Friday, 30 September 2011

Lost Gardens of Heligan

I have visited Cornwall a few times over the years and this year I finally got the opportunity to visit the magical Lost Gardens of Heligan. Here are some of my photos, with a bit of Photoshop witchery…

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Wedding Cushion

I am often stumped when it comes to choosing wedding presents, so when my friend Tracy got married earlier this month I decided to make her something that was more of a sentimental keepsake rather than buy her a toaster or whatever. I believe it is much nicer to receive something handmade and I prefer to use my time making something myself rather than traipsing through shopping centres or trawling the internet. For my textiles projects I have made myself a rule that I can only use fabrics that I already have (as far as possible) so I dug out some shiny silks that I bought in India 15 years ago and matched them with other fabrics I had lying around. The middle heart is red velour, as is the cushion. My favourite heart is the one in the top right corner which was from an old shirt that got ripped. I ironed the hearts onto Bondaweb and bonded them to wool from an old grey cardigan that I boil washed so it wouldn't unravel. Then I machine stitched around the hearts and couched some recycled silk sari thread around the middle heart. Tracy's name is embroidered in chain stitch and Ali's using the machine. To finish it off I blanket stitched the wool onto a cushion that I cheated and bought. I was in a hurry and wasn't sure if my cushion making skills were good enough for a special wedding present!


Friday, 16 September 2011

My Inspirations: Jessica Ogden

About ten years ago, at the end of my first year studying Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art, I managed to secure a placement at one of my favourite fashion designers' studio - Jessica Ogden. I had first seen her work at Fabric of Fashion: a Crafts Council exhibition in 2000. I was struck by the earthy simplicity and inventiveness of her designs; she created dresses from vintage linen tea towels (back when the word vintage was far less ubiquitous!) and old 1970s Clothkits fabric. It was almost anti-fashion - much of her designs used recycled fabrics.

Dress made from old Clothkits fabric

So I was delighted to spend the summer working in her studio. I don't think that I realised at the time what a huge influence her work would become. I sat there distressing skirts with sandpaper and then darning them, to give them the appearance of a WWII relic. I used a smocking machine to make a beautiful gathered silk skirt. Tattered old quilts were cut up and transformed into jackets. I was seduced by the character and history of these ancient textiles. I had just written an essay on sustainable fashion - which seemed to me to be an oxymoron, and came to the conclusion that the least damaging to the environment was to recycle old fabrics. The word upcycle was yet to be invented.

I helped dress the models at her fashion show and took some photographs...

Hand stitched patchwork skirt

Dress made from vintage patchwork quilt top

Pleated skirt with hand stitching

Smocked and hand stitched wedding skirt

Patchwork skirt

Jacket made from vintage Durham quilt

Dress made from vintage patchwork quilt top

Jessica adjusting the wedding outfit