Friday, 22 May 2015

The 3 Hour Dress: Butterick 3349 Vintage Sew & Go

The 3 hour dress: Butterick 3349 Vintage Sew & Go

I made this dress in three hours from start to finish, including cutting out the paper tissue pattern. It's a Butterick 3349, a vintage 70s kimono sleeve pull-over dress from Butterick's fabulous Sew & Go collection. Try this Google search to see more patterns in this range. They're forerunners to the modern Japanese sewing book designs with clean simple lines and loose easy-fit shapes. Instant gratification sewing!

Butterick 3349: Sew & Go

I used a heavy Japanese dragon-fly print cotton which is more subtly beautiful than these pictures show, it has a textured slub weave.

Dragonfly print Japanese cotton

The dress came together rapidly to the amusement of Instagram friends. I made two small changes to the pattern – the turn up cuffs felt too heavy and businesslike for the soft kimono sleeve, so instead I finished the sleeves (and hem) with a bias binding; I also added two small front pockets. I love the fact that it was so quick to make and is comfortable to wear. There will be more of these on the way!

A Sew and Go triumph!

Butterick 3349 details
I sewed and went

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Create It! McCall's M5928 Mix & Match Dress

McCall's M5928 in John Lewis archive print fabrics

McCall's Create It range was a 1990s collection of sewing patterns designed with interchangeable mix and match pattern pieces so that you could customise the design and 'make it your own'. Sadly it looks like the idea didn't take off for McCall's and their Create It line is now out of print. I managed to track down a M5928 Create It dress pattern on eBay though and was excited to give it a whirl.

McCall's Create It sewing pattern

The M5928 dress appealed because it reminds me of Scarlet et Marguerite's Baba Yaga. It has a long, almost medieval front yoke and lends itself to using contrasting fabrics and fancy braid trims. Once made up it's a much more voluminous affair than the streamlined illustrations on the packet suggest. Still a lovely design, but quite different to the drawing on the packet.

I'm very happy with my fabric choices for this one. The yoke and cuffs are in a John Lewis Daisy Chain archive print designed by Pat Albeck. The body and sleeves are another John Lewis cotton archive print called Cummersdale. Both designs were reissued for the store's 150th anniversary last year. I found both fabrics on sale at a discounted price (they are possibly good seconds) at Ditto in Brighton. I finished the dress with some embroidered turquoise braid.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Sketchbook Explorations

New sketchbook by Ivy Arch

One of my resolutions for this year was to start drawing again. I've dipped in and out of drawing in my adult years, attended a few months of life drawing in my twenties, took part in Katie Sollohub's wonderful Creative Journeys Monday morning course in Shoreham-by-Sea, and recently discovered Zen Doodling. However, I wanted to find a way to build on all this and make drawing a habit and an everyday part of my life, just as it is for my prolific ten year old daughter!

Sketchbook Explorations in blue and yellow circles

In January I saw a tweet by Colour Living's Tina Bernstein of some beautiful sketchbook work she'd produced after enrolling in artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon's online Sketchbook Explorations class. A few clicks later I'd signed up for the course too.

Circle backgrounds drawn over with micron pens

It's a four part course which teaches you how to develop a habit of keeping a sketchbook of colourful designs using and combining various mixed media techniques including watercolour, line drawing, collage, brush pens and gel pens. The course is designed to run over four consecutive weeks but can be completed in your own time. I felt that I wasn't ready to move onto a new technique after just one week, so spent several weeks working on each stage, before moving onto the next lesson.

Collaged backgrounds and line drawing

Lisa Congdon is a complete inspiration! Her course has really helped me conquer the fear of those blank white pages in a new sketchbook, and given me a feeling of freedom and playfulness in producing new artwork too. All too often in the past my critical expectations for producing a 'finished' piece of artwork have paralysed the creative process. The beauty of keeping a sketchbook is that every page is an experiment, some explorations will work and some won't. The most successful ones can be used as a starting point for another piece of work.

Moving on: painted background worked over with brush pen, micron and gel pens

The other thing I've loved about taking part in Congdon's online course is that it comes with an Instagram peer group. Students from her courses are encouraged to share their work on Instagram (search #cbugsketchbook and #sketchbookexplorations). I find seeing what other people are producing wholly motivating as well as inspiring.

Sketchbook exploration in paint, brush pens and gel pens by Ivy Arch

I'm now working on my second sketchbook and have subscribed to Creative Bug so that I can dip in and out of their other courses when I want to learn more techniques or just to try a different direction. I've also been invited to exhibit a piece of my artwork in Creative Waves Art on the Pier 2015 exhibition which has opened this month in Worthing. I'll be blogging about the exhibition next week!

Starting all over again... #sketchbookexplorations

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Fledgling Dress: Lisette Portfolio – Simplicity 2245

Fledgling dress by Ivy Arch: Simplicity 2245

Brighton's brilliant budget fabric emporium Fabricland has produced some fabulous fabrics in their Hill-Berg range recently. This bird print Tweet Tweet heavy linen-look cotton is great! It reminds me of a miniature version of a beautiful Minä Perhonen print design. 

Bird print fabric at Fabric Land, Brighton

It's the same type of fabric as the Cake Stand heavy cotton I made a Lisette Portfolio dress from in January, and the weight of the material really suits the Portfolio dress. As before I chose a soft needle corduroy fabric for the neck and sleeve trim but this time made the sleeves a few centimetres longer, so that they finish on the elbow.

Lisette Portfolio dress by Ivy Arch

As an experiment I embellished the small square panel with hand-stitched lines of coloured embroidery cotton.
Ivy Arch Fledgling Portfolio dress

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Quilted Square Coat: Easy Cute Straight Stitch Sewing

Quilted Square Coat by Ivy Arch

Keen to continue on my quilted coat making odyssey, this is a quilted version of the Square Coat from Yoshiko Tsukiori's Japanese sewing book Easy Cute Straight Stitch Sewing. I made a green felt version of this design last year. The Square Coat is minimal sewing at its best, easy to cut out and very quick to make up. For my second attempt at this pattern I added 5cms to the centre front opening so that it would overlap to fasten, and cut out large patch pockets to better suit the wide quilted lines.

Easy Cute Straight Stitch Sewing

I had two fabrics in mind for this coat, a bright turquoise African Wax print fabric gleaned from eBay and a cheap but lovely teal cotton printed with Marimekko-like black flowers from Fabricland's Hill-Berg range. I couldn't decide which to use for the outside but settled on quilting the plainer teal material and using the bold print for the lining.

Late night quilting...
Quilting by night...

I cut out the lining to exactly match the coat pattern (the coat has no facings), sewed up outer and lining separately then bagged out the lining for fast, neat results. I used two large metal poppers as fastenings.

Quilted Square Coat: Easy Cute Straight Stitch Sewing
Neckline detail

I think the finished coat also looks good worn inside out!

Inside out: Square Coat by Ivy Arch
Ivy Arch

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Brighton Souvenir Tova Dress

Brighton Tova dress by Ivy Arch

Though we didn't go away during the school Easter holidays, exciting day trips and action packed lovely long days have resulted in my accumulating something of a blogging backlog. Like the recent lost two weeks of The Archers during the Ambridge floods, I'm not sure if I'll ever properly catch up, so instead will attempt to blog the things I most want a record of, starting with this – my latest Wiksten Tova dress in lime Brighton Pavilion fabric.

Brighton Pavilion fabric by Inprint at Makower UK

The Brighton Pavilion print is by Inprint at Makower UK and has been in my stash since last summer. It features drawn illustrations of Brighton's landmark buildings including the Royal Pavilion – John Nash's extraordinary oriental fantasy palace, built for King George IV in 1786. 

I bought two metres of the lime green version of this material from Ditto Fabrics knowing full well I'd made enough summer dresses for one season, but had to snap it up while it was there as whenever they get a new roll of this design, it sells out fast.

Wiksten Tova dress in Brighton Pavilion and Hemingway fabrics

Ivy Arch Brighton Tova

The yoke is made from Hemingway Designs Knotted Up print in brick, another piece from my stash which was left over from making bags. The two fabrics make a loud colour combo, just right for the sunniest days. This Tova is pretty much the same as the previous two, but I added in-seam pockets this time and finished the sleeve with a simple turn up hem.

Brighton Pavilion fabric Tova dress by Ivy Arch

This makes a hat trick of Wiksten Tovas for me and I think I've now got Tova manufacturing out of my system. For the time being at least...
In my garden in socks and sandals

Monday, 30 March 2015

Beach House Park Bug Hotel

Beach House Park Bug Hotel

Yesterday we helped build a bug hotel in Worthing's Beach House Park as part of the BugCycle project run by new community organisation Worthing Wildlife in partnership with established community arts group Creative Waves and Sussex Wildlife Trust. BugCycle aims to promote wildlife and encourage biodiversity through creating new habitats for wildlife in this much loved Worthing park.

Beach House Park Bug Hotel - ready for guests

On a drizzly Sunday afternoon we joined a group of hardy locals of all ages to build the first Beach House Bug Hotel. A bug hotel (wildlife stack or mini-beast mansion) is a man-made shelter for insects made from recycled materials which mimics natural habitats by creating lots of small spaces, nooks and crevices of different sizes for insects to nest in. 

Building a bug hotel in Beach House Park, Worthing

We used old pallets, bricks, rotting bark, tufts of moss, dead leaves, stones, broken pottery, branches with holes drilled in and hollow bamboo canes to create an ideal environment for insects. Our bug hotel will attract a wide variety of invertebrates including; solitary bees, woodlice, woodlice spiders, earwigs, ladybirds, beetle larvae, funnel web spiders and centipedes.
   On walking home through the park later that day my daughter spotted a bee leaving the hotel. It's heartening to discover it's inhabited already!

A closer look at the Bug Hotel

In other news: the first buds have appeared on the BugCycle willow dome we helped build last month. What a joy to see growth and new life in this corner of the park.

First shoots appearing on Beach House Park Willow Dome
Beach House Park's Willow Dome, soaking up the drizzle

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Liberty Lytton Tova Dress

Liberty Bloomsbury 'Lytton' print Tova dress by Ivy Arch

It took longer for me to get round to blogging this second Bloomsbury Tova than it did to sew it, and it's already had several wears and a wash! The main dress material is a magenta and teal version of Liberty's Bloomsbury Gardens Lytton fabric. Lytton is an archive print created for Liberty in 1933 by Bloomsbury group painter Duncan Grant.

Tova dress in Bloomsbury Lytton fabric by Ivy Arch

This Tova dress is identical in cut and is made with the same modifications as my previous one with a closed front neckline and added patch pockets. The contrast fabric is also Lytton, in pale aqua blue. The fabrics were all bought from Ditto in Brighton's Kensington Gardens.

Lytton fabric Tova dress in Liberty fabric designed by Duncan Grant in 1933

Wearing Duncan Grant's prints reminds me of the beautiful gardens at Charleston – the Sussex country home he shared with Vanessa Bell, and meeting place for writers, artists and intellectuals of the Bloomsbury Group. With timely coincidence, Charleston house and garden reopens to the public for the season today, 25th March. 

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