• Dresses

    Dreaming of a white Christmas

    Well hello. It’s been a while since I posted! For those of you who follow me on Instagram you’ll have had an insight into why life is a little crazy right now.

    After nearly 5 wonderful years, I will be stepping down as Love Sewing magazine Editor in January. I’ve collaborated and worked with many incredible people, I’ve learnt so much and achieved things I’ll cherish even when I’m a little old lady.

    With 13 years in the publishing industry it’s always hard giving up a title you love, but it is time for a fresh start and new challenges… but I’m still going to be here sewing furiously you won’t have to miss me!

    Ok!! So it’s December and I’m so happy to be sharing a Christmas make. I love the festive season. There are parties and great food and a sense of excitement in the air. I make so many social plans and then binge watch seasonal movies… soon I’ve run out of any sewing time. I know there are worst problems to have!

    It’s funny because we plan and photograph our festive issues of Love Sewing during the summer so I sort of have two Christmases! We’re wrestling trees and baubles around in the hot weather and planning party dresses months before party season. It can drive people a little crazy. But back to my latest dress… you might have seen it already on the Minerva Blogger Network but I thought it deserved a closer look here.

    Almond rock sewing dress ballet knit jersey sequin Minerva crafts vogue 9000

    This dress is going to be a great staple this year as it’s that magical combination of toasty and fancy. AND SPARKLY!

    Almond rock sewing dress ballet knit jersey sequin Minerva crafts vogue 9000

    It’s the fabric that makes it so wonderful with subtle silver metallic threads and white sequins woven into the jersey. There is a great texture to the fabric too that makes it feel like a sweater knit you’d find in ready to wear clothes. I wish I had more of it for a jumper.

    Almond rock sewing dress ballet knit jersey sequin Minerva crafts vogue 9000

    I used a mixture of the Dixie DIY ballet dress bodice with Vogue 9000’s skirt which I cut on the fold and adjusted at the side seams to fit the bodice. The sleeves fit so well, I love the scoop neckline and you can’t beat a swishy skirt. I made a slim waist belt in the same fabric but also like it with my black patent belt. I should have made thread belt loops to help stop the belt sliding down! Still time to add those now it’s done.

    Almond rock sewing dress ballet knit jersey sequin Minerva crafts vogue 9000

    The fabric cuts and sews very easy as the sequins aren’t too densely spread over the fabric. I used a rotary cutter and mat then finished everything on an overlocker. The hems are just turned under and zigzag topstitched. I used a universal needle and narrow zigzag for all the construction. Easy peasy!

    Almond rock sewing dress ballet knit jersey sequin Minerva crafts vogue 9000

    When using a woven pattern with a knit fabric you might want to size down to compensate for the stretch but I don’t mind the skirt a little loose as it leaves room for dinner.

    My finished dress is a little sheer but as you can see with a slip underneath I have perfect coverage. The glittery fabric gave me a good excuse to break out my wedding jewellery again. I feel so sparkly and merry!!

    Almond rock sewing dress ballet knit jersey sequin Minerva crafts vogue 9000

    Merry Christmas, happy festive season and a wonderful winter to everyone!

  • Other stuff

    Twinkle twinkle little star…

    I’m currently working on one of my Winter sewing plans laid out in the last post.

    The BurdaStyle Twinkle skirt is offered for free on the Burda site as part of a collaboration with Whenlan Chia, to promote her line Twinkle By Whenlan and her book Twinkle Sews.

    For a free pattern this is quite a lovely garment. I was really quite surprised. It’s almost too good to be free!

    Now that I’ve said that, I’ve got to list the things to take the shine off the niceness.

    Firstly the pattern pieces. Printing at home is terrible to do when there are 10-20 pages. But this pattern had 50 pages!!! FIFTY!!

    Phew. I started by cutting out the pieces on the train home from work on Friday. Best way to make my hour commute fly by…. Though you attract looks like you’re a nutter.

    All the waste makes me sad. I understand from a logistical perpective you need a border to ensure the pattern pieces are matched properly. But does it need to be such a big margin?

    I decided the taping of the pattern was a Saturday daytime task. I made such a pest of myself to Mr Almond Rock. Oops, apparently my butt gets in the way when taping on the floor in front of Soccer Saturday.

    Matt Le Tissier looks disgusted at how big this pattern sheet is

    They had to put the skirt front out in full to show the pleat instructions. I get that. But why but the skirt back and lining pieces out in full? They could have been cut on the fold couldn’t they? Am I missing something special about them? Wool doesn’t make a difference surely.

    *Edit: Since writing this I tried cutting wool on the fold. It’s almost impossible! So I take back what I said about the skirt back. Burda/Whenlan you were right. I still stand by what I said about the lining pieces though!!*

    Well I got over it in the end and went shopping for some muslin fabric. I wanted and still want a red wool skirt. Something not too tomato coloured but warm and bright.

    I felt sure Samuel Taylor’s would have something gorgeous and perfect… NOPE. NOTHING. NOWT.

    I went to the market… NADA, NIL, NONE… ZIP (had to get the sewing related  one in)

    Then I fell in love with some navy wool with a sort of waffle knit pattern. But there was only 1m left and this pattern calls for 1.6m. Sigh.

    Then I spotted a blue wool suiting fabric and laughed. It’s pretty much the same shade as the sample picture! Well at least I knew how it would look.

    And I think it’s coming along quite similar!

    I agonised over the pleats because the instructions made NO sense. The diagram in the instructions made them look like inverted pleats but the sample photo shows folded pleats. Turns out the sample photo was more helpful than the careful created line drawing.

    The other problem I encountered was the sizing. There is a cautionary note on the Burda pattern page that this pattern uses Whenlan’s sizings. And it’s true they are on the 5th page of the instructions but they refer to 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 sizes….


    Epic fail.  0, 4, 8, 12, 16 on the pattern? No chance of keeping it straight unless I’m a size 4… Or a 0. I struggle with American sizes already but I know I’m not a size 4.

    I’ve already worked out I need to take 3cm out of the width.

    *Blows raspberry*

    But overall I’m pretty happy. I’ve cut out some midnight blue satin lining so it feels gorgeous against my skin and worked out the placement for my invisible zipper with the size alternations.

    (On a funny note Whenlan’s instructions say “install the zipper using your favourite method”. Good job I know a couple of ways right Whenlan? Cos you’re not telling me any!)

    I still need to decide on whether to hem this with a visible stitch (Whenlan calls this the “sporty” look) or use pretty lace hemming tape.

    I’ve never used hemming tape before but imagine I’d get crabby about the state of my handsewing as I catchstitch it into place. I don’t think the suiting fabric is that bulky so it isn’t really necessary but I love the idea of my skirt ruffling in the wind and showing a peek.

    Should I build up my handsewing skills? Should I go for the sporty look? Or can I form some hybrid using wonderweb?! All thoughts welcome.