December Ends

Worthing beach, December 2014

With the year drawing to a close we took a late afternoon walk on Worthing beach. The landscape to the east was coloured in soft pastel shades of blue with sandy brown footnotes.

View towards East Worthing, December afternoon.

The prospect to the west was a palette of grey flecked with silver and gold as the sun descended lower onto the horizon. Tranquil tones and a tonic for the senses as we mark the close of the old year and the dawn of the new.

Walking on Worthing beach at low tide
Shimmering views to the West
Man digging for worms on Worthing beach
A happy New Year from Ivy Arch!

Scarlett et Marguerite Baba Yaga dress

Baba Yaga dress, made by Ivy Arch

Introducing my first Scarlett et Marguerite Baba Yaga dress! Scarlett et Marguerite is a boutique and fabric store based in Nancy, France, which also designs and sells its own patterns for easy-to-sew clothes. Their aesthetic reminds me of 1970s Clothkits, far-out Gudrun Sjödén and 1980s Camden Market bohemian chic. Theirs is a world of unashamedly colourful homemade clothes in easy-fit shapes, embellished with all manner of brocades, ribbons and pom poms, sewn together with love.

Baba Yaga dress in Carolyn Gavin's Petite Fleur fabric, made by Ivy Arch

The Baba Yaga is one of their most sewn (and blogged) sewing patterns. I've craved making one myself all year long but put off buying it mainly due to the high cost of postage from France (almost as much as the price of the pattern itself). Eventually, a timely year-end discount code persuaded me to take the plunge and order it online. Once ordered, the pattern was delivered quickly and arrived in a delightful package - a joy to receive! It even included a Scarlett et Marguerite sew-in label to add to the newly created dress. The written instructions are only in French but the illustrated diagrams were clear and when in doubt I used Google Translate to decipher anything I wasn't sure about. 

Carolyn Gavin's Petite Fleur prints

Extra special fabric was required for this folkloric design and Carolyn Gavin's gorgeous Petite Fleur collection of organic cottons was just the thing. I used three different prints in a navy/red colourway; Swallow Garden for the main dress and sleeve panels; Poppies for the dress border; and Floral Impressions (a navy/white stem print) for the front and back panels. I spent even longer deliberating on which ribbons to use for the centre back trim before settling on a red gingham (for the time being).

Baba Yaga dress made by Ivy Arch

Baba Yaga is an easy pattern to sew and rewardingly quick to put together. I love the puff sleeve cuffs which have four darts to give them shape. There's room for personal interpretation here too – embellishment is encouraged! I closed the front neckline on mine to make the front sit flat and added (essential) side pockets. I'm wearing it here with my Gudrun Sjödén Cirkus print leggings and red shoes – a combination as flamboyant as the myth of Baba Yaga herself.

Baba Yaga worn with Gudrun Sjödén Cirkus leggings

One hundred (and more) ukulele bags

The very last uke bag has left my sewing machine! I have made well over a hundred quilted ukulele gig bags and appliquéd ukulele tote bags since sewing the very first gig bag for my Flea. I've sold them at music festivals, craft fairs and through shops in the UK. Through Etsy I've shipped many out to happy customers all over the world to countries as far flung as USA, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Scotland, Germany, Norway, Czech Republic, Japan, New Zealand and even China.

Ukulele gig bags made by Ivy Arch

There are just a few remaining appliqué uke bags left for sale (some in my Etsy shop and a few in shops in the UK) but all the uke gig bags have now gone to new homes. 

Quilted ukulele gig bags by Ivy Arch

I have enjoyed making every single one of them, delighted in carefully packaging them up and sending them out, and loved receiving emails and hearing kind feedback from happy customers. 

Appliqué ukulele bags by Ivy Arch 

All good things must come to an end and I'm marking the close of the year by saying farewell to my ukulele bag production line. Here's to new exciting sewing adventures in 2015!  

Avant Garden Fantasia Tova

Tova in Avant Garden by Ivy Arch

Possibly the finest frock I've made this year, or my current fave at least. As promised, it's my second Wiksten Tova, this time in Fantasia fabric from MoMo's recent Avant Garden collection for Moda. This colourway is Aqua Skies, the print is so splendid! I was overjoyed to find MoMo's designs in my local fabric shop – Worthing's Eclectic Maker. They had both the cotton, and linen/cotton mix varieties of these prints. I chose a linen mix as it felt more suitable for autumn/winter wear and also bought a small piece of contrasting Poppin Poppies print for the yoke.

Avant Garden Tova details
Front and back views, Avant Garden Tova
 Wiksten Tova collar and back
The Tova was a quick make a second time round, this time I lengthened the sleeves a little and decided not to add a cuff as it felt too bulky in this fabric. I added pockets into the side seams, made with the Poppin Poppies contrast fabric. They're hidden away from sight but make me very happy indeed!

Poppin Poppies pockets

A happy Tova

Tova Time: My first Wiksten Tova

Wiksten Tova in Liberty Pick & Mix Tana Lawn by Ivy Arch

There are scores of lovely homesewn Wiksten Tovas in the blogosphere. It's a clean and simple looking design that seems to suit everyone. I think the popularity of this sewing pattern somewhat put me off having a go at making one myself. It also looks similar to several other sewing patterns I've made (front yoke, three quarter length sleeves, gathers below the bustline) so I thought I could probably do without it, but eventually curiosity got the better of me. 

Blue Tova by Ivy Arch with Liberty print yoke and trim

I used a lightweight blue printed cotton to make the Tova dress, with a small leftover piece of Liberty Pick and Mix Tana Lawn for the yoke and sleeve trim. I also cut out some contrasting patch pockets to give the Tova more of a 1970s feel (with this sewing pattern in mind).

Wiksten Tova details

I made a few modifications: I narrowed the stand up collar; interlined the front yoke piece to give it more body and sewed up the placket a few centimetres at the bottom to slightly close up the front. This also stops the front neckline gaping too much and means I can wear it without a vest underneath, modesty assured! 

Wiksten Tova by Ivy Arch

The fit of the Tova is superb. Very happy with this one, I've already sewed a second – watch this space for Tova #2.

An Anti-Beige Ottobre Art Teacher Dress

Ottobre Design Art Teacher Dress in fleece by Ivy Arch

Getting through the colder months with greying hair and sun starved sallow skin – without looking completely washed-out and middle-aged – is a challenge best tackled by wearing more colourful clothes. So having bought some crazy coloured chevron fleece fabric from Brighton's Fabric Land (unsure whether to make cushions or clothes with it), it dawned on me that making a fleece dress in this bright material would solve so many problems.

A very bright fleece Art Teacher Dress

I've made it into another Art Teacher Dress from Ottobre Design's Autumn/Winter 2014 magazine.

Feeling fleece-tastic!

As before, the pockets in this dress design are perfect, and lovely and soft to the touch in fleece. I cut the multicoloured chevrons in different directions, machine finished the hem and sleeves with a fancy topstitch and used bias binding for a neat neckline.

Art Teacher Dress details

Fleece is so quick and easy to sew – no fraying seams! And did I mention how warm and cosy it is? Fleece fan John Shuttleworth would be thrilled to pieces with such a sensible fabric choice, I'm sure. I still have enough fabric left over to make four cushion covers (for Xmas presents), so will be spreading the fleece love this Christmas. Fleece Navidad indeed.

God bless the fleece, it brings you inner peace!