My First Hand-Knitted Jumper

Handmade Shetland wool Jumper Attie and Dora Shetland

Bit of a change of subject today. Although I think of Attie and Dora as very much a sewing focused blog, I have recently become interested in knitting and want to incorporate lots of warm practical knitwear into my handmade wardrobe.

Knitting my first garment was an interesting process for me. I had very little experience of knitting, but I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. I was a bit out of my depth, but jumping head first into this new challenge worked for me. I admit I did need help with deciphering some of the instructions. I find knitting pattern jargon really confusing. Luckily I know a few knitters who were happy to answer my questions. My mum taught me how to graft the armholes, I would have been clueless at that stage without her guidance. I used a youtube tutorial to figure out how to knit on four needles when I got to the neckline, but mostly I just went for it and figured it out as I went along.

The pattern included an icelandic style yoke, but I wanted a block colour for a more versatile garment. There is no name of the designer on the pattern, my mum bought it in a charity shop.

I bought the wool from Jamieson’s of Shetland. It is ‘mirrydancers’ Shetland Marl and I think I used 8 or 9 100g balls.

This project took me quite a while as I was only doing a few rows at a time in the evenings. I find knitting really relaxing and a fun alternative to sewing, particularly if I want to feel that I am doing something creative, but can’t be bothered to go up into my sewing room. I find I will knit while I watch tv and I love that  working in stocking stitch doesn’t require much concentration. It is sort of meditative.

It wasn’t all a breeze, there were moments when I made silly mistakes and was despairing a bit, but once I finished it I felt such a massive sense of achievement and have started my next knitting project already, a grey mohair cardigan using a pattern from Wool and the Gang.

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Driftless Cardigan

Just a quick post today. I wanted to show you the Driftless cardigan I made this week. The pattern is by Grainline Studio and it gets a big thumbs up from me.  I love the design and it came together really quickly on the overlocker.

The pattern calls for a medium weight knit and I wasn’t sure if this really soft and stretchy hacci sweater knit fabric from Girl Charlee UK would suit the pattern, but I think it worked. The fabric drapes beautifully and I feel effortlessly chic in this cardigan.

I actually made no alterations to the pattern for my height and it fits really well. I think if I make this again in a sturdier knit, I will add a bit of length to the bodice and sleeves, as I’m guessing the stretchiness of the fabric is having an effect on the fit.

I’ve already ordered more fabric to make more of these, so keep an eye out for more versions coming soon.

Driftless Cardigan Front

Driftless Cardigan Side

Driftless Cardigan Front

Driftless Cardigan Back

Handmade Wedding Dress and Silk Robe

2016 has been a really interesting year for me sewing-wise, but so far my biggest sewing achievement has gone unblogged.  The photos came through just in time to write this post before the end of the year, and I can’t wait to tell you all about my experience making a wedding dress and silk robe for my friends’ wedding.

Lace Knit Wedding Dress and Silk Robe

Photo credit Alexander Martin

The bride’s vision was a knitted lace, backless dress. The dress was made in collaboration with the mother of the groom, Helen, who made the extraordinary knitted part of the dress.  My job was to make the silk underdress, which would be combined with the lace knit overlay. I was also tasked with the job of designing and making a floor length silk robe with a slight train.

The underdress was necessary, not only to protect the bride’s modesty, but also to provide some structure to support the knitted layer and hold the shape of the garment when the two were sewn together. This was of particular concern as the wool had a tendency to stretch out.

The main challenge we faced making this dress was that the bride lives in Glasgow so I posted each toile to the bride and carried out fittings via FaceTime and Facebook messenger. I did visit her once in person to adjust the dress, which was helpful, but probably the saving grace in the end was that we made a duct tape dress-form of the bride’s torso so that we could use it to check the fit as we went along.

The dress

My process for making the silk part of the dress began by making the bride’s bodice and skirt blocks. I then started drafting the dress and sent her the first toile to try on.

The first toile was very low cut, all the way down to the small of her back. It occurred to us early on that this design feature could prove quite impractical, as it would be awkward to wear and dance in without it falling off. I did a lot of research about constructing backless dresses, mainly online and with reference to other patterns and shop bought garments. We concluded that if we made it so low cut we would either need to have something holding it together at the back along the top of the shoulders,  or we would need to stick the dress to her on the day to keep it in place.

In the end we decided this just wasn’t going to be practical and it made sense to raise the dress at the back closer to her natural waist, so I redrafted the pattern.

In total I made 10 toiles before the final garment. Some were due to fitting alterations, but also the style of the dress evolved quite a lot throughout the process as the bride tried them on and clarified her vision. The final version ended up being a bit of a pattern hack as very close to the deadline we changed the bodice style from princess seamed, empire line to the lingerie slip like style. I used the cup piece from a vintage lingerie pattern (New Look 6029) to save myself time and merged it with my dress to give the final garment you see in the pictures.

The under-dress was made with silk dupion, which was a beautiful weight and provided some structure for the knitted overlay. The two were made independently and then sewn together at the zip.  The dress was sewn partly on the machine, but finished by hand. I used satin bias tape to finish the hem and the neckline. The straps were rouleau made with the silk dupion. I sewed the zip in by hand.

I took some photos of the underdress before we attached the knitted layer.I apologise for the terrible lighting. I was very busy that month so they were taken at 6am before I went to work. The sun was only just rising, so I didn’t have much daylight to work with. I was actually lying on the floor to get the full length of the dress in the shot. Although they aren’t the most beautiful photos I  wanted to include them to give you an idea of what the underdress looked like before we combined the two.

Also my over-critical brain wants me to mention that the dress could have done with a good steam before these photos, but oh well 🙂

Silk Wedding Dress
Silk Wedding Dress
Handmade Silk Wedding Dress
Handmade Silk Wedding Dress

Handmade Silk Wedding Dress

This week the happy couple, Jim and Sam, sent me copies of their wedding photos so here is the dress and robe on the day. It was an amazing feeling to see Sam walking down the aisle in mine and Helen’s creation. We were very proud. It was a first for both of us.

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

The Robe 

The robe was made with the same fabric as the underdress. I made an outerwear and sleeve block from the bride’s measurements. I then drafted the pattern, which was floor length with a slight train. The robe had no closure at the front, which meant it was very simple and elegant in style. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the full length of the robe. The bride wore it as she walked into the hall for the meal and it billowed out behind her beautifully.

Lace Knit Wedding Dress and Silk Robe

Photo credit Alexander Martin

P.s.If I manage to get hold of a photo of the full silk robe I will share it on Instagram and update this post.

 

 

 

 

 

World Map Dress

I went to my friend’s hen party a couple of weekends ago and the theme was colours or countries. I was at a loss as to what to wear, I’m usually a bit rubbish at dressing up, but then I realised I can sew and decided to make myself something fun.

The first thing that came to mind was a flag dress (Geri Halliwell at the brits style) but it’s been so overdone. I then had the idea of a world map dress so I could be ALL the countries. I googled world map fabric and found this on eBay  Most of the world map fabrics I found were more suited to upholstery projects and the one I chose was still rather thick, but I thought it would be fine as long as I chose a pattern which would work with a stiffer fabric with very little drape.

I used my block to draft this pattern a few months ago, made myself a dress which I am still yet to blog, and left it lying under my cutting table. I now have no idea why i abandoned this pattern as I love it. The design is quite simple, a fitted bodice with a half-circle skirt, but it is so flattering and I am now a complete convert to circle skirts, I love the way they fall so nicely and are simple to draft. I added side seam pockets to the skirt forgetting that the zip was to be in the side seam, so that was a bit silly, but I managed to make it work. Next time I would definitely add a seam allowance to the centre back and place the zip there instead. The bodice is lined with the same fabric and all the seams were finished with my overlocker.

I have been really busy lately, with various projects, so this was a bit of a rush job. I didn’t spend time worrying about pattern placement as I really didn’t expect to ever wear it again, other than for fancy dress, but it turns out I actually really like it and might get more wear out of it than I first thought.

I think I will make a few more of these for myself for summer, the length is perfect for casual or formal wear and I might even make one in my silk from India, which I think I have mentioned a few times. I have been hoarding it for so long and still haven’t been brave enough to use it. What do you think? Should this dress be relegated to the fancy dress wardrobe or is it nice enough to wear day to day?

world map dress front view

world map dress front view

world map dress front view 2

world map dress side view

World Map Dress back view