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