Dreaming of a white Christmas

Well hello. It’s been a while since I posted! For those of you who follow me on Instagram you’ll have had an insight into why life is a little crazy right now.

After nearly 5 wonderful years, I will be stepping down as Love Sewing magazine Editor in January. I’ve collaborated and worked with many incredible people, I’ve learnt so much and achieved things I’ll cherish even when I’m a little old lady.

With 13 years in the publishing industry it’s always hard giving up a title you love, but it is time for a fresh start and new challenges… but I’m still going to be here sewing furiously you won’t have to miss me!

Ok!! So it’s December and I’m so happy to be sharing a Christmas make. I love the festive season. There are parties and great food and a sense of excitement in the air. I make so many social plans and then binge watch seasonal movies… soon I’ve run out of any sewing time. I know there are worst problems to have!

It’s funny because we plan and photograph our festive issues of Love Sewing during the summer so I sort of have two Christmases! We’re wrestling trees and baubles around in the hot weather and planning party dresses months before party season. It can drive people a little crazy. But back to my latest dress… you might have seen it already on the Minerva Blogger Network but I thought it deserved a closer look here.

Almond rock sewing dress ballet knit jersey sequin Minerva crafts vogue 9000

This dress is going to be a great staple this year as it’s that magical combination of toasty and fancy. AND SPARKLY!

Almond rock sewing dress ballet knit jersey sequin Minerva crafts vogue 9000

It’s the fabric that makes it so wonderful with subtle silver metallic threads and white sequins woven into the jersey. There is a great texture to the fabric too that makes it feel like a sweater knit you’d find in ready to wear clothes. I wish I had more of it for a jumper.

Almond rock sewing dress ballet knit jersey sequin Minerva crafts vogue 9000

I used a mixture of the Dixie DIY ballet dress bodice with Vogue 9000’s skirt which I cut on the fold and adjusted at the side seams to fit the bodice. The sleeves fit so well, I love the scoop neckline and you can’t beat a swishy skirt. I made a slim waist belt in the same fabric but also like it with my black patent belt. I should have made thread belt loops to help stop the belt sliding down! Still time to add those now it’s done.

Almond rock sewing dress ballet knit jersey sequin Minerva crafts vogue 9000

The fabric cuts and sews very easy as the sequins aren’t too densely spread over the fabric. I used a rotary cutter and mat then finished everything on an overlocker. The hems are just turned under and zigzag topstitched. I used a universal needle and narrow zigzag for all the construction. Easy peasy!

Almond rock sewing dress ballet knit jersey sequin Minerva crafts vogue 9000

When using a woven pattern with a knit fabric you might want to size down to compensate for the stretch but I don’t mind the skirt a little loose as it leaves room for dinner.

My finished dress is a little sheer but as you can see with a slip underneath I have perfect coverage. The glittery fabric gave me a good excuse to break out my wedding jewellery again. I feel so sparkly and merry!!

Almond rock sewing dress ballet knit jersey sequin Minerva crafts vogue 9000

Merry Christmas, happy festive season and a wonderful winter to everyone!

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Spotty McCall’s 7085

Hello my loveliest ones!! I am hating humanity after a hellish time on public transport and the motorway but you’re all exempt. You wouldn’t leave giant cases in the aisles and blare music without speakers would you?? I hope not. And you wouldn’t try and drive me off the road in your a supermarket delivery van right???

Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

I’ve been doing a little less sewing than normal lately but wanted to experiment with the latest pattern from Love Sewing magazine. This pattern is included with issue 73 on sale October 3rd. That’s tomorrow! As you know I don’t often have time to make the magazine patterns but I just loved this neckline!

Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

Isn’t Lis’s version below so gorgeous? I knew I couldnt pull off the shift style so I wanted to see if I could hack the dress to a more retro silhouette. To do this I used the waistline mark on the front and back bodice pieces. I marked lines across the pattern pieces 1.5cm below the waistline point. This was the cutting line.

Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

I then worked out the finished waist measurement and measurements for the front and back and adjusted slightly so my skirt pattern would match at the side seams. The skirt here is actually my wedding dress skirt pattern! It makes it very swishy.

Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

I made view D of the pattern with its lovely sweetheart neckline and no sleeves. This stretch spot cotton sateen is amazing quality and gives the dress a lot of structure. It took 3m to get all the pieces of this dress on the fabric even at 60″ wide. It’s a pretty huge skirt!!

Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

I finished the hem with red bias tape; my preferred method for a circle skirt. There’s an invisible zipper in the back. And of course I added pockets. SO MUCH FUN!!

Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

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The maxium cake dress

Please don’t think of me as terrible birthday brat but I wanted to share details of day 3 from my long weekend of celebrations. I still have one more day to go before I head back to reality and another press day on Tuesday.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

My family weren’t free to catch up until the Saturday after my birthday so we made plans to have afternoon tea at Weetwood Hall near Adel. This 17th century manor house is popular for weddings and parties and there was a wedding going on as we arrived! We sat in the indoor terrace. All the beauty of a garden area but safe from the elements!

We dined on gorgeous sandwiches (I had the veggie selection of aubergine and hummus, avocado and salsa, and cream cheese and cucumber plus a huge onion bhaji). Then there was a dessert tray of scones, treacle tart, brownies, lemon posset, candyfloss and choc ganache lollipops!! Fizz, wine and Earl Grey tea finished the table off nicely and we chatted away the afternoon.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

Sometimes you need a baggy dress. When you have this much food to eat its practically mandatory!! I haven’t been fitting into my clothes very well lately so a baggy dress fits well into my life right now. I’ve been inspired by DIY Daisy’s floaty dresses which are quite straight up and down while still feeling figure flattering.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

I drafted a basic bodice with grown on sleeves and removed the darts from the front and back. Then I adjusted the front to a wrap extending into the waistline (rather than the side seam) using a v neckline as a guide. It sits high on the shoulder then drops in a steep v, crossing just under the bust. The skirt is just a gathered rectangle.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

The excess fabric was used to make bias tape to finish the armholes and neckline. It was an awkward assembly in that I had to bind the front up to the shoulder and leave the ends unsewn first. That meant I could construct the bodice and join to the waist then install the zip. Then finally I could bind the top of the zipper and remaining bit of neckline. Of course I used my blind hem foot to edgestitch the binding. I got impatient before adding a hook and eye at the top… a job for later.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

I decided to topstitch the wrap in place as I can’t be arsed worrying about flashing people. I don’t have a lot of boob to flash but no need to take the risk. The waistline is slightly raised to help the body feel and the rayon means the dress is delightful floaty!! My favourite part of the dress is this stunning print.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

Susan Driscoll designs the most gorgeous prints and I was overjoyed when she released her rayon collection ‘Soiree‘ with Dashwood Studio. I actually bought three of the designs! This print is called Fragment and it reminds me of geology and gemstones. It’s all my favourite colours in one design. It looks a little navy in my pics but is on a black base. I got this dress out of 1.5m of 45″-wide fabric by the skin of my teeth!

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

Do you think you can identify rayon? It’s known in the UK as viscose and is a natural fabric made of plant pulp. BUT sometimes shops just call drapey polyester ‘viscose’ which blurs the lines and sometimes it’s mixed with polyester… the same way any other fabric base can be mixed with polyester of course.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

You can get rayon challis, rayon linen, and rayon jersey plus much more. 100% rayon challis is prone to shrinking, goes hard and rumpled when washed then goes back to being silky and smooth when dry. It doesn’t melt under heat or make static when you wear it. Its breathable and luxurious to wear and it’s my favourite fabric type! You need a sharp needle and sharp pins as its prone to snagging and you need a large space to work on so the fabric doesn’t slide as you work or cut out.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

I hope you enjoyed this post and the details of my self drafted dress. I’m building up courage to cut into the Secret Garden print above and figure out what style to sew. If you are keen to try pattern drafting I recommend the Aldrich book series. I also attended a great evening course at Leeds Art School which taught me other methods of drafting if you don’t get on with Winnie Aldrich.

Finally thanks do much to everyone who commented on my tile dress on the blog and on Instagram. I definitely appreciate it!! Cheers to you all!

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Out on the tiles dress Vogue mashup

Hello happy people! I’m in a great mood because this post is going out on my birthday!! I never work on my birthday and always try to do something fun. As it’s a Thursday this year I also took the Friday off so it’s double the fun! Today I had a trip to the spa with a back and head massage and a foot massage. Then I ate my favourite skillet pancakes for lunch in the sun of Mill Kitchen’s outdoor seating. I’ve come back super chilled! And there’s time for a bit of sewing before we head out to dinner!

In other news I finished my dress for the New Craft House Riviera party and had a wonderful time on the night. There were so many familiar faces to catch up with plus some ladies I follow on Instagram but had never spoken to. There was Aperol spritzes and the biscuit fairy Claire was making sure we had regular snacks. I managed to get in a couple of photos with my darling Marie but in my usual style failed at getting a proper outfit shot. I AM THE WORST when I get chatting and forget all about photos.

Almond rock sewing embroidered mesh dolce Gabbana vogue v1102 v9000 new craft house dress

So this week I managed to get a few photos at the studio with the lovely Renata this week so I’m not leaving it for ages to share my finished dress. I love the overall look and paired my lemon earrings and blue belt with the dress to pick up the colours in the fabric.

Almond rock sewing embroidered mesh dolce Gabbana vogue v1102 v9000 new craft house dress

This embroidered mesh was pretty damn difficult to work with. The ‘squares’ are actually slight rectangles and they’re a huge 6″ tall which I didn’t think was actually that flattering when cut on the grain as it chops your body up in weird directions. It has no stretch and of course needed lining. Here’s the fabric if you’re tempted.

Almond rock sewing embroidered mesh dolce Gabbana vogue v1102 v9000 new craft house dress

With all this in mind I decided to cut everything out on the bias! This left me with much less fabric to work with. I used Vogue 9000‘s hacked skirt from this dress and shortened it another 2″. I then cut both the front and back on the fold.

Almond rock sewing embroidered mesh dolce Gabbana vogue v1102 v9000 new craft house dress

For the bodice I could only manage to cut the front on the fold and used my old Vogue 1102 (made so many times with too many tweaks to count) as I could hide the waist darts inside a tile without it looking too obvious. The back bodice had to be cut with a centre back seam but think it looks okay.

Almond rock sewing embroidered mesh dolce Gabbana vogue v1102 v9000 new craft house dress

This all meant I needed a side zipper and to figure out the opacity. The bodice is underlined and then the two layers treated as one for construction and the raw edges finished with nude bias tape. The skirts were assembled separately and joined along the waist seam and zipper position. Below the zipper the skirts hang free and both layers were finished with an overlocked rolled hem. To finish I hand picked a side lapped zipper to make sure nothing would catch in the teeth and the stitching would be as invisible as possible.

Almond rock sewing embroidered mesh dolce Gabbana vogue v1102 v9000 new craft house dress

If you didnt know this fabric was used in Dolce and Gabbana’s Majolica collection. This dress above sold for £4,800…. yep that’s insane. Anywhoo my dress is surprisingly swishy and I feel great in it. It took a lot of brainstorming to figure out the perfect silhouette, pattern placement and order of construction. It was quite nice having a meaty project to work on as I’ve been sewing a lot of quicker things lately but on the flip side there was also a lot on my plate so life suddenly felt very busy. It’s such a happy dress so I’m really pleased I powered through and think it will be nice for future events and holidays.

Almond rock sewing embroidered mesh dolce Gabbana vogue v1102 v9000 new craft house dress

I know I’m a little bit of a diva when it comes to birthdays but I really just take the chance to see as many people as possible, eat and drink well, find joy in everything and feel grateful for another year! My husband and his family know me so well, I got flowers, gin, my favourite most relaxing White Company candle and a voucher for fabric! And on Saturday my family are taking me for fizz and afternoon tea! Life is grand!!

Almond rock sewing embroidered mesh dolce Gabbana vogue v1102 v9000 new craft house dress

Oh and surprisingly I won one of the party raffle prizes for a Selkie Patterns pdf of my choice. I’m going to wait to see their exciting new launch and then decide which to get as an extra birthday present!! Thanks for reading. Maybe I’m writing to myself but I still love blogging, sharing my makes and documenting the process.

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Scuba dooba doo Lena M6886 hack

Hi Everyone!
Hope you’re having a great week. Lots of happy vibes over in my sewing room at the moment as I’m making progress with my bridesmaid dresses, I finished my bicycle embroidery and also a lovely reader of the blog sent me some beautiful vintage sewing patterns.

Turns out she wasn’t going to use them so I’m happy to give them a loving home. I’m not sure when I’ll ever make the slippers but I honestly love all the instructions and illustrations in each pattern. It’s so irresistible to see how things were done in the past

Almond rock vintage sewing patterns

As you might know I’m woefully behind on photographing makes and have around 35 to share on the blog that haven’t been shot yet. I’m happy to report that I snuck into the studio last week and managed to take some pictures.

Almond rock mccalls 6886 lena simple sew scuba

When I saw THIS SCUBA on the Minerva Crafts website I audibly gasped. I am of course addicted to florals but the colours in this print had been smitten. Although I don’t currently participate in the Minerva Blogger Network, Vicki was kind enough to still send me some of the fabric to make a skater dress.

Almond rock mccalls 6886 lena simple sew scuba

I used my new favourite tshirt pattern M6886 which I stole from issue 44 of Love Sewing and added a waist seam. The neckline is the perfect amount of scoop without being too revealing I then added the skirt from the Simple Sew Lena Wrap dress. I love the flare on the skirt and decided to keep the hem band even though it’s not as obvious in this fabric. But as you can see I left off the waistband.

I actually constructed this entirely on my overlocker (the old one not the new one) which meant it was finished in around an hour. The only machine work was the hems which I overlocked, turned under and topstitched, including the neckline.

Almond rock mccalls 6886 lena simple sew scuba

With the base fabric being white and the print being a little sparse it is a little see through in places if you’re wearing white lingerie, so I either wear nude or a slip to add opacity.

I’m so excited to pull this dress out of my wardrobe to wear with my chartreuse cardigan and red shoes. And you can’t beat the effect you can achieve when you make a full skirt out of scuba, it has a lovely sway when you walk. I end up swishing up and down the street

Almond rock mccalls 6886 lena simple sew scuba

If you’re scared of trying scuba here are some tips. It cuts easily but if you don’t fancy the hand workout with your scissors, try a smaller rotary cutter for any intricate cutting sections.

Remember to prewash scuba as you should with any other fabric and wash it like normal but avoid hot heats and overwashing as you’ll get a bobbly garment and damage the stretch content.

With that in mind be sure to iron scuba on a low setting, this fabric will mark or even melt if iron too hot.

Last but not least use a stretch or ballpoint needle to prevent snagging and slipping.

Almond rock mccalls 6886 lena simple sew scuba

It’s painfully obvious that my blog productivity and especially my time to read blogs has taken a nose dive but I’m pleased I’m clinging on and still posting. I imagine you’re all struggling too and I’m really grateful if you’ve clicked through and kept reading this long! So high fives all round?

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