Sewing is good for the soul says Festival of Fabric’s Amanda Bowden
As the fourth Festival of Fabric takes place in Suffolk this month, founder Amanda Bowden speaks to Rachel Banham.
Sewing is good for the soul, says Amanda Bowden. And, judging by the popularity of her fabric festival, there are many who agree with her.
Festival of Fabric IV takes place at the Orwell Hotel, Felixstowe, on October 6.
It aims to bring together specialist retailers with a love for and expertise in fabric, haberdashery, dressmaking, knitting and sewing patterns, vintage sewing machines, knitting and crochet accoutrements all under one roof.
Amanda says: “It’s an allembracing lovely day out, all to do with vintage style dressmaking.”
There will be a vintage DJ, a pop-up cafe and an exhibition of clothing and fashion accessories from times gone by. Visitors will have the opportunity to participate in sewing and crafting workshops with a vintage feel.
Amanda and her husband Tim are proprietors of Felixstowe Sewing School.
Explaining how the idea for the Festival of Fabric came about, Amanda says: “I run a sewing school and have been wearing vintage and vintage-inspired clothes for many years.
“I know that it’s a style that lots of people admire and desire, but it can be very difficult getting beautiful fabric and patterns and the equipment and speaking to specialist traders.
“So what I’ve done is I’ve put together a one-stop shop for people who are interested in making their own clothes with a vintage flair.”
Amanda trained in fashion and textiles and also taught textiles before setting up her sewing school in 2013.
She says: “Because I was a teacher for many, many years in Suffolk schools, I also have a real passion for education and teaching and learning around textiles. So, rather than it (the festival) just being a market, I also wanted to have an element of learning and education about it, which is why we have the specialist workshops and the fashion history lectures and the exhibition of vintage clothing and accessories.”
She adds: “It’s not for purists, although re-enactors and people who want to actually use original fabric and patterns can purchase what they need to do that, but also it is about getting your hands on lots of lovely fabric and patterns and haberdashery which you can use for contemporary clothing as well.”
Visitors to previous festivals have included teenagers up to those in their 80s.
Amanda believes that many people find the silhouette of vintage clothing more flattering and it’s very feminine.
She adds: “There is something very comforting and lovely about
that link to the past, which I also think is very appealing to people.”
At this month’s festival, Dr Christine Boydell will be giving a lecture entitled ‘Riviera Style: Resort and Swimwear since 1900’ following an exhibition of the same name originally hosted by the Fashion and Textile Museum in London. There will be garments to illustrate the significant changes in leisurewear.
Other sessions include Sewing Machine Maintenance with Mr Tim, Buckles and Belts with Felixstowe Sewing School, Vintage French Cockades and Silk Rosettes with Sarah Valentine of Scarlett Valentine Millinery, and Fashion on the Ration; CC41 with Bunty Bowring.
Amanda was taught to sew by her mother. She spent her youth making toys, embroidering, making cushions for the family caravan, and she made her first outfit when she was nine – a pair of summer shorts. She made her first quilt when she was 10.
She spent more than 15 years teaching design and technology in various Suffolk schools, and remains dedicated to her art today.
“When you’re sewing and when
you’re making your own things you become so immersed in that process that it’s actually really good for your soul and I think that goes for all sewing, to be honest,” she says.
Looking forward to the latest festival, she adds: “I’m really excited to welcome hundreds of people to the event from far and near and for people to be inspired, even to take up dressmaking or to get their sewing machines out, and give it a go and basically just spread the love.”
Festival of Fabric IV is on Saturday, October 6, 10am to 4pm, at the Orwell Hotel, Hamilton Road, Felixstowe. For more details, and to buy entry tickets and tickets for the workshops/lectures, visit the website at: www.festivaloffabric.co.uk
Amanda with one of her creations.
Amanda Bowden at her sewing machine.
A selection of fascinating outfits.
View from one of the previous festivals. INSET: Festival of fabric logo.
Amanda gets on her bike to spread the word about vintage sewing.
Buttons, buttons, buttons.
Gorgeous designs from years gone by.