Monday, 20 July 2015

Postcard from Malmö

Folkets Park Peacock, Malmö

It's seven years since I last visited Malmö and in that time the city has transformed from post industrial port into a colourful model of eco-friendliness. I walked through the fabulous Folkets Park and explored the streets around Möllevångstorget. Möllan is Malmö's multicultural hub, renowned for its fruit and veg market and packed with restaurants and cafés, as well as being a destination for second hand clothes shopping.

From industrial to colourful, out and about in Malmö
Back walls of the old Mazetti chocolate factory building
Streets of Malmö
Wooden horse and clog shop - every town should have one!

The city's central cobbled streets are lined with design boutiques and independent shops. A highlight was a visit to Moderna Museet Malmo, a small modern art gallery that's just the right size to spend a couple of rainy hours. I saw a beautifully curated exhibition of post impressionist paintings, Nils Dardel and the Modern Age and contemporary video installation show The New Human, before visiting the museum's bright orange café and nursing a soya latte until the sky cleared.

Concrete balconies, Malmö

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

24 Hours in Stockholm

Shoemakers shop window, Stockholm

A flying visit to Stockholm gave me the chance to sample the textures and colours of this stunning Scandinavian city. The motive for my trip was an invitation to take part in a photo shoot for Gudrun Sjödén's spring 2016 catalogue – a day's work in the best possible circumstances, with the most wonderful people. Photos from the shoot will be released in January 2016, but for the canny there's a sneak preview @gudrunsworld. I'm keen to find out which photos from the day are chosen for the spring catalogue but have to wait until January along with everyone else! So for now, here's a sample smörgåsbord of Sweden's beautiful capital instead.

Gudrun Sjödén Stockholm
Painted postbox, Old Town
Colour and texture on the streets of Stockholm
Sweden's oldest tobacco shop
Sightseeing, Stockholm

Monday, 22 June 2015

Decorating the BugCycle Garden with Gudrun Sjödén

BugCycle garden Willow Dome, decorated with Gudrun Sjödén

Worthing's BugCycle community garden has just become even more colourful thanks to a generous donation from Gudrun Sjödén, Swedish designer of sustainable fashion and champion of environmentally conscious design. Gudrun kindly sent us a bundle of eco-cotton fabrics and home furnishings to use in our burgeoning wildlife garden.

Gudrun Sjödén eco fabrics

BugCycle was set up by community arts producers Creative Waves in partnership with Worthing Wildlife to regenerate an area in one of the town's central parks. Since February this year, we and a team of volunteers have transformed a disused part of Beach House Park using largely found, recycled and donated materials into a living, educational, sensory garden for all to enjoy.

BugCycle wildflower meadow
Our happy gardeners wearing Gudrun Sjödén hats and aprons

Gudrun Sjödén sent us a selection of Långrand striped organic cottons in delicious shades of guava/turquoise, lavendula/sky, asparagus/pineapple and peony. I decided to make gardening hats and aprons for our volunteers to wear, as well as some cushions and bright bunting to decorate and furnish the garden. I used these fabulous fabrics together with some Gudrun Sjödén material left over from previous projects.

Aprons, hats, cushions and bunting made by Ivy Arch using Gudrun Sjödén fabrics

The aprons are based on Gudrun's perfectly practical Nyttan gardening apron with one large divided wrap around pocket and long fastening ties (I'm wearing a ruby red Nyttan apron in these photos). The hats are made using Etsy shop WorthyGoods super Over The Top sun hat sewing pattern. I sewed simple envelope back cushion covers from the Långrand cotton to complement two of Gudrun's Melissa and Flox print cushions. All left over pieces of fabric were cut into triangles of different sizes and sewn into colourful bunting. Not a scrap of material was wasted!

BugCycle gardeners wearing Gudrun Sjödén
Crafting in the BugCycle garden

These photos were taken at a Creative Waves BugCycle Art in the Park workshop, but on another day you could see the Worthing Wildlife Team at work here, one of the town's community groups or up to 120 local school children using the garden as an outdoor learning space.

The willow dome decorated Gudrun Sjödén style!
Creative Waves women in the willow dome

We'd like to thank Gudrun Sjödén for bringing her Swedish design with a green soul to our own very green and thriving community garden!

Happy BugCycle tree

Gudrun's eco-cotton fabrics and home furnishings are available from her web shop.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

A second year of sewing my own clothes

It's time I documented my second year of making my own clothes. This year there was no outright self-imposed ban on buying new or second hand clothes, so I have been lucky to acquire a few more beautiful Gudrun Sjödén pieces, as well as purchasing some needed socks and knickers.

The original year-long-experiment which began in May 2013 has remained habit changing and sewing my own is a regular part of my weekly routine. Between 17th May 2014 and 31st May 2015 I sewed a lot of dresses, a few tops, had a summertime flurry of trouser making, and made three beautiful coats.

Clothes made by Ivy Arch between May 2014 and May 2015

The Wiksten Tova was my 'discovery' staple sewing pattern this year, and the one I've made most of (current Tova count is six). My second favourite repeatedly sewn pattern is the Lisette Portfolio dress Kerry Green most generously sent me in January (I made three). I must also mention its sister-pattern the lovely Liesl & Co Cappuccino dress (four more of these now hanging in my wardrobe). The 'outsider lovely surprise pattern' was Scarlet et Marguerite's Baba Yaga dress.

The Ivy Arch garment of the year: Burda 7072 Quilted Coat
Garment Of The Sewing Year: Burda 7072 Quilted Coat
My favourite garment of the year is the one that took the most work, a quilted Burda 7072 coat. Worth every frustrating second of fiddling to get the under-arm seams right!

The round-up photo above doesn't include everything I made, and not all of it was blogged – there are at least three more holiday dresses and six pairs of baggy trousers not included here. I may try to slow down production in the coming year, but can't see myself stopping as I love the act of sewing and the self expression of wearing handmade clothes. I wear something I've made myself every day of the year.

I am however, a little less keen to continue photographing and blogging my makes (and my gurning face) so am not sure if there'll be a third year with a round-up like this. In part I think joining Instagram has removed some of the urge to blog. So much social media, so little time.

For now though, it is a pleasure to present the line up of clothes sewn in my second sew-my-own year.

Baggy trousers made by Ivy Arch
Trouserathon, July 2014

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
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