A Dress for Midwinter

Liesl Cinema Dress in folksy corduroy by Ivy Arch

My final dress make of the year is a Cinema Dress trimmed with embroidered ribbons and braid. It's the second dress I've made from this Liesl + Co sewing pattern and this time I used a soft floral corduroy – my favourite choice of fabric for winter dressmaking.

Embellished Cinema Dress by Ivy Arch

Inspired by Gudrun Sjödén's beautiful Midvinter collection, I decided to sew a heavily brocaded panel on the bodice using different braids and embroidered ribbon collected over the years. It took some time to get the placement right!

Liesl + Co Cinema dress with embroidered ribbons

The finished frock has a festive folksy feel and will see me through this season's celebrations.

Back view: braid embellished Cinema Dress

Introducing The Silver Dream Machine

The Silver Dream Machine

Tomorrow will see the debut performance of The Silver Dream Machine. Formed especially for this gig at East Beach Studios art gallery on Worthing seafront, my ukulele partner Harriet Booth and I have written six original songs which have been meticulously rehearsed for the past two months. We are ready, have silver capes, and we hope that Worthing – and the world –  is ready to receive us!

The Silver Dream Machine performs at East Beach Studios, Beach Parade, Worthing on Saturday 12th December at 1pm.

Merry Christmas Wukulele Jam!

Wukulele Christmas Party!

Sunday was the official start of the Christmas party season with a festive edition of Wukulele Jam upstairs at Worthing's art deco Rowing Club. Our own Christmas Songbook (compiled by Harriet) had enough songs to keep us merry for the full 2 hour session, though we paused for refreshments and banter. 

There is no better way to get into the spirit of Yuletide than with the fine people of Worthing Uke Jam and I left wishing it could be (Wukulele) Christmas every day.

Wukulele Christmas Party, upstairs at Worthing Rowing Club
Wukulele Christmas Party, upstairs at Worthing Rowing Club

Wukulele takes a break in January but we'll be back at Worthing Rowing Club on 21st February for our first uke jam of 2016.

Foremothers and Folk Prints at Gudrun Sjödén

Gudrun Sjödén Elsa tunic and leggings, Ivy Arch handmade uke gig bag

Last week I visited Gudrun Sjödén's Covent Garden store for the festive launch of her Christmas 2015 collection. This friendly, welcoming event for Gudrun's customers gave us the chance to meet designer Pia Marklund and hear some of the stories and inspiration behind the designs.

Gudrun Sjödén shop, Covent Garden London

The collection is inspired by four strong women – mothers and grandmothers of the design team – including Gudrun's own mother Elsa of Norrbotten. Pia's talk brought these women to life with photographs and anecdotes about their family and working lives, including personal memories of her own maternal grandmother, Singa from Västerboten, a woman who travelled widely throughout Africa and the Orient bringing textiles, artefacts and exotic clothing home with her to Sweden.

Gudrun's Christmas 2015 in store launch

Trying on clothes, eating Swedish cake and sipping mulled wine, I spent a good few hours in the shop and after much deliberation bought the Elsa print tunic in dark green and cranberry, and a pair of green Elsa leggings. The tunic is cut with triangular insets at the sides that give it a pointed hem. It reminds me of some of Yoshiko Tsukiori's designs and also Scarlett et Marguerite's Baba Yaga dress. I love this style and the fabric is fabulous in all of the three possible colourways.

Elsa dress in Cranberry
Elsa tunic in green - inspired by Gudrun Sjödén's mother, Elsa

I also came away with a long Christmas wishlist of garments I would like! Top of the list is Pia's aubergine Singa dress (the busy store had sold out of my size). It has a gorgeous bold flower repeat print, wide three quarter length sleeves that flare out slightly and fine short rows of elastic to gently shape the sides – an almost concealed detail but one that makes the dress truly beautiful to wear.

By the time I left the shop it was dark. I hope to return soon and now have an extra reason to visit London with the opening of Gudrun Sjödén's first pop-up shop at Marylebone High Street. For details of the pop-up shop and in-store events over the festive season visit Gudrun's World

Gudrun Sjödén's Christmas collection is also available here.

Super Heroine Tendencies: Stylish Party Dresses - Dress O

Super power lightening dress by Ivy Arch

This is Dress O from Yoshiko Tsukiori's latest English translation sewing title Stylish Party Dresses (published as Formal and Little Black Dress in Japan). 

Yoshiko Tsukiori's Stylish Party Dresses

There are several elegant dresses in this book that I'd like to make, but O: Dress with Pin Tucks was at the top of the list. The basic shape of this dress is similar to Dress E from Yoshiko Tsukiori's Stylish Dress Book - a frock I have made several times (see three of them here).

Dress O with Pin Tucks

I used a shirt weight Italian cotton fabric bought from Ditto which has a bold rectangular colour block design. Tacking and sewing the pin tucks took some time as I had to work out to make the best of my fabric. I ended up making larger tucks (more like narrow pleats) to accommodate the print design. 

Carefully stitching pleats...

I also added some functional patch pockets to the front (essential in my opinion) but took care to match the fabric as best as possible so that they are almost invisible.
Dress O with Super Heroine Tendencies by Ivy Arch

The finished frock has taken me by surprise and turned out to be much more striking than expected. As party going is a rare event for me these days (except for children's parties) I shall wear this as an everyday super-power dress – especially on dark winter days when I need a boost!

Cuff detail, dress O

For a full review of the Stylish Party Dresses book see Very Kerry Berry's lovely blog.

Marcy Tilton Hotchpotch Reprise: Vogue 8813

Marcy Tilton V8813 made by Ivy Arch

Some sewing patterns are worth repeating without delay and this is the second Marcy Tilton Vogue 8813 dress I have made this month. 

French House Dress in Indian cotton: V8813 made by Ivy Arch

The fabric is a light weight fine Indian cotton with hand printed patterns. It's actually three different printed fabrics which I pieced together to make a hotchpotch version of the dress. The frock is much more billowy and floaty in this fabric than my first Marcy Tilton French house dress and the hand printed patterns have imperfections which I think just make it even more special. 

Hotchpotch house dress details: V8813

The colours in these fabrics I realise are similar to the previous dress I made, and both dresses are in the colours of a piece of artwork I made in May, which is now exhibited as part of Creative Waves Art On The Pier exhibition on Worthing Pier. It seems I can't get these shades of mustard and ochre out of my head, nor out of my wardrobe.

Artwork by Daniela Gargiulo on Worthing Pier

Art on The Pier exhibition, Worthing 2015

Art on The Pier the great outdoors art exhibition is on display on Worthing's art deco pier now and until April 2016.

Ivy Arch #footselfie

Avant-garde House Dress: Marcy Tilton Vogue 8813

Avant-garde house dress: Marcy Tilton Vogue 8813

Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8813 sewing pattern is her take on a vintage French house dress but I'd say it owes more to the Japanese avant-garde designs of Issey Miyake and this is why I love it. 

Vogue 8813 in linen/viscose mix fabric, made by Ivy Arch

The sheared neckline and neat collar gives this voluminous garment structured points of interest and perfectly pulls Tilton's design together. My chosen fabric is a medium weight linen/viscose mix with a 1950s inspired block pattern in shades of grey and gold. The fabric has a heavy drape which accentuates the huge pockets in this dress, but it also has a soft and crumply woven texture which gives the frock fluidity and makes it extremely comfortable to wear.

Shirred centre front panel: Marcy Tilton's V8813
Nicely turned collar!

This is an easy-to-follow sewing pattern and a relatively quick sew. I followed the instructions to the letter with the exception of shirring the centre front panel before attaching it to the side fronts. For invaluable advice on shirring technique see Tilton's own instructive Youtube video.  

The dress has two huge pockets, each finished with a vintage big teal button.
Neat neckline: back view
Front and side view: V8813

The finished dress is both elegant and easy to wear. I have fabric ready to make a second!


Gudrun's Friends' Diary

Tea at Widewater Lagoon

I was invited to document my week in photographs for a new feature on Gudrun Sjödén's website, Gudrun's Friends Diary. I regularly photograph my world for Instagram so jumped at the chance to be involved in this project. However I must admit that my photo-diary week saw me paying extra attention to what I was wearing every day, and in a routine where many hours at the computer or sewing machine are my reality I was eager to capture the more sociable and varied aspects of my week.

Thursday morning's Meet & Make at Coast, Worthing

The biggest thrill is seeing it all published online and translated into many languages for Gudrun's international sites.

A week in the life: Gudrun's Friends' Diary

My photo diary forms part of a series which started with author and graphic designer Maren El Gammal and I look forward to seeing the diaries of Gudrun's friends in the weeks and months to come!
Rainy Monday walk through the park

You can read my photo diary in Swedish here.

Happy 6th Birthday Wukulele Jam!

Wukulele Uke Jam at Worthing Rowing Club, August 2015

This week we're celebrating the sixth birthday of Wukulele with a bumper birthday uke jam at Shoreham's Ukulele Festival Sussex on Sunday 20th September. Our jam forms part of a packed programme of performances, workshops and strum-alongs and we'll be kicking off Wukulele's jam at 12:50pm.
Wukulele Uke Jam at Worthing Rowing Club, August 2015

Wukulele – Worthing Uke Jam was born six years ago when I moved to Worthing from Brighton. I'd previously been running Brighton Ukulele Sundays but wanted to have a uke jam in my new home town. Our very first meeting brought together the Brighton uke jam posse, regular strummers from Shoreham and newcomers from Lancing, Worthing and Littlehampton who turned up to give it a go. One of those new people was Flying Aspidistra Harriet Booth who now runs our monthly Worthing jam, produces Wukulele's songbooks and keeps us all in time. I now occupy a side seat, am chief cheerleader and look after the Wukulele website.

Wukulele Leo Sayer Flash Mob

It is fitting then that we celebrate turning 6 with our friends in Shoreham who have contributed so much to our own jam and gone on to form great ukulele jams of their own. We do hope that everyone who has passed through Wukulele in the past six years will be able to join us, and as usual there'll be a warm welcome to new strummers too! 

Find out more about Wukulele and download our free uke songbooks here. Ukulele Festival Sussex takes place at Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham High Street, BN43 5EG 19th-20th September 2015, read all about it here.
Happy Birthday Wukulele!

Falling for Gudrun Sjödén's Autumn Collection

Ghita dress in cotton by Gudrun Sjödén

The buzz on Instagram is that Gudrun Sjödén's Autumn 2015 collection is her best yet. While I don't disagree, it's fair to say that every new Gudrun Sjödén collection is met with great excitement and wonder by her fans, with season after season of ethically produced clothes in unexpectedly lovely prints and textures.

Gudrun Sjödén's basic collection Autumn 2015
From Gudrun Sjödén's Basic collection: 
Sigrid linen/cotton tunic, Britt modal slip, Barbro leggings and Britt socks

Gudrun's Autumn catalogue comes in two parts. The first takes inspiration from five Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland with five separately themed collections inspired by the wild natural landscape and rich culture of each of these lands. The second part – an autumn extra capsule collection – is inspired by the primeval forest, abundant with toadstools, mushrooms, branches, moss, lichens and fir needles.

Ditte print dress and top with Vilse trousers by Gudrun Sjödén
'Ditte' is my favourite print from Gudrun's autumn collection, seen here as a dress and top. The trousers shown are both Vilse print and have a contrasting turn up cuff.

The beauty of Gudrun's designs is that year after year she returns to complimentary colour themes and styles so that clothes from any year can be worn and matched with items from previous collections. It's a creative and sustainable approach to fashion design leaving much room (no fungi pun intended) for individuality and heaps of personal taste for the wearer.

Colours and textures of Gudrun Sjödén's Autumn collection
Colourful details of Gudrun Sjödén's Autumn collection
Cotton Ghita dress by Gudrun Sjoden in Madder Red
Comfy cotton Ghita dress by Gudrun Sjoden

I hope you'll enjoy the pieces I've picked here! All garments shown are available now from Gudrun Sjödén's website.

Postcard from Berlin

Ivy Arch's Berlin feet

As I set the alarm for the start of a new school term, I'll take a few minutes to mull over my summer holiday photos from Berlin. In four short days we explored the city on foot, from the top of a tourist sightseeing bus and by underground train. These pictures represent only the briefest snapshot of this endlessly fascinating city.

Berliner Fernsehturm
Green Berlin
Berlin textures
Berlin textures 2
Holocaust Memorial, Berlin
Four days in Berlin, summer 2015
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