Great holiday reading ideas

A pile of good books for holiday reading is a must for me. During the year when I’m not at work (at my ‘real job’) I’m working on Emma Makes so I don’t have a lot of time to relax.

Christmas holidays are when I really do nothing – I lay about, read a lot of books and nap.

One book I’d recommend adding to your reading list is The Last Days of the National Costume by Anne Kennedy. I’ve only just begun reading this but it’s so great – the main character’s voice is really strong and it’s witty and smart and greatly interesting if you’re a sewer. Here’s a review by the NZ Herald.

When I was at Art School I read Kennedy’s A Boy and his Uncle and it’s stayed with me as a great read. Here’s a few more recommendations of books I’ve actually read this year and rated four or five stars.


Create a romantic summer afternoon


Make your backyard somewhere special.

It’s super easy to make ordinary things extraordinary with a few great props. I think sometimes when we’re busy we focus on other people so it’s occasionally good to just take the time to make something really nice for yourself and this is super easy. Here I’ve set up a relaxing afternoon in the back yard with the help of some Emma Makes products. First, take one blanket: these are easy to find in op-shops although it pays to search for the really good colours and patterns.

Next, top with lots of big cushions – you can use them inside on your couch then pile them all up on the lawn for a comfy afternoon. Find cushions online.

I always like to have lots to read – good books are stacked up by my bed waiting to be read. And I like magazines for mainly looking at the pictures. Oh and a notebook and pencils nearby because once I’m relaxing great ideas flow like water and it pays to note them down.


A notebook and pencils are a must over summer – once my brain relaxes ideas come thick and fast.


Always have good books on hand – I buy mine at independent book shops.

Spring into summer

It’s spring, coming summer and I’m seeing flowers, flowers everywhere! I’m spotting them in all my favourite things. Fashion, baking, vintage china and of course right here on Emma Makes.

I’ve recently added a new range of bags and purses made from handpicked fabrics that I’ve found while scouring some of my favourite little hot spots. You can find them in the Emma Makes store. There are quite a few wee beauties to be found.


I’ve got a crush on powerclash

Image via Pinterest

A while back I wrote a post about bright, clashing patterns. My friend Helen told me that’s called powerclash in fashion and ever since I’ve been really inspired by it.

My friend Ellen? Not so much – she was in the studio with me when I was matching fabrics for some new cotton big bags – I went ahead with most of the crazy anyway because if you can’t be bright in summer then when can you?


These are the straps from my new bags – currently works in progress. I think my favourite is the floral and red stripe but man it makes your eyes crazy to sew it!

Here’s a couple of other great and inspiring powerclashes:

Image via Pinterest

Image via Tumblr

What you do when you shop local #stressfresschristmas

I’m a passionate advocate for shopping local and think it’s particularly important at Christmas when you get to shop a lot.

Shopping local doesn’t mean just handmade it means knowing where things come from – supporting local businesses who then send their money back through your community. Shopping local means you can draw on shopkeepers’ expertise, shop close by and support other people trying to do good things.

When you’re shopping online know where your products are coming from. It’s easy to get hooked into Amazon or big corporates because they’re cheap and easy but those places often don’t have great staff practices, which means someone else is suffering for your purchase. Also, do the maths – if you’re buying a t-shirt for $5 then the shop probably bought it for $2.50 wholesale. It probably cost $1 to make so how much is the person who made it being paid?

There’s  a great article in this month’s Good magazine about just that issue – it focuses on kids toys.

Here’s what you do when you shop local.

Shopping local is about choice, not money. Above all just do the best you can.

A burst of floral

Sometimes people email me and ask for things that are a little less girly, which I can do. But my heart really belongs to floral. Friends will attest to the fact that I can’t go past something with a rose on it if I’m op-shopping. And I really don’t believe in minimalism.

I pretty much wear floral every day so to the start of a new month, here is an unabashed celebration of floral…

P.S There’s a clue in here about the Emma Makes Happy Hour.