• Dresses

    Cheap as chips

    almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

    I don’t like the word cheap.

    It’s too hard to distinguish between using it to indicate loss cost and implying low quality these days. People say you get what you pay for but I have often found amazing quality fabric at lower prices. And worse, the same fabric for frustratingly different prices.

    almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

    For instance my elephant print cotton lawn was £4.99 a metre but I’ve seen it listed for £14 a metre on other sites.

    Part of me wonders if the cheaper fabric is a knock off of the more expensive. If I had only ever seen the lawn listed at £10 + I would have accepted that was its value. But maybe the seller I bought from was massively undercutting the market to secure sales?

    I often project a perceived value on fabric if it feels nice or worse if the print sends my heart racing. I’ll put it up on a pedestal and have to will myself into cutting into it. But thats not to say I wouldn’t turn down fabric if the price seemed unfair. I’m still a fickle consumer, driven in some part by a sense of value: Even if the quality and longevity of my clothes is higher by making them myself I still need to justify my hobby from a price perspective.

    Who knows.
    It’s been playing on my mind though.

    almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

    So what am I sharing today. A polyester dress in an amazing triangle print called constellation.

    I love the colours in the print. It’s like my dream design – geometric, repeating, with coral and teal.

    almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

    Here’s the kicker… The fabric was £15 a metre. With a discount code I got it for £11. Maybe you think this polyester looks worth that price? Or maybe you think polyester in any format screams cheap and nasty.

    Granted, the fabric is prone to turning static and needed a fine sharp needle during construction. It’s actually slightly thinner than regular polyester, more like a peachskin weight that lifts with a slight breeze. But I still love it.

    I bought it from Anna Ka Bazaar the Paris-based fabric shop last year –  sadly for me, I had to buy over the Internet instead of making a trip in person. One day though.

    almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

    The pattern is my one true love; a Simplicity 2444 bodice and gathered skirt. I altered the neckline and armholes to use bias binding and left the whole dress unlined. Made it super quick to sew! My overlocker kept everything tidy inside.

    So there you have it! Would you ever pay £15 for polyester? Ever seen a fabric priced significantly higher or lower than you bought it for?

  • 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

    My little French dress

    Well now, this is a well timed dress reveal.

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll know Le Tour has come to Yorkshire. This weekend in fact!

    I myself am in Lancashire for the weekend but I’m participating in the fun by sharing this little French dress with you all. Sorry it’s not made of yellow lycra. (I’m not actually sorry.)

    almond rock simplicity 2444 french paris dress

    The dress should probably be called my little Paris dress given the fabric is covered with Parisian landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, etc. There are also gloves, hats, dogs and umbrellas plus French sayings!

    almond rock simplicity 2444 french paris dress

    The fabric is home furnishing fabric I got at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year. I seemed to be the only one obsessed with it! Afraid I don’t know the maker and can’t remember the stall name. I lined the dress with mint coloured peach skin fabric which feels lush against my skin.


    I’ve been freaking myself out trying to find the perfect garment to make but realised simplicity 2444 was the one. It’s a dress that can be worn in summer and winter and has enough coverage for work: these facts mean my 2444 dresses are my most frequently worn me-made garments! Why fight a good thing?


    We took these photos strolling about near the canal. My photographer was making me laugh and encouraging me to do silly faces. Happy to oblige.


    I’ve got to show you the back. I tried so hard to pattern match across my lapped zipper but I was about half a centimetre out! It mostly isn’t noticeable but these two dogs sniffing at each other are rather hilarious.

    almond rock simplicity 2444 french paris dress

    almond rock simplicity 2444 french paris dress

    There you go, my favourite version of 2444 to date! Have a lovely weekend if you’re into cycling. If you’re not I hope you find somewhere to hide out!

    almond rock simplicity 2444 french paris dress

  • Dresses

    G and Tea (and Dress) Time

    Are you a gin lover?
    I know it’s not for everyone.
    To me, Gin is sweet fragrant nectar and my tipple of choice.

    And thankfully the people in my life know this; so at Christmas I was gifted a Gin-tasting masterclass with afternoon tea included.


    Last weekend, my fair gent and I packed ourselves off on the train and visited the Lady Anne Middleton Hotel in York for our G and Teatime class.

    We started with a warm gin punch made using gin, berry tea, sugar and hot water. It was divine.

    photo 3

    Then we tasted 5 gins – Beefeater, cucumber infused Gordons, Spanish Citrus Larios, Brokers with our own choice of unusual garnish (I tried mint and fresh grapefruit – delicious) and Pink 47 (a highly alcoholic variation). We also learnt classic techniques for dry, wet and dirty gin Martinis.

    The afternoon tea consisted of delicious sandwiches with chutneys, plus scones with jam and clotted cream, sticky date cake and tangy lemon posset… This is making me hungry just talking about it again.

    Our presenter shared hilarious and fascinating facts about the history of gin and the production of gin. Did you know that there was a time when most people were paid their salary in gin because it was what they were going to spend their wages on anyway?! Hmmm Interesting.

    All this was shared in the beautiful historic surroundings of York

    lady annesAfterwards we took a lovely stroll by the river where I made Mr AR take some photos of my latest dress. It’s nothing special but I’m rather happy with it.

    I used a heart print polyester from Leeds Market in a lovely violet/cerise colour and Simplicity 2444 since I can’t seem to escape that pattern’s clutches.

    Polyester adds a nice touch to this pattern. It makes it far more relaxed and kind of stream-lined in my opinion.

    photo 4-5 photo 1-10

    We would have had photos taken in the pretty courtyard at the hotel but a wedding party was just arriving and I dare not interfere with a Bride’s big day. Eek!

    So that was last weekend. This weekend I’m in London, partying with a fabulous Birthday girl and relaxing with some of my delightful family, plus squeezing in a bit of fabric shopping and gossip with lovely sewing ladies. More on that to come!

    Happy weekends to all!

    photo 4-7_edited-1