• Dresses

    Seeing stars Vintage Shirtdress

    Hope you’re all having a good week? I’ve been spending lots of time in my sewing room, getting ready for my first wedding anniversary (as we’re making a weekend of it), and planning for our trip to Paris in September! I’m also looking forward to the Craft New House summer party with it’s Italian Riviera theme. You can see my outfit progress over on Instagram if you’re interested.

    Almond rock sew over it vintage shirtdress so sew english Georgette piping navy stars dress sewing pattern

    Life has this stupid habit of getting in the way of essential sewing doesn’t it. Only joking, life is equally as important if a little less fun than sewing. I know I’m pretty lucky to get so much sewing time so it embarrasses me when I takes me months to finish a make. This dress was started in January.

    Almond rock sew over it vintage shirtdress so sew english Georgette piping navy stars dress sewing pattern joanie

    Inspired by a Joanie dress in a similar print I set about making my own version using the Sew Over It Vintage Shirtdress pattern. Obviously I’ve used that pattern A LOT and I’ve made TOO MANY SHIRTDRESSES for some people! But safe to say it always makes me feel good. It’s not a brilliant match to the Joanie dress but close enough that I could dive straight in.

    Almond rock sew over it vintage shirtdress so sew english Georgette piping navy stars dress sewing pattern

    This stunning Georgette fabric is from So Sew English who are actually in the US. They offered me two fabrics to review and this one screamed out at me. They’re keen for more international sewist to give them a chance and I have to say the fabrics don’t disappoint! It has a lovely crinkle effect on it and is slightly stretchy.

    They also have a UK co-op that all have their orders sent to our person, Casey, in the UK. She then distributes and ships to everyone within the UK. It’s significantly cheaper for us to send large boxes with our carrier then to ship domestically within the UK than it is to ship directly to each individual. The UK co-op is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sosewenglishfabricsukedition/

    Almond rock sew over it vintage shirtdress so sew english Georgette piping navy stars dress sewing pattern

    I’m fairly confident with piping and enjoyed adding the pop of white to the collar and placket. Originally I was going to add sleeves with piped hems to my shirtdress but once again fell out of love with the drafting of the included sleeve shape. It is just so tall in the cap and makes a weird hill on the top of your shoulder when you move your arm. And I ran out of fabric to try cutting new ones. Instead I piped the armholes. I just wish I’d had enough fabric for a sash belt too.

    Almond rock sew over it vintage shirtdress so sew english Georgette piping navy stars dress sewing pattern

    I added a couple of cm to the side seams as due to some increased cake consumption I’m now a 31.5″ waist, but working on getting that back down a bit so I keep fitting into all my me-mades. And I added 2″ to the hem to have more knee coverage. I really prefer hiding my knees these days. The back shot above makes me look super bootylicious!

    Almond rock sew over it vintage shirtdress so sew english Georgette piping navy stars dress sewing pattern

    For the facings I used leftover organza from my wedding dress as I thought black interfacing would make those areas too opaque. I’m pretty happy with the result. The buttons are from my stash and the piping was from ebay so it was a pretty cost efficient dress.

    Almond rock sew over it vintage shirtdress so sew english Georgette piping navy stars dress sewing pattern

    I hope you liked a peek at my bazillionth shirtdress. Maybe it inspired you to give piping a go! All I keep thinking with these pictures is to get a haircut asap. I stripped another layer of hair dye off before these pics and my ends are super dry and sad looking. You can see more of my #grombre progress here though which is great even if it’s only a peek. You have to catch me in person for the full effect! I’ll leave you with a few of my faves from the So Sew English site!


  • Other stuff

    A new hobby?

    almond rock simply lettering hand letterin brush pensSome days at work are extra exciting. This week we’re about to launch a new magazine in a totally new area! Hand lettering has slowly been building over the years with beautiful examples of slogans written in chalkboard pen, brush pens or dip ink pens. I’m so excited to have gotten a copy of the magazine and show you a sneak peek of how you can learn hand lettering at home. Simply Lettering is a brand-new magazine for everyone interested in modern calligraphy, from complete beginners to seasoned experts. Hand lettering has become a huge trend, and is seen everywhere from wedding invitations and personalised gifts, to DIY and home décor.

    almond rock simply lettering hand letterin brush pens

    My favourite part Simply Lettering is  how you can master beautiful brush lettering and fancy scripts and use those skills in a wide range of beautiful and practical projects, from cards and gift tags, to bullet journals and planners. It’s fun practicing the letters and easing into the rhythm of the brush strokes. You have to ease off the pressure earlier than you think to create the variation in the letters. If you press too hard you can accidentally make a squeak with your paper, which entertained the cat who was watching me work. I definitely need to give myself space to practice as I was rushing before dinner was ready! Looking through the mag was really motivating though. This was the first time I was inspired to try bullet journalling too! This sweet layout below is one of the included projects.

    almond rock simply lettering hand letterin brush pens

    Every issue of Simply Lettering comes with at least 15 step-by-step projects to inspire and delight that would look perfect in your house or will make ideal gifts! Each issue also includes practice sheets to help you master each script and style. You’ll also receive pens and project kits, so you can start creating right away. Issue 1 comes with two brush pens (one black, one grey) with finer nips on the reverse end for adding detail. There’s also plenty of recommendations for other tools to buy and most of them are all on here with a 20% discount for first time customers so it’s a nice way to stock up.

    almond rock simply lettering hand letterin brush pens

    The magazine is created by a team of modern calligraphy and journaling experts who design the projects and share beautiful fonts to master every issue, as well as interviews and features with the world’s best most inspiring lettering designers. It was really nice to read about how people are making successful small businesses in stationary, home decor and much more for a creative career path that you can start at home!

    I hope you’ve been inspired to take a look. It’s out in all major supermarkets and WHSmiths from Thursday BUT you can pre-order a copy here and get it sent straight to you! You might want to look out for the WHSmith’s special offer with extra brush pens!


  • Dresses

    Elisalex V9000 superhack dress

    Hello everyone! I’m keeping up my run of weekly blog posts and it feels so good! Today I’m sharing a dress that I cooked up by mashing a few things together. It’s the perfect 50s style swishy midi dress that makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. I could easily swish around on a Greek island too if needed. Anyone offering a mini break?

    almond rock vogue 9000 v9000 elisalex dress by hand london lisa comfort fabric sew over it

    So are you curious about my superhack? I started with the Elisalex dress bodice which I’ve made twice before but skipped the sleeves this time. I’m wearing the size 10 with a little bit of excess taken out of the shoulders. Then used Vogue 9000 which I’ve made here, and merged the skirt panels into a front and back rather than seven piece skirt. I’m wearing the size 14 waist and hip. I then adjusted the side seams and centre back edges slightly to make sure they’d match up and chopped an inch off the length.

    almond rock vogue 9000 v9000 elisalex dress by hand london lisa comfort fabric sew over it

    I’m so happy with the result as it’s modest with the neckline and length, but a little cheeky with the dipped back, AND the skirt has fantastic swish! Seriously good swish. Which is mostly down to the fabric I chose but important to say that being flared rather than circle, there’s limited chance of the skirt blowing up and flashing everyone on a windy day. Result! My invisible zipper went in like a dream (I love my invisible zipper foot to death – if you don’t have one, go get one) and the waist matches nicely! I handsewed the lining to the inside for a change as I normally stitch in the ditch but had some telly to watch while I did it.

    almond rock vogue 9000 v9000 elisalex dress by hand london lisa comfort fabric sew over it

    I really like wearing dark colours in hot weather as I am always cold and this is a guaranteed way to warm up, but also I think black looks great with a tan. This is of course one of Lisa Comfort’s gorgeous fabric prints. I was very tempted by the first collection which features pastel colours and soft florals. I love Elderflower and the pink colourway would have been perfect for me but I resisted as I hate hate hate ironing and need to limit the amount of cotton dresses I make before I go insane over the wrinkles.

    almond rock vogue 9000 v9000 elisalex dress by hand london lisa comfort fabric sew over it

    When the crepe collection was released I snapped up the Wild Flower print in black. At 150cm-wide it’s perfectly designed to fit a flared skirt like this without needing to cut on the cross grain but at midi length the pieces are fabric hungry. However the princess seam bodice of the Elisalex dress is a great space saver on a fabric layout. I lined the bodice in black habotai to help as well. In the end I got this dress out of just 1.5m of fabric! SO EFFICIENT!

    almond rock vogue 9000 v9000 elisalex dress by hand london lisa comfort fabric sew over it

    The poly crepe barely wrinkles, floats like a dream and is totally opaque. Big points for my lifestyle! I’m only slightly bummed that there is a permanent crease in the centre front of the skirt from where the fabric was folded in half before being put on the bolt. I don’t know if this is just my piece, or just the bolt. It could be how the fabric was pressed during transit after printing. I don’t know… but every time I look down I try not to look at the crease line. BUT to end on a more positive note, I can totally recommend the fabric quality, the Elisalex pattern for how well drafted it is and Vogue 9000 as the perfect half shirtdress (eyes peeled for my newest version of this dress in one of the prettiest viscose prints I’ve ever found).

    almond rock vogue 9000 v9000 elisalex dress by hand london lisa comfort fabric sew over it

    *Just to let you know this post contains affiliate links but products I link are from trusted sellers like The McCall Pattern Co selling through Amazon or Minerva Crafts. There’s no obligation to buy through the link of course. I don’t advertise on my blog so this is a little way to fund the running of the site!

  • Embroidery

    Wedding anniversary hoop

    I had this big plan before my wedding to create a hoop that would double as a ring cushion. It was going to be a ring of florals inspired by my bouquet with ribbon ties in the centre.

    Almond rock wedding flowers handmade dress

    My adorable Godson would carry it down the aisle and once we were married I’d remove the ties and stitch our wedding date in the centre. I bought a pattern and floss but then flash forward to a couple of weeks before the wedding and I couldn’t fit in work on the project. SO we just used a ring box! And it was fine.

    I still fancied making a hoop to commemorate the date so started the hoop a few weeks after our honeymoon. I worked methodically through August and September slowed by tweaking my floss colours slightly as I worked.

    Almond rock wedding anniversary hoop namaste embroidery floss delicate roses

    The pattern is the Delicate Roses pattern from Namaste Embroidery shown below with a couple of omissions to keep the centre free. Jessica who runs the brand was even super kind and helped me tweak the colour choices by recommending shades over email!

    Almond rock wedding anniversary hoop namaste embroidery floss delicate roses

    As you see below, my version features pink and coral roses with sage green and lime details. I loved building the satin stitch to showcase the colours but my lazy daisy greenery isn’t my best and my back stitch is a little wobbly. I say it every time but French knots are very satisfying to make.

    Almond rock wedding anniversary hoop namaste embroidery floss delicate roses

    Hilariously in the final stages of the hoop I put ths wrong month in the centre… traced it, stitched it and photographed it hahah. I had only been married two months so had no excuse. Quick unpicking and I got it fixed in no time.

    Almond rock wedding anniversary hoop namaste embroidery floss delicate roses

    I think the colour chart in the pattern is a beautiful finish and while I’m pleased how this reminds me of my bouquet the pink roses aren’t quite as dynamic as the coral ones. I’m super pleased how I altered the direction of my satin stitch to give them depth though. I’m still a relative embroidery newbie!

    Almond rock wedding anniversary hoop namaste embroidery floss delicate roses

    I put the finished embroidery in an orange hoop and have hung it in our hallway so we pass it each day.

    Almond rock wedding anniversary hoop namaste embroidery floss delicate roses

    As we come close to our first anniversary we’re both giddy to celebrate and are planning ideas PLUS we’re excited to eat our top tier from my mum’s gorgeous cake (white choc and raspberry)!! Its so good having a professional baker in the family. Want me to save you a slice?

    Almond rock wedding cake handmade dress

  • Sewing A-Z

    Behind the seams at Love Sewing magazine

    I thought it might be interesting if you don’t actually know about my day to day job to hear a little bit more about editing a sewing magazine.

    I have now been working in publishing for 10 years. For several years I edited legal publications for solicitors and barristers, and then I spent a few years as a publishing specialist reworking print titles into eBooks and online titles. Then in June 2015 I joined the Love Sewing team. I really enjoy being able to combine my two passions of publishing and sewing. The worst bit is probably the timelines you need to work to: Magazines are very demanding because there’s no let up or downtime with what you need to squeeze in to your working week.

    The magazine is based in Stockport and is part of a publishing group that has 10 other craft magazines all under one roof. I sit in the Softcrafts team so I’m surrounded by sewists, quilters, knitters, and crocheters and creative designers in the art team; all wonderfully inspiring people. With 14 issues a year of 100 pages and two pattern gifts every time, it’s a busy schedule and I rely on my deputy editor to help me write/source content for every page, then edit, proof and approve the magazine. Every day is slightly different as my month generally falls into two halves – the two weeks when we produce an issue and the two weeks where I plan the upcoming editions. More often I’m having to do both tasks at the same time to keep ahead of the schedule.

    When we work on an issue word documents are edited then ‘subbed’ by another team to double check spelling, punctuation and grammar and add instructions for the art team. Art lay out the pages and then we proofread to ensure all the text, imagery, and even the page numbers, are as they need to be. We use job bags that we pass between each other to mark the progress of the pages throughout each stage and create PDFs for each article or project using Adobe inDesign. When an issue is ready we send every page to the printer along with a cover. On issues where we include a bonus second magazine with the issue, that usually has to be finished by the same date as well which can add another 60 or so pages into the month… Safe to say celebratory press day pizza and wine is a regular occurrence in my house.

    The rest of the time I’m generally planning around 3-6 months ahead; picking pattern gifts, arranging projects, lining up articles and interviews, plus searching for great new fabrics! There are also client meetings, production catchups, consumer shows and magazine reviews. I’m currently finishing summer issues, planning Christmas, getting ready for two shows, and also thinking ahead to early next year in case Sewing Bee has another early air date. Talking about Christmas now might sound crazy but it sort of works because I then get it done and put it out of my head long enough to get excited about real Christmas later in the year! Publishing is really like project management in a lot of ways – it’s scheduling, budgeting, organising yourself and others, and being disciplined in all these areas.

    As I’ve been sewing a long time now I act as technical editor for the magazine as well, meaning I have to be able to suggest tips for construction, write about fabric handling methods and explain various techniques. We also work with industry experts to share their knowledge on couture techniques, fitting tutorials, and inspiring tips and tricks. Our resident columnists are Alison Smith MBE, Elisalex de Castro Peake, Claire-Louise Hardie, Stacey Chapman and Wendy Gardiner. Working with these ladies over email is wonderful and together we spark ideas for brilliant new pieces plus they’re great fun on the days when we finally get to catch up in person. Go on one of their amazing workshops, I dare you!

    I commission a number of independent designers to create the projects inside the magazine and we work together to pin down the style and details in the garment before they make up the pattern and a sample garment. The paper pattern garments are made up by seamstresses so I have to pick the fabric and plan the covers and envelopes to make them bold and bright. Picking fabric is a huge part of my job so I’m always searching through shops online and obsessively looking for the best prints and colours to use in the magazine.

    My favourite parts of the month are the regular photoshoots we have. With four magazines that have model photography we regularly have shoots and all try and put a few garments onto each shoot. I often run out the office, across the road with a pile of dresses in hand and spend an hour or so, creating the images you see in the mag with the studio team before running back to the office. Some days we spend longer shooting an entire morning with one model for several issues of Love Sewing and getting a few cover shots as well. Renata is our talented fashion photographer, Nina provides gorgeous hair and make up.

    As you might know I have a reader over to the studio every month and love spoiling them with their own private photography session. Everyone arrives saying they aren’t that confident in front of the camera but by the end of the afternoon we have oodles of gorgeous shots showing off their make and their gorgeous personality. We started this around issue 38 and now the issue 70 reader is coming over next week. We’ve had sewing celebrities, ladies who have brought their bestie for moral support, women who don’t normally wear make up, even a big group of ladies all in one go. It’s always a great afternoon and always over too soon.

    Everyone’s route into publishing is different. I have a Degree in English Literature, and a Masters in Creative Writing. To get my first publishing job I also had to pass a series of tests – grammar, spelling and punctuation, plus typing and how to style a document. To get the Love Sewing Editor role I had to talk through the titles I’d managed to date, plus show I had the planning skills to put together an example features list. I was also expected to have a strong knowledge of the industry by describing the key sewing titles, pattern companies, experts, websites and bloggers. Plus I obviously had to talk about what makes a good-looking fabric, garment and magazine! (The key area of difference between book and magazine publishing is the sheer quantity of pictures.) I’m now the Managing Editor of Quilt Now magazine where I work alongside the Editor Bethany, as well as keeping control of Love Sewing.

    If you liked this post you might like to read some interviews I’ve done in the past!

    The Fold Line interviewed me here a few years ago.

    I did an interview for the Love Sewing blog a while back as well.