Honey Bunny McCall’s 7381

Hi everyone! I’m back with a new dress and some more pics that I had snapped at the work studio.

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

I have been eager to make this dress for a while, even before we knew it would be a free gift for the magazine.

The epic thing that has me dancing around the office is that we’ve arranged an exclusive set up with McCall’s that the mag pattern gifts have both size ranges stuffed into one envelope. THAT’S UNHEARD OF. For one thing you can’t go out and buy a McCall’s pattern for £5.99 so it was already a sweet bargain and now you get two sets of tissue for that price. SQUEEEEAL. So yep, you should start looking out for upcoming issues with this same size range and no longer will I be writing to disappointed subscribers who don’t like the split sizing. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

So back to the dress… This is McCall’s 7381 and features mix and match options like different sleeves and hem lengths. You can achieve an easy fit with the elasticated back and you can throw the dress on straight over your head pretty much and then it fastens with hidden hooks and eyes or press studs under the wrap.

You can get hold of it with issue 37 of Love Sewing mag in any supermarket, WH Smiths or via www.moremags.com. Or if you aren’t into sewing mags, hunt down the pattern on it’s own through www.sewdirect.com or your local shop – I totally recommend it!

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

Because I wanted to make a ‘wearable muslin’ I decided to try some fun rabbit print viscose fabric from my stash. True viscose is very prone to shrinking so I made sure to wash my fabric first and found some black elastic and black liquid satin to line the bodice.

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

There aren’t too many complicated steps in this dress. The ties require you to sew around 90˚ corners by dropping your needle and lifting your presser foot to pivot so it’s important to mark your pivot point carefully and reinforce the corners with stay-stitching. I found it a little fiddly to get a neat point at the end of the ties with a point turner so resorted to a chopstick and finally a pin to gently ease out the end.

You might be interested in my sleeve-setting mantra too – “pin the seam not the sleeve”. Big-brand patterns are always accused of putting too much ease in sleeve caps. But accurate pinning can reveal this to be less ease than you think. Pin at the seam stitching line and don’t fight to align the raw edge curves. Curling the sleeve head over your hand can help so the sleeve mimics how it will sit with a real arm in there. Then just use the half and half again process; pin the notches, pin halfway between them, then pin halfway between those pins and repeat until your sleeve is ready to sew.

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

The style is supposed to have a bit more design ease than you see in my version but as I was between the sizes I opted to sew the smaller size S (aka 8-10 because it’s banded sizing). I’m very small in the shoulders, have a 37” bust but I’m wide across my back. Size S has a finished bust measurement of 38” and I think 1” of ease is enough for me. The ties add interest to distract from my small bust and the cap sleeves give me a nice amount of coverage. Not that you can see the ties in these pics hehehe. Something for the people who meet me in person to have a look at!

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

As a pear-shaped gal I really liked where the waistline sits, almost empire line, so the skirt fabric falls nicely over my lower half. Even with a 43” full hip measurement I have plenty of room in the flared skirt. I think the fastenings at the front could possibly be sewn shut as well… though I’m scared to rip my dress open so maybe I’ll stick with my hook and eye.

I should confess I like to pretend I’m taller than I am but in reality I’m 5’4” and, as I prefer not to show a lot of leg, I added an inch to the skirt length to ensure it fell at my knees.

Now I just need to pick what fabric to use for my second version! I have some lovely Atelier Brunette poplin and a luxurious piece of silk that would both work. I promise to share a picture when I’m done. Make sure to tag me any pictures you make of this pattern and I’d love to hear your thoughts on our new size offering. Maybe all the big four brands move to this?

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

Continue Reading

Don’t be shady, be a Zadie

Hello everyone!! It’s been a lovely sunny day here but a little brisk. I hope you’re all warm and cosy in your sewing rooms.

I’ve just finished my first week of driving to work. Trains to Stockport aren’t the most efficient or cheap so by driving I’m now saving lots of money (that I can spend on fabric) and lots of time (that I can use for sewing).

Today I wanted to share pics of my finished Zadie dress by Tilly and The Buttons. The team were sweet enough to send me a copy at the start of the year when we featured it in the mag.

Look at the lovely diamond seaming and deep pockets!! The cap sleeve option was my immediate preference. Just by the way the seam lines match up with the bodice.

There isn’t waist seam all around so you don’t get a really snug fit but I tapered the side seams a little to help. Other than that I made no adjustments to the size 4.

I bought two matching weights of ponte from Jack’s Fabrics in Leeds market. There was a gorgeous turquoise but it was much thinner than the rest of the ponte which seemed like a recipe for disaster.

Given the unusual construction I had to read the instructions but naturally they were pretty flawless. The only thing I had to work out for myself is how to overlock the insides. That was a mixed success.

The neckband is my best yet. Tilly suggests the best stitch length and width for a subtle zigzag that still makes a secure seam. I used teal ribbon to stabilise my seams too.

Not much else to say other than I might go back for the turquoise and make a solid version with long sleeves! Are you going to try Zadie? Let me know in the comments!!

BONUS PICTURES

I was asked to share some inside pics to show my overlooking. It’s a little ropey as my thread tension was a little off working with the multiple layers.

Back of armhole first. Overlock the sleeve hem. Overlock the underarm. Sew the sleeve then overlock each side of the raglan. Press SA down and hem underarm. Topstitch catching the SA at the intersection to secure.

Front of armhole. Same as back but a little smidgen of contrast colour SA shows… not from the outside of course.

Waist seam point. I overlocked the two layers together stopping close to the v (above and below) but couldn’t get right on top due to changing layers.

Pocket was easy peasy to overlock. Same as the side seams!

Continue Reading

Little red dress

Happy New Year gorgeous people!!

Hope you’re all surviving the first week of the year if you’re working and soaking up the extra drops of relaxation if you’re not.

I wanted to quickly share my festive dress. This is Butterick 5748 which I made earlier this year with the included circle skirt. This time I wanted to try adding a gathered skirt to make it a little less fabric hungry. So I of course the gathered Emery dress skirt – I’m addicted to it. Now I have two versions I love!

The fabric is a gorgeous red sateen partially from Remnant Kings and partially from B&M fabrics in Leeds market. ​I LOVE the colour. Red makes me so happy and confident. When I was a little girl I wore red shoes almost every day. And now I’m an adult they’re still in high rotation. I just bought these red satin converse hahah! Plus I have a LOT of red handmade dresses.

This was a great chance to perfect my lapped zipper technique. I follow the approach in the Reader’s Digest Sewing Book which is pure gold. Here are my top tips.

  • Use a slightly larger seam allowance on the zip opening say by 3-5mm.
  • Follow the woven guide lines on your zipper tape or mark a clear guide to follow.
  • Clip away the bulk from the seam allowance at the waist, on either side of the zipper tape to have the zip sit as flat as possible.
  • If using thicker fabric, I recommend leaving the lining hanging down before securing with a stitch in the ditch like I have here. It again reduces bulk at the waist.
  • Fold back the lining seam allowance before finishing the neckline seam to get a neat finish on the inside at top of the zipper.

Hopefully this wasn’t too long for a quick post! Back soon with a blouse I managed to take pics of this weekend.

Continue Reading

Perks of the job – The Annabelle Dress

I don’t often post about work on here but this time I couldn’t NOT.

almond rock simple sew annabelle crepe dress

Meet Annabelle, the free pattern gift that comes with the latest issue of Love Sewing magazine. Named after a dear friend’s new baby girl. A perk of the job is when we bandy names around for patterns and you can throw in personal favourites.

almond rock simple sew annabelle crepe dress

This dress is soooo awesome. There’s a great neckline yoke that connects to raglan sleeves and a gathered bodice. The gathered skirt balances it off perfectly and a side seam zip keeps everything neat. Look at me doing my envelope impression.

almond rock simple sew annabelle crepe dress

Simple Sew sizing is generally a funny fit for me, mostly around the bust. Here I cut a size 10 but graded out to a size 12 waist. I used the size 8 gather marks and I removed 1.5cm of bodice length. It fits almost perfectly though I think I will add 0.5cm of length back in and should have gone up a smidgen more at the waist.

almond rock simple sew annabelle crepe dress

My fabric is a fantastic quality moss crepe from textile centre’s ebay shop. I love how the print is a bit like guitar plectrums. I think that it was £3.99 a metre or something like that?

almond rock simple sew annabelle crepe dress

The range of colours in the print really helps when picking shoes and cardigans hahah (my standard train of thought). I hoarded this fabric for 2 years for an BHL Anna dress but I’m so pleased I used it here. Here’s a flat snap with the flash on and colours adjusted to see the style lines a little more clearly!

I have another version planned for my Les Fleurs periwinkle rayon from Cotton + Steel (picked up at Miss Matatabi). Plus this graphic silk print from M. Rosenberg & Son at the Knitting and Stitching show that I’ve also been hoarding since seeing Karen in a similar-ish print at the Minerva blogger day and daydreaming about owning a dress of similar awesomeness. Ok ok it’s not similar at all but when I bought it away from any phone signal to quickly check, it gave me good vibes so I had to buy it. Gosh that meetup was a while ago – 2014!

almond rock simple sew annabelle crepe dress

almond rock simple sew annabelle dress

Oh and here’s me when I went to interview the costume team behind Strictly Come Dancing. Best day ever let me tell you. Well I do tell you, in the same issue as Annabelle you get to hear me waffle on for four pages about the design process, construction methods, fitting techniques, backstage goss.

strictly interview love sewing mag almond rock

There are some ace versions of Annabelle popping up on the internet (Elle of Sew Positivity was quick off the mark making TWO versions – sateen and Christmas themed) so I hope you’ll give this dress a try.

almond rock 70s dress refashion

I’ll leave you with one last pic of me just to make sure you’re well and truly sick of my face hehe. This is a quick snap from the night of the office party. Denise is my Head Art Editor for Love Sewing and we got ready together while having a cheeky glass of prosecco or three. I wore my vintage 70s long sleeved maxi dress refashion with huge Kurt Geiger platforms (huge for me). It’s the dress I got in 2005 to wear to my University Grad Ball. I removed the sleeves and added the gathered midi skirt for the James Milner charity ball in 2013. I can honestly say every time I wear it I have a right good knees up!

Tag me in your Christmas dress pictures I want to see them all!! And if you’re making Annabelle I want to see those two so hook me up with links.

Continue Reading

Vintage French Joan-ish

Hello hello! Is everyone surviving the week? Are you taking part in Amanda’s awesome #bpsewvember on Instagram?  Go on and tag yourself on my IG feed if we’re not a already friends as I’d love to see all your snaps.

I have a fun dress to share today as it’s a Sew Over It pattern love child! I merged the Joan Dress and the Vintage Shirtdress with excellent results.

almond rock sew over it joan shirt dress

almond rock sew over it vintage shirt dress joan

So in case it’s not obvious, this is the Joan bodice and sleeves without the collar. The team kindly sent me Joan when it was first released as they knew it was right up my alley. I did a really rough toile as I know SOI sizing is consistent across the patterns but in reality I should have possibly done a tiny sba. The sleeve caps are a tiny bit off as well but these are micro points when I skipped all my normal fitting steps.

almond rock sew over it vintage shirt dress joan

In case you’re not sick of them, see my shirt dress versions here. The skirt was made by cutting the front on the fold following the centre front line. Then the back was cut in two with 1.5cm centre back seam allowance added. The side seams, darts and skirt pleats lined up almost perfectly! I just basted them together by hand so they wouldn’t slip during sewing.

And how lush is this fabric? It’s Atelier Brunette modal which is sort of like a viscose in that it’s also a cellulose fabric but is produced in slightly different conditions. It’s thicker than normal viscose but not twill like. It’s slightly spongy and as easily creased it gets, it irons smooth with ease. This print is called Facet and I bought it last March during a sale at M is for Make. Look out for the Black Friday sale everyone!! Ps. I love love love my new Clarks shoes. The’re called Hotel Vibe. Yummy.

almond rock sew over it vintage shirt dress joan

The bodice is lined with navy polyester from my stash and I used a concealed zip. Life is short and when you have a concealed zipper foot they’re the speediest option.

I wanted to repeat my love for this great blog post on clean lining a sleeved bodice. The technique is amazing… but I really want to make an easier to follow version as it’s really hard to see in these step by step images. To be really clear, this technique creates a clean finish on the inside of your lined bodice around the armholes. All you see is the sleeve seam allowance! Here’s a little vid to show the finish – please ignore the telly playing in the background. Although if you can name the show I’ll be mega impressed.

Fully lined sleeved bodice. This technique is pure magic 💙

A video posted by Amy (@almondrock_sews) on

So I guess all that’s left to do is force you to look at a terrible dark night time picture of me in the dress heading out for dinner and that’s blatantly because I curled my hair and got dolled up and want to use the picture as many times as possible haha. I’m still on the hunt for a hairdresser who will perm my hair in big rolls like this. The specialist I went to blew me off and told me no one would give me the hair style I’m after. But since then the hair and make up team at work have told me that answer is horse poo and I should try someone else for a second opinion. Fingers crossed on that note. Also it’s scary seeing how going swimming once since the below photo was taken has drained all the hair dye out of my hair. Doh. I’m off to work on my Colette Anise jacket! Bye for now

almond rock sew over it vintage shirt dress joan

Continue Reading