Made By Mrs M

Commissions for Christmas

Kate Marsden

Yes, I know it’s early to start talking about Christmas… but commissions take time so I thought I’d better get in now to let you know about last orders!

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House portraits and other commissions were very popular last autumn. My last order date this year will be Saturday 1 December, however I will bring this date forward if I get particularly busy. So if you’ve been thinking of commissioning me now may be the time!


As well as the house portraits, I can make pretty much any item you see on my website or Etsy shop as a custom order - this includes fabric designs and new colourways for existing designs. If you see something you fancy do drop me a line!


The lead time for most commissions is usually 2-3 weeks however this may extend as I get busier over the coming months. If you’d like to chat before placing an order please let me know!

You can order your house portraits over in my Etsy shop and see my full portfolio here.

Autumn Workshops

Kate Marsden

We're all in back to school mode now, and the leaves are starting to turn too! If you're anything like me you find yourself itching to try something new in the autumn, and now's the time you fancy booking yourself onto a workshop!


I have a number of dates for my lampshade making and English Paper Piecing patchwork workshops this autum, and the first is this coming weekend! All open for booking now as follows:

15 September 2018 - Lampshade Making Workshop - Love Art - Tooting - BOOK HERE

29 September 2018 (AM) - Beginners Patchwork/English Paper Piecing Workshop - Creative Happy London - Camberwell BOOK HERE

29 September 2018 (PM) - Lampshade Making Workshop - Creative Happy London - Camberwell - BOOK HERE 

20 October 2018 - Lampshade Making Workshop - Creative Happy London - Camberwell -BOOK HERE

10 November 2018 - Beginners Patchwork/English Paper Piecing Workshop - Creative Happy London - Camberwell - BOOK HERE


This is the last set of dates for 2018 so get booking! If you're interested in any other types of workshop do let me know and I'll see what I can do when I plan the schedule for the spring.

Hope to see you soon!


Holiday Sketchbook

Kate Marsden

Just over a week ago we returned from our holiday in Lanzarote. It was the second time we'd visited and I decided that on this occassion I really would make an effort to keep a sketchbook. I took it more seriously than usual, packed my watercolours and told people I'd be doing it... so I did!

Here's a very image heavy post featuring every page! I'm being brave... as you'll see some things were more succesful than others but I think it was a good experience, and as ever with a sketchbook it's generated lots of other ideas.


Weaving at The London Loom

Kate Marsden

I discovered The London Loom a few months ago when they did a pop up community weaving event at Boxpark in Croydon. I picked up one of their postcards and discovered that they ran workshops using floor looms - which I'd never used before. I kept on thinking about it and in the end decided to book myself in for a 5 hour weaving session as a birthday treat.


The London Loom is based at Hackney Downs Studios which to be fair is a bit of a schlep for me travelling from south London (just over an hour and a half each way) but it was worth it. Brooke got me started off on the loom and I was hooked within minutes. The studio contains a mouth watering array of yarns which you can choose from - I settled on a colour pallet before I started though so I didn't end up with a mess!


I definitely went for more of a freestyle approach than the other weavers that day! I have a bit of a thing for roving and had to insert lovely little lumpy bits every few rows... I also kept on working for the full 5 hours without a break - always one to get my money's worth!


I knew I'd produced quite a large piece of fabric, but I didn't realise just how substatial it was until it came off the loom - it measures 1.75m! It's going to become my winter scarf so expect to see lots more pictures of it over the coming months.


The London Loom run several different workshops and you can find details here. I now need to resist the urge to book in every week!

New British Buildings Prints!

Kate Marsden

My A-Z of British Buildings series continues and all the the drawings I've produced so far are now available to order as giclee prints! A few examples are shown below. Head over to my Etsy shop to see them all.

A quick reminder that I'll be taking a break over the next week or so, and all orders will be processed on Saturday 25 August. Thank you!

S is for Sheffield  (Park Hill)

S is for Sheffield (Park Hill)

O is for  Oxford

O is for Oxford

Summer Sale!

Kate Marsden

It's sale time! I'm having a bit of a clear out before I start work on new things for the autumn, so there's currently 25% off a wide range of items in my shop, including these hand painted fabric panels...


And some fat quarters...


There's also an additional 25% off all clearance items, meaning that prints now start from just £5.25 each!


So head on over and grab a bargain! The sale continues until Friday 31 August. Please note that all orders placed after lunchtime tomorrow (14 August) will be processed on Saturday 25 August. Thank you!

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2018

Kate Marsden

Last week I took the small boy off to this year's Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. I had high hopes for it this year as it was curated by Grayson Perry, and it certainly didn't dissapoint! Here are some of my favourite images from the day - I took a lot... some are here because I loved the artwork and others because they made me laugh (the Sootys for example - I have one just like this from when I was little!).

The 250th Summer Exhibition continues until 19 August - more details here.


Edward Bawden and a bit of Lino Cutting

Kate Marsden

Anyone who's visited my house will know I'm a bit of a fan of Edward Bawden. So when Dulwich Picture Gallery annouced their current exhibition, I was there booking my tickets straight away!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Edward Bawden he was an illustrator, printmaker and commercial designer - paticularly well known for his mid-century posters and book illustration. You'll definitely recognise his work if you see it.


The exhibition is heaven for Bawden fans, with the largest collection of work spanning his whole career which has been seen since his death in 1989. If I hadn't had an 8 year old with me (who to be fair to him was pretty taken with it himself) I could probably have stayed all day! I invested in the exhibition catalogue (shown above and below) even though I have way too many art books, but I found the whole thing so inspiring (and photos weren't permitted), and of course as I said, we're fans anyway!!


I came away with lots of ideas, but the first was a burning desire to cut some lino! I cracked on with this a few days after we visited, partly because it took me that long to find my tools and the one piece of lino I knew I'd saved somewhere...


This unusual looking piece (some people have asked whether it's white chocolate!) is an easy cut lino - and it really is. I did come away with a couple of little cuts but no sore hand from carving so I'm pleased past me chose to buy this one!


Inspired by Bawden's floral work, I decided to make something based on my recent tapestry flowers design. To date I've only had time to make a few test prints but it has been fun and it's also given me some ideas for some of my other work (taking me back to my buildings at last!).


Making the Internet Work for Me

Kate Marsden

The summer is always a really quiet time for me during which I don't sell very much or tend to get any new work coming in. In a way this is a good thing as I also have the school holidays to contend with, and it's useful to use what time I do have to plan for the autumn and reassess what I'm doing, but after the worst period of sales/new work I've experienced since starting my business (and a dead summer season which started 2 whole months earlier than usual) my optimism is distinctly lacking.


Like most people I know I do tend to scroll through social media when I'm procrastinating and I've been doing rather a lot of that lately. For a change I'm not really comparing myself to others as it seems we're all having a really hard time of it at the moment - I wonder whether this, combined with increasingly bleak news, is actually getting me down more than the usual "so and so's much more successful than I am" nonsense. When everyone's struggling, where do you turn?

Now obviously I have the wonderful Just A Card team and all our fantastic supporters - we're all here giving each other a little lift, and I appreciate the opportunity that working on the campaign gives me to stop worrying about the other stuff for a while. But it does feel hard shouting about other people's work when you can't sell your own!

I've been reading a couple of books recently which are making me realise that if nothing else I need a bit of a social media audit this summer. I don't want to be constantly refreshing stuff and getting frustrated when I should be either having a nice time with my son, or using the opportunity of quiet time to come up with something new and exciting.

Matt Haig's new book Notes on a Nervous Planet (shown above minus it's dust jacket because look! It's rainbow coloured!!) talks about how the modern world (and social media/being constantly switched on) is leading to increased rates of stress and anxiety. At the time of writing this I'm just over half way through and devouring every page. I don't think I'm the most extreme example but I definitely find it very hard not to check my phone. Not helped by the fact that I need it on - what if school calls or there's an emergency? And I love to take photos using it (whether for the purpose of posting to my Instagram or not). I discovered when my phone broke earlier in the year that the anxiety caused by not being contactable was so great it far outweighed that created by constant Twitter scrolling.


In The Multi-Hyphen Method, Emma Gannon talks about making techology work for you rather than against you and I think a compromise is called for. When I start my new job at the end of the summer I'll have time each week when I really can't mindlessly scroll through social media, or use it to procrastinate (because when I'm here with my self employed hat on it is work after all!) - and when I realised that this is one of the reasons I'm looking forward to starting the job, I decided to change things now...

I've been looking at social media blocker apps (Freedom in particular is supposed to be a good one and seems to do everything I'd want) but I'm not sure I can stretch to the cost at the moment (as I don't have any money coming in!). I'm thinking I'll need to do it the old fashioned/free way.

Accepting that I'll be more anxious without my phone than with it, I'm going to start using the alarm clock combined with diary reminders to set myself times each day when I will not look at social media. I can check my emails, send and receive calls and texts, take photos if I want to but no Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Let's see how that goes! After all if I were at work every day, rather than working for myself from home, I'd have no choice but to do that anyway. I'm aiming for set times each day and I have the alarm set now as I'm typing this so I can't be distracted!

The plan for the summer holidays then... I'm only going to be writing this blog once a week for the next 7 (I currently blog twice a week - had you even noticed?!!). I want to keep it going because I enjoy it. I'm aiming to schedule tweets throughout the summer, not force myself to post to Instagram every day. I also see this as a good opportunity to question why I keep picking up the phone - am I procrastinating? If I am I need to put it down and get on and do that thing I'm putting off - I'll feel great when I have! Am I bored with what I'm doing? Do I have 15 minutes spare before the school run? Well, why am I bored and is there anything I can change? Why don't I read a book or just sit quietly for 15 minutes making the most of the peace and quiet - like I used to do... I so often say I'd love to have the opportunity to be bored.

Are you completely hooked on your phone or do you already have this all sorted? Any (not too drastic please!) tips for managing time better? I'm hoping any changes I make over the holidays will continue once we get into the autumn. I love the internet and I'm a massive fan of social media (Twitter in particular which has given me so many opportunities over the years) but I think the time has come to start using it better (and most definiely not more!).

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig is published by Canongate, and undoubtedly available in your local independent bookshop! As is The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon, published by Hodder & Stoughton.

And that was Just A Card Week!

Business, EventsKate Marsden

I know I know, it's been nearly a month since Just A Card Week but better late that never?!!

The week was overwhelming and wonderful in equal measure. It was all I could do to keep up with it at the time as it coincided with our annual open studios event, but keep up I did.


Along with many others, I really enjoyed the 5 day Instagram challenge - seeing the number of people involved and reading their comments made me feel rather emotional! This little campaign we've been volunteering for for years actually means something to people and that was a really special feeling.


Not only did Just A Card gain THOUSANDS of new followers that week but I'm sure many more exciting things will come from it for the campaign (Sarah keeps getting asked to go on the radio now so that's definitely a good thing!). The images here are mine from the week, but do head over here to see them all.


We have lots of brilliant new things planned for the autumn, including a bigger and better Indie Friday so do watch this space! In the meantime thank you so much to everyone who took part and continues to support the campaign - you made us all very happy indeed!

New Patterns and a trip to the V&A

Kate Marsden

A couple of weeks ago I headed off to the V&A to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition. The exhibition itself was fab (albeit rather crowded) and as usual at the V&A photography wasn't allowed, so I won't be sharing much of that! What I can say though is that the final room, which contains a selection pieces from her wardrobe is just amazing and the exhibition is well worth visiting if you can.


I made the most of my time there and revisited the Fashion and Tapestry galleries (off which is the Costume and Theatre gallery which I'd somehow never seen before - well worth a trip in itself) and decided to do a bit of sketching. I'm always quite self concious sketching in public as my drawings aren't always great when I feel rushed (and I'm standing up) and people tend to lean over to see what you're doing (or actually comment!) but I decided to just go for it.

I was on the look out for some different motifs to use in pattern designs and somehow ended up really drawn to florals, as well as some bolder abstract shapes in the costume gallery.


In the tapestry gallery (which has THE BEST aircon...) I was drawn to the details in the amazing tapestries (dating from the 1500s) and found these rather wonderful flowers.

Now as is often the way with me, when inspiration strikes I have to just go with it! I turned my drawings into repeat patterns which I coloured to match my current designs and I was really pleased with the results...

Tapestry Flowers Repeat.jpeg
Agapanthus Repeat.jpeg
Costume Repeat.jpeg

And so I decided to get them sampled on fabric. All three fabric designs are now available to pre-order here - they look great alongside my A-Z fabric (if I say so myself!).


I'm also having a bit of a studio clearout at the moment, so do pop over to the shop to grab a bargain. Hopefully once I can see the floor again I'll be able to get on with some new work for the autumn!


Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up is at the V&A until Sunday 4 November 2018.

Mollie Makes Awards 2018

Kate Marsden

I had the complete honour of being invited to attend the Mollie Makes Awards again this year to represent the Just A Card campaign. I joined Sarah Hamilton and our new JAC team member Emily Quinton at the event at The Dead Dolls House in Islington on Monday. Despite the heatwave we all had a great time chatting about Just A Card and handmade and independent businesses generally. It was also a wonderful opportunity to meet more people I've only previously known online in real life!


I'll let Mollie Makes themselves announce the winners, but here's a little rundown of my day at the awards...


We started out with a really fun photowalk  - I haven't wandered around in Islington for years, so this made a nice change. Also a chance to catch up and get chatting to some new people! 


Then back to the venue for a great talk about self doubt from Sas Petherick. My main takeaway being that if David Attenborough has self doubt, I'm in a pretty good club!


Lunch was gargantuon and very nice - an almost bottomless banquet - I heard people making reference to meals at Hogwarts...

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I also had a chance for a really good catch up with Sarah and Emily.


In the afternoon I jonined a macrame workshop with Peas & Needles - had a good time but discovered that macrame is not something I'm naturally skilled at!!


Following that we had a panel discussion led by Yvette Streeter of Mollie Makes, in which Sara Tasker, Elisalex de Castro Peake and Katie Leamon chatted about working smarter not harder - something that resonated with a lot of us in the room!

Then following a closing speach from the wonderful Keith Brymer Jones it was time for the winners to be announced (and for a glass of fizz!).

Congratulations again to the winners and thank you so much to Mollie Makes for giving us the opportunity to attend the event and shout about Just A Card with such a great group of people!


Recent Drawings

Drawing, Fashion, InspirationKate Marsden

I  always seem to end up going off on a bit of a tangent and playing with different ideas in these last couple of weeks before the summer holidays. Probably because business tends to be pretty slow, but at the same time I know I don't have much time left before commencing 6+ weeks of juggling!

This year has been no exception, and last week instead of working on things I actually needed to do (!!) I started a series of little drawings of ladies from magazines, as you do... Not sure if these will lead to anything else but they were certainly fun. Also a nice way to prove to myself that I haven't forgotten how to draw things that aren't buildings!

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New Commissions and a Special Offer

Architecture, Art, DrawingKate Marsden

I spent some time last week working on a couple of new illustration commissions. The first was for a set of three prints at A2 size - the first time I've produced prints at this scale.


Due to the way I work, this presented me with a bit of a challenge. I scan in my black ink line drawings and then colour the artwork digitally - however I only have an A4 scanner! So I had the opportunity to find and use another local small business for my scanning!

I'm over the moon with the finished prints which are shown above and I now just need to get them signed and sent off to the client. They're going to be hung as a set of 3 on her stairs and I can't wait to see a photo of them in situ.

I've also been working on a standard A4 house portrait. This one is still at the black and white stage while the client decides on her colour choices.


I've been offering a discount on my house portraits during open studios and have decided to extend this offer to everyone until next Sunday 15 July. Order any A4 or A3 illustration here and a 10% discount will be applied automatically.

If you'd like me to produce larger scale images or something completely different, do drop me a line to discuss. I can even put your house on fabric if you like!

Illustration for Uppercase Magazine

Art, DrawingKate Marsden

Those of you who've been with me here for a while may recall that a few years ago I was selected for inclusion in the beautiful Compendium of Craft and Creativity from Uppercase Magazine (sadly now out of print). This was really exciting for me, partly because it was the first time I'd been in a book, but also because I love Uppercase so much. It's a thing of beauty, so lovingly put together, and the book was no exception.

Despite this though I've always wanted to feature in the magazine itself, and I'm over the moon to say that one of my illustrations is in the new issue which is out this week!

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The brief was to illustrate your favourite packaging, and while French's mustard is not my favourite thing to eat, I do love the bottle (plus it's yellow of course!) so that's what I chose.


Keep an eye out for it in issue 38 of Uppercase (shown above). I just need to get my hands on a copy myself now...!

Open Studios - continues this weekend...

Art, Events, Exhibition, London, StudiosKate Marsden

The sun was most definitely shining on the first weekend of Carshalton Artists Open Studios! Despite competing with the football and a local music festival we still had a good time.

My set up...

My set up...

Claire Chandler's gorgeous studio

Claire Chandler's gorgeous studio

We'll be back for more this coming weekend 30 June/1 July and Claire will be hosting a slient auction in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association - you can bid on all sorts of fab stuff - and I've donated a space on a lampshade making workshop.

I have a wide range of new items and old favourites available at the open studios, including a few bargains,  so do pop by and see us if you can! I'm popping up at Claire Chandler's studio - 133a Stanley Park Road, SM5 3JJ - we're stop 14 on a trail of 20 so there's plenty to see and do (and something for everyone!). See all the other artists and events here.

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In the Sketchbook - Playing with Paper...

Art, Inspiration, Paper, SketchbookKate Marsden

I've fallen off the sketchbook wagon a little over the past couple of months, but I was having a tidy out ahead of open studios (which continue this coming weekend folks - details here!) and in the interests of not wasting stuff I started making some little woven paper collages with old bits of work I'd kept hold of "just in case"...


It was quite interesting putting pieces of work together which were never intended to be! I've been doing a little weaving with yarn recently too, but I'm thinking of signing up to a weaving workshop using a loom - either The London Loom or maybe at The Fashion & Textile Museum - do let me know if you have any recommendations!


Open Studios - This Weekend!

Art, Events, Exhibition, London, Products, StudiosKate Marsden

We're nearly there! I've had such a busy couple of months and Carshalton Artists Open Studios has definitely come around very quickly this year... I'm looking forward to seeing lots of familiar and new faces this weekend and next!

I'm finally getting close to being fully prepared (sort of anyway!) and I thought I'd share some of the new things you can expect to see from me...


I will have three of my little zines available to purchase, including my new lavender coloured booklet about Wallington and Carshalton, which I've made especially for the event.

I also have new colour ways of some of my most popular prints and have restocked the Carshalton Ponds prints which sold out last year.


Prints will be availiable framed and unframed.

I've a new sign, and I have some unique one off monoprinted fabric panels for sale.


In addition to this I will have all of my usual bits and bobs, including fabrics (and my brand new designs as well!).

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Don't forget that I will also be a pick up point for Just A Card shop window stickers like the one show below. So if you have a shop or gallery based in London or the South East come and see me!


Carshalton Artists Open Studios runs this weekend and next - 23/24 June and 30 June/1 July and locations will be open from 11-5 each day. I will be at stop 14 on the trail; 133a Stanley Park Road, SM5 3JJ with Claire Chandler and Marie Ratnam. For full details of all the artists involved head to the Carshalton Artists website.

The First Patchwork Workshop and Dates for the Autumn...

Craft, Events, London, Sewing, Textiles, WorkshopsKate Marsden

Last week I hosted my first English Paper Piecing patchwork workshop at Creative Happy London and it went really well. Here are some photos of the session...


As EPP is a slow, hand stitching technique, the aim was for each of the attendees to get started on their first piece of patchwork and go away with all the skills they need to continue with it on their own at home. People planned a range of items with their patchwork including cushions, pin cushions and of course quilts!


I will be running this workshop again on Saturday 29 September and Saturday 10 November. Bookings for both sessions are open now.

In the afternoon I taught my popular lampshade making workshop...


My next lampshade making workshops are on Saturday 15 September (in Tooting), Saturday 29 September and Saturday 20 October. Again, all open for bookings now.

Orla Kiely - A Life in Pattern

Exhibition, Fashion, Inspiration, London, Pattern Design, Review, TextilesKate Marsden

Like many people I ADORE Orla Kiely... I'd been excited about the exhibition at London's Fashion & Textile Museum ever since I found out about it last year and I booked my ticket months ago!


And I'm pleased to say it didn't dissappoint - the only alarming thing being the realisaton that I've owned rather more Orla Kiely things over the past 20 years than I'd realised (my poor bank balance!).

The exhibition is something of a visual feast and anyone with an interest in fashion, or pattern will just love it - I even had a turning a corner and gasping moment, which was nice (I won't spoil that one for you!).


The designer's whole career is covered in the stylish, colourful and exuberant manner you would expect - I didn't know which way to look. If anything I came away having fallen for her work even more.


Upon leaving the exhibition the shop is almost impossible to resist, as I'm sure you can imagine!

Orla Kiely: A Life In Pattern is at the Fashion & Textile Museum in London until 23 September 2018.

This is not a sponsored post.