McCall’s 6891 chambray shirtdress

Hello all! I’ve recovered from my extremely busy December and am back with a finished make for myself.

This dress was a rather spontaneous make as I was lucky enough to try on a finished version we had in the office! This meant I quickly worked out the couple of tiny adjustments I’d need to make it fit me. I could then cut out with confidence and whizzed this up in a day. In fact I made the yellow version you’re seeing on the new pattern envelope! We’re now making the designs in UK fabric and reprinting the envelopes. Squeal!!

The pattern is M6891 which is on the front of Love Sewing 63 on sale from tomorrow! It’s double stuffed so you get sizes 8-24 in one envelope and the issue includes tips on collars and cuffs if you haven’t made them before. I love a notched collar and The McCall Pattern Co instructions direct you to make theirs differently to other brands like Simplicity or indie designs.

As normal you position the collar between the facings and shirt neckline, instead of sewing over the seam allowance they ask you to push it out of the way and stop at the seam point marked by a dot, then sew on the other side in the same way. Here’s a diagram to explain a bit more:

This reduces bulk as it means you can grade the seams and trim a bit more freely as the seam allowance isn’t trapped… But this technique seems more beneficial on thicker fabrics like coats really. Unless I’ve missed another reason for this technique.

It’s not a surprise I like this pattern, as retro style shirtdresses are a big proportion of my wardrobe. They’re both smart and casual – perfect! I made view C and love the full skirt. The darts give a nice shape and of course the notched collar has a lovely vintage feel. It needs a reverse button/hole at the waist point for extra security but I can add that any time.

Now of course the Ultimate Shirtdress which is my favourite shirtdress pattern but in truth I’ve never got on with the sleeves. On the McCall’s design the sleeves fit great so maybe I need to try and merge the armscye and sleeve of this pattern with the Sew Over It pattern in the future.

I made the size 10. The bust fits my 36a-cup really nicely so no SBA here. I just adjusted the waist at the side seams to fit my 32″ tummy and the wide flare of the skirt is very roomy on my hips.

You might be wondering about the fabric… well to that I say, “Sewing friends are awesome”. They are especially great at birthday time because they think like a sewist when getting you a present and remember what things you say you like! This gorgeous Robert Kaufman spotty chambray was a gift from the darling Marie! Creative mind behind blog www.astitchingodyssey.com, Marie is such a lovely soul so I highly recommend you follow her inspiring blog/social media accounts and if you run into her at an event you’re guaranteed to leave smiling.

If you clicked into my shirtdress tag you’ll see I now have two spotty Robert Kaufman chambray dresses. Well I actually have a third UFO of Vogue 1102 cut out in the black colourway but I messed up some of the pintucks and have been putting off fixing it for months. Maybe 2019 is the year you’ll see that dress appear.

I’m currently trying to plan some sewing for the coming year. There are some lovely fabrics that have been in my stash for way too long. I’d really like to fix that and not be afraid of making the wrong thing anymore. I have my dressmakers ballgown to make too. Will I see you there?

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Vintage French Joan-ish

Hello hello! Is everyone surviving the week? Are you taking part in Amanda’s awesome #bpsewvember on Instagram?  Go on and tag yourself on my IG feed if we’re not a already friends as I’d love to see all your snaps.

I have a fun dress to share today as it’s a Sew Over It pattern love child! I merged the Joan Dress and the Vintage Shirtdress with excellent results.

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almond rock sew over it vintage shirt dress joan

So in case it’s not obvious, this is the Joan bodice and sleeves without the collar. The team kindly sent me Joan when it was first released as they knew it was right up my alley. I did a really rough toile as I know SOI sizing is consistent across the patterns but in reality I should have possibly done a tiny sba. The sleeve caps are a tiny bit off as well but these are micro points when I skipped all my normal fitting steps.

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In case you’re not sick of them, see my shirt dress versions here. The skirt was made by cutting the front on the fold following the centre front line. Then the back was cut in two with 1.5cm centre back seam allowance added. The side seams, darts and skirt pleats lined up almost perfectly! I just basted them together by hand so they wouldn’t slip during sewing.

And how lush is this fabric? It’s Atelier Brunette modal which is sort of like a viscose in that it’s also a cellulose fabric but is produced in slightly different conditions. It’s thicker than normal viscose but not twill like. It’s slightly spongy and as easily creased it gets, it irons smooth with ease. This print is called Facet and I bought it last March during a sale at M is for Make. Look out for the Black Friday sale everyone!! Ps. I love love love my new Clarks shoes. The’re called Hotel Vibe. Yummy.

almond rock sew over it vintage shirt dress joan

The bodice is lined with navy polyester from my stash and I used a concealed zip. Life is short and when you have a concealed zipper foot they’re the speediest option.

I wanted to repeat my love for this great blog post on clean lining a sleeved bodice. The technique is amazing… but I really want to make an easier to follow version as it’s really hard to see in these step by step images. To be really clear, this technique creates a clean finish on the inside of your lined bodice around the armholes. All you see is the sleeve seam allowance! Here’s a little vid to show the finish – please ignore the telly playing in the background. Although if you can name the show I’ll be mega impressed.

Fully lined sleeved bodice. This technique is pure magic 💙

A video posted by Amy (@almondrock_sews) on

So I guess all that’s left to do is force you to look at a terrible dark night time picture of me in the dress heading out for dinner and that’s blatantly because I curled my hair and got dolled up and want to use the picture as many times as possible haha. I’m still on the hunt for a hairdresser who will perm my hair in big rolls like this. The specialist I went to blew me off and told me no one would give me the hair style I’m after. But since then the hair and make up team at work have told me that answer is horse poo and I should try someone else for a second opinion. Fingers crossed on that note. Also it’s scary seeing how going swimming once since the below photo was taken has drained all the hair dye out of my hair. Doh. I’m off to work on my Colette Anise jacket! Bye for now

almond rock sew over it vintage shirt dress joan

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Sewbrum 2016

Hello lovely ladies and gents

I’m writing this post on my journey home from Birmingham after an epic day in the company of 100 stylish sewists.

Last night involved lots of curry and champers as we celebrated our engagement with some close friends and like an idiot I stayed up later than expected. My bus was at 7am this morning so I armed myself with a flask of tea, hours of podcasts and huddled into my seat. I wore my red SOI Vintage Shirtdress for the day.

Just after getting off the megabus I managed to bump into Abi on the way to the Edwardian Tearooms and we arrived to a scene of a room stacked with sewists drinking tea and gossiping. I met some new faces which is half the reason for attending and then forcibly dragged a group around the market and Barry’s – including a selfie pitstop at my favourite sign.

There was lots of banter with Kate and RachelCharlotteNina and Gabby. I finally got to meet Fiona. And yes I cuddled a pug and larked around with Elle, Abi, Vicki and Rhiannon. There was a flying catch up with Lauren and baby Sophia wearing the Liberty cord dress Lauren blogged recently. Plus I manage to shout hello and wave at lots of lovely people like ClaireRachelHelen and many more. Not forgetting that I have about 20 new blogs to follow!

I was actually very reserved with what I brought home. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my major geek out at the release of Gertie’s new Butterick 6380 in America. Well it’s finally here in the UK and was part of the sale on at Fancy Silk Store (for all Butterick patterns – new and old). I also bought some graphic black and white viscose from a stall outside on the rag market for just £1 a metre!

Other things that made it into my handbag for the journey home were a copy of New Look 6434, a flyer for the Dressmaker’s Ball 2017, two hilarious vintage wedding dress patterns (thanks Kate!) which may actually have some potential, a flask filled with cider and a copy of the stylist fashion special magazine.

All in all a pretty cracking day! Will I see you there next year??

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Vintage shirt dress number 3

I can’t help myself with this pattern, plus I have so many more versions planned!

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In case it wasn’t obvious, this is the Vintage Shirtdress from Sew Over It aka the Ultimate Shirtdress in my mind. I wanted to try the pattern in viscose this time and felt I knew enough about the pattern to make it work.

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This poly viscose is from possibly the man outside Sainsburys… well it’s definitely from Walthamstow market following a very successful shopping trip with a Emmie, Roisin and Lauren. He just wasn’t quite behind sainsbury’s so who knows!? I thought this print was very Hobbs like or maybe Whistles? Nothing proven but it’s fun to dream and I know TMBS often gets end rolls from the high street.

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To keep the viscose from slipping all around I spritzed the uncut fabric with spray starch which was a big help during sewing but hasn’t washed out fully so the fabric is still a little stiffer than I like. These shell buttons were from my stash and I have absolutely no clue when from!

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The pattern sizing hasn’t changed from versions 1 and 2 so I’m not sure I have much else to say. I hope you forgive me for being brief!

On a plus I think I’m finally getting to grips with my camera settings! I took a few pictures of Chewie Cat and love how they turned out. These were shot on my X30 Fujifilm. It’s a bridge camera so I have the option to adjust my settings or let the camera decide. It’s great for when I’m in front of the camera as it does the hard work but then I get to play when the camera is back in my hands!

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Big Vintage Sewing

Sewing and wearing vintage-inspired clothing is something I love to do. I often find these patterns have more interesting construction details and work well in both vintage look and modern fabrics.

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When I heard the line up for McCall’s Big Vintage Sew-along I was really excited. There are so many excellent patterns in there. If you haven’t checked out the full edit head to this foldline summary or see the site www.vintagesewing.co.uk. There are 20 patterns in total, from the 1930s through to the 1960s plus a couple of Gertie’s 50/60s inspired patterns (they’re understandably year-less but stylistically probably just dip into the 60s).

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Over the coming months you’ll see versions of all the patterns cropping up online thanks to the BV Sew-along blogger tour, this will keep the inspiration bubbling and hopefully help you get started.

If you just can’t wait to clock eyes on some vintage dresses, I’m here to help. I realised I’d already sewn four of the patterns from the edit! So take a look at my round up and let me know if you’re tempted to make any of the patterns yourself. I’ve included notes on things to watch out for and as getting the size right with vintage patterns is so important, detailed what size this 5ft4 lady with a 36” bust and 41” hip chose. Right, now you know how bootylicious I am, let’s get started!

(Warning: The pictures in this post were assisted by a professional make up artist and photographer who I coerced into making everything look nice but have not been airbrushed as proof by my sock lines hahaha)

V9127
almond rock v9127 vintage sewing

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When I saw the line art for this dress I knew it had to be mine. I MEAN SWOOOOON! And I can honestly say this dress makes me very proud. I used a berry crepe fabric I bought in Walthamstow market last year and made self covered buttons. I used a coordinating zip and seam binding. I’m not going to fib, this isn’t an easy dress as there are a couple of areas where you really need to focus. The construction is 90% done by pressing under seam allowance and then topstitching the panels together. That much topstitching NEEDS a special foot or you’re going to go insane, unpicking and redoing. The other area to focus on is the pockets at the top of those swan head darts. This is where I had to read the instructions 4 or 5 times. After all my hard work I preferred them basted shut! Go figure.

Notes:
1. I cut two sizes down from my measurements to make a close fitting shirtdress rather than coat dress. This is predominantly a size 6 graded to a 14 at the hip.
2. The skirt was shorted 12cm. I probably should have just shortened by 8cm but too late now.
3. It took three toiles to adjust for my small bust and narrow shoulders, a slight swayback, plus to practice the pockets!
4. My crepe was very light and the dress is unlined so I’d recommend more of a triple crepe or cotton instead.
5. GET A TOP-STITCHING FOOT (I used my stitch in the ditch foot with a right hand needle position).

B5209

almond rock B5209 vintage sewing

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A tea dress can be a wonderful addition to your wardrobe because it easily works for day time and occasions if done right. I liked the effect of B5209 when done in a print even though you lose the beautiful seam lines a little. This dress I’m definitely going to make another plain version. Here I used a Liberty tana lawn from Minerva Crafts (they have some left in multiple colours), white lining with a secret purple side seam zip. With so many intersecting seams, the instructions cleverly direct you to not sew to the end of each seam, but stop and backstitch where each intersection will sit. This allows you to fit each piece together accurately to get the beautiful star at the centre front.

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Notes:
1. The bodice is self lined but I added lining to the skirt to be tights-friendly.
2. There is a BEAUTIFUL underrepresented lip shape curve at the back neckline that is very eye catching when your hair is worn up.
3. A print will help disguise any slightly off alignment seams if you’re feeling the pressure to be accurate but an air erasable fine line marker is invaluable to this pattern.
4. I sewed a 6 around the shoulders and chest but blended out to around a 14 in the ribs and waist I also reduced the gathering on the bust by about 4cm by using the markings for size 6. Finally I lowered the bodice 1cm.

B6582
almond rock B6582 vintage sewing

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This pattern is so lovely because it’s modest but interesting and has a surprise dip in the back. After two years in my wardrobe is comes out for weddings, parties, dinners out, work meetings and events, and once, a trip to the ballet! In a complete disregard for the pattern directions I used a viscose from Minerva Crafts. This makes the gathers at the shoulders very pretty, and the skirt extra swishy, but makes the back facing roll out occasionally. This dress is constructed using a partial front and partial facing to create the wrap effect in the upper chest.

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Notes:
1. I had to do a major hollow chest adjustment and full tummy adjustment, plus make the pattern a little more petite.
2. The outer fabric and facing is joined together BEFORE the shoulder seams are sewn, it’s suspicious but trust me, it leads to a neat finish.
3. While viscose is lovely, I’d definitely suggest something less fluid.
4. If you check out my blog there’s a tutorial for making a coordinating belt which is great to finish the look.

B5748

almond rock B5748 vintage sewing

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OOH this one, I’m excited even introducing it. This pattern is great fun to wear as the bodice is flattering, the front cut out and scoop back are both eye catching, and the circle skirt is amazingly big! I used a 60”-wide Liberty carline poplin, which isn’t as nice quality as tana lawn but has a good weight and the print is so lovely, the fabric base doesn’t matter as much. I used a soft cotton lawn as the bodice lining, hemmed with bias binding and installed a lapped zipper.

Notes:
1. This is an great pattern for a beginner as it’s easy to fit and construct, especially if made in a cotton poplin which handles well, is often the standard 60”-wide and comes in so many prints.
2. Bias tape is an excellent way to hem a circle skirt as it stretches to fit the curves. 99% of the time I machine hem circle skirts as life’s too short to sit and hand sew such a large area.
3. Wouldn’t this look good with a bow made from rouleaux loops!

So if you enjoyed all this vintage craziness from me, look out for my BVSA post on the the 15th!

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