Selvedge colour range
Cowtan & Tout, elegant and colourful prints. Selvedge colour range for ‘kensington

21st june

As part of a small team of rescuer’s at the creative reuse group; Remade In Brighton, one of the delights is finding a new purpose for fabric remnants from the Huberdashery cupboard.

This wonderful floral fabric has a modern chintzy, furnishing fabric feel to it and it’s lovely for draping.

Wonderfully chintzy !
Far from Hindustani motifs, “Kensington” printed in Englnd for Cowtan & Tout 1982. Delicate floral bouquets and finer sprays over a pale grey ground

Wonderfully chintzy !

It’s almost been fully revived as a classic 1950’s style beach top, with just a few more tweaks to make with the straps and it’s ready !

The original chintz process of block printing by hand has long since migrated into modern, light, cotton glazed type fabrics of which ”Kensington” by Cowtan and Tout from 1982 is a wonderful example. This is a great palette range, looking at the selvedge.I’ll be on the rummage in the rescue section for more chintz selections, as I fancy reworking over motifs and floral scenes using Kantha embroidery techniques, to really bring out the gorgeous details within the fabric.

Oct 10th

Boho Fringed Collar, with hand beaded details and organic linen edging and reclaimed cotton jersey fringing
Boho Fringed Collar, with hand beaded details, organic linen edging and reclaimed cotton jersey fringing.

It was the full vibrancy of the Made in Mexico exhibition, where my handwoven, backstrap loom lust began, and fuelled a need to protect the beautiful raw edges.

Made in Mexico, The Rebozo
Made in Mexico, The Rebozo in art, culture & fashion, at the Fashion & Textiles Museum
From the Made in Mexico Exhibition, handmade by the artist.
From Made in Mexico, handmade by the exhibiting artist*

Made in Mexico – *for a review of featured artists –

Have you noticed too we have wandered into a trend-zone where the tassel is in full swing too? Fashion likes to spin us into gossamer webs – and this time of year it’s on a batwing journey into that layered, boho folky feeling.

Hangings of all kinds are larger too – edges seem to be extending, with things dangling from woody branches; bringing the outdoors indoors is a feral format I approve of.

I envisage using sticks for things inside as a functional and decorative emblems – the utility of the wild will always be with us, when you’re next foraging in the woods, bring home a branch.

Staying with hand finished edges; I so admired last Autumn’s collection from VOZ; who embody so well the long fringe left by skilled artisans in their handcrafted garments. I wonder what gorgeous depths of garment durability and function they will continue to craft for us?

VOZ - Handwoven, Textile Skirt
by VOZ – Handwoven AW2014, Textile Skirt, with woody wall hanging….
VOZ - Handwoven Fringe Wrap Skirt
VOZ – Handwoven Fringe Wrap Skirt

Deep cuts and long strands are the way, I’ve been putting lengths into pieces and keeping a raw, unfinished salvage – embracing the  zero waste philosophy of sustainable textiles – my recent handmade collar is crafted in reclaimed yarn (unravelled by hand) with Birch grey organic linen from a range by Quince and Co, with reclaimed hematite beading, made to reflect a slow swagger of a Boho mood.

Fringe piece - handcrafted, full fringe collar, using recyled cotton fringing, reclaimed hematite and organic, birch grey linen edging by Quince & Co
Fringe piece – handcrafted, full fringe collar, using recyled cotton fringing, reclaimed hematite and organic, birch grey linen edging by Quince & Co. #fionaszabojewellery

June 17th

Crossover Bracelet – Rose Quartz Charms + Swarovski Beads.

I really enjoyed resurfacing this rose quartz chip bracelet, I’ve extended its original length, making it into a crossover, double length bracelet, allowing you to wrap it more than once on the wrist.

It feels super shimmery and weighty…with delicacy too; with pale rose coloured Swarovski bead details.

Mauve Decade - double coiled rose quartz + swarovski bracelet.
Mauve Decade – double coiled rose quartz + swarovski bracelet.

May 21st

The coiled cotton jersey project has responded like this;

Coiling from recycled jersey yarn, soft pot making.

First shapes and workings, with upcycled cotton jersey fabric, coiled into a soft pot and a coaster.

The pot has been additionally worked –  the walls are constructed by crochet.

Coiled Cotton Jersey, Soft Pots

May 9th

I have been getting in a twist recently, developing new ways of working with strips of cotton fibre.

My coiled basket making approach is based loosely, and in part, on textile traditions, though I am using an experimental, recycled starting point with materials.

There are many approaches to basket making, I’ve discovered the work of Dough Johnston through the Sight Unseen blog, his work is based on working with cotton rope combined with the aid of an industrial sewing machine.
He produces fantastic work.
I realise that coiling something into a basket will look different to Doug’s very accomplished and masterful pieces. Though I have some novel approaches too.
I am using material, commonly available, to the point that a huge bulk of it ends up in landfill in the UK.
I’m working with the cotton t-shirt. I can’t really process the enormity of some of the statistics, but there is certainly alot of unwanted, discarded clothing around. Just take a rummage at the back of your wardrobe as a starting point.
Here’s one such statistic from;
Cambridge University shows that “on average, UK consumers send 30kg of clothing and textiles per capita to landfill each year”. An environmental select committee found that textile waste at landfill sites rose from
seven to 30 per cent in the last five years.
From Sustainable Fashion and Textiles, published in 2008, by Kate Fletcher;
‘ Only around a quarter of all waste textiles in the UK are reclaimed, with 13 percent going to material recovery and 13 percent to incineration. The remainder (30kg per person per year) goes to landfill, where textiles contribute to the overall environmental impact of these sites, including production of methane emissions to air and pollution of groundwater through toxic leachate.’

Sustainable Fashion and Textiles, Kate Fletcher.

What am I wishing to achieve, with this recovery process?
I want to demonstrate that an everyday garment, one as unsophisticated as a worn cotton t-shirt has potential re-use value, that allows its lifespan to flourish again. My aim is to rescue a humble t-shirt from the short-sighted, linear route, that currently points to destination landfill.
It’s a humble enough starting point, one that I envisage will make a small contribution to hopefully solving a large problem. Using worn, charity shop t-shirts, I start with cutting the garment, looping the strips together to make balls of recycled, chunky cotton yarn.
On the market is Zpagetti by Hoooked a ‘branded’ cotton yarn product – Hoooked are based in Australia. I have been curious to read about the company history of their yarn, they don’t specify too much on the website, but I appreciate they embrace zero waste, by using surplus cotton in the cutting process for their chunky yarn. I think it’s fair to say that Hoooked are tackling a waste management issue, arising out of the cotton salvage, that falls to the factory floor.
It’s a recycling of raw materials.
In that sense, I think my efforts run in parallel, with the added effort of re-making by hand, a new product, keeping cotton textiles useful in a  re-used form for as long as possible.

 Zpagetti Chunky Yarn, by Hoooked, featured in Handmade Magazine

Here’s something from Hoooked:
‘Zpagetti expresses our belief that re-using and recycling materials could contribute to a more sustainable society. We also try to keep Zpagetti affordable so that everyone can enjoy the pleasure of creating their own craft items’.
It’s also offer free patterns via their website.
I like their macrame plant hanger pattern and the floor pebble cushions.
Here’s how my recycled cotton yarn looks:
Using t-shirts from high-street labels such as Topshop, George, French Connection and Marks and Spencer (a nicer cotton than the others).

Plentiful Cotton Basics, sourced from local charity shops, labels include, George, Divided by H&M...and more.

 Now in chunky, recycled yarn form – the t-shirts look like this; a fabulous, colourful craft resource!

Hand spun, recycled cotton yarn from used garments.

Chucky recyled, by hand, cotton yarn, ready to upcycle !

Here are some excellent thoughts, linking the skill of preparing yarn to a rejuvenation, from the blog of the textile arts centre:
‘Recently, I’ve been reading a really interesting textile history book, where the pro-union and early feminist historian, Louise Lamprey, delves into the history of spinning, and how it’s always been something that women did…never men:

“Spinning was so important a part of women’s work that one may say they spun their way into history. Girls learned to spin so early that they hardly remembered when they did not know how. They went on spinning, laying up store of thread if they had thrifty mothers, to be woven into their wedding outfit of linen, blankets, and coverlets. Spinster to this day means an unmarried woman.”

And since before the industrial revolution, machines have taken their place. In the past girls would spin raw material into thread to create textiles for their family and home. In this modern world exploding at the seams with overproduction and massive waste, I think it’s time to open all of our eyes to the inherent beauty in everything that surrounds us, and use our innate ability of love and creation to rejuvenate ourselves, our loved ones and our world.’

It’s no longer only women’s work.

Dough Johnston, Basket Artist.

March 12th

Wandering around my local haberdashery, one of the few remaining places on the high-street that stocks yarn,
I noticed an invitation to enter this year’s  ”Great British Sewing Bee”.
I wonder who this year’s winner will be ?
Apparently Ann, who won it last year is something of a marvel to behold. For the final they had to make a luxury evening dress, made to measure, in 8 hours. That’s some skill. The 81 year old grandmother who’d been sewing almost everyday for 75 years said about her winning title,
 ”It’s a relief to think all of these years I’ve been doing something right”
Winner of last year's Great British Sewing Bee, Ann Rowley
Winner of last year’s Great British Sewing Bee, Ann Rowley

I appreciate well tailored clothes, I have dabbled in making my own items, here and there. Could it be some of the success in home sewing comes down to the right needle?

A conversation that started at the counter in C&H fabrics reminds me to read my instruction manual; to check I’m using the correct foot on my machine for jersey or stretch fabrics.
I’ve been cutting shapes in cotton jersey for summer headwraps, the silhouette for this summer is rather 50’s inspired, with a pair of cigarette pants or retro inspired dress, I could achieve a  fresh and flirty style perfect for the season. I’ve been browsing, this is a lovely printed sleeveless dress, in organic jersey cotton, by Orla Kiely, a delight.
Orla Keily Flower Girls Sleeveless Dress, 2014
Orla Keily Flower Girls Sleeveless Dress, 2014
 My latest headwrap design is shaping up well, with added charm in the form of a hand crochet floral gerbera. It’s statement-making and sustainable, (using reclaimed jersey fabric) and would be comfortable to wear along the Brighton promenade, maybe with some artsy loafers.
Summer reclaimed jersey cotton headwrap, with hand crochet gerbera flower in Bamboo yarn. Fiona Szabo 2014
Summer reclaimed jersey cotton headwrap, with hand crochet gerbera flower in Bamboo yarn. Fiona Szabo 2014
More fabulous retro shapes and gorgeous mixed patterns are a highlight for Stella Jean, her 2014 spring fabrics  were sourced prints,  handcrafted from women living in villages in Burkina Faso. She has worked with the International Trade Centre to enagage and  promote the work of many women – making a strong ethical point, not usually seen at Milan Fashion Week
Talented women, weaving at hand looms behind the scenes on the Stella Jean 2014 collection, Burkina Faso
Talented women, weaving at hand looms behind the scenes on the Stella Jean 2014 collection, Burkina Faso
Stella Jean, Milan 2014
Stella Jean, Milan 2014
 On the way back, I picked up a tub of seeds, to make a bee attracting flower garden, the summer daisies will soon be on their way.

December 2013, Kemptown, Brighton.

Recently I spent an inspired evening at the Kollektiv Gallery with some of Brighton’s artists and makers. Fulled with homemade seasonal pies and fruity wine, thanks to Moyra Scott, we chattted and shared thoughts on where we go to connect to our creative flow.  The gallery backdrop helped to move our thinking outwards as our busy hands connected to our project work, art journalling and expressive bauble making.

Art Gathering.

Gallery founder Sophie Giblin kept us well looked after; merrily discussing working processes and sharing her own creative insights around bringing the gallery together.  I purchased a giclee print by a local artist/illustrator Patrick R Allan and began to have clearer thoughts about my new collection and making destinations that I would like return to, further mapped out by easy conversation with creatives.

Asking questions about connections and working spaces;  what helps artists to develop and grow, within a mixed group of practitioner’s was useful.  I left feeling evermore curious to see how enterprise helps artists, makers and designers become professionally independent. Being a self-made me, the person who does things her way, I could really appreciate the wonder and brilliance in a concept like the Kollektiv Gallery.


London, October 4th, visit to Here Today, Here Tomorrow and Sustain….

Pavement decoration, lost foliage;

Leafy Branches, Lost Decoration

 Wishing I had time to stop…..

Not time for a little sit....

The Balls Pond Road Mexico
The Balls Pond Road to Mexico

I completed a fascinator, I’d like to perch wearing it on the arm of a plush little red velvet Deco sofa, thinking about red sofa’s makes me think of the red plastic one at the back of the Caroline of Brunswick pub. You could wear the fascinator there too, with the six eyes of Cerberus on bloodied stalks….

This  making of the new item has gently been in germination for some time, like all good things, silently taking shape, under the whispers of a new moon it emerged, how did this happen?  Was it the cupboard elves? well no, it was a fairly solid bout of three hours craft time by my nifty fingers,

I read elsewhere, here and there, that Ascot has tightened up the code for ladies head-gear*, are we no longer quite so fascinated by fascinator’s in certain circles then?

You don’t mind if I tickle your nostrils with just one more?  This one is very party friendly, made in cotton and super kid mohair (Debbi Bliss) with a hint of silk in there too. It’s oval in shape and incorporates a reclaimed diamante centre piece that sits atop hints of  silver Lurex, in a gossamer winged hornet fashion.

*announcing that women will have to wear hats, not fascinators, as part of a tightening of the dress code in Royal Ascot’s Royal Enclosure. In previous years female race goers were simply advised that “many ladies wear hats.”

See a close up; Dark Fascinations.

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