Monday, 26 January 2015

Jurassic Fleece: McCall's M6785 Girls' Dress

Dino dress: McCall's M6785

My ten year old's interest in all things Jurassic happily shows no sign of abating, so when I found some polar fleece fabric printed with dinosaur bones in Brighton's Fabric Land, I knew what I had to do.

Rex Bones polar fleece from Fabric Land

For this, her second dinosaur dress, I used McCall's M6785 girls' sewing pattern. The pattern has four versions of a simple pullover dress (and leggings) and is designed for stretch or knit fabrics. 

McCall's M6785 sewing pattern

I modified the pattern to suit the fleece, so made the dress with a shorter stand up collar (model C) and added the kangaroo pocket (from B, the hooded version of the dress). 

Jurassic Fleece - M6785 with modifications

M6785 is easy to make – just like it says on the packet – and the sizing is a good fit too.

Dino crazy!
Dino fleece M6785 details

The dinosaur fleece fabric looks fab as a dress and is a lovely snuggly thing to wear – I'm pleased to report that this junior palaeontologist loves it!


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Just Desserts Dress: Lisette Portfolio - Simplicity 2245

Lisette Portfolio by Ivy Arch

Trifling with the idea of making another Portfolio dress, I spied Fabric Land's pudding patterned Cake Stand heavy cotton (from their own-brand Hill-Berg range) at £3.99 a metre – it would've been churlish not to buy some to make this dress with.

Novelty print linen-look heavy cottons are a Fabric Land favourite of mine, and while they may be intended for craft use, I find them most suitable for dressmaking. The dress I made from their Berlin Macaroon fabric washes and wears well and still looks as good as the day I made it, as do the two Ticket To Ride dresses. They're a perfect weight to wear layered during the winter and the fabrics feel cool enough for summer too.

The Hill-Berg Cake Stand fabric features images from Mrs Beeton's 1861 Book of Household Management including illustrations of meringues, chocolate cream, blancmange, jelly, trifle, stewed pears and tipsy cake. The fabric is available in three colourways but I liked the blue best.

Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management
Illustrated puddings from Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861
Fabric Land's Cake Stand printed cotton
Fabric Land's Hill-Berg design Cake Stand printed cotton

Sewing a second Portfolio Dress I decided to try the short turn-up sleeve version this time. The instructions state that you should apply fusible interfacing to the sleeve bands, however, in the orange needle corduroy I used this has made them feel a bit too chunky to turn back, so I'm leaving them down. Next time I will skip the interfacing step. The corduroy is another remnant from my stash.

From trifles to Tipsy cake - Lisette Portfolio dress by Ivy Arch

I think the finished dress is splendid, and the fact that it cost me less than £10 in materials to make is the cherry on the cake! 

Simplicity 2245 made by Ivy Arch

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Green Surge Baba Yaga Dress

Baba Yaga dress by Ivy Arch
In a week when membership of the UK's Green Party overtook that of the Lib Dems and UKIP in what Twitter called #GreenSurge, I was pleased to wear a new green Baba Yaga dress (hot off my sewing machine) to our first Meet and Make crafting get-together of 2015.

#GreenSurge Baba Yaga made up of leftover fabrics

The dress is green both in colour and because it recycles fabrics left over from previous sewing projects. Scarlett et Marguerite's Baba Yaga design lends itself well to stashbusting!

Baba Yaga dress cuffs, border and back details

The main dress is cut from Soft Cactus Lasting Leaves cotton (seen earlier in this Poppy Tunic); the cuffs are pieces of vintage Paco Rabanne printed cotton (which I made a dress from a decade or so ago, and more recently used scraps to make monster toys); and the small centre front panel is a tiny piece of Lille Skip Forest Blue (left over from making this dress). It's trimmed with three different types of braid from my overflowing tin of ribbons.

Baba Yaga dress trimmings

As with my first Baba Yaga, this dress is a joy to wear and I look forward to dreaming up new fabric combinations for future Baba Yagas.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Under The Pier

Under Worthing Pier

A walk at low tide on a bright, cold January day gave excellent views of the tremendous structure under Worthing Pier. Beneath the Pier stands strong legs of steel, rusted in shades of gold and webbed with seaweed.

Steel and timber supports under Worthing Pier

While visitors take tea and eat cake in the refurbished Southern Pavilion above, clusters of mussels feast on plankton below.

Southern Pavilion Café
View under Southern Pavilion
Worthing Pier walkway, spindly legs and big feet
Seaweed webs the Pier's legs
Worthing Pier at low tide
Looking out from Southern Pavilion towards the land

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Lisette Portfolio Dress: Simplicity 2245 - in floral corduroy

Lisette Portfolio -  a symphony in floral corduroy

I've written before about my yearning for a copy of Simplicity's out-of-print Lisette Portfolio dress sewing pattern and tweeted about this again recently having seem a shockingly priced one on eBay. Kerry of Sew Ichigo and Very Kerry Berry got in touch and kindly offered to send me her own used copy of the Portfolio pattern. I am most thankful and touched by her generosity. What better way to start my sewing year?

Simplicity's out-of-print Lisette Portfolio pattern

The Lisette Portfolio is the original version of Liesl + Co's Cappuccino – a dress I've now sewn four times (three of them blogged), so was convinced the design would work for me. There are a few minor differences between the two sewing patterns, the main one being that the Portfolio has a more demure high scoop neckline.

Lisette Portfolio dress in Japanese corduroy by Ivy Arch

I'd heard that sewing the centre front square panel could be tricky, but I actually found it easier to make than the Cappuccino's V-neck. As before, I cut the dress as a size 10 for the top half, graduating out to a 14 at the hips. It has a centre back seam, so I shaped this a little more so that it wasn't baggy at the waist. I cut the back facing in one piece (instead of adding a back closure) as the dress fits easily over my head. It's a roomy A-line design and is exactly the style I feel most comfortable wearing.

The Lisette original Portfolio dress, at last!Cuff, underarm seam and pocket details

The fabric I used is deliciously soft floral pin cord made by Japanese company Sevenberry (Christmas money well spent at Eternal Maker). The main body of the dress is in Flower Garden print and the yoke and cuffs are in Daisy Floral. The two fabrics clash perfectly to my taste! I love the finished dress – the corduroy is great for these colder days. There will definitely be more Portfolios this year.

Perfecto Portfolio by Ivy Arch

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

December Ends

Worthing beach, December 2014

With the year drawing to a close we took a late afternoon walk on Worthing beach. The landscape to the east was coloured in soft pastel shades of blue with sandy brown footnotes.

View towards East Worthing, December afternoon.

The prospect to the west was a palette of grey flecked with silver and gold as the sun descended lower onto the horizon. Tranquil tones and a tonic for the senses as we mark the close of the old year and the dawn of the new.

Walking on Worthing beach at low tide
Shimmering views to the West
Man digging for worms on Worthing beach
A happy New Year from Ivy Arch!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Scarlett et Marguerite Baba Yaga dress

Baba Yaga dress, made by Ivy Arch

Introducing my first Scarlett et Marguerite Baba Yaga dress! Scarlett et Marguerite is a boutique and fabric store based in Nancy, France, which also designs and sells its own patterns for easy-to-sew clothes. Their aesthetic reminds me of 1970s Clothkits, far-out Gudrun Sjödén and 1980s Camden Market bohemian chic. Theirs is a world of unashamedly colourful homemade clothes in easy-fit shapes, embellished with all manner of brocades, ribbons and pom poms, sewn together with love.

Baba Yaga dress in Carolyn Gavin's Petite Fleur fabric, made by Ivy Arch

The Baba Yaga is one of their most sewn (and blogged) sewing patterns. I've craved making one myself all year long but put off buying it mainly due to the high cost of postage from France (almost as much as the price of the pattern itself). Eventually, a timely year-end discount code persuaded me to take the plunge and order it online. Once ordered, the pattern was delivered quickly and arrived in a delightful package - a joy to receive! It even included a Scarlett et Marguerite sew-in label to add to the newly created dress. The written instructions are only in French but the illustrated diagrams were clear and when in doubt I used Google Translate to decipher anything I wasn't sure about. 

Carolyn Gavin's Petite Fleur prints

Extra special fabric was required for this folkloric design and Carolyn Gavin's gorgeous Petite Fleur collection of organic cottons was just the thing. I used three different prints in a navy/red colourway; Swallow Garden for the main dress and sleeve panels; Poppies for the dress border; and Floral Impressions (a navy/white stem print) for the front and back panels. I spent even longer deliberating on which ribbons to use for the centre back trim before settling on a red gingham (for the time being).

Baba Yaga dress made by Ivy Arch

Baba Yaga is an easy pattern to sew and rewardingly quick to put together. I love the puff sleeve cuffs which have four darts to give them shape. There's room for personal interpretation here too – embellishment is encouraged! I closed the front neckline on mine to make the front sit flat and added (essential) side pockets. I'm wearing it here with my Gudrun Sjödén Cirkus print leggings and red shoes – a combination as flamboyant as the myth of Baba Yaga herself.

Baba Yaga worn with Gudrun Sjödén Cirkus leggings

Monday, 22 December 2014

One hundred (and more) ukulele bags

The very last uke bag has left my sewing machine! I have made well over a hundred quilted ukulele gig bags and appliquéd ukulele tote bags since sewing the very first gig bag for my Flea. I've sold them at music festivals, craft fairs and through shops in the UK. Through Etsy I've shipped many out to happy customers all over the world to countries as far flung as USA, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Scotland, Germany, Norway, Czech Republic, Japan, New Zealand and even China.

Ukulele gig bags made by Ivy Arch

There are just a few remaining appliqué uke bags left for sale (some in my Etsy shop and a few in shops in the UK) but all the uke gig bags have now gone to new homes. 

Quilted ukulele gig bags by Ivy Arch

I have enjoyed making every single one of them, delighted in carefully packaging them up and sending them out, and loved receiving emails and hearing kind feedback from happy customers. 

Appliqué ukulele bags by Ivy Arch 

All good things must come to an end and I'm marking the close of the year by saying farewell to my ukulele bag production line. Here's to new exciting sewing adventures in 2015!  

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