Floral Circle Grainline Farrow

Grainline Farrow dress by Ivy Arch in Sevenberry Floral Circle

Since sewing my first Grainline Farrow dress I have made three more, two in novelty print cotton fabrics (glimpse them here and here) and this one in Sevenberry's Floral Circles - my favourite so far.

Sevenberry Floral Circle Canvas Cotton

The material is a lightweight canvas cotton and I have found it hardly creases, even after being worn all day at work. Any minor crinkling drops out if I hang it up over night, ready for another day's wear. It looks smart and is a statement of cheerful intent.
Grainline Farrow dress by Ivy Arch

I bought the fabric at Worthing's More Sewing who currently have a super range of bright and interesting dressmaking materials, so many Farrow dress possibilities...

Ivy Arch: Farrow in the wild

Fruit Pop Colours and Bauhaus Elegance from Gudrun Sjödén

Ivy Arch wears Gudrun Sjöden Spring 2017

Gudrun Sjoden's patterned long cardigans have become an essential part of my year-round wardrobe so I eagerly awaited the landing of this season's Macau cardi-jacket.
Gudrun Sjödén Macau cardigan coat and organic linen dress Spring 2017

The Macau is an eco cotton and wool jacquard knit of five different intricately patterned rectangular panels in contrasting colours which have a pleasing patchwork effect. It has a slightly felted texture, drop shoulder sleeves and a roomy A-line shape. I was immediately drawn to the Goldochre version in hues of strawberry pink, pineapple yellow and gauva green, but also had to try the elegant Graphite in tones that remind me of sepia photographs of Bauhaus Women of the late 1920s and early 30s.

It's a wonderful garment to wear and as well as looking superb with any of Gudrun's clothes it also works well with all my A-line handmade dresses. 
Fruit pop colours of the Macau cardigan coat

The other stand-out pieces in Gudrun's Spring 2017 collection are the Nordic hued and Japanese influenced broad stripe dress in linen and eco-cotton worn with a cotton organdie petticoat with a dramatic open-work lace border. I love the square cut neckline and bodice of the frock and the dressing-up element of adding a soft ruffled layer underneath. It feels like fairy tale costume and swooshes dramatically when I walk. Soft edged, colourful power dressing for the 21st century.
Gudrun's woven linen/cotton blend dress has beautiful embroidered detail on the back!

See more of Gudrun's new season treats in her Spring Magazine.
Gudrun Sjoden Spring 2017 delights

From 25 April – 7 May 2017 the exhibition Gudrun Sjödén: Four Decades of Colour & Design celebrates over 40 years of colourful expression by my favourite Swedish designer and textile artist as part of Fashion and Textile Museum's Festival of Textiles 2017. See you there!

Grainline Farrow Dress made from a Storchenwiege

Ivy Arch Grainline Studio Farrow Dress

Seeing Lempo Bee's version of Grainline Studio's Farrow Dress on Instagram made me want to make one too.  I downloaded the sewing pattern but then dithered awhile and allowed other projects to overtake priority for making this lovely looking dress. I even bought fabric to make the dress with, then lost confidence to cut into new material for an untried pattern so turned to my stash to see if there was something else I could test the pattern out on first.

Inside one of my fabric stash boxes I found the long woven organic cotton material which was a baby-carrier wrap I used to carry my baby daughter in, some 11 years ago!
   This Storchenweige wrap had been an expensive purchase in cash-strapped days. Having had a difficult time in childbirth and a slow recovery, I was very weak in the months afterwards and found I couldn't bear the weight of her easily using other slings. (I'd tried a back-breaking Baby Bjorn and an utterly useless wring sling thing). The Storchenweige proved to be wonderful. It was wholly supportive and comfortable and I loved every minute of carrying her. As my strength increased I could walk fair distances while she slept cradled in the wrap. Sweet happy memories, and for this reason I have kept it for all these years.
  Noticing the wrap folded up in my dressmaking fabric box it reminded me of Ace and Jig's clothing and suddenly seemed to be perfect fabric for a test-run Farrow dress.

Diagonal front seams of the Farrow dress.

There wasn't quite enough fabric to perfectly match the stripes, so I decide to go with the flow and have gone for a match and mis-match effect. I altered the neckline of the Farrow sewing pattern as I wanted it to fit easily over my head without a button fastening. Other than that I followed the sewing instructions.

The Farrow Dress, two views.

The sleeves are a dream to wear with ease of arm movement (just as Grainline Studio promised in their blog). I love the front pockets, diagonal seams, and the lack of bust darts. Wearing the fabric that once wrapped my baby feels like I am being hugged!

A finished Farrow by Ivy Arch

All the stripes, all the directions!

Corduroy Contemplations: Ottobre Art Teacher Dress and another Esme

Ottobre Art Teacher Dress in Needlecord made by Ivy Arch

It's two years to the month that I made my first Ottobre Art Teacher dress and I can't fathom why it's taken me so long to reprise this super sewing pattern. The dress is a very quick sew and easy and comfortable to wear. It's perfect for the autumn and winter months and I think would work well in heavy linen, flannel and denim as well as corduroy.

Art Teacher dress in printed needlecord by Ivy Arch

This is my third Art Teacher dress (I made a second one in fleece) and I have to say it's pretty perfect in corduroy. The fabric is a Japanese cotton needlecord bought from Worthing's More Sewing last week.

Colourful corduroy Art Teacher dress

It had been a while since I visited the More Sewing shop and the selection of colourful quality fabrics they now stock is a delight. On my recent visit the small shop was packed with women attending a dressmaking course and I'm sure the convivial atmosphere contributed to my carefree fabric splurge. I also bought some turquoise printed corduroy from which I made another Esme dress.

Turquoise corduroy Esme dress made by Ivy Arch

Rainbow Forest Fen Dress

Rainbow Forest Fen Dress by Ivy Arch

I made this Fen dress back in May but wasn't entirely happy with it at the time so it hung unworn and unblogged at the back of my wardrobe. Sorting through clothes for autumn I tried it on again and felt entirely differently about it. This time round the thick linen/cotton mix fabric with it's bright print of rainbows, clouds and forests seemed to perfectly fit the season, and the cut and shape of the Fen dress felt comfortable and perfect for autumn layering.

Fancy Tiger Crafts Fen Dress made by Ivy Arch

The fabric is another purchase from Worthing's Eclectic Maker. It's by Momo for Moda Fabrics and is from her Rainbow Forest range.

Fen dress pocket

The Fen's neckline and boxy fit had initially felt too wide and baggy across my small shoulders, but worn with a vest or t-shirt underneath feels comfortable. I love the dropped hemline and the gathered waist, and I adore the pockets.  

Fen dress details with rainbows, flowers and trees

Fancy Tiger Crafts have made two gorgeous winter versions of their Fen pattern and I'm now tempted to make another, in cozy plaid flannel too.

Shoegazing in the autumn garden

Happy 7th Birthday Wukulele!

Happy Birthday Wukulele!

The Autumn Equinox seems a fitting time to share my celebratory photos for Wukulele's seventh birthday party uke jam which took place at Worthing Rowing Club last Sunday.
Wukulele party time at Worthing Rowing Club

We are the longest running uke jam in Sussex and probably the jolliest (definitely the most likely to wear party hats). Over the years members have come from far and wide and some have happily gone on to form their own uke jams in neighbouring towns, growing our ukulele community. Wukulele continues to attract newcomers and new strummers and today we are in as strong voice and as purposeful in pluck as at our very first uke jam seven years ago!

Happy Birthday Wukulele! Celebrating 7 years of ukulele joy in Worthing

You can read our story, see more photos and download our world famous free ukulele songbooks here.

Happy Wukulele!

Autumnal Inspiration at Gudrun Sjödén

Geranium jacquard knit cardigan by Gudrun Sjödén

Gudrun Sjödén's Autumn 2016 collection is inspired by the Big Apple of New York and takes us on a journey through the urban streets of Chinatown, to the industrial market area turned cultural hub of the Meatpacking District, and on to the leafy roof top gardens of Brooklyn where I feel right at home.

The pick of the season: Gudrun Sjödén's Geranium wrap cardigan
Gudrun Sjödén's wonderful Geranium wrap-around cardigan in moss green
worn with her Apple tunic in artemisia
Gudrun's beautifully printed Apple Tunic in linen/cotton
Apple tunic in artemisia from Gudrun Sjödén's Autumn 2016 collection

Her knitwear is particularly strong this season and my favourite piece (so far) is the Geranium patterned jacquard-knit wraparound cardigan which comes in three colourways of pomegranate, moss green and black. I love this garment so much but found it impossible to choose between the pomegranate and the moss, eventually deciding to have both! The cut is so flattering and cosy, perfect for layering at this time of year. It even has a perfectly practical patch pocket.

Gudrun Sjödén's Autumn 2016 collection
Geranium cardigan in pomegranate with copper eco-cotton dress

The cardigan looks wonderful with everything but I've paired it here with Gudrun's Apple printed cotton/linen tunic in artemisia pale green, and a copper coloured eco-cotton dress with a seersucker texture from her Basic range which has a warm orange tone that I know will give me a real lift on grey autumn days.

Autumnal loveliness at Gudrun Sjödén's Covent Garden store
Warmth, colour and loveliness at Gudrun Sjödén's Covent Garden store this autumn 

Spanish Tile Esme Dress

Painter Laura Gunn's latest Valencia fabric collection for Michael Miller Fabrics features this amazing Spanish Tile design alongside other richly printed fabrics in her signature floral motifs.

I bought two and a half metres from Worthing's Eclectic Maker sewing shop – my go-to local destination for colourful, top quality fabrics. The material was almost too good to cut into! I decided to make another simple Esme dress to best show off the print and was mindful to carefully pattern match the patch pockets so as not to break up the tile pattern.

Laura Gunn's designs for Michael Miller are printed onto quilting weight cotton but I think they are ideal for dressmaking too. Last year I made a quilted coat using three different fabrics from her Garden Wall range so can testify to their wash and wearability – essential as I know this fabulous dress is going to get a lot of wear.

Fisherman's Blues: Merchant & Mills Top 64

Merchant & Mills Fisherman's Dress by Ivy Arch

A trip to Rye, East Sussex saw me heading straight for Merchant & Mills shop and headquarters. I had resisted buying their sewing patterns this far as to my mind their clean, simple designs look similar to many of the patterns I have previously made from Japanese sewing books. Their 'workwear' aesthetic also seemed a bit dour for my tastes and I was not wholly convinced would be flattering to my greying hair and middle aged pallor. However, I was prepared to be persuaded.

The shop itself is presented along the lines of a traditional drapers shop, or tailor's supply store circa the industrial revolution, with letterpress printed boxes of neatly packaged pins, needles, scissors and other sewing paraphernalia; heavy bolts of fabric in muted tones and natural fibres piled high on a wrought iron legged table in the centre of the shop; and cabinets full of tools, buckles and notions. The shop conveys an air of utilitarianism and serious craftsmanship, a romanticised ideal of authenticity being found in industrial mills, shades of greige and Shaker chic.

Merchant & Mills Headquarters, Rye, East Sussex

Fabrics stocked included some viscose and cotton jersey alongside the expected Irish linen, tweed, oilskin, denim and boiled wool in hues of blue, oatmeal, mushroom and grey. I also saw Indian block print cottons in subtle prints of indigo, grey and brown, as well as some brighter coloured linens. It took me a long time to choose a fabric that I felt I'd be able to wear with confidence back in my 21st century technicolour world but I eventually settled for a three-colour striped block print summer weight cotton. 

The Top 64 by Merchant & Mills

The sewing pattern I chose was Top 64, a simple loose-fitting tunic based on a traditional fisherman's smock. I had been forewarned that the sizing of Merchant & Mills patterns runs large, so for a perfect (but still generous) fit I cut the pattern across three sizes with the top part in size 10 grading out to a 14 across the hips. I shortened the sleeves and lengthened the hem to make it into a dress and cut my fabric with the stripes running in opposite directions to create more visual interest. The pattern was easy to follow and the dress enjoyably quick to make.

Ivy Arch: Merchant & Mills Top 64 as a dress

The finished frock is beautiful! It fits well and is has proved one of my most popular makes with the Instagram crowd. I haven't worn it out yet as the hot weather has seen me reaching for my usual colourful clothes, however this will be perfect for formal wear and who knows, may herald the start of a more subtle approach to dressing. Perhaps.

Fisherman's stripes

A Groovy Kaftan

Ivy Arch Far Out Esme Kaftan

The joy of sewing new dresses exceeds the routine of photographing and documenting them and so I have a small backlog of 3 new frocks which I shall endeavour to photograph and blog soon. Garments that don't make it to the blog usually still appear on my Dresses Made Pinterest page and often as a snapshot on Instagram, so do check in there if you want to see my latest concoctions.

Alexander Henry La Strada Fabric, 2008 Collection

This dress deserved more than a brief snapshot as I have used a most magnificent fabric! It's an Alexander Henry cotton print called La Strada. The internet tells me it's from their 2008 collection but it has just made its way to C&H fabrics in Chichester. With it I made my first Esme Kaftan - the long version of the Esme Dress and cover star of Lotta Jansdotter's Everyday Style sewing book.

Esme Kaftan by Ivy Arch, two views!

The kaftan speaks loudly for itself. I intended to keep it to wear at a very special (and I think currently top secret) event at Sussex Ukulele Festival in September, but can't wait until then! Instead I shall enjoy wearing it this summer, thus creating another potential dressmaking opportunity for September's event.

Groovy Kaftan by Ivy Arch
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