The maxium cake dress

Please don’t think of me as terrible birthday brat but I wanted to share details of day 3 from my long weekend of celebrations. I still have one more day to go before I head back to reality and another press day on Tuesday.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

My family weren’t free to catch up until the Saturday after my birthday so we made plans to have afternoon tea at Weetwood Hall near Adel. This 17th century manor house is popular for weddings and parties and there was a wedding going on as we arrived! We sat in the indoor terrace. All the beauty of a garden area but safe from the elements!

We dined on gorgeous sandwiches (I had the veggie selection of aubergine and hummus, avocado and salsa, and cream cheese and cucumber plus a huge onion bhaji). Then there was a dessert tray of scones, treacle tart, brownies, lemon posset, candyfloss and choc ganache lollipops!! Fizz, wine and Earl Grey tea finished the table off nicely and we chatted away the afternoon.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

Sometimes you need a baggy dress. When you have this much food to eat its practically mandatory!! I haven’t been fitting into my clothes very well lately so a baggy dress fits well into my life right now. I’ve been inspired by DIY Daisy’s floaty dresses which are quite straight up and down while still feeling figure flattering.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

I drafted a basic bodice with grown on sleeves and removed the darts from the front and back. Then I adjusted the front to a wrap extending into the waistline (rather than the side seam) using a v neckline as a guide. It sits high on the shoulder then drops in a steep v, crossing just under the bust. The skirt is just a gathered rectangle.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

The excess fabric was used to make bias tape to finish the armholes and neckline. It was an awkward assembly in that I had to bind the front up to the shoulder and leave the ends unsewn first. That meant I could construct the bodice and join to the waist then install the zip. Then finally I could bind the top of the zipper and remaining bit of neckline. Of course I used my blind hem foot to edgestitch the binding. I got impatient before adding a hook and eye at the top… a job for later.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

I decided to topstitch the wrap in place as I can’t be arsed worrying about flashing people. I don’t have a lot of boob to flash but no need to take the risk. The waistline is slightly raised to help the body feel and the rayon means the dress is delightful floaty!! My favourite part of the dress is this stunning print.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

Susan Driscoll designs the most gorgeous prints and I was overjoyed when she released her rayon collection ‘Soiree‘ with Dashwood Studio. I actually bought three of the designs! This print is called Fragment and it reminds me of geology and gemstones. It’s all my favourite colours in one design. It looks a little navy in my pics but is on a black base. I got this dress out of 1.5m of 45″-wide fabric by the skin of my teeth!

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

Do you think you can identify rayon? It’s known in the UK as viscose and is a natural fabric made of plant pulp. BUT sometimes shops just call drapey polyester ‘viscose’ which blurs the lines and sometimes it’s mixed with polyester… the same way any other fabric base can be mixed with polyester of course.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

You can get rayon challis, rayon linen, and rayon jersey plus much more. 100% rayon challis is prone to shrinking, goes hard and rumpled when washed then goes back to being silky and smooth when dry. It doesn’t melt under heat or make static when you wear it. Its breathable and luxurious to wear and it’s my favourite fabric type! You need a sharp needle and sharp pins as its prone to snagging and you need a large space to work on so the fabric doesn’t slide as you work or cut out.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

I hope you enjoyed this post and the details of my self drafted dress. I’m building up courage to cut into the Secret Garden print above and figure out what style to sew. If you are keen to try pattern drafting I recommend the Aldrich book series. I also attended a great evening course at Leeds Art School which taught me other methods of drafting if you don’t get on with Winnie Aldrich.

Finally thanks do much to everyone who commented on my tile dress on the blog and on Instagram. I definitely appreciate it!! Cheers to you all!

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Pretty little pattern hack Butterick 6318 and Butterick 6453

Sometimes an idea for a dress sticks with you.

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I have a wonderful and annoying job where I constantly search for fabric for the magazine. Mostly the thrill of featuring the prettiest fabric in the magazine is enough but a lot of the time I become obsessed with getting some for myself. Like the cover garment for issue 43…

almond rock gertie b6418 b6453 butterick retro sewing patterns art gallery fabrics floral universe

This Art Gallery Fabric rayon is absolute gorgeous and was designed by Maureen Cracknell. I’ve bought a couple of her other prints and I’m a big fan in general. The design is called Floral Universe in turquoise from the collection Soulful. You can still buy it here.

almond rock gertie b6418 b6453 butterick retro sewing patterns art gallery fabrics floral universe

While I loved the wrap ties with the gathered skirt of B6318 I had a feeling the kimono sleeves and high neckline on the bodice would drown me. Then I remembered this dress I’d saved on Instagram! The perfect compromise. So in steps B6453!

almond rock gertie b6418 b6453 butterick retro sewing patterns art gallery fabrics floral universe

There’s not much to say about the B6453 dress as I’ve made it before. I added the wraps into the side seams during construction like the B6318 instructions direct. The fabric is pretty opaque but I underlined the bodice for stability and lined the bodice for a clean finish. The skirt is unlined and I overlocked the insides. I use a metal loop turn to turn through straps which I know some people hate but it always works for me.

almond rock gertie b6418 b6453 butterick retro sewing patterns art gallery fabrics floral universe

So in hindsight the waist ties could have been a smidge longer as this back shot below shows. Meh, you live and learn I say. It’s hard to see but there’s a lapped zipper as it’s my favourite and it is what the pattern recommends. Plus I used rings and sliders on my straps, again following the pattern which let’s you get a custom length. The sew-along and Facebook support group for this pattern is wonderful if you are nervous.

almond rock gertie b6418 b6453 butterick retro sewing patterns art gallery fabrics floral universe

The colours of my fabric are heavenly and the scale of the print is so fun and the feel of that rayon… oh hubba hubba, it’s so dreamy!! AGF rayons are amazing quality. I wote this dress on honeymoon and felt amazing. I wanted to dance around like a vintage movie star to make the skirt swish as often as possible. It was hard staying still for these photos.

almond rock gertie b6418 b6453 butterick retro sewing patterns art gallery fabrics floral universe

Now I’m excited to take it on more sunny adventures and swish around new countries!

*Just to let you know this post contains affiliate links but products I link are from trusted sellers like The McCall Pattern Co selling through Amazon or Minerva Crafts. There’s no obligation to buy through the link of course. I don’t advertise on my blog so this is a little way to fund the running of the site!

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How was your weekend?

“So what did you do this weekend?”

“Oh I went shopping in London with 50 strangers off the Internet and we took over a Lebenese restaurant. What did you do?”

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I want to say that this weekend’s meetup in London was so tremendous that I’m finding it hard to describe. I tried to summarise proceedings in an email to my brother and pretty sure I didn’t convey how amazing it was (plus I know I missed bits out).

So forgive me if I opt out from trying to do it justice. If you were there, well you know. If you weren’t, our delightful host Rachel and many of the FIFTY other attendees will do a much better job than I.

Instead of a full round up I wanted to hone in some of my highlights of the day.

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A big highlight for me was how much more confident I felt at my second meet up than my first, especially given the scare factor of such a huge gathering. I think this was partly down to seeing lovely familiar faces. Rachel makes you feel like you’ve known her years. Marie is such a sweetheart, she always makes me laugh. Roisin is like a fantastic whirlwind and didn’t stay long but made a point to catch up with me. And it was lovely to chat with Catherine again (I had a feeling she’d pick my sparkly jersey from the swap).

Another highlight was meeting so many new people – people I’ve admired and read their blogs from afar and people that write wonderful blogs I’d not heard of before. Sitting with Camilla, Jo and Janene for lunch was great because they were all so chatty and funny. Finally meeting Sallie and confirming my suspicions of her Yorkshire roots was ace. And of course meeting LIZZY! Our international attendee. She really is so so friendly in real life. I felt a bit star struck to be honest; I didn’t get a photo of us together and I felt like I didn’t convey how grateful I was that she brought fabric over for me!

The V&A is so spectacular I can’t believe I’ve never been before! I’m definitely going again.

Goldhawk Road was kind of a revelation. It was so neat to see all the fabric shops along one road where we could bounce in and out of them all hunting for bargains. Now some of you may have noticed my desperate desire to find horse print fabric. And since Goldhawk Road is famous for getting end rolls from commercial fashion companies I felt optimistic.

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I wasn’t disappointed. I also picked up some other delights. Not much mind you as I’d already spent all my money in Birmingham. My swap freebies included this amazing bird print rayon from Lizzy, and a printed silk plus a cute simplicity sundress pattern from a mystery source.

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Finally, I was amazed by the generosity of Minerva Fabrics and Abakhans. These two companies effectively sponsored our day out. I can’t even begin to convey the amount of fabric, notions and trims Abakhans supplied to the swap. And Minerva gave everyone goodie bags they’d thoughtfully put together – see the awesome felted wool knitted fabric I was given (above). I always thought the blogging community was surpisingly separate from the sewing supply companies but lately my eyes have been opened.

* Meet up photos by Digpal Singh

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Smile for the birdie button-back blouse and the giveaway winner announced!

First up my giveaway!

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Let’s announce this bad boy. Random number generator has chosen…..

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Congratulations!! Send your postal address to me at almondrock.wordpress@gmail.com and I’ll arrange delivery.

Moving on. My love affair with New Look 6808 continues.

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I cooked up the idea of adapting it to use buttons at the back quite a while ago but couldn’t wrap my brain around the logistics of the conversion.

I finally figured it out last week and realised I’d been so silly over thinking it!

To adapt the back bodice pattern piece I traced a copy, then extended the fold line by about three inches. Then I added the marks for my buttonholes where the original fold line had been, marked a new fold line and I was all set. I also did away with the darts as they would have messed with the fabric pattern.

I used a gorgeously soft, grey rayon I bought at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show. It has lines of different bird cages with birds on it! It is rather see through though.

I didn’t line it other than the sleeves which is a feature of NL 6808 I love.

This top uses 8 buttons. It felt like a lot! I made contrast covered buttons from a black twill I had in my stash. It needed to be twill because the white of my button base kept sewing through. Can you get black ones?

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The first time I wore it a giant German Shepherd dog slobbered on it so I know it’s popular with the animal kingdom!

What do you think? Hope you like it!

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The Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate

Well you can all guess where I’ve been today!

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Thanks to a facebook competition from Fabrications I won a free ticket to the Knitting and Stitching Show. It was recently in London and Dublin and now in lovely Harrogate for the weekend.

For those who don’t know the show covers knitting and stitching but way way more; felt-making, toy-making, shibori dyeing, jewellery-making, card-making, and mixed media. The HIC who are hosting said they expected around 10,000 people each day!!

I took the day off work as I thought it would be better to go on a weekday; foolishly thinking it should be less busy than a weekend day. Yeesh, if it was “quiet” then I dread to think how busy tomorrow or Sunday will be.

But it was fantastic to see so many people there eager to check out the stalls and exhibits.

Sadly I didn’t get to spot any sewing celebrities like Karen did but I got to see lots of beautiful embroidery, knitting and quilting displays. Most had *NO PHOTOGRAPHY* signs on which was a shame but I got a couple of photos from displays that didn’t.

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I also managed to curb my spending as I am technically on financial lockdown while we save for the new house.

I let myself get 1m of this gorgeous slate grey rayon with birdcage print. It feels so soft and delicious.

I also got this cute vintage blouse pattern with neckline variation and an air disappearing fabric marker.

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I should TOTALLY have bought this kid’s pattern and am now kicking myself over it. Who cares that I don’t have any children to make this for. Heck I could frame this bad boy to hang in my living room it’s that cool!

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I also chatted for a while with the lovely ladies promoting the Yorkshire School of Sewing. Gillian Hargreaves is a former City and Guilds teacher and she has opened up a sewing centre in Roundhay. I got a booklet about her courses and am interested in some of the pattern drafting courses available, the Chanel jacket class and the LBD session with couture techniques.

Again because of financial lockdown, I’ve entered a prize draw for a course of my choice and have put gift vouchers on my xmas list. If neither of those work out I’ll look into treating myself. I don’t think there’s much of a website yet but you can contact Gillian for details.

I saw plenty of cool exhibits. The Quilters Olympics Quilt (see the Synchronised Stitching block above), a man who embroidered whimsical maps of local areas, knitted armour, The Unfinishable project which was a tent made of incomplete garments (I could have contributed a lot to this one) and last but definitely not least a knitted town.

The town was awesome and therefore popular. I got two quick shots of the fire house and a church wedding. There was a farm complete with knitted vegetable patches and farmyard animals, a school, houses, cars, etc.

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I definitely recommend going to the show. There are some additional displays on Sunday and I’m sure the stalls won’t have sold out of much before then. It takes much longer to go around the 6 halls than you think so leave yourself plenty of time.

And let me know if you enjoyed it!

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