one of our call center reps shared this awesome DIY tutorial for the adorable sleep masks that she makes …these would be such a great gift for friends or an awesome stocking stuffer for the holidays.

quilted sleep mask
2 6”x10” pieces of cotton fabric
2 pieces of 6”x10” cotton batting
matching thread
matching ribbon for ties (36” total)
sewing machine is helpful but project could be done by hand
start by picking out a fat quarter of your favorite cotton fabric, you can use a scrap you have laying around as long as it is at least 6” by 10”.
from your 6”x10” fabrics cut out the shape of a sleep mask. I made my own pattern for it, its not too hard. Practice on a piece of paper and once you get a good size and shape use that for you pattern. **remember to allow 1/4 “ seam allowance all the way around.**
place the front fabric right side up on the 2 pieces of cotton batting, pin and quilt whatever pattern you like. i used diagonal lines to create a box pattern but anything will work! use your imagination!
now cut your ribbon in half to make two 18” ties and position them on the front of the mask with the long part facing in leaving 1 ” overhang over the outside side edges of the mask. i roll and pin mine so as not to sew more then just the one end to the edge.
now place the back piece on the quilted front piece right sides facing, stitch around the edge with a ¼ inch seam allowance leaving 4 inches at the top of the sleep mask open so that you can pull it right side out.
once you are done sewing cut around the stitching to remove the excess batting and then pull the mask right side out making sure all your edges are pushed out completely and flat. ironing at this point does help but not required. now pin your opening closed with the unsewn seam allowance tucked in. sew 1/8” from the edge all the way around the mask. once you trim off your extra threads you will have an adorable, comfy sleep mask!!! :)

not so crafty? you can find these for sale on her etsy site.


people have been buzzing about jersey-based indie/pop band real estate since the summer, but they’re just releasing their debut self-titled album today. while the songs might seem more summer-appropriate (just look at titles like “beach comber” “pool swimmers” “atlantic city” “lets rock the beach”), it’s a great listen at this time of year, especially if you’re missing warm weather and the shore (like me). the album does have an underlying moodiness that darkens it a little bit, but for the most part it’s simple, light and breezy…great for a lazy sunday. i especially like “suburban beverage” and “black lake”. the band, made up of martin courtney, matthew mondanile, etienne pierre duguay and alex bleeker, list paul mccartney, the doobie brothers, kokomo, the boss and new jersey among their influences. also, they’re touring right now so check out their myspace page for dates and to listen to some tunes!

holiday craft swap!

exciting news! we are doing a holiday craft swap! spread a little holiday cheer with a hand-crafted gift from the heart…it can be anything you want, and it doesn’t have to be specific to any holiday. you can make something with a wintery theme, cold weather accessories, something decorative for the home, or just something to make someone smile.
if you haven’t participated in one of our craft swaps before, here’s how it works:
sign up by friday november 27. to sign up, fill out the simple form here with your name, email, and mailing address. people outside the united states are welcome to join, but if you live in the u.s., you can indicate if you do not want to ship internationally. i will match you up with a partner and send you their email and shipping address.
you have until friday december 25 to make a gift and mail it to your partner. we have set up a group on flickr here where you can discuss your ideas and inspiration as you’re crafting, and upload pictures of your crafts when you make/receive them.
if you need some help getting started, check out some of the crafts people made for swaps in the past: 2009 valentine swap, 2008 valentine swap, 2008/2009 winter swap.
so sign up and start crafting! can’t wait to see what people make!

meeshie’s banana bread

another employee here at the home office shared this recipe – her all time favorite, which is her mom’s banana bread recipe. it is affectionately titled “meeshie’s banana bread” (her name is michele, nicknamed meeshie).

meeshie’s banana bread
1/2 cup soft butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 or 4 medium bananas)
1 tbsp milk
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
in a large bowl cream butter, vanilla, and sugar until light and fluffy. beat in eggs. in a separate bowl mash together bananas and milk. in yet another bowl combine remaining dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda). blend dry ingredients into creamed mixture alternately with the bananas.
for bread fill greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. bake on 350 for 1 hr 10 mins.
for muffins fill cupcake wrappers 2/3rds to 3/4ths the way up. bake on 350 for 18-22 mins. (makes about 24 muffins)
let cool ten minutes then turn out of pans and let cool completely.

free people portland’s 1st birthday!

i’m not the only one celebrating a birthday this weekend…so is our portland store!

to celebrate they’re having a party tomorrow, november 14, with refreshments, raffles, and more! they even made adorable gift bags, pictured above, that include handmade hair clips with peacock feathers and satchels made out of free people shopping bags! so cute.
happy 1st birthday portland free people!

november 2009 gift catalog shoot

good morning and happy friday…
take a look at this cute behind the scenes video from our november 2009 gift catalog shoot. this shoot and catalog are extra special because they feature our customers as our models! the girls in the catalog are from our open model casting that was held over the summer.

the song in the video is “hobo girl” by the fruit bats…if you haven’t heard their latest album the ruminant band you should check it out…just sayin.

meet our in-house yoga instructor!

one of the awesome things we have at the free people is yoga! if you don’t do yoga…i highly recommend you try. it’s an amazing workout, and you feel incredible afterwards – body and mind. paige chapman, our in house yoga instructor, shared her experiences with me, including an amazing retreat in mozambique, africa. read on to learn more about paige and the style of yoga she teaches. she also teaches at yoga child on 9th & south in philly.

when did you start doing yoga?
“i started doing yoga in college when i was about 19. i was in the dance company at school and thought it would be a good way to compliment my dance training as well as keep me in shape during the summer.”

why did you decide to be a yoga instructor?

“i fell in love with yoga immediately. since i started, it has brought me so much joy, peace, and an overall feeling of well being. after graduating college, i moved to NY where there was a very well respected teacher training that i could do on the weekends while working full time. it took me eight grueling months – eight intensive three day weekends a month with yoga classes and assignments in between. i joke that i never was more stressed out than during my yoga training, but it was by far one of the best decisions that i ever made. i didn’t actually start teaching full time until i moved back to philadelphia about three years ago.”
your classes are a blend of hatha and vinyasa…can you explain what that means?
“hatha is probably the most recognized style of yoga in america and is what was typically practiced as yoga started becoming popular here in the 60s. i like to think of it as a very classic form of yoga before we got into all kinds of crazy styles, the use of heat, etc. although still challenging, it’s not overwhelming to beginning students and i like the fact that its slower pace allows for concentrating on form and body alignment – rather than just rushing through the poses which can often lead to injuries. vinyasa is more of a flow style, linking the asanas (poses) together with breath and quicker transitions. It gets the heart rate up and therefore brings more of a workout factor to the mat. i like teaching a combination of both so that you feel like you really got the body moving, but there is still the quality of being mindful about your practice. when all is said and done, yoga was created to ready the mind for meditation. i want my students to feel as rejuvenated, relaxed, and as peaceful as possible when they walk out of class.”

i read that you recently taught a retreat in mozambique, africa…what was that like?

“the retreat in mozambique was absolutely incredible. a friend of mine whom i got certified to teach with in new york, married a south african, and set up a yoga studio in johannesburg ( she invited me to teach the retreat with her at a magnificent eco resort on a completely undeveloped coastline in mozambique ( you sleep in wooden bungalows with monkeys jumping on your roof, swim with wild dolphins in the ocean, go whale watching, horse back ride, watch elephants in the distant reserve, and eat local organic food. the combination of the natural serenity of that location along with teaching yoga was quite an extraordinary experience.”
what is your favorite place you’ve travelled to as a yoga instructor?
“africa was hands down the most fantastic and exotic place that I’ve traveled as a yoga teacher. it’s going to be hard to top, but i’m going to try!”
what inspires you on a daily basis?
“that’s such a good question for us all to answer. i would say being in nature (even if you’re in the city – it could be watching the leaves change), kindness from friends and better yet – strangers, and doing what i love to do.”
why do you think more people should incorporate yoga into their exercise routine?
“bottom line, it just makes you feel so good! our daily routines can be intensely stressful and sometimes we don’t even know how much tension we walk around with. over time, it takes a toll. whether you’re a beginner student that’s really tight and stiff or an advanced student that can do all kinds of fancy poses, yoga brings the same benefits: it calms the mind, makes us conscious of our breath, eases tension, brings awareness to the way we hold the body when we’re out in the world, and perhaps allows us to become more mindful – opening our hearts to what’s happening in our lives just a little bit more.”
thank you, paige! i don’t know about you all, but i want to go on the africa retreat…it sounds unreal…