• Jackets and coats

    Olive Green Vogue 1537

    Here she finally is, my finished Vogue 1537 in Olive Green wool. I’ve been dragging my heels all winter with this one but she’s finally done! When I made my first version of this coat it was LOVE. In fact I still love it…. I just can’t button it up any more. But I might in future so it’s staying put in my coat cupboard.

    Almond rock makes Vogue 1537 a mid length coat sewing pattern in olive green wool coating

    If you remember, originally I wanted a pass at this coat after seeing someone make a wool version on pattern review. You know I like to break the rules and was happy to find a like-minded rebel. It’s of course designed for lighter weight fabrics but who cares about that. Here’s my second wool version!

    I used my altered pattern pieces with lengthened sleeves and no wrist tabs. And just like before there’s no hem vent. Shame on me AGAIN for not adding one. But you can easily move in this gently boxy coat without one. Plus it does line up but I was victim to the wind which was WILD. I had to choose between all my hair over my face or the hem not matching for the next photo.

    Almond rock makes Vogue 1537 a mid length coat sewing pattern in olive green wool coating

    This is my 9th piece of outerwear I think? But second full length coat. And because I made it from wool coating I had to add some extra steps that weren’t in the instructions to prepare the fabric. First you have to decide how to prepare your wool. I like to steam shrink everything by hand with a garment steamer or iron. Other people take the risk and machine wash. And some don’t prep at all. With the horrible rain that UK Autumn/Winter experiences, I prefer to get all shrinking out of the way.

    Almond rock makes Vogue 1537 a mid length coat sewing pattern in olive green wool coating

    Then I interfaced all the body with medium woven interfacing and the facings with a thicker canvas style interfacing. I decided not to pad stitch the interfacing in place, and used fusibles this time around because although my coating is thick, it’s not the kind of pile you could easily hide all the stitches in. Fusing such large pieces makes me wish for one of those big iron presses that tailors have. You can see I also use bright basting stitches to hold things in place… my idea of fun (I’m so wild, you can’t stand it).

    Almond rock makes Vogue 1537 a mid length coat sewing pattern in olive green wool coating

    When it comes to pressing seams I use a clapper and pressing cloth to hold the heat in the wool and avoid shiny marks from the iron plate. I also use a pair of manilla envelopes under the seam allowances to prevent a seam line mark on the right side of the garment. Then rather annoyingly when I was giving the coat a final press, I totally forgot this and pressed the long back seam creating a shadow/dent. I bet you didn’t even notice it in the photo, but I know it’s there. Hopefully it will fade with time and another steam.

    Almond rock makes Vogue 1537 a mid length coat sewing pattern in olive green wool coating

    Its a really lovely pattern with a great dress included. Vogue patterns are filled with nice designer details for a super polished finish. And I love the 60s vibe of the collar. You’ll see this design has large patch pockets but unfortunately I was about 30cms short of fabric to add these to mine. Instead I used the scraps of wool to make hip level welt flaps, for pockets which are lined and functional. Given how thick the fabric is the welts turned out nicely but I prefer a patch pocket for easier carrying of keys/phone/mask.

    Almond rock makes Vogue 1537 a mid length coat sewing pattern in olive green wool coating

    The fabric is from Montreux Fabrics (now sold out), from their stall at Knitting and Stitching Show Harrogate. It’s a very thick pure wool coating with an interesting variegation of thread colours. The finished coat is only a little bulky while being pleasantly very warm – my orange version was much thinner. I’m really pleased with the colour out in the world… in my sewing room it looked a little drab. A word I try not to associate with! The lining is rather the star of the show. This cat print satin (also sold out) was provided free of charge from Rainbow Fabrics as a preview of their A/W collection in exchange for an Instagram story. When I saw it alongside the coat fabric the colours paired so beautifully, with the navy and mustard cats popping against the olive.

    Almond rock makes Vogue 1537 a mid length coat sewing pattern in olive green wool coating

    So now I can be warm and dry again until nice weather returns to the UK. And I can move onto another project which hopefully I’ll finish quicker! Thanks for reading to the end. Or thanks for looking at all the pictures.

  • 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

  • Events and day trips

    Textile Printing at Leeds Art College

    Hello everyone!
    I thought it was about time for a full round up of my Textile Printing course. This is going to be picture heavy I’m afraid and I’ve not even included all the pictures!

    almond rock textile printing leeds art college

    Weeks 1 and 2 we worked with disperse printing using heat set dyes on man made fabrics. Using paper soaked in dye and a giant heatpress, I played with geometric shapes on coloured polyester and crepe.

    almond rock textile printing leeds art college

    almond rock textile printing leeds art collegealmond rock textile printing leeds art college

    Week 3 we made paper stencils using scalpels and when taped to mesh screens we could pull binder ink through onto any fabric we liked. Mine was an utter disaster due to poor squeegee technique and rubbish stencil.

    Week 4 was about free form painting direct onto a screen using Procion reactive dyes. I printed a splatter print onto cotton lawn and silk.

    almond rock textile printing leeds art college

    Weeks 5 and 6 we prepped for future sessions by coating screens in light sensitive emulsion and thanks to a huge light box we exposed imagery onto the mesh. We drew the images in thick black pen to act as positives and when the screen was exposed the black areas washed away creating a negative that would allow ink to pass through in just those areas. I chose pineapples!!

    almond rock textile printing leeds art college

    While our screens set we also dyed silk, satin, velvet and cotton in big pans using tiny amounts of dye and lots of hot water. Excitingly I also got to use the digital printers while our fabrics soaked! I printed 1.5m of paper crane print cotton drill and 1.5m of painterly triangle print silk.

    almond rock textile printing leeds art college

    almond rock textile printing leeds art college

    Week 7 was the start of my pineapples adventures! We pulled binder ink through our screens onto any fabrics we wanted. I chose to print fluorescent pink ink on white cotton and crepe de chine and black ink on brown polyester.

    almond rock textile printing leeds art college

    almond rock textile printing leeds art college

    Week 8 we tried discharge screenprinting where a smelly seaweed-based paste bleaches the colour from dyed fabric. As well as devore printing which removes cellulose fibres leaving the man made fabric base behind – e.g removing the nap from velvet to create a relief. I used my pineapple screen again to discharge print on my dyed cotton and silk. And freestyled a brush painted devore print on my dyed satin and velvet.

    almond rock textile printing leeds art college
    almond rock textile printing leeds art college

    Weeks 9 and 10 I decided to expose a new screen with hummingbirds and printed onto some colourful viscose. I printed teal ink on pink and pink ink on purple. Plus I had time for a sneaky little bit more disperse printing.

    almond rock textile printing leeds art college

    It was such a wonderful course, I’m actually a little sad I can’t repeat it next term but I’ve already signed up to a pattern drafting course.

    Here are the details for Textile Printing: The course I did was a short evening course run by Leeds Art College, over 10 weeks for 2.5hrs. The tutor is Kirstie Williams who also runs independent print courses.

    The course costs £185 with all materials provided but you bring extra if you want to print something specific.

    I ended up with enough fabric for 3 dresses, 4 tops, and plenty of A2 pieces for tote bags or small garments – silk pineapple knickers perhaps?!

    The new term starts in a couple of weeks so I suggest you sign yourself up asap if you’re interested!

    almond rock textile printing leeds art college

  • Other stuff

    Tips for working with Slippery Fabrics!

    If you’ve stuck around here long enough, you’ll have noticed I have a real affection for slinky fabrics.

    With the completion of my Satin pyjamas I thought it was about time I share some of my personal survival tactics with Satin.

    BUT most of these also apply to Silks, Viscose, Chiffon, Crepe or Georgette.

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    1. Storage
    I’ve always heard it’s best to store Satin rolled up to avoid getting creases that need to be ironed out later. I’ve stored it both rolled up and loosely folded and I have to say I didn’t have much problem either way. That being said, best not to put a ton of Corduroy and Denim on top of your Satin if you’re not sewing it up straight away.

    2. Can’t stand the heat!
    Satin has a special kind of weave that creates a glossy right-side to the fabric and a dull wrong-side. This lustre can be damaged by the high heat and steam of an iron or even accidentally picking an overaggressive spin-cycle on your washing machine.

    Wash at 30 degrees and turn your iron to its coolest setting. Always press on the wrong side of the fabric or if you must press the right side then use a pressing cloth. The weight of your iron, more than the heat will help you achieve neatly pressed edges.

    3. Lay it down.

    Don’t be fooled, slippery fabric wants to escape your cutting table as soon as your back is turned! So unless you can fit all the fabric on the table without gravity coming into play I’d suggest cutting out on the floor (not the carpet). Basting will also be your new best friend – pin or stitch the folded fabric together to increase stability.

    Best to also clear a good space around your machine, as again, you’ll be sewing along and suddenly your fabric will fling itself off the table like it has decided to end it all!

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    4. Nap.
    It’s not as obvious as the pile of velvet but there is a subtly different sheen when you view Satin one way rather than the other. Remember to lay all your pieces out in one direction even if your print is multi-directional… if you care about things like that.

    5. To the point
    First off, I hope you don’t have a tin full of dented blunt pins. That’s going to end in disaster.

    Use the finest machine needle you can get hold of. Nice and sharp. I always use polyester thread. Use a small stitch length and try not to rip out stitches.

    If you need to unpick, hey it happens, break the threads at regular intervals and then carefully unpick the shorter lengths to save trauma to the fabric.

    6. Grain
    I’m going to say the words people aren’t supposed to say. Deep breath… don’t beat yourself up about the grain. HEY I didn’t say ignore it completely! If you end up slightly off-grain because of the slippery nature of the fabric, you’ll be okay.

    I generally find drapey fabrics far more forgiving in this regard and they very rarely warp over time. A significant amount of ready to wear clothing is produced off-grain and it’s never done us that much harm. But it’s not like it takes long to do so make the effort to line things up as best as you can.

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    7. Finishing
    Before you end up in a sea of Satin-fluff you might want to think about how to finish your seams. I definitely recommend French seams. I used them for 90% of the pyjamas except for the crotch seam on the pj bottoms and around the armholes in the pj top; there I used my serger to neaten things off.

    French seams are so good because they’re secure, look pretty awesome and are really easy to sew when you’ve thought through the logistics! You can even use them on curved seams, even though I didn’t as I was honed in on the finish line – aka lazy. I did take the time to encase the exposed edge of my shirt facing with Satin bias binding as I was feeling classy for about 5 mins. .

    Other options still apply — zig zag the raw edges, use pinking shears or bias/seam binding, or maybe you’ve prefer to fold under and top stitch your seam allowances out of sight.

    Final thoughts

    • You can use a gelatin bath or similar on your fabric to give it temporary body – this washes out easily enough but I don’t like how slimy it makes the fabric and my machine bed.
    • If you want more tips for silk check out Jen’s awesome tutorial which covers helpful cutting techniques using paper. This is a very common method for a good reason.
    • Familiar with the tissue paper technique? This is for sewing (rather than cutting) and I’ve found it very handy in the past.
  • Other stuff

    Me-Made-May 13 – week 2: its all about the polka dots baby!!

    We’re in week two and it’s time for my polka dot challenge!

    I managed six days of me-made dots this week. It would have been seven if I’d conquered my half done Burda dress. Sigh….

    Let’s check out the dots!!

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    Self-drafted Elsie knock off dress worn for a stroll around the canal on Bank Hol Monday.

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    Wearable Mathilde muslin (though I’m pretty sure the yoke stitches are going to snap soon because it’s too tight).

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    Prima Tea Dress; never blogged. It has very flattering under-bust gathering and a gored skirt. But I ran out of fabric for the sleeves and it looks silly without them so I always wear a cardigan!

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    Cowering from the rain in one of my earliest makes; self-drafted chiffon top with peter pan collar. I wear this all the time. Its going to fall apart soon.

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    My new morse code crepe Sorbetto (minus the pleat) with contrast bias binding. Not really digging this boxy style but it got some compliments so may keep wearing it.

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    Finally a lovely satin nl 6808. The fabric is from the Birmingham Meet Up so wearing this reminds me of that day. It’s super comfy and flattering and much loved.

    And that is it for week 2! I’m already worried about week four but we’ll see how it goes.