I’m delighted to have finally found a chumbera (prickly pear) with some lush new growth; the once ubiquitous and beautiful cactus is suffering an infestation of insects and slowly dying out here in Andalusia.
Moi from the gorgeous Ecléctica Deco shop in Vejer suggested that I sketch a chumbera a good while ago; he told me he’d seen a good one in La Breña national park so I set off for a hike on a really hot day search of it…needle in a haystack situation ensued. His next sighting was luckily closer to home and much easier to find.
I missed it in flower but hey-ho…the heart shaped leaf was a bonus…promise it was actually like that!
So this little number is the result of my third dress making adventure; using a black on beige version of my dragonfly fabric design which I had digitally printed in the UK by Woven Monkey.
I find the boat neck / empire line combination really comfortable and flattering so I’ve continued it here but by cutting the hem straight and splitting the sides I’ve converted the dress into more of a tunic which allows for much more movement below the waist…I can run in this one but long undergarments are essential for the preservation of modesty!
I wanted to make the bodice of this dress more closely fitting which meant putting in more darts and a zip. I opted to put an ‘invisible’ zip in the side seam (right) and thanks to guidance from several YouTube tutorials my first ever attempt worked pretty well.
I also decided to sew on a long black ribbon to accentuate the empire line and add a bit of flounce round the back.
While making my first two dresses – from my Dragonfly (white on grey version) and Horse fabrics – I’d come to love bias binding so I decided to use it to make a contrasting trim around the neck, arm holes and hem on this dress. I was also inspired (by a pair of black, beige and orange shorts I own) to add an orange top stitch to jazz up the black and beige combination.
Sadly all the prickly pears are in Andalusia are dying because of an infestation of insects but someone told me that there was one still alive on the coastal path which runs through the natural park known locally as La Breña, a pine forrest which covers the area between Barbate, San Ambrosio and Los Caños de Meca in the province of Cádiz.
So I set off to find it and draw it…
It was a needle in a haystack situation!
I did however enjoy the spectacular views from the cliff top and sat up there in a howling wind for an hour or so to sketch this view out over the Atlantic to Atlantera. That´s Morocco in the background.
I have a new tip off for a live prickly pear which is closer to home…fingers crossed!
I’m jolly pleased with my horse dress; the result of my latest adventure in home sewing. It’s a variation of the first dress I ever made (a shift style sewn from my dragonfly fabric) and since I mastered the use of bias binding on that project I decided to make an external feature of it this time; embellishing it with contrasting stitching.
The horse motif was inspired by the extraordinarily beautiful hand painted artwork I saw when Carter’s Steam Fair visited Maldon in Essex.
I made a pencil drawing (left) using my photos for reference, taking a morbid turn by adding the skeleton of the horse as part of the decoration.
I vectorised the drawing in Illustrator, used Photoshop to colour it and make the repeat pattern, which I then had printed onto a light cotton by the lovely folk at Woven Monkey.
The dress feels lovely on, here’s me posing about in it on my 50th birthday.
Could it possibly be said that I’m flogging a dead horse? You bet!
I just made myself this dress with fabric printed with a version of the dragonfly design I made back in 2014.
I uploaded my design to the Woven Monkey website and they printed it onto a lightweight cotton.
It’s the first dress I’ve ever made; patterns give me the heebeegeebees so I cut round one of my favourite dresses and made the rest up as I went along.
It was also the first time I’ve used bias binding as I’d previously imagined it to be a right faff but there really is no other way to neatly finish neck and armholes. I watched a couple of tutorials on YouTube and bit the bias binding bullet; it’s actually quite straightforward and I’ll definitely be using it more in the future.
Here’s me doing ‘catalogue’ poses in Cádiz this week, during the dress’s first outing.
My friend Vicen, who lived in Catalunya for many years inspired this pen and watercolour sketch. He, like me, loves a glass of Vichy Catalan a delicious mineral water with a sweetish salty taste and gentle bubbles.
The bottle is made of gorgeously textured turquoise glass and as I was looking at the label one day it occurred to me that I could dedicate the sketch to Vicen by slightly rejigging the text.
I called the sketch ‘agua con guasa’ which means water with humour, it’s a play on the words ‘agua con gas’ which means sparkling water in Spanish.
I was lucky enough to take a trip to Morocco recently, my fourth time in the country, but my first time in Chefchaouen which is a glorious blue washed gem of a place. Friendly, beautiful, full of delicious food and beautiful handmade items, I highly recommend it!
To be honest I was a bit overwhelmed by the spectacle of Chefchaouen in terms of committing to sketch it so I chose to depict a simple scene from the roof of our delightful guest house, Casa Perleta.
I met friends in Tangiers (I painted the mosque below in the time between my ferry arriving from Tarifa in Spain and their plane arriving from London) and we drove down to Chefchaouen together. It’s usually a two hour drive but the traffic that evening was ‘lively’, to put it mildly!