Beach House Park Bug Hotel

Beach House Park Bug Hotel

Yesterday we helped build a bug hotel in Worthing's Beach House Park as part of the BugCycle project run by new community organisation Worthing Wildlife in partnership with established community arts group Creative Waves and Sussex Wildlife Trust. BugCycle aims to promote wildlife and encourage biodiversity through creating new habitats for wildlife in this much loved Worthing park.

Beach House Park Bug Hotel - ready for guests

On a drizzly Sunday afternoon we joined a group of hardy locals of all ages to build the first Beach House Bug Hotel. A bug hotel (wildlife stack or mini-beast mansion) is a man-made shelter for insects made from recycled materials which mimics natural habitats by creating lots of small spaces, nooks and crevices of different sizes for insects to nest in. 

Building a bug hotel in Beach House Park, Worthing

We used old pallets, bricks, rotting bark, tufts of moss, dead leaves, stones, broken pottery, branches with holes drilled in and hollow bamboo canes to create an ideal environment for insects. Our bug hotel will attract a wide variety of invertebrates including; solitary bees, woodlice, woodlice spiders, earwigs, ladybirds, beetle larvae, funnel web spiders and centipedes.
   On walking home through the park later that day my daughter spotted a bee leaving the hotel. It's heartening to discover it's inhabited already!

A closer look at the Bug Hotel

In other news: the first buds have appeared on the BugCycle willow dome we helped build last month. What a joy to see growth and new life in this corner of the park.

First shoots appearing on Beach House Park Willow Dome
Beach House Park's Willow Dome, soaking up the drizzle

Liberty Lytton Tova Dress

Liberty Bloomsbury 'Lytton' print Tova dress by Ivy Arch

It took longer for me to get round to blogging this second Bloomsbury Tova than it did to sew it, and it's already had several wears and a wash! The main dress material is a magenta and teal version of Liberty's Bloomsbury Gardens Lytton fabric. Lytton is an archive print created for Liberty in 1933 by Bloomsbury group painter Duncan Grant.

Tova dress in Bloomsbury Lytton fabric by Ivy Arch

This Tova dress is identical in cut and is made with the same modifications as my previous one with a closed front neckline and added patch pockets. The contrast fabric is also Lytton, in pale aqua blue. The fabrics were all bought from Ditto in Brighton's Kensington Gardens.

Lytton fabric Tova dress in Liberty fabric designed by Duncan Grant in 1933

Wearing Duncan Grant's prints reminds me of the beautiful gardens at Charleston – the Sussex country home he shared with Vanessa Bell, and meeting place for writers, artists and intellectuals of the Bloomsbury Group. With timely coincidence, Charleston house and garden reopens to the public for the season today, 25th March. 

Bloomsbury Wiksten Tova Dress

Liberty print Wiksten Tova by Ivy Arch

After the sewing saga that was my quilted spring coat, a fast fashion sewing fix was necessary. This Wiksten Tova took a few hours to make and seemed the ideal way to use some of the discounted Liberty Bloomsbury Gardens material I bought at Brighton's Ditto Fabrics recently. The fabric appears to be 'seconds' as there is a printing smudge along the selvedge and a little bit of spotting on parts of the reverse of the print, though the front looks pristine, showing a clear and bright rendition of Duncan Grant's Lytton design. The cotton is fantastic Liberty quality and hardly needed ironing after a pre-wash.

Liberty Bloomsbury Garden 'Lytton' fabric and Makower 'Kensington Floral'

Having made Tova dresses twice before I didn't even need to check the instructions and the whole thing came together with speed. I made a few modifications; changed the neckline to a scoop neck which I finished with floral bias binding, lengthened the sleeves by 5cms and added large patch pockets.

Liberty print Wiksten Tova by Ivy Arch

The yoke, pockets and sleeve trim are cut from a piece of Makower fabric called Kensington Floral. This I bought from Worthing's Sewing Machine Shop on Brighton Road. Happily the shop is under new management so I'm giving it a plug here as I wish the new owners well!

Modified Tova neckline finished with bias binding
Kensington Floral patch pocket

My Bloomsbury Tova was a hit on Instagram before I'd even finished sewing it and I've already cut out a second which I hope to finish in time to wear on Mother's Day this weekend.

Sandals and socks, ready for spring!

Quilted Spring Coat: Burda 7072

Quilted spring coat: Burda 7072 by Ivy Arch

Four weeks in the making, my first homemade quilted coat is finished in time for spring! I'd been meaning to get around to making a quilted coat ever since I fell in love with the process of quilting that first ukulele gig bag. However, aware that it would be a bigger endeavour than a simple dress make, I put the project on the back burner. Then, visiting Eclectic Maker's January sale spied three bolt ends of Laura Gunn's Garden Wall fabric collection and knew work on the quilted coat must begin.

Laura Gunn Garden Wall Collection
Laura Gunn's Garden Wall collection: Garden Carpet, Floral Trivet and Gypsy Vine prints

I had in mind using a simple kimono sleeve sewing pattern but came across Burda Style 7072 and the collarless design looked like it would be ideal. There was enough Laura Gunn burgundy Floral Trivet print to make the main coat, I used the white backed Garden Carpet print to line the main body and a small piece of olive Gypsy Vine fabric to line and trim the sleeves.

Burda Style 7072

Pattern pieces cut out (I added an extra 1cm to the outer coat seams for quilting shrinkage), I prepared to zone out into the zen like state achieved by sewing repetitive straight quilting lines.

Channel quilting bliss

Burda 7072 was easy enough to make by following the sewing pattern diagrams and I ignored Burda's written instructions until it came to sewing the fiddly pointed triangular under-arm seams. These were tricky and quite difficult to perfect in thick newly quilted fabric (though I have to say they weren't much easier to sew in fine cotton lining fabric). There are eight of these triangular seams to sew altogether (including the lining) so if you're thinking of making this pattern, beware!
   Once the headache of sewing those seams was over, the rest of the coat was joyously easy to make. I even enjoyed bagging out the lining. I finished off the sleeve edges with homemade bias trim and used large metal poppers for fasteners.

Quilted coat Burda 7072 by Ivy Arch
Burda Style 7072

In the finished coat – with all its quilted lines – the complicated sleeve construction is barely visible, though has made it a beautifully shaped coat. On balance I'm glad I chose Burda 7072 for this project as it makes an elegant garment and if I can steel myself for sewing more triangular seams, I may even make another... one day.
Burda 7072 finishing details