I’m loving the retro vibes of this shot.

Don’t you just love those pink pom poms paired with the pink phone?

Those tiny purple and blue flowers? Are you kidding me?! So gorgeous.

Secret garden fabric paired with secret garden phone case? A match made in heaven, especially with that lovely gold bracelet.

BLOOM Inspired Style

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Don’t you just love the idea of a wardrobe refresh to match your new phone case? Here are all the beautiful blouses and dresses we used:

And here are the BLOOM inspired accessories:

More Inspiration

Make sure to check out this post featuring our newest Casetify collection! And if you haven’t seen it yet, head over to our Casetify honest review to see how these phone cases have held up for team Lars! Also, check out our first Casetify collection here. Love our phone case designs? You’ll probably be interested in our Casetify inspired crafts, like these nesting Easter eggs, or our painted mini pumpkins.

A Fall Movie List & Cozy Pajamas

Now that it’s starting to cool down outside and the days are getting shorter, it’s the perfect time to snuggle up in cozy pajamas and watch a movie. The Lars team put our heads together to come up with a great fall movie list, with options ranging from cozy to creepy.

Depending on your mood, you can find a something sentimental and sweet or creepy, all of which are perfect for chilly nights and changing leaves.

But first, find your new favorite fall pajamas!

My Favorite Fall Pajamas

A strict dress code of cozy pajamas for movie nights is non-negotiable, if you ask me. As a kid, my siblings and I always had to get into jammies before we started a movie. Now I realize that there was a great reason for that rule–my parents didn’t want to have to wrangle any kids into pajamas late at night when everyone was extra sleepy!

Still, I’m a firm believer that pajamas are vital to any good movie night. The snugglier the better! I’m a sucker for matching pajamas, so you’ll see some sets that are available in kid and adult sizes, which is an added bonus! Here are my favorite fall pajamas:

For Kids

For Grown Ups

If you’re looking for more of my favorite cozy clothes, check out this loungewear in all colors of the rainbow, my favorite everyday leisurewear, and these cloud-like pajamas!

Fall and Halloween Movie List

There are so many great fall and Halloween movies, so something from these lists is sure to strike your fancy! Still, not all of them are family-friendly or for everyone, so use your judgement to find something you’ll feel great about watching. And we won’t tell if you hide beneath the blankets during the scary scenes. 😉

Cozy

  • It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
  • Coco
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • the Harry Potter movies
  • Little Women
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • You’ve Got Mail
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Dan in Real Life
  • the Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Dead Poet’s Society
  • Legally Blonde

Creepy/Halloween Themed

  • Halloweentown
  • Casper the Friendly Ghost
  • Hotel Trannsylvania
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman (which may have given a team member nightmares)
  • Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Goosebumps movies
  • The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (which may have made another team member afraid of the piano as a kid)
  • Watcher in the Woods
  • Hocus Pocus
  • Ghostbusters
  • The Addams Family
  • Twitches
  • ET
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • A Ghost Story
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Knives Out
  • Heathers
  • Coraline
  • A Quiet Place
  • Nosferatu
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  • Beetlejuice
  • Jane Eyre
  • The Crooked House
  • Ophelia

Found a new favorite fall movie? Tell us which one, and let us know what your favorite flicks are!

DIY Tie Dye Bandana for The Fourth of July

What your tie dye bandana says about you

While current events can impose a sense of despair, making something tangible helps me feel better. And by making this Fourth of July themed tie dye bandana, I found a way I could remember and honor the American ideological roots of independence, freedom, liberty, equality, which I still believe in and have hope in.

Part of the fun with making something yourself is that because you choose each element of the project, you can put own emotion and meaning into things. Something as simple as a piece of tie dye can be a powerful tool. 

Making a craft with my own two hands is grounding, and it helps me remember that I can be independent and make my own choices. Using the red, white, and blue tri-color combo has its own importance too. It has been a symbol of liberty since the 16th century! No matter your country of origin, those are ideals resonate deep. 

DIY Bleach Tie Dye Bandana

Supplies:

 

Steps:

To mix the dye, mix hot water a tiny bit of dish soap and a couple teaspoons of salt. Add add your dye color. Test color with a paper towel to make sure you have your desired shade.

Put the bananas under cold water.

For the twisted look (1), wrap the bandana around a pole (we used a broomstick) and then wrap twine around it then scrunch the bandana together. The more scrunched it is the less dye will show through.

For the square look (2), accordion fold the bandana one one and then the other way, alternating directions. Place two pieces of plastic or wood blocks on each side and add rubber bands to keep it in place.  The more rubber bands you use the the less the dye will show through.

For the circle look (3), Accordion fold in one direction and add rubber bands on alternating sides

For the scrunched look (4), scrunch it up and add rubber bands! Super simple.

Leave them wrapped with rubber-bands few hours for the dye to set. Then rinse and wash. Enjoy your new tie dye bandana!

You can also use dark colored bandanas and bleach instead of dye to achieve a similar look!

10 ways to wear a bandana

We love things that feel homemade and whimsical with a touch of vintage-flair. It should come as no surprise to you that we love tie dyed bandanas! In case all you can picture when you hear the word “bandana” is a cowboy, I’ll brainstorm some cute styling ideas for ya.

As a headband

Lay out the bandana flat and fold in two opposite corners to the center. Then choose one side you’ve just folded, and continue to fold in 2-inch wide segments until you get to  the other side. Bring the two pointy ends together in a knot around your head with the knot on top of your head or hidden under your hair. 

10 ways to wear your tie dye bandana

Pony Up

Tie your hair up into a ponytail first, then tie the bandana around your ponytail holder. If you like a more relaxed, romantic pony, use the bandana as the hair tie and let some pieces of hair fall out of the tie dye bandana. Tres chic!

10 ways to wear your tie dye bandana

PanAm Stewardess Style

This one is swoon-worthy. I love the vintage flight attendant uniforms, and the neckerchief is what really makes it for me. Using a tie dye bandana as the scarf makes the whole look more casual and wearable. Fold the scarf into a long strip (like you would for a headband) and tie it around your neck loose or taught. Let the tails hang out and you’ll have mastered the “I tried, but not too hard” look. 

10 ways to wear your tie dye bandana

Bag accessory

I love to tie a scarf onto the base of a purse strap. It’s an easy way to accessorize without putting on anything extra! If your outfit for going to the grocery store feels a little bleak, knot your bandana onto your bag for an instant color-infusion. 

Dutch Milkmaid style

This is currently the trendiest way to wear your bandana. Fold it in half into a triangle and tie it at the base of your neck under all of your hair.

10 ways to wear your tie dye bandana

Cowgirl Face Mask

This method is becoming super trendy right now as it is a DIY face mask that requires no sewing!! (I just heard a crowd of people in my mind, cheering). Since Western wear is trending again, feel free to go full-cowgirl and tie it around your face in the classic style. 

10 ways to wear your tie dye bandana

Surgical-style Face Mask

If you want to put in a bit more effort (still no sewing), try this method!

Lay out your square, freshly tie dyed bandana flat. Fold in the top and bottom edges till they meet in the center. Next, Flip the cloth over so the opening is in the back. Repeat the same fold again, bringing the top and bottom edges into the center. Flip the fabric over again. Place loose hair ties or ribbons on the left and right sides of the fabric, segmenting it into thirds. Fold both side towards the center with the fold at about where the hair tie is. Fold the left side at the hair tie towards the center and tuck the left end into the opening on the right end to secure it. Place the elastics over your ears with the folded-in side on your face. The layers act as a filter, and the folds make it super easy to wear while talking, etc. 

Scout Style

Lay out the bandana flat and fold in two opposite corners to the center. Tie the bandana around your neck with the point in the back.

10 ways to wear your tie dye bandana

Around a belt loop

If your outfit could use a little more style, add a bandana around your pant belt loop! It immediately levels up a classic tee and jeans. 

10 ways to wear your tie dye bandana

Full head wrap

Be bold enough to wear your bandana in this fun style. And a pro tip: it nicely covers up your unwashed social distancing hair 😉 

10 ways to wear your tie dye bandana

*** Tips: press the folds at each stage and use a stiffer fabric for stability. Adjust the thickness of the wrap/folds to facilitate ease.  

Other tie dye things we love!

 

A Lars Girl in Mexico City: Travel Inspired Design and Fashion

Mexico City definitely is at the top of my list of favorite trips. Truly, it is a place of dreams. The gigantic, bustling city is home to almost 9 million residents, and the feel of the city is indescribable. I’m trying to teleport there using fashion and interior design; I’ll let you know if it works!

I visited Mexico City a couple of years ago with friends Nadia Coates of Casa Palomi, Meta Coleman and Chaunte Vaughn. (You can find Chaunte’s work in our print shop here! And some of Meta’s curated home picks here.) We went to visit Abby Low, whose work is also in our print shop! Abby’s book This is Mexico City is full of the color, print, and culture that inspired today’s post.

I am imagining what A Lars Girl would wear if her wardrobe was inspired by Mexico City. And what her home might look like. After getting a feel for some of the amazing sites in our Mexico City guide here, explore the links below for A Lars Girl top picks for fashion and decor.

Mexico City Inspired Fashion

 

Accessories

 

Read more about this amazing place

La Ciudad

Ciudad de México is an ancient city. Long before the land was called Mexico, the Aztec civilization built impressive temples and monuments in the middle of what was then a lake. Due to Spanish imperial efforts, much of the ancient city was destroyed or buried beneath new buildings. Modern renovation projects have done a beautiful job of peeling back the layers, allowing the city to truly shine. Though its past isn’t pretty, a beautiful way of life and a unique design sense has developed literally out of the ruins. Now a modern and very cosmopolitan place, Mexico City is a truly fascinating spot. 

La Mezcla

Old-world European architecture meets older ancient architecture, and all of it fits into an amazing modern place. When I think of Mexican design, I tend to think of folk art and textiles brim with life! Bright colors are used on funky patterns. But when I think of Mexico City, complex stylistic ideas with refined elements come to mind. Once there, you’ll know what I mean. If you’re looking to steal the style, try designing with Old World tastes, then decorate with clean-lined modern elements that allow ornate intricacies to shine. Conversely, try designing in a contemporary, clean design, then add some flair with natural or folk elements. To see this mezcla (mix) work in real life, check out pictures of the Museo de Artes Popular! Its architectural style is stunningly simple art deco, while the works within it are traditional and FUN! 

The residents of this city know how amazing it is, but most are happy to share the place they call home. I became friends with my cabbie and the local barista pretty quickly, and they clued me into the real neighborhood spots. Only true locals know the local spots. So, make some friends and get exploring! While you’re there, or even if you’re just lazing around the house, bring a dash of la Ciudad de Mexico into your life! See our shopping list above and below for clothing items and home decor that we think make the mark.

Mexico City Inspired Interior Design

Artwork

Decor

 

 

2020 Trend Alert: Embroidered Everything

The feel-good factor is just as important as a principle of design because when it is present, people notice. Embroidered work feels personal and intimate, tying the owner to the piece. It also carries with it emotion that otherwise would be lost in a different medium. Would Katherine Kelly care so much about that hanky if it was screenprinted? Not a chance! That hanky reminded her of her mother and represented a central theme of the movie – that old things, however quaint, could be replaced by modernity. 

Luckily enough for us, people love embroidery way too much to let it slip away into memory. We are some of those people!! Care to check? Search our website for the word “embroidery” – I did and counted the results until I got to sixty and decided that was enough. We have written about embroidery in sixty different blog posts. If you are a newbie to fabric arts, check out our results for some inspiration and even a tutorial on basic stitches.

embroidered fashion trend 2020

If you, like us, are fully on the embroidery train, don’t wait for someone to give you a hanky! With some help from the Lars team, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite embroidered items for purchase that we have compiled below. Feel free to peruse, and if you dare, shop!!! If you’d rather make your own embroidered item, go for it! From simple stitches to complex masterpieces, embroidery shines on everything.

Embroidered Fashion

 

Accessories

 

Embroidered home decor

 

All mood board photo sources can be found here on our Pinterest!

Floral winter coats

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Floral winter coats

Floral everything has been in for awhile and it finally made its way to winter coats (not to mention quilted coats!). I’m in! And the Canada Goose x Reformation collaboration is just unreal. From the prints, to the head scarves to the styled shoot. Call me president of the fan club. I mean, look at this:

Floral puffer coat options

Here are some more favorites from around the web.  yellow floral puffer coat canada goose

Clockwise from top left: Diamond print long coat, Yellow floral print coat, black floral puffer coat, blue puffer coat, black long puffer coat, green polka dot (not floral but still cute print), black abstract floral

Not pictured: This cute green floral print puffer, this pink puffer coat,

What do you think? Is it something you’d splurge on? I know I’m waiting for a big sale! 

(Fall)ing in Love With Quilt Coats

Cottagecore and Quilt Coats

You’ve probably heard of cottagecore by now. It’s one of my favorite fashion trends, characterized by outfits I’m pretty sure Laura Ingalls Wilder used to wear (and let’s be clear, that is a very good thing.) Have you noticed lots of gingham, ruffled sleeves, and dresses that look an awful lot like nightgowns? That’s cottagecore, and one of my favorite parts of the trend is the resurrection of quilted coats.

I wrote about my love for quilted coats and I am so happy to find out the rest of the fashion world is finally giving this coat style the day in the sun it deserves!

It’s coat season

I don’t know about you, but I could use some extra padding for this year! It doesn’t hurt that quilt coats are warm and cozy, too, which we all need as we head into a much colder season.

Keep reading to see my favorite quilted coats available now. I think you’ll be surprised how this trend can find a place in any wardrobe, trust me 😉

And don’t forget to check out some of the most iconic quilters around, the Gee’s Bend Quilt Group. You can read more about these artists here.

What is a quilt jacket

 

Some of my favorite quilt coats

Quilt jackets are not required to look frumpy or inspired by your grandma’s bedroom. Even high fashion brands are embracing this current trend because nothing is quite as timeless as an actual nod to the good old days, spun in a modern new way. My original fan girl post about quilted coats back in 2016 was inspired by more minimal looks. Whether you want ultimate fall vibes – imagine being able to literally bring your favorite cozy quilt with you everywhere you go – or a more minimal take on the quilted jacket, explore the links below. Or test out the perfect way to dip your toes in the water of this trend, quilted face masks! Are you kidding me?! We are constantly on the hunt for cute face masks and these quilted ones might be my favorite yet.

All I am saying is, cue the apple cider and the pumpkin patch photoshoots, my quilt coat and I are ready for you!

 

Quilted jacket brands to have on your radar

Sea

One of my favorite parts of the quilt coat trend is that these coats look like…well, a quilt your grandma made and lovingly put on your bed. Instead of the classic white background, I love how they made the pattern and colors pop on this dark fabric instead. And don’t limit yourself to just quilt coats – Sea provides this bold pattern in multiple shapes and looks! 

And I don’t just love Sea for their quilted clothing, you have to check out their peter pan collars and dip-dyed ombre skirts too.

Farewell Frances

I first highlighted this brand in our post all about cute face masks. Guess what?! They also do coats! (For adults AND kids.) Send in your own quilt for them to “coat-ify,” or choose from their lovely selection. Doesn’t it just make you want to sip some lemonade out on the prairie?

Farm Down the Lane

The name of this Etsy shop tells you all you need to know about the adorable quilted items she sells.

Natalie Ebaugh 

Natalie’s sense of color and the way she mixes patterns in her quilted coats is truly inspirational. If you want to feel like you’re wearing a work of art, check out her shop.

Stitched and Found

The bright colors and designs of these quilts remind us of Alma Thomas, one of the artists in our Great Artists! Course.

3WomenCo

Though a little different than quilted coats, this brand uses vintage textiles to make sustainable clothing. I never would’ve thought a flour sack could look this good!

Stag Provisions

These quilted jeans are an example of visible mending, a beautiful way to re-purpose old clothing you might have otherwise thrown out. 

Psychic Outlaw

My favorite part of this shop is all the amazing quilts customers send in, which the company then turns into plush coats. Check out their Instagram to see all the past quilt coats they’ve made. They also make dresses out of vintage bandanas!

Haptics Lab

These coats sell out fast, and I can see why! They sell quilt quilt jackets for kids, too, plus patterns if you’re in the mood to DIY your own coat. 

Carleen

This brand carries the perfect blend of classic quilt jackets with zero frump.

More unique quilted items I am obsessed with

Want to start quilting?

I don’t know about you but all this talk about quilt jackets is making me want to try it out myself? It’s reminding me of a couple quilt inspired projects from Lars days past (see below!)

To get started quilting, our posts about hobbies to try when you are feeling uninspired includes sewing supplies and some great books about quilting!

Moodboard image sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

In the Mood for: Little Women

Which Little Women character are you?

Little Women was on our list of 50 creative and inspiring movies, and we’ve compiled some style inspiration for you based on the March sisters. Find your style picks below!

Meg

Meg March, the perfect example of fashion on a budget. With the right eye, you can fill your closet with classy pieces without breaking the bank! Below you will find our balance between comfort, price point, and glam:

And we can’t forget, Meg is also a supermom! Her love for children will always come before her love for fashion and luxury. Accessories like this pearl headband instantly glam up an outfit, while staying right out of the reach of a little Boo’s reach. Even in the middle of all your many mom duties, don’t forget to set aside time for romance! Put on this dainty statement necklace and hit the town with your true love! Take a note from Meg’s diary, little details like pom pom shoes and puff sleeves will take your wardrobe to the next level this year.

Jo

Jo, fiery, ambitious, and forever on the go. Below you will find items for the Modern Jo March:

If you are the tomboyish and passionate kindred spirit to Jo, we have curated this list with you in mind! Nothing can get in your way, you are sure to trade heels for sneakers, so we included our favorite pair in just the color scheme for you. For you and Jo, accessories are an after thought, but you don’t have to sacrifice sensibility for fashion – these geometric earrings will catch eyes at interviews and elevate your style with ease. We imagine Jo’s favorite current print trend would be leopard print, so this print necktie is just the touch. Of course you will need a good writing desk and a pencil case (you never know when the right story will hit you!) Even if these items seem a little girly, like this floral purse, don’t be fooled – this is all about function (maybe with some style tips taken from Meg.)

Beth

Oh Beth, the sweet and soft sister we could all learn to be more like. Beth’s list is all about comfort. If you’re a homebody, we have you covered:

This knit sweater has such a lovely bit of lace even the most selfless of us are tempted to slurge. Even in the middle of all your giving, don’t forget to take care of yourself! Have some fun this this cute sloth phone case, or these velvet hair bows! Your home is your sanctuary, so dress it up right in this subtle floral wallpaper. (We imagine Beth’s favorite current print trend would be florals.) Make memories with all your loved ones with this pastel polaroid camera!

Amy

For the bold artist in all of us, Amy’s list is full of color, shapes, and fun! We know even everyday items like hand soap and staplers can be masterpieces, as you’ll see below:

Refined, artsy, and stylish – our vision for Amy’s interior design style. We imagine Amy’s favorite current print trend would be abstract shapes, and are dying over this paint stroke light shade. For you Amy March Soul Sisters, we found this amazing purple chore coat (imagine your paint brushes in those pockets! Ah!) and these painted vases. Whether you have been to France yet or not, want to carry around this phone case everywhere you go? We say oui! You are art, dress like it with this floral sweater.

Which modern March Sister’s style are you drawn to the most? We would love to hear in the comments below!

If you loved this Little Women inspiration, check out more of our “in the mood for” style inspiration here. And if you love the book, check out our Little Women book club from January.