a patterned coat

patterned coat

The bus stopped at the lights just long enough for me to focus my gaze; what I saw was a stout lady considering a shop-window full of umbrellas. And what I saw she was wearing was this surprising coat. The elaborate weave and cut, the way she stood, her lisle stockings and ankle boots and fur hat, the very brown-ness of it all, seemed to tell of central Europe – in a second or two my mind made many connections and assumptions and I could almost hear her Viennese accent, like my great aunty Herma’s, as she went in to make her brolly enquiries. 


I’m amazed at the speed at which the mind clicks through many minute messages of  information gleaned in the effort to make sense of things. I often recall that on seeing a tiny torn scrap of a poster hinting at a very buxom lady wearing a red dress my clever little talkative baby excitedly pointed and shouted ‘Ballaya, ballaya’ – his word for balloons! I was, and still am, impressed with such infant visual Sherlock ability.  My eye seeks out pattern of course; the other day while I had lunch with a friend at Comptoire it had its own feast wandering across the restaurant walls which are adorned with lively Lebanese baskets. 

lebanese baskets

The girl I saw later in the street was almost pattern overload!

patterned lady

The shelves at WestElm’s new London store are packed with temptations too and it’s nice to see some of my work coming to fruition there.

west elm bed

From my initial sketches their product design studio has conjured these pretty spangly linen cushions, translating my painted dots into sequins and the lines into stitches – very clever!

west elm sketchwest elm sequin cushion



wreathIt being Christmas I’ve also been on the make at home, so to speak. These wreath circles have been fun to invent by tying, winding and knotting our vintage scraps and feathers. 

spotty horses

And I’m rather pleased with these little suitcases, painted, varnished and lined with one of our prints. Some new spotty horses have been trotting along too; they’ll be available to cheer up the early spring when the new website and shop really will be up and running.

spotty suitcases

It’s taken us longer than we anticipated; meantime, for Christmas thankyous and new year dates there are still some 2014 calendars, cards and other little delights in the existing shop – and the post office’s speed of delivery is second to none as it turns out. Which is lucky as I’ve only just sparkled up my cards and popped them in the box. 

leafy birds glitter

calendar pageTurning the pages of the calendar I’ve already marked in February 6th as the Teacher’s Evening at the Fashion and Textile Museum where I’ll be reflecting on my experience of the current commissioning of textile design. And I’ll be at SIT again this year in May – details of both a talk and a workshop to be announced.

So it only remains for me to wish you all the very merriest of days at Christmas – and if things get tricky and you have the time and inclination you could always follow my 8-year-old self’s advice and make a bird table!

bird table

And a happy new year too!

christmas wreath

Thanks to Alan and Molly

14 thoughts on “a patterned coat

  1. Hi Sarah, read this late due to a trip to India and “recovery” in the country! Hope your Christmas was fun and a very happy and creative 2014 to you and yours! Much love B X

  2. What a stunning splash of your stunning colours & designs as we say farewell to 2013 & welcome to 2014. Your blogs have opened new windows of fun to me so a big ‘Thank you’ Sarah. I’m really looking forward to your new web site …. Wishing you a very relaxing holiday break, Jane x.

  3. With your sharp eye you have in a few strokes conjured up a whole world of possibility and realised it = keep looking and hope to see you early in 2014 and thanks for the lovely calendar, which i shall put up and enjoy throughout 2014 – bravo xx

  4. Happy Christmas and a healthy new year to you Sarah and thank you for sending such wonderful pages to browse through on the gloomiest, and sunniest of days. Looking forward to your new products on line! Jennifer

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