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.
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