• Dresses

    Pink and Red McCall’s 7969

    Well well, I feel like the last person on the planet to jump onto the love train for M7969 but now it’s all aboard and full steam ahead! TOOT TOOT! Months after it was released, this pattern couldn’t escape my attention any longer. It has a lovely surplice neckline and swishy skirt. And although I don’t wear oversized sleeves like the pattern views, I had seen the lovely Kathy of Sew Dainty make a puff sleeve variation that I could pull off.

    almond rock in a pink and red print version of m7969 buffet dress surplice bodice with gathered skirt and puff sleeves

    Looking at the finished bust measurements on the tissue I decided on size M. That’s a 39.5″ at the finished bust so roomy without being too baggy. I did my favourite tape measure trick to check where you make a loop the same size as the finished measurement and dance around in it to see how the finished dress would feel. Then I made a toile because I wanted to see how much gathering was included at the sleeve head and whether I’d need to add more coverage to the centre front V neckline. I didn’t bother adding the skirt to the toile as I knew how that would fit. I also like to use a longer stitch length on my toiles to speed up the sewing and incase I need to rip out any seams quickly.

    m7969

    Everything was good to move ahead so I chose one of my most prized fabrics. Not because it was too expensive but because I love the mix of pink and red, and it sold out so quickly I have no chance of getting more. It’s a stretch polyester crepe, and has good body plus drape and is totally opaque – everything I look for in a fabric! It’s such a beginner friendly pattern without any fastening and forgiving on fit. They just need to master the art of gathering, because there’s lots to try. Plus the binding at the neckline is a nice technique for beginners. As I’m not a beginner I flew through this in an evening. I was home alone, had a delicious dinner and sewed all evening while watching tv in the background… heaven.

    almond rock in a pink and red print version of m7969 buffet dress surplice bodice with gathered skirt and puff sleeves

    Chain sewing the pieces made it even quicker. This is where you batch prepare your pieces and you pin every seam or dart etc that can be pinned at that stage. For this dress that meant side seams, sleeve seams and skirt side seams. Then I overlocked everything and pressed open before moving onto the next set of seams. If a seam relies on a previous seam being sewn you obviously can’t include it in the same batch but it does speed things up AND save thread because you sew each prepared piece, backstitching at the start and end as normal BUT you don’t lift the foot and clip the threads. You just move your piece out from under the foot and move a new piece in place. The thread tails between each piece are much shorter saving thread. Plus by not stopping to clip threads until the end you save time.

    almond rock in a pink and red print version of m7969 buffet dress surplice bodice with gathered skirt and puff sleeves

    For the puffed sleeves I cut piece 5 at the shorten/lengthen line and hemmed with a 1.5cm hem. Then I sewed a line of stitching with elastic in my bobbin 2cm up from the hem edge. This gathered the sleeve into a pleasing puff shape. You wind the elastic on the bobbin by hand so you can maintain a gentle tension, but still keeping the thread close to the bobbin core. I could have added two rows of stitching but one felt enough. My top tip for bobbin elastic is to hover your iron over the stitching line and press to release steam. This gathers the elastic up a little tighter, perfect if you’re doing rows of shirring.

    This dress makes me so happy. I can’t wait to wear it out and about soon. I think it’ll go really nicely with tights in Autumn and winter, and the colour will keep me smiling all year round! I made a video of tips for this dress you can see on the Simplicity McCall’s UK Instagram as well as a video round up of some amazing versions from the sewing community! There are a whopping 3k shared using the hashtag at time of writing. Now I know why…

    almond rock in a pink and red print version of m7969 buffet dress surplice bodice with gathered skirt and puff sleeves

  • Dresses

    Seersucker hack dress

    I know it’s very very rainy in England right now but cast your mind back… This dress, Simplicity 9327 caught my eye from the new collection on a very hot day. And it instantly made me think of cool breezy nights on a Mediterranean holiday break. Small problem for me, the UK release was slightly delayed by Covid… Good news for you it’s available to buy now!

    S9327 simplicity dress pattern

    So I set about making my own interpretation. I chose a beautiful coral and white striped seersucker from SewSewSew. One of my favourite dresses came from their fabric and Katie gets unique beautiful fabrics that you don’t see elsewhere.

    Sewsewsew UK coral stripe seersucker

    I started with New Look 6587, one of my all time favourites that is now out of print. BUT the near identical Butterick 6674 dress has been released!!

    Almond rock S9327 NL6587 dress sewing pattern coral seersucker

    I cut rectangles for the skirt front and back on the fold and gathered them up. But I kept the button placket on the bodice. It’s a loose fit design already but I let out the seams a little so the dress would definitely fit over my head unbuttoned.

    Almond rock S9327 NL6587 dress sewing pattern coral seersucker

    Then I cut out my frills and managed to snip into one. That would have been fine if I had more fabric to play with but I ended up having to use the fabric saved for my skirt hem ruffle to cut 2 new frills on the crossgrain. The frill was taken from the Cocowawa Raspberry jumpsuit. It’s gathered to match the armhole and secured with a bias binding tape facing.

    Almond rock S9327 NL6587 dress sewing pattern coral seersucker

    I normally avoid tiny stripes as they cause moirĂ© when photographed at a distance. This is a visual effect where the pattern is so fine it becomes distorted to the eye in the final image, almost like its hazy or swirling. I managed to get some shots that weren’t too bad thank goodness.

    Almond rock S9327 NL6587 dress sewing pattern coral seersucker

    The dress is unlined and overlocked at the seams. The neckline and armholes are finished with bias binding and the sweet pearlised buttons are from my stash.

    Almond rock S9327 NL6587 dress sewing pattern coral seersucker

     

    Seersucker is great for summer. I think of it as linens superior sister because it’s just as cool in hot weather, it also has an interesting texture AND better than linen you don’t look like a wrinkled mess after wearing it all day.

    I took these photos up near Cow and Calf in Ilkley, famous for a rock formation of a big rock (the cow) with a smaller rock nearby (her calf) but also famous for the Tour de Yorkshire race that tackled this steep and winding road. FYI this is a trip advisor photo. My photography skills aren’t this good.

     

  • Dresses

    McCall’s 8090 Marina dress

    It’s finally the #sewrecreatethelook challenge reveal day! The goal is to recreate a look that you admire from RTW, the catwalk, Pinterest, a magazine, etc and share your progress. I’ve technically had my dress finished a couple of weeks but managed to hold off on revealing it. I’ve just been enjoying wearing it in the hot hot heat! Let’s start with a reminder of my inspiration…

     

    gal meets glam chassity dress

    This is the Gal Meets Glam Chassity dress. An American influencer I follow started her own line of clothing and ultimately it got too big for her to sustain, had some production issues and she closed the brand. There were some stunning dresses in her line so planning other recreations in the future.

    gal meets glam chassity dress

    I decided not to use shirting and find a viscose that was similar. This ebay find was close enough. It could have been more blue but the weight and drape were gorgeous. And I quickly settled on adapting McCall’s 8090 Marina as my dress base which came with Love Sewing 95.

    McCall's 8090 Marina dress pattern Love Sewing 95

    First up was adjusting the bodice and skirt panel lengths. Marina is drop waist so I took 9cm off the bodice and added it to the top skirt panels. Next I removed the square yoke by folding out the gathering at the centre front and taping the yoke piece directly on top of the bodice piece. Here’s what that looked like.

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook

    Switching to raglan sleeves was one thing but these were gathered ruffled raglan sleeves. First I experimented with a sleeveless bodice with a rectangular ruffle sewn on top to give the illusion of a sleeve. I also tried shirring the gathered rows. Ultimately it wasn’t right. The rectangle created a stiff ruffle and the shirring was too unforgiving on top. But I was getting excited…

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook toile

    Second attempt I did things properly. I drafted a proper raglan sleeve for the bodice that would be sewn into the neckband, and then slashed and spread that piece to create excess for gathering. I pinned it into place again on top of my existing toile to save cutting it up / sewing a new one. It was much better but now not long enough for my liking. See below.

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook toile

    Third time was the charm. I added length to my slashed and spread tissue piece then traced onto fresh paper. Then I decided I wanted more gathering so slashed and spread again. Here’s the sleeve before I finally cut it out sat alongside the version 2 tissue.

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook toile

    Then I could commit to the new bodice armholes. You can see below how I marked the seamline and the cutting line on the bodice and then traced a fresh version. I’m also showing you the back for reference. Raglan sleeves are super fun to sew, if you’ve never made them before. FYI I also added notches for the raglan seam points on my neckband so I knew how much to gather the sleeve in to fit!

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook pattern hack

    Construction went pretty fast once I’d assembled the band and collar. All the side seams were French seamed but the gathered skirt band seams were just overlocked to avoid bulk. I did a baby hem on my sleeve pieces before attaching them.

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook pattern hack

    I’m super pleased with the dress. The finished neckline is lovely and feels really polished. For that all important sleeve finish, I kept my gathering stitches in place and stitched on top of them for the appearance of thicker topstitching thread. And I love the varying directions of stripes at play!

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook pattern hack

    Inside I used self fabric bias to finish the armholes, like a facing and a binding at the same time and topstitched it in place from the right side. I slipstitched the bands in place for a clean look. I do like the topstitched neckline of my toile version so might do that on a future version.

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook pattern hack

    The finished dress is breezy and stylish. I have to wear a slip underneath but I’m definitely pro-slips and already had the perfect white one. I love that you can’t tell the lower band is cut in three pieces. The seams are hidden in the stripes and this let’s you get a great gather with the extra width.

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook pattern hack

    Improvements for my next version will be curving the cropped waist seam up as it goes towards the hips as the straight line causes the seam to droop a touch at the sides. And to raise the underarm point as its a touch low, revealing my bra on occasion. But I already have fabric for a new version!! Thanks for reading this long if you stayed to the end.

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook pattern hack

  • Dresses

    Dashwood Kwik Sew 4111 & McCall’s 8090 hack

    Do you hoard fabric for years because you get scared to cut it? Or talk yourself out of using it because your idea won’t do it justice? Well then, how about impulsively cutting it after years because you’re mad how long it’s been in your stash and mad at yourself for past indecision?

    Almond rock Dashwood studio rayon Susan driscoll kwik sew 4111 mccalls 8090 dress pattern hack

    This brings me to today’s dress. In hot weather I want to waft around in viscose dresses. Preferably loose fit with wide armholes. After finishing a version of McCall’s 8090 (to be shared very soon) I decided the skirt was perfection. And I could add a different bodice to create an equally lovely dress.

    Almond rock Dashwood studio rayon Susan driscoll kwik sew 4111 mccalls 8090 dress pattern hack

    I rooted about my stash and found Kwik Sew 4111. I liked that it was a blousey bodice that they had gathered in to the waist. I decided to use it without the gathers.

    I also shortened the bodice by 7cm, drew a v neckline and swapped the zip for a keyhole back. I’m sharing my altered pattern pieces for reference. The tie belt is a simple pair of long rectangles sewn all around with a turning gap. I added belt loops at the side seams to stop it wiggling around!

    Almond rock Dashwood studio rayon Susan driscoll kwik sew 4111 mccalls 8090 dress pattern hack

    The keyhole is mostly for show because I can get the dress on over my head in one swift motion. Let’s dive onto the construction so you can make your own keyhole back dress.

    Almond rock Dashwood studio rayon Susan driscoll kwik sew 4111 mccalls 8090 dress pattern hack

    Sew the shoulder seams of your bodice, then the shoulder seams of your all in one facings. Place everything right sides together and sew around the necklines and armholes. Clip, notch and trim the seam allowance.

    Turn everything out to the rs through the shoulders. That’s the fun bit right?

    NB: Start here if you only have a neckline facing! Fold over the centre back facing over again so it’s RST with your fabric. A thin piece of binding acts as a rouleau loop and is sandwiched between the layers facing inwards. Sew the seam down the centre back stopping at the end of the facing.

    Clip the corners to reduce bulk. You then finish by making the centre back seam and stop sewing about 20cm from the top. Then continue as normal with your pattern instructions.

    Simple right?

    Almond rock Dashwood studio rayon Susan driscoll kwik sew 4111 mccalls 8090 dress pattern hack

  • Dresses

    Stupid cupid Mayberry dress

    Hello everyone. I’m currently sat intermittently knitting in front of the telly and thinking about sewing plans.

    Almondrock knitting duck egg deramores stylecraft special xl chunky
    I’ve been playing around with some beautiful pleated fabric and dabbling with ladder trim insertion. Two projects with no deadline and a real desire to make considered choices before getting started. This means pinterest boards, testing machine settings and doodling designs.
    Almondrock sewing couture ladder trim insertion
    In other news I shared a new video for my Sew North Soiree gown plans. I’m making a minty organza dress using a gorgeous sketchy floral with mint satin underneath. Check out the video here for more.
    Almondrock sewing vlogger YouTube fabric gaul video sew north soiree
    This leads me nicely onto today’s topic! Often a fabric would be amazing as a fancy party frock and sometimes it’s fun to make a great everyday dress instead. I picked up this cupid/cherub print twill fabric from Ditto fabrics after squealing at the sight of it. I was very torn between this and the mustard colourway and while I think made the wrong decision, it is still a stunning fabric.
    Almondrock sewing dressmaking cupid cotton twill viscose fabric
    Its a medium weight cotton twill which means it has that visible weave pattern and a lovely floaty drape. It shoots a touch redder than it is in real life. Twill is very prone to fraying and snagging plus standard slippery fabric rules apply. I used fine sharp pins and a size 70 needle.
    Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry dress almondrock
    I decided to choose a pattern I’d get a lot of wear from… enter the Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry dress with my previous hacks to remove the buttons. See that version here. It’s the perfect dress if your weight fluctuates as the drawstring means you can cinch the perfect amount. I love that feature!!
    Almondrock Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry dress Ditto fabrics twill
    At the minute my measurements are 36A:32:45 but know my first version still fits so I cut the straight size 12 and lengthened the skirt by 2″. It shrunk a tiny bit in the wash which makes it fit even better actually. My first version was polyester but the twill is slightly stretchy so a tiny bit of shrinkage counteracted this perfectly.
    Almondrock Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry dress Ditto fabrics twill
    The drawstring is made in self fabric with the seam allowance rolled inside to make it very round almost like roulueau but not cut on the bias. If I’d had any I would have added cord inside. And instead of using eyelets like last time, I sewed buttonholes for the openings.
    Almondrock Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry dress Ditto fabrics twill
    Proving it can still be dressed up I’ve worn the dress to a) my work leaving do, b) my dad’s 65th birthday dinner and c) the New Craft House Galentines party. The latter was extra special as my #sewingwife Marie of A Stitching Odyssey and I had a lovely weekend in London together seeing the Mary Quant exhibition, having dinner with our friend Allie and then winning the #sewingwife bingo at the party!
    Almondrock Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry dress Ditto fabrics twill new craft house Galentines party
    Dressing in the same fabric pushed us over the edge into winning I think. Marie’s dress is the Solina by Named with extra long waist ties. She hasn’t blogged it yet but watch this space. The prize was fabric vouchers for the NCH shop and we both ended up buying the same fabric!
    Almondrock Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry dress Ditto fabrics twill
    I don’t think I’m done with this pattern yet as it’s a great showcase for prints as well as being endlessly comfy to wear. I have some solid chartreuse/mustard twill that could be good and a couple of viscose florals that would work well. Maybe just one or two more versions then…