Beached Starfish of Worthing

Starfish washed ashore, Worthing beach

On Boxing Day we found dozens of starfish washed up on the beach at Splashpoint, east of Worthing Pier. The bodies of beached dead sea creatures stretched all along the coast heading eastwards – reportedly all the way to Shoreham-by-Sea. These were casualties of stormy weather of recent days.

Sea creatures, Worthing beach

We found crabs, remains of large fish, many glutinous molluscs and scores of sea sponges all churned up and spread out along the beach on a carpet of purple sea weed, broken shells and blue-grey pepples. A colourful, sorry sight.

Marine storm debris, Worthing
Sea sponges washed ashore
Worthing beach after storm
Worthing blackbird

Kawaii felt kittens for Christmas

Kawaii kittens

I've wrapped and placed the final home-made Christmas gift for my daughter under the tree. It's this trio of cute felt kittens made from a sewing pattern purchased at the eleventh hour from Dolly and Paws at Etsy.

Felt cute kittens

The pattern (a scanned PDF file) was instantly emailed upon purchase and looks like it comes from a Japanese craft book. Instructions are in Japanese but the pattern pieces are labelled in English with easy-to-follow picture diagrams.

Kitten sewing pattern

I stitched these cats together while watching the final fantastic episode of BBC TV series Ripper Street and two episodes of ITV drama Lucan (which wasn't as enjoyable as sewing-along to Ripper Street, but I persevered to the end). 

 Kittens in a tin

The finished kittens measure approximately 9cms high and are off the scale on the cute-o-meter.

Kawaii felt cats

Tin of kittens

The Onion Dress

Stylish Dress Book: Dress T, with onions

This onion fabric was purchased on a peri-menopausal whim. I spied it in Worthing's soon-to-be defunct Sewing Machine Shop, hidden away downstairs with the quilting fabrics. I love it! Called Eat Onions it's 100% cotton and is produced by Makower UK
Eat Onions fabric, Makower UK

Makower's fabrics are intended for patchwork and quilting but they have such delicious designs I can only imagine them for clothing. Eat Onions is the same superb quality as the Tape Measure and Cotton Reels fabric I made this skirt from. It hangs well, washes and irons beautifully and returns to form.

Stylish Dress Book onion dress: T

The sewing pattern is an old favourite from Stylish Dress Book volume 1. It's letter T, the first dress I ever made from a Japanese sewing book and a design I have now made several times – always a winner! 

with extra onions

Painted Portrait Autumn Wonderland Dress

Painted Portrait dress in Eloise Renouf

Anna Maria Horner's Painted Portrait Dress is a garment as beautiful as it sounds. Sold as a make-it-yourself dress and blouse sewing pattern it has become one of those oft-pinned items that this seamstress couldn't stop thinking about. Last week I succumbed and ordered the pattern from Backstitch as a Christmas treat (ahem).

Eloise Renouf Bark and Branch: Autumn Wonderland

Only the best fabric would do, hence a trip to Worthing's Eclectic Maker. I was excited to find they had Eloise Renouf's organic cotton Bark and Branch range and though I would've liked to buy some of each design in the collection, the Autumn Wonderland tree-print was my favourite. For the contrast yoke I chose a grey printed cotton designed by Rebekah Ginda for Birch Organic. The two fabrics look and feel great together. 

Organic cottons from Eclectic Maker

The Painted Portrait sewing pattern can be made up in several different variations. I decided to opt for a dress with solid yoke, sleeves and pockets this time. Before beginning I perused a few blogs for advice from expert makers. Fancy Tiger Crafts has blogged a parade of pleasing Painted Portraits, Lempo Bee gave good advice on the sizing (I adore her Melody Miller version) and on her recommendation I cut the dress out in a small size (I'm usually a medium but found this pattern rather roomy - if in doubt make a toile first). I followed Cookin' and Craftin's lead (see her superb blouses) in cutting the back yoke as one piece. I'll always choose a button-free dress if possible – easier to sew and more comfortable to wear.

Anna Maria Horner's Painted Portrait Dress

The finished dress is much more lovely than these photos show as I took the pictures on one of the greyest days of the year and eventually resorted to using a flash outdoors in an attempt to capture the colours of Renouf's print. Here's to sunnier days and more Painted Portrait Dresses...

Painted Portrait Dress, back yoke view

The Garden Gnome Girl's Party Dress

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids : dress J

This is a party frock I've made for Harriet 'Wukulele' Booth's seven year old daughter. It's another Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids garment, Dress J made from remnant fabrics left over from a beautiful bespoke Dig For Victory dress Harriet recently had made. Therefore, I take no credit for choosing these wondrous fabrics which were picked by Ms Booth herself – a green lawn print cotton by Michael Miller and contrasting garden gnome design cotton from Hoodie's Collection at Timeless Treasures.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids dress

There wasn't quite enough of the grass print fabric to make a full length skirt so I added a jolly gnome border to the hem. I also lined the bodice in a bright green cotton material left over from making this kimono.

Gnomic details

The dress is a surprise Christmas present for Harriet's daughter – I do hope they both like it!

Lawn print by Michael Miller, Gnome fabric by Timeless Treasures

Cross-over in Corduroy: Happy Homemade Sew Chic - Tunic K

Happy Homemade Sew Chic: Tunic K

There's always room for one more corduroy dress in my wardrobe and I snapped up this blue floral needle cord fabric at Brighton's Fabricland in September as soon as I saw it (it quickly sold out).  It was a few months before I decided what to make with it, then along came Happy Homemade Sew Chic, and tunic K seemed perfect for winter layering over long sleeved tops and jeans.

Yoshiko Tsukiori's Happy Homemade Sew Chic

This dress pattern is super easy to sew. It has a shirring elastic detail at the shoulder (essentially just two lines of stitching) and this clever small detail nicely curves the wrap-over front neckline.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic: Tunic K

I made the sleeves and hem a couple of centimetres longer than the sewing pattern and added a patch pocket which I have sewn on just a bit too high. Haven't had the heart to unpick and re-stitch it yet though, so may just leave it where it is, it's pretty well camouflaged in the floral print! The finished garment is effortless to wear and feels lovely and soft.
Yoshiko Tsukiori's Happy Homemade: Tunic K

Pictures of Bristol

Clifton Down, Bristol

It was more than ten years since I had been to Bristol and on a return weekend visit I was amazed to find how much the city has changed. The harbour (relatively empty last time I saw it, except for the Watershed and Arnolfini) is now a fully regenerated tourist attraction with museums, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and expensive-looking apartment buildings. The city centre is a maze of shopping malls (or 'quarters') and I got lost in a throng of recession-proof Saturday shoppers while trying to navigate my way across town to the fabric stall at St. Nicholas Market.

My phone's GPS map happily led me away from the crowds and through silent back streets. I whiled away an hour exploring lanes lined with empty factory buildings and stumbled upon this magnificent soviet-style building at the site of the old Telephone Exchange round the corner from St. Nicholas Market.  Unfortunately Avon Textiles fabric stall was closed – a sign told me the owners were on holiday in New York.

Bristol Telephone Exchange
Bristol in November 
Clifton Suspension Bridge
Bristol fog

The Wukulele Show Must Go On!

Leo Sayer in Worthing

News that local hero Leo Sayer was to return to Worthing for the final night of his 2013 UK tour brought a frisson of excitement to Wukulele HQ. Leo was born in neighbouring Shoreham-by-Sea and was part of the Worthing Workshop arts and music scene of the 1960s, attending West Sussex College of Art & Design. In tribute to his genius songwriting we staged a flashmob in Montague Street two years ago (the street mentioned in his hit Moonlighting) and were eager to celebrate his return 'home' in a similar fashion.

And so yesterday evening I found myself wrapped up against a cold November night waiting outside the town's biggest capacity music venue, ukulele in hand. One by one the hardiest members of our uke group arrived and we huddled round the corner for a warm up of our first song. Unexpectedly the Mayor of Worthing appeared in full regalia and cheered us on with a dance – it's true, see video below!

Moving to the front steps of The Assembly Hall (they wouldn't let us inside) we played to a round-the-block queue of Leo Sayer fans who'd been lucky enough to afford tickets to his concert. Our renditions of You Make Me Feel Like Dancing and Moonlighting went down so well that we were asked to perform an encore. With freezing fingers we happily obliged.

Wukulele Leo Sayer Flashmob

Wukulele's favourite documentary film maker Ned Ouwell recorded the whole thing for us – and for you to enjoy.

Huggable Happy Homemade Hoodie

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids - S

As promised earlier this month, I have made my daughter pattern S from Tuttle Publishing's Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids book. The book calls it a Pull-over Parka but to my British ears that suggests more of a coat than the cute simple hooded sweatshirt it is.

Pattern S has three-quarter length sleeves, a drawstring waist and a loose hood. I used a lovely bright floral fleece for added huggability. It was a very easy make and I will definitely be sewing more versions of this – perhaps with full length sleeves and an added kangaroo pocket next time.

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids
Pullover Parka pattern diagram

I can report that the Happy Homemade hoodie has been thoroughly tested climbing trees in Homefield Park! It more than passes muster and is currently her favourite thing to wear.

Happy Homemade Hoodie
Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids hoodie

New Ivy Arch telephone and typewriter lavender bags

Ruby Star phone lavender bags by Ivy Arch

The run up to Christmas is the busiest time of my lavender bag producing year and the soothing sweet scent of this herb permeates my house. 
   According to folklore lavender is a favourite scent of the elves, which is why it is sometimes referred to as Elf Leaf. Some incredible properties have been attributed to it including the power to ward off depression (by simply gazing at the plant) and the ability to maintain peacefulness at home (by scattering lavender flowers around the house). It was also recommended to smell the plant as often as possible to guarantee a long life.
   While I can't promise that my lavender bags have magic properties they do smell great and make ideal Christmas gifts. I've added two new lines to my Etsy shop today, new telephones and typewriter lavender bags in Melody Miller's Ruby Star fabrics for Kokka, Japan.

Ruby Star telephone and typewriter lavender bags by Ivy Arch

If only this was smell-o-vision I could share the gorgeous scent with you on this blog too! Go here for a closer look and to buy.

Tide of Light and Fire

Worthing Tide of Light and Fire

Tonight's fireworks over Worthing Pier were spectacular! Hundreds of people – row after row all along the beach and at both sides of the pier – turned out to witness an astonishingly beautiful pyrotechnic display.

Fireworks on Worthing Pier

The funfair was also in town and dozens of food stalls (with long queues) packed out Montague Place. For once Worthing's caf├ęs stayed open late and the town centre was brilliantly bustling with happy revellers. Worthing has never looked so bright and busy by night!

Bonfire night fireworks, Worthing

Bright star of Worthing

Low tide at Waxing New Moon

Worthing beach in November

The half-term school holiday began with St. Jude's storm and ended today with blue skies over Worthing. We had a splendid week of bright if blustery weather after the storm blew over and today's inset day gave us a last chance to run around on the beach before the second half of autumn term begins tomorrow. 

Worthing beach at Waxing New Moon
November sun over Worthing Pier
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