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.

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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.

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