• Dresses

    Polka dot Nina Lee Spring Dress

    Hello Spring! And hello you lovely lot. I’m full of the joys of Spring. And I love that saying. Spring and Summer is my sewing magic timezone where I can make dresses and floaty clothes and don’t have to worry about tights anymore. With that in mind I picked up the Nina Lee Patterns Spring Dress which came with Simply Sewing mag.

    Almond rock dressmaking Nina Lee Patterns Spring Dress polka dot viscose

    Okay let’s get the elephant out of the room, yep this is the first time I’ve bought Simply Sewing as a regular consumer. I had to buy every single issue while I worked at Love Sewing to add to our library of sewing magazines. This helped us try to avoid accidentally copying each other like interviewing the same people, featuring the same fabrics and so on. Since it launched after I started at Love Sewing I never bought it just for me until now. The magazine isn’t really for me as it’s only 20% about dressmaking but I had a quick flick through out of post-professional curiosity. I miss magazine design because let’s face it, banking websites aren’t designed to be colourful or fun. The patterns were the draw. Now back to the dress…

    Almond rock dressmaking Nina Lee Patterns Spring Dress polka dot viscose

    I made two toiles of the dress because I wasn’t quite sure how much ease I’d like. The first toile made me realise the sleeves and shoulders were not going to work for my body type. I am extremely narrow shouldered with small arms so often have to do a narrow shoulder adjustment. I adjusted the paper pattern to adjust the shoulder by 1″ for the first toile but it was clear the sleeve head as drafted was very flat and I need a much higher head and the shoulder was still very wide. I use a cut and move method for narrow shoulders (tutorial) but there’s also a slash and overlap method (tutorial).

    Almond rock dressmaking Nina Lee Patterns Spring Dress polka dot viscose

    On my second toile I redrafted the armhole to use the Tilly and The Buttons Indigo dress bodice and sleeve pieces. You lay the two patterns on top of each other, matching shoulder height and copy round the Indigo armhole curve onto the Spring Dress: First for the bodice front and then for the back. Then I could use the Indigo sleeve piece when I cut out and put the Spring Dress sleeve to one side.

    Almond rock dressmaking Nina Lee Patterns Spring Dress polka dot viscose

    This polka dot viscose challis from my stash was picked up at Birmingham rag market. It’s the perfect weight for this dress as it gathers easily and is a nice breezy fabric for this style (see a video of it in motion). I think you could use a stiffer fabric for a bolder boxier effect. When I discovered a number of small holes in my fabric (not moths thank god) this moved into the wearable toile category so I stopped worrying over the print matching down the centre front. Made you look!! It’s good enough to me for a dress I’ll wear until the fabric frays further so don’t bother messaging me about it. I added some fusible interfacing behind each of the holes I saw but I bet it will keep making more when I next wash it, it just seems that delicate.

    Almond rock dressmaking Nina Lee Patterns Spring Dress polka dot viscose

    I made a size 10 in the upper bodice and 12 at the waist down to the hip. The bodice ever so slightly rides to the back now which is what happens on my Indigo where I never fixed the bodice. Again I don’t mind on this dress but really should fix it before I make any more versions. And as you can see the neckline is finished with tiny little bias binding that extends into ties but wearing it tied feels a little too twee so I leave them undone. As a last tweak, I added elastic cuffs to the sleeves but they aren’t very billowing so it’s a subtle effect. Importantly I added 3″ to the length of the skirt. Remember I’m 5ft4 so this is a short dress without that length! Chewie approves of my floaty new dress.

    Almond rock dressmaking Nina Lee Patterns Spring Dress polka dot viscose

  • Dresses

    Frilly Cocowawa Plum dress

    Well hello sunshine. It’s a bright and happy week outside and the sky is clear and calm. Which makes me feel a bit calmer too. I’ve been keeping busy doing quizzes with family and friends, experimenting with air dry clay and of course sewing. It is still rather difficult to know what to make but I’m managing to keep going. My Plum dress is a good example of that!

    Almond rock sewing dressmaking plum baby doll dress cocowawa patterns frill sleeve polka dot viscose challis pattern testing

    Sometimes you gave to be bold and challenge yourself to try a shape you wouldn’t normally wear/make. When Ana’s call went out for testers, my hand shot up. I like checking pattern instructions and testing construction so I miss that part of my old job. That’s why I also checked some patterns for the recent Sewing Bee book.

    Almond rock sewing dressmaking plum baby doll dress cocowawa patterns frill sleeve polka dot viscose challis pattern testing

    Plum is extremely loose and floaty babydoll but features fun frill sleeves with an interesting construction and a charming buttoned back bodice. I’d had success with the similarly roomy Indigo dress so was intrigued by the drop shoulder detail on Plum.

    Almond rock sewing dressmaking plum baby doll dress cocowawa patterns frill sleeve polka dot viscose challis pattern testing

    The dress us unlined so very quick to put together (perfect for beginners) but I was slowed down trying to figure out the fit. I ended up with a size 2 in the upper body, size 1 in the lower body. It’s a smidge tight in the biceps… I use that term loosely as I don’t have any! So perhaps a 3 in that area would have been best. The size 1 has oodles of space for my 45″ hips so it’s nice and breezy.

    Almond rock sewing dressmaking plum baby doll dress cocowawa patterns frill sleeve polka dot viscose challis pattern testing

    This polka dot visvose challis fabric was a present from Marie from Birmingham rag market. We both bought it in 2014 (I think) but I managed to rip mine. So sweet Marie sent me hers as a bonus treat when I recently shopped her stash. I found some adorable flower buttons to finish the placket and used blue bias tape around the neckline.

    Almond rock sewing dressmaking plum baby doll dress cocowawa patterns frill sleeve polka dot viscose challis pattern testing

    I made my version before the neckline was altered on the final pattern but knew it was being lowered so trimmed it down to be a close match. I hemmed to just above the knee so I didn’t feel swamped.

    Almond rock sewing dressmaking plum baby doll dress cocowawa patterns frill sleeve polka dot viscose challis pattern testing

    The husband approves of how floaty it is but I’m hyper aware of the frills when I wear it. My fear of ruffles continues!! It’s a great working from home dress for definite.

    See the other tester versions and buy the pattern here to make your own version!

  • Dresses

    Spotty McCall’s 7085

    Hello my loveliest ones!! I am hating humanity after a hellish time on public transport and the motorway but you’re all exempt. You wouldn’t leave giant cases in the aisles and blare music without speakers would you?? I hope not. And you wouldn’t try and drive me off the road in your a supermarket delivery van right???

    Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

    I’ve been doing a little less sewing than normal lately but wanted to experiment with the latest pattern from Love Sewing magazine. This pattern is included with issue 73 on sale October 3rd. That’s tomorrow! As you know I don’t often have time to make the magazine patterns but I just loved this neckline!

    Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

    Isn’t Lis’s version below so gorgeous? I knew I couldnt pull off the shift style so I wanted to see if I could hack the dress to a more retro silhouette. To do this I used the waistline mark on the front and back bodice pieces. I marked lines across the pattern pieces 1.5cm below the waistline point. This was the cutting line.

    Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

    I then worked out the finished waist measurement and measurements for the front and back and adjusted slightly so my skirt pattern would match at the side seams. The skirt here is actually my wedding dress skirt pattern! It makes it very swishy.

    Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

    I made view D of the pattern with its lovely sweetheart neckline and no sleeves. This stretch spot cotton sateen is amazing quality and gives the dress a lot of structure. It took 3m to get all the pieces of this dress on the fabric even at 60″ wide. It’s a pretty huge skirt!!

    Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

    I finished the hem with red bias tape; my preferred method for a circle skirt. There’s an invisible zipper in the back. And of course I added pockets. SO MUCH FUN!!

    Almond rock M7085 McCall's pattern dress sewing polka dot retro vintage sateen minerva crafts

  • Dresses

    Leslie Caron wannabe

    almond rock american in paris burda dress

    I love a good musical, especially a Gene Kelly musical. An American In Paris is completely fabulous.

    When I saw Burda’s Viva La Diva spread in issue 11/2014 I fell hard for the AIP inspired dress. This collection featured iconic gowns from favourite films. The Eva Green Casino Royale gown and Marilyn Monroe Gentlemen Prefer Blondes halter dress are also gorgeous but the Leslie Caron dress had me hooked. Deliciously vintage looking and the perfect next #vintagepledge dress.

    almond rock american in paris burda dress

    almond rock american in paris burda dress

    I haven’t bought Burda since a terrible incident with a dress in 2012. Those pattern sheets are HORRIBLE. But I’m a different sewist now… and apparently I can handle Burda magazines again! As luck would have it, this back issue was in the office so I borrowed it to get started on this dress.

    almond rock american in paris burda dress

    I wanted to use this polka dot satin from B&M Fabrics in Leeds with its scattered spots that dissolve into almost solid red. The border actually runs across both selvedges but I bought 3m to account for that. I knew I’d use the border print along the skirt hem.

    almond rock american in paris burda dress

    The bodice has an outer layer, an interlining which I interfaced and a lining. The drape is made by gathering three edges. The drapes look terrible when the dress is hung up but then when worn they sit really well on the body. The rouleaux straps and side zipper are the only support so I decided to add boding to the back bodice seams.

    almond rock american in paris burda dress

    I didn’t use the skirt frills as I though that would be overkill and just used the gathered skirt underneath. I finished the hem with an overlocked rolled hem.

    almond rock burda dress american in paris

    There’s actually a really nice version of the dress with a full back bodice that extends into sleeves. I might make this too at some point.

    almond rock american in paris burda dress almond rock american in paris burda dress

    Overall I’m really happy with the dress. I wore it to a longtime friend’s wedding where I gave a reading about the cosmos (“we are all made of star stuff”) while I stood under a huge oak tree. It was a lovely day and the dress is now a lasting reminder of that. Maybe I’ll wear it to a showing of the live stage version of American In Paris one day! Or just out for dinner in Paris?! A girl can dream.

    Here’s a little bonus cat pic since it went down quite well last time heeehee.

    almond rock american in paris burda dress

  • Other stuff

    Birmingham Rag Market (aka how to spend your pay packet in one day)

    I’ve already told a fib. My pay packet didn’t just disappear at the famous rag market in Birmingham but also at the Bull Ring shopping centre across the road.
    image

    Now I wouldn’t say I live particularly close to Birmingham. The first time I ever went was for Marie and Kat‘s wonderful blogger meet up at the end of last year. Another meet up is organised for June 15th!

    Last time I caught the megabus and arrived in three hours. This time I had the pleasure of being chauffeur driven by Mr AR and it took half the time!

    The bull ring lured me into buying new shoes, make up and jewelry. I’m not doing the seamless pledge officially but it makes me happy to only buy things I cannot make myself.

    I then tottered over the road to the outdoor market. The outdoor fabric stalls weren’t as good as I remembered but I think I was rushing. The sun was out and markets were extremely busy so I decided to pop inside and return later.

    My favourite stall inside is the one run by two women; one is older the other a lot younger. They’re in roughly the centre of the indoor market and their stand is a treasure trove. One downside is everything is stacked on top of each other and I always fall in love with the bottom rolls. (That is an amazing way to finish a sentence I have to say!)

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    Success!! A houndstooth georgette, a rust coloured lace and a lilac crepe with purple Morse code spots.

    Then to top it off when I ventured back outside I found some lovely multicoloured spot “German viscose” (not sure what difference German manufacturing makes) plus some black corduroy and navy crepe (not pictured).

    I definitely recommend the rag market for sewists on the hunt for a bargain. And if you’d like some company exploring get yourself along to the June 15th Rag Market meet up mentioned above!

    I’ll be there for sure. Just don’t let me buy anything!

    PS. Check out the Rag Market’s awesome new website! It’s still in development but much more friendly than the previous version.