Carline chambray Elisalex

Have you ever owned a fabric you’ve been too terrified to cut into? I think a lot of us have been there. It can be because it’s so beautiful or so rare or it cost you so much or it represents something much bigger about your sewing status.

I put fabrics up on a pedestal all the time, it can be a £40 silk or a £2 polyester. Its a real problem!

For me this Liberty print ticked so many of those fear boxes; it’s rare because I’ve never found Liberty chambray anywhere other than one Japanese etsy seller. It cost me a bit to buy it and ship it over as you might imagine. And it’s utterly beautiful so I wanted it in my Carline dress family.

 Almond rock liberty carline elisalex by hand london

I decided a safe bet would be to sew a pattern I’d made before but with a few tweaks. I’d loved making the Elisalex because of the great fitting princess seams and wanted to try adding sleeves to make the dress more versatile. I skipped the instructions for the sleeve insertion and used the clean insertion method which I’ve used a few times – video close up here. I really should post my own version of this tutorial as I think the original post photos are a little hard to see.

With this technique the sleeve is fully enclosed in the bodice lining for a very professional finish. The draft of the sleeves is excellent by the way!

I also swapped out the skirt pleats for gathers as I think the pleats fell a little funny on my lower half.

Almond rock liberty carline elisalex by hand london

Seeing photos of the back still makes me smile with it’s gorgeous swooped neckline… makes me sad I can’t see my back when I wear it! Thought I’d need some kind of flamingo or giraffe neck for that to be possible. For the zipper I’m not over the moon with my invisible zipper. Even after installing what feels like a thousand, there are just some that don’t want to stay hidden at the intersections of the seams, even when everything has been graded and stitched properly. This is why my heart belongs to lapped zippers. I might unpick and redo.

Almond rock liberty carline elisalex by hand london

As you saw at the start I thought I’d copy Gertie and make a sailor inspired number but changed my mind as I lay the binding on. Maybe it’s plain but I love it. And if down the line I want to fancy it up I can hand-stitch trim on top!

What do think? Add some trim or leave it plain?

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Swan print True Bias Sutton top

I love novelty prints. Especially when they’re on a crepe or polyester-mix, something I don’t have to iron. This swan print polyester crepe de chine was from Fabricland’s online shop. They had it in navy as well but red has to be one of my favourite colours.

Almond rock swan print true bias Sutton blouse

I used to wear red shoes everyday when I was a young girl and I wear red converse, red ballet pumps or red loafers most days. I used to have the most beautiful pair of red Carvela heels but they are sooooo worn in now that they’re a danger to wear in case the sole splits in half. I’m most commonly found with red nail varnish on my fingers and as you may have guessed, my car is red. So why don’t I have more red clothes?

Almond rock swan print true bias Sutton blouse

I got the True Bias Sutton top as part of the Sew Indie Month pattern bundle but wasn’t sure the boxy style would suit me. It’s a great top with fun features like the yoke that rolls over into a dropped front shoulder seam, high low hem and nice v neckline so I thought I’d give it a go… and it’s a top, not a blouse, let’s not fall out over this.

Almond rock swan print true bias Sutton blouse

Just to add if I hadn’t found my favourite new jeans I’m not sure I would have been able to pull this look off. For me boxy tops need a streamlined lower half to stop things looking entirely box shaped.

Almond rock swan print true bias Sutton blouse

The centre front seam was a real bother for me so that went straight away, and I made the centre front the cut on the fold line. That changed how I finished the neckline a little but I did follow the instructions roughly. It sews up really quickly!

Almond rock swan print true bias Sutton blouse

Self made bias binding finished things off prettily inside but polyester cdc fights you with every press. I have tape makers in multiple sizes which is very useful but you can always use a pin attached to your ironing board and make a little channel to feed the fabric through. I’d kill for one of those mechanised tape makers but they stopped producing them.

Almond rock swan print true bias Sutton blouse

Above is my 90s tv star pose which shows off the hem step. I wish I could reduce the amount of polyester in my wardrobe but I do not have time for ironing. I barely have time to check I’ve put together a decent outfit in a morning and most days I get to work and discover my make up is all uneven. The perils of leaving the house in the dark.

Almond rock swan print true bias Sutton blouse

The crepe is floaty but stable and didn’t snag as I worked. It only gets a little static throughout the day but I wear a cotton vest underneath most days anyway. It makes me feel like I’m wearing a Hawaiian shirt somehow, which I LOVE. Just call me Magnum PI.

Almond rock swan print true bias Sutton blouse

For other gorgeous versions see this dreamy coral top, Shannon’s terrific trims and Katie’s chic silk version

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Cosy tee club McCall’s 7322

Hello ladies and gents! Hope you’ve been having a good spell since I last blogged. It’s been fun watching how much sewing time everyone had during the snow storms. That was certainly how I was keeping myself sane! My area of Leeds gets a lot of snow because it’s really high and flat so driving is out, walking anywhere is out, letting the cat out the house is out, basically unless you have ice skates or a snow plough, stay in the house.

Almond rock mccalls 7322 jersey sewing tips

So I stayed in and whizzed up some sundresses for my honeymoon, worked on my wedding dress toile(s) and did some embroidery. Thanks to my humungous backlog of finished projects and speedy sewing skills there are still plenty of garments to share on the blog.

Almond rock mccalls 7322 jersey sewing tips

Today I thought I’d show you the speediest t-shirt on planet earth… McCall’s 7322. This was a double stuffed pattern I stole from the office (is it stealing if it’s from your own magazine?) that we ran on issue 46 last Christmas. I ended up sewing the size 8-10 with no changes. Normally I’d have to grade to a 12 at the hips but as the pattern works for wovens too there is a good bit of ease built in. If you want to make a close tshirt, definitely go down a size. This is view F which has a boat neckline and 3/4 length sleeves.

Almond rock mccalls 7322 jersey sewing tips

In true bargain hunter style I found my fabric in the remnant bin of Abakhan fabrics. It was a knock off Art Gallery Fabrics print I think but I can’t work out the original design name. Please do comment if you know it! It’s a good quality jersey, e.g. the print is crisp, the base doesn’t show through, the recovery is nice and it hasn’t gone bobbly yet. These are all excellent bonus qualities considering I was taking my chances in the mystery metal bins in shop. I think this came to £4 or similar which is a steal.

Almond rock mccalls 7322 jersey sewing tips

Now I know I’m not really a t-shirt kind of girl but these are COLD TIMES people. Desperate measures are needed. Although I’ve found I don’t like how it looks with my cardigans so that’s a slight problem. The sleeves are cute though. I like how wide they are which feels balanced with the wider boat neck. The colour is super bright and makes me especially happy when I wear it with my orangey red loafers and this coat! My twin needle top-stitching turned out pretty good and with the help of my new overlocker it only took an hour to make in total!

Almond rock mccalls 7322 jersey sewing tips

In other news I’m totally loving Stitcher’s Brew, the new podcast from Gabby and Megan! I like listening to crafty podcasts like Clothes Making Mavens and Love To Sew as well as endless amounts of other podcasts on my drive to work. It’s a nice way to bring my craft in the car with me! Check it out and let me know what you think.

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Hot lips Annabelle dress

Do you have days when life is so ridiculous you just have to laugh? On mornings when we have photoshoots for Love Sewing I’m responsible for getting all the outfits ready, steaming them, checking for loose threads, prepping all the shoes and jewellery and so on. It’s pretty manic and Renata likes to tease me by capturing shots like this from last month.

In the afternoons we have the favourite part of my job, the reader photoshoots where I basically get to hang out with a fellow seamstress as they get pampered and help them have some fun in front of the camera. Every woman who has taken part in our shoots has left me feeling wowed by their talent, warmed by their big hearts and re-energized by their enjoyment of the day. Often there’s a small window to take pics of my makes before home time and this Thursday I took photos of this dress.

Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

It’s the Annabelle dress from Simple Sew patterns, a beautiful take on the tea dress that I have made once before here if you want to see my size choices and adjustments. For me it’s the perfect throw on dress when you want to look smart and comfy. This version perfectly works with red or blue accessories and can be dressed up or down depending on the day.

Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

I love this dress because of its easy fit, with flattering under bust gathers and swaying silhouette. Crepe de chine always feels very slimming and luxurious. What I didn’t expect was for someone to ask me when I was due while wearing it that very morning! “This is my pot belly lady… not a baby.”

Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

This is especially comical to me as I’ve recently lost 1.5 stone in weight. I’m not saying it’s such a noticeable amount that everyone on the street should be high-fiving me over, but I feel pretty darn slender at the moment. Clearly I need to work on my posture if I’m sticking my tummy out that much hahah.

Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

This dress makes me so happy because of those kissy lips! I picked up a 1.5m remnant of the kissy crepe de chine at Fabworks mill shop. I’ve also seen some in Holm Sewn’s online shop but there isn’t much left so hurry! I used a navy invisible zip at the side seam and navy thread rather than red.

Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

The dress requires a bit of stitching in the ditch around the facings and waist which I always mess up a little. I never write down the perfect setting for my needle position. It’s pretty invisible this time so I don’t sweat it. I’m really happy with the weight of interfacing I chose though. Not going too heavy on lightweight fabrics is quite tricky when you have limited options but well worth finding something lightweight but stable.

Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

You might also remember this fabric from Rachel Pinheiro’s epic Holly jumpsuit. And I love this version of Annabelle on the 64 Dresses blog. If you’ve been put off trying a Simple Sew pattern in the past this is one I would heartily recommend. Now I’m off to play in my sewing room today. Have a lovely weekend!!

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On your bike embroidery

I’ve spoken a lot to people about the importance of letting yourself be a beginner sometimes. I’ve written pieces on it for the magazine and reassured new sewists I’ve met that we’re all tackling new challenges in our own way and that’s great thing. To me being a beginner, keeps you fresh, keeps you humble and keeps your enthusiasm up. I’d certainly be pretty bored if I didn’t try to push out of my comfort zone.

Almond rock embroidery hoop bicycle dmc anchor threads

My embroidery skills are slowly growing and although I know I’m still learning it’s exciting to practice each stitch and get better. The first time I did a great French knot I was so stoked. I wanted to get better at satin stitch so settled on this bike design to stitch up next.

Almond rock embroidery hoop bicycle dmc anchor threads

It’s heavily inspired by Truefort who is an amazing embroiderer and wows me with their work. They have a bicycle embroidery pattern created with Martha Stewart but I didn’t really like the style of the bike or the flowers coming of both ends. I combined a few different images to sketch something myself. I used my Frixion pen to transfer the design. (I’ve heard people pronouncing it Frix-ee-on but surely it’s a pun on friction since that’s how you remove the marks?)

The problem this caused was having to come up with the design for the flowers when I don’t really know what I’m doing. I decided to put a few straight stitch blooms with leaf stitch greenery, lazy daisy and French knots. Adding the chain stitch for the chain was funny even if I didn’t stitch it that neatly.

Almond rock embroidery hoop bicycle dmc anchor threads

I mixed dmc and anchor threads plus some of the vintage threads my mum gave me from her old sewing box. I really enjoyed mixing the colours. And I have to say stitching on to cotton suits me over working with aida. The sunshine yellow cotton background makes me so happy!

Almond rock embroidery hoop bicycle dmc anchor threads

I used quite a large hoop so not to crowd the bike and already have it hung on my wall before I’ve even covered the back! I asked on Instagram about adding some words above the bike but got a strong no response.

Almond rock embroidery hoop bicycle dmc anchor threads

Any tips for what I should include on my embroidery posts? Do you want thread colour codes? Greater stitch details? Progress photos? Up next I have this Love design by Brynn & Co but haven’t got round to starting yet. Watch this space!

Almond rock embroidery hoop bicycle dmc anchor threads

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