• Dresses

    Denim Belladone

    Today I have a lot of topstitching to show you. Some good… some bad.

    I’ve been holding off posting this dress because I’m really unhappy with the quality of the pictures. I think the focus isn’t working properly and the white balance seems off. If anyone has any good suggestions for replacements please let me know in the comments.

    almond rock denim belladone minerva crafts

    But first some key details! This is my Minerva Blogger Network make for July. I originally planned a denim Kwik Sew 3830 but this denim was a bit too heavyweight for that. So I thought how about a Jolie Marie Louise Léa dress or a Deer and Doe Belladone? Belladone won out as you can see.

    almond rock denim belladone minerva crafts

    The denim is a black blue visible weave 7.5 oz denim. It would be good for structured dresses, mini skirts, and jackets. I wouldn’t recommend it for trousers as its pretty crisp – but Katie seems to have nailed it so I could be wrong. There is only a teeny amount of stretch. It has a undefinable smell to it too. I can’t quite compare it to anything other than to say it smells really denimy – yes I have lost my mind from sniffing too much denim.

    The Belladone seemed like a good match because the cool open back feature needs stability. Plus I played with topstitching on my original belladone and had a hoot.

    almond rock denim belladone minerva crafts

    I used a denim needle and blue polyester thread throughout the main construction. My topstitch was done with gutermann topstitch weight thread in an orangey code #362. I took my stitch length up to 4mm and most of the time used my stitch in the ditch foot as a substitute topstitching foot.

    almond rock denim belladone minerva crafts

    So if you’re not familiar with this dress its selling point is a diamond cutout back but it also has yoked pockets, and flattering A-line skirt and I easily converted this to a v neck at the front. I used bias for the arm and neck holes but there is a facing for the hem which you can see let me have a nice deep topstitched hemline. It does make the skirt hem a little undesirably stiff though.

    almond rock denim belladone minerva crafts

    A word of warning for fans of tights: It doesn’t have any provision for lining. It doesn’t even face the waistband. I used the denim for a waistband facing but this was very thick so I do regret it.

    Ahhh the neckline and armholes topstitching. They came out so dodgy! This was because without my special foot I had to rely on following a chalk line and that wasn’t working for me. This is the best of three attempts.

    I’m still really happy with dress because it looks pretty smart, the skirt looks great and it reminds me of a Michelle Williams dress I have had pinned on Pinterest for a very long time. Triple win!!

    almond rock denim belladone minerva crafts

  • Dresses

    What A Gem

    Today I’m here to share a Minerva Blogger Network make!


    I had a short break from the Network while I worked on some other projects and will probably keep the collaborating a bit more sporadic this year so I can keep sewing from my stash!

    For the dress I chose a gorgeous quilting cotton in mid-blue with coloured gems. I can’t help by smile at all the pretty colours in this dress; those gems are my idea of the perfect colour palette.

    The dress is the brain child of pinterest. I wanted a button up back dress with cool triangle closures. Basically it’s business in the front, party in the back!


    I was really tempted to show a little skin between each button but it would have immediately lowered wearability for me as I couldn’t go bra less and would have hated straps peeking through.

    I used the Simplicity 2444 bodice as a start and altered the back piece to create the overlapping triangles. I added the lovely gathered A line skirt of the Deer and Doe Sureau dress.


    Sorting out the number and size of triangles I wanted took a few drafts. It also gave me some ideas for other variations, for example this could easily be recreated with a scalloped closure.

    I transferred my seam markings using a tracing wheel and carbon, and reduced my stitch length to land neatly on the end of each outward point. In the valley between each triangle I made sure to sew one horizontal stitch to round off the inward point, this helps when turning out, as then the angle isn’t too harsh.


    Clipping and notching is also really important for getting the triangle points neat. My trusty prym point turner helped make easy work of this. Once you’ve used a proper point turner it’s hard to go back to a pencil or a chopstick!

    It might not be obvious but things were a little different construction wise!
    I sewed the bodice with bodice lining in its entirety. I then sewed the skirt and installed my invisible zipper. I then attached my skirt with the bodice lining folded open, aligning the edge of each side of the skirt back with the bodice back seams. I then attached the skirt lining, handsewing along the zipper tape. And finally then folded down my bodice lining and hand stitched it in place.


    The dress used almost all of the 2 metres I had (but since I self lined the bodice that’s not too surprising). I used navy antistatic lining on the skirt, five 2cm wide orange buttons and a 9inch blue zip to coordinate. Finally I used 1 inch stiff navy polycotton bias binding on the skirt; this helpa hold the bell shape and gives the illusion of a good size hem which I like.


    I’m really pleased that my coral ballet flats go with the dress as sometimes they’re a little too electric to wear. I need a coral cardigan now, don’t I!


  • Dresses

    Maybe Lil Sebastian got upset because he tried to share his true feelings with someone and they didn’t reciprocate!

    Happy Spring everyone! Wait, did no one tell the weather?

    The daffodils are out and the sun is shining but it’s still very cold. How unfair.

    Almond Rock Butterick 5351

    I decided to make a sundress for my May MBN make even if the weather isn’t quite up to it yet and picked this fun striped poly-cotton from Minerva.

    This post could also be called “The Hazel dress that wasn’t”. Let’s just say I’m not sure I’ll try a Colette pattern again as I can’t take the emotional roller coaster of trying to fit them.

    Almond Rock Butterick 5351

    This dress pattern is instead Butterick 5351. It really is an easy dress pattern to make up; I’d definitely recommend this for a beginner looking to try something a little more involved – lots of darts and a zipper basically.

    This is actually the first dress pattern I EVER TRIED!

    “Hey, Amy from 2010, good choice.”

    Almond Rock Butterick 5351

    I used vertical stripes on the bodice and skirt, and horizontal stripes for the straps. I really like how the darts make arrows pointing to my waist. I added a row of topstitched bias-binding around the bottom of the skirt to bring in another horizontal line (as with the straps) to balance the dress out.

    If you compare to the line art you’ll see I removed the top band and added a gathered skirt.

    Almond Rock Butterick 5351

    The dress doesn’t have a drafted lining but we know that’s simply a matter of making a duplicate of the dress in lining fabric and sewing the two together along the neckline. The cotton is stiff enough to not need interfacing along the top edge.

    I’m on a real invisible/concealed zipper kick right now. I love fully enclosing an invisible zip in the lining as it gives a professional finish inside. This anti-static lining gives a nice crisp finish inside that won’t get caught in the zipper teeth either. My invisible zipper foot has definitely paid for itself ten times over and it was only a £1.50 plastic one from eBay.

    Almond Rock Butterick 5351

    All this stripe fun and my original plan for a Hazel was to make a candy cane interpretation of Roisin’s green striped Hazel. But after three practice bodices to correct the fit I realised I didn’t even like how the v shaped seams looked on me! Sorry Roisin this is as close as I get.

    I have one more Sew Dolly Clackett dress to share that I’ve entered. I’m excited to see who wins as there were some seriously great entries! Very inspiring!

    I get a bit teary thinking about how amazing this contest is. Roisin is wonderful. I adore how she embraces colour and joy in her sewing. She really makes you feel welcome and interesting when you meet or talk to her. She’s so unaffected and honest too. I think she knows how much I love hanging out with her so I won’t make a fuss. I’ll just raise a fancy gin cocktail to her. Cheers!

  • Dresses

    Meet Melanie

    I’m not a graceful elegant French woman. And pending some kind of life-transplant, I don’t think I ever will be. But that doesn’t mean I can’t wear chic French patterns and frolic around pretending I am. Anyone else feel like this some times?


    Meet Melanie; She’s one of the patterns designed by Géraldine of Republique Du Chiffon, from her book Un été couture (A summer wardrobe), the French pattern book I got for Christmas. Oh yes the irony of buying and making a summer wardrobe during this horrible weather, but hey it’s on the turn isn’t it? This is really a spring frock!

    I chose this dress for my March Minerva Blogger Network make. I was optimistically hoping for better weather. Don’t get me started on how wrong I was but I did end up with a sweet little dress. The fabric is a lovely glossy rust coloured cotton lawn.


    Melanie is a zip fronted dress with split cap sleeves and waist pleats. She’s cute, rather short but lots of fun to sew. She has a nifty zip facing that keeps everything looking neat and the split sleeves are fully lined which looks nice and tidy.


    I really wish this dress suited me a little more. I think the colour is excellent but I don’t think the silhouette is the most flattering. A little too “up and down” for me if that makes sense?


    I do love the zip and the finish you get on the inside. Those skirt pleats are very cute and there’s definitely cool factor in the split sleeves.

    Maybe I just need to introduce Melanie to some warmer weather and we’ll get along better. What do you think? Would you wear a zip front dress?

    There’s no denying how ace Julie’s version looks and Magali’s version in another atelier brunette fabric. I also like Mel in a solid colour like this.

    Don’t be put off by this pattern book being in French. Everything is understandable using poor high school French mixed with Google translate. Plus the diagrams are pretty good. They double up across the book you see. You look at a pattern and think “hmmpf why am I only getting three diagrams?” but the diagrams to other steps are included in other similar patterns from the book: Very clever and space-saving.


    Right. Back to sewing! My other half is on a three-day golf weekend and that means pure indulgent “Amy time”, full of my favourite things — Sewing, silly telly, curry, salmon with pickled beetroot and possibly some gin*.

    Have a lovely weekend everyone!!

    *Not necessarily in this order.