Seasons Greetings from Galveston, TX! This week I'm preparing to make the yearly trek back East to spend the holidays with family, which means putting in long hours at work, doing ass-loads of laundry, cleaning the house, boarding the animals, and trying to eat up anything perishable in the fridge. Thank goodness I got all my holiday shopping/gift-making finished up this weekend! Truthfully, I've been on a bit of a holiday roll as of late, which is quite odd for me. Usually I have absolutely zero Christmas spirit until I step foot in my parents bedecked house a few days before Christmas. But this year I'm starting to feel it, and it's kinda nice!
I think part of the reason for all my holiday cheer has to do with the fact that it's actually been cold enough in Texas for it to feel like winter. Yes, yes, I know I'm sporting bare legs in these photos, and that's because, well, it warmed up again... but believe me when I say that it was actually and truthfully legitimately cold just a few short days ago! And since 90% of my wardrobe is warm weather garb, I found myself in the same position I always find myself in when the cold finally decides to strike in these parts - with nothing to wear!
I've often joked that I'm part reptile because it seems that whatever the temperature is outside, that's the temperature of my body (and that's why I'm most comfortable at, oh, say 90F). I have seriously got to be the most cold-natured person I've ever met! My husband will back me up on this since he has been subject to my alarmingly cold feet and hands (and legs and arms and...) for quite some time now. So you can imagine me, a few weeks ago, feeling completely unprepared during our first cold snap, huddled in a blanket in front of my computer, numb fingers scrolling through pages and pages of online fabric stores and muttering to myself through blue lips and chattering teeth "woooollll.... neeed woooool"...
As soon as my paycheck was in I was ordering this dense, smooth, medium weight, 100% wool knit from Mood. And, oh man, did this stuff deliver! It was exactly what I was looking for - comfy like a knit, but oh so cozy. Some crosswise stretch, but pretty stable (no lycra), it doesn't wrinkle, but it pressed like a dream, and zero itch. Truthfully. I'm pretty sensitive to itchy wool, and I can wear this stuff against bare skin all day without wanting to claw it off me (although I like to layer, because, see above - re: reptilian blood). And it's black. I don't know what it is, but I have been feeling very 'black all over' with my clothes lately, so expect to see more black on this blog before the season is over!
I knew exactly what I wanted to make with it too. This is the Saiph Tunic from Papercut Patterns' new Constellation Collection - a gorgeous group of patterns with some really standout pieces. I was pretty tempted by a few of them, but then my eyes clapped on this simple, beginner pattern, and well.... it was love at first sight. I mean, a boxy, shapeless shift of a dress?! Be. Still. My. Heart! It had "Sallie" written alllll over it!!
Actually what really drew me to this dress was some of the pretty details, like those French darts at the bust, and the inseam pockets. There is actually some subtle shaping in the dress, making it much more elegant than wearing a giant rectangle. And while I'm not super passionate about pockets in dresses (I can go either way) I do love when they are a design feature like they are here.
I made this in a size XS, but I did a real mental dance about whether I should go down a size or not because of the roomy fit and the knit fabric. In the end I decided to go with my measurement size because I didn't want those bust darts to end at my collarbones, and I was too lazy to lower them. The fit is definitely roomy, but I don't regret making this size. Honestly, if I were to make it again I would probably cut the same size, but maybe narrow the shoulders. The only alterations I made to the pattern was to add 1 inch of length to the bottom hem band piece because I wanted to be able to wear this as a dress, not as a tunic (as the name suggests) and I took about 1/4 inch of height out of the sleeve-cap to reduce the ease, because I was using a knit (otherwise the sleeve-cap ease would have been perfect as drafted).
This was super easy breezy to sew up. I finished the cuffs and hem by interfacing them first with some knit fusible and then using my twin needle to topstitch them - makes for a really neat finish. And I alternated between using my sewing machine set to a long-ish (3.5) straight stitch and using my serger to sew the seams. Most of the major seams (side seams, hem band) were done on the serger. I used a random white button I had in my stash for the back closure (I think it gives a subtle 'Wednesday Addams vibe') but, really, you don't need it - this is one that can slip right over your head. I stabilized the shoulder seams with a bit of clear elastic, but if I were to make this in a knit again I would also stabilize the front band seamline/pocket openings. I don't mind the way they droop a bit here, but I dream of them sitting nice and flat and giving a really crisp, architectural feel.
I've already blabbed to my husband, my boss, and anyone else who I can get to stand still long enough to listen, about how I need, like, three more of these dresses in my wardrobe and then I would be a happy (winter) camper! It's just as cozy for curling up on the couch as it is for sitting at a desk, or gardening, or doing the myriad of other things that I do in my day to day life. I just wish Mood had this wool knit in other colors (like a bright red! or ivory - like the sample garment on Papercut Patterns website!) but I'm thinking of trying it out in a ponte next. Does anyone have experience working with ponte? What's the cozy-ness factor?
As you can see, I had a little helper with me while I shot these photos. I thought the presence of Lucille might mitigate some of the weird comments and stares I tend to get when I take blog pictures. It's been my experience that people do not mess with you when you're accompanied by a large black, menacing looking dog, even if she is a big softie. I tried to get a good picture of the two of us, but unfortunately poor Lucille wasn't feeling so good. Shortly after this she started eating grass and vomiting! Poor puppy! Better out than in. (Don't worry, it was nothing serious, just random dog barfs...)
So here's a picture of me posing like weirdo, and sweet Lucille, looking rather green around the gills, to wish you and yours a very happy holiday! I hope your days are filled with lots of good food and even better company! (And perhaps a little sewing-related giftie or two to close out 2013?) See you in the New Year!