Saturday, 18 June 2016


Last week's episode of the sewing bee was on an international theme and one of the challenges was to make a dress using West African wax print fabrics.  If you've ever seen the 'First ladie's detective agency' series on TV you will have seen some of these vibrant prints worn by the characters.
Last weekend there was a 'Foire au tissus' in our village and when I went to see what it was all about I was thrilled to find a stall selling these amazing fabrics.
Of course I had to buy a couple of metres and when I got home I sat down with my pens and made a few sketches in my favourite frocks sketchbook and came up with what you see at the top of the post.
I have a favourite pattern that I used to make a simple summer dress as anything too complicated would have got lost in the patterns on the fabric. I'm really pleased with the result and now all I need is an occasion to wear it to!
There was a bit of fabric left over so I decided to make a new summer handbag and a tiny pouch for lipsticks and tissues.  I had also bought some extra stiff interlining at the foire which is indispensable to give the bag some shape and body.

I lined it in deckchair fabric and made sure to put in pockets on both sides to hold my sketchbook and pens as well as the phone and other bits and bobs.  I used an old chunky zip and two straps from my stash to complete it.
Do you remember my sketch from out Tenerife trip with the design for a sarong?  Well I finally got it made recently.

Here it is made from two sarongs and I'm very pleased with it, a very comfortable dress to wear on hot days when jeans and t shirts are too restricting.

There was enough fabric to make a long scarf too using the fringes at the ends.

And finally a glimpse of my re-organised work space.  I changed everything around when I realised the computer was getting too hot with the sun shining through the window, so now it's on the left of the work table at the end of the pine dressing table which is now much easier to use as part of my work surface.
I'm working on a new sewing project now so watch this space!!

Sunday, 12 June 2016


We're just back from short trip to La Turballe in south Brittany which is a small fishing town near La Baule, a large commercialised holiday resort.  This first sketch was drawn last Saturday as we relaxed after a tasty lunch at Piriac-sur-mer, half an hour's cycle ride along the coast. 

The camp site was right next to the sea and it was a pleasure to hear the waves lapping on the beach when I woke up during the night.  I stood in the doorway of our car to draw this so you can see how close we were.  The hedges had been sculpted to represent waves which really enhanced the view.

The gate to the beach was only a few yards from our pitch so I took my art bag and a deckchair one afternoon to capture the view along the coast. This is drawn in Museum watercolour pencils and then washed with water on one of the gessoed pages in my new map sketchbook.  I like the effect and the water worked very well on the surface.

My next 2 pages are drawn on the hand made paper samples stuck to the maps and this first one is a very rough  gelatine sized watercolour paper so the pen I was using washed out beautifully to give the light and shade effect I was after.

The second was a completely different tinted pastel paper, very absorbant so the same ink pen as before gave quite a different result when it sunk straight into and then spread out on the paper.  It hardly moved at all when I washed the water on as it was already completely absorbed.

On the Tuesday we cycled along the coast and then through the salt pans to Guerande, a pretty walled town famous for it's sea salt.  I drew this on a rather dark rough watercolour paper while we sipped a beer after our ride.

We ate a delicious crepe lunch and then sat in the shade outside the walls to rest before cycling back.  The swifts that nested in the cracks in the walls were swooping and diving over the water to gather food and then disappear into small holes in the wall to feed their chicks.

Later in the afternoon I realised the sea was a bit rougher than usual and thought I might try to capture it in watercolours so I took my bag and chair and settled on a rock near the water's edge.  How lucky this fisherman turned up to add a bit of interest to my picture! The paper is called Turner blue, a copy of the original used by the famous painter so I had to use a white marker pen to paint in the splashes of the waves. 

The tide was coming in quite fast so I had to move up the beach above the tide line for the next sketch looking towards the fishing port of La Turballe.  This time I used a water soluble pen, a brush pen and the watercolour pencils.

And finally I can never resist gathering wild flowers when we're out cycling and these came from the side of the salt marshes.
I hope you've enjoyed following along on our little trip and I hope to be back again soon with more sketches from somewhere else, it'll be a surprise for you as much as me as our plans are a bit uncertain at the moment.

Thursday, 2 June 2016


The Great British sewing bee has started a new series and of course I've been inspired to get out my machine again.  I finally got around to making this top from the sarong I bought in Tenerife.  I made the long black and white dress too but I haven't had a chance to photograph it yet so that will have to wait for another day.
You might remember this drawing I made in my holiday sketchbook.

I have a loyalty card for the local fabric shop and when I received a 10 euro voucher as a birthday bonus I was off in a flash to spend it!  I bought white stretch denim to make some summer trousers and came across this fabulous printed plasticised tablecloth fabric.  I just had to buy a metre for only 6 euros with the idea of making a beach bag and look how brilliantly it turned out!  I'm going to use it when we're away in the camping car to take my towel and toiletries to the showers in the mornings and it will co-ordinate with my bright pink dressing gown too!

Here's another piece of irristible fabric that I made into a bag to carry my art materials on holiday in and there was just enough to make a little zippy pouch as well.  Needless to say it's packed and parked on the end of my bunk in the camping car already as we're leaving in the morning.

Last week I made a new sketchbook covered in this gorgeous Parisian inspired fabric with a colour matched leather spine.  The pages are made with maps and hand made paper samples like the last one I made.  This time I used Loire valley maps as we were planning a tour of the region over the next few weeks but we've had to change our plans because of the serious flooding there at the moment.

The end papers are made of a map with florist's tissue glued to it, just translucent enough to see the map through it.  Then I used another map to cut out the numbers and did the lettering and borders in Derwent line painters as they are opaque.

I started working in it on Sunday with a sketch of our lunch eaten in the garden.  We had a lovely time sitting in the sun making our holiday plans and being swooped over by the swallows that live in the barn over the road.
Well that's it from me for a couple of weeks, let's hope for some warm sunshine and lots of interesting things to see and draw. 
A bientot!