Welcome to the Ex-Official Blog of Writer, Presenter & Crafts Expert Momtaz Begum-Hossain which stopped being active on 31st August 2016.

For more regular updates follow Momtaz on Twitter: @TheCraftCafe Instagram: @The_CraftCafe Vine: @TheCraftCafe Periscope: @TheCraftCafe Snapchat: Momtazbh

For workshop bookings, writing commissions, presenting jobs, craft project designs, or any kind of enquiry email contact@momtazbh.co.uk

Momtaz's NEW BLOG is www.craftandtravel.com

Thursday 30 December 2010

My crafty hen do!

Think pink!

Any excuse to dress up in pink top-to-toe! My hen do was filled with spangle, sparkle and sewing!
I signed my unsuspecting hens up to a 'secret activity' held in Greenwich Market and all they were told was that they too had to turn up wearing pink. (Signs courtesy of my friend Charlotte!...green one indicates I passed my hen do...hooray!)

The secret it revealed!

 The surprise was a 'Fancy Pants' workshop where each hen designed and sewed her own luxury undies!

Pink lady: Miss Libby Rose
It was held at sewing princess Miss Libby's Rose's perfect pink palace and she was on hand to show us all how to make the naughty knickers.

Libby's scrumptious craft house in Greenwich Market is filled with tasty trimmings, fluffy things, sequins, buttons, ribbons, charms, handmade clothes and gorgeous cotton print fabrics...all at our disposal for our pant making.

So much fabric...so little time...
 Despite all the spangly, sheer and saucy fabrics, this spotty number was the biggest hit.

Cutting edge
First up we used patterns to make our pants, to our desired fit from a bigger 'hot pant' style to something a little more 'little'...

Sew good
 Then it was on to the machines to stitch them up!

Ms Charlotte can be seen here against a gorgeous fabric mural made by Libby...hmmm how I want one of those!
Loppy Lou
 Loopy Lou Lou is a dab hand with ceramics and jewellery but took to the machine like a duck to water!

Bless her! Ruky has never sewn in her life, and I must admit I was worried for her, but she clicked with the machine immediately and sped right ahead!

Helping hands
 I spent more time gossiping with the girls than working on my own pants but am pleased to report I put my own craftyness to use by lending a hand replacing bobbins and the like!

Show us your pants!
And here are the girlies showing off their fabulous creations! There was spots/stripes/strawberry print, bond girl pants and very slinky tie up numbers.

Sewing pants was hungry work but luckily we had a vast quantity of vegan cupcakes (which I forgot to photograph) from Ms Cupcake, also found in Greenwich Market.

 Of course one can't make pants all day so come night...we did what every bride-to-be deserves; spending an evening with some hunks...sadly those pictures are censored : )

Thursday 11 November 2010

Officially too busy to blog : (

With my winter wonderland wedding mere days away I have finally found a couple of spare minutes to say I can't believe I'm actually too busy to blog : (
Yet while juggling a full time job, freelancing, and the immense tower of wedding planning, rest assured I have not stopped crafting, quite the opposite! I'm busy making a ring cushion, button holes, flower girl baskets....even my own bridal fascinator but it wouldn't be a surprise if I revealed it all before the wedding. So images to come in 2011!! I'm just going to leave you with a quick snap of some non wedding crafting, I did a couple of weeks ago. I helped my friend Laura sew her first blanket, it's for her brother who has a ginger beard and recently became a dad!
(Btw, the only wedding part of my wedding planning I am revealing is that as part of my 'winter wonderland' theme, I have indeed dyed my hair blue!)

Sunday 5 September 2010

Trip down memory lane

Wow! What a fabulous image! It's taken from a card given to me by my sister, by graphic designer  Tamara who runs Ink and Stylus. It's based on her own machine that is 105 years old! My mum's Singer was her pride and joy, she wouldn't let anyone near it! It saw her through her many years as a home seamstress as well as making her own clothes and repairing ours. 
Her's is very similar to this but came with a huge table that you sit at. It's currently lying derelict but one day I hope to have it in my home, I don't think it works any more but it's still a very special antique. 

Friday 3 September 2010

Sticky situation

I've always had a soft spot for stickers though I thought my older sister was slightly mad when she used to collect the stickers found on fruit - she filled a whole exercise book with them, no duplicates either! But this is possibly one of the most amusing sticker uses I've seen. I recently went on a visit to Eagle Heights (a bird and wildlife sanctuary with an emphasis on eagles) and this is what the visitors do on exit, graffiti a wall with their entrance stickers.
I wonder who went first and how long it's been evolving?
If you've done any good sticker spotting then share your stories here!

Sunday 22 August 2010

Summer crafting highlights

Over the summer months I've been busy spreading the crafty gospel by running an assortment of crafts classes across London for children, young people and adults.

My favourite was the 'boho chic jewellery' course I ran back in July as part of the Greenwich Summer Uni programme which gives young people under 25 the chance to learn new skills for free through a variety of courses.

What I liked about the course is how my students were really inspired by my own work and used my love for bright colours and bling to create their own unique jewellery collections.

The student above became fascinated with acrylic stones and used them to make some amazingly sparkly items! 

Another one of my students who was just 15 created had a natural talent for design and composition and made this beautiful necklace, which I think is so much nicer than a lot of the hand made pieces you get in gallery gift shops.

On closer inspection you can see how she embroidered into each bead to add detail.

This student kept it more simple by adding anything and everything on to ring and earring findings.

On the 'Bollywood Crafts' course my students had the chance to make some of the projects that feature in my book including these gorgeous decorative bowls, handbags, books and photo frames.

One of the fun parts of running the courses was souring the materials. I picked up these rolls of sequin trims for just £1.50 each from Creative Beadcraft - superb value - you get 100m on a roll and if you buy 1m from a haberdashery they normally cost 40p per metre. 

I also ran a textile project over six weeks with mothers from a local school in East London in conjunction with The Women's Library. The project entitled 'My City' was an exploration of each woman's relationship with her local area. 

The best thing about teaching crafts is seeing students produce work they are really proud and getting inspired by their ideas myself! It's been a fantastic summer of crafting but I'm now going to wind down on the teaching front until next year.....come the Autumn, I have some other exciting projects to plan - crafts for my wedding!  

Thursday 12 August 2010

Discovered: boyfriend with crafty genes

I am obviously marrying the right man! He has recently been getting in touch with his crafty side and enrolled on a raku pottery course where he made me two elephants as he knew how much I loved the ones in the Elephant Parade but couldn't afford to get one for me at auction!

Inside they have an amazing sheen, all pearly and magical looking, they join perfectly in the middle to create a whole elephant or can be two separates. 

And for himself he made an amazing pot to keep his porridge oats in. Considering he's not done any clay work since school his talents are truly impressive : )

Monday 9 August 2010

All in one shop!

Yesterday whilst on the way to  friend's afternoon tea party in Bethnal Green, East London, I saw a hand drawn sign that said 'vintage clothes', I followed it down an alleyway to discover a secret retreat which is a bit like someone's house converted into a special 'all in one' shop.
It's part art gallery (current exhibition consists of hanging fabric dolls - pictured), part vintage boutique and upstairs there's a retro 50s coffee shop with sofas and magazines for chillaxing. But that's not all!! There's also a hairdressers offering styling and cuts from £5-£15 - bargain.
A brilliant place to hang out, esp a Sunday afternoon. Exhibitions change regularly - updated on their website.

Well worth a visit, a proper 'hidden gem'! 
Address: Arch 10, Gales Gardens, E2 OEJ. 

Sunday 1 August 2010

What to do with fabric trims!

My swag!
My sister and fellow blogger Tea with Digestives  recently showed off some fabulous trims that she claimed to have bought from £1 a metre in Walthamstow. Intrigued, I went down to the East End market yesterday and discovered a complete treasure trove of sequins, sparkles, rainbow colours, and shelf upon shelf of Indian trims. 
Where to start?
Disguised as a mobile phone repair shop called 'Wool Shop' (although it only sells basic Double Knit yarns), the store on the market is a long corridor of bling! There is soooooooooooooooooooooo much to choose from, you could be there for quite a while!

There are also rows of sequins, crystals, zips, threads and crystallised motifs. 

But what makes this shop so, so amazing, concept aside, is  the price! This sign is totally true! The trims range from 30p per metre to £4.50 for the most spectacular ones, a FRACTION of the price of places like Barnett Lawson Trimming (who as much as I love them, annoying  don't put the price on a lot of their trims and you get a shock at the till) and the overly extortionate VV Rouleaux who for moral reasons (they hike the price up soooooooo much) I will never buy anything from them ever!

As well as sequin encrusted, there are also some gorgeous mirror and machine embroidered choices.

I also bought a selection of jewelled motifs that were £1.50 each.

So now I have all the trims, what to do with them?

Here's my top 10 ways to use fabric trim:

1. Update clothes by sewing trim along the bottom of skirts and trousers, collars and cuffs. 
2. Wrap and glue trims around a wide plastic or wooden bangle to create a fabric covered piece of  jewellery.
3. Decorate the four raised sides of a notice board by gluing trim around it. 
4. Cover a blank canvas in strips of trim to make a piece of modern art. Either use different trims for each strip or create a pattern.
5. Cut off the thin sleeves on a vest top and replace with trim, make them the same length as the original sleeve and sew in place on each side so you can wear your top as before. 
6. Replace a ribbon with a trim on a straw hat. 
7. Tie up presents. 
8. Join strips of trim together with a simple straight stitch on a sewing machine to create a larger square or rectangular piece of fabric and use as one side of a cushion. 
9. Chop up lots of short strips of trim and sew on to the edge of a bag to give it a fringe, especially brings dull cotton shopper to life!
10. Buy a copy of my book 'Bollywood Crafts' it's contains instructions for 20 simple craft projects, most  which all use Indian trims! 

Monday 26 July 2010

Summer fun on a Sunday

 On Sunday I was asked to run a fan decorating workshop at the Geffrye Museum's 'Swing into Summer Family Fun Day'. It was an action packed day set in the grounds of the museum on probably the only green grass in London (since everything else looks like hay at the moment!)

This was the most popular design!
 The concept was to take inspiration from retro wallpaper and textile patterns.

Each participant started with a plain fan which is the best craft item I've come across in ages. They are sold in packs of 12 from Baker Ross and create a lot of cool air, as well as being sooooooooooooo versatile, the possibilities for what to do with them are endless and they are appealing to all age groups! (Plus they are only 40p each! Bargain!)

Fan workshop

This was my set up, in just two sessions over 70 children decorated a fan!! As well as the patterned paper there was felt tip pens to draw with, foam stickers, sequins, feathers, card and gems to add bling.

'Swing into summer'

And while I was busy  making sure the sparkles were topped up, around the Geffrye lawns at the front of the museum was a host of activities including a spoken word workshop, origami, willow sculpturing, stories, herb potting and games. Over 670 people joined in the fun.

Dancing outdoors

And of course with the title for the day being 'swing into summer' there was a live 1950s soundtrack from the Ronnie Scott Rejects and dance lessons from the London Swing Dance Society. As one of my colleagues said to me, it was so great so see all ages dancing with each other.

What would you put inside?

My favourite activity though was the starting off of the Geffrye time capsule to be buried this year and dug up in 100 years time!! The contents will be provided be young people 13-24 (so sadly I was too old to add anything!). It's really heavy and the warning sign below says you can't touch it without gloves!

....maybe I should thinking about making my own one?

Monday 19 July 2010

10p earrings in less than 10 minutes

Kit box
You will need: Two earring findings, two head pins (the long metal sticks), round nosed pliers, wire cutters (not shown!) and a selection of beads.

Introducing the trusty headpins
Head pins are long metal sticks with a circular bottom, which acts like a knot so that your beads don't fall off the end. They easily get bent because they are so thin, start by smoothing or straightening them out as much as possible by easing the round nosed pliers up and down each one. Otherwise you may end up with wonky earrings!

Make them as long as you want!
Now for the fun bit, thread any combination of beads onto the headpin and repeat on two pins so you have an identical pair. Make them as long or as short as you like, just leave 1cm free at the top - you may need to trim the pin using wire cutters according to the length you want.

Get bending!
 This is the most tricky bit but it just takes getting used to, after you've done it once, you will have mastered it! Using the pliers, bend the 1cm end around to create a loop. Hook the earring finding onto the end of the loop and then close the loop by pressing it inwards together with the pliers.


That's it, all done - your new earrings are ready to wear!!
They take less than 10 mins to make (the only slow bit is making sure your loops are rounded evenly but as it's wire it can be bent and unbent as many times as you wish so just keep practising!)

Cost 10p per set......the beads probably don't come to more than 2p, depending on what you use (I used seed beads and faux pearls bought in bulk), the headpins cost 2p each, findings 2p each.
All materials purchased from www.creativebeadcraft.co.uk.

With a crafty project this quick, easy and cheap, you can make a new pair for every hour of the day!

Sunday 11 July 2010

Pakistan's finest fashion label arrives in London

O'nitaa is an exclusive Asian designer fashion store

Last Friday I attended the European launch of Pakistani fashion label Sana Safinaz. Housed exclusively in O'nitaa, near Baker Street, the Spring/Summer collection consists of delicate floaty feminine dresses and designer Sana, one half of the design duo was in store to explain why it's taken them 20 years to launch in the continent and to introduce the stunning garments.

Designer Sana launched the label's first European collection
 Sana and Safinaz are sisters in law and are the biggest household name in Pakistani fashion, setting the trends for the whole country (according to Sana even the UK is 5 years behind their visions.) Their company exists of 450 staff and everything is done inhouse including, designing, dyeing, printing and embroidery. Although their clothes are aimed primarily at Asian women, they cross over to the Western market with ease using thin silks, chiffons, crepe and organze; there is a very English charm about their use of floral patchwork fabrics teamed with pastel colours and lace detailing.

Patchwork and floaty dresses are a signature look
Consisting mainly of dresses, long tops and kaftans, they would fit into a summer wardrobe with ease and the floaty shapes are flattering for all figures. They've conquered their home country and the Middle East so why did they take so long to reach our shores?

Detailed centre panels 
Sana explained it's because they wanted to build up their lines and reputation before they launched rather than coming here as just another label. They chose to be stocked in O'Nitaa first as it's the only designer fashion department store, with garments that compliment theirs. In Pakistan when they launch their new collections, roads are cordoned off and security lined up (think back to the Primark flagship in Bond Street opening with customers getting crushed)...in London, things were more subtle but with designs that are so pretty and appealing it won't be long before they make their impression on these shores. Price wise pieces range from £200-£400 which may sound steep but when you see the clothes in person, they are so stunning - they look as though they are worth so much more. I really recommend popping in and seeing them for yourself, they are gorgeous! As is the whole shop!