The maxium cake dress

Please don’t think of me as terrible birthday brat but I wanted to share details of day 3 from my long weekend of celebrations. I still have one more day to go before I head back to reality and another press day on Tuesday.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

My family weren’t free to catch up until the Saturday after my birthday so we made plans to have afternoon tea at Weetwood Hall near Adel. This 17th century manor house is popular for weddings and parties and there was a wedding going on as we arrived! We sat in the indoor terrace. All the beauty of a garden area but safe from the elements!

We dined on gorgeous sandwiches (I had the veggie selection of aubergine and hummus, avocado and salsa, and cream cheese and cucumber plus a huge onion bhaji). Then there was a dessert tray of scones, treacle tart, brownies, lemon posset, candyfloss and choc ganache lollipops!! Fizz, wine and Earl Grey tea finished the table off nicely and we chatted away the afternoon.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

Sometimes you need a baggy dress. When you have this much food to eat its practically mandatory!! I haven’t been fitting into my clothes very well lately so a baggy dress fits well into my life right now. I’ve been inspired by DIY Daisy’s floaty dresses which are quite straight up and down while still feeling figure flattering.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

I drafted a basic bodice with grown on sleeves and removed the darts from the front and back. Then I adjusted the front to a wrap extending into the waistline (rather than the side seam) using a v neckline as a guide. It sits high on the shoulder then drops in a steep v, crossing just under the bust. The skirt is just a gathered rectangle.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

The excess fabric was used to make bias tape to finish the armholes and neckline. It was an awkward assembly in that I had to bind the front up to the shoulder and leave the ends unsewn first. That meant I could construct the bodice and join to the waist then install the zip. Then finally I could bind the top of the zipper and remaining bit of neckline. Of course I used my blind hem foot to edgestitch the binding. I got impatient before adding a hook and eye at the top… a job for later.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

I decided to topstitch the wrap in place as I can’t be arsed worrying about flashing people. I don’t have a lot of boob to flash but no need to take the risk. The waistline is slightly raised to help the body feel and the rayon means the dress is delightful floaty!! My favourite part of the dress is this stunning print.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

Susan Driscoll designs the most gorgeous prints and I was overjoyed when she released her rayon collection ‘Soiree‘ with Dashwood Studio. I actually bought three of the designs! This print is called Fragment and it reminds me of geology and gemstones. It’s all my favourite colours in one design. It looks a little navy in my pics but is on a black base. I got this dress out of 1.5m of 45″-wide fabric by the skin of my teeth!

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

Do you think you can identify rayon? It’s known in the UK as viscose and is a natural fabric made of plant pulp. BUT sometimes shops just call drapey polyester ‘viscose’ which blurs the lines and sometimes it’s mixed with polyester… the same way any other fabric base can be mixed with polyester of course.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

You can get rayon challis, rayon linen, and rayon jersey plus much more. 100% rayon challis is prone to shrinking, goes hard and rumpled when washed then goes back to being silky and smooth when dry. It doesn’t melt under heat or make static when you wear it. Its breathable and luxurious to wear and it’s my favourite fabric type! You need a sharp needle and sharp pins as its prone to snagging and you need a large space to work on so the fabric doesn’t slide as you work or cut out.

almond rock dashwood studio pattern drafting rayon viscose fragment soiree Susan Driscoll dress

I hope you enjoyed this post and the details of my self drafted dress. I’m building up courage to cut into the Secret Garden print above and figure out what style to sew. If you are keen to try pattern drafting I recommend the Aldrich book series. I also attended a great evening course at Leeds Art School which taught me other methods of drafting if you don’t get on with Winnie Aldrich.

Finally thanks do much to everyone who commented on my tile dress on the blog and on Instagram. I definitely appreciate it!! Cheers to you all!

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Simple Sew Poppy top

I’m writing this on Sunday, currently freaking out about my half made ballgown for The Dressmaker’s Ball. I have the pattern ready finally but as I came to cut out my fabric I realised I don’t have enough underlining fabric! How silly of me. So I had to get more yesterday and sew before next week (as I’m away from then until the ball). GULP. I’m going to make it work and Tim Gunn would be proud of me, I’m sure.

Almond rock simple sew poppy top stoff and stil viscose

My brain is utterly frazzled by work at the minute as we have been running so many special issues and there are garments flying around everywhere and I don’t have a free weekend until late April. The glamorous world of publishing.

Almond rock simple sew poppy top stoff and stil viscose

I really want to sit quietly and write a blog post so have forced myself to do it! This is thePoppy top from Simple Sew patterns. I got the printed version free from the cupboard at work but it was also a digital download from issue 48 of Love Sewing.

Almond rock simple sew poppy top stoff and stil viscose

With gently fluted sleeves and neckline pleats instead of darts it’s a pretty nice top that could be made for everyday wear or a special night out.

Almond rock simple sew poppy top stoff and stil viscose

I made the size 8 and let out the hips out to a 10 but it isn’t close fitting so didn’t need too much extra room. I should have made the 10 at the upper body I think as its a tiny bit tight.

Almond rock simple sew poppy top stoff and stil viscose

It’s a super quick make though and the pleats are fun to make. There’s a decent size facing underneath which supports the neckline pleats well. And a cute keyhole back letting you pick a pretty button from your huge stash to use… or is that just me?

Almond rock simple sew poppy top stoff and stil viscose

The fabric was from the 1st Sewing Weekender goodie bag! It’s aStoff & Stil viscose with little bird/boomerang shapes. Everyone got the same 1.5m piece so it’s been cool to see their makes over the years. I generally prefer brighter colours so I don’t wear this often unless it’s with a bright cardigan. Although it wasn’t my style I couldn’t seem to part with it. Glad I finally used it eh? I call the next photo “My fabric stash is THIIIIS big”.

Almond rock simple sew poppy top stoff and stil viscose

Now it’s time to count down the days until I see my girl Marie and hang out with loads of lovely ladies at the ball!!

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Endless camisoles

I might as well face it I’m addicted to camisole tops. I use the free pattern download from Love Sewing here with instructions inside issue 43. They’re super quick to sew up and they’re amazing scrap busters. I’ve made four in total so far and have plans for several more. I can squeeze one out of half a metre if I use shop bought bias tape.

I started with a toile made from a Primark bow cotton print sundress I’d long since been able to fit in. Mega cute! I made a straight M but added an inch to the length. I used flat self-fabric straps and used red bias tape inside.

Then I made my silk parrot version and added flat crossing straps at the back. It was a little short in the body as I forgot to add the extra length but looks lovely with a skirt.

This fabric is so precious to me, I got it on a fun shopping trip with Katie I have enough left for another top of some description but I can’t bring myself to make a mistake so haven’t chosen a style yet.

Next up were two viscose versions in quick succession – both with the length added back in! This swallow print version is a lovely viscose I got from Simply Fabrics Brixton at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate. I added rouleaux straps for this version and it’s such a lovely delicate touch. This may be my favourite of the versions.

Last but not least I used a remnant from Guthrie and Ghani that I picked up at Sew Brum. It’s a subtle print and there was just enough for a camisole so I treated myself! Sadly I used vintage bias binding inside and it hasn’t held up to the wash. The bias has ripped in multiple places so I’m going to have to unpick and re-stitch which is disappointing. Unpicking black on black is the worst!!

The pattern comes together pretty easily and you may actually spot this was an old Sew Loft pattern. It’s not as nice as the True Bias Ogden Cami which has a lovely facing but if I thought about it properly I’m sure I could draft a facing and change up the construction to make this my dream button loop front cami top. More sewing plans, not enough time!

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Dearest Doris, Sew Over It

Happy weekend everyone! The air is crisp and bright and there are thousands of orange leaves in my part of the world today. It feels really Autumnal outside so I’m snuggled in my sewing room, working on a few new things with a big mug of earl grey and some ginger biscuits!

Almond rock doris sew over it

And of course I have a new dress to share! When I first saw the Doris dress I thought she was a beautiful pattern but confess I was worried about whether it would suit me. I have a little pot belly which I thought would be highlighted by the panelled skirt and viscose fabric.

Almond rock doris sew over it

After finally talking myself into buying the PDF pattern, I then stitched it together digitally and used the a0 printer at work. I picked a busy and cheap fabric from my stash and hoped for the best.

This is halfway between the knee and longer length view which should be below my knee but I generally find the SOI patterns run short. There’s a button closure and side zip fastening and here I made a few changes.

Almond rock doris sew over it

Firstly I just sewed my Cath Kidston buttons on through all the layers… I don’t need the buttonholes to get it on.

Secondly I moved the ties so they extend from the side seams instead of the back. This is more visually pleasing to me but required some reordering of the construction steps to get the zipper to still work. I switched to a regular zipper to allow the tie to sit free. Almond rock doris sew over it

It has excellent swishability and the silhouette the dress gives me is very nice. I think the print is busy enough to hide my tum, and as I keep losing weight that should improve the amount of hugging at the waist.

I made this dress while binge-watching Party Of Five and it feels unintentially 1990s. Very Jennifer Love Hewitt… who was actually my teenage years girl crush so that worked out nicely. Oh go on then. One more swish.

Almond rock doris sew over it

I’m not sure if I’ll make another but I’m pretty happy with this version. Have you tried Doris? Please link to your version in the comments as I’d love to be convinced into making Doris again.

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Honey Bunny McCall’s 7381

Hi everyone! I’m back with a new dress and some more pics that I had snapped at the work studio.

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

I have been eager to make this dress for a while, even before we knew it would be a free gift for the magazine.

The epic thing that has me dancing around the office is that we’ve arranged an exclusive set up with McCall’s that the mag pattern gifts have both size ranges stuffed into one envelope. THAT’S UNHEARD OF. For one thing you can’t go out and buy a McCall’s pattern for £5.99 so it was already a sweet bargain and now you get two sets of tissue for that price. SQUEEEEAL. So yep, you should start looking out for upcoming issues with this same size range and no longer will I be writing to disappointed subscribers who don’t like the split sizing. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

So back to the dress… This is McCall’s 7381 and features mix and match options like different sleeves and hem lengths. You can achieve an easy fit with the elasticated back and you can throw the dress on straight over your head pretty much and then it fastens with hidden hooks and eyes or press studs under the wrap.

You can get hold of it with issue 37 of Love Sewing mag in any supermarket, WH Smiths or via www.moremags.com. Or if you aren’t into sewing mags, hunt down the pattern on it’s own through www.sewdirect.com or your local shop – I totally recommend it!

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

Because I wanted to make a ‘wearable muslin’ I decided to try some fun rabbit print viscose fabric from my stash. True viscose is very prone to shrinking so I made sure to wash my fabric first and found some black elastic and black liquid satin to line the bodice.

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

There aren’t too many complicated steps in this dress. The ties require you to sew around 90˚ corners by dropping your needle and lifting your presser foot to pivot so it’s important to mark your pivot point carefully and reinforce the corners with stay-stitching. I found it a little fiddly to get a neat point at the end of the ties with a point turner so resorted to a chopstick and finally a pin to gently ease out the end.

You might be interested in my sleeve-setting mantra too – “pin the seam not the sleeve”. Big-brand patterns are always accused of putting too much ease in sleeve caps. But accurate pinning can reveal this to be less ease than you think. Pin at the seam stitching line and don’t fight to align the raw edge curves. Curling the sleeve head over your hand can help so the sleeve mimics how it will sit with a real arm in there. Then just use the half and half again process; pin the notches, pin halfway between them, then pin halfway between those pins and repeat until your sleeve is ready to sew.

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

The style is supposed to have a bit more design ease than you see in my version but as I was between the sizes I opted to sew the smaller size S (aka 8-10 because it’s banded sizing). I’m very small in the shoulders, have a 37” bust but I’m wide across my back. Size S has a finished bust measurement of 38” and I think 1” of ease is enough for me. The ties add interest to distract from my small bust and the cap sleeves give me a nice amount of coverage. Not that you can see the ties in these pics hehehe. Something for the people who meet me in person to have a look at!

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

As a pear-shaped gal I really liked where the waistline sits, almost empire line, so the skirt fabric falls nicely over my lower half. Even with a 43” full hip measurement I have plenty of room in the flared skirt. I think the fastenings at the front could possibly be sewn shut as well… though I’m scared to rip my dress open so maybe I’ll stick with my hook and eye.

I should confess I like to pretend I’m taller than I am but in reality I’m 5’4” and, as I prefer not to show a lot of leg, I added an inch to the skirt length to ensure it fell at my knees.

Now I just need to pick what fabric to use for my second version! I have some lovely Atelier Brunette poplin and a luxurious piece of silk that would both work. I promise to share a picture when I’m done. Make sure to tag me any pictures you make of this pattern and I’d love to hear your thoughts on our new size offering. Maybe all the big four brands move to this?

almond rock mccalls 7381 love sewing mag

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