• Dresses

    Queen of Hearts Vogue 9000

    Hello all! As I write it’s a cold but bright Friday here in Yorkshire. I have plans to celebrate my anniversary this weekend (delayed since the summer, thanks Covid) and hosting a live stream sewalong on Instagram this Sunday for Simplicity. I’m making a S9240 sweatshirt live!! I need to ease myself back into live videos again! They were always so fun but moderately stressful. So let’s hope this one goes off without issues. 

    almond rock makes Vogue 9000 in heart print ecovera viscose from Rainbow Fabrics with a few pattern hacks

    Now onto today’s make. Returning to a pattern sewn years ago can inspire you to do things differently the next time around. I have made Vogue 9000 before but always knew I would revisit it, as I love the grown-on sleeves and full panelled skirt. This design also features a flat collar and buttoned bodice that is finished with a front facing and a strip of bias binding at the back neckline. The dress also fastens with an underarm side seam zipper for a neat fit.

    When I first made the dress in 2016 I sewed it in a luscious red John Kaldor microfibre. It was medium weight, glossy and a little stretchy (like cotton sateen) with the drape of polyester. I rounded off the corners of the contrast black collar and used black self-covered buttons on the front fastenings. It was a beautiful formal dress I wore to several events including a Christmas dinner dance.

    almond rock makes Vogue 9000 in hJohn Kaldor crepe from Sew Essentials with a few pattern hacks

    For my latest version I wanted to use an Ecovera viscose – a sustainable method of producing viscose that follows stringent guidelines to ensure eco-responsibility. The viscose was from Rainbow Fabrics in London who specialise in deadstock and overstock fabric from fashion houses which is a nice way to avoid waste and make your sewing more sustainable. In this pretty, confetti-heart print, the dress is lighter weight and easier to wear than the John Kaldor version which is just what I hoped. I can wear it in Summer with sandals, and Winter with brogues and tights.

    almond rock makes Vogue 9000 in heart print ecovera viscose from Rainbow Fabrics with a few pattern hacks
    Once again, I decided to round off the collar points but this time also extend the collar so it finished right at the front edges. This was due to the fact I would very rarely wear the neckline fully buttoned. Also the notch where the collar meets the facing isn’t very pronounced if worn open. A seamless transition into the collar seemed to be worth pursuing. It reminds me of a sporty polo collar now. I’m pretty pleased with the finished look. 

    Choosing viscose for this pattern does introduce a few more considerations. I didn’t line the dress so I’ll wear a slip underneath when wearing tights. A sharp fine needle and pins are vital to avoid snagging the fabric, and a dab of fray check on the button holes provides extra security. The most important thing to remember is to allow your skirt hem to drop for at least 24hours after attaching to the bodice. As it is a full skirt, there are areas on the bias that will naturally stretch out. Once the fabric has dropped you can then recut the hem so that it is level before finishing. I use a vintage Newey chalk hem marker that allows you to puff a line of chalk at a set height as you rotate in your garment.

    almond rock makes Vogue 9000 in heart print ecovera viscose from Rainbow Fabrics with a few pattern hacks

    I wholeheartedly recommend Vogue 9000. The panelled skirt is great for narrow fabrics while still achieving a flowing full skirt. I love the double darts in the back for even shaping, and like how the front bodice darts extend into the skirt panel seams. It’s a beautiful vintage pattern where you can create a dress that is a true reproduction of the era, or add a modern spin on the silhouette with an updated fabric choice.

    almond rock makes Vogue 9000 in heart print ecovera viscose from Rainbow Fabrics with a few pattern hacks

  • Dresses

    Briar rose McCall’s 6891 shirtdress

    Hello everyone! Here’s a cheer to the weekend!! I actually had a nice short week as I took Monday and Tuesday off work to have a super long weekend. With my in laws staying Saturday and Sunday, it was nice to have the extra two days so myself. On Monday I pottered around sewing and doing jobs at home. Then Tuesday I went to Parcevall Hall Gardens for a walk and a photoshoot. It’s about half an hour drive away, down the end of a winding country road. It’s a private house and stunning garden featuring woodland with special hybrid rhododendrons and a waterfall plus formal gardens at the peak of the hill. 

    If you didn’t realise I LOVE FLOWERS. The rhododendrons were beautiful colours and there were peonies, roses, poppies, alliums and much more in bloom. Plus plenty of shoots waiting to pop later in summer. The climbing roses in the garden seemed like the perfect backdrop for photographing my new rose print shirtdress.

    The print on my fabric reminds me of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty, because of the hand drawn quality and colours that are similar to the roses that feature in both films. It’s an Art Gallery Fabrics poplin print called Pruning Roses from the Woodland collection – sku FUS-W-605. You can’t go wrong with AGF cottons. They consistently display a quality of fabric and print.

    I used McCall’s 6891 to make a cool crisp summer shirtdress. This pattern goes up to a 50.5″ bust. I used the view A sleeveless bodice and view D length. I’ve made this pattern once before but had to size up this time. I made a size 10 in the upper body, 12 at the bust and a 16 at the waist/hip. It’s intentionally a little looser but still looks fitted which is just what I wanted. This is the DREAM SKIRT but it is fabric hungry, the dress took 3m.

    I know the collar construction has confused a few people in the past. There are lots of different ways to make a notch collar, but the most common is making a collar then using a back and front facing on top. This adds extra bulk to the back collar you don’t need. Instead the facing and upper collar are attached and then sewn in place so the upper collar acts like the back neck facing. 

    To make this make feel a little more special I created my own bias binding to finish the hem and armholes, and also used it to find the raw edge of the facing and collar. This is such a fancy touch, especially in matching fabric as it’s such a small detail that shows the effort I put into the dress. My buttons are vintage and although there isn’t an exact matching shade of red in the fabric, they do suit the print. I like to finish button front dresses with either a press stud or reverse button at the waist point to stop any gaping when you sit down. 

    It was kind of empowering to go out to the gardens on my own, set up the photoshoot and take these pictures. It was quiet enough that I could take the photos without disturbing anyone’s visit and I met some other amateur photographers capturing the beauty of the gardens. After a tough work week being around the flowers and blue skies my spirits were soaring, and then just as I was leaving the most beautiful eagle flew overhead. I really want to go back soon. 

    This post contains affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission if you shop the products I share. It helps me pay for the running of my website. If you prefer not to use my links you can easily copy the product details and head straight to the websites to shop! 

  • Dresses

    McCall’s 6891 chambray shirtdress

    Hello all! I’ve recovered from my extremely busy December and am back with a finished make for myself.

    This dress was a rather spontaneous make as I was lucky enough to try on a finished version we had in the office! This meant I quickly worked out the couple of tiny adjustments I’d need to make it fit me. I could then cut out with confidence and whizzed this up in a day. In fact I made the yellow version you’re seeing on the new pattern envelope! We’re now making the designs in UK fabric and reprinting the envelopes. Squeal!!

    The pattern is M6891 which is on the front of Love Sewing 63 on sale from tomorrow! It’s double stuffed so you get sizes 8-24 in one envelope and the issue includes tips on collars and cuffs if you haven’t made them before. I love a notched collar and The McCall Pattern Co instructions direct you to make theirs differently to other brands like Simplicity or indie designs.

    First you attach the interfaced collar to the bodice neckline and then attach the non-interfaced collar to the facing. When you place the facing/collar on top of the bodice/collar instead of sewing over the seam allowance at the notch, they ask you to push it out of the way and stop at the seam point marked by a dot, then sew on the other side in the same way. Here’s a diagram to explain a bit more:

    This reduces bulk as it means you can grade the seams and trim a bit more freely as the seam allowance isn’t trapped… But this technique seems more beneficial on thicker fabrics like coats really. Unless I’ve missed another reason for this technique.

    It’s not a surprise I like this pattern, as retro style shirtdresses are a big proportion of my wardrobe. They’re both smart and casual – perfect! I made view C and love the full skirt. The darts give a nice shape and of course the notched collar has a lovely vintage feel. It needs a reverse button/hole at the waist point for extra security but I can add that any time.

    Now of course the Ultimate Shirtdress which is my favourite shirtdress pattern but in truth I’ve never got on with the sleeves. On the McCall’s design the sleeves fit great so maybe I need to try and merge the armscye and sleeve of this pattern with the Sew Over It pattern in the future.

    I made the size 10. The bust fits my 36a-cup really nicely so no SBA here. I just adjusted the waist at the side seams to fit my 32″ tummy and the wide flare of the skirt is very roomy on my hips.

    You might be wondering about the fabric… well to that I say, “Sewing friends are awesome”. They are especially great at birthday time because they think like a sewist when getting you a present and remember what things you say you like! This gorgeous Robert Kaufman spotty chambray was a gift from the darling Marie! Creative mind behind blog www.astitchingodyssey.com, Marie is such a lovely soul so I highly recommend you follow her inspiring blog/social media accounts and if you run into her at an event you’re guaranteed to leave smiling.

    If you clicked into my shirtdress tag you’ll see I now have two spotty Robert Kaufman chambray dresses. Well I actually have a third UFO of Vogue 1102 cut out in the black colourway but I messed up some of the pintucks and have been putting off fixing it for months. Maybe 2019 is the year you’ll see that dress appear.

    I’m currently trying to plan some sewing for the coming year. There are some lovely fabrics that have been in my stash for way too long. I’d really like to fix that and not be afraid of making the wrong thing anymore. I have my dressmakers ballgown to make too. Will I see you there?

  • Dresses

    Vintage French Joan-ish

    Hello hello! Is everyone surviving the week? Are you taking part in Amanda’s awesome #bpsewvember on Instagram?  Go on and tag yourself on my IG feed if we’re not a already friends as I’d love to see all your snaps.

    I have a fun dress to share today as it’s a Sew Over It pattern love child! I merged the Joan Dress and the Vintage Shirtdress with excellent results.

    almond rock sew over it joan shirt dress

    almond rock sew over it vintage shirt dress joan

    So in case it’s not obvious, this is the Joan bodice and sleeves without the collar. The team kindly sent me Joan when it was first released as they knew it was right up my alley. I did a really rough toile as I know SOI sizing is consistent across the patterns but in reality I should have possibly done a tiny sba. The sleeve caps are a tiny bit off as well but these are micro points when I skipped all my normal fitting steps.

    almond rock sew over it vintage shirt dress joan

    In case you’re not sick of them, see my shirt dress versions here. The skirt was made by cutting the front on the fold following the centre front line. Then the back was cut in two with 1.5cm centre back seam allowance added. The side seams, darts and skirt pleats lined up almost perfectly! I just basted them together by hand so they wouldn’t slip during sewing.

    And how lush is this fabric? It’s Atelier Brunette modal which is sort of like a viscose in that it’s also a cellulose fabric but is produced in slightly different conditions. It’s thicker than normal viscose but not twill like. It’s slightly spongy and as easily creased it gets, it irons smooth with ease. This print is called Facet and I bought it last March during a sale at M is for Make. Look out for the Black Friday sale everyone!! Ps. I love love love my new Clarks shoes. The’re called Hotel Vibe. Yummy.

    almond rock sew over it vintage shirt dress joan

    The bodice is lined with navy polyester from my stash and I used a concealed zip. Life is short and when you have a concealed zipper foot they’re the speediest option.

    I wanted to repeat my love for this great blog post on clean lining a sleeved bodice. The technique is amazing… but I really want to make an easier to follow version as it’s really hard to see in these step by step images. To be really clear, this technique creates a clean finish on the inside of your lined bodice around the armholes. All you see is the sleeve seam allowance! Here’s a little vid to show the finish – please ignore the telly playing in the background. Although if you can name the show I’ll be mega impressed.

    Fully lined sleeved bodice. This technique is pure magic 💙

    A video posted by Amy (@almondrock_sews) on

    So I guess all that’s left to do is force you to look at a terrible dark night time picture of me in the dress heading out for dinner and that’s blatantly because I curled my hair and got dolled up and want to use the picture as many times as possible haha. I’m still on the hunt for a hairdresser who will perm my hair in big rolls like this. The specialist I went to blew me off and told me no one would give me the hair style I’m after. But since then the hair and make up team at work have told me that answer is horse poo and I should try someone else for a second opinion. Fingers crossed on that note. Also it’s scary seeing how going swimming once since the below photo was taken has drained all the hair dye out of my hair. Doh. I’m off to work on my Colette Anise jacket! Bye for now

    almond rock sew over it vintage shirt dress joan

  • Events and day trips

    Sewbrum 2016

    Hello lovely ladies and gents

    I’m writing this post on my journey home from Birmingham after an epic day in the company of 100 stylish sewists.

    Last night involved lots of curry and champers as we celebrated our engagement with some close friends and like an idiot I stayed up later than expected. My bus was at 7am this morning so I armed myself with a flask of tea, hours of podcasts and huddled into my seat. I wore my red SOI Vintage Shirtdress for the day.

    Just after getting off the megabus I managed to bump into Abi on the way to the Edwardian Tearooms and we arrived to a scene of a room stacked with sewists drinking tea and gossiping. I met some new faces which is half the reason for attending and then forcibly dragged a group around the market and Barry’s – including a selfie pitstop at my favourite sign.

    There was lots of banter with Kate and RachelCharlotteNina and Gabby. I finally got to meet Fiona. And yes I cuddled a pug and larked around with Elle, Abi, Vicki and Rhiannon. There was a flying catch up with Lauren and baby Sophia wearing the Liberty cord dress Lauren blogged recently. Plus I manage to shout hello and wave at lots of lovely people like ClaireRachelHelen and many more. Not forgetting that I have about 20 new blogs to follow!

    I was actually very reserved with what I brought home. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my major geek out at the release of Gertie’s new Butterick 6380 in America. Well it’s finally here in the UK and was part of the sale on at Fancy Silk Store (for all Butterick patterns – new and old). I also bought some graphic black and white viscose from a stall outside on the rag market for just £1 a metre!

    Other things that made it into my handbag for the journey home were a copy of New Look 6434, a flyer for the Dressmaker’s Ball 2017, two hilarious vintage wedding dress patterns (thanks Kate!) which may actually have some potential, a flask filled with cider and a copy of the stylist fashion special magazine.

    All in all a pretty cracking day! Will I see you there next year??