• 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

    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

    Not another New Look 6587

    I know, I know, I could possibly be stuck in a dress rut… but I don’t care. New Look 6587 is fast becoming one of those dresses that never turns out badly and I can always imagine another one!

    almond rock new look 6587 nl6587 fruit pineapples lemons vintage dressmaking sewing pattern

    As you know I haven’t really been sewing lately but I did want a birthday dress. And what could be better than ANOTHER LEMON DRESS?!? So for year 36 I made another version of my classic 90s pattern New Look 6587.

    almond rock new look 6587 nl6587 fruit pineapples lemons vintage dressmaking sewing pattern

    It’s the perfect dress because it isn’t tight but has enough shape and structure so I don’t feel like I’m wearing a sack. I can eat plenty without feeling uncomfortable and it fits me regardless of my fluctuating weight.

    almond rock new look 6587 nl6587 fruit pineapples lemons vintage dressmaking sewing pattern

    It was a rather fun birthday weekend with an Italian 60s themed murder mystery and illusion spaghetti and meatballs chocolate cake on Friday, and then on Saturday a picnic in my favourite park in Ilkley! I managed to wear the dress on the morning of my birthday but by the time the picnic came around it was a bit too cold so I had to change out of it. But I wore it for a brief moment so it counts as a birthday dress!

    almond rock fabric shopping paris husband

    This delightful fabric was picked up during my visit to Paris earlier this year. There are pineapples, lemons and strawberries on it as well as botanical leaves. It’s a half artistic and half cheesy but I LOVE IT! It’s a medium weight stretch cotton. Almost denim weight! But that makes it so well structured and perfect for this dress. Perhaps a little warm for the heatwave and a little cold for the weird snap in the weather! But who cares it’s cute and I wore it for a nice walk through the local fields to see how the foals were getting on.

    I used navy bias around the neckline as a facing and added more of the plastic buttons from the navy lemons dress… I  still have about 80 of them left. Those patch pockets are the greatest too. Perfect phone and key size for going on walks!

    almond rock new look 6587 nl6587 fruit pineapples lemons vintage dressmaking sewing pattern

  • Dresses

    Feeling fruity New Look 6587

    Oh lemon print fabric how I love you. This is my third dress made from lemon fabric. The second made into New Look 6587 my delightfully ’90s pattern.

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    My pretty sateen is from B&M fabrics in Leeds last year but you can also get it here and the buttons are ebay. They’re so pretty I added two big patch pockets with buttons on them as well.

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    I made view E without the trim in a straight size 12. The skirt is barely gathered which I find quite flattering and works well in this style of fabric. I also added 2″ inch to the length for midi coverage. A tie belt cinches the dress perfectly.

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    There’s something magic about this dress, it instantly lifts my mood everytime I put it on. Oh and course I had to break out my lemon earrings for these photos! They are the best pair I’ve bought in a long time (thank you H&M).

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    I think because its not tight but has enough shape and structure I don’t feel like I’m wearing a sack. I can eat as much as I like without feeling uncomfortable and it fits me regardless of my fluctuating weight.

    What else to add? Well I have two more lemon prints in my stash but I do like the look of Primevera by Rifle Paper Co! Trying to sew my stash first though. There’s a burning desire to shop while cooped up but I have been trying to resist adding to my heaving sewing room. I’ve only bought a couple of patterns and some buttons so far.

    My productivity is having random little spikes of activity during this situation. I photographed three dresses today and whipped up a few garments over Easter. But then I also sit for hours uninspired and exhausted! I imagine that is the same for a lot of sewists. I’d love to hear how you’re coping.

  • Dresses

    Pretty little pattern hack Butterick 6318 and Butterick 6453

    Sometimes an idea for a dress sticks with you.

    almond rock gertie b6418 b6453 butterick retro sewing patterns art gallery fabrics floral universe

    I have a wonderful and annoying job where I constantly search for fabric for the magazine. Mostly the thrill of featuring the prettiest fabric in the magazine is enough but a lot of the time I become obsessed with getting some for myself. Like the cover garment for issue 43…

    almond rock gertie b6418 b6453 butterick retro sewing patterns art gallery fabrics floral universe

    This Art Gallery Fabric rayon is absolute gorgeous and was designed by Maureen Cracknell. I’ve bought a couple of her other prints and I’m a big fan in general. The design is called Floral Universe in turquoise from the collection Soulful. You can still buy it here.

    almond rock gertie b6418 b6453 butterick retro sewing patterns art gallery fabrics floral universe

    While I loved the wrap ties with the gathered skirt of B6318 I had a feeling the grown on sleeves and high neckline on the bodice would drown me. Then I remembered this dress I’d saved on Instagram! The perfect compromise. So in steps B6453!

    almond rock gertie b6418 b6453 butterick retro sewing patterns art gallery fabrics floral universe

    There’s not much to say about the B6453 dress as I’ve made it before. I added the wraps into the side seams during construction like the B6318 instructions direct. The fabric is pretty opaque but I underlined the bodice for stability and lined the bodice for a clean finish. The skirt is unlined and I overlocked the insides. I use a metal loop turn to turn through straps which I know some people hate but it always works for me.

    almond rock gertie b6418 b6453 butterick retro sewing patterns art gallery fabrics floral universe

    So in hindsight the waist ties could have been a smidge longer as this back shot below shows. Meh, you live and learn I say. It’s hard to see but there’s a lapped zipper as it’s my favourite and it is what the pattern recommends. Plus I used rings and sliders on my straps, again following the pattern which let’s you get a custom length. The sew-along and Facebook support group for this pattern is wonderful if you are nervous.

    almond rock gertie b6418 b6453 butterick retro sewing patterns art gallery fabrics floral universe

    The colours of my fabric are heavenly and the scale of the print is so fun and the feel of that rayon… oh hubba hubba, it’s so dreamy!! AGF rayons are amazing quality. I wote this dress on honeymoon and felt amazing. I wanted to dance around like a vintage movie star to make the skirt swish as often as possible. It was hard staying still for these photos.

    almond rock gertie b6418 b6453 butterick retro sewing patterns art gallery fabrics floral universe

    Now I’m excited to take it on more sunny adventures and swish around new countries!

    *Just to let you know this post contains affiliate links but products I link are from trusted sellers like The McCall Pattern Co selling through Amazon or Minerva Crafts. There’s no obligation to buy through the link of course. I don’t advertise on my blog so this is a little way to fund the running of the site!