Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Stylish Dress Book Revisited: Seaside Smock B

Stylish Dress Book: Smock B by Ivy Arch

It's some 16 months since I discovered Stylish Dress Book the title that set me off on what has become a dressmaking odyssey. I've recommended the book to friends and acquaintances many times since and it's a title I always suggest starting with if you'd like to make timeless Japanese style clothes that are contemporary and comfortable. I've made 10 dresses from it so far. Showing it to a friend whose teenage daughter has just started sewing her own clothes I once again felt inspired to sew from this fabulous book.

Stylish Dress Book

This seaside print cotton fabric has been in my stash for a year and I could neglect it no longer so decided to revisit pattern B (a design for a blouse with elasticated cuffs) and make myself another smock lengthened to a dress. This time I redrafted the Garibaldi sleeves, as in the first version I made I accidentally omitted an instruction in drafting the bottom section of the sleeves so my arms lacked the right amount of puff...

Smock B details

Adjustments made to the sleeve pattern, it was an even easier sew the second time round and the finished smock is perfect for this continued hot weather – the fabric just right for being beside the seaside. 

Stylish Dress Book, seaside smock B

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Hello Tokyo Quilt and Cushions

Hello Tokyo Quilt by Ivy Arch

Hello Tokyo is Sydney designer Lisa Tilse (The Red Thread)'s first range of fabric, produced by Robert Kaufman. The range features Japanese Kokeshi dolls, kawaii cats, stylised flowers, spots and circles on colourful cotton fabric in the boldest brightest hues of pink, orange, mint and blue. I came across it last year and have been buying small amounts whenever I could find it at discounted prices, with a view to eventually making a quilt for my daughter as an end-of-school-year gift. 

With the end of the academic year in sight, I took stock of how many pieces I'd amassed and downloaded Robert Kaufman's free Hello Tokyo quilt pattern. The quilt design comes in two suggested colourways, one predominantly pink, the other mostly blue. I used a mixture of both colours, adding in some orange polka dot cotton left over from other projects. My version is pretty faithful to the Kaufman template but I've swapped a few of the blocks and changed the positioning of some of the cute appliqué characters.


Making a Hello Tokyo Quilt
 
This is the first patchwork quilt I've made and I didn't fully appreciate how much space is needed to make a bedspread sized quilt! I cleared floorspace in the lounge to lay out and assemble the squares, then had to drape the work-in-progress over a chair, ironing board and across the dining table so that family life could resume as normal in between sewing sessions – just about manageable in our narrow Victorian terraced house. (The houses in my street were built in 1870-80s and typically housed Worthing's working people - including dressmakers and manual workers.)

Cutting out and laying out the pieces took hours but once arranged sewing the blocks together was a speedy and wholly absorbing process. I cut out the appliqué characters leaving a 2mm white border, used fuse-a-web to fix them to the quilt then machine zig-zagged around the edges to secure them in place. Next I added a greige polka dot border to the patchwork. I wanted a border that would make the Hello Tokyo fabrics really stand out and this colour also gives the quilt an elegant edge. Then I made a huge inside-out quilt sandwich of the patchwork, wadding and a mint green cotton lining fabric, sewed it together leaving a gap, turned it through, then hand stitched the turn through gap. Finally I fastidiously pinned all three layers together before beginning machine quilting. I sewed around the appliqué shapes, highlighted some of the square patches and channel quilted the head and foot of the quilt to finish.

Finished quilt hanging in the garden


Hello Tokyo quilt and cushions in my daughter's room

The patchwork cushions were very quick and easy to make after wrestling with such a huge object as the quilt - they have envelope backs so that they can be swiftly removed for washing.


Appliqué Ivy Arch cushions in Hello Tokyo fabrics

The finished quilt really brightens up her bedroom – we're both thrilled to bits with it – and I'm now motivated to do more patchwork quilting. Watch this space!

 Fin

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Hemingway Cappuccino Dress

Cappuccino dress in Hemingway Design Tulip fabric

Did I need an excuse to make another Cappuccino dress? I'm blaming the hot early summer weather we've been enjoying and these gorgeous pink and green fabrics from Hemingway Design.  I spied them in Brighton's Ditto Fabrics and had a hard time choosing between the delicious range of colours in Hemingway Design's vintage-inspired collection of cotton poplins. The yellow Wonky Maze print was tempting and the duck-egg Texture and Twigs fabrics divine, but I snapped up some Tulip in both green and pink varieties. It has clusters of small tulip flowers on a background that looks like it's been hand drawn with felt-tip pens.

HemingwayDesign Tulip dressmaking fabric

It's surprising that Gerardine and Wayne Hemingway haven't produced fabrics for dressmaking before – I still think wistfully about the brown and beige retro print carpet bag I bought from Red or Dead's Covent Garden shop a quarter of a century ago. Their textile range for Makower is superb quality and an absolute gift to dressmakers, buy a metre or two if you can!

Liesl + CoCappuccino dress, handmade by Ivy Arch

These photographs really don't do the colours justice, the green is bright and much more vivid in real life. However I've been wearing the Hemingway Cappuccino dress as much as I can to make sure as many people as possible benefit from seeing this fantastic fabric.

Ivy Arch green tulip Cappuccino dress

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Take Two Ticket to Ride Dresses: Simplicity 2363


Simplicity 2363 dress made by Ivy Arch

Brighton's budget fabric emporium Fabric Land has come up trumps again with Ticket to Ride another great in-house print design. I recommend a visit to one of their shops (they have several branches across the UK) as their astonishingly bad website doesn't do justice to their own brand fabrics. Ticket to Ride is a printed collage of vintage tickets, labels and coupons. It's a sturdy cotton with a linen-like feel and is available in 3 colourways. At just £3.99 a metre I thought it prudent to get 2.5 metres in Royal and the same amount in Yellow.

Ticket to Ride by Fabric Land

It's the same type of cotton I used for the Berlin Macaroon Dress - a garment that is greeted with gasps of delight every time I wear it out and about. I decided to make the Simplicity 2363 pattern again as it works so well in this material but this time drafted a new closed-front yoke for a change. For the first version I used the darker (Royal) fabric for the body and sleeves with the paler (Yellow) fabric for the yoke. 

Simplicity 2363 with closed front yoke

I was so taken with it that I immediately made another with the fabric combination in reverse. 

Ticket to Ride print Simplicity 2363

Each dress cost £9.98 to make. Good enough for everyday Worthing wear but also fabulous enough to wear to the Grand Futurist Concert of Noises and just the thing to wear when trying out Peter McKerrow's hand built intonarumori.

With intonarumori at Grand Futurist Concert of Noises, London Science Museum
Photo and intonarumori by Peter McKerrow, dress by Ivy Arch

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Grand Futurist Concert of Noises


On Sunday I went to the Grand Futurist Concert of Noises at London's Science Museum, an event held by Resonance FM to mark the centenary of the first Futurist Concert staged in Britain on 15th June 1914 in accordance with Luigi Russolo's groundbreaking manifesto The Art of Noises (L'arte dei Rumori).

The Exponential Horn

I wore a dress made of fabric with a print of vintage bus, tram and train tickets (a new creation to be blogged soon) reckoning this would be in concord with Futurist ideas of speed and progress, but later reading Dan Wilson's Art of Noises Centenary Souvenir Supplement in which Marinetti's ideals for futurist clothing are set out I regretted not wearing this dress instead.

Never mind, the concert was brilliant! On hand-built instruments (large scale noise making machines called intonarumori built to Russolo's original designs by Peter McKerrow with modifications by sound artist Daniel Wilson), vintage horns, theremin and playback devices broadcast through Aleksander Kolkowski's immense Exponential Horn, The Luigi Russolo Memorial Ensemble caused a tremendous commotion! It was exhilarating to hear and the audience roared in approval. Afterwards we were invited to try out the instruments and joined the long queue to have a go on Sarah Angliss's theremin.


Grand Futurist Concert of Noises, centenary concert 2014
Instruments included intonarumori, gramophone, 
theremin and the Exponential Horn
Grand Futurist Concert of Noises at Science Museum, 15 June 2014
The Luigi Russolo Memorial Ensemble
 
The Grand Futurist Concert of Noises is directed by BASCA Sonic Arts Composer of the Year, Ed Baxter and performed by Marcos Gomez, Peter Lanceley, Peter McKerrow, Michael Umney, Dan Wilson plus Aleks Kolkowski (vintage sound effects), Adam Bushell (percussion) and Sarah Angliss (theremin). The ensemble will perform for a final time on Friday 20th June at Cafe Oto, Ashwin Street, London. If you're at all able to travel to London you'd be mad to miss the sonic event of the century!

The Exponential Horn is the UK's largest audio loudspeaker and will be installed at Science Museum until 27th July 2014.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Just Cause: taking part in Worthing Community Play

On Saturday I'll be donning my homemade Victorian outfit, tying a bonnet tightly under my chin and fixing my face with a stern glare to join a cast of some 200 fishwives, seafarers, schoolchildren, choirs, temperance campaigners, down and outs, church folk and gentry as we re-enact scenes from 1880s Worthing.
Ivy Arch in Victorian costume for The Just Cause

It's been a long journey to reach this point, two years in the making for the creative team behind Worthing's Community Play The Just Cause and a good eight months of workshops and rehearsing for the cast. I'm a relative newcomer to the production having just joined in February – actually I had only intended to watch my child's rehearsals but soon found myself one of Worthing Working Women's Temperance League...

Ivy Arch in costume for Worthing Community Play

A highlight of taking part in the play has been singing Sussex folk songs every week at rehearsal and around the house at home with my daughter in our best Sussex accents surelye, our favourite tunes being Fathom The Bowl and The Sussex Wedding Song. It's also been fascinating finding out about the lives of ordinary people in Victorian Worthing and illuminating learning about the hardship and struggles faced by the working class women who were moved to campaign for temperance with hope of improving lives plagued by poverty and domestic abuse from alcoholic husbands. The Temperance League was especially popular amongst the female brick layers in Worthing. I hope we do them justice with our performance.

Worthing Working Women's Temperance League

Most of all I've enjoyed the experience of feeling a part of the community of Worthing and getting to work with such a splendid motley crew of townsfolk - we've had many laughs and much fun along the way. We wunt be druv!

Behind the scenes at Worthing Community Play
The Just Cause in production: Worthing's Community Play
 
The Just Cause takes place at Christ Church, Worthing on 14th, 21st and 28th June 2014. All tickets have now been snapped up for all three performances. However, there will be a queue for non-ticket holders at each show with priority entry given to people dressed in Victorian costume. Visit Worthing Community Play or follow us on twitter.

Cast of Worthing Community Play: The Just Cause

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Plain Sailing - Liesl & Co Cappuccino Dress

Cappuccino Dress made by Ivy Arch

The red Cappuccino dress I made in April has really come into its own as a garment I love to wear every day. It's so comfortable, the deep pockets practical and the sleeves are narrow enough to fit easily under spring coats and jackets. The V-neck collar reminds me of the simple elegant neckline of Sou Sou's kimono blouse, it's very Japanese. I had to make a second!

 Seagull fabric by Janet Clare: Hearty Good Wishes at Moda Japan

My fabric choice was a birthday-money purchase from C&H Fabrics. Each time I visit the dressmaking fabric department of their Brighton branch it alarmingly seems to have shrunk. I found these wonderful prints tucked away in their quilting section. I didn't study the selvage when I bought them, just loved the print designs and feel of the fabric – smooth soft cotton. On closer inspection at home I saw that they're designed by British textile designer Janet Clare from her Hearty Good Wishes collection produced by Moda Japan. Janet Clare's website biography is charming – she's a quilter and stitcher as well as a designer and author.

Sailing boat fabric by Janet Clare: Hearty Good Wishes at Moda Japan

Making up a second Cappuccino was plain sailing and I only had to glance at the instructions this time. The fabric behaved beautifully and is wonderfully soft and light to wear. It's a more sophisticated colour palette than I usually go for but I feel properly elegant and grown up in this dress! 

Cappuccino dress pocket details
Cappuccino dress in Hearty Good Wishes fabric
Sandals, no socks

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Along the banks of the River Adur

Banks of the River Adur in May

Last Wednesday was the gloomiest, chilliest day of May's half-term holiday but that didn't stop us wrapping up warm and going for a walk along the banks of River Adur with good friends and their adorable schnauzer puppy.

River Adur, Shoreham-by-sea

We sipped take-away coffee and ate pastries bought at Shoreham's Real Patisserie while our children romped, climbed and swung in a windswept playground overlooking the river. 

Shoreham's steel railway bridge

Our walk took us under the steel railway bridge to Shoreham's Art Deco Airport – once known as Brighton Hove & Worthing Joint Municipal Airport and recently renamed Brighton City Airport

Brighton Hove & Worthing Joint Municipal Airport sign, 1936

The Grade II listed terminal building has expanded into a huge (dog friendly) restaurant inside while the outside is held up by scaffolding with rusting walls of peeling paint. It has noticeably deteriorated since I last visited a few years ago and this splendid building is crying out for some love and care.

Shoreham Art Deco Airport

It seemed too windy for any planes to take off so we continued our walk through a boggy field and alongside the colourful houseboats on Shoreham Beach, taking in another playground before walking back across Adur Ferry Bridge.

Houseboats at Shoreham Beach
Woof!
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