195o's inspired african print lover

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Off to see some old old friends

So im off to see some old friends of mine today up in Norfolk in a little place called Diss.
Not going to be back until Sunday so untill next week!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Waving your flag with pride?

In the lead up to THE ROYAL wedding I am seeing the British flag EVERYWHERE even my local swimming pool is flying the flag with pride! It's something that will always make me feel a bit strange as it has become a symbol, for me anyway, of some rather unpleasant things. Its a shame that what should be a representation of national pride has been tinged with the unpleasantness of the far right.
Historically flags have been used by all nations as a representation of pride and I hope the coming days will aide in changing my view a little and seeing this as great time to be British forgetting the associated negatives.
A tentative link i know but i thought i would take this opportunity to show you some of the beautifully hand crafted Fante Asafo flags of Ghana.
These flags are hand crafted and have a strong link to colonialism (maybe not such a tedious link after all!)

If your interested You can read more about the history of Fante flags here

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

When I die bury me in an oversized sewing machine

There is a tradition in certain areas of Ghana for the dead to be buried in a huge carving of the thing they most loved in life or a representation of their profession. There is pretty much a coffin perfectly made for every thing you could imagine. If you had to chose what would be the one thing that sums up you life so far? tough question eh?well i guess mine would have to be a huge sewing machine...... 

I looked it up thinking there is no way such a thing would exist but low and behold here it is......

Friday, 22 April 2011

Photo shoot insperation

It so important to get an idea of what it is you like and how you want your shoot to look. I always have a million things going round in my head. As i said in an earlier post my models for my next shoot are all dancers. I want to get a combination of a 1950's tropical pin up images and a more physical image showing the bodies and the muscular form of a dancer.
 I went to see an exhibition at the V&A of costumes and images of the Ballet Russes. The photographs in that exhibition were very striking i loved the positioning of the dancers and how there physicality is the main focus of the image.

I have found some beautiful Tropical pin up pictures and i think the combination of the two will eliminate the potential cheesiness of the pin up pics.


I cant wait to see the final images i hope they come out how i see them in my minds eye.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Phyllis Galembo

Wow these are some serious photographs! They are taken by Phyllis Galembo and they are from her book, Maske which contains photographs from festivals and celebrations in Africa and the Caribbean.
The colour combinations are extraordinary. 

They are pretty powerful but with a lovely sense of humour. You can read more about Phyllis Galembo and how she became interested in taking these photographs.   

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Dreaming about dresses


I feel embarrassed even admitting it but yes i have been going to bed closing my eyes and dreaming about dresses. Not quite Marting Luther King is it? Saying this out loud is like admitting your favorite song is um bop or you love Harry form one direction....sad times!

I think writing this blog has heightened everything i was thinking before.....its more like a little diary of ideas for me. When i write about something exiting (to me of course probably not to everyone) like new fabric it turns me into a super geek and i am sure that i am the most boring person in the world. There is only one person i know that loves talking about sewing as much as i do and for the purposes of this blog she will be know as miss jazz. Oh the emails we send to each other would make most of you fall asleep at your desks! So i wont go into all of that instead I wanted to show you some pretty things i want to use along with the Kenyan fabric i posted yesterday.

MMMMMM lovely leather straps (oh god that does not sound entirely right does it?)

I also want a big fat gold kilt pin or a broach but they are either
to Scottish

or too old and expensive

So i think I'm going to give up on an online search and get out into the wild world and find something or make something myself.....

Oh and back to the dreaming thing..... so i went to sleep thinking about my fabric and what i could do with it and in my head i was thinking something kind of structured and 50's underneath and something a bit like the image below in the draped parts.......

(oh god it pains me to use a pic of this dude but its the only thing i could find that describes what i mean!)

Sorry getting back to the story..... when i woke up this morning Gertie had written a post about almost  the exact dress i had dreamt about.

this probably sounds like the weirdest combination ever but in my mind its beautiful.......
pics to be posted here once its done

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Tasty new fabric

So after all my bleating on about East African fabric I thought it was time to actually bag some of my very own so I did just that.......

Check out these lovelies........

 They are winging there way to me as I write this I cant wait to see the colours and pattern in the flesh. Just got to decide what to do with them now better get my thinking cap on.
Oh and just in case your a fabric buff the cloth is called Kikoy the ones I have chosen have been woven and made in Kenya East Africa. (Dont want to over face you with regurgitated facts but if you want to know more give them a google, there are plenty more articulate descriptions on-line than i could ever give). It is traditionally worn as a sarong drape or wrap, I always feel sad and a little bit guilty when I cut these beautiful things up. I hope I will do them justice with my design, with a couple of details  thrown in as a reference the their present and there past.
Every time I find something new I promise Iwill post the follow up on here so I better stop writing and start sewing !!!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Pants Pants Pants Pants

Lovely lovely pants! I have been making African and Hawaiian print bloomers for a little while now..... They are the perfect cheeky combination of my two loves all things 1950's especially  burlesque and big bright prints.

So I'm going to be getting my bloomers out and doing a photo shoot with some dancers. Expect jumping frolicking and lots of brightly coloured movement. Its scheduled to be on the 1st of may so watch this space!!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Think I might be a little bit in love with everything from Ghana

OK so that is a massive over statement..... but it might seem like that to an outsider I mean I do love to bang on about Ghana more than a little bit.....
Well this post is dedicated to some Ghanaian musicians I cave come across in the last couple of years.
First up Wanlov the Kubolor
His new album describes him better than I ever could......

I met him for the first time last year on a sunny day in Camden. I had just finished work and looked like desk slave. Wanlov was the exact opposite all long dreads skirt and no shoes, as soon as I walked around the corner he was totally unmistakable. I was only going to meet him to pick up his and M3nsas DVD "Coz Ov Moni"  The first ever pidgin musical.....but he invited me into his home offered me food and water and made me feel like a friend.

It was defiantly worth the trek  film is very funny! well worth a watch.He does not stop at musicals you should check out his new album Brown Card- African Gypsy well worth a listen.
and a little sample to wet your appetite 

Defiantly not to be forgotten his partner in crime M3nsa who's album no1 mango street has been playing on repeat since I bought it. I honestly cant get enough i put it on last week and everyone at home was shaking their bottom in appreciation!

So while you scrape your cash together to go out an buy it here is  his song about what you can do while you roast my favorite  food......

Oh and just in case you fancy preparing this delicious snack

Thursday, 14 April 2011

I Can Make Shoes

Well believe it or not now I really can make shoes..... well sandals at least all thanks to a rather lovely lady, Amanda.
I went along to one of her sandal making workshops on Saturday.
The sun was shining as made my way to her  studio in Olympic house in stoke newington and I was in the mood for making. My workstation was laid out beautifully with my soles and my little name place. Amanda ran through the details and what we needed to get through and after picking out my fabric I was on my way.

It was really nice being part of a small group, we could share ideas and help each other out. I felt relaxed and comfortable and totally at home!
Before I knew it I had my very own pair of sandals I cant wait to wear them on sunny days I think they might be the most comfortable sandals in the world ever and I'm not just saying that because I made them!!!!

I also found out she runs a 3 day shoe making course so i think i might have to save my pennys and get along to it!

If you want to head down there yourself check out her website icanmakeshoes

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Pina Fabric from the Philippines

 So who knew you could make fabric out of Pineapples? I for one sure as hell didn't. After my last post about the origins of fabric I got talking to my friend from the Philippines he told me about this amazing stuff called Pina cloth. I am by no means an expert but here are a few pics for you to look at.

extracting the fiber form the pineapple

weaving the fabric

and the end result a beautiful traditional dress

and the most beautiful hand embroidered cloth. My friend has promised me he will bring me some back when he next goes home...... and if he does I will make sure i show you the end garment here.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The original and best

So this post is a little bit more personal. After my last post a friend of mine said "Were you aware that Thakoon is using Masaii (East African) colours/cloth in those designs? ". It got me thinking about how important it is to acknowledge the roots of the fabric you use. As a white girl that uses African print it is something I often find myself explaining. So here it goes............

I fell in love with African print when I first moved to London. Sunday was one of my favourite days. Boring shopping trips to Elephant and Castle were quickly brightened up by all the lady's in their church clothes. Every colour imaginable set against the grey tower blocks of South East London, even now I find it quite a sight to behold.
 After hunting around I quickly realised they were not off the peg.................even if they were I cant help feeling I would look more than a little bit silly bopping around South London in my Kaba and Slit  .......

Kaba and Slit 

It was around about this time I wanted to find a new skill something creative as I had had a bit of a block after leaving uni. I decided to teach myself how to sew. After investing in the cheapest sewing machine I could find on e-bay I went out on a mission to buy fabric.East street market was where I picked up my first piece of cloth, helped out in the very basics by the super patient lady that owned the shop. She had clearly been sewing all her life but did not once laugh at my stupid questions. I went home and made my first ever dress. Oh it was quite frankly the ugliest  thing you have ever seen and when i took it to show my Ghanaian  mum (obviously not my actual mum but my second mum when i'm in london) she laughed hard at my shoddy work, wandered off to her room and pulled out some properly made clothes. We sat for hours looking at the cloth while she told me stories about how it is made, how you can tell a quality fabric form a dodgy rip off (very important) and the history of the patterns. That was it i was in love not just with the cloth or sewing but with the meaning and the stories. Fashion is such an emotionless void you wear clothes because they make you look good or because someone in a magazine has told you to. I don't want to sound self righteous when i say this so please don't think thats where its coming form, but when I make clothes its about keeping some of these  traditions alive and bringing this beautiful cloth to a wider audience.
So in answer to my friends question I don't only know where my cloth comes form but I really really care where it comes form, be that West Africa East Africa or somewhere else in the world and  hope that comes off when you see what i do?