Friday, 17 October 2014

Soft Cornershop-by-the-Sea

Soft Spam at Cornershop-by-the-sea

This week I was lucky enough to see artist Lucy Sparrow's amazing felt Cornershop-by-the-Sea in Brighton. It's an ambitious soft sculpture homage to the great British cornershop which is sadly being squeezed out of existence by supermarket giants and their 'Express' branches (think Dominion Road, Worthing). 

Felt Cornershop-by-the-Sea

Walking into a well disguised No Walls Gallery I was confronted by a mind-boggling display of crazy craftsmanship with some 4000 everyday products and grocery items reconstructed in felt and yarn – each item painstakingly hand made by Lucy Sparrow herself. Visit her Cornershop blog to see photos of the production process.

Felt chocolate bars and chewing gum

It took Sparrow 8 months to sew an entire newsagent's worth of felt goods and everything in the shop is for sale, from chewing gum wrappers to tins of spam and packets of Pampers. There are fully stocked freezer cabinets, cigarettes and alcohol behind the counter (with its huge felt till), and racks of newspapers and magazines. You can even buy felt boxes of Tampax.

Felt range of san-pro
Felt family favourites: Anchor butter, Marmite and Pot Noodle
Felt newspapers

Seeing familiar, well-known and loved products in soft, stuffed and squashy form is a heartwarming experience. I urge you to go and see the shop before it closes!

No Walls Gallery, now a soft newsagent

Cornershop-by-the-Sea is at No Walls Gallery, Church Street, Brighton until 25th October 2014.

Stitched Cornershop Takes Church Street By Storm

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

An October tunic from Ottobre magazine

Ottobre magazine: New Bohéme Tunic by Ivy Arch

Next to the latest edition of Angling Times in my local newsagent, I saw a copy of Ottobre Design. It's a title I'd not heard of before – a Finnish sewing magazine with bold, contemporary fashions for women. It looked positively other-worldly up there on the top shelf next to the mundane publications either side, a cheerful middle-aged woman with short white blond hair and trendy geek specs wearing a bright yellow zip-up jacket on the glossy front cover. A quick flick through and it went straight into my shopping basket.

Ottobre Design Woman: Autumn/Winter 5/2014 

I love that Ottobre's models are healthy-looking women of all ages and sizes. There are so many designs in this issue I'd like to make: the Art Teacher linen dress; Sammalikko printed leggings, Clean Lines techno jersey dress; but I started with the New Bohéme jersey tunic, mostly because I already had some suitable fabric so could get going straight away.

New Bohéme Tunic, Ottobre Design Woman

When I turned to the pull-out pattern sheet in the back I realised it was not going to be such a quick make. 

Just follow the green line...

Confronted with an unfathomable mess of different coloured lines I did my best to follow and trace out the green line, while pausing to have a moan about it on Twitter. Angela came to my rescue for future pattern tracings directing me to Melissa Fehr's blog where she recommends using a tracing wheel with the pattern map placed on top of a piece of paper laid on a carpet or other soft surface so the tracing wheel has something to get its teeth into! This would've made the whole procedure easy-peasy and I'll be using this technique for future pattern tracings.

New Bohéme Tunic by Ivy Arch

I used a knitted woolly textured fabric bought from the fabric stall at Worthing's Wednesday market, it has plenty of ease for this design and I wanted to make something that would be warm to wear. Ottobre's sewing instructions are clear and easy to follow and the tunic came together very quickly. It looked great on my mannequin but when I tried it on I could only just squeeze my arms into it. It looked and felt awful on me. I realised I must have followed one of the wrong lines in tracing the sleeve, so I lopped off the too-tight arms and just had enough fabric left to cut some wider sleeves (though a bit short of the required length). I unpicked the side seams then sewed on the re-cut sleeves Cappuccino dress style. I'm still annoyed that I drafted them out wrong but the finished dress is very wearable. Sleeve error apart it's a good looking garment and armed with a tracing wheel I will definitely attempt a second (third, fourth?) outfit from this ace magazine. 

A dress for October, from Ottobre
New Bohéme tunic details

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Uptown Top Ranking: Favorite Things Uptown Coat

Uptown Coat by Ivy Arch

A lot of thought and Pinterest browsing went into looking for a sewing pattern for an autumn coat but I couldn't find a design I liked more than the Uptown Coat by Favorite Things. It has an empire line bodice which flatteringly flares out into a fuller skirt with front and back pleats (perfect for pear shaped humans), a mock double breasted front and dramatic stand up collar. 

Great shapes at all angles! The Uptown Coat
High collar - back and profile views

I used a richly textured coating material called Heather Glen Rope Twist (£8.99 a metre from Fabricland, Brighton). It's made up of multicoloured strands of yarn and is jewel bright in daylight. For a complete contrast I lined the coat with a fruit and flower print cotton which feels nice and soft to the touch, as well as providing a riot of colour on the inside. The beautiful wooden buttons are from Otterly Beads at eBay.

Materials of choice
Lining details: Uptown Coat

Sewing instructions for the Uptown Coat are mercifully brief and straightforward to follow for any experienced dressmaker. The coat also has a shorter, jacket version and a suggestion to make up a fat-quarter version, which I'm tempted to try making with some of my many dressmaking remnants. For now though, I'm going to enjoy wearing this one!

Ready for colder weather in my Uptown Coat

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Arctic Explorations: Gudrun Sjödén's Winter Collection 2014

Gudrun Sjödén Winter 2014 collection: shawl, poncho and cardigan

Gudrun Sjödén's winter collection is inspired by the nature, folklore and patterns from north of the Arctic circle. The new collection has four ranges: Arctic with a main colour palette of frosted icy blues and snowflake whites; Striped & Rosy featuring wide block stripes combined with multi-stripes and whirling roses; Dark and Moody with a surprisingly sober palette of clay, dark bark and earth tones; and Gudrun's famously colourful Basic range in natural fabrics and organic cottons.

Arktis cardigan with wooden toggle buttons

The Arctic range immediately caught my eye and I was delighted to see that warm pinky red shades of sunset feature here alongside the beautiful blues. My first pick was a hibiscus red and pink Arktis jacquard knit cardigan made of organic cotton combined with lambswool. The cardigan fastens with five small wooden duffel buttons and its finest feature has to be the tufty tactile tassels at the bottom of the sleeves, symbolic of seabird feathers.

Arktis cardigan from Gudrun Sjödén's Winter 2014 range

The Gudrun Sjödén Winter catalogue shows an image of a woman wearing the Arktis cardigan with an Alaska poncho over the top. This combination of colours and textures was too good to resist so my obvious next choice was an Alaska poncho (again in hibiscus red). It's soft and smooth and has a good weight to it. Not only does it look fabulous with the Arktis cardigan but it brightens up the plainest outfit (and the greyest hairstyle) too. I absolutely love it.

Alaska poncho by Gudrun Sjoden

My final pick had to be from the Striped & Rosy range. I chose a Striped dress in blue multi-stripes. It has a pleasingly relaxed fit, useful front pockets and flattering three-quarter length sleeves. Made from eco-cotton and wool, it's so soft and snuggly! I'm wearing it with a pair of Gudrun's stripey knitted leggings (which I can report are extremely comfortable), and a chicory blue Ulla shawl bought on holiday from the Gudrun Sjödén shop in Cologne.

Ulla scarf and multi-striped dress by Gudrun Sjödén

Striped dress in eco-cotton and wool by Gudrun Sjödén

With my colourful and warm new Gudrun Sjödén knitwear I'm fully prepared for the greyest, coldest winter ahead!

Organic cotton is a natural, renewable and biodegradable fibre ♥

Gudrun Sjödén's Winter 2014 collection is available from her international webshop and in her stores worldwide now.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

In Glorious Technicolour: The Liesl + Co Cinema Dress

Liesl + Co Cinema Dress by Ivy Arch

The hills are alive with the sound of my Cinema Dress! Notice of this eagerly awaited new design from Liesl + Co popped into my inbox with perfect timing. I'd just returned from a holiday in Germany with a bundle of precious folk print floral cottons and was wondering what to make with them... 

The Cinema Dress is the adult version of the Hide and Seek Dress for girls by Liesl's parent brand Oliver + S. The women's design is faithful to the Hide and Seek original but has narrower 3/4 length sleeves, shaping through the bust and is a much longer length. I'm pleased it has the same back button closure and pocket welts – lovely details.

A very colourful Cinema Dress by Ivy Arch

I followed the sewing pattern instructions exactly but closed the V-notch neckline to make a plain curved shape as I thought it would better suit this gloriously busy fabric – there's enough going on here already. I also shortened the hem by a few inches as it's quite a long style of dress. I prefer skirts to land on or just below the knee, anything longer swamps me and hinders bicycling.

Cinema dress views

I love these three materials together. They're all soft organic cottons made by Soft Cactus and purchased from Handarbeitsstube in Traben-Trarbach, Germany. The buttons on the back of the dress get a special mention too. They're from Etsy super store Berry Nice Crafts, who have a fantastic range of colourful patterned wooden buttons at peppercorn prices. These arrived the very next day! 

Cinema dress details

Dresses with yokes present so many fabric choice possibilities. I can imagine this frock in many different fabric combinations and don't doubt there'll be more Cinema dresses appearing in my wardrobe this season.

The hills are alive...!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Miyake Style: Burda 7220 - Version B

Burda 7220, version B by Ivy Arch

Following the success of Version A of Burda 7220 I was keen to have a go at making a Version B from this sewing pattern. B is a loose fit blouse with a cowl neck and asymmetrical pleat in the back. There are some beautiful blogged renditions of B, my favourites are at Valerie's Own Sewing Blog and Runamuck Weaving. Then I came across a 1990s Vogue sewing pattern for an Issey Miyake blouse with an almost identical neckline! With vintage Miyake sewing patterns costing a pretty penny, the Burda 7220 suddenly seemed like an absolute steal.

Issey Miyake's Vogue 2922 meets Burda Style 7220

At the top of my stash was a piece of Hemingway Design tulip fabric in yellow – just enough to make this blouse. I've used Hemingway's tulip material before and can confirm that the wash and wear of this Makower fabric is as good as the excellent print design, it's quality stuff. I added a front patch pocket with a decorative wasp tag to the blouse and made the sleeves a few centimetres shorter, to finish just above the wrist.

Version B, details: Burda Style 7220

The finished garment is part futuristic dentist's scrub and part intergalactic Lieutenant Commander's tunic. I love it.

Intergalactic Commander's tunic aka Burda 7220

I'm wearing it with a new pair of homemade baggy trousers, a second pair using McCall's M6514. I had a bit of a frenzy of trouser production this summer, clocking up more pairs than I had time to photograph and blog so they may appear here occasionally with future makes... These are in African wax print cotton with a design that looks like it has dozens of giant eels swimming in a river.

McCall's M6514 with eels

Yellow is flavour of the month as summer fades into autumn.

Widewater Lagoon, Lancing. September 2014

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Sheep Thrills at Findon Sheep Fair

Findon Sheep Fair starlet

On Saturday we caught the bus from Worthing town centre taking a 20 minute ride out to Findon Village for its annual sheep fair. Findon Sheep Fair is famous in these parts but this is the first year I've visited. A fair has been held on Nepcote Green every year since 1261 and the Sheep Fair is said to have started on this site sometime before 1785. The traditional sheep auction no longer takes place but the event continues to have a Sheep Judging competition which includes a category for Young Handlers as well as a falconry display (which was excellent), heavy horses with rides in a trap, and a sheep parade. Sadly we missed the sheepdog demonstration but I'd love to return to see it next year.

The Sheep Parade, Findon Sheep Fair 2014
Findon Sheep Fair's most beautiful

The Harris family have had an association with Findon Sheep Fair since the 1940s and it was wonderful to see Harris's Old Tyme Amusements with their colourful, old-fashioned rides. All the patterns and lettering have been painted by the current fifth generation John Harris.

Harris Brothers good 'ole fashioned funfair
Harris Traditional Funfair

Hundreds of people turned out for the occasion but it seemed as though everyone except my small party had traveled there by car, with vehicles parked bumper to bumper on all the country roads surrounding Nepcote Green, a full car park and bleating rumours of gridlocked traffic preventing folk from getting to the fair. Car dependent herd mentality. The bus ride back to Worthing was hassle-free, just a 5 minute walk to the bus stop from the Green and we were home in time for tea.

End of show, Findon Sheep Fair

Monday, 15 September 2014

High Low Blouse: Burda 7220 - Version A

Burda Style 7220: blouse A

This is the first garment I've made in recent months that when worn has elicited the response "Where did you buy it?" instead of asking if I've made it myself.  I don't mind at all if people can tell my clothes are homemade, on the contrary I'm a happy ambassador for home-grown fashion but must admit this blouse is a tad more sophisticated and muted than my usual handmade creations and I am rather tickled that it passes as 'shop bought'!

The sewing pattern Burda Style 7220 contains two different blouses (A and B), both reminiscent of Issey Miyake's futuristic chic office wear of the late 1980s. The fabric is Sea Island Cotton by Peter Horton Textiles. It has a lovely dense weave and is smooth to the touch, crisp to cut, and wears and washes well too.

Burda 7220 and Peter Horton Textiles Sea Island Cotton

I decided to make version A first, a collarless short sleeve blouse with high-low hem and centre front gathers.  I drafted a longer sleeve to finish just above my wrist as I thought the above-elbow sleeve would be unflattering. Burda's sewing pattern instructions were quite baffling to follow but as soon as I discarded them and just followed the diagrams instead it was an easy shirt to make.

Burda 7220 version A: High Low Blouse details

The back of the shirt is dramatically long and will probably peep out from below most of my coats, but at this time of year when it's still warm enough not to wear a coat or jacket, I'm really enjoying wearing this style. In fact it's one of my current favourite things to wear and I'll definitely make another of version of A, just as soon as I've finished and blogged version B...

The finished item: Blouse A, Burda 7220
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