Lena wrap dress Simple Sew

Winter… my nemesis! It really feels like we’re galloping through Autumn and Winter is here. To prepare I’ve made a few snuggly clothes to help keep the chill off. I am unbelievably cold all the time and often have my little desk heater on at work. I’m pretty wimpy I know.

Almond rock Lena wrap dress love sewing simple sew patterns sewbrum sewing Weekender Ponte Roma double knit surplice dress jersey sewing

Today I’m sharing the Lena wrap dress by Simple Sew patterns. It came free with Love Sewing 35 but is also available here. The surplice bodice is lined and fits into a waistband, then there’s a flared skirt with hem band. These are the 3/4 sleeves from the pack but the wrist length would maybe have been better for me.

The fabric I used for this dress is a lovely double knit of mysterious mix that I got from Charlotte, and that she got from Barry’s of Birmingham. She made a Coco dress by Tilly and The Buttons which is linked here. She donated it to a sewing swap table and I happily took it home! It was a pretty big piece so thank you Charlotte!!

Almond rock Lena wrap dress love sewing simple sew patterns sewbrum sewing Weekender Ponte Roma double knit surplice dress jersey sewing

This dress is extra cosy because I lined the bodice in self fabric which is a little bulky but warmth wins over bulk. And I made the hem band in self fabric and I don’t mind the seam at all even though it would be more effective in a contrast colour or print.

Almond rock Lena wrap dress love sewing simple sew patterns sewbrum sewing Weekender Ponte Roma double knit surplice dress jersey sewing

I made the size 10 but should have sized down. Not long before I started the dress I’d been burned by trying to make a size 8 version in low stretch fabric and then over-compensated here. You know how things grow with wear and shrink after a good hot wash in a never-ending circle. On the second wear, the sleeves end up pretty big and I sometimes wear a cami top in case the bodice falls open. Oh well.

Almond rock Lena wrap dress love sewing simple sew patterns sewbrum sewing Weekender Ponte Roma double knit surplice dress jersey sewing

I used a zigzag stitch and my overlocker for construction and I’m super pleased how it’s holding up inside. The skirt is fabulously twirly for a jersey dress and i feel very smart when I wear it. All in all, a big thumbs up. I should really make another! This one has wonderful memories of this girl band inspired photo shoot we tried at the studio last year. So moody I love it.

Almond rock Lena wrap dress love sewing simple sew patterns sewbrum sewing Weekender Ponte Roma double knit surplice dress jersey sewing

Here are three lovely versions to check out next: this floral beauty from Giorgia, Harriet looking pretty in pink and Gabby looking lush in velvet!

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Hot lips Annabelle dress

Do you have days when life is so ridiculous you just have to laugh? On mornings when we have photoshoots for Love Sewing I’m responsible for getting all the outfits ready, steaming them, checking for loose threads, prepping all the shoes and jewellery and so on. It’s pretty manic and Renata likes to tease me by capturing shots like this from last month.

In the afternoons we have the favourite part of my job, the reader photoshoots where I basically get to hang out with a fellow seamstress as they get pampered and help them have some fun in front of the camera. Every woman who has taken part in our shoots has left me feeling wowed by their talent, warmed by their big hearts and re-energized by their enjoyment of the day. Often there’s a small window to take pics of my makes before home time and this Thursday I took photos of this dress.

Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

It’s the Annabelle dress from Simple Sew patterns, a beautiful take on the tea dress that I have made once before here if you want to see my size choices and adjustments. For me it’s the perfect throw on dress when you want to look smart and comfy. This version perfectly works with red or blue accessories and can be dressed up or down depending on the day.

Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

I love this dress because of its easy fit, with flattering under bust gathers and swaying silhouette. Crepe de chine always feels very slimming and luxurious. What I didn’t expect was for someone to ask me when I was due while wearing it that very morning! “This is my pot belly lady… not a baby.”

Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

This is especially comical to me as I’ve recently lost 1.5 stone in weight. I’m not saying it’s such a noticeable amount that everyone on the street should be high-fiving me over, but I feel pretty darn slender at the moment. Clearly I need to work on my posture if I’m sticking my tummy out that much hahah.

Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

This dress makes me so happy because of those kissy lips! I picked up a 1.5m remnant of the kissy crepe de chine at Fabworks mill shop. I’ve also seen some in Holm Sewn’s online shop but there isn’t much left so hurry! I used a navy invisible zip at the side seam and navy thread rather than red.

Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

The dress requires a bit of stitching in the ditch around the facings and waist which I always mess up a little. I never write down the perfect setting for my needle position. It’s pretty invisible this time so I don’t sweat it. I’m really happy with the weight of interfacing I chose though. Not going too heavy on lightweight fabrics is quite tricky when you have limited options but well worth finding something lightweight but stable.

Almond rock simple sew annabelle dress fabworks

You might also remember this fabric from Rachel Pinheiro’s epic Holly jumpsuit. And I love this version of Annabelle on the 64 Dresses blog. If you’ve been put off trying a Simple Sew pattern in the past this is one I would heartily recommend. Now I’m off to play in my sewing room today. Have a lovely weekend!!

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Living in Liberty Simplicity 1419

Hello campers!

almond rock liberty tana lawn wiltshire simplicity 1419 lisette

Hope your week has been fab. I’ve had a fairly busy one with extra photoshoots at work being scheduled in for the summer, the cat deciding to bring me a live mouse home that managed to escape and live inside a random shoe for a night, and a dramatic near-win at the Odd Bar pub quiz (half a point off winning!) so I’m looking forward to a date with my sewing machine this weekend.

In sewing news I ordered the first bit of fabric for my wedding dress, plus samples for the coordinating fabrics and in a couple of weeks I head off on Alison Smith’s bridal couture 3-day workshop. It’s super exciting!!

Today I’m sharing a juicy dress today made with Liberty tana lawn.

almond rock liberty tana lawn wiltshire simplicity 1419 lisette

This is Simplicity 1419 by Lisette before they joined up with Butterick. And I know I got this pattern from someone as a gift but it was soooo long ago I really can’t remember exactly who! Was it you Roisin? Or perhaps a swap table? Damn my memory. If you gave me this pattern please know I’m so so happy with this dress (can you tell from my face here).

almond rock liberty tana lawn wiltshire simplicity 1419 lisette

This Liberty lawn print is Wiltshire but you can’t find this colourway anywhere so it may be either a ‘seconds’ print, copy or super rare. Emma is the only other person I know who’s also used it. I bought mine from Ribbon Circus in Hebden Bridge as a leaving present to myself when I moved jobs to Love Sewing.

almond rock liberty tana lawn wiltshire simplicity 1419 lisette

 

I hacked the heck out of the neckline if you couldn’t tell. I made the collar as instructed then ripped it off, lowered the neckline, made red bias binding and a little bow and put everything back together. It did look lovely before I changed it but the collar was a touch too high to swallow comfortably and ended up a little too stiff for my liking. The bow is much sweeter although it has a tendancy to get skewed in the wash – and in these photos it seems too hahah.

almond rock liberty tana lawn wiltshire simplicity 1419 lisette

The sleeves fit beautifully and I think the skirt is the perfect length (I tried the pleats but they made me a bit hippy so switched to gathers all around. You surely won’t ask me why I added pockets because that’s just silly. My invisible zip is invible too hurrah!

almond rock liberty tana lawn wiltshire simplicity 1419 lisette

With such a good fit I think I’ll try making this dress again without the keyhole as it’s so hard to find well fitting sleeves! That way I can line the whole thing too and make it more tights friendly (very important to me for an all year round dress).

almond rock liberty tana lawn wiltshire simplicity 1419 lisette

 

Also I should let you know that this is my last post with big curls for a while. After a bit of heartache I realised my hair is not compatible with a perm. I need to be able to dye my roots every 4-6 weeks and it seems the hair dye freaked my perm out into a frizzy unhappy mess. Even after some hairdresser recommended moisturising treatments the curls aren’t coming back like they were. Given that it was a free perm in exchange for being a hair model I’m not out of pocket, just disappointed. I can still curl my hair and get an excellent hold but I can’t just wash it and let it dry curly any longer. It was a fabulous few weeks though and I am still a firm lover of curly hairdos.

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Honey Bunny McCall’s 7381

Hi everyone! I’m back with a new dress and some more pics that I had snapped at the work studio.

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

I have been eager to make this dress for a while, even before we knew it would be a free gift for the magazine.

The epic thing that has me dancing around the office is that we’ve arranged an exclusive set up with McCall’s that the mag pattern gifts have both size ranges stuffed into one envelope. THAT’S UNHEARD OF. For one thing you can’t go out and buy a McCall’s pattern for £5.99 so it was already a sweet bargain and now you get two sets of tissue for that price. SQUEEEEAL. So yep, you should start looking out for upcoming issues with this same size range and no longer will I be writing to disappointed subscribers who don’t like the split sizing. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

So back to the dress… This is McCall’s 7381 and features mix and match options like different sleeves and hem lengths. You can achieve an easy fit with the elasticated back and you can throw the dress on straight over your head pretty much and then it fastens with hidden hooks and eyes or press studs under the wrap.

You can get hold of it with issue 37 of Love Sewing mag in any supermarket, WH Smiths or via www.moremags.com. Or if you aren’t into sewing mags, hunt down the pattern on it’s own through www.sewdirect.com or your local shop – I totally recommend it!

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

Because I wanted to make a ‘wearable muslin’ I decided to try some fun rabbit print viscose fabric from my stash. True viscose is very prone to shrinking so I made sure to wash my fabric first and found some black elastic and black liquid satin to line the bodice.

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

There aren’t too many complicated steps in this dress. The ties require you to sew around 90˚ corners by dropping your needle and lifting your presser foot to pivot so it’s important to mark your pivot point carefully and reinforce the corners with stay-stitching. I found it a little fiddly to get a neat point at the end of the ties with a point turner so resorted to a chopstick and finally a pin to gently ease out the end.

You might be interested in my sleeve-setting mantra too – “pin the seam not the sleeve”. Big-brand patterns are always accused of putting too much ease in sleeve caps. But accurate pinning can reveal this to be less ease than you think. Pin at the seam stitching line and don’t fight to align the raw edge curves. Curling the sleeve head over your hand can help so the sleeve mimics how it will sit with a real arm in there. Then just use the half and half again process; pin the notches, pin halfway between them, then pin halfway between those pins and repeat until your sleeve is ready to sew.

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

The style is supposed to have a bit more design ease than you see in my version but as I was between the sizes I opted to sew the smaller size S (aka 8-10 because it’s banded sizing). I’m very small in the shoulders, have a 37” bust but I’m wide across my back. Size S has a finished bust measurement of 38” and I think 1” of ease is enough for me. The ties add interest to distract from my small bust and the cap sleeves give me a nice amount of coverage. Not that you can see the ties in these pics hehehe. Something for the people who meet me in person to have a look at!

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

As a pear-shaped gal I really liked where the waistline sits, almost empire line, so the skirt fabric falls nicely over my lower half. Even with a 43” full hip measurement I have plenty of room in the flared skirt. I think the fastenings at the front could possibly be sewn shut as well… though I’m scared to rip my dress open so maybe I’ll stick with my hook and eye.

I should confess I like to pretend I’m taller than I am but in reality I’m 5’4” and, as I prefer not to show a lot of leg, I added an inch to the skirt length to ensure it fell at my knees.

Now I just need to pick what fabric to use for my second version! I have some lovely Atelier Brunette poplin and a luxurious piece of silk that would both work. I promise to share a picture when I’m done. Make sure to tag me any pictures you make of this pattern and I’d love to hear your thoughts on our new size offering. Maybe all the big four brands move to this?

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

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Sewing Room Swoon

Recently I shared my sewing room in the magazine and thought it should definitely appear on the blog too! I hope you like this peek into my sewing space. I know how lucky I am to have a dedicated space to sew, and although it feels like an indulgence at times, it has made me so happy in the short year I’ve had it.

Forgive the low light in the pics, these were shot in Jan!

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This room is on the middle floor of my townhouse in Leeds. It’s a great size room and is definitely nice and warm, but it doesn’t get the best light and the view isn’t the prettiest. I’ve done my best to make it look lovely inside instead.

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The main feature of the room is the cutting table, made by my partner. He used four Kallax units from Ikea, added a large MDF top and used ikea metal feet to raise the table to the perfect height. Underneath I use large baskets to store all my fabric, zips, and interfacing, as well as mugs of chalk pencils, tracing paper and bias binding. The whole thing is over 1m wide and 1.5m long, meaning I can cut delicate fabric single layer without them trying to escape. The only problem is that my cat Chewie thinks it’s the perfect sleeping spot so I have to shoo her away when it’s time to cut out projects. Then she just moves to another spot for a nap!

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I’m fortunate to have several machines. The Janome SMD4000 is my main machine, then there’s the machine I learnt on – a Toyota Jeans Machine. I also have a Singer 14sh754 overlocker and two vintage Singer machines (a 1939 hand crank and a 1970s machine set into a table. My dad is a great antique hunter!). Having all my machines in a row means bouncing between each is easy and I usually keep the Janome and Toyota threaded in different colours in case I need to work on multiple projects at once.

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My gorgeous pink mid-century inspired chair has a pretty scalloped back (Very.co.uk) and I’ll sit here when it comes to hand sewing and unpicking. The vintage glass cabinet was a gift from my partner’s grandmother and it makes perfect storage for yarn, ribbon, button tins and boxes of sewing patterns. (Orla Kiely tins, Selvedge yarn)

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Decorating is still a work in progress but the majority of my wall space is used for spool racks. I chose polka dot wallpaper from Prestige Textiles (in Graphite – my first ever wallpapering attempt! Under the careful eye of my mum) as an eye-catching feature when you first enter. My most-used scissors hang from a pretty coat hook from BHS for easy access and fun quotes and pictures keep me smiling while I work. (Vintage decorative dressmaking stand, Korbond pear pin cushion, Sasse and Bell spool holder). A vintage sewing-themed calendar from SewDirect.co.uk adds retro inspiration and an illustrated portrait I was given for my birthday shows me wearing my favourite handmade dress (artist @andsmile). My plan is to frame some of my vintage patterns and add a bit more shelving space and then the room should be complete!

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After years of working on my dining table and cutting out on the floor, it’s so nice to have a separate sewing space. I do miss Mr AR though, so we regularly run up and downstairs to see each other and take it in turns to brew up!

I hope you enjoyed having a peek in my sewing room. Hopefully the next time I share it the walls won’t be as beige or sparse heehee!

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