The Sewing Weekender

Hello everybody! Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I’m now on the hunt for amazing fabric suppliers in the UK and will write a little round up soon about my plans. I’ve just got back from a last minute holiday where I did a lot of plotting for how to share snippets of my diy wedding dress.

I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts on the recent Sewing Weekender hosted by Rachel and Kate of The Foldline and Charlotte of blog English Girl At Home and what I made. There were a limited number of spots so I count myself lucky to have nabbed one. I didn’t think my boss would mind too much if I bunked off for five mins to buy myself one as a birthday treat. To be fair he probably never realised.

When 57 attendees arrived in sunny oCambridge we were met by an amazing sight; goodie bags being handed out as you stepped in with treats from Village HaberdasheryLove SewingRemnant Kings and Abakhan, Janome machines set up on large tables with ribbon tied boxes of haberdashery from Adam Ross, swap items stacked high and enough tea and coffee to keep us charged all day.

I sat on a table of four with my friend Ruth who travelled down from Yorkshire to meet new sewing friends (I definitely recommend following her on twitter) and Sarah who I’ve enjoyed following online, who headed over from Suffolk with her mum! I feel like such an idiot but I can’t remember Sarah’s mum’s name. I hate it when that happens but it’s best to just hold your hands up and be honest about these things.

It was like the shirt table as there were two shirts and a shirtdress being sewn, but I bucked the trend by sitting and hand sewing while gossiping. I’d decided to finish my new circle skirt Cambie with matching bias tape which I pieced from 20 scrap bits of my fabric. Thankfully I got everything finished and Ruth kindly snapped some pics for me which I’ll share at the end of the post but here’s a cheeky pic of me and Louise in our Cambies together! (Don’t you love her use of border print cotton from Gertie’s fabric line?).

The Saturday was dedicated to sewing and everyone busied themselves with different projects whilst “Prefects” wandered around offering advice, fitting help and biscuit-based support, there was a fabric and pattern swap, lovely lunchtime walk into Cambridge and for the overnight crew a dinner in town. I stayed with my in-laws to be so we could celebrate the engagement with the whole Scarr family which meant sadly missed out on that last part. It’s so funny but after 6 and a half years dating a Cambridge man I have still never been punting and only a handful of times to the town centre!!

Sunday was structured around lectures that were funny, insightful, thought-provoking and educational. The clever and charming women who spoke were RachelGraceMarillaElenaTilly and Gabby, talking about wardrobe planning, pattern design, small design businesses and vlogging to touch on a few topics. There was no need for sewing as the lectures were thoroughly engaging. One thing that resonated with me was cataloguing my stash for better planning and so I’ve begun adding scraps on a keyring of index cards. I also thought a lot about my wedding dress plans and what I’d like to achieve and learn from the project because it really needs to be a learning experience for me as corny as that may sound.

So I won’t cover what others have said but I would like to heartedly recommend that you get a ticket for the next Sewing Weekender (we’ve totally badgered the girls into considering a repeat) and am honestly in awe of Charlotte, Kate and Rachel’s organisational skills.

Ok, now here’s my dress. I know you’ve seen Cambie dresses frome me before (here and here) but I wanted to try adding a circle skirt to the pattern to see how it looked. 

Answer? I’m pretty damn happy with it. But I’m also very into circle skirts at the moment. It’s a little bulky around the pockets so maybe should have been omitted but hey, I like pockets. Again I omitted the waistband and used a straight neckline. A 22″ concealed purple zipper for a bit of fun too.

 The dress is fully lined in anti-static peach lining which means it’s tights-friendly and the skirt lining adds extra volume. The hem as I mentioned is bias faced and invisibly hand stitched. I only wish I had horsehair braid in my stash to finish the hem with!

I cannot believe I found some Liberty Carline poplin in purple (variations seen here and here by me) at Birmingham Rag Market… I blumming love that place. Spotted during an awesome mini shop with Marie, Kat, Roisin and Helen (guest appearance from Sabs) a few months back. It was £8 per metre because it had a big flaw parallel to a good portion the selvedge about 10cm in but because it’s so wide I just bought some extra material and worked around it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Here’s some silly bonus pics of it in action on holiday! Until next time everyone, drop me comments with your best score on a fabric shopping trip!! 

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The Cam-bee Dress

almond rock cambie sewaholic dress up party

When Sara kindly asked me to join her Dress Up Party, it gave me just the excuse I needed to make another Cambie dress.

almond rock cambie sewaholic dress up party

The Cambie is such a sweet little sewing pattern with enough variations to make it feel like you’re customising your dress to what will really suit you. Here I chose the square front and full skirt without the waistband.

almond rock cambie sewaholic dress up party

The outer fabric is a bee print Makower cotton – this is the white colourway but there are some gorgeous other colours – making this my Cam-bee dress heehee. I don’t sew with many quilting cottons these days, nor do I often wear white, but I couldn’t resist this print. I also lined the dress in white habotai (I love a fully lined dress).

almond rock cambie sewaholic dress up party

As this is my second version I think I’ve worked out all my fitting issues. I staystitched the neckline before sewing as my first version stretched a little. I also recommend a muslin to make sure those sleeves don’t fall off your shoulders. I omitted the waistband because I find them a little uncomfortable on my stomach but perhaps that’s just me.

almond rock cambie sewaholic dress up party

Another helpful thing I did on this version was to make a pair of little chains on my overlocker and attached one end to the tops of my pockets and the other ends were caught in the waist seam. This helps stop the pocket bag sagging. It would be more ideal if the pattern had the top of the pocket bag caught in the waist seam but I suppose that could get a little bulky.

One thing I’d like to mention is that Tasia’s instructions are very succinct I’m always impressed reading one of her pattern booklets at how efficiently she takes you through the work needed in a small number of steps. I have three Sewaholic patterns and I’ve not struggled making any of them.

almond rock cambie sewaholic dress up party

I’ve said it before but I’m not sure if I’ll try the sweetheart version or the fitted skirt but I’m super keen to try a button up version after seeing Rosie Wednesday’s cute candy cane variation. Such a clever hack of the pattern! I also have some horse print chiffon lined up for another version.

These pictures were taken at the lake near my house. It’s a small lake where people walk their dogs and go fishing. There’s a flat wooden bridge that goes across the lake, with high reeds either side that almost hide it. It was so sunny when we were there I struggled not to squint in the photos.

almond rock cambie sewaholic dress up party

Time to sign off, but here’s a bonus picture of me pretending to push over a tree.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

almond rock cambie sewaholic dress up party

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Dark Floral Lonsdale

The Lonsdale dress and I have a shaky past. I originally encountered this pattern two years ago when I attempted to make a polka dot satin ball gown version. It was a disaster… too much drape and not enough fabric!

Roisin had kindly sent me the pattern to trace and I felt like such a failure when I sent it back.

almond rock, Sewaholic lonsdale, dark floral stretch cotton, minerva

I thought it was long overdue a revisit so I chose one of Minerva’s lovely stretch cottons and set to work. I picked this gorgeous vintage dark floral. This fabric works really nicely with this pattern in my opinion; just the right amount of body and there’s a great range of prints.

I made the midi length skirt variation with no pockets.

almond rock, Sewaholic lonsdale, dark floral stretch cotton, minerva

Sewaholic patterns are designed for pear shaped figures but I’m really not sure this skirt is the most flattering design on me. I feel like it emphasises the difference in size between my shoulders and hips, when I hoped I might appear more balanced out. It also uses a centre front seam which I absolutely detest. I think they interrupt the eye and distract you.

I tried other skirts options like a circle and a gathered skirt but they just looked wrong!

The main feature of this dress however is the halter ties. I think this is where my main issue lies. The ties look so pretty on others but they just seem to overwhelm my neckline – I really wish I’d thinned them out significantly. It’s most noticeable how wide they are when viewing the back. If I’d chosen the tie back option this might not be so obvious because they’d naturally get a little bunched up and thinned out.

almond rock, Sewaholic lonsdale, dark floral stretch cotton, minerva

I do feel like it’s a bit of a failure. And that’s fine, it happens to us all. You honestly can’t suit everything. And I don’t assume that because some patterns of a designer look nice on you they all will. Plus there’s nothing really wrong with the finished dress so I might see if I can give it away!

Mr AR says it looks nice on me though which is always good to hear. And the midi length is modest but sweet and I’m pleased with how neat my knot looks at the front. Plus the print is just what I wanted: Sweet but still serious.

The bodice is self-lined and the skirt is lined in anti-static lining. I used a regular 16 inch zip and black bias binding to hem the skirt.

almond rock, Sewaholic lonsdale, dark floral stretch cotton, minerva

Overall I’m glad I tried this pattern again. But I doubt I’ll make another.

When was the last time you didn’t like a finished garment? Did you keep it or give it away?

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City Lights at Night Cambie

Sometimes it feels like I am last person out there to make a Cambie dress.

But I’m so happy to put an end to that!

almond rock cambie city lights night art gallery the village haberdashery

I got the pattern and this luscious voile from The Village Haberdashery. It’s called City Lights Night (say that ten times fast!). In fact everything for the dress came from the shop, a new dress kit handed to me by the postman!

The selvedge of the fabric says “Feel The Difference”. And you do. It’s soooo buttery soft and pretty close to being opaque. Perfect for a floaty girly dress.

Annie has stocked lots of the new gorgeous Art Gallery Fabrics line. I’m super in love with the Gramercy prints; the colours of City Lights Night are so pretty and Central Park in Fog is so moody and romantic.

almond rock cambie city lights night art gallery the village haberdashery

The Cambie is such a nifty little sewing pattern, I love a fully lined dress. I used habutate lining in black which matched the weight of the voile perfectly. I love it when a plan comes together. Perfect for swishing.

The fit is pretty good I think. The darts could do to be a touch wider at the waist but that gives me a little room for dinner heehee.

almond rock cambie city lights night art gallery the village haberdashery

I’m also really happy that the sleeves don’t fall off my shoulders and the armholes fits nicely.

As you can see I went for the square neckline and I omitted the waistband, that combo pretty much stuck in my mind after seeing Roisin’s tape measure dress.

I’m not sure if I’ll try the sweetheart version but I’m super keen to try a button up version after seeing Rosie’s ace candy cane version.

almond rock cambie city lights night art gallery the village haberdashery

That’s a (pretty darn) invisible zip and I used a super fine needle as I would have been gutted to have big snarly catches in the fabric.

I decided the triangle shapes on the print should point downwards. That doesn’t seem to be how it was designed to be looked at but who cares, I love it.

And wahey, pockets! I nearly omitted them and then I thought, don’t be so miserable and put them in.


almond rock cambie city lights night art gallery the village haberdashery

I’m a big fan of The Village Haberdashery for four simple reasons:

  • there is a most excellent array of indie sewing patterns which I’ve no hope of getting around where I live;
  • the selection of fabrics is guaranteed to keep you occupied for hours because Annie just has cracking taste when it comes to prints;
  • and importantly the customer service is top notch. Annie went out of her way to order me the electric purple chambray for my Belladone while I was stood in the store with her. And even though she could have gotten sick of me bugging her about it, she still emailed me to let me know as soon as my much lusted-after metallic bird fabric hit the shelves.
  • Plus there are polka dot bags and a flat shipping rate, so enough said.

almond rock cambie city lights night art gallery the village haberdashery

The finished dress makes me so happy. That’s how all dresses should make you feel right?

I’m going to wear this out to the ballet next week. My mum and I are off to see The Great Gatsby!

Thank you Village Haberdashery.

almond rock cambie city lights night art gallery the village haberdashery

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