Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Sew Over It Doris Dress

I'm a sucker for shiny new things. Be it patterns, fabric, or books, I'm probably an online marketer's dream, not least because I spend all of my working life in front of a computer and, being as I'm self-employed, there's no need to worry about my boss finding out that I've been shopping instead of working! To give me credit, I have been trying, and largely succeeding, not to get drawn in to the excitement of a new release. But sometimes there's something that's just too pretty to resist, and for me the Sew Over It Doris dress pattern was one of those things.

I remember seeing and loving the photos of the Doris dress when Sew Over It first released it as a class, and hoped that at some point she'd find her way into their pattern collection. So when my wish was granted, Doris jumped straight into my shopping cart and hopped to the top of my sewing queue.

The Doris dress has a lovely scoop neck bodice, that's shaped with bust pleats and has little grown-on sleeves. The waist is semi-fitted and can be cinched in with attached ties (the option I chose), or a back belt. The skirt is panelled, and has a really pretty flared shape, which the wind is kindly demonstrating to you in the photo below.

The skirt comes in two lengths - above and below the knee. I chose the longer length, which ends at a perfect knee length on me (I'm about 5 ft 9), which I'm pleased with as below the knee often tends towards frumpy on me.

The pattern all came together smoothly (notches and pleats matched up perfectly etc.) and the instructions were clear and easy to follow. The pattern is rated as intermediate, but I think a confident beginner would be fine sewing Doris - as long as you're happy inserting a concealed zip I don't think there's anything else too complicated here.

One point to mention is that if you have a non-directional print then you probably won't need as much fabric as stated on the fabric requirements - I used about 2.6 metres of Liberty-width fabric.

In Sew Over It's sizes, I fall right between a 12 and a 14, with my bust being closer to a 12 and my waist being closer to a 14 (and my hips probably over a 14, but to be honest I never pay much attention to my hip measurement because I always make full skirts so I know there'll be plenty of hip space). I used the size 12 from the shoulder to the underarm, and gradually blended out from the underarm to a 14 at the waist. I also added 1.5 inches to the bodice length, which is fairly standard for me.

I'm happy with the fit - in some of the pictures it looks like I have excess fabric in the upper back, but I can't see that when I'm wearing it in real life so I'm inclined to blame weird posture whilst prancing around trying to look natural for photos!

The skirt shape and grown-on sleeves of the Doris dress really need some nice lightweight material, and while a drapey viscose would have been ideal, I love an opportunity to use some Liberty lawn. And I think it has just about enough drape for Doris so it's all good!

The Liberty aficionados among you will probably recognise that the print I used is Glenjade, and I got it from Katsfabrics on ebay (which, if you don't know, sells factory seconds so you can get Liberty a bit cheaper!). The buttons were a lucky find in my local knitting shop - and you may have noticed that I didn't bother with the buttonholes. The dress has a side zip meaning there's no need to have functioning buttons, so I just sewed them on through both layers of the bodice.

I think that Doris is a really pretty dress. I tried out a little experiment, and I think the back ties also look good tied at the front as in the photo above, although I think it might make the back look a bit weird! Overall, I think it's probably better with the ties at the back as intended, but I'll remember this option if the ties ever get in the way of a cardigan or anything.

I'm pleased that I let my willpower cave and bought the Doris dress straightaway - it's a gorgeous pattern and I definitely intend to wear this dress a lot this summer. Where do you stand on new releases? Do you rush to buy them straightaway, or do you hold off until you've seen other people test them out?

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Pretty pink cardigan

How are you today? All good I hope? Things aren't too shabby here - I've got a little pile of pretty fabric waiting to be sewn, I'm enjoying taking part in Me Made May for the first time (I'm posting my outfits on Instagram if you're interested), and at the weekend I finished and instantly wore my latest knitting project, which I'm here to show you today.

This is a combination of two patterns. In essence, it's the Regan cardigan from the Rowan Softknit Collection (which I picked up in the John Lewis sale for £2 - gotta love a bargain).

I liked the shape of the cardigan, but the whole thing is just plain stocking stitch and I fancied something a little different. I then found one of my Granny's old vintage patterns for a cardigan which looked a bit dated overall (think MASSIVE collar), but had a simple-but-effective stitch pattern. So I combined the basic Regan cardigan with the vintage stitch pattern on the front and back pieces, and this is the result.

The stitch pattern is nothing complicated - all it involves is purling every 4th stitch on the knit rows (row 1 is k1, (p1, k3) to the end, and row 3 is k3, (p1, k3) to the end). It may be simple, but I really like the almost dotty, textured effect that it produces.

I recently found The Knitting Stitch Bible in a charity shop (I told you I love a bargain!), and it has a stitch called small broken stocking stitch which is very similar, just with the purl stitches spaced slightly further apart than mine are.

The yarn I used is Beregere de France Sonora, a cotton and acrylic blend which I picked up on offer (did I mention that I love a bargain?!) from Love Knitting. I think it may have been discontinued, which is a shame because I found that it knit up really well and it's lovely to wear too. In fact, I like it so much that I'm already knitting another cardigan using a different shade of the same yarn!

The shade I used here is called Balsamine, which is a lovely pale dusky pink colour. It's getting a bit bleached out by the sun in these photos, and is definitely more pink in real life. Over the weeks that I had this sitting on my lap as I knitted, I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the dresses I was wearing it goes with - definitely a good indication that it'll get worn a lot.

I knit the cardigan in size M - I'm at the upper end of the size range and the cardigan fits me nicely with a little bit of positive ease, so it would definitely be worth thinking about sizing down if you're at the smaller end of the size range or if you like a more fitted look.

The Regan pattern is really good for a basic cardigan. I think it would be great for newbie knitters wanting to try their first garment, or equally for a nice relaxing project if you have a bit more experience.

As you've probably guessed, I'm really pleased with how this has turned out, and I'd definitely use this pattern again as a way to test out some of the other stitch patterns in The Knitting Stitch Bible. Have you got any knitting projects on the go? And do you like bargain hunting as much as I do?!

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Jenna & Veronika

Hot on the heels of me saying last week that I needed more pink in my wardrobe, here is more pink! Albeit partially combined with various shades of blue and green, but that's no bad thing. This combination is a Muse Patterns Jenna cardi and Megan Nielsen Veronika skirt.

I've made the Jenna cardigan twice before (once for me, once as a Christmas present for my Mum), but I didn't ever get around to blogging about it - partly because it was in the run up to Christmas and I was pretty busy, and partly because they're both plain navy blue so aren't that easy (or interesting) to photograph. I've worn mine loads though, so I knew it wouldn't be long before I'd be sewing another version.

This is the waist-length version of the Jenna cardi with long sleeves, and omitting the optional yoke detailing. I made a size 38, with a couple of adjustments to the sleeve. In my first version the sleeves worked nicely, but that was using a sweatshirting, and the lighter jersey I used here (which is from Fabworks - although I can't find the exact one on their site now) produced a very different fit and the sleeves were too big and too long. I took 5cm off the length of the sleeves, and slimmed down the sleeves by about 3cm at the cuff, tapering up to join the original seam line at the underarm.

I'm pretty happy with it, although if I make it again I'd probably add a little bit of length. I've mainly been wearing my first version with dresses, and then the length seems fine, but wearing this version with a skirt makes me think that it might be better just a touch longer so that I don't end up with that little gap around my waist. It's only a small niggle though, and definitely won't stop me wearing it!

The skirt is my fifth version of the Veronika skirt (other versions here, here, here & unblogged). Yes, Veronika is just a circle skirt and I could draft my own - but if someone is going to be nice enough to do the drafting for me and give it to me for free then I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

I don't think I strictly needed this skirt, but when I saw the fabric on Fabric Godmother's Instagram feed I just had to have it. The large-scale print seemed like it would be well suited to a circle skirt so I ordered enough for a Veronika. I wasn't disappointed when it arrived - it's a really nice stretch cotton, and the colours are gorgeous.

All in all, I'm really pleased with both of these, and especially with how nicely they work together. I think the cardi will be getting more wear than the skirt because it'll go with quite a few of my dresses/skirts, but if I'm honest the skirt is the more exciting part of this outfit - you can't beat a twirly skirt in a pretty print, can you?!