Preparing for winter

I've had a few comments lately about how warm it must be here in winter and Gail guessed correctly that I was holidaying in Far North Queensland. I live in Townsville, which is classified as the "Dry Tropics". This means that the biggest difference between summer and winter is the humidity. Well, last summer, it didn't stop raining and now, the weather is skin-itchin' dry. We still have a winter, but it is shorter and milder than many of you would have. However, I do need some clothes for those few weeks, and every winter I come up short.

Last year, I tried to pull together an olive and burgundy combo. The fabrics looked great piled up, but I forgot to plan clothes than actually worked together. This year, I have been inspired by an article on Gwyneth Paltrow's blog (check it out, it's worth a look), which starts by layering a few, basic neutrals. I don't tend to sew "basics" or "neutrals" . This winter, that is all going to change and I plan to sew a few easy knits to work in with other garments that I already own.

I have ordered in a few grey and charcoal knits, but I thought I would test out my patterns on some fabric from my stash.

For the leggings, I used a pattern drafted at Stuart's patternschool. I did think about drafting my own from Keith Richardson's "Designing and patternmaking for stretch fabrics", but when I compared the methods, I liked Stuart's better. Keith starts with a catsuit block which uses 10% negative ease in both the horizontal and vertical. I don't think that vertical ease is necessary in leggings, unless they have stirrups. Stuart's method has no vertical ease, 12% negative horizontal ease at the waist, 0 - 6% negative horizontal ease through hips and thigh and 6% negative horizontal ease from the knees down. That all sounds very good, but my measurements weren't accurate and I ended up with leggings that were way too loose. I have taken them in some, and will take them in more for the next pair.

So onto the sweater dress. I have had Vogue 8319 for a long time, which is a sheath dress with raglan seams and extended shoulders and princess seams. I love the style lines and have been waiting to find the right project. This is not the right project. Actually, there probably is no right project. I think that deep down I have known that sheath dresses are not for me. I'm over it now. I will put this pattern at the back of the drawer.

The fabric was some sort of very soft blend. I thought it was very snuggly fabric, but my son thought it looked like I had rolled in a lot of dog hair. The seam lines just sort of melted into nothing-ness when they were pressed, which made the dress more boring than it need be, so I added zippers at the raglan seams. Now it looks like I am wearing some sort of tennis dress, albeit in sweater fabric.

My favourite bit of this outfit is the scarf, and I didn't even make that.

Now I need to choose a different pattern for my sweater dress. Here are the current options, tell me what you think.Vogue 8530, with the long sleeves.

Vogue 1091. It looks pretty simple, but I like the wide neckline. Might end up looking like a sack.

Vogue 1046, the view on the left. The line drawing looks odd, but it looks great on the model. Am I being fooled by a gorgeous model and fabulous print? Does she have a bull-dog clip at the back? It does come with pockets.

There are also a few patterns that look alright at Onion Patterns, but I am always hesitant to try a new brand of patterns. Has anyone had success with these?


  1. I am not keen on the Anna Sui dress - too, too loose. Either of the two left but I probably sway toward the first one. I haven't tried Onion patterns so can give no commenton that. The article on dressing with neutrals was interesting... plus who doesn't love Gweneth!

  2. I think all these dresses are very loose - and could be difficult to prevent the sack look. Would you wear them with a belt?

  3. I think the sweater dress looks very cute and the zipper detail is just gorgeous. Truly, I think you've got "I sewed it."

    I'm also loving Vogue 1091 in a drapey sweater. I reckon you could pull it off, but then again, I know I couldn't so perhaps I'm asking you to sew vicariously.

    Go on, make one of them...

  4. I like the dress and think it looks really cute in the photos. The zipper detail is a nice touch. Having only seen the dress in photos and the leggings in real life, my immediate thought is that they don't go together. The dress actually looks too cute/groovy/hip to be matched with these particular tights and runners.

    As for the patterns, my favourite is the Anna Sui one on the left. The others may look too much like a moo-moo or maternity wear. I don't like the baby-doll cut of the right Anna Sui one at all.

  5. I'm afraid that in a sweater knit, those dresses are going to bag and look huge.

  6. Did you ever sew Vogue 8319? I am considering sewing this for a mother-of-the-bride suit. Thanks!