The Sewing Weekender

Hello everybody! Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I’m now on the hunt for amazing fabric suppliers in the UK and will write a little round up soon about my plans. I’ve just got back from a last minute holiday where I did a lot of plotting for how to share snippets of my diy wedding dress.

I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts on the recent Sewing Weekender hosted by Rachel and Kate of The Foldline and Charlotte of blog English Girl At Home and what I made. There were a limited number of spots so I count myself lucky to have nabbed one. I didn’t think my boss would mind too much if I bunked off for five mins to buy myself one as a birthday treat. To be fair he probably never realised.

When 57 attendees arrived in sunny oCambridge we were met by an amazing sight; goodie bags being handed out as you stepped in with treats from Village HaberdasheryLove SewingRemnant Kings and Abakhan, Janome machines set up on large tables with ribbon tied boxes of haberdashery from Adam Ross, swap items stacked high and enough tea and coffee to keep us charged all day.

I sat on a table of four with my friend Ruth who travelled down from Yorkshire to meet new sewing friends (I definitely recommend following her on twitter) and Sarah who I’ve enjoyed following online, who headed over from Suffolk with her mum! I feel like such an idiot but I can’t remember Sarah’s mum’s name. I hate it when that happens but it’s best to just hold your hands up and be honest about these things.

It was like the shirt table as there were two shirts and a shirtdress being sewn, but I bucked the trend by sitting and hand sewing while gossiping. I’d decided to finish my new circle skirt Cambie with matching bias tape which I pieced from 20 scrap bits of my fabric. Thankfully I got everything finished and Ruth kindly snapped some pics for me which I’ll share at the end of the post but here’s a cheeky pic of me and Louise in our Cambies together! (Don’t you love her use of border print cotton from Gertie’s fabric line?).

The Saturday was dedicated to sewing and everyone busied themselves with different projects whilst “Prefects” wandered around offering advice, fitting help and biscuit-based support, there was a fabric and pattern swap, lovely lunchtime walk into Cambridge and for the overnight crew a dinner in town. I stayed with my in-laws to be so we could celebrate the engagement with the whole Scarr family which meant sadly missed out on that last part. It’s so funny but after 6 and a half years dating a Cambridge man I have still never been punting and only a handful of times to the town centre!!

Sunday was structured around lectures that were funny, insightful, thought-provoking and educational. The clever and charming women who spoke were RachelGraceMarillaElenaTilly and Gabby, talking about wardrobe planning, pattern design, small design businesses and vlogging to touch on a few topics. There was no need for sewing as the lectures were thoroughly engaging. One thing that resonated with me was cataloguing my stash for better planning and so I’ve begun adding scraps on a keyring of index cards. I also thought a lot about my wedding dress plans and what I’d like to achieve and learn from the project because it really needs to be a learning experience for me as corny as that may sound.

So I won’t cover what others have said but I would like to heartedly recommend that you get a ticket for the next Sewing Weekender (we’ve totally badgered the girls into considering a repeat) and am honestly in awe of Charlotte, Kate and Rachel’s organisational skills.

Ok, now here’s my dress. I know you’ve seen Cambie dresses frome me before (here and here) but I wanted to try adding a circle skirt to the pattern to see how it looked. 

Answer? I’m pretty damn happy with it. But I’m also very into circle skirts at the moment. It’s a little bulky around the pockets so maybe should have been omitted but hey, I like pockets. Again I omitted the waistband and used a straight neckline. A 22″ concealed purple zipper for a bit of fun too.

 The dress is fully lined in anti-static peach lining which means it’s tights-friendly and the skirt lining adds extra volume. The hem as I mentioned is bias faced and invisibly hand stitched. I only wish I had horsehair braid in my stash to finish the hem with!

I cannot believe I found some Liberty Carline poplin in purple (variations seen here and here by me) at Birmingham Rag Market… I blumming love that place. Spotted during an awesome mini shop with Marie, Kat, Roisin and Helen (guest appearance from Sabs) a few months back. It was £8 per metre because it had a big flaw parallel to a good portion the selvedge about 10cm in but because it’s so wide I just bought some extra material and worked around it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Here’s some silly bonus pics of it in action on holiday! Until next time everyone, drop me comments with your best score on a fabric shopping trip!! 

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The Happiest Anna Dress

Hello hello! I’ve got a few things to share today so I’ll try not to ramble.

First up, my Anna obsession continues with a new version of the By Hand London pattern. This is my third attempt with a gathered skirt and numerous fitting tweaks. I’ve reduced the gaping at the front and back and added a little more room under the arms.

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The fabric is a luscious viscose challis from Elliott Berman Textiles in NYC that I bought on my trip earlier this year. When I saw the vivid florals I ran straight over to the bolt and it’s the best quality viscose I’ve felt. Apparently it’s Italian which is a shame I went to America for European fabric but I’d never have found it over here.

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

Sizing-wise it’s a crazy hybrid of three sizes. I used 2m of fabric, kept the neckline facing and used black bias binding for the armholes. Gosh I luuuurve it. I wore it out for an early birthday dinner on Friday with my family and it was very forgiving when I ate ALL THE FOOD. Plus the fizz we drank. Oops, thank goodness for gathered waist dresses. I wore it again on Saturday night to a friend’s 40th party – who else does this when they’re obsessed over a new make??

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

On Sunday I was surprised by an early birthday present as my lovely partner Jimi proposed… while I was wearing my star print Anna dress! (Still to blog annoyingly so here’s a terribly cropped pic of it.) We then ran off for a stay at Oulton Hall spa to get pampered and eat a load more delicious food. Seriously though it’s been overwhelming how many lovely comments we’ve received about the news. Did you know Jimi and I have been together as long as I’ve been sewing? We’d been together only a short while before I started evening classes and he’s always been my personal cheerleader, enabler and photographer. And although we are already fiercely committed to each other and marriage won’t change that, planning a wedding and our life together once we’re hitched is too wonderful to put into words right now.

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

As if the weekend wasnt going fantastically enough, I was also lucky enough to receive a vintage treadle sewing machine and a complete copy of Ann Ladbury’s Liberty dressmaking book with patterns for 12 garments inside. Check out the video of my machine on Instagram! Plus I was gifted some delicious gin (Adnams of Southwold and cucumber gin – perfect for a machine-side drink), sewing vouchers, new converse and perfume. Phew!

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

So I still have several garments to blog so this my site won’t end up completely wedding-centric. Chatting to a few people this weekend at the epic Sewing Weekender hosted by the Foldline and English Girl At Home there was some interest in me sharing my handmade wedding dress plans. Because yes I’m definitely going to attempt making the dress. Though deciding what to make is seeming impossible right now. Stay tuned for more about the Sewing Weekender first though hehehe.

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

Also if you have any books or sites you’d like to recommend for working with bridal fabrics or diy weddings please leave them in the comments. I do know quite a few bloggers have made their dresses so will be going back to those posts. So for now here’s me and my future hubby looking mature and responsible as 32 year olds.

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

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Whistles Anna

Happy Sunday everyone. Hope you had a lovely weekend. Mine involved a day at the races, drinking cold wine in the sunshine with friends and dancing to silly music. And a bit of sewing which resulted in a finished dress yippee.

almond rock by hand london whistles anna dress

So this is my third Anna dress from By Hand London but the first to make it to the blog. My first was to check the fit and made me realise I needed to make some adjustments to the bodice. I tried to fix the gaping back neckline (same as everyone has had to do it seems) which worked and I tried to fix the front neckline from gaping which didn’t really work.

almond rock by hand london whistles anna dress

The pleats are so pretty around the bust and I love the kimono sleeves.I actually swapped out the traditional skirt for the Emery skirt. I really love how swishy it is. Everything is just overlocked and sewn on the inside rather than French seamed and I used a concealed zipper. The sleeves are hemmed with bias tape.

almond rock by hand london whistles anna dress

My fabric is an ex-Whistles lyocel viscose which you might recognise from Katie’s blog here and here! We both grabbed it from Fabric Mart in Walthamstow when we had a lovely little fabric crawl last year.

almond rock by hand london whistles anna dress

And I gotta tell you, it feels so fricking amazing to wear. Why oh why didn’t I buy myself double the amount. The lyocel makes it feel like silk and have the slight sheen similar to the real thing too. What’s more it cost £3 a metre and then I heard through the grapevine that Whistles used this exact fabric for a £110 dress.

almond rock by hand london whistles anna dress

Phew. So there’s my dress. I need to get pictures of my first Anna (the star print one you may have seen on instagram) and I need to decide what to do with my recent teal floral one which had a circle skirt (AMAZING) but was a horror to hem and I ended up trimming it indecently short (TERRIBLE). I wonder, do you know anyone with my exact measurements except 5 inches shorter!?

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Leslie Caron wannabe

almond rock american in paris burda dress

I love a good musical, especially a Gene Kelly musical. An American In Paris is completely fabulous.

When I saw Burda’s Viva La Diva spread in issue 11/2014 I fell hard for the AIP inspired dress. This collection featured iconic gowns from favourite films. The Eva Green Casino Royale gown and Marilyn Monroe Gentlemen Prefer Blondes halter dress are also gorgeous but the Leslie Caron dress had me hooked. Deliciously vintage looking and the perfect next #vintagepledge dress.

almond rock american in paris burda dress

almond rock american in paris burda dress

I haven’t bought Burda since a terrible incident with a dress in 2012. Those pattern sheets are HORRIBLE. But I’m a different sewist now… and apparently I can handle Burda magazines again! As luck would have it, this back issue was in the office so I borrowed it to get started on this dress.

almond rock american in paris burda dress

I wanted to use this polka dot satin from B&M Fabrics in Leeds with its scattered spots that dissolve into almost solid red. The border actually runs across both selvedges but I bought 3m to account for that. I knew I’d use the border print along the skirt hem.

almond rock american in paris burda dress

The bodice has an outer layer, an interlining which I interfaced and a lining. The drape is made by gathering three edges. The drapes look terrible when the dress is hung up but then when worn they sit really well on the body. The rouleaux straps and side zipper are the only support so I decided to add boding to the back bodice seams.

almond rock american in paris burda dress

I didn’t use the skirt frills as I though that would be overkill and just used the gathered skirt underneath. I finished the hem with an overlocked rolled hem.

almond rock burda dress american in paris

There’s actually a really nice version of the dress with a full back bodice that extends into sleeves. I might make this too at some point.

almond rock american in paris burda dress almond rock american in paris burda dress

Overall I’m really happy with the dress. I wore it to a longtime friend’s wedding where I gave a reading about the cosmos (“we are all made of star stuff”) while I stood under a huge oak tree. It was a lovely day and the dress is now a lasting reminder of that. Maybe I’ll wear it to a showing of the live stage version of American In Paris one day! Or just out for dinner in Paris?! A girl can dream.

Here’s a little bonus cat pic since it went down quite well last time heeehee.

almond rock american in paris burda dress

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Vintage shirt dress number 3

I can’t help myself with this pattern, plus I have so many more versions planned!

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In case it wasn’t obvious, this is the Vintage Shirtdress from Sew Over It aka the Ultimate Shirtdress in my mind. I wanted to try the pattern in viscose this time and felt I knew enough about the pattern to make it work.

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This poly viscose is from possibly the man outside Sainsburys… well it’s definitely from Walthamstow market following a very successful shopping trip with a Emmie, Roisin and Lauren. He just wasn’t quite behind sainsbury’s so who knows!? I thought this print was very Hobbs like or maybe Whistles? Nothing proven but it’s fun to dream and I know TMBS often gets end rolls from the high street.

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To keep the viscose from slipping all around I spritzed the uncut fabric with spray starch which was a big help during sewing but hasn’t washed out fully so the fabric is still a little stiffer than I like. These shell buttons were from my stash and I have absolutely no clue when from!

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The pattern sizing hasn’t changed from versions 1 and 2 so I’m not sure I have much else to say. I hope you forgive me for being brief!

On a plus I think I’m finally getting to grips with my camera settings! I took a few pictures of Chewie Cat and love how they turned out. These were shot on my X30 Fujifilm. It’s a bridge camera so I have the option to adjust my settings or let the camera decide. It’s great for when I’m in front of the camera as it does the hard work but then I get to play when the camera is back in my hands!

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