Thursday, 24 April 2014

Fashion Revolution Day: Gudrun Sjödén worn #insideout


Gudrun Sjödén worn inside out for Fashion Revolution Day

Fashion Revolution Day asks us to consider the labour behind the label and I'm showing my support for ethical fashion today by wearing and showing you what Gudrun Sjödén's beautiful clothes look like worn inside out.


Gudrun Sjoden dress - inside out!
Beautiful on the inside: Gudrun Sjödén dress #insideout


As a consumer it's important to know your brand and take responsibility for where and how the clothes you are wearing have been made. This is why I feel 'safe' wearing Gudrun Sjödén clothing.
     As well as producing clothes along their own rigorous guidelines to ensure they are both sustainable and functional, it is good to know that since 2001 Gudrun Sjödén have had a strict Code of Conduct with their suppliers requiring them to fulfil criteria set out in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organisation's rights at work conventions. This covers everything from a demand for fair wages, reasonable working hours and environmental safety for workers, to a ban on discrimination, punishments and child labour. The brand is keen to develop long term relationships with its suppliers and 80% of Gudrun Sjödén's current suppliers have worked with them for over a decade.

Gudrun Sjödén kimono - worn #insideout
Gudrun Sjödén jacket #insideout
Gudrun Sjödén kimono jacket - the embroidery and quilting looks exquisite on the inside too





I'm proud to wear Gudrun Sjödén's clothes and be an ambassador for the brand. Her well made garments last for years. I wear at least one Gudrun Sjödén garment every day, for work, to run about with my daughter in the park and at the seafront, while gardening and while cycling along the beach. They have survived stress, spillages and repeated washing! Gudrun encourages her customers to shop for garments sparingly, choose carefully and dress in an environmentally friendly way and it's reassuring to know that her clothes have been produced with accountability and concern for the people who made them. 

Gudrun Sjödén's clothes worn #insideout

Read more about Gudrun's environmental policies here. Fashion Revolution Day continues with events all day today, asking "Who Made Your Clothes?

Gudrun Sjödén - right side out!
Gudrun Sjödén worn right side out!

#insideout Fashion Revolution Day: handmade dress by Ivy Arch

#insideout Painted Portrait dress for Fashion Revolution Day 2014

Today is one year since the Rana Plaza clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed killing over 1000 people. They lost their lives while working in appalling conditions to produce the cheap and accessible clothing that fills stores in every high street in Britain. This horrific event motivated me to stop buying clothes and attempt to make or make do with what I already have, so last May I embarked on a year of sewing my own clothes, a journey that has led me into the wonderful world of dressmakers who blog.

Three of them, Abby (Things for Boys), Celina (Petit à Petit and Family) and Laura (Behind the Hedgerow) have invited fellow blogging sewists to join in with a handmade take on Fashion Revolution Day's #insideout campaign. This global fashion movement marks the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster by encouraging us all to start asking "Who made my clothes?". With mass production and the desire for increasingly cheap clothing we have lost connection with the clothes we wear. The gesture of wearing one garment inside out will encourage conversation and hopefully raise awareness that the fashion industry needs to continue a process of change.

Inside finish: Painted Portrait dress bodice
My #handmadeinsideout garment is a favourite sew – Anna Maria Horner's Painted Portrait Dress. This is a sleeveless version made in three different Carolyn Gavin cotton fabrics from the Gorgeous Village collection. I've lined the front skirt and entire back panel with a grey floral print lightweight cotton as it makes the dress hang better and crumple less (this one had barely a crease in it after a two and a half hours of train travel during the Easter holiday). Painted Portrait dresses always have a lined front and back yoke which has to be slip stitch finished by hand, so the dress combines modern overlocking finishing techniques and good old hand sewing. The armhole under seam is finished with homemade bias binding. I'm wearing an old well worn striped blue top inside out underneath.


#insideout Painted Portrait Dress for Fashion Revolution day
Painted Portrait dress worn #insideout
Painted Portrait dress: sleeve bias finish
Homemade bias binding finishes the armhole

I actually quite like the look of this dress worn #insideout...
#insideout back view - Painted Portrait dress
#insideout Back view, lined with grey floral cotton

Painted Portrait dress by Ivy Arch
Painted Portrait dress in Carolyn Gavin fabric - right side out at last. With pockets!
Painted Portrait - close up details

Visit Fashion Revolution for more information on the campaign and search Twitter #insideout and #handmadeinsideout to find more handmade insideout makes.


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Edible Easter!


Easter Sunday has fallen late this year putting in appearance right at the end of the school holidays. However, it still managed to catch us a little short having just returned from a few days away on the Isle of Wight. Fortunately the recipes in my daughter's Usborne Easter Cooking book can be whipped up quickly and we spent a messy teatime yesterday making edible Easter gifts. It's amazing what you can do with a packet of marzipan, some food colouring and a box of cornflakes...

Wishing you a very happy Easter!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Laurel Fever! Two Colette Laurel Dresses

Under Water Colette Laurel

The Colette Laurel is one of those sewing patterns that has you itching to make a second before you've even finished sewing the first. Having seen dozens of lovely versions of this dress blogged (including at Caught On a WhimPins and Needles and Fancy Tiger Crafts) I had two fabrics specifically set aside for Laurel dresses long before the paper pattern arrived in the post.

Laurel sewing pattern: Beginner friendly!

The Laurel is labelled beginner-friendly and it's very easy to make once you've worked out which size to cut. I found the garment measurements to be quite a roomy fit so cut out a US size 6 for the top, widening to a size 8 at the hips and flared the skirt out slightly with a bit more of an A-line shape at the hem. I added 3cms to the length of the sleeves so that without frill they finish just below my elbow rather than just above (more flattering to my middle-aged elbow-sag).

Laurel One: Anna Griffin Honoka fabric

Colette Laurel #1 in Anna Griffin 'Honoka' fabric.
Cuffs and trim in 
'My Folklore' by Lecien Japan 

Yellow Laurel dress by Ivy Arch

On both dresses I added the gently puffy gathered cuffs from Version 3 as well as the patch pockets from Version 2. As usual I dispensed with a zip, cutting the back of the dress from one piece of fabric without a centre back seam. The dresses fit easily over my head and shoulders (a benefit of being a pear shaped human). Without a zip the Laurel has the fuss-free feel of a tunic, but with more of a streamlined 1960s shape than many of my other homemade frocks. Laurel à gogo!

Colette Laurel 2: back view

Colette Laurel #2 in Under Water from Cloud 9 Fabrics 'Across The Pond' collection

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Seeking Occupants of Interplanetary Craft at Earthship Brighton

Earthship Brighton

It's been a beautiful sunny week in Sussex, a fine start to the school holidays and a complete contrast to last year's bitter Easter holiday weather. On Wednesday we travelled by train to Stanmer Park, a nature reserve with open downland and woods on the edge of Brighton. Our event horizon was Earthship Brighton a sustainable 'green' building constructed using waste car tyres, wine bottles and recycled materials. It's the first Earthship to be built in England and has been designed to provide its own heat, electricity, water and food. Our walk there took us through wide open spaces, blossom heavy orchards and through the grounds of Stanmer Manor where we stopped for a picnic. Continuing uphill we passed allotments, a forest of roughly carved wooden faces (with eyes that followed us) and getting warmer, reached Stanmer Community Farm.

Brighton Earthship, green building
Earthship Brighton

The Earthship was closed but we explored the outside of this intriguing building and its grounds which resemble a glorious eco-friendly Teletubby Land. Heading back downhill we sensibly took a detour to Stanmer Park Tearooms and refuelled with tea and cake before hiking back to Falmer Station.


Stanmer Park Community Farm

Blossoming Stanmer Park
Reflections on the Earthship

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Make Mine a Cappuccino - the new improved Lisette Portfolio dress

Cappuccino dress, Lisette Portfolio's little sister

The Lisette Portfolio Dress and Tunic (Simplicity 2245) is an internet sensation. Like many other dressmakers I discovered it via Pinterest long after it had been taken out of print. Of course knowing it was not available made me want to sew it even more but I baulked at the £45 (or more) prices second hand copies were fetching on eBay. I wrote to Simplicity beseeching them to reprint it or sell me an old tattered copy, but to no avail. Then I wrote to Oliver + S (creators of Lisette sewing patterns) who said they were in the process of remaking and improving the pattern and would add me to the mailing list announcing when the new version was available.

     Happily a new re-drafted version, the Cappuccino Dress is now released by Oliver + S as a Liesl + Co digital download and will (fingers crossed) be published as a paper pattern in the autumn. Of course I couldn't wait until then, so bought the PDF and slowly printed out all 59 pages then carefully cellotaped the sewing pattern together and cut out all the pieces. Cursing as I worked (my printer had jumbled up the pages) I'm relieved to let you know it really was worth going to all the time and trouble it took to assemble and cut out this pattern.

Super bright roller skate, electric fan fabric

With warmer days approaching I decided to use a bright red, orange and pink African wax print cotton fabric bought on eBay in the depths of winter (which I'd been saving for a very special sewing pattern). It's the boldest fabric I've worked with for some time (the antidote to that beige Temperance dress) and is printed with outsize roller skates, huge electric fans, sphinxes, geometric patterns and eyes. 

Liesl & Co Cappuccino dress by Ivy Arch
Cappuccino dress has tapered kimono style sleeves

The Cappuccino dress is a joy to make. The sewing pattern download comes with detailed written instructions and clear diagrams. The sizing is American but full measurements are listed, so I cut mine out in a combination of US size 6 for the top half widening out to a US size 10 at the waist and hips. There had been some concern among fellow small-chested sewers that the new V-neck version of this dress wouldn't be as flattering on us as the higher scoop-necked Portfolio dress. While I can't compare it to a Portolio (not having made one) I can report that the Cappuccino's V-front sits fairly high, is modest and pretty with no cleavage (or lack of) bared and the dress fits well across my tiny shoulders. I love the kimono-like sleeves and the curved front pockets. The Cappuccino is a hit!


Even better than the Lisette Portfolio!

Monday, 31 March 2014

A Victorian costume drama for The Just Cause

Victorian costume for Worthing Community Play

Making this outfit has taken up most of my evenings for the past three weeks. It's my costume for Worthing's Community Play, The Just Cause. The play is a Victorian romance in which the town's famous large-scale Skeleton Army riot of the 1880s is re-enacted. Exciting stuff! The Just Cause has been two years in development with a team of historians and genealogists researching lives of people who lived in 1880s Worthing. The cast comprises over 100 locals of all ages and from all walks of life and most of us are making or adapting and customising shop-bought clothing into our Victorian costumes.

Simplicity ESP 6073: Victorian jacket and skirt, 1980s
I have the part of a Temperance Woman – these were usually 'upper' working class people motivated to improve the welfare of ordinary working women, many of whom were victims of domestic violence fuelled by drink. As a working class woman my clothes should be plain, in dull, natural looking fabrics and worn without jewellery or fancy embellishments. With this in mind I bought ten metres of seersucker beige fabric with a narrow blue and grey stripe from Worthing market's fabric stall and 7 meters of lining material. The fabric was cheap at £2 a metre and seemed the right weight and colour for a Victorian summer outfit (the play takes place in June). Searching for sewing patterns on Etsy, I found Simplicity E.S.P. 6073 – a 1980s Victorian style skirt and jacket. The jacket looked about the right cut and I've added an extension panel to the lower back so that it fits over a bustle. I made the skirt longer than the sewing pattern with more gathering in the back. 

Victorian bustle, homemade!The weirdest part of making the costume was constructing the bustle. Using Kristina Meister's guide as a starting point, I made mine from a cushion insert attached to a piece of elastic. I've added a sliding fastener to the front for a bit of extendable comfort! It's surprisingly light to wear but does feel like a strange appendage. I then made an over-skirt to cover the bustle by draping fabric around my tailor's mannequin and tacking it in place by hand. Both skirt and overskirt have a simple elasticated waist – hoping all that elastic won't get too itchy on a summer's day.
 
I'm not sure that the jacket's sleeve is 100% accurate for 1880s England as I think the puff-effect sleeve came in a decade later (before becoming a full-blown leg-of-mutton affair) but am hoping the play's costume designer allows me to get away with this! Don't think I can face unpicking and redoing the sleeve - too many hours spent sewing beige already.
 
Victorian Costume: The Just Cause, Worthing Community Play 2014

Historically accurate or not, I'm amazed by how well it's turned out. Next I have to finish my daughter's costume (she plays the part of a thief) and work out how to make a Victorian hat for myself. However, may just have to run up another colourful summer dress for light relief first...

The Just Cause: costume for Worthing Community Play

Performances of The Just Cause take place at Christ Church, Worthing on 14th, 21st and 28th June 2014. Visit Worthing Community Play for more information and follow us on twitter.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Foliate Heads and Art in Ruins: John Piper's textiles

Foliate Head printed textile by John Piper

Artist Textiles at London's Fashion and Textile Museum is an essential exhibition for any vintage fabric addict. Over 200 textile designs for fashion and home furnishings are on display, including pieces by Salvador Dali, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. There are exquisite illustrated fabrics by Saul Steinberg, colour pop prints by Zandra Rhodes, an angular line doodled fabric by Henry Moore and some stunning fabrics and furnishings by Eduardo Paolozzi and Nigel Henderson.
     There is so much to see that one visit really isn't enough to take it all in, and there's much too much to cover in a single blog post, so I'm sharing with you the work that excited me the most: John Piper's painterly screenprints.

John Piper's Foliate Head fabric

Foliate Head fabric by John Piper, produced by David Whitehead Ltd in 1954.  
This is based on Piper's stained glass window design of the folkloric figure The Green Man

John Egerton Christmas Piper was a 20th century painter of architecture, landscape and abstract compositions. He is famous for his work as war artist (for his paintings of bombed buildings and ruins). He was also a writer, prolific photographer, etcher, printmaker, a designer for theatre and of stained-glass windows and in later years began making ceramics. 
     In the mid 1950s Piper designed a series of screen-printed textiles for David Whitehead & Sons Ltd, a company renowned for producing contemporary printed fabrics for the mass-market. In 1960 British fabric and wallpaper manufacturer Arthur Sanderson & Sons commissioned Piper to produce five textile designs as part of their 1960 centenary celebrations.
     Piper's fabrics have all the detail and tone of his paintings and really glow with life. To see so many great examples of his textiles at this show was simply thrilling! 

Chiesa De La Salute by John Piper
Chiesa De La Salute - screen printed fabric panel by John Piper, 1960
Northern Cathedral screenprint by John Piper
Northern Cathedral by John Piper - screen print circa 1960


Fawley screenprinted fabric, John Piper
Fawley by John Piper

ARTIST TEXTILES: Picasso to Warhol is at The Fashion and Textile Museum until 17th May 2014. Following record demand for tickets the museum will open on Sundays from 6 April. Visit their website for information.

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