BOND, ANNA BOND… By Hand London Anna

Hello everyone. I’m writing this from a corner of my sewing room, slightly frazzled from car issues and too tired to sew. I’m really keen to start wedding related sewing but have had a few silly setbacks.

One of my bridal fabrics has arrived cut into two lengths instead of being kept whole and I’ve lost the pattern number I noted down for my bridesmaids’ dresses. All fixable of course but frustratingly will slow me down. Chewie isn’t impressed.

Almond rock rifle paper co cotton steel by hand London Anna

So to perk myself up I’m sharing a recently finished make. It’s not my first and not my last Anna dress but possibly my most noticeable. When I wear this dress people love to find out if it’s really Rifle Paper Co, ask to stroke the rayon to feel the quality and tell me the colours are wonderful. I happily answer all the comments because I think the quality is fantastic; the shades of blue and coral, the weight and sheen of the weave, and the scale of the design make this a perfect fabric. Go buy some while you can.

If you’ve made something from Rifle Paper Co fabric please link me in the comments!!

Almond rock rifle paper co cotton steel by hand London Anna

In case you’ve been off the grid, the last couple of years have yielded some fabulous fabrics from the collaboration of Rifle Paper Co and Cotton + Steel.

Anna Bond is the creative force behind Rifle Paper Co, a stationery business famed (primarily) for its painterly florals designed by Anna herself.

Almond rock rifle paper co cotton steel by hand London Anna

Cotton + Steel is comprised of the design power houses Melody Miller, Rashida Coleman-Hale, Alexia Abegg, Kim Kight and Sarah Watts who collaborate on fun and unique prints that still coordinate across each range. The bulk of the offering is quilting cotton but lawn, rayon and canvas substrates are also available for certain designs.

Almond rock rifle paper co cotton steel by hand London Anna

The Birch Floral I used is from the Les Fleurs collection which I picked up from Miss Matatabi. Also in my stash is the Painterly Roses rayon from the Wonderland collection. I have 1m to play with which I picked up from Village Haberdashery using my birthday stash points!

Almond rock rifle paper co cotton steel by hand London Anna

Ok so dress nitty gritty time. This is the Anna v-neck bodice and the Emery gathered skirt with 3cm added to the length. I used a 70 needle to avoid snags and the fabric was robust enough not to shift as I worked or get sucked into the feed dogs.

Almond rock rifle paper co cotton steel by hand London Anna

My armholes are finished with blue bias and I used the facings provided. My invisible zip is pretty invisible considering its navy and I took the dress in a little from previous versions as I’ve lost some weight. I try and save this dress for nice occasions as it does noticeably wrinkle after a few hours of wear.

Almond rock rifle paper co cotton steel by hand London Anna

The big thing this dress taught me is that I love wearing primary colours. My red Sumo dress, started that off. So I’ve bought some emerald green tana lawn which I’m excited to sew up. But that better wait until after I get my bridal sewing back on track…

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Happy hula girls Flora dress By Hand London

Hopefully the name of this post has you intrigued! I have a a fun new dress to share in the most awesome print fabric you’ll see today!!

Spoonflowerbritishbloghop flora dress almond rock by hand london

I am super excited to pair up with Spoonflower for their British Blog Hop. I’m in fab company as well:

Spoonflowerbritishbloghop flora dress almond rock by hand london

Blog Tour Schedule
Saturday, May 27 | Kate | The Fold Line

Monday, May 29 | Sarah | A Million Dresses

Tuesday, May 30 | Manu | Sew Manju

Wednesday, May 31 | Amy | Almond Rock
Thursday, June 1 | Rachel | House of Pinheiro

Friday, June 2 | Marie | A Stitching Odyssey

Monday, June 5 | Zoe | Sozoblog

Tuesday, June 6 | Kerry| Kestrelmakes

Wow I’ve actually shopped, ate cake, danced and gossiped with everyone on this list. And their blogs are really inspiring and diverse in aesthetic. It’s the best possible virtual party!

So have you ever tried Spoonflower? First set up in the US, they’ve expanded into Europe about a year and a half ago. Having operations in Berlin is a real benefit for all of us here in the UK because with a much closer factory than the US you get a faster turn-around on orders, and you know exactly what you’re paying because it’s all nicely there in GBP at the checkout with VAT included! That last point is pretty important to me as I’m TERRIBLE at maths.

Spoonflowerbritishbloghop flora dress almond rock by hand london

This was a really fun chance for me to get a print from one of my favourite designers…Taisya Kordiukova aka Tasiania. I know, I know, I could have designed something unique but having loved Tasiania’s mid-century modern inspired scenes of life for a long time I couldn’t resist choosing this hula girls design.

Spoonflowerbritishbloghop flora dress almond rock by hand london

Brief disclaimer: Please excuse the pictures. They were taken on the HOTTEST day the studio had so far this year so I’m a little pink in the face heehee.

My dress is the Flora from By Hand London. It’s view 2 but with a gathered skirt so my hula ladies wouldn’t be placed sideways on the circle skirt. On all my versions of this dress I have adjusted the bodice to be single darted. This was done through a Small Bust Adjustment where I rotated the fullness into the waist. I don’t need a lot of room and one dart covers it! Finally as an act of insanity I made the tiniest rouleaux straps I could manage. They were excruciating to turn through. I didn’t have any cord or string thin enough to sew into the top when I tried the same with an overlocker chain it got caught in the side seam. In the end it was my loop turner that had to take on the task.

Spoonflowerbritishbloghop flora dress almond rock by hand london

Construction was a breeze. The fabric washed really well with no colour fading and it kept it’s gorgeous sheen. I have actually washed the dress three times after an unfortunate curry incident this weekend and it’s holding up amazingly well (the curry stain is almost out too). There’s a nice stretch recovery and the fabric is thick enough not to show the darts and seam allowance through which I was worried about. I lined the bodice in mint sateen suiting from Minerva Crafts, and the skirt in peach anti-static lining. Then I added a nice deep single-fold hem and a lapped zipper. It looks a little misaligned in this photo for some reason.

Spoonflowerbritishbloghop flora dress almond rock by hand london

I already owned a swatch pack and colour printing guide which I highly recommend before buying as the descriptions are not enough to know what the handle of your fabric will be. From the fabric pack my recommendations for dressmaking are definitely the Kona cotton, crepe de chine and sateen ultra. My cotton sateen was £25.30 a yard which is 53″ wide, plenty for a nice full skirted dress WITH POCKETS. Top tip, it would be a lot easier if you picked a multi-directional print rather than a one-way design as I did.

Spoonflowerbritishbloghop flora dress almond rock by hand london

Ooh pockets I love you.

In my book £25 per metre is worth it for the Spoonflower sateen if you’re getting a custom printed design. Although this fabric was provided free in exchange for a review, it’s a high quality fabric that I would definitely order again. No one is saying you need to be a technical whizzkid to make your own prints; Spoonflower have an awesome book that guides you through the whole process in fact and there’s a lot of info on the blog. If you’re still unsure, check out the epic print gallery for a pre-made design.

I hope you liked my dress and continue to follow the blog hop as it continues! Keep an eye on the hashtag #Spoonflowerbritishbloghop on IG and Twitter for more inspiration and if you have any questions about the quality, print or order process please let me know.

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A Marimekko-inspired Elisalex

Hi everyone! Fingers crossed you’ve had a chilled week with a good splash of sewing time. After the horrific incident in town on Monday night our office was quite a heavy place Tuesday. Thankfully no one I work with was personally affected but it’s hit us all hard. To lift my spirits I made a dress, ordered some new fabric and a horse shape handbag plus I watched A LOT of Parks and Recreation. It was a fabulous dose of medicine. I also found out I won a prize in the Dress Like Your Grandma challenge – I’m totally amazed and grateful so I’ll share more on that soon.

almond rock elisalex dress marimekko

I wanted to talk about finally joining the Elisalex dress bandwagon. When Elisalex the real life lady sent me the updated pattern files for the By Hand London dress I was intrigued. I even tried the new 44″ printer at work to test the copy shop version. 

almond rock elisalex dress marimekko

The dress did not disappoint. The bodice is really nicely drafted with the proportions and seam placement bang on and everything goes together perfectly… as you would expect from a By Hand London pattern!

almond rock elisalex dress marimekko

I used a cotton poplin from John Lewis that was picked up on a trip to Birmingham with Roisin, Marie, Kat, Sabs and Helen. Chewie was a big fan as you can see. I had to wrestle it from under her butt several times. I used navy lining, yellow bias tape at the hem and did some ropey invisible zipper sewing if I say so myself. I’m going to have another pass to try and get closer to the teeth. My invisible zipper foot failed me somehow. I pressed the teeth open, moved my needle closer, everything like normal! Hmmmm.

almond rock elisalex dress marimekko

To reduce the bell shape of the skirt I graded out to an A-line below the hip. I like the curve at the waist and the shape the pleats make. The bodice princess seams fit me nicely and only required minimal tweaking from the size 10 toile.

almond rock elisalex dress marimekko

Notice these pics are PP? “Pre-Perm” heehee. I love pairing the dress with these navy wedges and a mustard cardigan. The print reminds me of the Finnish design house Marimekko, which makes me super happy. And I got to wear it when Elisalex visited the studio a couple of weeks ago. She came to review the culottes you get with issue 40 and have a giggle with us. How freaking gorgeous does she look here??

almond rock elisalex dress marimekko

My plans to conquer more princess seam dresses are off to a flying start! Stay tuned for my gown from The Dressmaker’s Ball very soon…

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Pj party M6659

Hey hey everyone. I’m writing this post on the way home from London. It was a gorgeous sunny weekend with good food and lovely people.

almondrock gretchen gertie hirsch raystitch charlotte newland

Here’s a silly pic taken by Karen where I’m trying to keep my bun out of Roisin’s face UNSUCCESSFULLY!

Tasha was visiting London so I headed down to hang out with her and Marie, Jane, Charlotte, Emmie, Karen and Roisin for a day of fabric shopping and gossiping. Mel joined us for a bit as well, very sweetly carrying Tasha’s bags of treats. Both Tasha and Mel have lovely accents so I really enjoyed listening to them talk and they did a great job of defeating their jetlag. Amazingly I briefly met Gretchen Gertie Hirsch while she was teaching at Raystitch!! She’s utterly gorgeous in real life as if that’s a surprise.

almondrock joel and son fabrics elie saab

I spent some time mulling over fabric choices for my wedding dress. This Elie Saab style embroidered mesh stole my heart. Ultimately I came home empty handed and still pretty confused about what style I want. But something that I did decide after seeing Emmie, Gretchen and Tasha’s stunning vintage curls is that I reallllly want to get my hair sorted so am looking for a free weekend to book myself in for a new do.

almondrock mccalls 6659 pyjamas

So what about the pjs? I wanted to finally share a picture of the finished set being worn not just laid out flat.

almondrock mccalls 6659 pyjamas

The pattern is McCall’s 6659 which I made once before here. Again this is views C and G. The fabric was a gift from Katy Jones during my first week at Practical. She sits two desks down as editor of Quilt Now but excitingly this is a print from her fabric line with Art Gallery Fabrics!! It’s Sunday clippings on a voile base.

almondrock mccalls 6659 pyjamas

I like how the bird peeks out of the pocket heehee. And the vintage turquoise buttons make me smile. The sleeves would look better a bit shorter or longer I think. I didn’t made any adjustments to the top but I altered the trousers to have a deeper curve in the seat.

almondrock mccalls 6659 pyjamas

Better confess that I topstitched the front closed and now I throw the top on over my head. Never going to wake up with the buttons undone and everything hanging out that way! Everything is overlocked inside and the crotch seam is double stitched for security. Everything staying where it should.

almondrock mccalls 6659 pyjamas

 Definitely need to make another set or two! They’re great to sleep in and I feel put together when I wake up. I can retire my slobby worn out tshirts now!

Have you made pjs recently? Share your links!!

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The Happiest Anna Dress

Hello hello! I’ve got a few things to share today so I’ll try not to ramble.

First up, my Anna obsession continues with a new version of the By Hand London pattern. This is my third attempt with a gathered skirt and numerous fitting tweaks. I’ve reduced the gaping at the front and back and added a little more room under the arms.

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

The fabric is a luscious viscose challis from Elliott Berman Textiles in NYC that I bought on my trip earlier this year. When I saw the vivid florals I ran straight over to the bolt and it’s the best quality viscose I’ve felt. Apparently it’s Italian which is a shame I went to America for European fabric but I’d never have found it over here.

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

Sizing-wise it’s a crazy hybrid of three sizes. I used 2m of fabric, kept the neckline facing and used black bias binding for the armholes. Gosh I luuuurve it. I wore it out for an early birthday dinner on Friday with my family and it was very forgiving when I ate ALL THE FOOD. Plus the fizz we drank. Oops, thank goodness for gathered waist dresses. I wore it again on Saturday night to a friend’s 40th party – who else does this when they’re obsessed over a new make??

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

On Sunday I was surprised by an early birthday present as my lovely partner Jimi proposed… while I was wearing my star print Anna dress! (Still to blog annoyingly so here’s a terribly cropped pic of it.) We then ran off for a stay at Oulton Hall spa to get pampered and eat a load more delicious food. Seriously though it’s been overwhelming how many lovely comments we’ve received about the news. Did you know Jimi and I have been together as long as I’ve been sewing? We’d been together only a short while before I started evening classes and he’s always been my personal cheerleader, enabler and photographer. And although we are already fiercely committed to each other and marriage won’t change that, planning a wedding and our life together once we’re hitched is too wonderful to put into words right now.

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

As if the weekend wasnt going fantastically enough, I was also lucky enough to receive a vintage treadle sewing machine and a complete copy of Ann Ladbury’s Liberty dressmaking book with patterns for 12 garments inside. Check out the video of my machine on Instagram! Plus I was gifted some delicious gin (Adnams of Southwold and cucumber gin – perfect for a machine-side drink), sewing vouchers, new converse and perfume. Phew!

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

So I still have several garments to blog so this my site won’t end up completely wedding-centric. Chatting to a few people this weekend at the epic Sewing Weekender hosted by the Foldline and English Girl At Home there was some interest in me sharing my handmade wedding dress plans. Because yes I’m definitely going to attempt making the dress. Though deciding what to make is seeming impossible right now. Stay tuned for more about the Sewing Weekender first though hehehe.

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

Also if you have any books or sites you’d like to recommend for working with bridal fabrics or diy weddings please leave them in the comments. I do know quite a few bloggers have made their dresses so will be going back to those posts. So for now here’s me and my future hubby looking mature and responsible as 32 year olds.

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

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