Dresses

  • Dresses

    Dress like your bathroom M7969

    OK! If you saw that blog post title and are getting worried just keep reading! When we were planning our new ensuite I fell in love with some floral hexie tiles I’d seen on a few home accounts including the mid-century modern kitchen of Amanda aka Modern June Cleaver.

    Almond rock teal turquoise bathroom with black shower and floral Black and white hex daisy tiles

    Long story short, I got the floor I wanted but had to create the tile sheets myself. Hours of finger numbing work. It was all worth it though!

    Almond rock wearing a floral m7969 dress hack in her turquoise bathroom with with floral hex tiled floor

    Flash forward and I’m happily shopping at Rainbow Fabrics when I spot this gorgeous floral print. It reminds me of the Marc Jacobs daisy and Kate Spade prints. And most importantly it reminded me of my lovely tiled floor!! The flowers are a soft beige and the fabric base is a poly challis.

    M7969 dress pattern envelope

    I decided to make another puff sleeve M7969. Similar to my red and pink version using view B but this time added elastic to the hems in a channel to the cropped sleeves instead of shirring.

    Almond rock wearing a floral m7969 dress hack in her turquoise bathroom with with floral hex tiled floor

    As you can see I also cut the front bodice on the fold and rounded the neckline. I still finished the neckline with bias binding but skipped the interfacing since that is included to stop the neckline stretching out on the v neck.

    Almond rock wearing a floral m7969 dress hack in her turquoise bathroom with with floral hex tiled floor

    This is size M again but with 1cm taken out of each side seam. Given the slightly stiff fabric I thought it looked better slightly slimmed at the sides.

    It’s fantastic how quickly this dress comes together. Especially when you round off the front! I made it in a few hours while at a sewing retreat with friends.

    It’s a cute, eas- to-wear dress though the puff sleeves make it difficult to wear a cardigan on top. I still love it though! I’ll probably put this pattern to one side for now but sure I’ll return to it next year.

  • Dresses

    Vampire’s Wife Butterick 6705

    Hello hello! I’m in a very good mood today as Issue 101 of Love Sewing is on sale, and I’m in it! As former Love Sewing Editor it’s was so nice to be back in the pages of the magazine, to share a review for this lovely dress. My new column as Simplicity Brand Ambassador also begins in issue 101 so it’s two lots of Amy for the price of one this month! Butterick 6705 is one of the pattern gifts for the issue, provided in the full range of sizes. You can pick up a copy of the magazine at all good supermarkets or online at craftstash.co.uk

    Almond Rock makes Butterick 6705 in Rainbow Fabrics viscose as vampires wife inspired dress for Love Sewing 101 reader review

    For my version of B6705 – this is view A but with a couple of small changes. I used the sleeve construction from view B but cut to mid-arm. And I used the skirt length of view C. Mixing and matching pattern elements is such a satisfying way to get the exact dress you like. Like many of us, I overindulged during lockdown and had the fear that an empire line dress might highlight my midriff weight gain but to my delight, this beautiful skirt skims over my lower half and flares out. It somehow also makes me feel much taller than I am. I was also inspired by the version by Dei in animal print who makes such elegant clothes.

    Almond Rock makes Butterick 6705 in Rainbow Fabrics viscose as vampires wife inspired dress for Love Sewing 101 reader reviewFitting wise my Bust Waist and Hip measurements are 36A : 33 : 45 so I made a size 12 in the upper body and graded from a 12 at the waist to 14 at the hip. I’m quite petite in my upper body with very narrow shoulders so I lowered the neckline by 2cm so it sat in the right place, and as I found the two-piece sleeves slightly too large, I removed 2cm along the overarm seam. 

    Almond Rock makes Butterick 6705 in Rainbow Fabrics viscose as vampires wife inspired dress for Love Sewing 101 reader review

    The under bust construction forms a beautiful v shaped seam. My top tip is to pin each side individually and start sewing from the centre point out to the sides on each part of the seam. I’m also pleased to report you can customise the length of your keyhole so if you don’t want to reveal too much you can sew it a little further than the pattern notch. The front neckline is wrapped in visible binding and closes with a hook and eye fastener but you could choose to sew it closed with a continuous piece of binding or add a button loop.

    Almond Rock makes Butterick 6705 in Rainbow Fabrics viscose as vampires wife inspired dress for Love Sewing 101 reader review

    This beautiful green and black floral is a deadstock viscose challis from rainbowfabrics.co.uk, who specialise in excess stock from fashion houses. But with great prices and limited quantities you have to act quick when shopping the website! With viscose challis being prone to stretching, it’s important to let your curved hem hang for 24 hours to allow for any drop in the fabric and then recut so it is level. Plus to aid my invisible zipper, I added a thin strip of interfacing to support the centre back seam during construction and wear to avoid the fabric stretching out in this important area. I’m making a video about getting a perfect match across a waist seam when using an invisible zipper that will go live soon.

    Almond Rock makes Butterick 6705 in Rainbow Fabrics viscose as vampires wife inspired dress for Love Sewing 101 reader review

    My dress makes me feel like a James Bond femme fatale (who watched the latest movie?? MY GOSH). And at the same time, a model from fashion line Vampire’s Wife (whose dresses suit the name entirely). And though I can’t pull off a dreamy faraway stare, I feel very elegant in it.

  • Dresses

    Queen of Hearts Vogue 9000

    Hello all! As I write it’s a cold but bright Friday here in Yorkshire. I have plans to celebrate my anniversary this weekend (delayed since the summer, thanks Covid) and hosting a live stream sewalong on Instagram this Sunday for Simplicity. I’m making a S9240 sweatshirt live!! I need to ease myself back into live videos again! They were always so fun but moderately stressful. So let’s hope this one goes off without issues. 

    almond rock makes Vogue 9000 in heart print ecovera viscose from Rainbow Fabrics with a few pattern hacks

    Now onto today’s make. Returning to a pattern sewn years ago can inspire you to do things differently the next time around. I have made Vogue 9000 before but always knew I would revisit it, as I love the grown-on sleeves and full panelled skirt. This design also features a flat collar and buttoned bodice that is finished with a front facing and a strip of bias binding at the back neckline. The dress also fastens with an underarm side seam zipper for a neat fit.

    When I first made the dress in 2016 I sewed it in a luscious red John Kaldor microfibre. It was medium weight, glossy and a little stretchy (like cotton sateen) with the drape of polyester. I rounded off the corners of the contrast black collar and used black self-covered buttons on the front fastenings. It was a beautiful formal dress I wore to several events including a Christmas dinner dance.

    almond rock makes Vogue 9000 in hJohn Kaldor crepe from Sew Essentials with a few pattern hacks

    For my latest version I wanted to use an Ecovera viscose – a sustainable method of producing viscose that follows stringent guidelines to ensure eco-responsibility. The viscose was from Rainbow Fabrics in London who specialise in deadstock and overstock fabric from fashion houses which is a nice way to avoid waste and make your sewing more sustainable. In this pretty, confetti-heart print, the dress is lighter weight and easier to wear than the John Kaldor version which is just what I hoped. I can wear it in Summer with sandals, and Winter with brogues and tights.

    almond rock makes Vogue 9000 in heart print ecovera viscose from Rainbow Fabrics with a few pattern hacks
    Once again, I decided to round off the collar points but this time also extend the collar so it finished right at the front edges. This was due to the fact I would very rarely wear the neckline fully buttoned. Also the notch where the collar meets the facing isn’t very pronounced if worn open. A seamless transition into the collar seemed to be worth pursuing. It reminds me of a sporty polo collar now. I’m pretty pleased with the finished look. 

    Choosing viscose for this pattern does introduce a few more considerations. I didn’t line the dress so I’ll wear a slip underneath when wearing tights. A sharp fine needle and pins are vital to avoid snagging the fabric, and a dab of fray check on the button holes provides extra security. The most important thing to remember is to allow your skirt hem to drop for at least 24hours after attaching to the bodice. As it is a full skirt, there are areas on the bias that will naturally stretch out. Once the fabric has dropped you can then recut the hem so that it is level before finishing. I use a vintage Newey chalk hem marker that allows you to puff a line of chalk at a set height as you rotate in your garment.

    almond rock makes Vogue 9000 in heart print ecovera viscose from Rainbow Fabrics with a few pattern hacks

    I wholeheartedly recommend Vogue 9000. The panelled skirt is great for narrow fabrics while still achieving a flowing full skirt. I love the double darts in the back for even shaping, and like how the front bodice darts extend into the skirt panel seams. It’s a beautiful vintage pattern where you can create a dress that is a true reproduction of the era, or add a modern spin on the silhouette with an updated fabric choice.

    almond rock makes Vogue 9000 in heart print ecovera viscose from Rainbow Fabrics with a few pattern hacks

  • Dresses

    Autumn M7969

    Happy October everyone! It’s spooky season right? I’m already planning what pumpkin design to try this year after my super successful painted pumpkin with sewing theme illustrations.

    Now onto what I’ve been making! Here is my new M7969 dress which you can buy here. When I finished my previous red and pink M7969 I knew I needed more of this pattern. I then very soon after picked up this gorgeous floral viscose from Rainbow Fabrics.

    almond rock in an autumn floral print version of m7969 buffet dress surplice bodice with gathered skirt and elastic hem sleeves

    The falling blooms in orange and blush on the black base make me think of Autumn and even though I try to avoid wearing black, I knew it had to come home with me. All their fabric is deadstock or overstock from fashion houses and suppliers in London so you have to buy quickly if you like something. I’m glad I did as it’s now sold out, but take a look to see if you fall in love with another print.

    almond rock in an autumn floral print version of m7969 buffet dress surplice bodice with gathered skirt and elastic hem sleeves

    For my second version of the dress I chose to try longer sleeves. I used view B again but cut the sleeve just below elbow length. I should have probably gone another couple of inches longer in hindsight but I’m pretty happy with this. I can wear a cardigan over the top easily but also show a little bit of skin when I choose. With oversized dresses like this I think they suit me best when you can see my arms OR I cut to knee length.

    almond rock in an autumn floral print version of m7969 buffet dress surplice bodice with gathered skirt and elastic hem sleeves

    The dress goes together so smoothly and with the multi directional print I could easily get the dress out of 2metres of fabric. It’s definitely softer and swishier than the polyester crepe version which I like so you can see why the primary recommended fabric is challis. For me, using the double row of gathering stitches to draw in fabric has never seen me wrong so I’ve done that at the sleeve heads and waist.

    almond rock in an autumn floral print version of m7969 buffet dress surplice bodice with gathered skirt and elastic hem sleeves

    As before this is a size M with no other size alterations. For the elastic cuffs I made a small single folded 1cm hem which was stitched 80% of the way around with a gap left to feed my elastic into place. This teeny channel required adding a safety pin to the end of my elastic to help feed it through. I normally like to use my bodkin for elastic channels but it was too tight for that.

    almond rock in an autumn floral print version of m7969 buffet dress surplice bodice with gathered skirt and elastic hem sleeves

    I already wore it out twice. Once to dinner with my new colleagues! Sue who is the General Manager of Simplicity, Jackie who leads the Customer Service team and Marilyn who manages the Sew Today digital subscriptions. We went to a lovely new restaurant in Altrincham. Then I enjoyed wearing it so much, I wore it over to dinner at my in-laws house! So what I’ve determined is it’s great for wearing to dinner. It’s dressy enough to feel fancy but loose enough to sit comfortably while I stuff my face. WINNER.

    almond rock in an autumn floral print version of m7969 buffet dress surplice bodice with gathered skirt and elastic hem sleeves

     

  • Dresses

    Pink and Red McCall’s 7969

    Well well, I feel like the last person on the planet to jump onto the love train for M7969 but now it’s all aboard and full steam ahead! TOOT TOOT! Months after it was released, this pattern couldn’t escape my attention any longer. It has a lovely surplice neckline and swishy skirt. And although I don’t wear oversized sleeves like the pattern views, I had seen the lovely Kathy of Sew Dainty make a puff sleeve variation that I could pull off.

    almond rock in a pink and red print version of m7969 buffet dress surplice bodice with gathered skirt and puff sleeves

    Looking at the finished bust measurements on the tissue I decided on size M. That’s a 39.5″ at the finished bust so roomy without being too baggy. I did my favourite tape measure trick to check where you make a loop the same size as the finished measurement and dance around in it to see how the finished dress would feel. Then I made a toile because I wanted to see how much gathering was included at the sleeve head and whether I’d need to add more coverage to the centre front V neckline. I didn’t bother adding the skirt to the toile as I knew how that would fit. I also like to use a longer stitch length on my toiles to speed up the sewing and incase I need to rip out any seams quickly.

    m7969

    Everything was good to move ahead so I chose one of my most prized fabrics. Not because it was too expensive but because I love the mix of pink and red, and it sold out so quickly I have no chance of getting more. It’s a stretch polyester crepe, and has good body plus drape and is totally opaque – everything I look for in a fabric! It’s such a beginner friendly pattern without any fastening and forgiving on fit. They just need to master the art of gathering, because there’s lots to try. Plus the binding at the neckline is a nice technique for beginners. As I’m not a beginner I flew through this in an evening. I was home alone, had a delicious dinner and sewed all evening while watching tv in the background… heaven.

    almond rock in a pink and red print version of m7969 buffet dress surplice bodice with gathered skirt and puff sleeves

    Chain sewing the pieces made it even quicker. This is where you batch prepare your pieces and you pin every seam or dart etc that can be pinned at that stage. For this dress that meant side seams, sleeve seams and skirt side seams. Then I overlocked everything and pressed open before moving onto the next set of seams. If a seam relies on a previous seam being sewn you obviously can’t include it in the same batch but it does speed things up AND save thread because you sew each prepared piece, backstitching at the start and end as normal BUT you don’t lift the foot and clip the threads. You just move your piece out from under the foot and move a new piece in place. The thread tails between each piece are much shorter saving thread. Plus by not stopping to clip threads until the end you save time.

    almond rock in a pink and red print version of m7969 buffet dress surplice bodice with gathered skirt and puff sleeves

    For the puffed sleeves I cut piece 5 at the shorten/lengthen line and hemmed with a 1.5cm hem. Then I sewed a line of stitching with elastic in my bobbin 2cm up from the hem edge. This gathered the sleeve into a pleasing puff shape. You wind the elastic on the bobbin by hand so you can maintain a gentle tension, but still keeping the thread close to the bobbin core. I could have added two rows of stitching but one felt enough. My top tip for bobbin elastic is to hover your iron over the stitching line and press to release steam. This gathers the elastic up a little tighter, perfect if you’re doing rows of shirring.

    This dress makes me so happy. I can’t wait to wear it out and about soon. I think it’ll go really nicely with tights in Autumn and winter, and the colour will keep me smiling all year round! I made a video of tips for this dress you can see on the Simplicity McCall’s UK Instagram as well as a video round up of some amazing versions from the sewing community! There are a whopping 3k shared using the hashtag at time of writing. Now I know why…

    almond rock in a pink and red print version of m7969 buffet dress surplice bodice with gathered skirt and puff sleeves