All you need is LOVE… and a G&T

Hello everyone. It’s nice to be typing today as I’m feeling rather deaf and croaky from some mysterious lurgy that hasn’t fully taken hold (thank god) but is making me feel pretty crummy. Whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself, I love indulging in a hot bath and a g&t to cheer myself up. Sewing always makes me happy but some days there’s just not the time to get started before you have to stop! Other things that perk me up are good looking plants, a Fox’s chunky choc chip cookie (the ones that are half coated in chocolate and are life changing), a cuddly cat, watching my fella do the swish swish dance and Summer Breeze by the Isley Brothers. Even just writing that list lifts my spirits.

Almond rock cat plant marks and spencers

There’s not been much sewing I can share online or on social media but hopefully you’ve been enjoying tidbits from my honeymoon sewing activity and my embroidery. I thought I could share a hoop today. I am a huge fan of Amanda’s work and the Brynn and Co brand! And I actually mentioned the LOVE embroidery hoop pattern on the blog before. Well surprise surprise, I’ve finally finished it. YAY!

Almond rock brynn and co love embroidery negative space

It actually came as a free kit with Mollie Makes just before Christmas too, so I got to see pictures of other people stitching it before I got started which helped me plan my version. I decided to use the same colours as the pattern suggests to get that great mix of contrast but I may make it again in other shades. There’s a beautiful lilac version on Hello Hooray’s blog – Clare’s blog is amazingly inspiring and colourful so go check it out.

The hoop comes together really quickly because you’re repeating a few key stitches but then the magic of the negative space lettering shines through. When I do embroidery I work in one length of colour and when it runs out I switch to another colour… even if I haven’t finished that section. This helps me stay energised with the piece instead of getting burned out on a load of green work, or exhausted with French knots.

Almond rock brynn and co love embroidery negative space

On the Love hoop you’ll master satin stitch on curved leaf edges that still need to finish in a crisp shape around the letters. The French knots add a lovely texture and I like to do a double knot to really make them pop. A little bit of split stitch makes the blue stems stand out and I went off book and used lazy daisy stitch for the lime green leaves.

Almond rock brynn and co love embroidery negative space

The mix of zesty green and teal green is really satisfying – like the right kind of clash. The blue looks really fresh in the mix. Most of the Brynn and Co designs are more traditional which makes this colour palette really grab your attention. There was also a limited run with this design as a needle catcher which is a fun idea to show your needles some love heehee. Fingers crossed they come back in stock.

Almond rock brynn and co love embroidery negative space

Next up in terms of embroidery I’m working on this adorable cat from the DMC pattern archive! I decided to use black felt instead of long and short stitch to speed things up. I’ve prickstitched the cat onto the background and will start filling him(?) in with fun colours.

Almond rock dmc cat embroidery

Hope you like the hoop! And feel free to steal any of my perk up tricks if you think they’ll help you. I mean who wouldn’t be happy with a gin in one hand, a biscuit in the other, belting out “Oh Summer Breeeeeeze” while in the bath ?

Continue Reading

Speckled Colette Anise

Hi everyone! Since the weather matches my blogging schedule (sporadic) I thought I’d share a long overdue finished jacket. As some of you will know from my social media posts I have around 40 unblogged makes. Thankfully five of them have been photographed but I still need to find some blogging time which is proving difficult. Let’s crack on then shall we!

almond rock anise jacket colette beyond measure boucle

If you’ve considered making a jacket as a step into tailoring I heartedly recommend the Colette Patterns Anise Jacket. It has enough new techniques for someone wanting to learn outerwear but not too many that you can get overwhelmed. I in fact made my first version when I was very much an adventurous beginner, in 2013! I copied my favourite blue coat and was pretty chuffed with the results… see my fabulously grainy photo below if you don’t have time to click through. I thought given all those years of experience I’ve managed to accumulate it would be interesting to see how I found the pattern four years later (yep this jacket is a year old people).

almond rock anise jacket colette beyond measure boucle

Let’s start by saying the sewalong for this jacket is superb. The welt pockets and bound button hole tutorials are excellent and work on many other garments. Probably doesn’t need to be said but welt pockets are super lovely to make but not great for putting your hands in on a bitter English day. The way the back seams curve to match the sleeve seams at the armhole is also my sign of a superior coat. It drives me crazy when they’re close but intentionally not aligned! Also having made several coats since this I realise how special it is to have a separate pattern piece for interfacing the the roll line. The collar is kind of a pain in that it refuses to neatly meet at the centre front due to the way the buttons strain and move. It still comes together pretty nicely and the clean finish you get by hand sewing everything closed at the armholes and hem is very neat inside.

almond rock anise jacket colette beyond measure boucle

Finding the right interfacing is a mission though and I’m less happy with the boucle version compared to my melton. I was trying to find something that would keep the boucle weave secure but offer the right support and I think I went too stiff. It’s most noticeable to me at the collar where I can feel it sitting slightly unhappily but I think it looks fine. There’s not a lot of help out there for picking interfacing (no magic unicorn saying you must buy this specific weight and brand) because it all depends on your chosen fabric. The only tip I can offer here is that you’re looking to support not harden the fabric or add too much weight. And remember cheap fusible interfacing isn’t built to last and will bubble and unstick itself over time, so if you’re keen to keep your jacket or coat around, invest in the branded stuff!

almond rock anise jacket colette beyond measure boucle

Let me share two bits of wisdom I learnt from making both coats. Number one – don’t use covered buttons, no matter how confident you are that the wool is safely enclosed inside. Years later, your buttons will pop apart from the strain and embarrass you in front of your peers. Not pretty. Number two – If you’re not a delicate dresser, use a lining with a tiny amount of stretch. I’m not talking a super spandex mix fabric, but just something with a little give. I always pop the armhole seams on my lining by wrestling myself in and out of my jackets without care. The jackets were I’ve used stretch satin have faired much better. Last tidbit – ALWAYS ADD A HANGING LOOP.

almond rock anise jacket colette beyond measure boucle

My wool was picked up at an excellent open day at Beyond Measure. Grace had sourced small remnants from a Lancashire mill; Offcuts and end bolts, plus colour coordinated bundles. I succumbed to this smooth soft and almost glossy boucle wool with flecks of bright yellow and blue running through. It was £30 for a 1.6m piece, enough for the jacket with nothing to spare! The lining was chosen to match the yellow flecks as good old B&M Fabrics on Kirkgate outside the market. Every time I see it the super flash of gold makes me giddy. Last but not least those fancy polished metal buttons were from Totally Buttons, an excellent online shop.

almond rock anise jacket colette beyond measure boucle

It’s a great little jacket and fun pattern to follow. I’m also super grateful past-Amy taped together the PDF and worked out all the fit kinks so I could just crack on and sew the new version!! I’m pleased I finally got to share it with you. I’ll try not to wait so long to post again, but while I’m gone maybe have a read of these lovely Anise jackets.

I love Nicole’s choice of wool, removable faux fur collar anyone?, and let’s swoon at some minty perfection. Visit the sewalong pinterest board for more inspiration!

Continue Reading

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?

Continue Reading

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

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading