The wrong coloured tissue paper and a book review

Yesterday I finally got around to trying out something that I'd wanted to have a go at the moment that I'd seen it in The Homemade Home (by Sania Pell, not Kirstie), a book that arrived with me nearly a month ago.

The Christmas that my little girl was 6, my father gave my mother a beautiful antique rocking horse called Christmas. That same day my daughter received a very pink and very princessy dress (the desire to dress up, as well as the princess obsession, left her shortly afterwards). At some point during the afternoon I walked into the room and found her with her cheek resting against Christmas' mane and her dress swept out behind her over the horse's body: it was a composition that looked almost impossibly lovely and fairytale-like and the subsequent dash to get my camera was both fast and stealthy in an effort not to distract the subject matter.

The actual photo is straight and her head is not chopped off - hurrah!
Anyway, this seemed like a good photo to experiment with. So having created a little sandwich of tissue and watercolour paper, I began to sew over some of the main lines in the photo.

Once I'd finished stitching I started tearing away the paper using scissors and eventually tweezers as it's incredibly fiddly to remove the bits from the more heavily stitched areas.

For the dress I only wanted to remove the upper sheet of paper, leaving the tissue paper in place, which made things a little trickier...

I used two different shades of tissue paper, so that I could remove the upper layer over certain areas of the dress to reveal a contrasting shade of pink.

I now wish I'd veered away from the original photo a little and used more subtle colours of tissue though...I'm not sure I actually enjoy looking at this shade of pink.

I love this project idea and The Handmade Home is full of similarly inventive mixed media ideas like the china transfers pictured above. And the blackboard plant pots below:

Beautifully decorated glass bottles:

An appliqued throw - I love the colours and flower print used here - so minimal.

Latexed vases with a beautiful chalky finish. You can also see on the right of this photo one of the stitched pictures that inspired me to sew my own rocking horse picture. The book is printed on thick, matt pages, with beautifully shot images and an absolute mass of projects that I'd like to try out, all with very simple explanations given in a way that allows lots of room for going off-piste and incorporating your own ideas.

I love that so many of the projects mix different media - this is something that really appeals to me in a book, as it feels a little more out of my sewing comfort zone. It says that there are 50 projects in this book, but because many of the projects are shown with possible design variations it feels like a lot more. The only two projects that I was less keen on were the lamps - they seemed to go against how tasteful the rest of the book felt...looking distinctly home-spun and odd. But perhaps that's just me.

But with 190 other pages in the book there was a lot left to like
When my grandmother enquired last week as to why there were no recent school photos of my children I reasoned that buying these photos of my children looking slightly stuffed against hideous faux-cloud backgrounds in a cardboard frame felt a little odd when I was perfectly capable of taking nice photos of them myself. I was told quite vehemently that my children would want these photos when they were older and that my neglecting to buy them was tantamount to my giving them a childhood spent eating lumps of coal in a dark room. Mmmm. I've never sought out my own hideous school photos, even though my mother has a whole drawer full of them. Is this just me? Am I odd? Do you want a lamp shade with insects dangling off it? The school photo issue has thrown my sense of my own sense of judgement right off...(although I'm almost certain that my children would love the insect lampshade actually).

Either way, insect lamp shade or not, I feel absolutely sure that this is a jolly nice book (and I think my grandmother would agree). You can find it on Amazon here.

Wishing you a happy Tuesday,
Florence x


  1. stitching with tissue paper must be insanely intense. interesting concept.

  2. I love the project you are working on and look forward to seeing how it will go. The insect lamp does absolutely nothing for me and does seem to go against the grain of the book. As for school pictures...well, I think that's a individual thing - I love them - I think the idea of them is great. However, I'm beginning to think I'm in the minority because I recently read an article in the NY Times that parents are having the photos touched up - bad hair days become good hair days, unwanted facial distortions (in the article a father requested a scab from a fall be removed), etc. These leave out the stories...I have a horrible 2nd grade photo - my hair was awful, but apparently my Mom wanted me to comb it just before the photo-I obviously didn't listen to those instructions, but now, it's a funny family story.

  3. I'm with you on the school photos, I think they're a total rip-off. No character and personality shining through. Home-made shots are so much better.
    The book looks great although I'm not sure I'd have the patience to stitch a photo like that.

  4. School photos = yuck. I have to say my grandmother loves them too, though - her house is full of mine and my sister's and cousins'. I spent my teenage years trying to hide the ones my mum put around our house, and later found out that my boyfriend had done the same! And I don't think I'll ever seek out those pictures over the much more characterful (and memory-full) pictures from family holidays, birthdays, etc. All the school photos bring to mind is photo day, which was never fun, what with all the time spent standing in line worrying about your hair and wondering why you hadn't remembered a comb like super-pretty Kate, and usually involved a slightly odd/creepy photographer trying to make you laugh with the most inane "jokes" ever. Class photos (or the whole-school one we got at secondary) are different, because it can be fun to look at your classmates and see if you can remember everyone's names.

  5. What an interesting project!!
    And no, I have never sought out my school photos either :)

  6. I second on the topic of school photos. I cringe whenever I find mine. But when it comes to my children's I tend to buy and cherish them. So in some ways I understand your grandma. Now that my girls are older, they do their best to stop me from buying them and hide the ones I already bought from public view. Oh, as to the lamp with insects, my nephew might have liked it when he was toddler...

  7. I very rarely buy my children's school photos; the only ones I make and exception for are the whole class ones including the teachers and TAs and student teachers!

  8. I only buy my kids' school photos if it's a really good photo. So often they have an odd expression on their face, and the photos are so expensive too. In this digital age we do have all the proofs to keep, so at least we still have a record of them!
    Like the book review - think I might be putting that one on my Christmas list!

  9. My school photos were always awful, so the only reason that I would seek them out would be to destroy them... I do buy my kids' ones, though - they're pretty cheap and come with a picture of the whole class, though. And I want to have some pics that I can make fun of when they are older...

  10. It's a long time since I bought school photographs, then I felt oblliged to. Now my grown children hoot with derision when they look at their former selves. I think they like to have class photos, it is fun to see what everyone else looked like, but my offspring much prefer the family albums. They are often hauled out of the cupboard and shown to new frineds and partners. Now all I need to do is sort out all the digi ones from the last 8 years! And I won't be insisting on receiving school photos of my grandchild(ren).

  11. Hi Florence,

    I just came across your post! Thank you so much for reviewing my book. I love that you made a stitched portrait of your daughter (the example in the book is of my little boy!).

    Your comment about school photos made me think they might actually make good starting points for stitched portraits!! :)

    I would love to hear if you try any other projects. Thanks again.

    Sania Pell

  12. My mother has only one photo of me as a baby, I find this quite odd as I am 42. But aside from that I have never bought my children's school photos either as they are too staged. I am lucky enough that I take good photos and have loads of lovely pictures of them! so if you can they are so much better.


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Florence x