• 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

    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!

  • Dresses

    Eve Sew Over It dress

    Time for something unusual today… a “pretty fail”. I don’t tend to share garments I’m not happy with on the blog as I probably won’t wear them and the problems aren’t something that others can usually learn from (like bad colour choice or low quality fabric, etc). This time I love the fabric used for this dress so much I’m going to fix it at the weekend to make it more wearable!

    Almond rock Eve dress Sew Over It Mandors Glasgow

    This is the Eve dress by Sew Over It. I bought this pattern from Village Haberdashery something like a year and a bit ago as I loved the elegant versions popping up on the internet. I then paused as wrap styles never really suit me due to my extreme difference in proportions. I’m still currently a 36A cup size and 31″ waist with a 44″ hip. I need a really flared wrap skirt to flatter my lower half and need to ensure a close fit at the bust given I don’t have much to fill the top. I made view A which features fluted sleeves and a longer hem length. My fabric is suitable drapey and opaque (always a winning combination in my book) and I love the bold teal colour.

    Almond rock Eve dress Sew Over It Mandors Glasgow

    This is a twill fabric from Mandors of Glasgow priced £5.99 and comes in a couple of colours but I couldn’t resist the teal. They sent me the fabric for free in exchange for a review of their service and I was pleased to see my parcel nicely wrapped in tissue paper and sparkly ribbon, and washing/care instructions were included for the fabric. The range and prices on offer were surprising when I started browsing as I’d always assumed Mandors were a small business but with plenty of lovely dressmaking fabric and unique patterns on offer I’d be tempted back again for sure. And as I look at fabric shops for a living I have high standards.

    Almond rock Eve dress Sew Over It Mandors Glasgow

    While I adore how swishy the sleeves are I think the combination of longer length and big sleeves are drowning my 5ft4 frame. I have very narrow shoulders and feel like they’re getting lost. The print on the fabric being ditsy does suit me I think as it’s not too overpowering and the bold block of colour makes it an eye-catching dress.

    Almond rock Eve dress Sew Over It Mandors Glasgow

    I made a size 8 around the upper bodice, grading to a size 10 waist and then a size 14 hip. Given the wrap style there is a lot of room for adjustment here but I think the bodice is quite loose and prone to moving so I either safety pin it shut or wear a pretty slip underneath. It billows a little at the back too so is quite airy to wear on a hot day (not that they seem to be coming back soon!) The length feels very romantic and looks nice with heels or flat shoes. It just comes back to those darn sleeves.

    Almond rock Eve dress Sew Over It Mandors Glasgow

    I tried tucking the sleeves in for a photo (don’t laugh please) and instantly felt unburdened so I’m going to unpick the sleeves and bias face the armholes. I just don’t think I’ll wear it again if I don’t do this, even though I love how vintage 40s the silhouette is.

    Almond rock Eve dress Sew Over It Mandors Glasgow

    Isn’t it funny how your brain can picture some garments so clearly in the planning stages to help you match the right fabric to the right pattern and sometimes it can lead you down an odd path…

    Time to look at some gorgeous versions of the dress like this “nightie” version by Emilie with some clever observations, Cheryl’s stunning rose print and not forgetting this “too big and too small” dress by Daphne inspired by Boden.