Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Named Esme Cardigan (How to Wear a Blanket All Winter Long)

In the winter when I'm cold, there is nothing I want more than to feel cosy - warm and snuggly despite the wind, wrapped in a blanket from neck to knee.

This particular Esme cardigan, made in a heavy double knit (and mostly polyester, I believe) is ridiculously cosy. It's as cosy as some of my coats, but it's also snuggly enough to stay on when I'm lounging around the house or sitting at a desk and working on the computer (unlike my coats).  It's pretty much like wearing a blanket!

I absolutely love it.

Pattern: Esme cardigan by Named Patterns

Fabric: double knit (by which I mean double-layered knit) bought at a crazy sale at Spotlight for next to nothing

Overall: an easy and satisfying sew, slowed down by my need to:
  • match the direction of the houndstooth (yes, it's a directional print) and align the horizontals in cutting out 
  • align the horizontals in sewing the main seams
  • align the direction and horizontals between the button band and the cardigan fronts
  • align the print in the pocket openings
I think you can see the pattern alignment / matching between the bands and the cardigan fronts in this flat photo:

And in this next photo you might JUST be able to see that the houndstooth pattern runs down the cardigan fronts right over the pockets without getting out of line :). It doesn't look like my pattern matching on that side seam worked perfectly though:

I made a few changes to the cardigan as I went:
  • omitted the interfacing on the band - a conscious decision, because I wanted the band to have the same amount of stretch as the main part of the cardigan, and I knew the fabric was heavy enough that it probably didn't need interfacing. I've seen a few Esme cardigans where the interfaced button band has stretched less than the cardigan body - I'm not sure how you'd avoid this is you interfaced the band, but I'm also not sure why you need the interfacing there when you're not adding closures. 
  • omitted interfacing on the pocket openings - not needed with a cut-on pocket.
  • cut the pocket bags as part of the cardigan front (one pair of upper cardigan fronts with cut-on pocket bags, and one pair of lower cardigan fronts with cut-on pocket bags).

The pocket bags are recommended to be sewn from a lighter knit, but if you don't mind them being made from the same fabric as the outer cardigan, a cut-on pocket is sleeker. And because the pockets are quite slouchy (more slouchy than they would have been with interfacing, but I suspect they were always going to be somewhat slouchy) the pocket bags are exposed, so a difference in fabrics would have drawn the eye.

Here are a couple more pocket photos - and yes, those pockets were flapping around too much! Right after taking these pictures I tacked the bottom corners of the pockets to the inner layer of my cardigan fronts, and they now don't show.

  • as drafted this cardigan is super long, and will grow longer in a heavy fabric.  I cut some of the length off, and still have a deep hem. It's definitely drafted for tall women so I'd recommend checking how much of that length you want before cutting out (or buying) your fabric.
  • the sleeves are pretty narrow, and significantly narrower than I expected.  Next time around I might make them wider to allow for more layering options - as they are I can only fit a thin merino or cotton layer underneath

Although I love this cardigan and wore it pretty much constantly for a few months after wearing it, I'm not sure if it reads "dressing gown"! What do you think? Does a dressing gown have to have a cord to tie around the waist? I keep thinking of those old fashioned checked flannel gowns!

I haven't shown you the back view yet, have I - from behind it's a very plain and boxy shape:

It took a while for this pattern to grab me - it looked quite boxy in the line drawings (and it is boxy), and I thought I was hankering after a cardigan with a bit more shaping. But as winter progressed I noticed people around me wearing cosy-looking, long boxy cardigans just like Esme, and I realized this sort of cardigan was versatile and practical (and sometimes even stylish).

I'm not convinced mine's particularly stylish, but with its muted grey/cream colours I've been able to pair it reasonably well with a black dress or trousers in the office, and even better with jeans and a merino top or t-shirt at home. No one's pulled me aside and told me to get dressed, though when I've asked a few family members they have agreed it's quite dressing gown-like. 

Hmm... maybe it can be both a cardigan and a gown, depending on what you wear underneath?

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

- Gabrielle xx

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Vogue 8945 with Lace Sleeves

Back when the weather was still cold, I stumbled upon a remnant of purple lace at Tessuti fabrics. Below I've got a close up of the fabric drying on the line alongside the coordinating stretch viscose I paired it with, and you can see the pretty patterns in the lace, but what you can't see is the straight edged selvedges on the lace.

The lace remnant was too small for a dress, large enough for a small top perhaps, but the perfect amount for a pair of bell sleeves with the selvedges in place of sleeve hems, woohoo! Aren't those selvedges cool!! 

Vogue 8945 is a semi-fitted dress with two views: view A (this one) with bell sleeves, and view B with layered sleeve flounces.  I made view B of this dress for Melbourne frocktails a few years ago (see dress post here, and post for the related cape here), and I'd been keen to give view A with its simpler bell sleeves a go ever since.  V8945 is a good pattern for a statement sleeve - the dress itself is very plain, so the sleeves really get to star.

Speaking of sleeves that star, I entered these very sleeves in Helen and Diane's sleevefest2017  competition back in August (before I'd tried the dress on though!) and won a prize courtesy of Ryliss Bod - I won a copy of The Minott Method Total Pattern Fit. Have you heard of it? I hadn't, but it's basically a very comprehensive fitting manual.  I've skimmed through the book (so time poor these days!) and it also has fitting tips in the form of handy wrinkle diagrams telling you what the various wrinkles mean - I will definitely be using those diagrams. 

Hmm. And unfortunately, although this dress is one I adored on the hanger, on taking these photos I discovered it was a sausage casing dress. Isn't photography a killjoy! And it turns out the prize is very apt for a dress that fits this badly :(. 

I've deleted most of the sausage photos, but I'm willing to share one piece of proof with you:

This pattern is recommended to be sewn in a faille, crepe, challis or linen - so a woven fabric with some drape I guess? but both times I've made it I've used something quite different, and to do the pattern justice the dress really needs a drapey fabric OR a looser fit.

First time around I used a bonded polyester for the sheath dress and a combination of merino wool, more of the bonded polyester and silk organza for the sleeves - that version was a much more successful incarnation of the pattern, most likely because this dress size was a looser fit on me back then:

The two dresses are the same size (12 top half, 14 bottom half), but those couple of years apparently resulted in a couple of extra kilos, so even though I'm crazy about the sleeves, this dress hasn't had a single wear since being made (hangs head in shame).

The sausage casing factor is not so obvious in the shade, but shade isn't something you can rely on here in Sydney. It looks fine in these next two photos, right?

Gah I do wish I'd checked my measurements before cutting into the fabric! 

I'm keeping this dress for next winter - just in case I shrink a little or the dress grows a little - but next time I sew I'm definitely getting out the measuring tape first!

Happy sewing and see you soon

- Gabrielle xx 

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