First things first. A big shout out to my photoshoot helpers, souricette 1 and Mr. Mouse. Especially souricette 1. Souricette 2 wasn’t happy at the start of the photoshoot and souricette 1 worked tirelessly to make her laugh. And succeeded. She never needed a reminder to keep working. Mr. Mouse did a good job of helping souricette 2 balance on the tree stump, and only needed a couple reminders to keep the reflector properly positioned.
I’m still figuring this out. So many of the kids’ clothes I sew aren’t really my style. Why? First of all, the girls and I have different tastes. Sure, they sometimes overlap but they both refuse to wear pants and most jackets so I’m always stuck in skirt/dress/top land. And even tops… Souricette 1 hates anything that even hints at being constricting around the neck. She claims her Alice dress is constricting because. it. has. a. Collar! Seriously? Sigh. And then, there’s me. Something not being my style doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s gorgeous. Or I may be consciously trying to expand my horizons. And I end up with a bunch of fabrics/patterns that actually aren’t my style. I’m slowly learning. Very slowly.
This project has been a journey of discovery. My original plan got switched up a little and then a little more. If I’d had an extra week or two and no other projects in the works, the outfit would have been switched up even more. But one thing remains constant in all my plans.
A sweater, made with my own fabric. If there’s one thing that I know is part of my signature style, it’s my very own knits. I studied textile and it’s my first love. More than sewing. Creating textiles from yarn, especially knits.
My sweater is made from a 50% wool/ 50% acrylic blend. It’s not scratchy at all, even on tender belly skin. I created a cabled diamond pattern on a ribbed background for the bottom portion and came up with variations for the top portions. The sleeves are a ribbed pattern.
I drafted the design with the help of a knitting program, Design-a-Knit. I used the standard garment drafting for the basic design and then I adjusted it to get the exact pattern pieces I wanted. There are two ways to knit fabric for a garment. You can knit a big panel that you then cut up and sew as you would with purchased yardage. That would be called cut-and-sew. The other method is called fully fashioned and it consists of knitting pieces that exactly match your pattern pieces. Then, you sew it all up. No cutting. And no need to finish any seam allowances because they’re all selvedge. This method takes a little longer to knit up but it’s less wasteful. I used it wherever I could, which is everywhere but the neckline.
I used my sewing machine to assemble the sweater but it was an effort! There are hand sewing techniques for knits that give a beautiful finish. You see the columns of stitches aligning perfectly on either side of the seam. It’s too much work to do with purchased yardage but my machine knits are thick enough for it. And with my design, it would have taken way too long.
Once the whole sweater was assembled, I stitched all the way around the neckline and cut off the extra fabric. Scary! But the stitching did it’s job and there was no unravelling. I finished the neckline with one row of single crochet (US single, not UK), and chain stitch button loops. I found the perfect pair of buttons.
They were a gift from my friend Virginia. They’re stoneware buttons from Hog Hill Pottery in New Hampshire. And those buttons are how a unisex design turns a little girly… Which is, I suppose, exactly me. I always do that, make something unisex and then add that one little detail that just screams girl…
I measured souricette 2 loosely over her clothes and went with no ease. It fits (ribbing is stretchy!) but it’s… fitted. In retrospect, I think I should have added an inch or two of ease.
But a sweater does not an outfit make. At first I thought I would make a taffeta skirt, just like in my tutorial. I liked the contrast of shimmery taffeta and matte wool, princess-y style and unisex style. And I did make it but with an extra layer of tulle and no ribbon.
But then, I wanted souricette 2 to have a little something on under the sweater. I went as far as cutting out a tunic from navy blue rayon jersey (made from Oliver + S class picnic blouse) but it never got sewn up. For one, I realized that I wanted a collar to peak out of the sweater. For two, I realized that the taffeta skirt isn’t truly my signature style. It isn’t how I would dress my kids if they let me dress them. I created it as a prop for photography. Back to the drawing board.
Late last week, I hit on the Oliver + S puppet show dress. It had the collar I wanted and Oliver + S is absolutely, totally, my style. I adore their patterns, their attention to detail… And ultimately, that’s me too. I’m not into flashy fabrics and embellishments galore. I like letting pattern and textile shine.
For the dress, I chose two fabrics. The yoke is that blue gingham you’ve seen before. The rest is blue chambray. Yes, blue. It’s been my favorite color for as long as I can remember.
As much as I enjoy a print or dyed fabric, I think my heart will always belong to yarn dyed fabrics and patterns that are created as the fabric is woven (as with the gingham). I suppose that goes back to my love of textile…
I cut the gingham on the bias to get a pretty diagonal effect, embroidered the front, and added piping between the front yoke and dress.
I had originally planned to do some running stitch embroidery along the collar and hem. Or maybe an embroidered diamond to echo the one in the sweater. And ultimately, I dropped all that. Not because of time constraints but because that’s what I always end up doing. I plan for a bunch of extras and then only keep one or two, maybe three. The sewing version of taking off one piece of jewelry before you leave the house? I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist exactly but I guess I’m not far off.
I like simplicity, thoughtful design, light on the embellishments.
And there it is, all together!
The sweater fits way better than I thought it would. I thought I would have the hardest time getting those puffed dress sleeves into those slim sweater sleeves without lumps. But I got it right on the first try!
With another week or two on my hands, I suspect I would have made a T-shirt with a peter pan collar instead of a dress (better fit under that sweater) and a pleated skirt or dress like the Oliver + S music box jumper…