Two Very Different Wool Knit Dresses
Howdy Y’all! Well, it’s finally sweater weather here in East Texas. Sorta. Off and on at least! Which means that it’s time for me to do what I do every year around this time: freak out about my utter lack of cold weather clothing and start eyeing the blankets on the back of the couch maniacally, wondering if I can quickly drape and belt them into some passable semblance of clothing!
That’s why this month my Mood Sewing Network makes are all about quick, but warm, wooly dresses. I needed something warm, and I needed something warm now. (Before the weather decides to return to balmy temperatures in a few days time!)
My first dress was made using this thick and fuzzy Designer Wool Sweater Knit from Mood Fabrics online, which is, of course, no longer available, but you can check out all their wool knits here. I spotted this fabric back in early August – when just blinking put one in danger of overheating – and I think I must have been daydreaming about cooler weather because I had to have this fabric then. At that moment. I think my husband was a bit concerned when the box came and I proudly pulled out my yardage and started crooning over it’s springy, scratchy, wooly goodness. Of course, maybe it wasn’t the fact that I was buying wool sweater knits in the middle of August that caused his brow to furrow, but rather the fabric itself. It’s a little bit like an 80’s Cosby sweater thrown in a blender… I mean, what is with those colors?! And why am I kinda obsessed with them?
Despite my love for this fabric, I had a bit of a hard time deciding what to do with it. It’s quite thick, and scratchy, which means that whatever I made had to be roomy enough to wear something underneath, but not so big that I end up looking like the Michelin Man rolled in mud. I settled on variation 2 of the Saiph Tunic from Papercut Patterns because I had made one last year out of a medium weight black wool knit that I loved, but that sadly died a tragic death in the dryer (*sobs* R.I.P.) and I felt that this pattern worked well with heavier weight fabrics with a stiffer drape.
Because this fabric was pretty lofty, I ended up changing a couple of things about the Saiph Tunic in order to keep bulk to a minimum. First I left off the neck facing and instead just simply turned the neckline in 5/8″ and topstitched it with a double needle. This made for a slightly wider neckline, but I’m okay with that. I also left off the front in-seam pockets, which I’ll admit was partly because of the bulk issue (4 layers of this fabric is a lot) and partly out of laziness. Although I’m regretting not trying to find a thinner substitute fabric that would have worked, because I keep trying to dip my hands into non-existant pockets! I also omitted the back neck button closure because I remembered from my last version that the dress was plenty big enough to slip on and off over my head.
Despite the thickness of this wool sweater knit, I had no problem zipping through it with my serger, which I used for all the major seams. The cuffs and hem were stitched in place using my double needle on my regular machine.
I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this dress, but after wearing it around the house and for pictures, I have to admit I’m fairly smitten! I love that the boxy shape is tempered by the short hem, and the horizontal seam at the drop waist does wonderful things visually to the crazy print.
But, you know, sometimes you just don’t want to feel bulky all winter long! In which case, let me introduce you to my second wool knit dress for this month! This was made using a smooth, mid-weight wool jersey, with a nice amount of crosswise stretch, in a bitter chocolate color (I’m also not seeing this exact knit online anymore, but this gorgeous deep maroon jersey is catching my eye!)
Unlike the first sweater knit, this wool jersey was soft enough to wear against bare skin, so I thought a body-hugging silhouette might be really flattering. It’s also thick enough and completely opaque so I don’t have to worry about every little lump and bump showing through. For this dress I used Closet Case Files Nettie Bodysuit & Dress pattern. This pattern has so many great options for variations. For this version I decided to make it a dress (obviously) and went with the high neckline for both the front and the back, and the long sleeve. I was hoping the modest neckline might add a counterbalance to the curve-hugging silhouette.
This dress came together in no time at all. Of course it’s a very simple design, but still, I think I wound up sewing the majority of this one morning before work! And I love the results. This dress is just so easy to throw on and yet still look like you tried. It’s also warm, which was my main motive, and I think the bitter chocolate color is a nice, unexpected alternative to the usual black.
The only downside is that it attracts fuzzies and hair like it’s its job! So please excuse all the lint in these closeup shots. As far as construction goes, I just zoomed all the major seams through my serger. The neckline was finished with self fabric binding, and the sleeves and cuffs were once again hemmed using my twin needle. Easy peasy!
And that’s it! Two quick and simple wool dresses to keep me warm… for as many weeks as winter decides to last!
I hope all my friends here in the States have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving week, and for all my international buddies, Happy Sewing, as always!