Happy sunshine dress

Hello everyone! I promise this isn’t going be a huge ramble about the weather, even though I’m a total British cliché and actually enjoy talking about what’s happening out there. If I’ve ever talked to you about the weather, don’t think it’s just small talk… it honestly isn’t!

almond rock simplicity 2444 floral summer dress

So this is a dress I made last Summer! It was great for those sticky days when I needed to feel put together but stay as cool as possible. We’re not having so many of those right now. I have this really vivid memory of being out in Leeds with my mum and the sun was shining down on us and just loved wearing this dress. I also wore it to meet the gorgeous teeny newborn baby of my two good friends so the happy memories keep rolling.

almond rock simplicity 2444 floral summer dress

The cotton is a pretty print I found at B&M fabrics in the market but I’ve seen it online at Sew Over It called Cristabel and at Goldhawk Road. It’s a lightweight poplin with a touch of spandex. B&M had it on a blue base too.

almond rock simplicity 2444 floral summer dress

The dress is a Simplicity 2444 bodice with bigger armholes and thinner “straps” or should we still just call them shoulder seams? I used the Emery skirt from Christine Haynes because it’s so awesome; the perfect length and flared with the perfect A line. I added the pockets from the Emery too. I’m super happy with the fit of this dress now.

almond rock simplicity 2444 floral summer dress

The dress isn’t lined, just sewn up with the included facings which made it super quick to sew. The print means it isn’t that sheer but I definitely need a slip to wear the dress with tights. I installed a lapped zipper in the back because I am still on the quest to perfect these. This one is almost right, but the zipper pull shows a little.

almond rock simplicity 2444 floral summer dress

Oh and I rediscovered this necklace the other day too and really want to buy another big colourful piece like it. I systematically forget to wear jewellery every day. I really want to change that; although perhaps that means picking out jewellery the night before and laying it out for myself. That’s weird right? I have some lovely antique pieces from my family that I really regret not wearing more. Am I the only forgetful “accessoriser” out there?

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Remembering

I have a dress to share, and a story. Hopefully it’s something you’re interested in reading. First up this is my new dress. It’s an Emery Dress by Christine Haynes mashed with Project Runway for Simplicity 2444.

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I used the bodice darts and neckline from 2444 but the armholes and sleeves from the Emery. It’s the Emery skirt too. I mentioned this on Instagram and Twitter but I used a clever but fiddly tutorial to fully line the bodice, even though it has sleeves. I made it extra hard for myself by lining the bodice in the same fabric as the shell so it was hard to work out what to sew and when.

The fabric is a Robert Kaufman limited edition print called “Patriots” – a design to commemorate the centennial of the Naval Airforce. I bought it at Abakhan a few months back and felt emotionally drawn to it. I knew I had to sew it up before November.

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This time of year always makes me a little sad. You see every Remembrance Day I think of my Grandparents and I feel regret that I didn’t know them better. I never asked them the questions that I should have before it was too late. I know that’s a familiar tale but it doesn’t make me regret it any less.

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So today I’d like to share something about my Grandad, on my Father’s side. Alfred Edward Thomas, “Ted” to his friends was in the Navy during the Second World War. Here’s what I know.

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Volunteering in June 1942, aged 19, he joined the HMS Collingwood as a Leading Seaman – that was the equivalent of a Corporal from what I can tell. Between June 1942 and Feb 1945 he served on the Collingwood (for training), Osprey, and the Drake IV Tanatside. In May 1943 during his time on Tanatside the he was promoted to Able Seaman meaning a seaman with at least two years’ experience at sea. From Feb 1945 to June 1946 he served on the HMS Pembroke IV, Fabius (sp?), St Angelo (Caduus), Peacock, and Blenheim. He also spent several months on various out-stations of HMS Victory, most likely for more training.

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He was awarded the 1939-1945 Star, Atlantic Star (service in France and Germany), Africa Star (service in North Africa 1942-43)The Defense Medal and The War Medal. There’s a significance to the order of the medals which I won’t delve into too much but I want to say the 1939-1945 Star is awarded to those with more than 180 days continuous service – that’s something to imagine. And the Atlantic Star was awarded to those who participated in the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest continuous battle of the Second World war.

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To think of anyone serving in a war is almost inconceivable, it becomes a mental amalgamation of film or television scenes and patchy school history lessons. To think of someone you know – someone who has taken you on day trips and played board games with you – being at war is even harder to rationalise.

But it’s good to try and remember, to think of the effort and sacrifice. So I know what I’ll be thinking of at 11am on the 11th of November.

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Cheap as chips

almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

I don’t like the word cheap.

It’s too hard to distinguish between using it to indicate loss cost and implying low quality these days. People say you get what you pay for but I have often found amazing quality fabric at lower prices. And worse, the same fabric for frustratingly different prices.

almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

For instance my elephant print cotton lawn was £4.99 a metre but I’ve seen it listed for £14 a metre on other sites.

Part of me wonders if the cheaper fabric is a knock off of the more expensive. If I had only ever seen the lawn listed at £10 + I would have accepted that was its value. But maybe the seller I bought from was massively undercutting the market to secure sales?

I often project a perceived value on fabric if it feels nice or worse if the print sends my heart racing. I’ll put it up on a pedestal and have to will myself into cutting into it. But thats not to say I wouldn’t turn down fabric if the price seemed unfair. I’m still a fickle consumer, driven in some part by a sense of value: Even if the quality and longevity of my clothes is higher by making them myself I still need to justify my hobby from a price perspective.

Who knows.
It’s been playing on my mind though.

almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

So what am I sharing today. A polyester dress in an amazing triangle print called constellation.

I love the colours in the print. It’s like my dream design – geometric, repeating, with coral and teal.

almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

Here’s the kicker… The fabric was £15 a metre. With a discount code I got it for £11. Maybe you think this polyester looks worth that price? Or maybe you think polyester in any format screams cheap and nasty.

Granted, the fabric is prone to turning static and needed a fine sharp needle during construction. It’s actually slightly thinner than regular polyester, more like a peachskin weight that lifts with a slight breeze. But I still love it.

I bought it from Anna Ka Bazaar the Paris-based fabric shop last year –  sadly for me, I had to buy over the Internet instead of making a trip in person. One day though.

almond rock polyester anna ka bazaar simplicity 2444

The pattern is my one true love; a Simplicity 2444 bodice and gathered skirt. I altered the neckline and armholes to use bias binding and left the whole dress unlined. Made it super quick to sew! My overlocker kept everything tidy inside.

So there you have it! Would you ever pay £15 for polyester? Ever seen a fabric priced significantly higher or lower than you bought it for?

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Safe As Houses

Yoohooo!

Fun times over here! I’m super happy* with my new dress and ready to share.

almond rock cath kidston houses s2444 sureau

Basically this is a dress you’ve seen a billion times before from me. I’ve paired the Simplicity 2444 bodice with the skirt from the Sureau (a dress that I still can’t get to fit nicely).

This cracking cotton duck fabric is from Cath Kidston. All out of stock now I’m afraid! The dress is also fully lined with navy silk habotai. I put in a centred zip for a change too. Plus I hemmed using a stiff bias tape to make the skirt flare at the bottom and keep the bell shape.

almond rock cath kidston houses s2444 sureau

It’s my new favourite dress because it fits wonderfully, the silk lining feels lush and the print makes me smile. Isn’t that everything you want from sewing your own clothes?

Because this is such a TNT for me, I felt safe to splurge on the fabrics.

And I finished the dress last week but the CONSTANT rain refused to let me wear it until the day of these photos! We had sunshine all day, and even though it was still 6°C it feels great to take photos outdoors again.

almond rock cath kidston houses s2444 sureau

The fabric was sort of a present from my Auntie Lynda, Uncle Paul and Cousin Poppy. I received a Cath Kidston gift card for my Birthday and I used it on some pretty bedding and 1.5 metres of this fabric.

I have to thank Char for letting me feel her dress out of the same fabric at the SewBrum meet up. I wanted to see what the fabric weight was like before I ordered it online, as it wasn’t in stock at my local CK. It’s about the same weight as my Little French Dress so I knew it would sew up great as a S444.

almond rock cath kidston houses s2444 sureau

It was such a quick make seeing as how many times I’ve made this dress before. I nearly finished it within a day. Bonus part — because the fabric is so wide, I only needed a metre of fabric so I have spare!

I’m also very excited that Poppy is learning to sew! She’s had an amazing chance to design and sew a dress with the help of two tutors and has just received her first machine to use at home. I’m both terrified and excited for her! It makes her seem even more grown up!

I’m trying to think of good patterns she can work on at home. Please send me suggestions for trendy (but straightforward) tween patterns!! Or are there patterns for American Girl dolls?

almond rock cath kidston houses s2444 sureau

*Apparently I scrunch my face up when it’s a bit cold. I promise I’m seriously happy!

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My little French dress

Well now, this is a well timed dress reveal.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll know Le Tour has come to Yorkshire. This weekend in fact!

I myself am in Lancashire for the weekend but I’m participating in the fun by sharing this little French dress with you all. Sorry it’s not made of yellow lycra. (I’m not actually sorry.)

almond rock simplicity 2444 french paris dress

The dress should probably be called my little Paris dress given the fabric is covered with Parisian landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, etc. There are also gloves, hats, dogs and umbrellas plus French sayings!

almond rock simplicity 2444 french paris dress

The fabric is home furnishing fabric I got at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year. I seemed to be the only one obsessed with it! Afraid I don’t know the maker and can’t remember the stall name. I lined the dress with mint coloured peach skin fabric which feels lush against my skin.

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I’ve been freaking myself out trying to find the perfect garment to make but realised simplicity 2444 was the one. It’s a dress that can be worn in summer and winter and has enough coverage for work: these facts mean my 2444 dresses are my most frequently worn me-made garments! Why fight a good thing?

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We took these photos strolling about near the canal. My photographer was making me laugh and encouraging me to do silly faces. Happy to oblige.

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I’ve got to show you the back. I tried so hard to pattern match across my lapped zipper but I was about half a centimetre out! It mostly isn’t noticeable but these two dogs sniffing at each other are rather hilarious.

almond rock simplicity 2444 french paris dress

almond rock simplicity 2444 french paris dress

There you go, my favourite version of 2444 to date! Have a lovely weekend if you’re into cycling. If you’re not I hope you find somewhere to hide out!

almond rock simplicity 2444 french paris dress

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