My best friend’s wedding

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

Not just the title of a movie, this Christmas break I also went to the wedding of my best friend and her lovely partner. It was a slightly unusual day in that we started with a 10am ceremony, then went for pie and a pint at a local pub, dashed off to the woods for a game of laser quest and then went to a swanky hotel for the wedding breakfast and evening do.

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

Yes you heard me right, we did all of this on the 28th of December! It was busy, brisk and lots of fun. And I had the joy of seeing months of work come to life in a different way from my wedding. I not only worked on Becky’s dress, but made my bridesmaid dress and made ties and pocket squares!

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

First things first, Becky wore an off the shoulder fishtail lace gown. It had an illusion back, fitted silhouette and reasonable size train. It was made half way between Oxford and Leeds as Charly and I joined forces to get the dress made in time. Charly as you may remember is an accomplished bridal seamstress so she took the lead, drafting the pattern, fitting the toile and ordering the supplies.

We had a major cutting out session as a group to get the satin, tulle and lining layers all ready and then constructed the majority of the dress ready to get the lace attached. Charly designed the pattern for the lace placement and over several long sewing sessions we hand appliqued lace into place. Charly added the motifs to the bodice and created the illusion while it was on the mannequin and I made 7 skirt panels that would be added to the skirt later so I could keep the work at home with me.

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

After a slight mishap breaking with her ankle, Charly wasn’t able to finish the dress so she came home to live me for the last few weeks. I added an elastic waist stay, sewed a bra into the dress, attached the lining and hemmed the layers. Because of the beading, none of the lace could be machine sewed so I did have a slight claw hand by the end of things but it’s an absolutely gorgeous dress, so Charly and I were really proud on the day.

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

Our bridesmaids dresses were made from different patterns but designed to have a similar feel. I used Threadcount 1610 which you saw on the blog recently and added a three quarter circle skirt using the pattern from my wedding dress! The wine duchess satin was lovely to work with and though I had to cut everything out on the crosswise grain it didn’t reduce the shine that much which I was very pleased with. Becky asked us to channel our inner 50s housewife with pearls and vintage stoles (made by Charly) which I happily embraced.

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

Ties and pocket squares I’ve made before for Mark and Nickki’s wedding but I forgot how much I HATE POCKET SQUARES. They should be called “little squares of evil”. Never again I say, do you hear me universe?! Luckily I only had to make two pocket squares, plus two grown up ties and two tween-age ties. I adapted my tie pattern to make them roughly 13″ long when tied then made a neckband that finishes with velcro for ease. I mean I learnt how to knot a tie at 12 but only because it was part of my uniform; most young ones don’t learn until much later. Ties are very therapeutic to hand sew closed. You machine sew the short facing pieces to the ends, trim and turn through then press over the edges and hand sew close to the fold. It’s definitely a personal choice on whether to interline the whole tie for more bulk. Last time I did but with the trend for skinny ties these days I decided not to this time.

I’ll leave you with some photos from laser quest. It was certainly different running around the woods in a boiler suit then having to race back to the hotel and get re-ready for a wedding! It all turned out perfectly though.

Continue Reading

Wild roses Vogue 8469

A fresh faced sewing enthusiast called Amy made her first version of Vogue 8469 back in 2013 and said, “oh yes this is lovely I better make it again”. She used £1 a metre polyester she found in Leeds Market and wore it to one of her first sewing meet-ups in London – the epic V&A event.

Almond rock vogue 8469 vintage retro sewing roses pattern

Flash forward to 2016! The new version is again made out of £1 a metre polyester, but this time from Birmingham Rag market. This amazingly versatile dress has lived in the back of my wardrobe only occaisonally getting worn because I slightly messed up the gathers on one side of the bust, and my zipper installation wasn’t very neat. What I discovered during Me Made May this year, is that it really doesn’t matter! You can’t see either of those things when I wear the dress so I should blumming well get it out the cupboard more often.

Almond rock vogue 8469 vintage retro sewing roses pattern

This dress is great if you’re a large or small busted lady in comparison to your waist and hip size as you can adjust for your bust easily; simply slash and then add or subtract the space you need and then draw the fabric under the bust neatly.

Almond rock vogue 8469 vintage retro sewing roses pattern

The skirt is more tulip shaped than you might think, a change from my super flared skirts. It’s still gathered making it easy to fit through the hip. The bodice, waistband and sleeves are lined and I used my trusty tutorial for clean finishing the sleeves into the lining. I skipped the sleeve elastic again as you can see.

Almond rock vogue 8469 vintage retro sewing roses pattern

The centre sewn zip is what we all learn early on, stitched down each side to secure the zip and create a little flap to cover each side… but this is the hardest zip to achieve a neat finish for me. The zipper always peeps through and the sides aren’t even! The supposedly harder invisible and lapped zippers are much nicer in my book. Am I wrong?

Almond rock vogue 8469 vintage retro sewing roses pattern

I wear this dress with the bow tied at the front most days but occasionally swing it to the back. It’s a great number to wear with red lipstick and dangly earrings for dinner out, or ballet flats and curly hair for a vintage day look.

Almond rock vogue 8469 vintage retro sewing roses pattern

It was great to teach myself, just because you messed something up doesn’t mean you can’t still love it. The annoying perfectionist in me shuts up while I wear this so that’s a win right?!

Continue Reading

Happy swans Vogue 1102

Hello everyone! This post is going up while I’m away in France. I thought a little blogging would keep me distracted in the run up to the wedding so I scheduled a few posts. I’m sure the wedding was [insert a phrase here]. Hehe just kidding. I won’t try and guess but I’m hoping it was sunny and merry and full of dancing.

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

This Art Gallery Fabrics organic canvas print was a stash points splurge from Village Haberdashery two years ago. Yes I’m afraid this dress has been finished quite a while. The print is quite large but very fun and the canvas is just on the cusp of being unmanageable for dressmaking with its weight and lack of drape. It’s from the Hello Ollie collection and is called Swanlings Bevy in colour “Nightfall”. There’s still some left here!

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

This is Vogue 1102. You thought I was done with this pattern? Well THINK AGAIN! I needed to find a style that would work with the canvas and the structured bodice was a great fit. The skirt is perhaps a little bulky but it flares out in a really pleasing way while being worn that I don’t care if it’s unflattering from another person’s viewpoint.

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

As you may remember I drafted a higher back bodice and this let’s me wear a bra (essential) but still keeps that glorious exposure at the back. That sounds a bit ruder than I intended doesn’t it! I think the finish at the top of the zipper is so neat given the bulky canvas used. Trimming the top of the zipper is key and not being afraid to trim a lot of the tape. I also lengthened the empire line so it sits at the waist which works better with the gathered skirt. I think this is my last un-blogged version of this dress now! Or should I say… for now!

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

I originally photographed this dress on the garden while I had my glorious perm. Look how happy I look even in this screen preview. Hair of my dreams!! Then when the perm was ruined, I fell out of love with the photos… So sad. Renata came to my rescue with a few snaps in the studio though.

almond rock vogue 1102 v1102 art gallery fabrics canvas dress

Don’t worry about this being a scheduled post, I’d still love to hear your comments on the post or over on social media. I honestly don’t mind if people read the post here and go over to Instagram to send me a message because the conversation is still going, just in a different location! Chat to you soon xx

Continue Reading

Thoughts on being an original – my dress inspiration

There are times when I feel imposter syndrome sneaking in and I start questioning whether I’m really a creative person at all. I start believe that I can’t think up any original ideas; I just copy things I’ve seen out in the world and I don’t actually know what I want to sew or wear. This comes and goes and it helps to remind myself that I have drafted an original design in the past, I am inventive with fabrics and I only feel happiness when I look in my wardrobe.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

And something guarranteed to make you feel more unsteady is a wedding and specifically a wedding dress. If like me you haven’t been dreaming about your ideal dress for years, there’s a sudden rush of confusion, pressure and indecision as you try and work out what to wear. I also know women who were rock-solidly confident in their dream dress until they were proposed to and the fear crept in.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

Its a giant white dress… that isn’t really like anything you’ve ever worn before. What is actually going to suit you and what you’re capable of sewing might also not match up! And how often are we asked to create pattern instructions from scratch that result in a flawless finish???

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

It turns out, I couldn’t think up an original dress to make and I’m okay with that. Instead I went to several dress trials and whittled it down to one dress I really liked from Lou Lou bridal. I didn’t love it but I really really liked it. The way you can really like the possibilities a lovely pattern or piece of fabric holds. Then I thought about how I could tweak it and make it my own. Shortening it for sure, different bust gathers, a different combination of fabrics and a different skirt shape. I found a base pattern and made up the rest.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

It has been a strange roller coaster ride: I found what was labelled rose voile curtain fabric online but what I actually think is the exact poly-organza fabric from the Lou Lou source dress. Ordered 5m too much silk organza and currently have no use for the excess. Made four toiles for fit and a wearable test. Nearly cried over the hem. Nearly cried over the zipper. And stabbed my fingers countless times.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

It’s my dress, brought into being by these hands so it’s one of a kind in that sense and although I failed on an original design, I think I succeeded in testing my fitting, construction and time management skills.

Almond rock wedding dress fit bride wedding day organza silk bridal sewing fabrics

I love my dress. Even though its not perfect… because can we ever sew THE PERFECT DRESS!? If you’ve managed to catch that unicorn please let me know in the comments.

Continue Reading

Is sewing making you a better person?

Did you ever wonder how sewing was changing your personality? Life skills? Or even hire-ability?? This post has been a long time coming and I’m still not sure it’s conveying exactly how awesome you’ve become through learning to sew. I talked about it with the Stitcher’s Brew team and Karen Ball in our super fun episode OUT TOMORROW and they encouraged me to finish the post and hit publish! I’ve tried to summarise all the ways sewing transfers to real world skills you may be better at than you realise.

Stay with me; it’ll all make sense! (I hope)

Project management

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

There’s a reason we call our makes projects! You work out your requirements, gather all your supplies, execute the steps and keep up momentum. You’ve got end to end sight of where you’re starting and where you’re ending. You also set goals for yourself review them and feel accomplishment. When you feel bad over failures it’s just because you’re invested in the whole process but there’s always lessons to learn in project management! Perhaps you’re also trying this skill out by setting yourself deadlines… oooh that yummy adrenaline gets pumping.

Attention to detail

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

Just like cooking you understand the method to creating. Which steps have to stay in order, and which can be slightly juggled for the same result. You can follow directions showing your attention to instructions and chronological working. And you can interpret the result from technical diagrams because your brain is logically and methodically predicting future steps. You know the importance of how seam allowances affect finished measurements, how neat straight lines of stitching help the polish of your garment and how a new fabric can change both the process and the results. You’re constantly paying attention to little things you’re taking for granted, and improving your skills with every new make.

Spacial reasoning

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

Okay so this one isn’t wildly applicable in real life but you have gathered the understanding of making flat shapes curve around your 3d form. With every dart, seam, pleat or drape you are showing off a special kind of intelligence that you might have seen in those funny tests with different shaped cubes. Once you understand the spacial requirements of a situation you can reason yourself solutions meaning you’re forecasting answers to problems before testing them out, just like planning fit adjustments or design alterations. You’re a psychic seamstress!

Memory

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

You’re a sponge and you didn’t realise it! Learning new skills like sewing is a constant memory booster. Every project can introduce you new techniques and each time you practice or read a tutorial you’re embedding expertise into your brain. Similarly you’re being exposed to more pattern and fabrics than you can imagine. I bet you can recount several patterns you’ve got your eye on with the designer and name or number close to your tongue. This us great for long term memory retention, beating off the early effects of dementia and keeping your brain young!

Decision making

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

From pairing patterns with fabric and working out which size to fit, to automatically course correcting your sewing as it’s disappearing under the presser foot, you’re making a range of quick, instinctual, educated, considered or methodical decisions at every stage. Your initiative grows with every scrap of knowledge you learn and remember. And we’ve all had to dive into some problem solving from time to time, assessing the issue and deciding the solution. These problem solving methods can work with any kind of dilemma; just think it through, apply reasoning and weigh up the solutions. And because sewing teaches you the art of mindfulness, flow and quiet calm, you’ve got the mind-space to breathe and work through issues in a level headed way. Channel this the next time something goes wrong outside your craft room!

Passion and creativity

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

This one is a little obvious but super important! Creativity is a way of living life that embraces originality. You are literally making yourself more unique! Creative actions help you express your emotions, experiment with risk taking and refine your motor skills giving you nimble fingers. Did you know creative people are better at teamwork and team bonding? Its true! Studies have shown creative people are more sympathetic to others because they understand the feelings of putting yourself out there and they want to collaborate to create better ideas! Strength in numbers you know. And to feel fulfilled you can simply keep seeking new information, new knowledge and new ways to do things, constantly, and then turn it into something magnificent. Plus the fear of being a beginner humbled you in a very raw way, teaching you to appreciate the act of learning and increasing your attention span for new ideas.

Quality standards and consistency

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

Seeing your skills grow in a measurable way is really important. Personal growth means working to understand and develop your skills in order to meet your fullest potential. And even better, learning to recognise and reach for benchmarks can be applied to both general career development and other skill building areas. Define your own standards of excellence! For some it’s learning about the strength of a hand sewn stitch, the superior feel of special fabric and the polish of a well finished design element helps you believe in yourself and your skills. You deserve to be great at what you do and you’ll appreciate your best efforts more than anything.

almond rock  blueprints for sewing, creativity, didyoumakethat, logic, memory, passion, problem solving, project management, sewing, Stitchers brew

Phew! That’s quite a lot? Well I probably could go on for longer. It’s hard not to sound like a cheesy self help tape but the facts are there, you just may not have looked at your favourite hobby this way before. Of course we’re all still learning and maybe not all these topics apply for you yet. But don’t do yourself down; sewing is a skill. You may also have a talent for it but you have learnt the techniques, built your confidence and push yourself regularly. How many non-sewers can you say are working this hard on themselves?

Continue Reading
1 2 3 15