Overall, I’m very happy with how my plain version of the Colette Macaron dress turned out.
It felt good to be able to use my skills to make the changes I wanted to this dress. I did look for some guidance on line, but when I couldn’t find anything about altering the pattern, I decided to go my own way. I was aware that my sewing improved a lot over the past couple of years, but I don’t consider myself an especially advanced sewist. I had a lot of help with my most complex projects, including the only thing I have ever lined properly (my coat). However, I definitely have picked up tips and tricks from Julie that helped me.
That being said, the guts of the dress turned out to be a bit of a mess. Even though it felt good to follow my own instincts when it came to the lining, this remains something I am not experienced at doing. Next time I want to line a garment, I will follow a proper tutorial.
I kind of went halfway in between lining and underlining the dress, when I probably should have just stuck with one method. Another problem was the fiasco with the skirt (described in my last post, which has a lot more details about what I did). I had already used a French seam (definitely incorrect in this situation) on the side with the zip. I decided to slightly fudge the redo of the seam, which doesn’t affect the outside but looks like a dog’s dinner inside.
On the plus side, I have been reminded that a lining (however inexpertly installed) makes a garment feel so much more luxurious. This dress feels much more ‘proper’ than any of the ones I have made before.
I haven’t covered up the waistband seams yet. At some point I plan to slip-stitch some ribbon over the whole waistband area. But I decided to leave it for now. If the lining overall had been more successful, I would care more about how the inside looks. Life just feels too short at the moment. I’m not one of those people (yet) who needs the wrong side of their makes to be as beautiful as the right side.
While I was making this dress, it occurred to me that sewing is a form of 3D puzzle. I am generally a bit bemused by adults doing things like Lego, but dressmaking really does use a similar skillset- lots of spatial problem-solving. Spatial awareness is definitely a weakness of mine, though it’s improved in leaps and bounds during my adulthood. It feels pretty good to exercise those muscles.
Coming in at under £35, this dress is one of my cheaper makes. The viscose was quite inexpensive even though it seems like nice quality to me. I suppose it is quite thin. I don’t understand fabric costings at all! I feel like this is the kind of dress that would sell for £60-70 in Oliver Bonas.
I bought this fabric just over a year ago, planning to make a third Day Dress (previous version 1, 2). I saw someone else using it at my disastrous silk cami workshop (Sew Over It were stocking it at the time) and fell in love. Although I like the Day Dress, my pink Macaron is probably the most flattering dress I have for day wear. I decided to have a go at making a version without the contrast bodice, which no one else seems to have previously attempted. I certainly could not find any blog posts about doing this even after extensive searching.
This post contains detailed notes about how I created a solid Macaron by combining the yoke and bodice pattern pieces. I will also describe how I lined this dress- I don’t think I did the best job, it’s more a case of notes for future learning.
I overlapped the bodice and yoke pattern pieces by 3cm and traced. On the front I also increased one of the darts by 5mm since some length seems to be taken out at the seam between the pieces. I probably should have done this on the waist dart but I took it out of the side dart- I don’t imagine this will make much difference. I just did the back straight and did not alter the shaping- I’m fairly confident this will work for my figure.
I also decided to make my life difficult by lining the dress. The neckline facing on my first Macaron is a travesty (partly my error, partly the pattern). At present I have only planned lining the bodice. I’ll see how I feel when I get to the skirt.
I easily got this dress out of 2m of fabric by book folding it. I nearly always do this and it saves loads of material. Pattern companies tend to massively overestimate the fabric requirements, as well as not having cutting diagrams that are as efficient as possible. It’s really wasteful and annoying. Bear mind that I also cut out two bodices.
I cut a size 10 with adjustments as described previously. I interfaced the waistband for extra stability. Since I had plenty of fabric, I decided to self-line the bodice so I don’t have to worry if the lining ever peeks out at the neck seam. I pinned and machine basted the darts as pleats in the lining pieces, trying to have the excess fabric fall in the opposite direction to the darts in the shell.
I made up the bodice as directed, following the same instructions for the lining. I joined the two pieces RS together at the neck. Note: do not finish the neckline edges before stitching.
I machined the bottom hem of the lining to the seam allowance between the bodice and waistband pieces at the front and back separately.
This is how the bodice looked just before I attached the sleeves. I’m very happy that I decided to line the bodice since the fabric is so delicate. It makes the dress feel much more classy and professional.
I attached the sleeves as in the pattern, to both layers of bodice and lining. I then finished the seam as one piece. I haven’t yet removed my hand-basting because I think it looks really cute.
I decided it would be silly to line the bodice but not the skirt. I cut out additional skirt pieces using the leftover lining from my coat. I shortened the pieces by about 3 inches and incorporated the selvedges at the bottom to save hemming (lazy sewing for the win!) I made up the skirt lining as directed, ironing the pleats in the opposite direction to those in the shell.
I had planned to attach the skirt and lining within the waistband seam allowance before I sewed the skirt to the bodice. However I wasn’t sure about having additional weight of the lining pulling down on the waistband piece. The fabric really is very delicate. Thank goodness I decided to interface it!
In the end I couldn’t think of another solution. Weirdly I had an issue with having a lot of extra length in my bodice compared to the skirt, but only at the front. I was able to ease it, but it took three attempts. When I tried the dress on, it looked weird. I tested the pockets and… they were on the back of the dress. I had seamed the wrong side of the skirt 🤦🏽♀️
My inability to tell left from right bites me again. I spent ages undoing the incorrect stitching and sewing the skirt together on the correct side. I then re-did the waist seam and it went together much more smoothly.
I tried on the dress and I’m really happy with the fit. I love the way this dress makes my figure look.
The last step was to insert the zip. That part was relatively pain-free. I hand-tacked the dress to the zip before stitching to ensure the waistband seams would line up- this definitely helped. I probably should have used a 1cm seam allowance rather than 1.5cm because the dress is a teeny bit tight at the waist. My makes normally give slightly with wear, so I don’t think it’s worth the bother of reinstalling. Now just the hem and a bit of finishing and this dress will be ready!
Fabric: 2m of viscose costing £18 (I paid £2.95 p&p for this and the fabric for my cloud tee). I also used less than a metre of viscose lining (a scrap so I will not cost this)
Pattern: £18 (second use)
Notions: All bought ages ago so no idea. Let’s provisionally say £5
Total: About £33
I’ve finally finished my She Loves Wool jumper and, mercifully, I am pretty happy with the result.
From my experience with this sweater, I will be a lot more reserved about choosing patterns where there is no documentary evidence of the making process online. I think I was quite lucky. The few projects linked to the pattern on Ravelry indicate that others have found making this sweater a frustrating process. This kit is a luxury product- it is very expensive- so I would have expected a little more to make the experience as pleasant as possible for the user.
I think also being a fairly experienced knitter was a big help. The fact that I put so much time into planning this sweater meant that I was able to think critically about possible issues such as the fit and sleeve length, which circumvented what could have been very painful problems. There are hundreds of hours of knitting in this project so the idea of ripping back was unbearable.
Needle: 3.5mm circular; 3.25 for the neckline ribbing
Getting to try the sweater on for the first time was a huge relief. I’d pinned it together a few times during the making process to assess fit, but you can never be sure how something will look until it is all sewn up.
For some reason I’ve been hesitant about criticising Wool and the Gang- perhaps because I slightly know the founders. However, I strongly feel that this pattern was not designed for hand-knitters. Even the most basic fact of knitting fair isle flat is not typical. I can’t find any evidence to suggest that anyone test-knitted this pattern and you can tell.
My gripes are mainly small things, such as the way the decreases are done on the raglan seams that means they are a little untidy when sewn up.
I really wasn’t happy with how the raglan seams looked so I played around with ways to make them neater.
Annoyingly you can see the stitches against the other colour. I think it looks better but I’ve left the ends loose so I have the option of undoing it.
Perhaps I have been spoiled by knitting a lot of projects from Brooklyn Tweed, where every detail of the design is painstakingly thought out. I also feel the sizing is quite off. I know that WatG patterns tend to have a very relaxed fit but still. I managed to get a good fit due to careful swatching and knitting maths.
I sewed up the whole sweater and then picked up the neckline stitches in the round. I think this is a superior method to knitting flat and then seaming the neckline.
I picked up way fewer stitches than indicated in the pattern. I ended up with 120. I basically just picked up one neckline stitch per stitch on the front, back and sleeves. Since I wanted a tight neckline, it worked for me. I also made a folded neckband for a more professional finish.
As a note, I ended up using up nearly all of the black yarn (and I’m fairly sure I ordered an extra ball). I did omit the contrast hem and cuffs (knitting them in black rather than white), which increased the yardage a bit. However I am a little surprised I got through it all because I made my sleeves and body quite a bit shorter than indicated in the pattern.
I had more than two balls of white left.
I’ve been working consistently on my She Loves Wool sweater since picking it back up in the summer. I hope people don’t find these posts too dull, but I’ve been working on this project for so long and I don’t have that many other makes to write about.
I have now finished the front section and have moved back to working on the sleeves. I looked back at my previous post in which I blithely wrote that I was ‘nearly ready’ to start the colourwork on the first sleeve. I was nowhere near that point!
There is a lot of plain knitting to do once the sleeve increases are finished for the smallest size. I am mostly knitting on public transport or while watching TV at home so it’s not too bad but, as with the other pieces, still pretty dull.
The instructions state to knit the sleeve until it is 60cm long. This seems excessive. I have very long arms and they’re a little over 50cm from wrist to armpit. I’ve put the first sleeve back on hold at 21″, planning to re-check the length before starting the colour work. While I feel that I should follow my instincts and start the sleeve colourwork, I feel very apprehensive about deviating from the instructions. Normally I have to add length to my sleeves so it seems perverse to make them shorter than stated.
I took the time to check the sleeve length as accurately as possible. I pinned the sweater sections to my bra- the colour work is the same depth on all of the sections so the back is standing in for the sleeve. As you can see (I hope!) the sleeve looks good so I have proceeded with the colour work. I might even start putting the yoke together before finishing the second sleeve so that I can feel 100% confident about the length.
In more positive news, the neckline looks a lot better than I was expecting. The official pictures of this sweater all show the neckline being quite open, which I hate.
However, my neckline looks very different. I wonder if perhaps the sample was knitted in the largest size. Anyway, it gives me hope that I won’t have to make a lot of alterations because I’ve spent quite enough time on this sweater already.
Suddenly I am starting to feel like I am making good progress on this sweater so I am a lot more motivated to work on it. If all goes well I might even be able to wear it before Christmas.
She Loves Wool- kit from WatG * And Other Stories
Ravelry project page
After serving several weeks as my inspiration project, I hit a speedbump in knitting my Mermaid Humboldt sweater. I had a few flights coming up and needed a relatively easy project that I could work on while travelling. I returned to my hibernating She Loves Wool sweater. It’s been a good few months since I ground to a halt with the incredible monotony of knitting long row after long row of black stocking stitch. However, this was exactly what I needed to ease my anxiety on the plane- and simple enough that I could start the new season of Orange is the New Black at the same time.
After a long weekend spent in France with my dad, I had nearly finished the black section of the front.
I am now coming up to what I think will be the most challenging aspect of this knit- the neckline. There are no modelled pictures of anyone wearing a She Loves Wool sweater online. From the few photos of unmodelled sweaters, the neckline looks far too open for my liking. I am going to have to make some significant alterations to get it the way I want, which will mean lots of lifelines and I will also attempt to take detailed notes.
With that in mind, this project was becoming a little unwieldy for travel knitting. I decided to cast on one of the sleeves to take on my various summer holidays. I finished the second ball of black yarn and put the body on hold until I have some time to start working on the fair isle section, which I think I will enjoy.
The first sleeve- I had used up one ball of wool at this point. The sleeves were quite funny to knit. At first, they seemed to be going really quickly compared to the body sections. A couple of inches into the plain black stocking part, they seemed interminable. Then, all of a sudden they seemed super long and the first ball was nearly complete.
I hadn’t mentioned in my previous blog posts but I made one of my standard alterations to patterns and used a tubular cast-on for all of the pattern pieces. I just love the neat edge that it produces. I used the Ysolda method for the sleeve- can’t remember if I did the same for the body but it doesn’t really matter. A tubular cast on is one of those things I prefer to do at home rather than on the move as it’s quite fiddly.
The current status is that the back is complete aside from alterations, the first sleeve is nearly ready to start the fair isle work and the second sleeve is my current travel knitting project. Since taking the photo, I have managed to start the fair isle on the front section too.
Pattern and yarn: She Loves Wool kit by Wool and the Gang
Previous posts 1 2
Not long after writing my last blog post, I tried on my Humboldt sweater and realised that I wasn’t happy with how the gradient was looking. When I calculated how long I wanted each section of colour to be, I didn’t know that I had made a mistake when measuring my Port Charlotte sweater and therefore the dimensions were out. Also, the ribbing section is much more navy than turquoise, meaning that the turquoise section looked way too narrow.
The only viable solution was to rip back to where I finished the turquoise part.
This marl is pretty difficult to photograph! When I was looking yesterday, I couldn’t see much of a difference but now I can. I spent quite a bit of time examining the pattern schematic to try and think about the look of the gradient rather than just calculating it and I’m hoping this way will work out nicely. I will also have to think about how to do the sleeves, which will be much longer than the body.
I’ve managed to finish knitting the body and I think the length is looking as I want it. It feels so weird to be deliberately making a jumper too short!
I managed to cast on my first sleeve so that I could work on it on a flight. Despite the current heatwave in London, I’ve been making decent progress.
Now having a bit of a dilemma about how I want the gradient to look on the sleeves! Maybe it’s time for another lifeline…
Pattern: Humboldt by Anna Maltz