Feminine Wardrobe sewing book: The Capelet Shift Dress


Feminine Wardrobe: Capelet Shift

In an idle moment of internet browsing Japanese couture the capelet shift dress in Jinko Matsumoto's Feminine Wardrobe caught my eye. What could be more charming than a dress with a cape attached? I ordered a copy (English translation) and was excited when it arrived within days.

Feminine Wardrobe has the same easy-to-follow instructions and trace out patterns as the Stylish Dress Book series but the clothes are perhaps a bit more commercial – more like the sort of garments you'd find in mainstream high street fashion shops than the smock-tastic creations in Stylish Dress Books. However, the capelet shift dress is avant-garde enough for my taste (I also covet the ruffle shoulder A-line dress and the giant bow-tie tunic). Matsumoto encourages you to add as many of the decorative elements (bows, ribbon ties, frills) to the designs as you like.

Jinko Matsumoto's Feminine Wardrobe sewing book

The book has beautifully styled photographs and there's a helpful double-page illustrated guide showing how all twenty-one dress designs come from seven basic patterns. The sewing guides are straightforward with fully detailed instructions as well as a shorter list for each design.

Pleased as Punch with my finished frock, I decided to wear it for a walk down to the seafront thinking I'd get some good photos in the soft afternoon light with the sea at low tide. I hadn't factored on it being quite such a blustery grey start to summer though. The capelet on my dress flapped around so much in the wind it's a wonder I didn't take off and join Worthing's daredevil kite surfers with a maiden flight over Worthing Pier. Photo shoot abandoned I headed to Macaris for a hot chocolate Snowcap feeling invincible with my capelet billowing out behind me.

Capelet shift on windy Worthing beach
capelet shift bow detail

Glad to be grey

Glad to be grey

I have the same pattern of greying hair as comedian Stewart Lee. It's whitening at the sides and slowly feathering into grey round the back while remaining mostly dark brown on top.  Without the right haircut it can be reminiscent of a balding radio DJ's hairstyle (toupée or not toupée?) - all dark brown wig sat on top of visibly greying temples. The bowl and bob haircuts I've been wearing for the past year have left me feeling a tad Terry Wogan at times, especially in gusts of high wind on Worthing seafront.

It seemed necessary then to get a haircut that makes it evident that my grey hair is a deliberate choice and a fabulous statement. My favourite hairdresser at Cuttlefish, Brighton was happy to oblige and I now have a super asymmetric haircut that makes the most of the bold white at the sides and the grey flecks throughout. I love it!

Hotchpotch ukulele tote bags by Ivy Arch

 Hotchpotch appliqué bags

I dithered over what to call these new appliqué tote bags. Each bag is made from a medley of vintage fabrics. Hotchpotch is my favourite word for them but the dictionary also suggested melange (I think not), salmagundi (a new word for me, apparently also the name of a 17th century salad dish), gallimaufry (which I like but sounds as clunky as Gargiulo) and plain old mishmash - a lovely word but doesn't do these gorgeous fabrics justice.

Vintage fabric salmagundi

So hotchpotch it is. These beautiful ukulele tote bags in exquisite vintage fabrics will be making an appearance in my Etsy shop over the next few days, starting with four of them listed today.

Ukulele bags by Ivy Arch in hotchpotch vintage fabrics
Ivy Arch uke bags - the hotchpotch range
Why, it's a positive gallimaufry of gorgeousness!

Worthing Children's Parade 2013

Woolly mammoth at Worthing Children's Parade

Every term-time Thursday afternoon for the past five weeks (and the odd Sunday) has been spent making costumes, props or decorating an enormous woolly mammoth for Whytemead First School's entry to Worthing Children's Parade. The Children's Parade is the most heartwarming of all events in our town's annual social calendar and is a real showcase for the community spirit and creative talents of residents of Worthing.

Traditionally held on what seems to be the windiest Saturday morning every summer (I assume by accident rather than design) the theme for this year's parade was Sussex Through The Ages, with each participating school illustrating a different era. Our school chose the Stone Age - hence the mammoth mascot and sixty-five hand painted caveman costumes.

Worthing Children's Parade costumes for Whytemead First School

We were lucky enough to have a sunny (if blustery) morning and dressing up for the occasion put everyone in high spirits. Canny parents carried sweets or flapjacks to encourage those with the shortest legs to walk the entire length of the seafront, up in to town and back - quite a distance for the youngest - and the cheers, applause and delighted comments of crowds of Saturday shoppers in the town centre gave us all a boost. It's my daughter's last year at Whytemead before moving up to middle school, so a lovely way to mark the end of a wonderful chapter in our lives – though of course we hope to take part again with her new school next year.

Worthing Children's Parade 2013Whytemead First School at Worthing Children's Parade
Worthing Children's Parade along the seafront

Worthing Children's Parade - seafront and Dome

New Forest camping in the rain


In a spirit of optimism last February I booked a May half-term school holiday camping trip to the New Forest and even persuaded friends (first time campers, also non-drivers) to come along too. We'd had so much rain during the winter I reckoned that surely we'd have a dry, sunny spring. Of course I was wrong and after one of the coldest wettest months of May in living memory (and with night times still chilly) we packed tents and too many bags, and set off to catch the train to Ashurst in New Forest.


We lasted only three days (and two nights) of the planned four, fearing deepening puddles around our tents would soon see us swimming in the middle of the pitch. The damp air brought plentiful midges (and bites) at night, but we had wonderful times during the day nevertheless. 


We took walks through the lush green forest with leaves fluorescent shades of green under rapidly changing cloudy skies; had free roaming ponies visit our tent; listened to owls hooting in the middle of the night and heard an amazing dawn chorus. At our wettest we took refuge in nearby family-friendly pubs – the huge New Forest pub was just a short wet walk (paddle?) across the field outside our campsite and The Happy Cheese five minutes further away.


I'd love to go camping in the forest again (my daughter loved it apart from the midges) but will perhaps wait for warmer sunnier weather next time...

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