Worthing's William Blake Mini Protest Banner

William Blake mini fashion protest banner

This afternoon I committed a small act of craftivism. I embroidered and hung a #minifashionprotest banner in Worthing town centre as part of Craftivist Collective's project for War On Want's Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign. 
The Collective has asked people to stitch small banners with messages related to the exploitation of sweatshop workers in Bangladesh and hang them in a location that links to their embroidered message. Regular readers will know that I decided to stop buying clothes following the Rana Plaza clothing factory disaster, so taking part in Craftivist Collective's initiative was something I was keen to do and has strengthened my resolve to say 'no' to fast fashion. 
This week BBC Panorama's investigation into the working lives of factory workers in Bangladesh provided further food for thought and inspired me to make my mini banner in response to the allegations the programme broadcast concerning my mum's favourite clothes shop. A William Blake quote seemed apt. 
Craftivism in Worthing!

Here is my banner in situ! I hung it in the middle of a bench as Worthing has an abundance of poignant memorial plaques on its benches all the way along the seafront. 
Mini Fashion Protest Banner, Worthing

I like the idea that someone may sit on this bench and contemplate the meaning of my embroidered message.
Memorial bench plaque for the Bangladeshi clothing factory workers

Manga girl's kimono costume: Simplicity 2069

Girl's kimono in anime fabric

Searching online for manga printables suitable for an 8 year old, we stumbled upon Alexander Henry's anime inspired Thunder Flower fabric. My daughter thought it 'so cool' and loved the heroic karate kicking girls with blue and green hair leaping through cherry blossoms. It's now out of print but I managed to track down a couple of metres in her preferred blue colourway. Red and pink versions of the fabric are still available on Etsy but I think I was lucky to get one of the last pieces of it in blue. 

Thunder Flower anime fabric by Alexander Henry

It seemed the ideal fabric to use to make her a Simplicity 2069 kimono costume to wear to Brighton Japan Festival. We went to The Fabric Shop in Worthing for the rest of the material. She chose mint coloured cotton for the collar, thick green felt and a yellow ribbon for the obi sash and some pistachio lining fabric and green net for the skirt. 

Simplicity 2069: Girl's anime costume

Spoilt from using straightforward Japanese sewing books, it took me so long to cut out the numerous tissue paper pattern pieces for the jacket, obi and two-layer skirt for this Simplicity outfit that it left me feeling completely exasperated and I abandoned the project.

Two weeks later and with the Japan festival looming I decided to finally get round to finishing the thing. I barricaded myself in the lounge one Saturday and with concentration and Novos Baianos Acabou Chorare playing on repeat managed to sew all the pieces together in the right order. The end result is beautiful and in hindsight was well worth all the effort involved. I even plan to use the sewing pattern a second time...
Waiting for the train to Brighton Japan Festival

Ivy Arch at Mini Moderns REMIX

Mini Moderns REMIX, London Design Festival 2013

I am thrilled to be taking part in Mini Moderns REMIX at East London Design Store as part of the 2013 London Design Festival. The project sees Mini Moderns working with British based designers and artists who have been invited to reinterpret their iconic designs.

As a huge fan of their work I was delighted to be asked to contribute and have produced lavender bags cut from Mini Moderns C-60 and Stevie fabric as well as a limited edition range of coin purses.

 C-60 coin purses by Ivy Arch at Mini Moderns REMIX

I travelled to London for the launch last night and was completely bowled over to see my crafts exhibited alongside the stunning work of Benjamin Boyce, Brume, Leonhard Pfeifer, Rimmington Vian, Matt Sewell, Group Design and Urban Upholstery. Zoe Murphy's gorgeous Buddha of Suburbia Drawers are a real showstopper!

Mini Moderns REMIX at East London Design Store

Zoe Murphy Buddha of Suburbia drawers

Ivy Arch at Mini Moderns REMIX
Ivy Arch lavender bags and purses at Mini Moderns REMIX 2013

Mini Moderns REMIX at East London Design Store opens on 14th September and runs until 22nd September 2013.

Spots, stripes, sunflowers and Gudrun Sjödén

On Saturday I excitedly caught the train to London for the premiere of Gudrun Sjödén's new Classics Collection at her Monmouth Street store. Gudrun was there in person greeting her delighted customers and I joined the queue of eager fans waiting to meet her (we'd travelled from all corners of the country). She graciously made time to answer my questions.

Gudrun Sjoden's Classics Collection
Gudrun Sjödén's colourful Classics Collection

Can you tell me about the Classics Collection?

The Classics Collection comprises stripes, dots, sunflowers and tulips – pattern designs that I have used for many years. I began working as a designer in 1963, at the time of Swinging London! There were a lot of stripes, squares and geometric patterns at that time – simple beautiful designs that never go out of style.

What are your values and ethics when it comes to designing?

It's very important that you consider the environmental impact of production. Nowadays you can't avoid it, you have to understand what you are doing and what you are producing. One of my goals is that I want to make clothes and designs that people will wear for a very long time. I think that this is the most valuable way of having the least environmental impact, that people use and wear their clothes until they are worn out, not just buying and throwing clothes away after a little while.

Which woman in the world would you most like to dress?

Maybe Queen Elizabeth II, but I don't think she will change her style!

Perhaps she wears Gudrun Sjödén at home?

Yes, maybe when takes her dogs for a walk!

Would you consider making a sewing pattern book of your designs for your fans to make their own Gudrun Sjödén clothes at home using your fabrics?

I made one a long time ago. It was called 'Easy Way of Sewing by Yourself' and people are still asking for this book! There are not many books that teach you to easily cut and sew.

Is it still available now?

No, it was published maybe 25 years ago.

Do you still get excited by fabric?

Oh yes. It's still fascinating!

What are you going to visit while you're in London?

This visit I'm mainly at the shop, making sure everyone is working properly and that everything looks as I want it to look. It's very nice to meet the customers and talk to them and get ideas from want they want and what they think.

Fashion illustrations by Gudrun Sjoden
Gudrun Sjödén's beautiful illustrations hang in the shop

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Gudrun's care and attention to her customers is wonderfully refreshing and was much appreciated by the many happy people in the shop. Some faces I recognised from the store opening last year, many like me had travelled for hours to be there and we were all united in our appreciation of Gudrun's beautiful designs. I spent another joyful hour looking at the collection and chatting to fellow devotees over sunflower cake and elderflower cordial.

Gudrun Sjoden's London Store

The Berlin Macaroon Dress: Simplicity pattern 2363

Simplicity 2363, Berlin Macaroon dress
This patisserie design fabric was a surprise find at Brighton's Fabric Land and cost £4.75 a metre. It's a heavy cotton printed with vintage cake recipe illustrations and is available in two colourways: there's a pale pink and cream Paris Macaroon version, and this one, the Berlin version with strong greens and blues on a beige background.

Undaunted by the hideous illustration on the cover of Simplicity 2363 sewing pattern, I decided to use the fabric to make dress D. The cut of the bodice reminds me of Anna Maria Horner's gorgeous Painted Portrait Dress – a pattern I've dithered about buying as it's not available for sale in the UK (the price of international postage makes it a very expensive purchase for a single pattern). Simplicity 2363 will have to do for the time being.

Simplicity 2363

The Simplicity pattern was straightforward to follow, I'd say the sizing is generous. The finished frock has a roomy fit, more like a tunic than the fitted dress on the illustrated packet but it's so comfortable to wear I think I'd probably make the same size if I use the pattern again. The fabric has a linen/canvas feel and is a little crumply after wearing it for the day but I've decided this adds to its olde worlde charm!

Patisserie dress by Ivy Arch

I intend to wear it to visit Cocoa Patisserie which has the most delicious display of macaroons in the window. I hope I won't be mistaken for the menu. 

Cocoa Patisserie, Brighton
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