Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Pip McCormac

Entering the Momiji Couture Contest is a chance for you to get your work in the hands of some pretty fabulous folk from the world of design, fashion and textiles. Stay tuned over the coming weeks for interviews with some of the faces behind the contest; we'll be chatting with them about their lives, their careers and what they'll be looking for in the winning entry.

First up is Pip McCormac of The Sunday Times Style. We had a chat with the man responsible for the glossy pages of our favourite Sunday brunch-time reading.

Did you always know you wanted to work in design?
No – when I was very young I wanted to be a bus driver as I thought it would be a good way to always be meeting new people. Then I wanted to be a chef because I love eating, and finally I fell into writing about design because I just love a good cushion and I’m not fierce enough to write about fashion!

Where are your favourite places for shopping in London?
I love the atmosphere of Marylebone High St. It can be a thriving Saturday afternoon just five minutes walk away on Oxford St, but up there it’s always calm, serene, and gentle. Plus there are some great pubs and restaurants to end up in.

Do you collect anything?
Dust, mainly. My house is full of things that I love that I really don’t have space for, but that I’ve picked up over the years and can’t bear to part with. Candlesticks, vases, weird little horse-shaped ornaments….I’d love to be all minimalist, but I just couldn’t manage it.

What have you learned this year?
How to trust my instincts when I come to work. If I instinctively love a group of random objects, chances are they’ll look good together on the page. Of course, that could just be because there are geniuses working on my Art Desk.

What advice would you give to those beginning their design careers on how to promote themselves and their work?
So many young designers are pro-active these days – I often get emails from recent graduates with images of their work and a mini-bio. I’m so deskbound a lot of the time that I often have to rely on people to come to me. Of course, shows like 100% Design and Tent are great to be involved in, as it’ll get you massive exposure almost instantly, from both the press and the buyers.

What’s the hardest thing about your job?
Keeping on top of all the press releases and information and bits of paper that constantly threaten to overrun my life! I long for a paperless working system. Or even a filing cabinet would do nicely!

What’s your favourite part?
I love it when I put something on the page and then get a call from the stockist the next day saying they’ve already had a ton of orders. I know that my job isn’t exactly something that would lead to sainthood, but I figure that most people don’t have time to trawl every shop and website looking for the perfect vase to fill a spot in their living room, so I like being able to do that for them.

What possession could you not live without?
My Sky+ box. I love television, and I love being able to watch what I want, when I want. I’m about to go on holiday next week and freaking out that it won’t have enough memory left to record all the shows I’ll be missing, and I just can’t face deleting all those episodes of Property Ladder currently clogging it up. I do know some people would find this embarrassing to admit to, but I don’t think there’s anything shaming in talking about what brings you joy. And yes, I do know it’s only TV!
Friday nights or Sunday mornings?
Friday nights! I love the promise of the weekend stretching ahead of you. I’m usually far too hungover to function on a Sunday morning.

What will you be looking for when you’re judging the Momiji Couture Contest?
Bright and interesting use of colour. I like seeing palette combinations that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of. I’m all about the bold and the beautiful.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Returning Dolls

As you'll all know, the top ten entries will be exhibited at Royal/T in LA. We're still fine tuning dates for this but we'll let you know as soon as we can. We have received a few emails from people asking if and when their doll could be returned to them. The terms of entry currently state that dolls cannot be returned however we've been giving this some thought and have come up with a new solution. We will keep the dolls until the end of 2010 to allow enough time for exhibiting them. After this time, if you would like your doll to be returned if you can send us the stamps or postage fee we can get it sent back to you.

Hope this helps. If you have any questions just drop us an email to and we'll get back to you.
Thanks so much for your entries so far. Keep them coming!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Amanda Fatherazi

Taking craftsmanship, traditional embellishment, and embroidery to a whole new level; Amanda Fatherazi's exquisite dolls stopped us in our tracks. In total awe of her talent, we asked her if she'd tell us a little bit more on how she does it.

Your work has such finesse and flair! Tell us about your creative process - how do you start out making a new doll?

Thank you! I naturally find myself inspired by bygone eras, the sense of style and general aesthetics, which is the common thread throughout my work. The details of each project depend on whether it's self-initiated or I'm working with a client. Whichever it is, I usually begin with sketches and put together mood boards of suitable fabrics. Hunting for vintage fabrics is what I love and sourcing these is a pleasure to me. Once I'm happy - and the client - is happy with the design then I'm ready to start...
Do you find yourself giving each one a characteristic and story as you make each piece or are you more focused on the style and aesthetics of the doll?

To me, style and aesthetics are the most important factor although I do try to make each one unique. A doll may start off with the same face shape or body parts/pattern but due to the nature of fabric I find the character emerges as I'm working on her and her features develop.
Do you have a specific space where you work or are you able to create wherever you are? I usually work from my studio at home as it's well lit and my tools are at hand. Also because the dolls are usually quite large (approx 30 inches) I need quite a big space to work on them.

You’ve created dolls for some beautiful stores. Why do you think that grown up girls still have such a passion for dolls?

Dolls are part of every girl's childhood so I think there's always going to be an emotional connection. As with the original French 1920s boudoir dolls I try to evoke a sense of glamour, and what girl doesn't like a little glamour in her life?

Have you ever made a doll that you simply couldn’t part with?

I find it difficult to part with all my dolls because each one is unique and the time it takes making them. However, I have one which I won't part with although she earns her keep as a sample to show potential clients!

What would be your advice for people entering the Momiji couture contest?

Add as much of your own flavour as you can and have fun.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Supermarket Sarah

It's starting to feel a bit like Parkinson around here with all these interviews. We love them though, so here's another with the one & only Supermarket Sarah. We've been thinking about creative spaces; the areas of people's homes and work places that they devote to making and customising stuff. Sarah has taken the bold step of turning her living room into a shop. By mounting her ever-evolving collection of vintage fashion and customised objects onto a wall in her home, she's created a clickable homepage for her website

We had a chat with her about how it all came about.

You’ve left the corporate world behind you and set up your amazing shop. Have you found that a change in your working environment has had a change on you?
Yes I feel 100% me, which is amazing but also quite scary.

Do you ever struggle with the fact that you don’t have separate home and work spaces?
Yes definitely I find it’s very difficult to separate between work and play. My boyfriend has banned me from spreading into the living room. At one point we were falling over Antlers and Clothes in the hallway! Blogging is addictive and very 24 hours so I’m trying to find a balance and not to geek out continuously! I love doing Portobello Market on a Friday as it gets me away from my computer and out into the real world again.

Do you create or customise any of the pieces in your store yourself?
Yes there are several Supermarket Sarah specials!
Your wall of wonderfulness changes frequently – what inspires each theme?
Sometimes the items I find inspire a wall and sometimes the other way round. Colour just seemed like a fun, aesthetic way to do it. The walls are also now becoming topical. We have a fashion week wall (Guest curated by Fred Butler) and we will be doing an Art wall in combination with Frieze Art fair etc....

Lots of big stores on our high streets are struggling at the moment. Do you think we’ll see resurgence in independent retailing?
Yes I think people are quite sick of homogenous brands that all look the same. I think there has been a recent resurgence in authenticity and a trend away from the ‘BUY BUY BUY’ mentality. I think people want to learn to treasure things again and not just keep buying new things all the time. The way we are marketed to we have this inner urge to buy new things with every new fad but with an economic downturn I think people are trying to understand new ways. Its not about being super organic and expensive necessarily but just unique and with personality.

What are your favourite blogs?

We love that each item in your shop comes with a personal story – that’s part of the thinking behind the couture contest, we want people to create dolls which reflect themselves and the things they love. What advice would you give to anyone entering the contest?
Just do it! Then think about it.
At college I always found that I thought about things way too much and then never did it. Now I just do, and I think about it later!
Good luck!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Jemma Kamara

We love Jemma Kamara! By day she's helping to make the magic happen at Aardman Animations and by night she's crafting presents and teaching her friends to knit. We were so excited to hear that she's working on an entry for the Couture Contest so we caught up with her for a chat...

Name: Jemma Kamara

Home town: I grew up in Portsmouth and Southampton, I now live in Bristol.
Tell us a bit about your day job...
Well, I’m lucky enough to work for Aardman Animations. I’m surrounded by a whole heap of very talented creative individuals who make beautiful things every day. I work in the Digital department as the Web Production Assistant, which basically means I keep the Creatives organised (Gavin Strange a.k.a. Jamfactory, and Dan Efergan, our Creative Director) and dabble in the production of little websites and flash games. I do feel very privileged indeed, and there’s rarely a day that I don’t look forward to going to work (cheesy I know!).

Lots of people enjoy crafting in their spare time as an escape from a not-so-creative day job but you spend your days surrounded by creativity! Do you get inspiration from the people you work with for your crafting projects?
I think it would be hard not to be inspired where I work, but mostly I feel very humbled. My work always seems quite mediocre compared to everything I see around me! Seeing the props and models for shows such as Wallace and Gromit and Timmy Time is incredibly inspiring, and closer to what I do. You would not believe how beautiful the props are in real life, and all of them are handmade to the most intricate level of detail. Above all though, working in a creative digital team, I get exposed to beautiful things all the time from jawdropping light displays from the AntiVJ's to gorgeous goco prints from Peskimo, to the latest treats cirulated on Twitter.

Tell us about stuff you’ve made recently...
In preparation for Winter, I’m working on long mitted fingerless gloves, inspired by the Twilight Bella Mittens that are doing the rounds in the knitting world at the moment. They're made out of this gorgeous rustic tweed that I found in Truoro. I couldn't find a pattern for what I had in mind so I've modified a basic glove pattern and added a cable plait that runs up the front of the mitt.
This baby jumper was a gift for my friend soon to have her first baby. I chose quite a dark teal colour: I'm not a subscriber to the pale blue/pink/lemon colour pallette that babyknits seem to always be in. The jumper has lovely little wooden buttons with black polkadots and a moss stitch band around the collar and cuffs - my favourite stitch, I love how sturdy and textured it looks.
I’ve also recently made a knitted cupcake doorstop, filled with pennies in a plant pot for extra weight.

I sell my sock monkeys to friends and colleagues: the most recent of which was made as a birthday present for a 4 year old, although his mother very swiftly commandeered it as her own.
Are you completely self-taught or have you ever taken courses in crafting or sewing?
My Nan taught my brother, my sister and myself to knit when we were younger, mostly to keep us occupied when we went to stay, but I didn’t pick it back up until a couple of years ago. We would also play with my Nan's huge collection of buttons, that interest has never waivered, and now I have my very own extensive collection! I decided I wanted to learn to knit again a couple of years ago when a friend showed me a Kimono she had knitted herself. From there I had a beginners knitting book and I taught myself the basics; anything I didn’t know how to do I learnt from blogs and online videos. I'm still quite an amateur when it comes to sewing but I'm constantly trying to make things I don't know how to, and so I make myself learn pretty quickly.
Have you finalised your design for your Momiji doll? Where are you finding your inspiration?
Haha, no actually! I have lots of snippets of ideas but not a single cohesive concept that I'm happy with yet. Although I have started to collect supplies (although in all honesty, the contest has given me an excuse to buy pretty things for my stash). The ideas I've had have been inspired by many things, from my favourite fashion trends to the print on a piece of vintage fabric I've found. Too many to decide on what to go with, in fact!
Are there any areas of crafting that you’d like to try but haven’t got round to yet?
Oh yes, so many. Closest to my own skills I guess would be embroidary, dressmaking and upholstery, but I'd also love to work with metal, wood and ceramics. I love the delicacy of working with fabric, but there's something very appealling about the more rugged, industrial crafts as well. In fact there is little in terms of crafts that I wouldn't want to try (bar modelmaking, I admire this greatly from afar but am very clear that I have absolutely no skill in it myself!)

How often do you sew? Is it something you have to do every day or do you start projects sporadically?
I knit pretty much every evening, and will usually start a new project within a day or two of completing the last one. I feel a bit useless and wasteful if I'm not doing something with my hands, I can't just sit and watch a film without sewing or knitting at the same time. I always finish a project before starting the next as well; I'm an impatient crafter, I want to see the end result as quickly as possible. Most of my projects are intended as gifts, so what I make is really dependent on the next birthday, newborn or housemove.
Im gradually converting my colleagues into knitters so we get together and knit most lunchtimes. It's very satisfying to teach another person your craft, I feel like a proud mama when they come in to work and show me their progress!

What are your favourite blogs?
I have many favourite blogs, from craft to fashion, design to food. So to name but a few: So Tread Softly is a beautiful, gentle blog that always calms me when I read it. I love the fashion blog from Susie Bubble she has such incredible style. There’s excellent taste over at and typography porn at My favourite food blog is Delicious Days gorgeous, inspiring and very well written.

And your final word? Thanks Momiji HQ for letting me blabber on, and good luck and happy crafting to all those taking part in the Couture contest - I can't wait to see the final pieces.

Friday, 4 September 2009

The Countdown

The closing date for your entries is October 30th...which means you've got about 8 weeks to complete your masterpiece. For those of you in the USA we wanted to let you know that we've now created an additional mailing address over there so your doll will have a slightly shorter journey! All the details are in the How To Enter section of the couture site.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Sew-It-Yourself Revolution

According to Grazia, sewing machine sales at Tesco are up. Our favourite fashion weekly tells us that the superstore sells two machines every minute, which is an increase of 198% on this time this year.

This is a great example of good stuff coming from the "current financial climate" (although it does seem a shame that the big supermarket chains even get a bite of profits generated by the wholesome world of crafting.)

In our next post we'll be looking at crafting spaces - the corner of your home you devote to getting creative. If you'd like share your sewing zone with the world then drop us an email to and we'll be in touch. Especially if you've got a sunny orange sewing machine like the one above! Bet you can't get those in Tesco.

Image via Ramonah