My wedding dress – inspiration

So as I alluded to in past posts I intend to sew myself a wedding dress! Some of you may think “she’s mad!?” And some might be giving me a double thumbs up. And basically I’m in the middle, thinking “bwahahah this is so surreal”.
I wanted to share the process on the blog so I always had it to look back on but was relieved to hear that many of you wanted to read about it too.

So I’m going to throw my hands up and confess I’m a terrible decision maker when it comes to big dressmaking projects. It often takes me a long time to settle on fabric and pattern pairings, often changing my mind right up to the last minute. This is amplified when I’m emotionally invested. Not very good for a project where you need a clear plan and a strict time frame!

We’re currently struggling to find a venue for next summer. Apparently we’ve missed the boat for a lot of places which majorly sucks. There is a slim chance we’ll get Sept but it’s touch and go. This means my wedding may be 2018 and I’ll have double the amount of time to pick a dress design! 

UPDATE:

I clearly jinxed myself and today we’ve lost our chance at getting married in 2017. Sadly now I doubt I’ll do anything towards my wedding dress until this time next year… sorry about that. I won’t delete this post though as it might still be nice reading!

First up let’s get something out of the way… I’m having a short dress. Below knee or tea length. And a big bad ass petticoat floofy skirt. Bodice is still tbc… I have to mull that over. So in the mean time I’ve been examining fabrics. Here are my thoughts:

SEQUINS

I’ve seen some beautiful sequin dresses. Light frothy cleverly pieced frocks and embellished designs. Recently I’ve been obsessing over the Jenny Packham Jolene dress which features sequinned (and beaded) star appliques on it. The completely wrong silhouette for me but wow at all the bling. Searching for star shaped appliques stole a day of my life.

LACE

I favour dense lace designs (Nottingham, guipure etc), but at the same time I love 3d constructions and beading. Where lace steps into embroidery really gets me excited. Blooms built up with subtle textiles and colours like this dress makes me stop and stare. I also ordered a swatch of some beautiful beaded lace from Bridal Fabrics but I need to go see it in person. I also need to level up my lace handling skills if I go down this route.

TULLE

There’s always something that pulls me back to tulle dresses. Probably because I know of several suppliers of stunning coloured or polka dot tulle. There’s so much drama you can achieve with tulle and mesh at the same time as looking light as a feather. It takes a lot of effort to look that light though but with stunning results. I want to test this vintage Butterick tulle pattern with tippet style shawl (thanks go to bridesmaid, talented seamstress and wedding dress designer extraordinaire Charlotte for explaining tippets to me).

Next steps

I have a few appointments to try on dresses to help me pin down the design. That seems crucial to me but not being able to take photos will surely prove problematic. I am working out a rough time line in my head for the construction but think starting the bridesmaid dress toiles may give me a little breathing room for my own decisions!

If you know any short wedding dress companies or vintage dress sources please do drop them in the comments so I can continue pinning my heart out. Thanks for reading and please cross your fingers for me on getting a date!!

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New York New York

So if you follow me on social media you’ll have seen a few of my pics of New York where my partner and I had a fun mini break during March.

I thought I’d give a little rundown of the stitchy highlights in case you were interested!
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So the day my issue went to the printers I fled the office and whizzed down to London. In publishing this is generally the best time to take a holiday. This was my second visit to New York but my first since taking up sewing.

We flew from Heathrow and landed in NYC Thursday lunchtime. It was fantastic weather! Totally unseasonal, it was 24° so I got changed into a dress and strolled around Central Park in the sun.
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We stayed in the Empire Hotel (yes the Chuck Bass hotel) which was only a short walk from the park. And a quick stroll up to the statue of the garment worker and also button and needle statue.

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Friday was a special day because I got to visit the McCall’s head office and have a tour. The team was wonderful and explained how they work which had quite a few similarities to my office though on a bigger scale. I’m going to run a piece on the team in the magazine soon. I wore my Liberty wildflowers Vogue 1102 dress in honour of the day.
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The office is decorated with wonderful illustrations and sewing ephemera and mannequins of all sizes fill the corners. Obviously I can’t reveal too much as I was able to see some upcoming collections that need to stay secret for the time being. But seeing pattern draping in action was a thrill.

After that we went to the World Trade Centre and memorial which was incredible moving and emotional. Plus we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge just before sunset.

Saturday and Sunday involved lot more touristy trips using our City Passes to hit every major landmark/museum/gallery. Plus we got to see Mathilde on Broadway which was fantastic!
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I was so excited about Monday I barely slept. This was the day I met up with Karen, Sonja, Charlotte and Emma Jayne! Plus Peter joined us for a little bit too which was fantastic. The only bad thing was the rain! We headed to the garment district visiting Mood fabrics first. Its pretty overwhelming as bolts are stacked so high you have to either know what you’re after or rummage. Swatch is uber adorable though!
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In a bid to avoid panicking I decided to look for cotton eyelet as it’s so rare in the UK. And once I’d picked some out I looked over the scuba. I bought two lengths, enough for dresses and stopped there.
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After that we braved Elliott Berman and were again overwhelmed with choice. Technically they sell wholesale but they don’t mind selling small lengths in the shop. I chose some silly galloping horses/llamas on viscose (Karen bought the same print in a different colourway on jersey). Plus some viscose challis from France in a stunning floral design. Its so light and cool to the touch. I’m in love.
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Next we went to an amazing notions place and I found a perfect complimentary colour zip for my eyelet. Emma Jayne found the perfect colour metal zip for her coat project too! Winning!! They also had cool things like corduroy bias binding and colourful gadgets

Surprisingly this took a lot of time and we called it a day at that! Charlotte and I picked up our other halves and the four of us had an awesome pizza lunch then headed out to the ice hockey as a group later that night! It was a pretty epic game in fact and we all got free bobbleheads to bring home hahah.

Tuesday was our last day and we tried to fit in the final touristy bits including present shopping and one last dash into Mood. I picked this silk that is so pretty in person. It has embroidered small blooms as well as the large watercolour flowers. It was labelled “famous designer silk”. That’s a bit weird when they name everyone else but hey whatever.
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So there you go! They were my sewing related highlights. Sorry I don’t have a super specific garment district guide for you, I just really wanted to go to Mood having seen it so many times on Project Runway hehehe.

It was really great to hang out with such lovely people and even better that all my purchases fit in my suitcase home!

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Sewing Room Swoon

Recently I shared my sewing room in the magazine and thought it should definitely appear on the blog too! I hope you like this peek into my sewing space. I know how lucky I am to have a dedicated space to sew, and although it feels like an indulgence at times, it has made me so happy in the short year I’ve had it.

Forgive the low light in the pics, these were shot in Jan!

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This room is on the middle floor of my townhouse in Leeds. It’s a great size room and is definitely nice and warm, but it doesn’t get the best light and the view isn’t the prettiest. I’ve done my best to make it look lovely inside instead.

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The main feature of the room is the cutting table, made by my partner. He used four Kallax units from Ikea, added a large MDF top and used ikea metal feet to raise the table to the perfect height. Underneath I use large baskets to store all my fabric, zips, and interfacing, as well as mugs of chalk pencils, tracing paper and bias binding. The whole thing is over 1m wide and 1.5m long, meaning I can cut delicate fabric single layer without them trying to escape. The only problem is that my cat Chewie thinks it’s the perfect sleeping spot so I have to shoo her away when it’s time to cut out projects. Then she just moves to another spot for a nap!

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I’m fortunate to have several machines. The Janome SMD4000 is my main machine, then there’s the machine I learnt on – a Toyota Jeans Machine. I also have a Singer 14sh754 overlocker and two vintage Singer machines (a 1939 hand crank and a 1970s machine set into a table. My dad is a great antique hunter!). Having all my machines in a row means bouncing between each is easy and I usually keep the Janome and Toyota threaded in different colours in case I need to work on multiple projects at once.

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My gorgeous pink mid-century inspired chair has a pretty scalloped back (Very.co.uk) and I’ll sit here when it comes to hand sewing and unpicking. The vintage glass cabinet was a gift from my partner’s grandmother and it makes perfect storage for yarn, ribbon, button tins and boxes of sewing patterns. (Orla Kiely tins, Selvedge yarn)

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Decorating is still a work in progress but the majority of my wall space is used for spool racks. I chose polka dot wallpaper from Prestige Textiles (in Graphite – my first ever wallpapering attempt! Under the careful eye of my mum) as an eye-catching feature when you first enter. My most-used scissors hang from a pretty coat hook from BHS for easy access and fun quotes and pictures keep me smiling while I work. (Vintage decorative dressmaking stand, Korbond pear pin cushion, Sasse and Bell spool holder). A vintage sewing-themed calendar from SewDirect.co.uk adds retro inspiration and an illustrated portrait I was given for my birthday shows me wearing my favourite handmade dress (artist @andsmile). My plan is to frame some of my vintage patterns and add a bit more shelving space and then the room should be complete!

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After years of working on my dining table and cutting out on the floor, it’s so nice to have a separate sewing space. I do miss Mr AR though, so we regularly run up and downstairs to see each other and take it in turns to brew up!

I hope you enjoyed having a peek in my sewing room. Hopefully the next time I share it the walls won’t be as beige or sparse heehee!

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Sew Indie Month Pattern Bundle!

Today’s post is a two-part deal. The first bit gives me chance to tell you about the awesome Sewing Indie Month pattern bundle that is currently available to buy and the second bit is where I share what I’ve made from the bundle!sew independent logo almond rock

So first things first! Sewing Indie Month (SIM) is a month-long celebration of indie sewing patterns full of fun blog posts, informative tutorials and great competitions. This September head over to SewIndependent.com. It’s being hosted by the charming Mari from Seamster patterns who took over the site when Donna decided to step down.

SIM is accompanied by a sewalong contest with fantastic prizes. This sale gives you time to make muslins (vital in my mind) before the contest begins while also supporting small women-owned businesses and raising money for charity. BOOM – double win.

There are so many great patterns in this bundle, lookie lookie:

And the brilliant pay what you want system is in place for the bundle too! The more you pay, the more rewards you’ll receive.

sew independent bundle almond rock(psssst… And the 10 people who spend the most will get printed copy shop versions of the patterns mailed to them as a free bonus.)

Brilliant stuff!

 The sale isn’t over until  Wednesday August 12th. So head on over here for your chance to buy!

Plus 20% of bundle proceeds will be donated to the International Folk Art Alliance, which provides education and exhibition opportunities to folk artists from around the world. Just a few examples of what the International Folk Art Alliance has been able to accomplish by helping artists create stable, year-round livelihoods includes helping shelter women from domestic violence in Ecuador, building a school for children in Pakistan, empowering women in repressive cultures around the world, and feeding villages in Niger.

So what did I make? I chose the Saltbox top!

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 The asymmetrical inset just looks so cool. And the opportunities for colour blocking got me giddy.

I used left over navy and purple viscose scraps – this is a GREAT scrap busting project – and decided the vivid purple would look great on the main bulk of the top.

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I’m really pleased with my points a the top of the inset. Especially on the front! It was a little confusing at first how to assemble the pieces but I just followed the instructions to the letter and suddenly it looked right heehee.

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The sleeves fit the best I’ve ever set in. This is a major thing for me. I apparently have chunky backs of my upper arms – yes that is a thing. So so happy with this little make.

I also have a True Bias Sutton blouse on my sewing table and a cut out Melissa shirtdress waiting for a chance to sew. Since I’m so slow at sewing you’ll be better off taking a look at all the other bloggers who have made clothes from the bundle:

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Textile Printing at Leeds Art College

Hello everyone!
I thought it was about time for a full round up of my Textile Printing course. This is going to be picture heavy I’m afraid and I’ve not even included all the pictures!

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Weeks 1 and 2 we worked with disperse printing using heat set dyes on man made fabrics. Using paper soaked in dye and a giant heatpress, I played with geometric shapes on coloured polyester and crepe.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

almond rock textile printing leeds art collegealmond rock textile printing leeds art college

Week 3 we made paper stencils using scalpels and when taped to mesh screens we could pull binder ink through onto any fabric we liked. Mine was an utter disaster due to poor squeegee technique and rubbish stencil.

Week 4 was about free form painting direct onto a screen using Procion reactive dyes. I printed a splatter print onto cotton lawn and silk.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Weeks 5 and 6 we prepped for future sessions by coating screens in light sensitive emulsion and thanks to a huge light box we exposed imagery onto the mesh. We drew the images in thick black pen to act as positives and when the screen was exposed the black areas washed away creating a negative that would allow ink to pass through in just those areas. I chose pineapples!!

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

While our screens set we also dyed silk, satin, velvet and cotton in big pans using tiny amounts of dye and lots of hot water. Excitingly I also got to use the digital printers while our fabrics soaked! I printed 1.5m of paper crane print cotton drill and 1.5m of painterly triangle print silk.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Week 7 was the start of my pineapples adventures! We pulled binder ink through our screens onto any fabrics we wanted. I chose to print fluorescent pink ink on white cotton and crepe de chine and black ink on brown polyester.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Week 8 we tried discharge screenprinting where a smelly seaweed-based paste bleaches the colour from dyed fabric. As well as devore printing which removes cellulose fibres leaving the man made fabric base behind – e.g removing the nap from velvet to create a relief. I used my pineapple screen again to discharge print on my dyed cotton and silk. And freestyled a brush painted devore print on my dyed satin and velvet.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college
almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Weeks 9 and 10 I decided to expose a new screen with hummingbirds and printed onto some colourful viscose. I printed teal ink on pink and pink ink on purple. Plus I had time for a sneaky little bit more disperse printing.

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It was such a wonderful course, I’m actually a little sad I can’t repeat it next term but I’ve already signed up to a pattern drafting course.

Here are the details for Textile Printing: The course I did was a short evening course run by Leeds Art College, over 10 weeks for 2.5hrs. The tutor is Kirstie Williams who also runs independent print courses.

The course costs £185 with all materials provided but you bring extra if you want to print something specific.

I ended up with enough fabric for 3 dresses, 4 tops, and plenty of A2 pieces for tote bags or small garments – silk pineapple knickers perhaps?!

The new term starts in a couple of weeks so I suggest you sign yourself up asap if you’re interested!

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

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