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

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

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

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
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