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 cafés 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

A Happy Homemade girl's Gudrun Sjödén dress

Happy Homemade Gudrun Sjoden

Like many DIY dressmaking fans throughout the land I'd been eagerly awaiting the release of Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids so of course jumped at the chance to review Tuttle Publishing's forthcoming title!

This is my first look at a Japanese childrenswear sewing book. Sew Chic Kids contains 20 designs by Ruriko Yamada for children aged between 2-8 years – several girls dresses and blouses as well as shorts, trousers, a shirt and a hooded pull-over (suitable for boys and girls). All simple, elegant designs. It follows the same format as its mother title Happy Homemade Sew Chic and has a thorough section devoted to basic sewing techniques, sewing machine tips, how to draft a paper pattern and advice on pattern placement.

My daughter was delighted that these Japanese clothes would fit her instead of me! I asked her to choose an outfit she'd like me to make and after half an hour of ruminating she managed to narrow her choice down to 9 garments. We finally agreed on pattern J, a v-neck dress (and I've promised to make the pull-over parka next).

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids
Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids: V-neck dress J

I thought the clean lines of dress J would look good in Gudrun Sjödén's bold, bright Solros fabric. It's 100% organic cotton and is printed with large scale multicoloured flowers – a sturdy fabric great for this autumn/winter dress. 

Girls dress in Gudrun Sjödén's Solros fabric
Happy Homemade dress J in Gudrun Sjödén's Solros organic cotton

I fully lined the dress in another Gudrun Sjödén material – a soft airy cotton voile printed with her Krokus design. The finished dress feels lovely and silky inside. Here's what it looks like inside out:

Dress lined with Gudrun Sjödén's Krokus fabric
Inside out: dress lined with Gudrun Sjödén's Krokus fabric

We went across the road to Homefield Park to take our photos amongst the dishevelled leaves and fallen branches of trees struck by St. Jude's storm.

My daughter loves her very first Happy Homemade Gudrun Sjödén fabric dress!

Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids is published by Tuttle on 5th November 2013.
Gudrun Sjödén's fabulous fabrics are available by the metre from her webshop and in store at her boutiques.
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