Amy Butler Cameo dress: Simplicity 2363

Amy Butler Cameo dress: Simplicity 2363

I spend entire evenings mooning over fabric shop websites and a recurring destination is Eclectic Maker's Going, Going Gone page of top quality fabric sale bargains. Spying a selection of Amy Butler fabrics there, I cycled over to Worthing's best fabric store the next day and snapped up the end of the roll of the Tea Rose Cameo print also buying half a metre of Hopscotch Cameo fabric to go with it.

Simplicity 2363 - before sleeves
An armless Simplicity 2363 - this dress can also be finished sleeveless

With such precious prints I wanted to make a dress pattern I knew well, and one that would suit, so returned to Simplicity 2363 - a pattern I've used again and again.

Posterior view: Simplicity 2363
Back view: Simplicity 2363

The finished frock is bright and summery, the material crisp and soft. I like the bold giant pom-pom flowers of the Tea Rose fabric, it makes for a really happy dress!

Simplicity 2363 details: sewn by Ivy Arch

I proudly wore my new creation to Wukulele uke jam on Sunday, accessorised with my Amy Butler Lotus ukulele case. I've made three of these uke gig bags, sold two but couldn't resist keeping the third for myself.

Ivy Arch Lotus ukulele gig bag

Save The Elephant with Gudrun Sjödén!

Save The Elephant!

Every year more than 35,000 elephants are killed for their ivory. If the ivory trade continues at this rate the largest land mammal on our planet will be extinct within 10 years.

Inspired by the plight of the elephant, my favourite clothing designer Gudrun Sjödén is working with conservation network Ivory for Elephants (IFE) to help save the elephant in Africa. As part of her African animal themed autumn collection Gudrun pays tribute to these creatures with an exquisite range of elephant print designs and is donating £5 from the sale of every Elefant top to IFE to support their work in protecting elephants and rhinoceros, and reducing the ivory trade.

Gudrun Sjoden's Elefant top
Gudrun Sjoden's Autumn 2014 collection

8 Facts About Elephants:

1. Elephants can hear one another's trumpeting calls up to 5 miles away.

2. Elephants can get sunburned, so they protect themselves with sand.

3. Elephants are pregnant for 2 years. Imagine!

4. Elephants are scared of bees.

5. Elephants are herbivores.

6. An elephant's brain is similar to a human's in terms of structure and complexity.

7. Elephants care for the wounded and grieve the deceased. 

8. Elephants have one of the most close knit societies of any living species. A family can be devastated by a death, especially of a matriarch and some groups never recover.

To buy a Gudrun Sjödén 'Elefant' top visit Find out more about the Ivory For Elephants project at The classic BBC radio documentary Touching The Elephant has just been made available on CD.

Window Dressing: Harriet's Curtains - Stylish Dress Book, Y

Stylish Dress Book - dress Y

Harriet is a friend with an eye for print and pattern. We share an enthusiasm for novelty fabrics (see the Garden Gnome Party Dress I made for her daughter) and I was delighted when she kindly gave me the offcuts of the fabulous Antique Seeds cotton she made her wondrous new kitchen curtains from – to use as I wished.

Antique Seeds by Blue Hill Fabrics
Harriet's kitchen curtains in Antique Seeds by Blue Hill Fabrics

There was just enough material to make some panels and trim for a dress, so once again I returned to a sewing pattern that's a staple of my summer wardrobe - Dress Y from the first volume of The Stylish Dress Book.  A quick rummage through my wardrobe tells me I've made 7 of these dresses to date but hadn't sewn a new one this year... The Antique Seeds print went really well with a ditzy multi-coloured floral cotton bought at Worthing's Wednesday Market. I used Harriet's curtain fabric to make the bodice front side and back panels, and a matching border along the hem. I added pockets to the side seams - an essential improvement to this great dress design.

Stylish Dress Book Wear With Freedom: dress Y
Harriet's kitchen curtains

I'm ever so happy with the end result - it's the perfect attire for picking ripe pears in Harriet's garden.

Harriet's lovely pear tree
Medieval sleeve, SDB dress Y

WW1 Centenary: Poppies and Produce in Beach House Park

WW1 floral tribute in Beach House Park, Worthing

Worthing's Beach House Park is an ideal place for quiet contemplation at any time of year. Monday 4th August is the centenary of the start of the First World War and to commemorate this event a bold giant poppy made up of small red flowers has been planted on the circular mound at the back of the War Pigeon Memorial. Tall red poppies have also been planted amongst the shrubs on the rockery. It's a beautiful sight.

Poppies at Worthing's Pigeon War Memorial

Equally impressive is Beach House Park's WW1 Allotment Bed, planted in May by Paul Eustice and Worthing & District Allotments Association. I've been watching its progress with delight and it's wonderful to now see the vegetables growing in abundance having survived weeks of drought, the recent flash floods and the ravages of local wildlife (insect, animal and human). The allotment has been designed to grow the food varieties which were available at that time.

WW1 Allotment Bed, Beach House Park, Worthing

During World War 1 Victory Gardens were encouraged for the first time in Britain as a means for the population to have food at a time when it was in short supply. In common with much of the country, many parks and green spaces in Worthing were turned into allotments including Denton Gardens (opposite Beach House Park) where the local police force were given plots to grow potatoes. East Worthing was known for its tomatoes, grapes and cucumbers.

WW1 vegetable patch, Beach House Park

A hundred years on, some the varieties planted in Beach House Park's WW1 commemorative allotment are still widely used by allotment holders and growers.

Beach House Park, Worthing in August
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