What Would They Know? Isabella Armstrong Of Design Me Vintage

by | What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

If you have an aversion to floral bouquets, I have something a little different for you today! We’re honoured to be joined by Isabella Armstrong of brooch bouquet design business Design Me Vintage. Isabella creates unique and different bouquets using antique and vintage brooches. She joins us today to share the secrets behind her craft.

Tell me about yourself? Were you always creative – even as a child? How was that creative streak fostered?

I have always been artistic, and love to paint seascapes in oils and work with clay, sketch and photograph. I am blessed with talented Mum. She taught me from a very early age old-school skills of needlepoint , pattern reading which and made it easy to create things of my own
I am the creative messy type (my husband David is very patient!) I always have ideas bouncing around in my head. And love to spend hours and hours designing. I love blogs, galleries, theatre, texture, nature, all these and more inspire me.

What was the catalyst that started you collecting brooches?

I think the desire and drive to design and create is the catalyst to finding something that satisfied my magpie like tendencies for shiny things, from brooches and buttons to old sewing bobbins. When I decided to start Design Me Vintage all the pieces of my personal jigsaw puzzle came together creating these brooch bouquets. All my urges and dreams feel satisfied!

At what sparked the idea of vintage style brooch bouquets?

I decided to make my own bouquet using my grandmother’s and great grandmother’s big red brooches somehow in my bouquet. I saw some pictures and knew I could take it a step further and add some more unique and sophistication to this gorgeous style.

Where do you source your materials for your bouquets?

I source most of my brooches off shore and predominantly Europe. I find they have a range of wonderful treasures not seen in Australia. I use new and vintage English, Italian and French laces and Duponi silks to work into the design of each bouquet. However I will happily use any thing I can find to enhance a story of a bouquet.

What is the starting point for designing a bouquet? What inspires you?

The majority, if not all of my brooch bouquets are custom orders. A client can contact me with colours and themes of her wedding, or if they aren’t sure of this I spend time with the bride in person, email, or phone about her likes, the things that make her and her H2B the people they are, what elements they might like to include. I like to think outside of the box .

What do you love about designing with vintage jewellery? What is your design philosophy?

Vintage jewelry has a past, a story one which I respect. I love to up-cycle and reuse these treasures to showcase them in a way grandma would be proud. I love inspecting them, sourcing their maker, researching it, and adding it to someone else’s story – it’s a real yesterday’s tomorrow.

Imagine ♥ Believe ♥ Create ♥ Inspire ~ is my personal design philosophy.

To imagine something and believe you can create it to inspire others by the design to feel some connection to it is a gift I wish to always appreciate.

Can brides give you pieces to use from their own collections, or a special piece from a family member?

Absolutely! I love to receive a treasured piece from a bride. I have developed techniques which enable each to be added without damage to their treasures. Some brides ask their family and friends to give them a brooch. This can be a fun and interesting addition to their day.

How is the bouquet best ‘preserved’ after the wedding if the bride wishes to store it?

When a bouquet is ordered from me ~ most buy to display afterwards, however long term storage is recommended in a strong box with acid free paper .

How is the bouquet best looked after, if a bride wishes to display it in her home?

If a bride wishes to display it, it can be displayed in a vintage vase or jar, or laid down and displayed on a dresser. A glass cabinet keeps them dust free and out of direct sunlight. I gently clean them with a damp cloth.

What should brides start with when they’re planning their brooch bouquet? What ideas do they need to present you with?

I provide a comprehensive questionnaire and design brief which I go through with the bride, Each bride is different, some come with lots of ideas, stories, loves, others have colours they are using and are happy for me to design it from that alone. I can work from either end of the spectrum. And love to add as much of their personality as possible. They may like to speak with family members for brooches or treasures to add, invite there bridesmaids and friends to add a brooch or two.

We’d love some tips on how to use your brooch bouquet as a theme throughout the wedding? (How could brides use your brooch bouquet idea from the bouquet, to the reception?)

Brides can use this theme of the brooch bouquet throughout their wedding from having the grooms boutonnière to match, a cake topper, or having a particular brooch or element such as pearls, and running this through to the invitations, place cards, or giving the guests a brooch each of their own as a favour.

What do you love about Australian Brides?

Australian brides (and Grooms) are so imaginative, and are so open to ideas and interpretations. I think Australian brides love and enjoy their family and heritage and are drawn to including vintage and family heirlooms into their day.

5 things a bride must get right?

1. During the ceremony take a moment however small to take stock of it all and your new husband. Take a slow breath, a moment to savor it. It goes so quickly.

2. Collect, collect, collect: Pictures and looks that pull together what you like, this helps you work out your vision for the day glue them in a book. Then you can take it to show your florist, your photographer your, hairdresser;

3. Keep your vows, sometimes you don’t remember them it all goes so fast, re-read them on your honeymoon or another special time you have together.

4. Photographer – get it right the first time. If you want a particular look and style for your day, ensure you see their portfolio. Price for their work doesn’t always reflect the ability and make sure the pictures you envision are shown in their portfolio.

5. Don’t forget to eat! Finger food will help, from the ceremony to the reception it can be a long day. Ask a local café to make a plate up for you ~ they may even deliver it or ask your bridesmaid or Mum to help organize it!

Thank you for joining us today on Polka Dot Wisdom Isabella! If you’re interested in learning more about Isabella’s work, check out the Design Me Vintage website!


Want more? Check out these posts from the archives:

  • Nat @ Dear Little House says:
    September 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    These are really beautiful!

  • Isabella says:
    September 26, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Thank you MS Polka.. for the opportunity. And thanks to LIfe in Images photography for taking these gorgeous pics for me!

  • Friday Roundup | Polka Dot Bride says:
    September 30, 2011 at 10:05 am

    […] This weekend is action packed with a certain polka dot team member celebrating her baby shower!Isabella from Design Me Vintage joined us for her Expert Interview on Polka Dot Wisdom and showcased…Nerida from Nerida McMurray Photography tells us about how rain on your wedding day can make for the […]

  • Cindy Westphalen Wedding Girl App says:
    October 7, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Isabella, what a creative and uniquely gorgeous idea – congratulations! No more worries about which flowers are in season or how to preserve the bouquet after the wedding, just a beautiful memento to keep and display.

    So what do you create for brides who want to do a bouquet toss? A bouquet of silk/fabric flowers or a smaller bouquet like florists do?

  • Kira Bryant says:
    April 21, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    I have ordered a bouquet and button hole through Design Me Vintage and I am unable to contact Isabella Armstrong on any of the email addresses attached to her websites – the emails keep bouncing back to me. My wedding date is drawing closer and I have paid nearly $700 for these items and I am not even sure if they are going to be ready!

    Do you have an email address that I could contact her through? Could you pass on my query? I am very worried as I $700 is a large sum and I will have to organise alternate flowers if these items are not ready for June.

    Thank you for your help!




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