Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Make It Perfect Poppy Tunic – with modifications

Poppy Tunic in Soft Cactus Lasting Leaves, made by Ivy Arch

Since I made this tunic at the start of the month the weather has turned a tad chillier and so I've only had occasion to wear it once. I really should have chosen more seasonally appropriate fabrics but found an unexpected bolt end of Soft Cactus Lasting Leaves combed cotton in a local fabric shop and couldn't wait until spring to use it!

Make It Perfect Poppy Tunic with modified yoke

The dress is a modified version of Make It Perfect's Poppy Tunic. It's a simple sleeveless design available as an instant PDF download, which is a cinch to assemble as it has essentially just four pattern pieces. There are some beautiful versions of the Poppy Tunic on the web, especially by Jane at Lempo Bee and Laura at Craftstorming

Back yoke detail - laborious but lovely

I love the contrast yoke but felt that it looked too small and short in the original design to suit my pear-shaped proportions so I lengthened the yoke on the front and back pattern pieces, then widened the hemline border panel to balance out the dress. For yoke and border I used the left over lining fabric from my Uptown Coat. I added pockets into the side seam – my default side seam pocket pattern piece for these situations is from Simplicity 2363, the shape is just right.

Front yoke.

The Poppy Tunic is a beginner's sewing pattern but I found attaching the home-made bias binding to the front and back yoke panels very fiddly to do and this part took me ages (the written instructions are clear but it was a process I found tricky). However, the end result definitely justifies the swearing and sighing involved and it does make the tunic look lovely. I may have to make a knit or corduroy version to see me through the winter but know that come spring this one will really come into its own.

Make It Perfect: Poppy Tunic

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Checking In, Checking Out: Stylish Dress Book 1 – Dress V

Stylish Dress Book 1: dress V by Ivy Arch

Returning to Stylish Dress Book: Wear With Freedom – the mother of all Japanese dressmaking books – I found there are still a good number of dresses in it that I haven't made, so turned my attention to tartan shirt-dress V. I like the loose shape of this design and the gathered lower front panel. The shirt collar looks great on the twenty-something Japanese model pictured, but experience tells me that wearing a sharp shirt-collar with my own short grey hair and middle-aged face is a dispiritingly dowdy look. Instead, I redrafted the neckline with a simple scoop shaped front, drafted a facing, and took out the centre front button panel replacing it with a centre front seam. 

Tartan shirt dress V, Stylish Dress Book

I used two and a half metres of a checked suiting fabricanother £4 a metre bargain from Worthing's Wednesday market. The book suggests you use 2.8 metres but I managed to match the checks at the side seams and had some fabric left over, so consider their estimate generous. I shortened the front hem so that the hem line dips lower at the back, it makes the shape of it feel a bit more sprightly in this heavy fabric.

Stylish Dress Book 1: dress V

Gathering and stitching the front panel was fiddly but not impossible and the rest of the dress was not problematic until I burnt a small hole in the centre front when pressing it with a too-hot iron. Curses! I repaired the hole but decided to sew the front pocket over it dungaree-style for peace of mind. The pocket has since come into its own as a handy place to transport my mobile phone. I added a second small pocket the back of the dress, consistent with the improvised dungaree pocket on the front, and finished the pockets and hem with some embroidered braid.

Back view, dress V

The dress has been such a hit that I have worn in three days in a row - unprecedented behaviour from someone who is not averse to changing outfits twice in one day.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Hitchcock film poster lavender bags in the Ivy Arch shop


New in my shop this evening are a batch of Alfred Hitchcock film poster lavender bags. They're made using material from Robert Kaufman's novelty Classic Horror Film collection. The Cinema Series depicts posters from Hitchcock's films with sharp graphics and good quality printing on 100% cotton fabric. I've backed them with black and white polka dot cotton fabric and stuffed them with super fragrant dried lavender flowers from Provence. 

Hitchcock lavender bags in the Ivy Arch shop

My favourite has to be Saul Bass's iconic Vertigo poster lavender bag with its iconic hand-cut lettering against a bright orange background and stylised figures spiralling into a white vortex. I can assure you that any anxiety and disorientation induced by this image will soon be soothed by the fragrant notes of lavender within!
 

Saul Bass's Vertigo poster - as a lavender bag

Ivy Arch Hitchcock lavender bags include Psycho, The Birds, Rope and North by Northwest. All are available to buy now in my Etsy shop.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Stashbuster Patchwork Cushions

Stashbuster Patchwork Cushion by Ivy Arch

Patchwork is ideal for using up scraps of fabric left over from other projects. I can just about bear binning the overlocking offcuts and fraying cracklings snipped away while dressmaking, but feel uneasy throwing any other pieces of material away when there is the possibility they could be used for something else one day. At the end of each project all my fabric scraps get chucked into clear plastic sandwich bags and are stored in a big box along with the hundreds of other small bagged up remnants I've collected.

Patchworked pieces from dressmaking offcuts

I decided to start putting those leftovers to use and make some new cushion covers. I whiled away two evenings selecting fabrics from my remnant stash and carefully cutting out three score and four squares. For backing I used the remaining pieces of Gudrun Sjödén's organic eco cotton (which had been patiently waiting for their moment since I made these ukulele gig bags) and some beige polka dot cotton left over from making my daughter's Hello Tokyo quilt. I made simple envelope backs so that the covers can be easily removed for washing.

Ivy Arch patchwork cushion
Patchwork from remnants, colourful and cheery!
The cushions are backed with Gudrun Sjöden remnants and leftover crafting cotton.

Measuring and cutting out the squares is a meditative process but for me the great pleasure of machining patchwork is seeing how quickly the finished pieces come together when you do start sewing. The colourful finished cushions are designed to bring cheer to even the coldest, greyest November day.

Patchwork pileup

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The tide is turning in Worthing: Tide of Light Festival 2014

Fireworks over Worthing Pier, Tide of Light 2014

In a week when Worthing was outed by The Guardian as one of the most unaffordable places to buy a home in the UK I am loathe to continue publishing photos showing how lovely our seaside town is lest it encourages more wealthy people to buy up property here, further inflating house prices and the cost of living, while for many of the town's residents (myself included) home ownership remains out of reach.
Ah!

However, it would be churlish not to celebrate the wonderful community events that take place in Worthing and the Tide of Light bonfire night celebration is another example of the town's great civic spirit.

Tide of Light festival of fireworks, Worthing

Tide of Light is a crowdfunded event organised by Worthing Lions Club and local events team Bartie Presents. Tonight there were lantern making workshops and a colourful children's parade; a packed to the gills night-time street market; local bands playing music; a funfair stretching all along the central seafront parade; and the absolute highlight – a festival of fireworks over Worthing Pier.

Bonfire Night fireworks, Worthing

The huge turn out for this spectacular event was well deserved by the organisers and I dearly hope that whatever the future has in store for Worthing it never loses its great big community heart.

Monday, 3 November 2014

November ukulele appliqué bags handmade by Ivy Arch

Applique ukulele bags by Ivy Arch

I've been sewing a new batch of appliqué ukulele tote bags. They're all made from a combination of vintage furnishing fabrics with different front/back panels and have a contrasting appliquéd ukulele on the front. 

Ukulele tote bags in vintage fabrics - made by Ivy Arch
Appliqué details by Ivy Arch

They're the perfect size for carrying A4 books or magazines and are ideal for transporting your ukulele songbooks. There are five new bags in total, all available to buy now from my Etsy shop. 

November's bags, grand finale! All handmade by Ivy Arch

Monday, 27 October 2014

Ottobre Design: Art Teacher Dress

Ottobre Design Art Teacher Dress: made by Ivy Arch

With four days left of October I am in time to blog a second seasonal make from Ottobre Design's Autumn/Winter 2014 edition. The Art Teacher Dress looked very appealing (and easy) and I had some suitable fabric in my pending box – a floral corduroy bought last winter in the Ditto Fabrics sale. This time my long-neglected tracing wheel sprung into action and wheeling out the pattern pieces onto a piece of tracing paper was a smooth process - there are just four pattern pieces to trace out (and a facing) for this dress.

Ottobre Design Art Teacher Dress by Ivy Arch

The Art Teacher is almost identical to the magazine's Miss Sporty dress, but with a much more charming name! It's a boxy straight seamed tunic with three-quarter length wide sleeves and two small kangaroo pouch pockets on the front. 

Art Teacher dress, dig those pockets!

The pockets remind me of Dress N in Stylish Dress Book Volume 3 (another frock I must get round to making one of these days) and are inserted into a horizontal seam on the front. My material is a stretch corduroy so I cut out the back panel in one piece, dispensing with the need for a zip – the neckline leaves ample room to pull the dress on over the head.

Pocket detail: Art Teacher dress

I made two attempts at photographing the dress in my back yard and each time it clouded over enough to alter the stunning colours of this fabric. Only the close up shot of the pocket does the fabric justice, but you can get an idea of fit of the thing anyway! I love the easy shape of it. 

New haircut, glad to be grey

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
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