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. 

Friday, 13 March 2015

Bloomsbury Wiksten Tova Dress

Liberty print Wiksten Tova by Ivy Arch

After the sewing saga that was my quilted spring coat, a fast fashion sewing fix was necessary. This Wiksten Tova took a few hours to make and seemed the ideal way to use some of the discounted Liberty Bloomsbury Gardens material I bought at Brighton's Ditto Fabrics recently. The fabric appears to be 'seconds' as there is a printing smudge along the selvedge and a little bit of spotting on parts of the reverse of the print, though the front looks pristine, showing a clear and bright rendition of Duncan Grant's Lytton design. The cotton is fantastic Liberty quality and hardly needed ironing after a pre-wash.

Liberty Bloomsbury Garden 'Lytton' fabric and Makower 'Kensington Floral'

Having made Tova dresses twice before I didn't even need to check the instructions and the whole thing came together with speed. I made a few modifications; changed the neckline to a scoop neck which I finished with floral bias binding, lengthened the sleeves by 5cms and added large patch pockets.

Liberty print Wiksten Tova by Ivy Arch

The yoke, pockets and sleeve trim are cut from a piece of Makower fabric called Kensington Floral. This I bought from Worthing's Sewing Machine Shop on Brighton Road. Happily the shop is under new management so I'm giving it a plug here as I wish the new owners well!

Modified Tova neckline finished with bias binding
Kensington Floral patch pocket

My Bloomsbury Tova was a hit on Instagram before I'd even finished sewing it and I've already cut out a second which I hope to finish in time to wear on Mother's Day this weekend.

Sandals and socks, ready for spring!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Quilted Spring Coat: Burda 7072

Quilted spring coat: Burda 7072 by Ivy Arch

Four weeks in the making, my first homemade quilted coat is finished in time for spring! I'd been meaning to get around to making a quilted coat ever since I fell in love with the process of quilting that first ukulele gig bag. However, aware that it would be a bigger endeavour than a simple dress make, I put the project on the back burner. Then, visiting Eclectic Maker's January sale spied three bolt ends of Laura Gunn's Garden Wall fabric collection and knew work on the quilted coat must begin.

Laura Gunn Garden Wall Collection
Laura Gunn's Garden Wall collection: Garden Carpet, Floral Trivet and Gypsy Vine prints

I had in mind using a simple kimono sleeve sewing pattern but came across Burda Style 7072 and the collarless design looked like it would be ideal. There was enough Laura Gunn burgundy Floral Trivet print to make the main coat, I used the white backed Garden Carpet print to line the main body and a small piece of olive Gypsy Vine fabric to line and trim the sleeves.


Burda Style 7072

Pattern pieces cut out (I added an extra 1cm to the outer coat seams for quilting shrinkage), I prepared to zone out into the zen like state achieved by sewing repetitive straight quilting lines.

Channel quilting bliss

Burda 7072 was easy enough to make by following the sewing pattern diagrams and I ignored Burda's written instructions until it came to sewing the fiddly pointed triangular under-arm seams. These were tricky and quite difficult to perfect in thick newly quilted fabric (though I have to say they weren't much easier to sew in fine cotton lining fabric). There are eight of these triangular seams to sew altogether (including the lining) so if you're thinking of making this pattern, beware!
   Once the headache of sewing those seams was over, the rest of the coat was joyously easy to make. I even enjoyed bagging out the lining. I finished off the sleeve edges with homemade bias trim and used large metal poppers for fasteners.

Quilted coat Burda 7072 by Ivy Arch
Burda Style 7072

In the finished coat – with all its quilted lines – the complicated sleeve construction is barely visible, though has made it a beautifully shaped coat. On balance I'm glad I chose Burda 7072 for this project as it makes an elegant garment and if I can steel myself for sewing more triangular seams, I may even make another... one day.
Burda 7072 finishing details

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

One Zentangle A Day – eventually

Zentangle pattern tiles by Ivy Arch

Worthing based holistic therapist and mindfulness tutor Joanne Turner introduced me to the practice of zen doodling some 18 months ago. The idea of a meditative practice that incorporates doodling and creative drawing appealed, so I attended one of her delightful zen doodle workshops and resolved to try to doodle more.

One Zentangle a Day book by Beckah Krahula

Inspired by Jo's course I bought Beckah Krahula's One Zentangle A Day book to help me build up a repertoire of patterns to explore in my doodling. Zentangle has a methodical, deliberate approach – it's zen doodling but with exacting rules! Zentangles are abstract patterns always drawn within 3.5 inch squares (or 'tiles') and are meant to be constructed by following a specific sequence of steps.

Ivy Arch's zentangle sketchbook

Each 'tangle' pattern in the book has clear step-by-step instructions showing you how to create it, and the book instructs you to copy out each step in a sketchbook so that by the end of the 6 week course you will have a visual dictionary of your own drawn tangle patterns to refer to. Most days of the course cover 2 or 3 new tangle patterns and after completing these the idea is to create an abstract 'tile' comprising the new patterns with some of your favourite previous ones.

Zentangle tiles by Ivy Arch

For the first two weeks I diligently followed the book day after day, then life intervened with changes in routine and my Zentangle regime was neglected. I'd return to the book picking up where I left off on short camping trips during the school holidays only to ignore it again upon returning home... until I eventually guiltily abandoned the project altogether.

However, last month I signed up for Lisa Congdon's online Sketchbook Explorations class at Creativebug which motivated me to revisit the One Zentangle A Day book too. Congdon's colourful course has given me renewed purpose in doodling and the abandoned Zentangle sketchbook has come into its own as reference for mark making. I finally completed the One Zentangle A Day book in tandem with working through Parts 1 and 2 of Sketchbook Explorations and have found that both these courses have given me the confidence to explore drawing and design again. I'm continuing to draw in my Zentangle notebook and am adding stylised line drawings to make into my own abstracted patterns.

Ivy Arch's drawing sketchbook

I'm now working through Part 3 of Sketchbook Explorations and will blog the results when I've completed all 4 parts of the course (you can see progress so far on my Instagram feed). Stay tuned here for more zentangle, doodling and sketchbook explorations!

Zentangled!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Building a Living Willow Dome

Worthing Willow Dom

The first few days of February's half term holiday were spent helping to build a living willow dome in Worthing's Beach House Park. This family-friendly project was part of BugCycle an initiative run by community arts organisation Creative Waves in partnership with Worthing Wildlife. BugCycle aims to bring wildlife, planting, crafts and colour to an underused space in this beautiful park.

Building a living willow dome

Willow crafting team extraordinaire Ganesh and Elaine of Creative Willow led the construction of the dome and taught us how to make bird feeders, stars and living willow pencils. Children were encouraged to decorate the area with chalked drawings and crafts. Happily the BugCycle team provided hot drinks and biscuits which nicely took the edge off the winter chill as our kids were having too much fun to want to leave!  

Willow crafts and decoration for Beach House Park
Creative Waves willow dome workshops, February 2015
Elaine and Ganesh at Creative Willow; BugCycle's Ellie, Charlotte, Sarah, Nadia and Vanessa

Beach House Park is a place I walk through every day – with tree lined paths and herbaceous borders it's a haven for birds and wildlife as well as the site for Nancy Price's Pigeon War Memorial. For years the park was famously home to the Bowls England National Championships, an event that packed out the park every summer. Controversially this flagship tournament moved to Leamington Spa last year amid local mutterings that Worthing Council should have done more to hold onto what had been an acclaimed and lucrative event for our town for over 40 years. The loss of the tournament (and revenue) has already signalled changes in the park with the vast, colourful flower beds that ran through the central avenue being dug out and replaced by large green tubs of low maintenance shrubs. While these are still pretty they're not a patch on the spectacular floral displays that greeted visitors to the park during the Bowls Championship years.

Beach House Park willow dome

BugCycle hopes to breathe life into neglected areas of Beach House Park again and I'm sure will help attract many new visitors – human as well as insect! I look forward to seeing the project grow, especially the living willow dome.

Doodling bugs
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