• 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.

  • Dresses

    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

  • Trousers and skirts

    Ahoy there Sophia skirt

    Almond rock simple sew Sophia skirt and top cath kidston nautical

    March is finally over and I’ve survived, pretty much in tact! I’ve barely been at home with a day at a Birmingham trade show, two days at a Birmingham consumer show, a week at Woburn Centre Parcs with Jimi’s very poorly family, the Dressmaker’s ball in Leicester (more on that later) and then two days at a trade show in Cologne!

    Almond rock simple sew Sophia skirt and top cath kidston nautical dressmaker's ball

    Plus there was a three week turnaround on a bumper issue and Sewing Bee needing lots of my time. I made it through and took a celebratory day off to relax, see friends and sew… so obviously I then got sick.

    Almond rock simple sew Sophia skirt and top cath kidston nautical

    But now its April and all is well with the world (not politically of course). The weather is perking up and I’ve had time to write a blog post.

    This is the Sophia skirt from Simple Sew patterns hacked to just below knee length. I really love this pattern because the two front pleats are placed in a really flattering place to keep the centre front flat but they still add fullness to the skirt.

    Almond rock simple sew Sophia skirt and top cath kidston nautical

    Normally ankle length, you can easily crop the length to whatever you fancy. Just shorten the hem staying true to the grain line. Easy peasy. I also used a very stiff cotton duck (like a canvas basically) from Cath Kidston after working with it on the magazine. This is often how my money disappears, buying things I’ve seen in the office. Every time I wear it Jimi and I race to be first to say “boats boats boats” which is a quote from HIMYM. (If you know, you know.)

    Almond rock simple sew Sophia skirt and top cath kidston nautical love sewing magazine

    While it is a simple skirt, it does give the chance to play with extra details. I wanted to see if I could make a neat lapped zipper in such a thick fabric so swapped out the suggested concealed zipper. It went well thankfully. I didn’t have enough to exactly pattern match on the back but it’s really close so I’m happy. I didn’t have enough fabric for pockets either… less happy about that.

    Almond rock simple sew Sophia skirt and top cath kidston nautical

    I’ve previously made this skirt in crepe for a lovely swishy version. It’s so versatile! I’d recommend picking a size based on your waist and then grade the hips as needed. The skirt pattern doesn’t include lining but it’s easy to cut the skirt pieces from lining fabric, assemble and place WST with your skirt before attaching the waistband. Just remember to leave an opening around the zipper so the lining hangs free.

    Almond rock simple sew Sophia skirt and top cath kidston nautical

    I’m wearing my skirt with a ponte cropped version of M6886, my go to Jersey top pattern for skirts. This red version is the perfect shade and fabric weight so I regularly break it out for skirts. The pattern does come with a simple top to wear with the skirt. It’s very quick and doesn’t take much fabric! I made one here. Word of warning though it doesn’t have any darts so fuller chested ladies might want to add some for a better fit.

    Almond rock simple sew Sophia skirt and top cath kidston nautical So pleased I was able to lie in bed full of germs and get this post done! One upside to feeling gross I guess?? Silver linings. Now I think I’m going to listen to podcasts and cuddle the cat. Until next time everyone!

  • Events and day trips

    Thoughts on neglected clothes

    Hello June! And hello everyone else. We’re well into a new month and well past the end of Me Made May. If you participated I hope you enjoyed the challenge. Maybe you’re keeping the fun going with #memadeveryday a great way of documenting your outfits more regularly.

    Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

    If you weren’t aware, I started my blog with Me Made May way back when. I had only a handful of handmade garments but I wanted the kick to wear them out in public and share my thoughts online. This was several years ago so it’s always like a kind of anniversary for me when I take part now. I wear my handmade wardrobe everyday now so I have to get a bit more creative with the challenge aspect of the month.

    This year I pledged to wear unloved or neglected makes to see whether they could be resurrected. You can see the highlights of this experiments at the top of my Instagram wall.

    Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

    The main reasons for neglect were:

    • I hate ironing
    • Too short/too big/too tight
    • Needs nude lingerie
    • Inexperience on early makes
    • Style mistakes

    This list contains both easily avoidable issues and things that you need to accept as part of life!

    Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

    I really don’t need to pick fabrics that rely on ironing. That’s my own stupid mistake. I know my lifestyle and patience levels aren’t compatible with ironing. I’ve got better things to do and I don’t get any enjoyment out of it! And nude lingerie is easily available so that has been pure laziness on my part. It’s been brilliant to rediscover some of those light-coloured garments.

    Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

    Working out your style is a lifelong exploit. Anyone who doesn’t experiment can’t be having much fun with their wardrobe. You’ll create a few mistakes but you’ll get a clearer idea of what you like!

    Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

    While it was fun to try on some of those experimental garments again, I’m still not convinced they have a place in my wardrobe. Other than the maxi skirt… I really need to try that out a bit more!

    Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

    Chasing a great fit can be an endless obsession with fluctuating success. Our bodies are constantly changing with age, activity and diet.

    Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

    And interpreting wrinkles and drag lines on garments can be a black hole of fit iterations that you have to start again when you revisit the pattern after your body has changed or even just if you’re changing fabric!

    Almond rock me made May neglected clothes

    Lastly, I’m both fiercely proud and terribly embarrassed by my early makes. So I don’t think I’ll be ever able to get rid of them but they can stay out of heavy rotation.

    I know I’m a little late with this round up but I hope you enjoyed stepping into the world of my neglected clothes. Sometimes I worry that it looks like everything goes dreamily for me but that’s not real life! Failure and mistakes are part of learning and succeeding.

  • Jackets and coats

    Finished peacoat!

    Hurrah! I’m happy to share my finished peacoat.

    almond rock vogue 7666 peacoat sewalong

    This is Vogue 7666, a vintage 70s jacket, trouser and skirt pattern that I got in a random bundle of patterns for £1.50 at a car boot sale.

    almond rock vogue 7666 peacoat sewalong

    I wanted to join in the McCall’s peacoat sewalong that Rachel and the team at McCall’s were hosting on their blogs, but I wanted to sew this pattern so hopefully it still counts as taking part.

    almond rock vogue 7666 peacoat sewalong

    The coat was sewn over several weeks. As always, I made a toile because I didn’t trust the pattern to fit out the packet. I used an old curtain and turns out I needed to adjust the princess seams, armholes and sleeve length. I am pretty happy with the adjustments but might have taken too much out of the hips and could have made the princess seams a little snugger.

    almond rock vogue 7666 peacoat sewalong

    almond rock vogue 7666 peacoat sewalong

    The outer jacket is made from a burgundy wool with tiny flecks of black and gold that are hard to see in the photos. It was £6 per metre from B&M Fabrics at Leeds market. The lining is black silk from a car boot sale too funnily enough. A woman was selling off her mother’s fabric stash and sold my mum a 2m piece for £1.50 which she gifted to me. A burn test proved it was actually silk. Lastly I have faceted burgundy buttons from Totally Buttons which were pretty expensive but really make the jacket for me so I don’t care.

    almond rock vogue 7666 peacoat sewalong

    The jacket has some cool instructions for tailoring which made me happy. Each piece is underlining and the fronts, upper back and collar are reinforced with hair canvas. I pad stitched all the canvas and installed twill tape along the fold lines of the collar.

    almond rock vogue 7666 peacoat sewalong

    almond rock vogue 7666 peacoat sewalong

    The kicker is that while you can add bound buttonholes to the jacket you can only do it down one side. I would have much rather put bound buttonholes down both to make it truly double breasted but the facing doesn’t stretch far enough over. The lined vent is a nice touch and my home made shoulder padding worked a treat.

    almond rock vogue 7666 peacoat sewalong

     What’s left to say! The jacket feels lovely and warm and I finished it just in time for the snow that’s threatening to land.

    I do wish the weather was better for photos. Makes me a bit sad to make a jacket I’m so proud of but can’t get good pics of it because of the lame weather.

    One thing I want to flag up if you didn’t know, is that this is the same pattern as Lauren’s ace plaid version which you can see here.

    And here’s a bonus cat photo of Chewie blocking my view of the instructions.

    almond rock vogue 7666 peacoat sewalong