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.

Continue Reading

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

Continue Reading

Colour blocking

Colour blocking doesn’t seem to be fading in popularity. It definitely isn’t in my house.

almond rock minerva blogger network colour block viscose

I’ve been waiting to sew this cute little vintage pattern since I gleefully picked it up at a sewing meet-up/ swap. A May Minerva Blogger make seemed like a good opportunity!

There are three really good variations in this pattern but I was smitten with the inset variation seen in yellow.

almond rock minerva blogger network colour block viscose

This was a pretty simple make but I think it looks really effective. I used two colours of 56 inch wide plain viscose.

The back and outer front bodice are made from the navy blue and the inset from the purple, which is actually a really pretty violet colour.

I have to say the navy feels wonderful. I know they should be exactly the same handle in slightly different colours but the navy has a slightly softer hand. It’s also lovely and cool the way viscose should be.

almond rock minerva blogger network colour block viscoseThe inset is really easy to sew and only requires a little more focus when reaching end of the point.

As you can see these sleeves look different to the pattern. Because it’s quite loose fit in the bodice I felt a bit boxy in the kimono sleeves as well, so I removed them and added a fluttery cap sleeve. I even lined the sleeves in purple so every now and then they show a peek of colour.

almond rock minerva blogger network colour block viscose

And because the team at Minerva are so good they included the perfect colour match in gütermann thread for me to use – colour 718 matches the violet and colour 387 matches the navy. Perfect!

Continue Reading

Textile Printing at Leeds Art College

Hello everyone!
I thought it was about time for a full round up of my Textile Printing course. This is going to be picture heavy I’m afraid and I’ve not even included all the pictures!

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Weeks 1 and 2 we worked with disperse printing using heat set dyes on man made fabrics. Using paper soaked in dye and a giant heatpress, I played with geometric shapes on coloured polyester and crepe.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

almond rock textile printing leeds art collegealmond rock textile printing leeds art college

Week 3 we made paper stencils using scalpels and when taped to mesh screens we could pull binder ink through onto any fabric we liked. Mine was an utter disaster due to poor squeegee technique and rubbish stencil.

Week 4 was about free form painting direct onto a screen using Procion reactive dyes. I printed a splatter print onto cotton lawn and silk.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Weeks 5 and 6 we prepped for future sessions by coating screens in light sensitive emulsion and thanks to a huge light box we exposed imagery onto the mesh. We drew the images in thick black pen to act as positives and when the screen was exposed the black areas washed away creating a negative that would allow ink to pass through in just those areas. I chose pineapples!!

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

While our screens set we also dyed silk, satin, velvet and cotton in big pans using tiny amounts of dye and lots of hot water. Excitingly I also got to use the digital printers while our fabrics soaked! I printed 1.5m of paper crane print cotton drill and 1.5m of painterly triangle print silk.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Week 7 was the start of my pineapples adventures! We pulled binder ink through our screens onto any fabrics we wanted. I chose to print fluorescent pink ink on white cotton and crepe de chine and black ink on brown polyester.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Week 8 we tried discharge screenprinting where a smelly seaweed-based paste bleaches the colour from dyed fabric. As well as devore printing which removes cellulose fibres leaving the man made fabric base behind – e.g removing the nap from velvet to create a relief. I used my pineapple screen again to discharge print on my dyed cotton and silk. And freestyled a brush painted devore print on my dyed satin and velvet.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college
almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Weeks 9 and 10 I decided to expose a new screen with hummingbirds and printed onto some colourful viscose. I printed teal ink on pink and pink ink on purple. Plus I had time for a sneaky little bit more disperse printing.

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

It was such a wonderful course, I’m actually a little sad I can’t repeat it next term but I’ve already signed up to a pattern drafting course.

Here are the details for Textile Printing: The course I did was a short evening course run by Leeds Art College, over 10 weeks for 2.5hrs. The tutor is Kirstie Williams who also runs independent print courses.

The course costs £185 with all materials provided but you bring extra if you want to print something specific.

I ended up with enough fabric for 3 dresses, 4 tops, and plenty of A2 pieces for tote bags or small garments – silk pineapple knickers perhaps?!

The new term starts in a couple of weeks so I suggest you sign yourself up asap if you’re interested!

almond rock textile printing leeds art college

Continue Reading

Spot on

You won’t believe how long I’ve been waiting for August 2014.

almond rock new look 6886 viscose

It’s a month of two major events – first, it’s my 30th birthday. (Today in fact) Huzzah! And second, I’m moving to my new home and getting a sewing room.

I am VERY excited. I hope you can sense a bottled up giddiness in my photos; take a look and see if you can catch the twinkle in my eye.

So for my August Minerva make I wanted to make a strappy sundress; I mean can you blame me given the weather we were having?

almond rock new look 6886 viscose

I used an amazing spot viscose from Minerva that I can honestly say is like my absolute ideal fabric –

  • the print is small but noticeable;
  • it has brilliant drape;
  • it’s cool and soft to the touch; and
  • there are so many good colours in their I can wear a wild variety of coordinating clothes and accessories.

I’ve even used this fabric before on a dress, that’s how much I love it. I have TWO dresses in my wardrobe in it now.

almond rock new look 6886 viscose

The dress pattern used is New Look 6886 which is a great staple sundress pattern with several cute variations. I was very tempted to use gathers around the bust but in the end went plain and simple with view D.

The bodice is self-lined, and I inserted a lapped zipper (as I’m done with my invisible zipper obsession now) plus as an interesting touch I used a slider set to make the straps adjustable.

almond rock new look 6886 viscose

This is something I’ve always loved about ready to wear clothes because I have one shoulder lower than the other and even though I try so hard, fitting straps on myself isn’t 100% fool-proof. These nifty sliders are cheap to buy and come in packs of 10, in black/white/transparent.

Doing this will mean a couple of changes from the pattern pieces and a little extra effort – first you’ll extend your strap piece to  cut a much longer strap, then you’ll make a very short strap about 3 – 4 inches long. You should bring out a bra to sit next to you as you sew to compare how the straps feed through the loops.

I absolutely adore this finished dress and feel wonderful in it. It’s been worn every week since I finished it.

almond rock new look 6886 viscose

Continue Reading