• Tops, blouses and shirts

    Sew Over It Libby

    Sewing enthusiasm has finally returned to my sewing room. I’m bursting with ideas again! Today I’m sharing a quick make that is really a wearable toile, the Libby shirt from Sew Over It.

    Almond rock coral peachskin Sew Over It Libby shirt blouse

    I had been admiring many people’s versions of this cute cropped blouse before buying the pattern. I love notch collars and grown on sleeves so a combination of the two is glorious.

    Almond rock coral peachskin Sew Over It Libby shirt blouse

    I bought the pdf pattern and sent the copyshop file to get printed at Fabulosew as I like that they print on tissue rather than paper. I made a straight size 10 and the only alteration was to move the bust darts down a bit.

    Almond rock coral peachskin Sew Over It Libby shirt blouse

    This fabric is a thick opaque polyester peachskin I got as lining for my coral eyelet Anna dress. There was lots leftover so I’d been waiting for something to use it for. It’s probably a bit thick for the pattern but such a good colour!

    The Libby shirt gets a lot of bad press online because of the back facing/collar construction which can be considered unnecessarily complicated, when you know there are other methods that would be quicker and simpler.

    You attach the back facing to each inner curve of the collar before stitching the collar pieces RST. I’ve constructed this way before on tailored coats and jackets so I didn’t have any bother with it but can see how it would stress many sewists out. There’s a sewalong with nice clear pictures if this is your first time using this method.

    Almond rock coral peachskin Sew Over It Libby shirt blouse

    I used a set of mixed print Tilda fabric covered buttons from my stash as some had a hint of coral in them. And I chose pink, coral and orange overlocker threads to keep it pretty inside. The turned up cuffs on the sleeves are quite easy to do and only take a couple of hand stitches to hold in place.

    Almond rock coral peachskin Sew Over It Libby shirt blouse

    I don’t think the back is flattering but I like the front and will still get plenty of wear out of it. For my next version I’ll use viscose or crepe de chine for a less thick version. As you can see my love of notched collars continues.

  • Dresses

    Polka dot Nina Lee Spring Dress

    Hello Spring! And hello you lovely lot. I’m full of the joys of Spring. And I love that saying. Spring and Summer is my sewing magic timezone where I can make dresses and floaty clothes and don’t have to worry about tights anymore. With that in mind I picked up the Nina Lee Patterns Spring Dress which came with Simply Sewing mag.

    Almond rock dressmaking Nina Lee Patterns Spring Dress polka dot viscose

    Okay let’s get the elephant out of the room, yep this is the first time I’ve bought Simply Sewing as a regular consumer. I had to buy every single issue while I worked at Love Sewing to add to our library of sewing magazines. This helped us try to avoid accidentally copying each other like interviewing the same people, featuring the same fabrics and so on. Since it launched after I started at Love Sewing I never bought it just for me until now. The magazine isn’t really for me as it’s only 20% about dressmaking but I had a quick flick through out of post-professional curiosity. I miss magazine design because let’s face it, banking websites aren’t designed to be colourful or fun. The patterns were the draw. Now back to the dress…

    Almond rock dressmaking Nina Lee Patterns Spring Dress polka dot viscose

    I made two toiles of the dress because I wasn’t quite sure how much ease I’d like. The first toile made me realise the sleeves and shoulders were not going to work for my body type. I am extremely narrow shouldered with small arms so often have to do a narrow shoulder adjustment. I adjusted the paper pattern to adjust the shoulder by 1″ for the first toile but it was clear the sleeve head as drafted was very flat and I need a much higher head and the shoulder was still very wide. I use a cut and move method for narrow shoulders (tutorial) but there’s also a slash and overlap method (tutorial).

    Almond rock dressmaking Nina Lee Patterns Spring Dress polka dot viscose

    On my second toile I redrafted the armhole to use the Tilly and The Buttons Indigo dress bodice and sleeve pieces. You lay the two patterns on top of each other, matching shoulder height and copy round the Indigo armhole curve onto the Spring Dress: First for the bodice front and then for the back. Then I could use the Indigo sleeve piece when I cut out and put the Spring Dress sleeve to one side.

    Almond rock dressmaking Nina Lee Patterns Spring Dress polka dot viscose

    This polka dot viscose challis from my stash was picked up at Birmingham rag market. It’s the perfect weight for this dress as it gathers easily and is a nice breezy fabric for this style (see a video of it in motion). I think you could use a stiffer fabric for a bolder boxier effect. When I discovered a number of small holes in my fabric (not moths thank god) this moved into the wearable toile category so I stopped worrying over the print matching down the centre front. Made you look!! It’s good enough to me for a dress I’ll wear until the fabric frays further so don’t bother messaging me about it. I added some fusible interfacing behind each of the holes I saw but I bet it will keep making more when I next wash it, it just seems that delicate.

    Almond rock dressmaking Nina Lee Patterns Spring Dress polka dot viscose

    I made a size 10 in the upper bodice and 12 at the waist down to the hip. The bodice ever so slightly rides to the back now which is what happens on my Indigo where I never fixed the bodice. Again I don’t mind on this dress but really should fix it before I make any more versions. And as you can see the neckline is finished with tiny little bias binding that extends into ties but wearing it tied feels a little too twee so I leave them undone. As a last tweak, I added elastic cuffs to the sleeves but they aren’t very billowing so it’s a subtle effect. Importantly I added 3″ to the length of the skirt. Remember I’m 5ft4 so this is a short dress without that length! Chewie approves of my floaty new dress.

    Almond rock dressmaking Nina Lee Patterns Spring Dress polka dot viscose

  • Dresses

    Watercolour Papercut Patterns Adrift

    Hello everyone. This pretty spring dress is crying out to be worn! I can’t wait to take it for a stroll through Ilkley. It’s colourful and floaty and just perfect for the start of fresher weather.

    almond rock watercolour  Papercut Patterns Adrift dress with Abakhan viscoseI partnered with Abakhan for this make. They let me choose something from their new Spring/Summer collection of fabrics and I chose this stunner which has now sold out but there’s plenty more in the collection to enjoy. It was sent out the fabric for free to see what I’d make with it. 

    almond rock watercolour  Papercut Patterns Adrift dress with Abakhan viscose
    I chose the Adrift pattern which has a lovely frilled skirt. There’s a draw string waist dress or darted skirt option. You can also add frilly sleeves to the bodice but they were a bit too frilly for my liking so I adjusted to use cap sleeves. The bust darts are mostly for show. I made a size S dress bodice by laying my Mayberry dress size 12 pattern pieces on top to get a similar fit since that is also a cinched pattern with waist ties. I also used the Mayberry dress sleeves since it’s such a similar bodice and adjusted the armholes to match. Then I graded out to an XXL at the hip.

    almond rock watercolour  Papercut Patterns Adrift dress with Abakhan viscoseThe fabric has so many lovely colours in it. The reason I love viscose is that lovely drape and cool smooth feel to the fabric. It’s important to pre-wash viscose as it does shrink and use a nice sharp needle to avoid pulls. I overlocked all the edges as viscose frays a lot too. almond rock watercolour  Papercut Patterns Adrift dress with Abakhan viscoseLengthening the skirt was a real challenge. There were no clues on the pattern or the Papercut website for how to approach this. I ended adding about 3″ to the upper area of the skirt where the ruffle is relatively straight on the front, so I could then extend the frill pieces at the top rather than the middle. It was successful in the end but it may not be the right want to do it. I’m 5ft4 ish and if I had to add 3″ I wonder how indecent the length is on a taller woman!

    almond rock watercolour  Papercut Patterns Adrift dress with Abakhan viscose
    The finished dress is pretty cute and I’m sure will get lots of wear this year when life starts to return to normal. One of my friends already commented that she wants to see the fabric in real life which is lovely. And I could imagine wearing it around the Mediterranean one day too. If you pick up anything from the collection, let me know! I’d love to see what you make. You should definitely check out Rosey Sews’ gorgeous skirt in the same fabric.

  • Dresses

    Not another New Look 6587

    I know, I know, I could possibly be stuck in a dress rut… but I don’t care. New Look 6587 is fast becoming one of those dresses that never turns out badly and I can always imagine another one!

    almond rock new look 6587 nl6587 fruit pineapples lemons vintage dressmaking sewing pattern

    As you know I haven’t really been sewing lately but I did want a birthday dress. And what could be better than ANOTHER LEMON DRESS?!? So for year 36 I made another version of my classic 90s pattern New Look 6587.

    almond rock new look 6587 nl6587 fruit pineapples lemons vintage dressmaking sewing pattern

    It’s the perfect dress because it isn’t tight but has enough shape and structure so I don’t feel like I’m wearing a sack. I can eat plenty without feeling uncomfortable and it fits me regardless of my fluctuating weight.

    almond rock new look 6587 nl6587 fruit pineapples lemons vintage dressmaking sewing pattern

    It was a rather fun birthday weekend with an Italian 60s themed murder mystery and illusion spaghetti and meatballs chocolate cake on Friday, and then on Saturday a picnic in my favourite park in Ilkley! I managed to wear the dress on the morning of my birthday but by the time the picnic came around it was a bit too cold so I had to change out of it. But I wore it for a brief moment so it counts as a birthday dress!

    almond rock fabric shopping paris husband

    This delightful fabric was picked up during my visit to Paris earlier this year. There are pineapples, lemons and strawberries on it as well as botanical leaves. It’s a half artistic and half cheesy but I LOVE IT! It’s a medium weight stretch cotton. Almost denim weight! But that makes it so well structured and perfect for this dress. Perhaps a little warm for the heatwave and a little cold for the weird snap in the weather! But who cares it’s cute and I wore it for a nice walk through the local fields to see how the foals were getting on.

    I used navy bias around the neckline as a facing and added more of the plastic buttons from the navy lemons dress… I  still have about 80 of them left. Those patch pockets are the greatest too. Perfect phone and key size for going on walks!

    almond rock new look 6587 nl6587 fruit pineapples lemons vintage dressmaking sewing pattern

  • Dresses

    China blue McCall’s 6959 wrap dress

    Like many of us, the Covid situation threw me through a loop for a long time. I was home all the time, working from the spare room, I didn’t get out of my pyjamas many days, and barely wore makeup. And crafting? That was non-existent. In a way I’d lost my sense of identity – I wasn’t wearing or making home sewn clothes. But things are slowly starting to get better. It started with house viewings! Yes I had to wear gloves and masks, not touch anything and keep away from the estate agent as a I moved around but I had a reason to get dressed and get out the house. Then I went to an arm knitting blanket workshop at Fabricate.

    I’d already seen on social media how dedicated Philippa was being about safety and going to the shop didn’t disappoint; she had socially distant workbenches, it was a zero contact tutorial, hand sanitiser a-plenty and much more. It was liberating to get a taste of what life used to be like but with a new safety-first slant. This week I’m going for a beach side break in a private cottage to celebrate my wedding anniversary and I’m taking one of my prettiest dresses to wear for dinner.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    This dress has it’s own story. At the beginning of the year I was contacted by Lindybop about doing a sponsored blog post. I received 3m of fabric and in exchange I was to write a guest blog post and do social media promotion when the dress was ready.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    This stunning china blue porcelain print fabric features delicate florals on a spandex cotton base which they called crepe de chine. You can read my earlier comments on how it isn’t really ‘crepe de chine’ on my magpie dress blog post. But before I could write the blog post, Lindybop went into administration. They kindly messaged me and said to keep the fabric and wished me well.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    It’s rather sad, but the dress turned out so nicely that I’d like to still share it, even though it’s bittersweet. I made the McCall’s 5969 from Love Sewing mag 65 last year, one of my favourite issues (now out of stock). By merging View D with its modest wrap bodice and long sleeves with View B’s full circle skirt and sash tie, this dress becomes delightfully vintage with the right fabric.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    I shared my toile of the bodice on Instagram earlier in the year – thought you’d appreciate the flash of tummy above. A brief reminder of my measurements: 36″ A bust, 33″ waist, 45″ hips. I chose a size 10 in the upper body/bust/armholes, 12 waist and 14 waist/hips. I then slimmed the sleeve width down a little and ultimately, shortened their length. I also moved the bust darts slightly and added 2″ to the skirt hem.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    I’m  not risking any mishaps with this wrap… There are multiple press stud fasteners used to close the dress at each side seam and the neckline. The sash belt is then purely decorative. The mix of facings and my own use of bias binding for the skirt and sleeve hems feels complementary.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    This feels luxurious to wear because of the fabric. Plus it feels well drafted, as that sleeve head is lovely and the bodice has just enough ease for everyday movement without looking saggy. PLUS the swish of the circle skirt is, of course, fabulous. But that means it is also fabric hungry, requiring me to use almost all of my 3m.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    Wrap dresses used to make me so upset when I tried them on as everyone said they were universally flattering no matter your shape. But when I tried them on in shops all I saw was this lumpy figure with overemphasised stomach and hips, and no bust. Then I tried the Eve wrap dress with some success. But a wrap dress with a circle skirt? This is glorious for my body shape aka the human butternut squash.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    Want to see more? How about Wendy’s version from the magazine. Or follow Rin’s gorgeous sewalong. At last but not least this STUNNING red Gucci Mindy Kaling inspired version by Serena.