• Other stuff

    Sewing Room Swoon

    Recently I shared my sewing room in the magazine and thought it should definitely appear on the blog too! I hope you like this peek into my sewing space. I know how lucky I am to have a dedicated space to sew, and although it feels like an indulgence at times, it has made me so happy in the short year I’ve had it.

    Forgive the low light in the pics, these were shot in Jan!

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    This room is on the middle floor of my townhouse in Leeds. It’s a great size room and is definitely nice and warm, but it doesn’t get the best light and the view isn’t the prettiest. I’ve done my best to make it look lovely inside instead.

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    The main feature of the room is the cutting table, made by my partner. He used four Kallax units from Ikea, added a large MDF top and used ikea metal feet to raise the table to the perfect height. Underneath I use large baskets to store all my fabric, zips, and interfacing, as well as mugs of chalk pencils, tracing paper and bias binding. The whole thing is over 1m wide and 1.5m long, meaning I can cut delicate fabric single layer without them trying to escape. The only problem is that my cat Chewie thinks it’s the perfect sleeping spot so I have to shoo her away when it’s time to cut out projects. Then she just moves to another spot for a nap!

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    I’m fortunate to have several machines. The Janome SMD4000 is my main machine, then there’s the machine I learnt on – a Toyota Jeans Machine. I also have a Singer 14sh754 overlocker and two vintage Singer machines (a 1939 hand crank and a 1970s machine set into a table. My dad is a great antique hunter!). Having all my machines in a row means bouncing between each is easy and I usually keep the Janome and Toyota threaded in different colours in case I need to work on multiple projects at once.

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    My gorgeous pink mid-century inspired chair has a pretty scalloped back (Very.co.uk) and I’ll sit here when it comes to hand sewing and unpicking. The vintage glass cabinet was a gift from my partner’s grandmother and it makes perfect storage for yarn, ribbon, button tins and boxes of sewing patterns. (Orla Kiely tins, Selvedge yarn)

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    Decorating is still a work in progress but the majority of my wall space is used for spool racks. I chose polka dot wallpaper from Prestige Textiles (in Graphite – my first ever wallpapering attempt! Under the careful eye of my mum) as an eye-catching feature when you first enter. My most-used scissors hang from a pretty coat hook from BHS for easy access and fun quotes and pictures keep me smiling while I work. (Vintage decorative dressmaking stand, Korbond pear pin cushion, Sasse and Bell spool holder). A vintage sewing-themed calendar from SewDirect.co.uk adds retro inspiration and an illustrated portrait I was given for my birthday shows me wearing my favourite handmade dress (artist @andsmile). My plan is to frame some of my vintage patterns and add a bit more shelving space and then the room should be complete!

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    After years of working on my dining table and cutting out on the floor, it’s so nice to have a separate sewing space. I do miss Mr AR though, so we regularly run up and downstairs to see each other and take it in turns to brew up!

    I hope you enjoyed having a peek in my sewing room. Hopefully the next time I share it the walls won’t be as beige or sparse heehee!

  • Other stuff

    Gathering Supplies

    Over the last couple of months I’ve slowly been gathering supplies for a new jacket.

    Since making my Anise I sort of laughably said I’d never make another coat or jacket. Well that didn’t last long.

    I started in October by whittling my pattern choices down to three favourites. Burda Pattern 7115, Burda Download 9 2014 #120, and a Vintage McCall’s 8420.

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    You can see I was interested in a notched collar and a pea coat shape. I did want something a bit longer than a jacket but not quite a coat.

    I came pretty close to drafting something myself but then I settled on the Burda and will adjust as needed (pattern on offer here).

    While shopping at Samuel Taylors in Leeds I saw a beautiful pale aqua wool coating but couldn’t shake the idea of a darker teal colour.

    And at SewBrum Barry’s came to the rescue with a lovely textured green coating half way between teal and emerald. And I already had coordinating thread in my stash yippee!

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    During a fortunate spot of eBay surfing last month I found a seller offering this gorgeous high heel print silk satin and snapped it up for the lining.

    It’s a soft grey colour with some shoes in outline only and others coloured in pink, green, yellow.

    Now I need fusible underlining and interfacing, and coordinating buttons.

    Sadly with all the Christmas sewing I’ve got on my plate I’m not sure when I’ll be able to make a toile but I hope it’ll be soon. I’d like to get back to selfish sewing haha.

  • Other stuff

    Blog hop, skip, and jump

    What’s a blog hop when it’s at home!?
    It’s like a massive conga line of bloggy fun, that’s what!

    Trace it back to the start if you dare. I have been nominated by Louise of Sew Sensational to keep the party going. Louise is a fellow Minerva blogger and a total sweetheart. And I’m not biased just because she’s from Leeds.

    The premise is simple. Answer a few fun questions then shake your hips and name two more conga buddies to take over from you.

    Deep breath and here we go!

    almond rock blog hop

    Why do I write?
    Well that’s an intense question so I’ll give you an intense answer…

    I need this blog to prove to myself and to some degree the world that I have dedication and commitment to sewing, that my sewing skills and the quality of my projects are improving, and to create visible proof that I’m doing something I’m proud to share with others. Plus blogging is pretty fun right?

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    What am I working on?
    So many sewing, blogging and personal goals are bouncing around in my head these days.
    I always have sewing projects queued up. My list could take up several years. But this year I definitely want to complete an advanced vintage pattern to as high standard as I can manage. I’ve been plugging away with this a little every night, hoping that patience can yield amazing results. You should see the final dress in mid-Sept.
    Also, I coded my site after teaching myself css and really want to improve on it with a better gallery and improved header art. I don’t even care if most readers never click through to my browser because they’re happily followng me in a reader, I’m redesigning for me!
    Finally when we move into our new home later this month I want to make sure I enjoy being in our new space as much as possible. I want to decorate and have friends round. We’ll be enjoying lazy sunny mornings, epic cooking sessions and post-work swims at the nearby pool. Life isn’t just for sewing and blogging!

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    How does your blog differ from others of its genre?
    This is a bit tricky as the premise of many sewing blogs is the same.

    I think there are two things that I’m proud of myself for doing. Firstly I choose sewing patterns that aren’t that popular. Either they have ugly pattern art or have been out of print for years or have somehow missed the attention they deserve.. But I don’t care because I can see they are hidden gems.

    I suppose it doesn’t make me unique but I generally try and keep my blog happy. There’s so much in life to get down about, I like this little corner of the Internet to feel good about what I’m doing. It’s bright and colourful and has subtle (and not so subtle) attempts at humour and I hope people enjoy reading it.

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    How does your writing process work?
    My commute is two hours long; that’s usually the perfect time for me write, edit and schedule blog posts. Except for when the signal cuts out and you can’t save your changes — WHY SO MANY TUNNELS!

    I like to post at least once a week, but that might be on any day I choose. Usually I’m sharing a finished garment.

    My drafts folder contains a series of article-style posts that I know I can call on when I don’t have a garment to share but mostly I’m just winging it.

    Phew. So there you have it! My answers. Thanks so much to Louise for nominating me.

    My nominations!

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    Now it’s my turn to nominate some lovely blogs to continue hopping.

    First up is the lovely Marie of A Stitching Odyssey. I’m so pleased sewing has introduced me to this lovely lady, she really is a good friend now and although I’m still a little in awe of her sometimes, she doesn’t seem to mind. She crafts beautiful clothes and always talks absolute sense.

    My second nominee is Helen of Mancunian Vintage. I love Helen’s approach to wearing vintage clothing and she even sews a bit too. She’s always a great source of Northern inspiration. But hold on! She’s about to move down South! How ever will I cope!? Well I’m sure she’ll do great things down there as she did in Manchester.

    Check out these fabulous ladies and the next posts in the hop on August 18th!

  • Other stuff

    Minerva Crafts Meet Up – Dress Reveal

    Hello hello!

    It’s time for the full reveal of my Minerva meet up dress. Let’s quickly recap, I had chosen a beautiful cotton sateen and had to make a lovely party dress for an evening of fun and frolics. Here it is!

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    Everyone was dressed to the nines which was great. I loved my dress; I can attest to how fun it was to dance in.

    This is McCalls 6833 (the strappy version with a gorgeous pleated skirt). Because I used red crepe-like satin as my lining the dress felt especially nice to wear. It didn’t take much convincing to get me back into the dress for additional photos!

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    almond rock mccalls 6833

    And how about some photos of the day? Words fail me to convey how busy, bubbly and fun this day was. I hope the photos show this!

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    See more photos here!

    Thank you Vicki and all the Minerva Crafts team for such a brilliant day! I hope you had as much fun as I did!

  • Other stuff

    Raise your glasses! *clink clink*

    Oooh happy news in Sewing Land!

    A new pattern company for us to drool over and patterns which can race to the top of our sewing queues.

    almond rock capital chic patterns

    Capital Chic is a new, independent sewing pattern company based in London and offering work wear, cocktail wear and day-to-night looks. The designs have a wonderful modern, fashionable feel, with clean lines and excellent attention to detail.

    The patterns currently come in sizes UK 10-18 and are designed for the intermediate to advanced sewer. The Summer 2014 collection comprises six patterns (each with multiple options) which if you haven’t guessed are available right now as print-at-home PDF files.

    And lookie! All the patterns are named after cocktails… mmmm delicious.

    Here’s a little taste of what you can expect:

    Martini almond rock capital chic patterns

    Martini is a cocktail dress with a twist. A crop-top shape with an above-the-waist skirt, the silhouette creates the illusion of a narrow waistline. It comes either as separates OR as a lined dress that looks like separates. Genius.

    White Russian almond rock capital chic patterns

    White Russian is a cute sweatshirt; use pre-quilted jersey or sweatshirt fabrics for quilting your own design. The pattern comes with templates for lion and fox quilting and appliqué designs.

    Bellini almond rock capital chic patterns

    Bellini is a loose-fitting, cap sleeved blouse with either a cutaway collar or (my favourite) a scalloped collar. The collar provides a blank canvas for embellishment (sequins, beads or sew-on gems), or contrasting fabric like leather/pleather for an edge.

    manhattan almond rock capital chic patterns

    Manhattan is a more than just a pencil skirt thanks to the curved side panel. View A has a sexy, jagged hemline and exposed zip, or View B for a chance to showcase special fabrics in the curved side panel.

    Click through to see the final two patterns in the collection Champagne and Cosmopolitan, and make sure to visit all the patterns to see line drawings for the garments, oodles more photos of the variations for each garment… you won’t be disappointed.

    So have you spotted someone familiar in these photos?

    Bellini almond rock capital chic patterns

    Capital Chic is designed by Sally, who you should all know from her fabulous refashion blog Charity Shop Chic. Did you know she’s a self-taught pattern maker and sewer? And if you haven’t guessed her influences include the catwalk, the red carpet and London street style.

    I love that Sally has focused her creativity on pattern drafting for the rest of us! It’s really nice to see extra touches like French seams, zip guards and boning included in the patterns and instructions. Plus I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a cocktail (or two) with her in the past. Congratulations Sally!

    I can’t wait to sew up the Bellini blouse and share it with you all. So tell me which is your favourite?