Monday, 1 February 2016

A Nod to Matisse Esme Dress

Matisse inspired Esme Dress by Ivy Arch

This wonderful printed cotton by Windham Fabrics is from designer Jan Avellana's first fabric collection for the brand. Her print designs in the A Nod To Mod range are inspired by artists including Henri Matisse and Alexander Girard, with graphic cut-out shapes and strong, flat colours.

A Nod To Mod fabric by Jan Avellana for Windham Fabrics

It would have been a shame to cut up this fabric too much, so Lotta Jansdotter's Everyday Style Esme dress provided a clean shape that would best showcase the pattern. I added two (essential) patch pockets here but carefully matched them so that they are almost invisible.

Spot the patch pocket

This clocks up to being my fourth Esme (see my third, a fleece version here) and I have no plans to stop making them just yet!
Everyday Style Esme Dress in Nod to Mod fabric made by Ivy Arch

It's still a little too cold to wear this dress without long-sleeved layering underneath but I know it will come into its own this spring and summer.

Matisse inspired print by Jan Avellana

Esme Dress by Ivy Arch

Thursday, 7 January 2016

And then I sewed an Astrid bag

Dot Spot Astrid Bag sewn by Ivy Arch

I'm on a roll with Lotta Jansdotter's Everyday Style sewing book and have run up an Astrid cross-body bag to go with the Dot Spot Esme Dress.

Such an easy bag to make, I cut it out yesterday evening, sewed it up in an hour after breakfast and then finished off the hand stitching at this morning's Meet and Make craft get-together.

Making and meeting at Meet and Make, Worthing

I used whatever materials came to hand to finish the bag - the lining is left over from my first Esme dress, I used a long zip found in my sewing box and cut it down to size, then sewed a fabric strap so that I wouldn't have to go out and buy leather and rivets as suggested in the sewing instructions.

Lotta Jansdotter  Astrid Cross-Body bag in Dot Spot fabric

I made a patch pocket with a Velcro fastening inside to hold my keys. Next time I will try to make one with an internal zip pocket. The finished bag is a perfect shape and size for every day use, in fact I now think all my new homemade dresses should have matching bags...

Astrid bag camouflaged!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Avant Garden Dot Spot Esme Dress

Esme dress in Avant Garden Dot Spot by Ivy Arch

The Dot Spot fabric I've used to make a second Esme dress is part of MoMo's Avant Garden collection for Moda. I bought it in the sale at Worthing's Eclectic Maker fabric shop last Saturday. The repetition of circles on a red background reminds me of Yayoi Kusama's polka dot art (Kusama says polka dots are a way to infinity), and I love the texture of this linen/cotton mix fabric.

MoMo's Avant Garden Dot Spot fabric for Moda

The pockets are cut from another fabric in the Avant Garden range left over from making this Tova dress a year ago.

Avant Garden Fantasia pocket - perfectly practical and fabulous

Lotta Jansdotter's Esme works just as well in a heavier weight fabric, and my second version of it fits me as perfectly as the first. The fabric's bold spotted pattern design really comes to life when cut and sewn into three dimensions.

Avant Garden Esme dress

Relentless rain and grey skies of the past few days have made it difficult to get a good enough photograph of the dress, but I can assure you that this Esme is even bolder and brighter in real life!

Ivy Arch's Avant Garden Dot Spot Esme dress

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Esme Dress: Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style

Esme Dress: Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style made by Ivy Arch

Lotta Jansdotter's Everyday Style is a perfect place to start a new sewing year. It's packed with inspiration and includes five easy sewing patterns that can be adapted to make wearable every day garments. Jansdotter's designs in this book have been beautifully drafted into sewing patterns with the help of Alexia Abegg of Green Bee Design & Patterns (a new name to me).

Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style

I bought the book at a local bookshop and traced out the Esme Dress the same evening. I decided to use a red floral fabric (which days before had been the Christmas tablecloth) to make a trial version of the dress.

Drafting the pattern for Esme Tunic

Sewing instructions in the book are simple and easy to follow and this was a super-quick dress to make. The enclosed patterns come in 5 sizes from XS to XL printed on traceable pattern sheets, just like the Japanese Sewing Books except here seam allowances are included. I drafted the Esme using S for the shoulders and bust, M at the waist, grading out to L at the hips. I also added 10 cms to the hem to make this a dress, rather than a tunic.

Esme dress made from my Christmas tablecloth

The finished frock fits my shape perfectly with no gaping at the neckline and the dress hangs in a lovely A-line shape. The sleeves deserve a special mention as there is ample room for arm movement meaning I can reach, stretch and cycle comfortably. It is the best fitting tunic pattern I have used yet needing no tweaking or alteration after drafting the pattern. I will be looking out for more Alexia Abegg sewing patterns in future!

Patch pocket perfection

To make the dress look less like a Christmas tablecloth I added yellow floral patch pockets and will wear it with a matching Layla Amber painted wooden brooch.

Wooden brooch by Layla Amber

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

A Dress for Midwinter

Liesl Cinema Dress in folksy corduroy by Ivy Arch

My final dress make of the year is a Cinema Dress trimmed with embroidered ribbons and braid. It's the second dress I've made from this Liesl + Co sewing pattern and this time I used a soft floral corduroy – my favourite choice of fabric for winter dressmaking.

Embellished Cinema Dress by Ivy Arch

Inspired by Gudrun Sjödén's beautiful Midvinter collection, I decided to sew a heavily brocaded panel on the bodice using different braids and embroidered ribbon collected over the years. It took some time to get the placement right!

Liesl + Co Cinema dress with embroidered ribbons

The finished frock has a festive folksy feel and will see me through this season's celebrations.

Back view: braid embellished Cinema Dress

Friday, 11 December 2015

Introducing The Silver Dream Machine

The Silver Dream Machine

Tomorrow will see the debut performance of The Silver Dream Machine. Formed especially for this gig at East Beach Studios art gallery on Worthing seafront, my ukulele partner Harriet Booth and I have written six original songs which have been meticulously rehearsed for the past two months. We are ready, have silver capes, and we hope that Worthing – and the world –  is ready to receive us!

The Silver Dream Machine performs at East Beach Studios, Beach Parade, Worthing on Saturday 12th December at 1pm.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Merry Christmas Wukulele Jam!

Wukulele Christmas Party!

Sunday was the official start of the Christmas party season with a festive edition of Wukulele Jam upstairs at Worthing's art deco Rowing Club. Our own Christmas Songbook (compiled by Harriet) had enough songs to keep us merry for the full 2 hour session, though we paused for refreshments and banter. 

There is no better way to get into the spirit of Yuletide than with the fine people of Worthing Uke Jam and I left wishing it could be (Wukulele) Christmas every day.

Wukulele Christmas Party, upstairs at Worthing Rowing Club
Wukulele Christmas Party, upstairs at Worthing Rowing Club

Wukulele takes a break in January but we'll be back at Worthing Rowing Club on 21st February for our first uke jam of 2016.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Foremothers and Folk Prints at Gudrun Sjödén

Gudrun Sjödén Elsa tunic and leggings, Ivy Arch handmade uke gig bag

Last week I visited Gudrun Sjödén's Covent Garden store for the festive launch of her Christmas 2015 collection. This friendly, welcoming event for Gudrun's customers gave us the chance to meet designer Pia Marklund and hear some of the stories and inspiration behind the designs.

Gudrun Sjödén shop, Covent Garden London

The collection is inspired by four strong women – mothers and grandmothers of the design team – including Gudrun's own mother Elsa of Norrbotten. Pia's talk brought these women to life with photographs and anecdotes about their family and working lives, including personal memories of her own maternal grandmother, Singa from Västerboten, a woman who travelled widely throughout Africa and the Orient bringing textiles, artefacts and exotic clothing home with her to Sweden.

Gudrun's Christmas 2015 in store launch

Trying on clothes, eating Swedish cake and sipping mulled wine, I spent a good few hours in the shop and after much deliberation bought the Elsa print tunic in dark green and cranberry, and a pair of green Elsa leggings. The tunic is cut with triangular insets at the sides that give it a pointed hem. It reminds me of some of Yoshiko Tsukiori's designs and also Scarlett et Marguerite's Baba Yaga dress. I love this style and the fabric is fabulous in all of the three possible colourways.

Elsa dress in Cranberry
Elsa tunic in green - inspired by Gudrun Sjödén's mother, Elsa

I also came away with a long Christmas wishlist of garments I would like! Top of the list is Pia's aubergine Singa dress (the busy store had sold out of my size). It has a gorgeous bold flower repeat print, wide three quarter length sleeves that flare out slightly and fine short rows of elastic to gently shape the sides – an almost concealed detail but one that makes the dress truly beautiful to wear.

By the time I left the shop it was dark. I hope to return soon and now have an extra reason to visit London with the opening of Gudrun Sjödén's first pop-up shop at Marylebone High Street. For details of the pop-up shop and in-store events over the festive season visit Gudrun's World

Gudrun Sjödén's Christmas collection is also available here.
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