Using fabrics in Outdoor Spaces

Outside dining areas – ways to create an alfresco setup in your garden

Outside is where we must all meet for the next few weeks: in our gardens, parks or picnics in the countryside, so let’s deck them with colour, put on our coats and get on with it!

Studies show that eating outdoors is good for us in every way. Reduction in heart rate, blood pressure, lowering stress hormones and easing muscle tension are just some of the proven benefits of time spent outdoors. It can even boost your mood and improve attention, memory and concentration.

As warm weather arises, outdoor dining is immediately on the menu and is the safest way of entertaining this summer. Create your own al fresco dining set-up.


Some of you may have noticed I have stopped selling oilcloth.  This is because of the terrible environmental impact of PVC – the essential raw materials for PVC are derived from salt and oil.  While all plastics pose serious threats to human health and the environment, few of us realise that PVC is the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics. Since safer alternatives are available for virtually all uses of PVC, it is possible to protect human health and the environment by replacing and eventually phasing it out altogether.

BUT all is not lost…you can use my linens for tablecloths…just be ready for the cloth to lose colour and shrink a little with machine washing, making it look wonderfully vintage and French.

In the photographs below see how the pinks and yellows look particularly wonderful amongst the greenery…and what’s more a tablecloth can make the oldest, least attractive table look great!


LEFT: Cow Parsley in Saffron and Charcoal. MIDDLE: Pretty Maids in Damson and Winter. RIGHT: Pretty Maids in Saffron and Winter.


LEFT: These fabrics are discontinued but I just love this photo…the Aylesbury ducks have been discontinued too! MIDDLE: Acorn and Leaf in Cranberry.

RIGHT: Beautiful parasol which was made for us using discontinued fabrics but we do have some left…

Shepherd’s huts

The shepherd’s hut, sometimes known as a shepherd’s wagon, has been in use since the 16th century, mainly in the UK and France…As you might have guessed from the name, the main use of the hut was by shepherds and farmers as a practical place to shelter and stay over whilst raising sheep and guarding flocks.

A shepherd’s hut had space for a pot belly stove, intended for basic cooking and warmth, a bed and sitting area. There was usually a corner cupboard for bare essentials and veterinary medicines. The bed would often accommodate space underneath for unwell or orphaned lambs. More recently they are used as artist and writers studios, spare rooms and you will often find one on the ever popular ‘glamping’ sites.

A few years ago we decorated one for our photo shoot, going for the light and airy look, painting all the inside an off-white and using airy unlined curtains with tie tops in Teal and Winter Pretty Maids.


LEFT: The shepherd’s hut decorated for my photo shoot. We filled it with blue and green fabrics. The quilt is made from Stockholm Stripe on one side and Pretty Maids in Teal and Winter on the other.

MIDDLE: Fresh flowers always bring an indoor space alive. Cushions with frilled edge make the shepherd’s hut more romantic!

RIGHT: This simple tie topped single curtain lets in the light whilst providing a little privacy. We made some foam cushions as well as feather filled ones.. useful for extra seating.


LEFT: My hens came to help us! RIGHT: Tie tops on a simple piece of painted dowling. To help the curtain to glide open and closed we rubbed wax from a candle over the wooden dowling.

This is Jo, she was an artist in residence in my house at the time of this photoshoot. She is a very talented potter and did actually live in a van! I made her a skirt from Pretty Maids and a daisy chain for her hair.

Rejuvenate your old deck chairs

A fun project…make sure you use two layers of linen to make it strong enough to sit on, or else line your chosen linen with another strong fabric. You can use these stunning director’s chairs inside as well as outside and even take them with you in the car for stylish picnics…but don’t leave them outside overnight!


This is a clever customer who has renovated some broken vintage deckchairs and really done a fantastic job. Here on the right is the ‘before’ – useless and looking for help!


Stockholm Stripe and Pretty Maids adorn this old chair and table. A double sided top which just slips over the wooden frame.

In the winter I use these directors chairs (in my discontinued Nature Study). Two pairs of smart curtains sit side by side made from Stripe and Dash in Stone, Duck Egg and Denim.

Try our bespoke, fabric covered armchairs for something sturdier and to refresh your lounge.

Breathe new life into your old summer house

This old Somerset summer house (bottom left), is revitalized with a width of Handprinted Stripe hung on battens on the back wall and a melee of warm and inviting cushions on the old wooden benches.

The doors can be kept open for air to circulate so you can shelter safely inside with your bottle of wine, supper and friends!

Make a play tent for the children

We constructed a homemade tent using 5 bamboo canes and some rope and hung a string of festive bunting between the trees (so, so easy to make), giving the garden a party feel.  Add in a quilt or two and a few cushions to make it a cosy place for children to play in and rest too.


LEFT: Warm and welcoming refurbished old summer house.

MIDDLE: Fresh cushions and a quilt from my Scandinavian Woven Collection.

RIGHT: A frivolous and fun children’s play tent…


You definitely need some cushions to make sitting in the garden more comfortable…just remember to bring them in each evening. These ones are made from my woven linens and look summery and fresh.


LEFT: All these cushions can be made for you through our made to measure service…

MIDDLE: Lapland Stripe

RIGHT: Safety in numbers…

Making the most of your terrace

This sun canopy was made using dowling and rope.  We anchored the front by tying ropes from the front dowling to the small trees nearby.

We then adorned the table and chairs with a mixture of Duck Egg and Saffron fabrics from my Bohemian Collection. This then became a lovely airy and shady place to sit in the sunshine.


There is something rather magical about this scene…For the Love of Rose, edged in Pretty Maids in Saffron and Winter makes a stunning tablecloth.


Stripes make such good bench cushions, this is Stockholm Stripe in Saffron, Dove & Winter. In this pile of cushions you will see the new flanged edged option we are now offering.

Creating an outdoor dining area in a stable/barn/garage

We made an outdoor dining room in a barn open to the elements on one side.  After much floor brushing, de-cobwebbing and removal of old machinery, paint pots and paraphernalia, we simply hung up a double-sided curtain. This meant that it looked lovely from both sides and reduced the draft at night. Finally we lifted in a table and chairs and added a tablecloth with coordinating cushions.

This barn had a gorgeous old fireplace…but as an alternative you could position a fire pit near to the outside so the smoke can dissipate.


LEFT: After all the clearing and cleaning of this space we couldn’t wait to sit down at the table and light the candles & fire.

MIDDLE: Flop over frill in Simple Ticking Brick and leading edge in Pretty Maids Mushroom and Raspberry really set the For the Love of Rose curtains off. (Both these fabrics are discontinued but are available in many other colours – Pretty Maids, For the Love of Rose).

RIGHT: Double-sided curtain which looks beautiful from both sides…

I love being outside to work in the garden and also to relax on a deckchair…during lockdown my son Ned built us a swing seat out of an old bunk bed, using timber from my old Country Living stand.  It is so very comforting to sit and rock in the sunshine…a soft yet sturdy woollen rug from Solva Woollen Mill adds in some extra comfort and colour too.

And finally, looking back to this time last year when we were scared of going into shops and my passion for foraging was reignited I thought it would be useful to list a few for you to try yourselves…

Eating from hedgerows

For freely available food which doesn’t involve visiting a shop…these leaves can all be found in the hedgerows, gardens and woods at the moment, they are best mixed up with ordinary lettuce leaves to create a delicious salad. You can also add very young ground elder leaves into your salad…reap your revenge!

Lime leaves: The very young, heart-shaped leaves of small-leaved limes are edible. They have a succulent almost sweet flavour which is enhanced once the leaf is covered in honey dew from aphids.

Hawthorn: This time of year, the very young leaves, flower buds and young flowers are all edible. They can be added to green salads and grated root salads. The developing flower buds are particularly good.

Wild garlic: Its leaves can be eaten raw in salads, blanched and used in place of spinach or made into a delicious soup and pesto. They have a mild garlic flavour and are at their best before the flowers appear. The flowers are also edible and can be added raw to salads.

Dandelions:  If raw dandelion leaves don’t appeal to you, they can also be steamed or added to a stir-fry or soup making them taste less bitter. The flowers are sweet and crunchy and can be eaten raw, breaded and fried or even used to make syrup or wine!


LEFT: Dandelion. RIGHT: Lime leaves at the top and Ground Elder at the bottom.


LEFT: Hawthorn. RIGHT: Wild garlic

Keep well and enjoy being outside, I do hope this letter has given you some ideas for your alfresco dining!