Laura Bray is a designer, writer and lifestyle expert. She inspires creative women to live a life of balance & simplicity by sharing her modern twist on traditional home arts. Whether you stitch, cook, are raising children, or just want to be a better housekeeper, you are sure to find great tips and tutorials on her blog.

Creative Nostalgia™ With Laura Bray

Is there a woman alive who doesn’t struggle to have it all? We want to juggle all our roles in life. We want to be a good wife, mother, housekeeper, crafter, and more but time doesn’t always cooperate and we end up abandoning some part of us. All too often, it is our creativity.

My mother once told me of a conversation she had with my great-grandmother (her grandmother). She was complaining to her grandmother about how busy and difficult her day had been. Feeling foolish, she apologized, saying she couldn’t imagine what my great-grandmother must have had to do as a young mother, without the modern conveniences of life. My great-grandmother replied  saying that in her day, there were no washing machines, so no one expected her to get anything done except for laundry on ‘Wash Day’. No easily accessible grocery stores meant that Thursday was ‘Market Day’ and everyone knew that was all that would get done that day.

When my mother told me that story, I experienced a deep revelation regarding my own expectations and how I use modern, ‘time-saving’ conveniences to make myself crazy instead of make my life easier. Didn’t we invent all these machines and gizmos to save time? Instead of allowing us more leisure time, we use them to get more and more done in less time. What if I applied my great-grandmother’s lifestyle, but implemented the use of modern machines? Would I have more time? An experiment was born.

I’ve adopted what I like to call a Creative Nostalgic™ lifestyle. Like my great-grandmother, I do laundry on Mondays. That’s all I expect myself to accomplish. I don’t have to wash anything by hand, so my laundry chores are done in a few hours in the morning, leaving me the rest of the day to play in my studio or go on adventures with my daughter. And so goes my week;

  • Monday is Wash Day
  • Tuesday is Ironing Day
  • Wednesday is Sewing Day
  • Thursday is Market Day
  • Friday is Cleaning Day
  • Saturday is Baking Day
  • Sunday is Rest Day

By the end of the week, everything that needs to get done in the house is completed, yet I’ve had plenty of time to be creative and focus on my other roles as a wife, mother, business woman, crafter and friend. Sometimes, I even implement creative projects that match my day’s chores. If it’s market day, I might sew a few fabric produce bags from vintage curtains to take with me to the grocery stores.

My experiment is working too! I don’t feel overwhelmed. I am able to nurture my family without sacrificing myself and my art. It all started with a short phone conversation between a loving great-grandmother and a wise young mother and, today, I encourage you to listen to the past with nostalgia, and then craft a better future.

To celebrate my visit with all of you on today, I’ve created a little set of embroidery images that embody the spirit of my Creative Nostalgia™ Days of the Week. I used them to create a fabric cover for a notebook for my to do list. They would look darling on tea towels as well!

Click on the image to save and then print the embroidery designs.




Are you spinning every day in the Tour de fleece? Rav group and Flickr group – see all the wonderful spinning that is being done each day. Can you still join in – why not?

{Images from Mary Heather and K_rivera.} [Thanks Kate for the heads up about this – good luck with the challenge!]


I have a lovely quilty crafty neighbour whose children are all grown and who has the most wonderful wall of neatly folded fabric I have ever seen. I love to pop over and share books and inspiration and advice. My quilty neighbour recently lent me a pile of felt applique and stitching books.

Three of the books were by Sue Spargo. Sue is an inspirational and prolific teacher and author and maker. Her work is many layered, dense, tactile and colourful with a folk art feel to it. Sue uses wool quite a lot in her work – wool felt and wool threads for applique and embroidery. Her motifs are simple bird and flower shapes but with many layers of colour and stitching they become this amazing tapestry of colour and texture. One of the books in my pile of loaned books is her latest book is Contemporary Folk (you can see more here). This book – interestingly – is written in both French and English. And the templates are printed in the book at 100% size ready to photocopy.

More woolly things I love:



Experimenting with colour is a lovely meditative and interesting process. It is part art, part science, part cooking and part childhood game. Around Easter time this year the kids and I had a hoot dyeing eggs – and then I continued with my natural dye experiments on wool I had recycled from a fine cream coloured skirt. I have had a long on and off again fascination with dyeing fabric and in fact my mini quilt in Whip Up Mini Quilts is a Shibori Sampler.

Dyeing – either with natural – readily found ingredients like beetroot and red cabbage or with harder to find woodland materials like lichens, moss and plant leaves, or if you want to go use indigo and cochineal or even if chemical dyeing is more your thing – its tricky – fun – and addictive!

How to:

  1. Dip dye clothing
  2. Sweet Paul Magazine Summer has an article on natural dyeing
  3. Dye shoe makeover
  4. Great article at Craftzine on natural dyeing (pictured)
  5. Natural wool dyed table runner


  1. Some clamp and fold experimentation and more lovely experiments here (pictured)
  2. Resurrection fern keeps a dye journal – beautiful and interesting. (pictured)
  3. Abigail has been experimenting with dyeing bracelets. (pictured)
  4. Jude’s onion skin dye experiments
  5. Lichen dye experimentation

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For on-the-go stitchers a spot of embroidery is just the thing. Take along your bag of goodies with you to the couch, to the kids sport, to the dentist and you will always have a little something to keep you busy where ever you are.

Here are some delightful embroidery designs, ideas, patterns and tutorials I have come across lately – for your enjoyment and inspiration:

Download a cute little tree motif design from Lark Crafts for use in all sorts of designs. Found via I write it down – with some very sweet embroideries. Lark has more doodle stitch along motifs for you to try out – including these Woodland children and

Wild Olive has some sweet Tie embroidery patterns (for father’s day) on her blog. And if you go back through her pattern archive you can find lots more great embroidery designs – like this Tea design and this One lump or two. You can also find one of her designs – pumpkin spice latte – on whipup when she was a guest over here. You can grab the pattern for this spring fling design (pictured above) from Sunshine and Carousels.

Article on Cross stitch at the London evening standard. Via Crafty crafty where I also saw this internet sampler and these cross stitch your vote charts from My little stitches. Also you must check out her venetian cutwork rosette of Dilma Rousseff (pictured above). And find out about this cool project too – CR-3D – textiles or codes.

I discovered Denise Litchfield’s vintage fabric softies via Emma Lamb’s blog. Denise’s hand embroidered primitive softies are made with rescued fabric, lace and buttons and vintage feedsack fabrics. While at her blog I found these adorable stitched house brooches (pictured above).

Find lots of free embroidery designs at craft gossip – like this cross stitch flower design from doe-c-doe. And be sure to head on over to Bad birds embroidery pattern section – so much wonderfulness there.

I also love to sift through the Feeling stitchy flickr group and blog where they are running a June stitch-along – quick its not too late to join. You can find some great resources over there too – like stitch tutorials and sorting your needles. Speaking of great sites where you can get heaps of inspiration – make sure to visit MrXstitch (stitch artists and cool things), and Pin Tangle (patterns and tutorials).

So september has some very cute designs with tutorials to help you make them. Like this Pinocchio embroidery pattern (pictured above), her spring in a hoop design and her early Elephant design.

I love this cross stitch orange (pictured), Sublime stitching – totally metal design, this vintage transfers design website, these Entomologie designs (pictured) and available at the whatdelilahdid shop.

If you are now dying to learn embroidery – check out Carina’s e-books and her embroidery tutorials. And this post from Whipup’s archives Your guide to online stitch instructions.