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Following on from the success of my clothkits dress, I bought a dress kit from Organic Clothing company Gossypium while on a trip down south to Lewes.

The kit came in a great cotton bag:

And included instructions, printed cloth, and thread:

Compared to the clothkits dress, this kit comes with more creative opportunities, with options to add a collar, placket, sleeves and dress frill:

The website claims that the dress can be made up in 2 hours. I think that I took at least double this! Although this did include some unpicking… I decided on a sleeveless version with a collar and no frill. Here is the front:

And the back with great contrast bias binding detailing:

To keep the length at the bottom and eliminate the need to turn up the hem and loose some of the pattern I made some additional bias binding out of the remaining fabric and finished off the bottom of the dress:

The dress is just the right length for wearing over skinny jeans, but I would definitely be tempted to buy a second kit in pink and red and make this into the longer dress including a frill with a great bird print. I am now thinking of adding some embroidery detailing to the pattern to make it extra special.

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The big show this summer at Edinburgh’s Gallery of Modern Art is a Tracy Emin 20 Years Retrospective.

I enjoyed this exhibition far more than I expected to. I was especially taken with Tracy Emin’s blankets and her appliqued chair. These included hand stitching and applique including stories written on cloth and fabrics from sofas, old clothing etc which have personal significance.

The original CV blanket provided in place of the usual paper version – Hotel International:

(Image from http://www.nationalgalleries.org/whatson/exhibition/5:368/5118/5435)

A later one  – Automatic Orgasm:

and Terminal 1:

Images from: http://www.artfacts.net/index.php/pageType/artworkInfo/artworkID/3097/lang/

And white on white- Super Drunk Bitch:

Image from http://www.bbc.co.uk/collective/gallery/2/static.shtml?collection=traceyemin&image=superdrunkbitch)

I was really inspired by this chair, called ‘There’s a lot of money in chairs’ decorated with embroidery, patchwork and applique. The chair was given to Tracy by her Nan and has been embellished to tell her personal story.

(Image from: http://www.sudsandsoda.com/images/emin/2.html)

According to Wikipedia “An exchange between the artist and her grandmother using the nicknames they had for each other: ‘Ok Puddin, Thanks Plum’, covers the bottom front of the chair and a saying of Emin’s grandmother’s, ‘There’s a lot of money in chairs’, is appliquéd in pink along the top and front of its back. Behind the chair back, the first page of Exploration of the Soul, handwritten onto fabric, is appliquéd together with other dictums such as, ‘It’s not what you inherit. It’s what you do with your inheritance’”.

I am so delighted that Clothkits has come back to life. I have clear memories of making pilgrimages to Lewes near Brighton with my mum in the 1980’s to buy piles of brightly coloured fabrics that had already been printed with patterns. The following weeks would then be a flurry of sewing activity and new kids clothes for me.

The new Clothkits has moved on with the times and offers some beautiful and quirky adults clothing designed by artists such as Rob Ryan and People Will Always Need Plates. I have been eying up the site with interest over the last few months and after payday last week treated myself to a Rob Ryan Halterneck dress.

The dress arrived promptly and was beautifully packaged in green and white tissue and a gorgeous polka dot green ribbon.

The kit included instructions, printed fabric, zipper, thread and a Clothkits label.

The pattern sizes 8-12 were printed on a thick cotton sateen cloth making it easy just to cut around the pattern pieces without any of the usually faff of messing around with paper patterns.

I am a size 10-12 normally and went for the 12 thinking that I could always make it smaller, however it fitted pretty snugly around the bodice and required not alterations. I have to admit that it did take me a wee while to put together but it was definately worth it.

Here is the finished front:

And back:

And a shot of what it looks like on:

I am really delighted with the end result and despite initial misgivings that the kit was a bit of an investment (for a student anyway!), I am definitely converted. The fabric is very high quality (although it does seem to fray quite easily so an over locker would be ideal!) and the design very unique – you are not going to find this dress on the high street in a hurry.

I should go to the theatre more often. I always enjoy it in one way or another. The Edinburgh Festival means that there is no excuse not to go, although the choice can be overwhelming. I have kicked off this year by going to see Zinnie HarrisFall at the Traverse Theatre.

It was quite simply one of the most gripping and thrilling theatre experiences I have had. The synopsis on the Traverse website reads:

“To make your future, do you have to murder the past?

In the aftermath of a horrific civil conflict, a new country is preparing for the mass execution of its war criminals. Kate knows nothing and everything about it. She knew one of the guilty men for 15 years and never suspected a thing.

As the city burns and the new government struggles to look credible to the rest of the world, Kate gets tragically caught up in their conspiracy.”

The characters were all credible and compelling in their own ways, with the play opening with a monologue with one of the female characters recounting a evening of distress interrupted with seemingly small but very real details of how she was cooking the beans at the time, ensuring that they didn’t over boil, and noting when they were eaten as the drama unfolded.

It was these very human needs and concerns that came through the play for me, highlighting every human being’s need to be loved and to love, despite being surrounded by fear and conflict. The set was also impressive, creating a very dark but real environment for the play to unfold.

After such a positive experience, I make a commitment here and now to go to more theatre over the coming year…

I went to see a talk with artist Kay Rosen at the Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh today. I had not knowingly come across Kay’s work before but was quite taken by her exploration of using words as images and with playing with their arrangement to create new or added meanings. These are two works that stood out for me.

Memory of Red

Greyer G

(Images from http://www.kayrosen.com/work.html#public).

It is her sense of humour and not taking things too seriously that came across from the talk. In the past her work has been interpreted as being very political, highlighting specific political situations, however she was keen to assert that her intention was far broader than this. Although there was also an openness to and welcoming of other people’s interpretations of her work.

I am really interested in using more text in my own work and feel that this approach could lend itself to textile pieces very well. I will also do some research into concrete poetry and the work of artists such as Ian Hamilton Finlay who also explored using aesthetics to bring words to life, for example in his work acrobats:

(Image from http://jacketmagazine.com/15/ihf-pix/acrobats.gif).