• Tops, blouses and shirts

    Vintage McCall’s 4916

    Ahhh Carefree McCall’s. Doesn’t that sound like a dreamy collection. I’ve no idea where the name came from but it seems to have run throughout the seventies. I picked up M4916 from my local charity shop and instantly was captivated by that pleated bib. I thought I’d make the dress version on the pattern but when it came down to it, I knew I needed more easy tops in my wardrobe I could throw on. Can you believe it? Me… NOT making the dress… unbelievable.

    Almond Rock makes McCall's 4916 vintage blouse pattern from 1970s

    The blouse is boxy but hopefully doesn’t make me look pregnant when I’m not. (A common mistake unfortunately, people are often congratulating me when they shouldn’t). And I thought go on Amy, try the puff sleeves you might like them. Factor in a sweet swiss dot effect 70s floral polycotton and I was ready for the #sewseventies challenge. Except I wasn’t. I finished this blouse a day too late and then photographed it even later. So now it’s ready for the Sew Vintage September challenge!

    Almond Rock makes McCall's 4916 vintage blouse pattern from 1970s in floral cotton

    It was a pretty fun make apart from struggling to cut a nice pair of bib pieces that looked carefree and not too repetitive with the flower positions. That’s just me being annoying I bet. There were 4 bibs in total. But thankfully I found the winning pair in the end. The bib has a self facing you fold in half to get the centre front line and then is basted together around the outside. No interfacing which was interesting. I made a toile in black to have a practice and was pretty pleased so moved ahead to the real fabric.

    Almond Rock makes McCall's 4916 vintage blouse pattern from 1970s in black as toile version

    You attach the triangular yoke to the bottom of each bib piece to hold them in place and fold back all the seam allowance before topstitching it in the opening. Fiddly and with no seam finishes but I got a neat finish with my topstitching and overlocked the inside to protect it from the washing machine. I also took an extra step of sewing up the centre front line by placing the two bibs RST before folding back the facings to add a bit more bust coverage. I also skipped the half collar in favour of a bias bound neckline as I find half collars a bit claustrophobic!

    Almond Rock makes McCall's 4916 vintage blouse pattern from 1970s in floral cotton

    My fabric was actually from eBay and while not authentically vintage, it has that sort of 1970s Laura Ashley nightdress print. Like I mentioned earlier, the dots are just printed on which is a shame as a true dobby aka swiss dot would have been lovely for this top. You need something crisp enough to make the pleats and soft enough not to balloon out like a tent and polycotton satisfied both these requirements! It was a whopping £4.49 per metre.

    Almond Rock makes McCall's 4916 vintage blouse pattern from 1970s in floral cotton with puff sleeves

    What surprised me is how much I like these little puff sleeves. At the minute statement sleeves or BIG SLEEVE ENERGY is everywhere and it’s a bit much for me. I have very small shoulder and don’t seem able to pull off the dramatic styles. These are pretty adorable though right!? Or am I on my own here? They are gently gathered into a band which I always enjoy making. In hindsight I could have given myself a little bit more room at the armscye but this is a minor point.

    Almond Rock makes McCall's 4916 vintage blouse pattern from 1970s in floral cotton

    What I really don’t like about the pattern is the centre back seam. YUCK. This breaks everything up in an unattractive way. But it’s a curved centre back seam so I just went with it to add shaping. Now I look at it and think I should have taken the time to cut it on the fold and add diamond shape darts for shaping instead. I mean, this print is too small the pattern match effectively without needing another 50cm of fabric… but I suppose if I hadn’t cut FOUR bibs like a mad woman, I might have had enough. Ca La Vie!

    Almond Rock makes McCall's 4916 vintage blouse pattern from 1970s in floral cotton

    Overall I’m super pleased with the blouse and the fit achieved by altering a single size sewing pattern to match my measurements. Plus I’m happy to take part in Sew Vintage September at least once… but hope to sneak in one more make before the month is over. Watch this space.

  • Dresses

    Ditsy Butterick 6758

    Happy bank holiday weekend everyone! I’ve just finished photographing a new dress and I’m really hoping the weather stays nice enough for me to wear it out and about this weekend. This is Butterick 6758 from the latest summer collection. It’s a really nice day dress pattern with drawstring waist and grown-on sleeves (aka drafted to be attached to the bodice), plus the option for a hem ruffle! I chose to make view A but without the sleeve bands. And I changed the drawstring to a waist belt.

    almond rock in butterick 6758 loose fitting dress red leopard ditsy ecovera viscose from rainbow fabrics

    The dress turned out so great. Easy to wear and fit, plus it will transition from summer to winter easily! I sewed it over the course of a few evenings, taking my time with it so I could slow down and enjoy the process.

    almond rock in butterick 6758 loose fitting dress red leopard ditsy ecovera viscose from rainbow fabrics

    My fabric is from Rainbow Fabrics, an online seller of deadstock fabric. This means the fabric is limited quantities, ie left over from ready to wear lines or excess stock from fabric wholesalers and once it’s gone it’s gone… which is the case for this print I’m afraid. It was labelled Ecovera viscose and they do have this same fabric base in other prints so maybe take a look. It’s unusual as a viscose as it has a crepe like texture with that familiar bubbled pebbly surface. I think it works perfectly for this dress as it has enough drape to gather nicely but still feels substantial to wear.

    almond rock in butterick 6758 loose fitting dress red leopard ditsy ecovera viscose from rainbow fabrics

    I love grown-on sleeves on me. Not because I don’t enjoy sewing sleeves, that’s not it. I just have very narrow shoulders and I love how grown-on sleeves broaden my top and balance everything out. Plus, when slightly oversized like this they look and feel super breezy! The trick with grown-on sleeves though is to recognise how the seam will fall down your arm, you’re asking a straight line to curve over your shoulder and down the arm so you will naturally get a small curve at the very end if using a soft fabric as it bounces up at the hem. A slightly stiffer fabric will hold itself away from your arm but you might not like that look. One trick that helps is to snip into the seam allowance from the shoulder point downwards every 2cm or so this helps the seam allowance lie flatter along the arm. But this shouldn’t be tried on a fabric that frays very easily.

    almond rock in butterick 6758 loose fitting dress red leopard ditsy ecovera viscose from rainbow fabrics I use a similar technique on the underarm of a grown-on sleeve, I snip into the seam allowance of the curve in a couple of places and then overlock the side seam allowances together letting the snips stay slightly open as I go over the fabric. Alternatively you can trim quite close so there is minimal seam allowance pulling on the curve.

    almond rock in butterick 6758 loose fitting dress red leopard ditsy ecovera viscose from rainbow fabrics

    I’m wearing my dress with red converse right now but I can easily see it with tights and a cardigan in colder weather. I made a size 14 and graded out the hips to add another 1″ at the side seams. To share this evenly I divided by 2 so I knew how much to add to the front and the back. Then divided by 2 again to work out how much needed adding to each side seam. So by adding a 1/4″ to the front and back side seam on my tissue pieces this added up to 1″ in total. Have you made this dress? Or are tempted to make it now? Please let me know in the comments!

  • Dresses

    Bircham Butterick 5748

    I must confess I did a double take when I saw this fabric go on sale in Hobbycraft. Not because it’s from Joules. I mean it’s definitely exciting that they have released a sample fabric collection of cotton prints. But because I own a handbag in this exact fabric design! I loved that bag, it came with me on many adventures and I always loved the hot pink colours. And given the bag has seen better days, it felt right to pick up some of the fabric for a dress.

    This is the Bircham bloom print, and the collection is exclusively available at Hobbycraft. You’ll see they’ve just listed the second collection of Christmas/festive themed fabric called “Sew Ho Ho”! I’m very tempted to make myself a Christmas dress or pjs out of the 12 days of Christmas print, or the foraged floral. But for now, back to this dress… one of my coping mechanisms for the pandemic was comfort eating, which was great except it meant many of my me-made clothes don’t fit any longer, and all my patterns are traced/cut in the wrong sizes.

    So I pulled out a favourite silhouette and got to work. Butterick 5748 is an early 60s vintage reissue pattern which perfectly spans that late 50s into early 60s aesthetic of close fitting bodice and big skirt. There are neckline cutouts to practice, charming bows to attach and a lined bodice to boost your skills. For me, I love the clean silhouette without any of the cutouts or details for a timeless work dress. I ended up going up one size at the bust and two sizes at the waist.

    You’ll see I switched out the side zip for a centre back lapped zipper. And the circle skirt for a gathered rectangle. What you can’t see is I actually lined the whole dress with pink habotai lining so I can wear it in winter with tights. I’m pretty pleased with my print placement as I didn’t have a lot of fabric to work with. It’s on sale in a 2m cut piece so I had to cut out the front bodice on the single layer to get the best placement and then place the other pattern pieces around that, without cutting the print too badly around the zipper area.

    So there you have it! This was a quick fix to my wardrobe issues and a way to use a beautiful print at the same time. I still have quite a few gaps in my wardrobe to fill and am determined to fit back into some of my absolute favourite makes, but one step at a time!

  • Dresses

    Seersucker hack dress

    I know it’s very very rainy in England right now but cast your mind back… This dress, Simplicity 9327 caught my eye from the new collection on a very hot day. And it instantly made me think of cool breezy nights on a Mediterranean holiday break. Small problem for me, the UK release was slightly delayed by Covid… Good news for you it’s available to buy now!

    S9327 simplicity dress pattern

    So I set about making my own interpretation. I chose a beautiful coral and white striped seersucker from SewSewSew. One of my favourite dresses came from their fabric and Katie gets unique beautiful fabrics that you don’t see elsewhere.

    Sewsewsew UK coral stripe seersucker

    I started with New Look 6587, one of my all time favourites that is now out of print. BUT the near identical Butterick 6674 dress has been released!!

    Almond rock S9327 NL6587 dress sewing pattern coral seersucker

    I cut rectangles for the skirt front and back on the fold and gathered them up. But I kept the button placket on the bodice. It’s a loose fit design already but I let out the seams a little so the dress would definitely fit over my head unbuttoned.

    Almond rock S9327 NL6587 dress sewing pattern coral seersucker

    Then I cut out my frills and managed to snip into one. That would have been fine if I had more fabric to play with but I ended up having to use the fabric saved for my skirt hem ruffle to cut 2 new frills on the crossgrain. The frill was taken from the Cocowawa Raspberry jumpsuit. It’s gathered to match the armhole and secured with a bias binding tape facing.

    Almond rock S9327 NL6587 dress sewing pattern coral seersucker

    I normally avoid tiny stripes as they cause moir√© when photographed at a distance. This is a visual effect where the pattern is so fine it becomes distorted to the eye in the final image, almost like its hazy or swirling. I managed to get some shots that weren’t too bad thank goodness.

    Almond rock S9327 NL6587 dress sewing pattern coral seersucker

    The dress is unlined and overlocked at the seams. The neckline and armholes are finished with bias binding and the sweet pearlised buttons are from my stash.

    Almond rock S9327 NL6587 dress sewing pattern coral seersucker

     

    Seersucker is great for summer. I think of it as linens superior sister because it’s just as cool in hot weather, it also has an interesting texture AND better than linen you don’t look like a wrinkled mess after wearing it all day.

    I took these photos up near Cow and Calf in Ilkley, famous for a rock formation of a big rock (the cow) with a smaller rock nearby (her calf) but also famous for the Tour de Yorkshire race that tackled this steep and winding road. FYI this is a trip advisor photo. My photography skills aren’t this good.

     

  • Dresses

    McCall’s 8090 Marina dress

    It’s finally the #sewrecreatethelook challenge reveal day! The goal is to recreate a look that you admire from RTW, the catwalk, Pinterest, a magazine, etc and share your progress. I’ve technically had my dress finished a couple of weeks but managed to hold off on revealing it. I’ve just been enjoying wearing it in the hot hot heat! Let’s start with a reminder of my inspiration…

     

    gal meets glam chassity dress

    This is the Gal Meets Glam Chassity dress. An American influencer I follow started her own line of clothing and ultimately it got too big for her to sustain, had some production issues and she closed the brand. There were some stunning dresses in her line so planning other recreations in the future.

    gal meets glam chassity dress

    I decided not to use shirting and find a viscose that was similar. This ebay find was close enough. It could have been more blue but the weight and drape were gorgeous. And I quickly settled on adapting McCall’s 8090 Marina as my dress base which came with Love Sewing 95.

    McCall's 8090 Marina dress pattern Love Sewing 95

    First up was adjusting the bodice and skirt panel lengths. Marina is drop waist so I took 9cm off the bodice and added it to the top skirt panels. Next I removed the square yoke by folding out the gathering at the centre front and taping the yoke piece directly on top of the bodice piece. Here’s what that looked like.

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook

    Switching to raglan sleeves was one thing but these were gathered ruffled raglan sleeves. First I experimented with a sleeveless bodice with a rectangular ruffle sewn on top to give the illusion of a sleeve. I also tried shirring the gathered rows. Ultimately it wasn’t right. The rectangle created a stiff ruffle and the shirring was too unforgiving on top. But I was getting excited…

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook toile

    Second attempt I did things properly. I drafted a proper raglan sleeve for the bodice that would be sewn into the neckband, and then slashed and spread that piece to create excess for gathering. I pinned it into place again on top of my existing toile to save cutting it up / sewing a new one. It was much better but now not long enough for my liking. See below.

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook toile

    Third time was the charm. I added length to my slashed and spread tissue piece then traced onto fresh paper. Then I decided I wanted more gathering so slashed and spread again. Here’s the sleeve before I finally cut it out sat alongside the version 2 tissue.

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook toile

    Then I could commit to the new bodice armholes. You can see below how I marked the seamline and the cutting line on the bodice and then traced a fresh version. I’m also showing you the back for reference. Raglan sleeves are super fun to sew, if you’ve never made them before. FYI I also added notches for the raglan seam points on my neckband so I knew how much to gather the sleeve in to fit!

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook pattern hack

    Construction went pretty fast once I’d assembled the band and collar. All the side seams were French seamed but the gathered skirt band seams were just overlocked to avoid bulk. I did a baby hem on my sleeve pieces before attaching them.

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook pattern hack

    I’m super pleased with the dress. The finished neckline is lovely and feels really polished. For that all important sleeve finish, I kept my gathering stitches in place and stitched on top of them for the appearance of thicker topstitching thread. And I love the varying directions of stripes at play!

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook pattern hack

    Inside I used self fabric bias to finish the armholes, like a facing and a binding at the same time and topstitched it in place from the right side. I slipstitched the bands in place for a clean look. I do like the topstitched neckline of my toile version so might do that on a future version.

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook pattern hack

    The finished dress is breezy and stylish. I have to wear a slip underneath but I’m definitely pro-slips and already had the perfect white one. I love that you can’t tell the lower band is cut in three pieces. The seams are hidden in the stripes and this let’s you get a great gather with the extra width.

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook pattern hack

    Improvements for my next version will be curving the cropped waist seam up as it goes towards the hips as the straight line causes the seam to droop a touch at the sides. And to raise the underarm point as its a touch low, revealing my bra on occasion. But I already have fabric for a new version!! Thanks for reading this long if you stayed to the end.

    McCall's M8090 Marina dress pattern hack Love Sewing 95 #sewrecreatethelook pattern hack