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Put a cat on it… put a bow on that cat while you’re at it

almond rock cat print vintage shirtdress sew over it

I’m still getting used to what might be a ‘typical’ day! Since taking the job of editor of Love Sewing Magazine a few months ago, my life’s been pretty hectic. It generally starts off the same though – either my alarm buzzes at 06:30 or my cat slaps me in the face with her paw demanding breakfast. I have a massive cup of tea and pick out one of my handmade dresses to wear. Then I’m off on my way to the train station, it takes me two hours to get to Stockport in Manchester, where the Love Sewing offices are based. I get home around 7.30pm and once I’ve had dinner I have a brief window for sewing time. If I’m desperate to get my teeth into sewing something I have to save it for the weekend.

almond rock cat print vintage shirtdress sew over it

This fabric demanded to be a shirt dress. And I became pretty obsessed with having a yellow/mustard collar in the same shade as the bow on the cat’s tail. I searched all of Leeds and Birmingham for coordinating fabric but no dice. But that absolute sweetheart Marie said she thought she had a piece of double gauze in her stash that was a close match. I sent her off with a little snippet of a cat and she posted back the PERFECT colour gauze that was so soft and lovely I felt terrible cutting into it. I bought some French vintage buttons from Ribbon Circus in Hebden Bridge to pull everything together.

almond rock cat print vintage shirtdress sew over it

I used the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress in a straight size 8 as before but I cut the collar, and two facings out of yellow. This is a really nice trick for a contrast collar. You just have to be quite precise with your understitching – I didn’t want navy showing around my collar seam, and I didn’t want yellow showing around my centre front!

almond rock cat print vintage shirtdress sew over it

I went sleeveless again as you can see. There’s also self made bias binding which you can’t see. Not cutting the facings or collar out of the cat print gave me enough scraps to cut bias strips. I got the dress out of 1.5m of fabric! I’m pretty chuffed with that I have to say. And I didn’t skimp on cutting out pieces on grain. And I added the extra inside button to stop the waistband gaping – thanks go to Emmie for that ingenious addition.

almond rock cat print vintage shirtdress sew over it

The kitty fabric is a polycotton from the Abakhan bargain bins at Manchester. I searched for ages to see if there was more but this was the only piece. Man that place is a treasure trove. I think it was £4 for the piece! The title of this post comes from me watching too much Portlandia recently. Sorry (not sorry).

almond rock cat print vintage shirtdress sew over it

So what more can I say! Sorry to post this so close to the other shirt dress, but I wanted to get it online before the end of the month. I’m going to enter it in the Sew Over It monthly show off competition. I don’t expect to win but it’s a clever comp for people to show how they’ve put their own spin on a pattern. I’ve seen some gorgeous floral shirt dresses and lovely Bettys and so on. I like noseying at what everyone is sewing who don’t have blogs heehee.

almond rock cat print vintage shirtdress sew over it

Until next time, happy sewing everyone!

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Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress

Hope all of you are still out there and reading my ramblings. First up, with the WordPress 4.3 update I lost my last post and all your lovely comments. So sorry about that.

Also you may be wondering why I haven’t commented on the recent news in my life yet. Basically, I’m building up to it! It’s a little overwhelming to put into words exactly how it’s changed everything.

One thing I will hold my hands up to is that it’s now almost impossible for me to comment on blog posts. I honestly cannot find the time. Even time for reading blogs has been squeezed. That really upsets me because I always felt like I was part of a conversation in this community of sewists. Instead I have to rely on twitter and IG where I can comment all at once. Maybe you hadn’t even noticed the difference but I’ve absolutely missed it.

almond rock vintage shirtdress sew over it polka dot chambray

So now I’ve bummed everyone out… I have another unblogged make to share with you all. Here is my first Sew Over It Vintage Shirtdress. I’ve already made a second!

I saw Emmie’s tester version at the Fashion on the Ration exhibition and wanted to rip it off her hahaha. Instead I bought it the day it came out. I was in such a rush I didn’t even see there was a pattern discount to apply – doh. This is my favourite of all the SOI envelope illustrations.

almond rock vintage shirtdress sew over it polka dot chambray

So where to start. Probably sizing because it’s important. I made a size 8 and it fits me almost perfectly which is insane!!! I made a size 10 muslin fully expecting it to fit me around the bust but need letting out at the waist, shortening in the torso and a narrow shoulder adjustment. But it was almost right which is absolutely bonkers. I’ve got a 35″ bust, a (EDIT! I mistyped my waist measurement by 4 inches on my first post. Sorry!) 34″ waist and I’m 5ft5.

There’s no need to give my hip measurement as it’s safe to say the quarter circle skirt skims over everything and is really flattering on a pear shape. It’s JUST long enough so ladies taller than me, take note. The release pleats are a nice change from darts. For reference I normally make a size 12-14 in Big 4 patterns and a 10/12 in BHL and 36 in Deer and Doe.

almond rock vintage shirtdress sew over it polka dot chambray

I actually used the sleeved cutting lines but then left off my sleeves at the last minute. I think the armholes sit well but the gathers seem a little distorted. I saw a recent pic of Lisa in a blue polka dot sleeved version and it made me a little sad I’d left them off mine but nevermind.

The collar is constructed slightly differently to a regular notched collar as the two pieces of the collar stay separate. I’m comparing this collar to my satin pjs and my Simplicity 1880 shirtdresses. This actually makes it much easier to manipulate and achieve a clean finish. Clever thinking for making this easier for new sewists and a new twist on the style.

almond rock vintage shirtdress sew over it polka dot chambray

The fabric is a dotty chambray I picked up in the M is for Make sale a few months back. It’s a Robert Kaufman chambray in Royal with white woven dots.

I loved the drape and feel so much I recently bought the black colourway from Village Haberdashery! The dots are woven and slightly raised rather than bleached or printed.

It’s finished off with little red rose buttons from Ribbon Circus in Hebden Bridge. After a bit of headscratching I managed to get them to fit in my automatic buttonhole foot. If I’d had to do a 4 step for this button I’d have been pretty scared of nailing the sizing!

almond rock vintage shirtdress sew over it polka dot chambray

I used navy bias tape and overlocking to finish everything inside. I wanted to finish the hem with bias too but it made it too stiff.

So there you have it! I wear this dress a lot and when I pair it with my red cardigan and shoes I feel like a 1970s schoolteacher or with my navy cardigan it more Matron at a 1950s hospital. Can’t really explain why hahah.

almond rock vintage shirtdress sew over it polka dot chambray

Last week, I had a few days off to sew as I want to make a proper dent in my fabric stash. Now I have four or five dresses, three tops and a pair of jeans to share at some point! I also want to talk about my new job and some of the things I’ve sewn for that! Am I the only one with a blogging backlog? I bet you’re all more organised than me!

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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 SewIndependent.com. 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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Liberty Vintage Tea Dress

I have a special little number to share with you today for my June Minerva Blogger Network post.

almond rock liberty lawn butterick 5902

The wonderful thing about the Network is that I get to push myself and try a little harder. The temptation to play things safe can be strong and it’s quite nice to challenge your fears.

almond rock liberty lawn butterick 5902

First up, let’s look at this pretty pattern. Butterick 5209 is a vintage reproduction pattern from 1947. I chose this pattern after seeing Laura Mae’s version. It has several intersecting lines to get right, a gathered bust and raglan sleeves: All making fitting that little bit harder. I’m not sure why this pattern is called Easy when there’s so many pieces and design lines to stay on top of.

almond rock liberty lawn butterick 5902

I made two toiles. The first in a straight size 12 – Let’s just say it wasn’t great. I then graded everything in the upper torso down to a 6 and blended out to around a 14 in the ribs and waist (because I used the pattern in the lower size range it stopped at 12). I also reduced the gathering on the bust by about 4cm by using the markings for size 6. Finally I lowered the bodice 1cm.

almond rock liberty lawn butterick 5902

Phew! All easy from here on? Not completely. First up I needed a nice sharp needle so not to snag this lovely Liberty lawn. This dress needs you to pay attention if you want you lines to match up. I marked all my seam allowances and pivot points clearly. I also unpicked if things weren’t quite aligned or weren’t sitting right. Here’s a close up of the centre front intersecting seams.

almond rock liberty lawn butterick 5902

Tana Lawn fabric is great to work with because it’s stable enough to manipulate and won’t shift as you’re cutting out but has flattering drape in the finished garment. Plus it feels amazing to wear due to the high thread count.

If you’re scared of using Liberty because of the cost, treat yourself to some past season prints which are generally reduced to more agreeable prices for nervous dispositions. This print comes in several colourways and at £12.99 is a definite bargain in my eyes. My decision to use this print was heavily influenced by spying Little Tailoress’ version of this dress using the navy and raspberry colourway. Or how about some of Minerva’s other lawns, like this pretty print which I saw made up as a Sew Over It Vintage Shirtdress recently.

almond rock liberty lawn butterick 5902

So there we go! I have a lovely new vintage dress in a beautiful fabric. Now I just need an afternoon tea…

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Pass The Wine – Vogue V1044

Phew, what a project. This is Vintage Vogue 1044, an original 1956–1957 pattern.

almond rock vintage vogue 1044 linen

I started off thinking of this as a shirtdress, but that seems flippant.

almond rock vintage vogue 1044 linen

It’s a mid-length dress with a pleated button-front bodice, and has a front and back yoke that extends into kimono sleeves. The skirt is gathered, but also designed with a snap closing in front and inverted pleats.

Everything came together when Kath shared a photo of this pattern on her instagram account. You could have bowled me over when she offered to send me her copy. I had been searching for a very long time for a copy in my size and it was like a dream come true when the post turned up from Australia.

almond rock vintage vogue 1044 linen

I chose this dress for my Vintage Pattern Pledge as a challenge to myself, to prove I could handle a complex pattern that used vintage techniques. And I think I’ve been pretty successful with it!

The pattern suggests Crepe, Shantung, Batiste or Taffeta but I picked this wine coloured Linen as I knew it would be well suited for the pleated bodice while still having enough drape for the skirt. Plus the colour is lush! Covering buttons for the bodice just seemed like the right choice too. Plus there was Gutermann thread in a perfect colour match.

almond rock vintage vogue 1044 linen

Taking time and effort with this pattern was very important to me. I made three muslins of the bodice to correct fit and practice the complicated placket instructions.

During a bout of internet research I found some brilliant tips for this dress: I changed the order of some of the steps (e.g. sewing my darts after my pleats and stay stitching my corners before assembling the yoke). I also reinforced the sharp corners where the yoke joined the bodice with squares of silk instead of the suggested seam binding.

The yoke facing is entirely hand-stitched and so was the epic hem (I added some lace trim to the hem for a sweet touch). The visible seams are pinked which gave me the chance to use my Grandma’s pinking shears she used when we sewed as a younger woman.

almond rock vintage vogue 1044 linen

I was very respectful of the pattern up to a certain point but I just couldn’t get along with the snap front skirt. It gaped and didn’t hang right, and to be honest seemed rather unnecessary. I instead recut a standard skirt and unpicked the right side-seam to hand-sew an invisible zipper.

almond rock vintage vogue 1044 linen

It’s a shame, but I had to up the exposure on the camera to show the details, the colour is a beautiful rich red. I feel so elegant in this dress. And I’m even happier that the dress matches a pair of shoes I already own, yippee!

I think the only thing I wish I’d done was add pockets. Maybe next time?

almond rock vintage vogue 1044 linenRight, pass me the wine. It’s time for a celebratory drink!

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