• Dresses

    Dark Floral Lonsdale

    The Lonsdale dress and I have a shaky past. I originally encountered this pattern two years ago when I attempted to make a polka dot satin ball gown version. It was a disaster… too much drape and not enough fabric!

    Roisin had kindly sent me the pattern to trace and I felt like such a failure when I sent it back.

    almond rock, Sewaholic lonsdale, dark floral stretch cotton, minerva

    I thought it was long overdue a revisit so I chose one of Minerva’s lovely stretch cottons and set to work. I picked this gorgeous vintage dark floral. This fabric works really nicely with this pattern in my opinion; just the right amount of body and there’s a great range of prints.

    I made the midi length skirt variation with no pockets.

    almond rock, Sewaholic lonsdale, dark floral stretch cotton, minerva

    Sewaholic patterns are designed for pear shaped figures but I’m really not sure this skirt is the most flattering design on me. I feel like it emphasises the difference in size between my shoulders and hips, when I hoped I might appear more balanced out. It also uses a centre front seam which I absolutely detest. I think they interrupt the eye and distract you.

    I tried other skirts options like a circle and a gathered skirt but they just looked wrong!

    The main feature of this dress however is the halter ties. I think this is where my main issue lies. The ties look so pretty on others but they just seem to overwhelm my neckline – I really wish I’d thinned them out significantly. It’s most noticeable how wide they are when viewing the back. If I’d chosen the tie back option this might not be so obvious because they’d naturally get a little bunched up and thinned out.

    almond rock, Sewaholic lonsdale, dark floral stretch cotton, minerva

    I do feel like it’s a bit of a failure. And that’s fine, it happens to us all. You honestly can’t suit everything. And I don’t assume that because some patterns of a designer look nice on you they all will. Plus there’s nothing really wrong with the finished dress so I might see if I can give it away!

    Mr AR says it looks nice on me though which is always good to hear. And the midi length is modest but sweet and I’m pleased with how neat my knot looks at the front. Plus the print is just what I wanted: Sweet but still serious.

    The bodice is self-lined and the skirt is lined in anti-static lining. I used a regular 16 inch zip and black bias binding to hem the skirt.

    almond rock, Sewaholic lonsdale, dark floral stretch cotton, minerva

    Overall I’m glad I tried this pattern again. But I doubt I’ll make another.

    When was the last time you didn’t like a finished garment? Did you keep it or give it away?

  • Dresses

    Wedding of the Year

    This weekend two of my closest friends married each other. And I bawled my eyes out.

    gertie butterick 6167 shelf bust liberty carline almond rock

    It was the perfect day and I’m so happy for them, even though I’m a teeny bit jealous of their amazing honeymoon plans.

    For the occasion I wanted the perfect dress. When I saw the new Gertie pattern Butterick 6167 I thought it was just gorgeous. Sadly it hadn’t been released in the UK when I fell in love with it. BUT WAIT… Sewing Superhero Sonja from Ginger Makes got hold of a copy and posted it over for me!!! How sweet is that!?

    I bought 2m of Liberty Carline poplin from an ebay seller called Fellabird Fabrics while I waited for the postman to come a knocking. This is a smaller version of carline, in a beautiful pink.

    gertie butterick 6167 shelf bust liberty carline almond rock

    The dress features a gathered shelf bust detail, boning, spaghetti straps and a full skirt. The bodice is self lined and I used polyester lining for the skirt. Interestingly the dress is cut on the cross grain!

    I thinned out the straps and took a whopping 6cm off the hem. Plus I added a huge hem ruffle (twice the width of the skirt) to the lining to act as a fake petticoat and boost the shape.

    It’s a pretty good pattern if you’re interested in learning how to bone a bodice and sew a lapped zipper. I confess I didn’t really need to learn those things but I appreciate that they’re included.

    gertie butterick 6167 shelf bust liberty carline almond rock

    The other joy of the wedding was that it was my honour to make the ties and pocket squares for the Groom, groomsmen and page boys.

    Look at these handsome men! When I introduced Mark to my University friend Nicola I never thought it would turn out so well. Mark, Alex and Matt have been in my life for 15 years and I love that they’ve welcomed Jimi like they’ve known him that long as well. He made a very handsome usher.

    hand sewn tie pocket square almond rock

    hand sewn tie pocket square almond rock

    I know the men look dashing but come on, are those not the cutest kids you’ve ever seen?hand sewn tie pocket square almond rock

    I made 7 men’s ties, 7 pocket squares and 2 “fake” ties that fastened with velcro. I drafted patterns from existing ties and googled “sew your own pocket square”. The fake ties were the hardest to wrap my brain around.

    I’m half-tempted to make a pdf of the kid’s tie and make it available as a free download. It’s kind of the thing I’d have been happy to find when I was prepping to make these so maybe someone out there would find it useful?

    hand sewn boy's tie almond rock

    So that was my Easter Saturday! Did you have a fun long weekend?

  • Dresses

    What A Gem

    Today I’m here to share a Minerva Blogger Network make!


    I had a short break from the Network while I worked on some other projects and will probably keep the collaborating a bit more sporadic this year so I can keep sewing from my stash!

    For the dress I chose a gorgeous quilting cotton in mid-blue with coloured gems. I can’t help by smile at all the pretty colours in this dress; those gems are my idea of the perfect colour palette.

    The dress is the brain child of pinterest. I wanted a button up back dress with cool triangle closures. Basically it’s business in the front, party in the back!


    I was really tempted to show a little skin between each button but it would have immediately lowered wearability for me as I couldn’t go bra less and would have hated straps peeking through.

    I used the Simplicity 2444 bodice as a start and altered the back piece to create the overlapping triangles. I added the lovely gathered A line skirt of the Deer and Doe Sureau dress.


    Sorting out the number and size of triangles I wanted took a few drafts. It also gave me some ideas for other variations, for example this could easily be recreated with a scalloped closure.

    I transferred my seam markings using a tracing wheel and carbon, and reduced my stitch length to land neatly on the end of each outward point. In the valley between each triangle I made sure to sew one horizontal stitch to round off the inward point, this helps when turning out, as then the angle isn’t too harsh.


    Clipping and notching is also really important for getting the triangle points neat. My trusty prym point turner helped make easy work of this. Once you’ve used a proper point turner it’s hard to go back to a pencil or a chopstick!

    It might not be obvious but things were a little different construction wise!
    I sewed the bodice with bodice lining in its entirety. I then sewed the skirt and installed my invisible zipper. I then attached my skirt with the bodice lining folded open, aligning the edge of each side of the skirt back with the bodice back seams. I then attached the skirt lining, handsewing along the zipper tape. And finally then folded down my bodice lining and hand stitched it in place.


    The dress used almost all of the 2 metres I had (but since I self lined the bodice that’s not too surprising). I used navy antistatic lining on the skirt, five 2cm wide orange buttons and a 9inch blue zip to coordinate. Finally I used 1 inch stiff navy polycotton bias binding on the skirt; this helpa hold the bell shape and gives the illusion of a good size hem which I like.


    I’m really pleased that my coral ballet flats go with the dress as sometimes they’re a little too electric to wear. I need a coral cardigan now, don’t I!


  • Dresses

    Safe As Houses


    Fun times over here! I’m super happy* with my new dress and ready to share.

    almond rock cath kidston houses s2444 sureau

    Basically this is a dress you’ve seen a billion times before from me. I’ve paired the Simplicity 2444 bodice with the skirt from the Sureau (a dress that I still can’t get to fit nicely).

    This cracking cotton duck fabric is from Cath Kidston. All out of stock now I’m afraid! The dress is also fully lined with navy silk habotai. I put in a centred zip for a change too. Plus I hemmed using a stiff bias tape to make the skirt flare at the bottom and keep the bell shape.

    almond rock cath kidston houses s2444 sureau

    It’s my new favourite dress because it fits wonderfully, the silk lining feels lush and the print makes me smile. Isn’t that everything you want from sewing your own clothes?

    Because this is such a TNT for me, I felt safe to splurge on the fabrics.

    And I finished the dress last week but the CONSTANT rain refused to let me wear it until the day of these photos! We had sunshine all day, and even though it was still 6°C it feels great to take photos outdoors again.

    almond rock cath kidston houses s2444 sureau

    The fabric was sort of a present from my Auntie Lynda, Uncle Paul and Cousin Poppy. I received a Cath Kidston gift card for my Birthday and I used it on some pretty bedding and 1.5 metres of this fabric.

    I have to thank Char for letting me feel her dress out of the same fabric at the SewBrum meet up. I wanted to see what the fabric weight was like before I ordered it online, as it wasn’t in stock at my local CK. It’s about the same weight as my Little French Dress so I knew it would sew up great as a S444.

    almond rock cath kidston houses s2444 sureau

    It was such a quick make seeing as how many times I’ve made this dress before. I nearly finished it within a day. Bonus part — because the fabric is so wide, I only needed a metre of fabric so I have spare!

    I’m also very excited that Poppy is learning to sew! She’s had an amazing chance to design and sew a dress with the help of two tutors and has just received her first machine to use at home. I’m both terrified and excited for her! It makes her seem even more grown up!

    I’m trying to think of good patterns she can work on at home. Please send me suggestions for trendy (but straightforward) tween patterns!! Or are there patterns for American Girl dolls?

    almond rock cath kidston houses s2444 sureau

    *Apparently I scrunch my face up when it’s a bit cold. I promise I’m seriously happy!

  • Dresses

    The Great British Sewing Bee Lace Challenge

    Hello Sewing Bee fans!

    almond rock great british sewing bee lace challenge

    In advance of tonight’s episode White Tree Fabrics gave me 2 metres of the lovely teal/aqua coloured leaf lace seen in the show and in the accompanying book, used on this gorgeous pencil skirt.

    almond rock great british sewing bee lace challenge

    almond rock great british sewing bee lace challenge

    The lace has such a pretty scalloped selvedge I wanted to showcase that. So I thought if I made a strapless dress I could include a scalloped neckline and hem.

    I used my tried and true Butterick 5351 as a starting point. This is a non-stretch lace and I found a teal rayon to use as a lining. I underlined the lace using tiny hand stitches and then changed the order of the construction to line the bodice and sew-in fabric covered boning. I decided not to line the skirt and just underline it; the skirt pieces are just two gathered rectangles.

    almond rock great british sewing bee lace challenge

    I don’t personally think this is the type of lace to worry about pattern matching. The leaf design is quite free flowing so seam lines don’t interrupt the print too badly. I bet I’d get marked down on the sewing bee though.

    almond rock great british sewing bee lace challenge

    Before I started I washed the lace on the cool handwash setting of my washing machine, and because it’s a cotton lace there was a little shrinking but no colour fading. There’s not a massively clear difference between the right and wrong sides either. It was a really nice lace to work with.

    almond rock great british sewing bee lace challengeSo there you have it! A sweet new blue dress paired with a black patent belt and shoes.