Sweet days of summer

So on Friday I got married to my favourite bloke in the world. We had unbelievably good weather, exchanged sweet and slightly soppy vows, laughed with all our friends and family, and danced the night away.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

It was a joy to wear my handmade dress and see the mix of reactions from people who finally saw it finished as well as people who learnt during the day that I’d made it myself. Made of organza layers over duchesse satin it was floaty, romantic and a dream to wear. I wanted to feel like I’d stepped out of a vintage Dior photo shoot and it really felt that way when I stepped into the ceremony room.

My dress was all finished the week before and packed in a long garment bag, hidden from view. I started working on my frock before Christmas, testing toiles, deciding on Simplicity 1606 as the base, and draping a test dress to see how I could create the bodice effect I wanted. I practiced seam finishes and stitch settings and agonised over fabric choices for each layer.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

In April I did the bulk of the work, with the sewing room door firmly shut and my playlist blaring. I redrafted the skirt and just managed to get the pieces on my cutting table. I spent a long time on the bodice and used every single entomology pin I had. Hemming the four skirt layers was extremely stressful and then lining up my lapped zipper nearly pushed me over the edge but as I handstitched my lining into place I knew it was going to be alright.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

Everyone said to me on the day they couldn’t imagine what I was making but then they saw the dress it was exactly me, which was music to my ears. I’ll be sharing how I made the dress, tips and resources for future brides, and thoughts on the whole process throughout August. Like this post, a few will go up while I’m away on honeymoon but I’m excited to hear what you think when I’m back. So until then…

Lots of Love

Mrs Scarr xx

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

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Is sewing making you a better person?

Did you ever wonder how sewing was changing your personality? Life skills? Or even hire-ability?? This post has been a long time coming and I’m still not sure it’s conveying exactly how awesome you’ve become through learning to sew. I talked about it with the Stitcher’s Brew team and Karen Ball in our super fun episode OUT TOMORROW and they encouraged me to finish the post and hit publish! I’ve tried to summarise all the ways sewing transfers to real world skills you may be better at than you realise.

Stay with me; it’ll all make sense! (I hope)

Project management

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

There’s a reason we call our makes projects! You work out your requirements, gather all your supplies, execute the steps and keep up momentum. You’ve got end to end sight of where you’re starting and where you’re ending. You also set goals for yourself review them and feel accomplishment. When you feel bad over failures it’s just because you’re invested in the whole process but there’s always lessons to learn in project management! Perhaps you’re also trying this skill out by setting yourself deadlines… oooh that yummy adrenaline gets pumping.

Attention to detail

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

Just like cooking you understand the method to creating. Which steps have to stay in order, and which can be slightly juggled for the same result. You can follow directions showing your attention to instructions and chronological working. And you can interpret the result from technical diagrams because your brain is logically and methodically predicting future steps. You know the importance of how seam allowances affect finished measurements, how neat straight lines of stitching help the polish of your garment and how a new fabric can change both the process and the results. You’re constantly paying attention to little things you’re taking for granted, and improving your skills with every new make.

Spacial reasoning

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

Okay so this one isn’t wildly applicable in real life but you have gathered the understanding of making flat shapes curve around your 3d form. With every dart, seam, pleat or drape you are showing off a special kind of intelligence that you might have seen in those funny tests with different shaped cubes. Once you understand the spacial requirements of a situation you can reason yourself solutions meaning you’re forecasting answers to problems before testing them out, just like planning fit adjustments or design alterations. You’re a psychic seamstress!

Memory

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

You’re a sponge and you didn’t realise it! Learning new skills like sewing is a constant memory booster. Every project can introduce you new techniques and each time you practice or read a tutorial you’re embedding expertise into your brain. Similarly you’re being exposed to more pattern and fabrics than you can imagine. I bet you can recount several patterns you’ve got your eye on with the designer and name or number close to your tongue. This us great for long term memory retention, beating off the early effects of dementia and keeping your brain young!

Decision making

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

From pairing patterns with fabric and working out which size to fit, to automatically course correcting your sewing as it’s disappearing under the presser foot, you’re making a range of quick, instinctual, educated, considered or methodical decisions at every stage. Your initiative grows with every scrap of knowledge you learn and remember. And we’ve all had to dive into some problem solving from time to time, assessing the issue and deciding the solution. These problem solving methods can work with any kind of dilemma; just think it through, apply reasoning and weigh up the solutions. And because sewing teaches you the art of mindfulness, flow and quiet calm, you’ve got the mind-space to breathe and work through issues in a level headed way. Channel this the next time something goes wrong outside your craft room!

Passion and creativity

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

This one is a little obvious but super important! Creativity is a way of living life that embraces originality. You are literally making yourself more unique! Creative actions help you express your emotions, experiment with risk taking and refine your motor skills giving you nimble fingers. Did you know creative people are better at teamwork and team bonding? Its true! Studies have shown creative people are more sympathetic to others because they understand the feelings of putting yourself out there and they want to collaborate to create better ideas! Strength in numbers you know. And to feel fulfilled you can simply keep seeking new information, new knowledge and new ways to do things, constantly, and then turn it into something magnificent. Plus the fear of being a beginner humbled you in a very raw way, teaching you to appreciate the act of learning and increasing your attention span for new ideas.

Quality standards and consistency

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

Seeing your skills grow in a measurable way is really important. Personal growth means working to understand and develop your skills in order to meet your fullest potential. And even better, learning to recognise and reach for benchmarks can be applied to both general career development and other skill building areas. Define your own standards of excellence! For some it’s learning about the strength of a hand sewn stitch, the superior feel of special fabric and the polish of a well finished design element helps you believe in yourself and your skills. You deserve to be great at what you do and you’ll appreciate your best efforts more than anything.

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

Phew! That’s quite a lot? Well I probably could go on for longer. It’s hard not to sound like a cheesy self help tape but the facts are there, you just may not have looked at your favourite hobby this way before. Of course we’re all still learning and maybe not all these topics apply for you yet. But don’t do yourself down; sewing is a skill. You may also have a talent for it but you have learnt the techniques, built your confidence and push yourself regularly. How many non-sewers can you say are working this hard on themselves?

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Endless camisoles

I might as well face it I’m addicted to camisole tops. I use the free pattern download from Love Sewing here with instructions inside issue 43. They’re super quick to sew up and they’re amazing scrap busters. I’ve made four in total so far and have plans for several more. I can squeeze one out of half a metre if I use shop bought bias tape.

I started with a toile made from a Primark bow cotton print sundress I’d long since been able to fit in. Mega cute! I made a straight M but added an inch to the length. I used flat self-fabric straps and used red bias tape inside.

Then I made my silk parrot version and added flat crossing straps at the back. It was a little short in the body as I forgot to add the extra length but looks lovely with a skirt.

This fabric is so precious to me, I got it on a fun shopping trip with Katie I have enough left for another top of some description but I can’t bring myself to make a mistake so haven’t chosen a style yet.

Next up were two viscose versions in quick succession – both with the length added back in! This swallow print version is a lovely viscose I got from Simply Fabrics Brixton at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate. I added rouleaux straps for this version and it’s such a lovely delicate touch. This may be my favourite of the versions.

Last but not least I used a remnant from Guthrie and Ghani that I picked up at Sew Brum. It’s a subtle print and there was just enough for a camisole so I treated myself! Sadly I used vintage bias binding inside and it hasn’t held up to the wash. The bias has ripped in multiple places so I’m going to have to unpick and re-stitch which is disappointing. Unpicking black on black is the worst!!

The pattern comes together pretty easily and you may actually spot this was an old Sew Loft pattern. It’s not as nice as the True Bias Ogden Cami which has a lovely facing but if I thought about it properly I’m sure I could draft a facing and change up the construction to make this my dream button loop front cami top. More sewing plans, not enough time!

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Simplicity 1419

Hello everyone! Hope you’re enjoying this amazing weather!! I’ve been sewing up a storm for my honeymoon and finalising wedding details. It’s all pretty manic at work because I’m trying to do two issues at once so then my team only have to cover the third issue on their own. Oh what fun! But when I’m laid out in the sunshine with a tropical cocktail in my hand, the publishing panic will be far far far out of my mind. In other exciting news I finished my macrame plant hanger from November! I dyed white rope with tumeric, used wooden beads as accents and bought a pretty fern to go in the base. This is a result of our Wednesday craft clubs at work but I had to pause because it turns out you can’t buy little ferns during winter… who’d have thought!

almond rock macrame tumeric dyeing lifestyle

I made myself another version of the utterly fab Lisette Simplicity 1419 dress that I made once before here. I really need to make a few more before the year is out! The sweet keyhole detail and perfectly fitting sleeve make this the dream bodice for me and you can add any style of skirt you like on the bottom for an all round winning dress.

lisette simplicity 1614 round trip almond rock fabworks crepe

This time I used a beautiful teal crepe from Fabworks that has a slight texture to it but not too pronounced. The print is oriental in feel with pretty birds and peonies (MY FAVE FLOWERS EVER so I’m calling them peonies even if they’re not for definite) but I can’t seem to find it on the website so it may have sold out, or be an in-store special. A reader already emailed me after seeing a little pic of this dress on my welcome page. So sorry I couldn’t help further Tara! I love working with crepes like this as they don’t really need ironing, plus the amount of drape is great and garments from it hang perfectly. Fabrics like this fit into my lifestyle so well as I never have time for ironing and even when I do, two hours in a car and the seatbelt crumples everything I’ve smoothed out!

lisette simplicity 1614 round trip almond rock fabworks crepe

Unlike my last version I didn’t alter the neckline at all; Being a touch higher works when you’re adding a button loop but I’d lower it again if sewing a plain front. The loop somehow makes it feel even more traditional like a cheongsam dress or something. I wasn’t really going for that but I think it makes the dress look a touch more formal. This is of course the Emery dress skirt added onto the bodice.

lisette simplicity 1614 round trip almond rock fabworks crepe

I made this dress on a whim to wear to the lovely Ruth’s hen do in York. It was a bit of a rush so I sewed the most awful zip I’ve done in a long long time. Partly this was because I just added a centre installed zipper where you use a close ended zipper and sew down either side. I’ve always hated this finish as they never sit neatly flat and open up, exposing the teeth in an unsightly way. BUT, now it’s done will I really be bothered to unpick and resew? Other than the shame of other sewists seeing it, I don’t care what non-sewing folk think as their clothes usually pale in comparison with off grain jeans, misaligned plaids and careless stitching.

lisette simplicity 1614 round trip almond rock fabworks crepe

I’m not sure I’ll ever made a version with the peter pan collar as they may be look extremely childlike on me but I won’t say never… that’s not the way to live. I should really try the included skirt pieces as the pleats would be quite flattering now. My changing waistline has led to me rediscovering some patterns and styles I previously ruled out.

lisette simplicity 1614 round trip almond rock fabworks crepe

If you find this fabric please do send me the link or tag me on social media so I can spread the word! It’s sooooo gorgeous, you’re definitely going to want some. For more dress loveliness, check out the fabulous Roisin of Dolly Clacket in red, and an amazing pattern hack from the darling Rachel also in red and last but not least the jacket that’s included in the pattern whipped up by Kerry in an awesome bird print!

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Thoughts on neglected clothes

Hello June! And hello everyone else. We’re well into a new month and well past the end of Me Made May. If you participated I hope you enjoyed the challenge. Maybe you’re keeping the fun going with #memadeveryday a great way of documenting your outfits more regularly.

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

If you weren’t aware, I started my blog with Me Made May way back when. I had only a handful of handmade garments but I wanted the kick to wear them out in public and share my thoughts online. This was several years ago so it’s always like a kind of anniversary for me when I take part now. I wear my handmade wardrobe everyday now so I have to get a bit more creative with the challenge aspect of the month.

This year I pledged to wear unloved or neglected makes to see whether they could be resurrected. You can see the highlights of this experiments at the top of my Instagram wall.

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

The main reasons for neglect were:

  • I hate ironing
  • Too short/too big/too tight
  • Needs nude lingerie
  • Inexperience on early makes
  • Style mistakes

This list contains both easily avoidable issues and things that you need to accept as part of life!

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

I really don’t need to pick fabrics that rely on ironing. That’s my own stupid mistake. I know my lifestyle and patience levels aren’t compatible with ironing. I’ve got better things to do and I don’t get any enjoyment out of it! And nude lingerie is easily available so that has been pure laziness on my part. It’s been brilliant to rediscover some of those light-coloured garments.

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

Working out your style is a lifelong exploit. Anyone who doesn’t experiment can’t be having much fun with their wardrobe. You’ll create a few mistakes but you’ll get a clearer idea of what you like!

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

While it was fun to try on some of those experimental garments again, I’m still not convinced they have a place in my wardrobe. Other than the maxi skirt… I really need to try that out a bit more!

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

Chasing a great fit can be an endless obsession with fluctuating success. Our bodies are constantly changing with age, activity and diet.

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

And interpreting wrinkles and drag lines on garments can be a black hole of fit iterations that you have to start again when you revisit the pattern after your body has changed or even just if you’re changing fabric!

Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

Lastly, I’m both fiercely proud and terribly embarrassed by my early makes. So I don’t think I’ll be ever able to get rid of them but they can stay out of heavy rotation.

I know I’m a little late with this round up but I hope you enjoyed stepping into the world of my neglected clothes. Sometimes I worry that it looks like everything goes dreamily for me but that’s not real life! Failure and mistakes are part of learning and succeeding.

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