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.


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!



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.


My gorgeous pink mid-century inspired chair has a pretty scalloped back ( 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 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 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!

saltbox top colour blocking almond rock

 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.

saltbox top colour blocking almond rock

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.

saltbox top colour blocking almond rock

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.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

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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Never Mind The Pollocks

Hello everyone. I’m back to share some progress from my textile printing evening class!

For Week Four we used Procien dyes to hand paint screens and used a substance called manutex to push the colour onto the fabric.

Now being a terrible freehand artist this scared me. I started obsessing over what was the simplest geometric shape I could draw without it looking wobbly and crap. Then I realised I could splatter my dye like Jackson Pollock! So I investigated a couple of techniques – dribbling and spraying the dyes.

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My tutor advised spraying by flicking the bristles of a brush or toothbrush would be best because the dye has to completely dry before being able to print and thick dribbles might slow things down. I was able to apply three colours (it took 25 mins to dry in between each).

You get to print twice with this method. The first print comes out very vibrant and the second ghostly. We were advised to try cotton first, then silk.

My cotton lawn turned out better than I could have hoped when I first lifted the screen.

almond rock procion dyes textile printing

But it did fade after steam setting. Still pretty but not as intense colours.almond rock procion dyes textile printingalmond rock procion dyes textile printing

The raw silk turned out pale and delicate.

almond rock procion dyes textile printing

almond rock procion dyes textile printing

I’ve got extra of the cotton lawn and silk unprinted so I think I can make two tops with splattered fronts or use the prints as accents. I’m still working it out as I know I won’t have time until the end of the course to sew anything up.

Both prints sort of remind me of Jawbreaker gobstobbers… which I like.

almond rock procion dyes textile printing

 “Here comes the science”

Procien is the principal brand name for what are actually reactive dyes. They take their name from their ability to form strong covalent bonds with cellulose fibres, resulting in excellent washing and light fastness properties. This process can be used on all types of cottons and viscose rayon but also work quite nicely on raw silk. So basically natural, smooth close-woven fabrics.

Dye is applied by hand-painting directly onto the screen. Manutex is an Alginate based thickener made from seaweed that can be used to thicken Procion dyes for screenprinting OR as we used them, as a “pulling” agent to push the dyes through the screen.

PHEW! So a lot of info in this blog post and I don’t know whether you’re all finding it interesting. I hope you are enjoying reading my updates as much as I’m enjoying the classes.

I’ll be back soon with finished sewing, I promise. I just need to upload my photos!

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The (almost) Paul Smith Shirt

Happy New Year everyone!

The first blog post back after Christmas is always an odd one. You get slightly out of the habit don’t you.

I’m here to share some pics of a shirt I made as my Dad’s Christmas present as well as a few other things!

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The fabric is from Fabrics Galore who had a few different bolt ends of Paul Smith shirting at their stall at The Knitting and Stitching Show.

I used one of Dad’s M&S shirt as the template for the pattern, I made a quick muslin to check the pattern and cracked on.

Aren’t the colours lovely!? It’s a fun micro-plaid. And it was fun to use bias for the plackets, yoke and pocket. To make it a bit more of a formal I added collar stays using Fiona’s excellent tutorial.

paul smith shirt almond rock

I finished it Christmas Eve morning and wrapped it up before heading over. He seemed really happy with the shirt and wore it out for New Year! Result!

Next up I thought I’d share you what I got from the Sewing Secret Santa that Lisa – Stitched-Up From The Start – organised. My parcel was sent by Teresa at Navy Blue Threads!

It was a lovely parcel wrapped in gingham with a lace bow that was chocca full of lovely gifts. She clearly thought so hard about what to pick for me which made me beam.

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There were handmade lavender hangers, a pin cushion, two cute crafty patterns, a sewing themed tin and needle case, plus saving the best for last… the cutest pair of zipper earrings you ever did see!

almond rock sewing secret santa

Thanks so much to Teresa for my thoughtful gifts and to Lisa for organising a fun swap!

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