DIY drafted dress

Today I have a slightly different post for you all. I hope you read to the end and enjoy what you see.

Almond rock pattern drafting Winnie aldrich

A few years back I was in a luxurious position where I finished work at 4pm every day and could indulge myself in my evenings. One of the things I tried was a course called “‘Develop’ Pattern Drafting” at Leeds Art College. This was just after I tried the print making course and was fully enamoured with the LAC’s facilities.

Over the 10 weeks I made two blocks and about 6 patterns. I then promptly shoved them on a shelf and forgot about them… until a few months ago. I saw an email saying that LAC would sadly have to stop its evening education programmes and it inspired me to dig out my designs.

Almond rock pattern drafting Winnie aldrich

The pleated tuck effect of my pattern is created 90% by dart manipulation and 10% creative construction. I should caveat this by saying that my construction method may not be the most logical way to make this dress. But who cares, because this was my experimentation time and it’s not like I’m forcing you to copy me. Plus there’s a guarrantee I won’t remember the process entirely accurately but let’s cross our fingers shall we?

Almond rock pattern drafting Winnie aldrich

First things first I drafted a V neck bodice with waist-only darts and slim straps and importantly NO SEAM ALLOWANCE. I traced off two copies of this bodice. On the first copy I altered to swoop of the neckline so it fell under the bust (about 1″ below the bust point), leaving a shorter side seam no dart. This became the left side as worn.

Almond rock pattern drafting Winnie aldrich

For the right side as worn, I repeated the above neckline swoop but made the width of the front stop about 1.5cm into my dart area so it would be caught inside the closed dart. I then slashed three lines that angled from the new shorter side seam, connecting to the bust point. By slashing up the dart to the bust point I could pivot the paper so it opened up gaps between each slash, creating my pleats. This was really fiddly, I’m not going to lie. Keeping the neckline edge on the correct curve so it met the centre front evenly and only opening the pleats below that point took some practice.

Almond rock pattern drafting Winnie aldrich

Then I added seam allowance all over! As I knew I would finish everything with bias tape facings and an overlocker I use small seam allowance. On my toile I had some slight pulling due to the positioning of my neckline curve so redrafted slightly to fit better under the bust.

Almond rock pattern drafting Winnie aldrich

To construct the dress I had to sew the shoulder seams, bind the neckline edges stopping short of the back zipper area, construct the pleats, sew the pleats into the left dart and sew the remaining right dart, tack the lower edges, sew the side seams, add the circle skirt, install the zip, finish the neckline binding, bind the armholes and bind the hem. Plus overlock the waist and side seams at strategic moments. You might notice I also changed the colour of my topstitching from the in progress shot above!

Almond rock pattern drafting Winnie aldrich

I wore this dress to a friend’s wedding and felt very glam all day. The fabric used is a silky poly sateen from Minerva Crafts. It’s very drapey with no stretch, so don’t imagine cotton sateen which is more crisp. It was £16.99 so quite a splurge on my part when I didn’t have any specific plans but I couldn’t resist. It’s a hand-painted digital print, with splatters of paint and brush marks visible in the design. The colours are so gorgeous and there are places where it reminds me of a milky way or galaxy. My only regret is not buying half a metre more. I let fear of how much I was spending get the better of me and ended up with a pattern placement I’m not 100% happy with. Although it still looks great, it gave me a lot of headaches trying to place the print in an attractive way to show off the pleats.

Almond rock pattern drafting Winnie aldrich

While pattern drafting at home is rather involved unless you have lots of space and a good head for maths, dart manipulation at home is lots of fun. I highly recommend taking a basic bodice pattern you know fits you and play around with pivoting the darts. You’ll just need some basic supplies like tracing paper, or dot and cross paper with a tracing wheel and carbon (don’t use the hemline carbon it’s crap). William Gee have some great prices on drafting papers even if you just want them for tracing off your patterns. Perhaps you’re ready to try pattern drafting? Well a pattern master will be your best friend for 90 degree angles, quick measurements and soft curves. And I must confess I live by the bible of Winnie Aldrich but some people seem to hate her method. On the course we followed Hilary Campell but I couldn’t retrain my brain to Hilary’s ways. Maybe it’s just what you encounter first?

I hope you found this post interesting. It was a bit more in-depth than many of my other posts but perhaps it’s inspired you to have a go at pattern drafting if you’ve never tried it, or dust off the old pattern master if you’ve left it alone for too long.

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BOND, ANNA BOND… By Hand London Anna

Hello everyone. I’m writing this from a corner of my sewing room, slightly frazzled from car issues and too tired to sew. I’m really keen to start wedding related sewing but have had a few silly setbacks.

One of my bridal fabrics has arrived cut into two lengths instead of being kept whole and I’ve lost the pattern number I noted down for my bridesmaids’ dresses. All fixable of course but frustratingly will slow me down. Chewie isn’t impressed.

Almond rock rifle paper co cotton steel by hand London Anna

So to perk myself up I’m sharing a recently finished make. It’s not my first and not my last Anna dress but possibly my most noticeable. When I wear this dress people love to find out if it’s really Rifle Paper Co, ask to stroke the rayon to feel the quality and tell me the colours are wonderful. I happily answer all the comments because I think the quality is fantastic; the shades of blue and coral, the weight and sheen of the weave, and the scale of the design make this a perfect fabric. Go buy some while you can.

If you’ve made something from Rifle Paper Co fabric please link me in the comments!!

Almond rock rifle paper co cotton steel by hand London Anna

In case you’ve been off the grid, the last couple of years have yielded some fabulous fabrics from the collaboration of Rifle Paper Co and Cotton + Steel.

Anna Bond is the creative force behind Rifle Paper Co, a stationery business famed (primarily) for its painterly florals designed by Anna herself.

Almond rock rifle paper co cotton steel by hand London Anna

Cotton + Steel is comprised of the design power houses Melody Miller, Rashida Coleman-Hale, Alexia Abegg, Kim Kight and Sarah Watts who collaborate on fun and unique prints that still coordinate across each range. The bulk of the offering is quilting cotton but lawn, rayon and canvas substrates are also available for certain designs.

Almond rock rifle paper co cotton steel by hand London Anna

The Birch Floral I used is from the Les Fleurs collection which I picked up from Miss Matatabi. Also in my stash is the Painterly Roses rayon from the Wonderland collection. I have 1m to play with which I picked up from Village Haberdashery using my birthday stash points!

Almond rock rifle paper co cotton steel by hand London Anna

Ok so dress nitty gritty time. This is the Anna v-neck bodice and the Emery gathered skirt with 3cm added to the length. I used a 70 needle to avoid snags and the fabric was robust enough not to shift as I worked or get sucked into the feed dogs.

Almond rock rifle paper co cotton steel by hand London Anna

My armholes are finished with blue bias and I used the facings provided. My invisible zip is pretty invisible considering its navy and I took the dress in a little from previous versions as I’ve lost some weight. I try and save this dress for nice occasions as it does noticeably wrinkle after a few hours of wear.

Almond rock rifle paper co cotton steel by hand London Anna

The big thing this dress taught me is that I love wearing primary colours. My red Sumo dress, started that off. So I’ve bought some emerald green tana lawn which I’m excited to sew up. But that better wait until after I get my bridal sewing back on track…

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Living in Liberty Simplicity 1419

Hello campers!

almond rock liberty tana lawn wiltshire simplicity 1419 lisette

Hope your week has been fab. I’ve had a fairly busy one with extra photoshoots at work being scheduled in for the summer, the cat deciding to bring me a live mouse home that managed to escape and live inside a random shoe for a night, and a dramatic near-win at the Odd Bar pub quiz (half a point off winning!) so I’m looking forward to a date with my sewing machine this weekend.

In sewing news I ordered the first bit of fabric for my wedding dress, plus samples for the coordinating fabrics and in a couple of weeks I head off on Alison Smith’s bridal couture 3-day workshop. It’s super exciting!!

Today I’m sharing a juicy dress today made with Liberty tana lawn.

almond rock liberty tana lawn wiltshire simplicity 1419 lisette

This is Simplicity 1419 by Lisette before they joined up with Butterick. And I know I got this pattern from someone as a gift but it was soooo long ago I really can’t remember exactly who! Was it you Roisin? Or perhaps a swap table? Damn my memory. If you gave me this pattern please know I’m so so happy with this dress (can you tell from my face here).

almond rock liberty tana lawn wiltshire simplicity 1419 lisette

This Liberty lawn print is Wiltshire but you can’t find this colourway anywhere so it may be either a ‘seconds’ print, copy or super rare. Emma is the only other person I know who’s also used it. I bought mine from Ribbon Circus in Hebden Bridge as a leaving present to myself when I moved jobs to Love Sewing.

almond rock liberty tana lawn wiltshire simplicity 1419 lisette

 

I hacked the heck out of the neckline if you couldn’t tell. I made the collar as instructed then ripped it off, lowered the neckline, made red bias binding and a little bow and put everything back together. It did look lovely before I changed it but the collar was a touch too high to swallow comfortably and ended up a little too stiff for my liking. The bow is much sweeter although it has a tendancy to get skewed in the wash – and in these photos it seems too hahah.

almond rock liberty tana lawn wiltshire simplicity 1419 lisette

The sleeves fit beautifully and I think the skirt is the perfect length (I tried the pleats but they made me a bit hippy so switched to gathers all around. You surely won’t ask me why I added pockets because that’s just silly. My invisible zip is invible too hurrah!

almond rock liberty tana lawn wiltshire simplicity 1419 lisette

With such a good fit I think I’ll try making this dress again without the keyhole as it’s so hard to find well fitting sleeves! That way I can line the whole thing too and make it more tights friendly (very important to me for an all year round dress).

almond rock liberty tana lawn wiltshire simplicity 1419 lisette

 

Also I should let you know that this is my last post with big curls for a while. After a bit of heartache I realised my hair is not compatible with a perm. I need to be able to dye my roots every 4-6 weeks and it seems the hair dye freaked my perm out into a frizzy unhappy mess. Even after some hairdresser recommended moisturising treatments the curls aren’t coming back like they were. Given that it was a free perm in exchange for being a hair model I’m not out of pocket, just disappointed. I can still curl my hair and get an excellent hold but I can’t just wash it and let it dry curly any longer. It was a fabulous few weeks though and I am still a firm lover of curly hairdos.

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Alpine ski lodge Simplicity 1606 hack

Happy heatwave everyone!

Almond rock simplicity 1606 sew over it

So I’m not going to inundate you with pictures of Simplicity 1606… this is my toile version of the ball gown with a fun twist. The pattern is essentially a great little princess seam sundress waiting to happen. So I simply added sundress straps and a gathered skirt to get the look!

Almond rock simplicity 1606 sew over it

The double straps were inspired by the Centaurée by Deer and Doe patterns. The gathered skirt is of course the Emery skirt which you know my feelings on.

Almond rock simplicity 1606 sew over it

Like my ball gown I added boning and an invisible zipper. The boning isn’t necessary at all when you’ve got straps but I like how it stops the bodice from creasing which is a likely occurrence in cotton.

Almond rock simplicity 1606 sew over it

This dress took 1.2m of 60 inch wide fabric which is incredible stash busting as it meant I could use this Alpine print poplin. I’d been searching in vain for a coordinating plain navy until I tried laying out this dress on a hunch. A perfect fit thanks to the princess seam bodice pieces!

Almond rock simplicity 1606 sew over it

This print features skiers, wood lodges and fir trees. It was a cheeky impulse buy from Sew Over It while I was getting the vintage shirtdress pattern a few years back. Note to Future Amy: never buy less than 2m of poplin.

Almond rock simplicity 1606 sew over it

These shoes are the bomb and Next have just listed some similar platforms in red too… my bank balance won’t forgive me hahaha.

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Big Tomato Butterick 6453

So I know it’s a little dreary outside but this dress feels like a bolt of sunshine when I put it on. Don’t you love it when you get that feeling?

When I saw Butterick 6453 by Gertie I knew I’d make view A. I’m sure you guessed that too. It’s a classic easy wear sundress and it gave me a great chance to try more princess seams.

 I got my copy from www.craftstash.co.uk as you get 20% off your first order. Plus they’re selling selling all New Look patterns at half price at the moment, and if you buy two or more patterns you get a Simple Sew pattern for free!

The pattern was really nice and clear and the fit was pretty good out the packet. I shortened the bodice a little and moved the bust point over a cm. Oh and I shortened the straps A LOT.  I added boning to the sides for extra support. This photo looks like I’m checking my boobs are still there hehehe.

A few years back my parents went to Japan and visited the Tokoyo fabric district in Nippori. They went to Tomato Fabrics, a five floor department store style fabric shop with wholesale prices. I was overjoyed when they brought me this textured broadcloth with sumo wrestlers.

I love the scoop back and adjustable straps. The skirt is so full and swishy. I added a deep hem and finished it with yellow bias binding. The lapped zipper finishes the dress off really nicely.

There’s an awesome range of dresses in the sewalong Facebook group for this pattern. If youre not a member you can check out a few by looking at the hashtag #b6453sewalong on social media. 

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