• Dresses

    China blue McCall’s 6959 wrap dress

    Like many of us, the Covid situation threw me through a loop for a long time. I was home all the time, working from the spare room, I didn’t get out of my pyjamas many days, and barely wore makeup. And crafting? That was non-existent. In a way I’d lost my sense of identity – I wasn’t wearing or making home sewn clothes. But things are slowly starting to get better. It started with house viewings! Yes I had to wear gloves and masks, not touch anything and keep away from the estate agent as a I moved around but I had a reason to get dressed and get out the house. Then I went to an arm knitting blanket workshop at Fabricate.

    I’d already seen on social media how dedicated Philippa was being about safety and going to the shop didn’t disappoint; she had socially distant workbenches, it was a zero contact tutorial, hand sanitiser a-plenty and much more. It was liberating to get a taste of what life used to be like but with a new safety-first slant. This week I’m going for a beach side break in a private cottage to celebrate my wedding anniversary and I’m taking one of my prettiest dresses to wear for dinner.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    This dress has it’s own story. At the beginning of the year I was contacted by Lindybop about doing a sponsored blog post. I received 3m of fabric and in exchange I was to write a guest blog post and do social media promotion when the dress was ready.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    This stunning china blue porcelain print fabric features delicate florals on a spandex cotton base which they called crepe de chine. You can read my earlier comments on how it isn’t really ‘crepe de chine’ on my magpie dress blog post. But before I could write the blog post, Lindybop went into administration. They kindly messaged me and said to keep the fabric and wished me well.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    It’s rather sad, but the dress turned out so nicely that I’d like to still share it, even though it’s bittersweet. I made the McCall’s 5969 from Love Sewing mag 65 last year, one of my favourite issues (now out of stock). By merging View D with its modest wrap bodice and long sleeves with View B’s full circle skirt and sash tie, this dress becomes delightfully vintage with the right fabric.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    I shared my toile of the bodice on Instagram earlier in the year – thought you’d appreciate the flash of tummy above. A brief reminder of my measurements: 36″ A bust, 33″ waist, 45″ hips. I chose a size 10 in the upper body/bust/armholes, 12 waist and 14 waist/hips. I then slimmed the sleeve width down a little and ultimately, shortened their length. I also moved the bust darts slightly and added 2″ to the skirt hem.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    I’m  not risking any mishaps with this wrap… There are multiple press stud fasteners used to close the dress at each side seam and the neckline. The sash belt is then purely decorative. The mix of facings and my own use of bias binding for the skirt and sleeve hems feels complementary.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    This feels luxurious to wear because of the fabric. Plus it feels well drafted, as that sleeve head is lovely and the bodice has just enough ease for everyday movement without looking saggy. PLUS the swish of the circle skirt is, of course, fabulous. But that means it is also fabric hungry, requiring me to use almost all of my 3m.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    Wrap dresses used to make me so upset when I tried them on as everyone said they were universally flattering no matter your shape. But when I tried them on in shops all I saw was this lumpy figure with overemphasised stomach and hips, and no bust. Then I tried the Eve wrap dress with some success. But a wrap dress with a circle skirt? This is glorious for my body shape aka the human butternut squash.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    Want to see more? How about Wendy’s version from the magazine. Or follow Rin’s gorgeous sewalong. At last but not least this STUNNING red Gucci Mindy Kaling inspired version by Serena.

  • Dresses

    Feeling fruity New Look 6587

    Oh lemon print fabric how I love you. This is my third dress made from lemon fabric. The second made into New Look 6587 my delightfully ’90s pattern.

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    My pretty sateen is from B&M fabrics in Leeds last year but you can also get it here and the buttons are ebay. They’re so pretty I added two big patch pockets with buttons on them as well.

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    I made view E without the trim in a straight size 12. The skirt is barely gathered which I find quite flattering and works well in this style of fabric. I also added 2″ inch to the length for midi coverage. A tie belt cinches the dress perfectly.

    new look 6587, new look patterns, when life gives you lemons, dolce and gabbana, 1950s style, vintage style, vintage sewing, retro sewing, NL6587, simplicity by me, retro style, retro sewing, cotton sateen, dressmaking, sewing

    There’s something magic about this dress, it instantly lifts my mood everytime I put it on. Oh and course I had to break out my lemon earrings for these photos! They are the best pair I’ve bought in a long time (thank you H&M).

    new look 6587, new look patterns, when life gives you lemons, dolce and gabbana, 1950s style, vintage style, vintage sewing, retro sewing, NL6587, simplicity by me, retro style, retro sewing, cotton sateen, dressmaking, sewing

    I think because its not tight but has enough shape and structure I don’t feel like I’m wearing a sack. I can eat as much as I like without feeling uncomfortable and it fits me regardless of my fluctuating weight.

    What else to add? Well I have two more lemon prints in my stash but I do like the look of Primevera by Rifle Paper Co! Trying to sew my stash first though. There’s a burning desire to shop while cooped up but I have been trying to resist adding to my heaving sewing room. I’ve only bought a couple of patterns and some buttons so far.

    My productivity is having random little spikes of activity during this situation. I photographed three dresses today and whipped up a few garments over Easter. But then I also sit for hours uninspired and exhausted! I imagine that is the same for a lot of sewists. I’d love to hear how you’re coping.

  • Dresses

    Pretty little pattern hack Butterick 6318 and Butterick 6453

    Sometimes an idea for a dress sticks with you.

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

    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!

  • Dresses

    Make lemonade New Look 6587

    I’m a romantic at heart… I daydream about wearing glorious vintage clothes in stunning architectural spots around Europe… I’m Audrey in Roman Holiday, or Grace in To Catch A Thief… In reality I don’t have the patience to get up at dawn to find a location then get in position or wait in the perfect spot for everyone to leave the frame. People in tracksuits tend to ruin the retro illusion. But I make do.

    Almond rock new look 6587 Dolce and Gabbana lemon dress nl6587 #simplicitybyme

    During my trip to Barcelona in May I knew I wanted to at least get blog photos of this dress. I’d hoped for more since I was in a stunning European city BUT I have a very unhappy photographer/travel companion who doesnt like getting in the way/being watched taking photos/the pressure to get the perfect shot. I think Rach and Noelle have a genius solution being dedicated photographers for each other. Any volunteers?

    Almond rock new look 6587 Dolce and Gabbana lemon dress nl6587 #simplicitybyme

    Seeing catwalk dresses and knowing you can make a version that suits your life and budget is so enjoyable! I had the above Dolce and Gabbana lemon and floral beaded poplin dress (£2578) saved on my pinterest board for a long time as well as the below stunning organza silk lemon print dress which is a D&G variation on the first style (£3798).

    Almond rock new look 6587 Dolce and Gabbana lemon dress nl6587 #simplicitybyme

    For my version I used a stretch cotton with zesty lemons on a smaller scale and teal leaves. This fabric is from Fabricland a year ago when lemon fabric mania was at its peak!! Flash forward a year and there’s new lemon designs out there so go shopping with glee everyone.

    Almond rock new look 6587 Dolce and Gabbana lemon dress nl6587 #simplicitybyme

    As a modest lady who gets cold easily I wanted a dress with sleeves and have been quietly obsessing over button front dresses for a while. I got New Look 6587 in a pattern shop about 5 years ago and took it out every year thinking “Is this too 90s? If it is why do I love it so much?”. Safe to say I made it more vintage.

    Almond rock new look 6587 Dolce and Gabbana lemon dress nl6587 #simplicitybyme

    I made view E without the trim. The skirt is barely gathered which I find quite flattering and works well in this style of fabric. I also added an inch to the length for midi coverage. Everything is faced in nude bias binding which is a neat finish. I chose vintage teal and white buttons I picked up in the Bonds of Farsley sale and to make up for having only 7 buttons I added reverse buttons on the inside in the gaps.

    Almond rock new look 6587 Dolce and Gabbana lemon dress nl6587 #simplicitybyme

    My belt was made using a vintage belt kit gifted a few years ago by a fellow sewist. While I’ve made a belt before I’ve never had access to real belting material. My kit was nearly identical to the one shown in this tutorial. I love the finished effect and made sure to perfectly position two holes – one for before dinner and one for after!

    Almond rock new look 6587 Dolce and Gabbana lemon dress nl6587 #simplicitybyme

    This dress turned out so much better than I hoped. The style, colours and fit make me so happy and stylish. (Quick announcement: I’m also in love with my lemon earrings!) Barcelona beach was a fun backdrop for the photos… even if I had to sacrifice my beautiful ideas of retro images. I might wear it to the Italian Riviera themed party at New Craft House this sunmer!

    Almond rock new look 6587 Dolce and Gabbana lemon dress nl6587 #simplicitybyme

    Feeling happy 50s or 90s vibes for this pattern? Take a look at these ace versions: I’m green with envy over this dress, and I’m gagging over this beauty and last but not least visit pattern review to see this, plus more cute versions!

  • Dresses

    Two for joy Annabelle dress

    Hello everyone! I was unbelievably excited to see the Dior exhibition at The V&A museum this weekend. I took my Aunt and cousin and just knew I’d tear up when I saw everything… I’m oddly emotional about the idea of all that design and talent gathered together. See a few personal highlights on my Instagram account.

    almondrock annabelle dress lindbop teadress vintage style retro sewing

    Tea dresses are the ultimate wardrobe staple for me so it’s no surprise I reach for the same few patterns when I want to show off a great fabric. Feminine, timeless and modest they suit my workwear wardrobe as much as my out of office outfits. I love going out for lunch and on day trips in vintage style clothes as much as I like vintage glam evening wear! During the work day I don’t get to pile on the vintage make up or hair but I like to wear retro inspired clothes to the office as they make me feel turned out and confident. There’s no actual dress code in my office so sometimes wearing a shirtwaist dress or a circle skirt while everyone is wearing jeans makes me a point of difference but it doesn’t put me off. I honestly enjoy getting dressed every morning… I hope you do too?

    almondrock annabelle dress lindbop teadress vintage style retro sewing

    So as you will have guessed, I’ve made this pattern before (three times now but only twice blogged). This is the Simple Sew Annabelle dress which I’ve always made in drapey crepe fabric. This time I thought I’d try something a little more structured! I treated myself to this “cotton spandex mix” from Lindy Bop who have just started selling fabric. They have a small collection of prints on two bases; scuba and “crepe de chine”. The latter arrived and was stretchy and relatively well structured so I think it’s a creative interpretation of what crepe de chine fabric is. It still gathers like a dream and has a lovely shine to it so please don’t think it’s not a quality fabric. I chose the magpie print and the bookcase print (as an editor I had to).

    almondrock annabelle dress lindbop teadress vintage style retro sewing

    The blue is so vibrant and each of the magpies are depicted chasing different jewels and treats like rings, charm bracelets and gems. I live in a new build house from the early 2000s which was a long empty plot of land originally. When the builders turned over all the soil ready to build on, magpies came in the droves to find shiny bits that were unearthed and even now the houses are built they can’t help return to the spot. On a daily basis I see between 5-10 magpies around my street so I am constantly singing THIS nursery rhyme. And I ALWAYS say hello to a lonely magpie to make sure he’s not on his own.

    almondrock annabelle dress lindbop teadress vintage style retro sewing

    You buy the material in either 1m or 3m lengths so have a think what you’d prefer and maybe partner up with someone to share if you The fabric is printed on a white base so when you stretch it you can slightly see white beneath. It’s also surprisingly closely woven so I recommend a very sharp fine needle to avoid snagging. You may want to line the fabric in case it sticks to tights but it’s totally opaque so makes a really lovely garment. I’m really pleased with the dress and the fabric and I’m looking forward to making my bookcase print dress! I think it would look fun as a Simplicity 1419 or a Selkie Patterns London dress don’t you?

    almondrock annabelle dress lindbop teadress vintage style retro sewing