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!


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

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Wukulele Love

My ukulele at Wukulele February 2015

Wukulele jam traditionally takes a break in January, so today saw us meeting up for the first time in 2015. With every seat in Worthing Rowing Club taken, latecomers were huddled into the bar area – it was standing room only but no one was turned away!

A jam packed room at Wukulele

We belted out tunes from Wukulele Songbook 16 – highlights being What's Up, Don't Stop Me Now and Morningtown Ride. After a break for refreshments and chatter we reassembled to storm through the Bad Lyrics of Love Songbook. Both songbooks were diligently put together by Harriet who keeps the jam going with boundless enthusiasm. Happily under her direction Wukulele jam continues to go from strength to strength.

Wukulele people, February 2015

As we played the sun streamed in through through the Rowing Club's windows, and we were in such good spirits that we all trooped outside after the jam to play a few more numbers to a bemused crowd of onlookers on the seafront. This went down so well that we plan to make it a regular occurrence in fine weather!

Ukuleles of Wukulele

Wukulele takes place upstairs at Worthing Rowing Club, usually on the third Sunday of the month. Check the Facebook page for more details. You can download all our Wukulele Songbooks for free from

Worthing beach, February 2015

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Embroidered by Imagination: A Gudrun Sjödén Valentine

Ivy Arch wears Gudrun Sjödén's Li Wei coat

Embellished with embroidered and printed roses, Gudrun Sjödén's Spring 2015 collection is influenced by the colourfulness and craftsmanship of the Far East.
Embroidered and lined with roses: Gudrun Sjödén's Li Wei quilted coat

My favourite piece from Sjödén's Spring collection is the Li Wei coat. The coat is padded and finely quilted with a stitched scallop pattern around the hem and has exquisitely embroidered roses and leaves on the front. Inside it's lined with Xiang print fabric which looks like a spray of roses in full bloom. The coat is just lightly padded but is surprisingly warm and in the cherry red colour is just the thing to brighten any grey day.

Inside the Li Wei coat is lined with Xiang bright rose print

I chose the Sakura button-through kimono dress to wear with it. 'Sakura' means cherry tree and this bright hibiscus pink fabric is printed with sweet cherry blossom flowers.
Sakura kimono dress: Gudrun Sjödén Spring 2015

My final pick was a break from convention as I hardly every wear anything tight around my waist – I chose the kod woven cotton tie belt in mustard as it looked so wonderful on the models in Gudrun Sjödén's catalogue! It wraps around the body and ties a bit like my daughter's karate belt. It feels rather ceremonial to wear and I like the fact that it has no buckles or metal fastenings.

A Gudrun Sjödén valentine

See more of Gudrun Sjödén's exciting Spring Collection 2015 here

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Save Worthing Skyline!

Say NO to Roffey's Skyscraper on Worthing beach!

Property developer Roffey Homes intend to build a 21 storey high-rise apartment block close to the promenade on Worthing beach. Yesterday I joined the Save our Seafront protest to voice my opposition to these disproportionate plans for a sight previously bequeathed to the town's people for leisure use.

Sign the petition!

For two hours two dozen locals braved the cold weather to hand out fliers to passers by, collect signatures for the petition, hoist banners and raise awareness for this just cause. Every supportive beep from passing motorists, bus, lorry and van drivers was met with a cheer!

Save Our Seafront protest, 7 February 2014
These people all say NO to Roffey's skyscraper on the beach!

Roffey's proposed skyscraper is an ersatz, unimaginative design that would exceed the height of all buildings in Brighton Road and along the seafront. It would ruin the seafront skyline and herald the destruction of what is historically an elegant seaside resort. Over a thousand people have signed a petition indicating they don't want it to go ahead and I hope that Worthing Council will consider our views and veto Roffey's plans.
I urge all readers of my blog to sign our petition to Save Worthing Seafront. You don't have to be a local resident to sign – you are all potential visitors to Worthing!

Save Our Seafront! Please sign the petition.

For more information visit Save Our Seafront Worthing. Sign the petition here.
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