The Fabric Store originated in New Zealand (and now has stores in Australia as well as the LA branch) and as well as their beautiful range of dress fabrics specialises in New Zealand merino knits. I've read a lot about it online and seen other sewing bloggers sing it's praises but never thought I'd be able to get my hands on some; The Fabric Store is one of very few places that supply it to home sewers. Therefore some merino yardage was top of my US fabric shopping list. The LA branch has an amazing range of colours and weights, plus a few in stripes and patterns. I thought it was going to take me all day to decide but fairly quickly decided I was going to make something classic that I could get a tonne of wear out of and settled on a colour that never goes out of style...black!
I usually adore Sew Over It patterns but have to say I'm a little on the fence about this one. I think it's partly due to the fact that I still feel quite inexperienced handling knits and lack a bit of confidence, if I'd known better I would have tackled this project a little differently. It took me so long to decide on a pattern that once I was sure I'd found the perfect thing I launched full steam ahead into cutting and sewing and I perhaps should have given my construction methods a little more thought. I've sewn a lot of Sew Over It patterns (see here, here, here and here) and always find the fit to be great for me when I cut between the size 8 and 10 so that's what I did. The fit is great apart from some odd length things going on which may have had something to do with how I handled the fabric. I lost track of what was my error and what might have been poor fit so I'll make sure to sew up a practice in some cheap jersey to check my changes before snipping into anything special next time!
I was really happy with how this was sewing up (they don't lie when they say Merino sews beautifully, the stitches sink in and it presses and shapes like a dream) but encountered my main issue when I first put it on after attaching the facing to the neckline. Major gapeage. On reflection I wish I'd had the foresight to apply some clear elastic along the front wrap edges to stop things stretching out as I sewed. I usually go google crazy reading blog posts about a pattern before I get started and if I had I might have done this! However part of the gaping issue was definitely to do with the length of the pattern in this area. I'm quite short in the body plus narrow through the shoulders and upper chest so next time I'll fold some length out of the pattern pieces to combat the gape. On this occasion it was too late for this though and I don't want to waste my precious merino!
I put the dress on and pinched and pulled to see what changes I could make to get things to sit flat. The only viable option seemed to be taking it up through the shoulder which I did but then of course ran into all sorts of problems with the sleeve head as I was changing the size of the armhole slightly. I'm no expert on fitting or inserting sleeves (come to think of it that's one thing I would like to try and understand more this year) so I just fiddled about until something looked right. It's not perfect and the process was all a bit of a mess but at least it fits properly now! There is a bit too much bulk in the sleeve head for a jersey dress still but I quite like how they sit a little proud. I rejigged those shoulders multiple times and and let me tell you, unpicking black thread out of black spongy merino in winter light is not fun! If this hadn't been such a special piece of fabric I doubt I would have stuck with it but in the words of Tim Gunn I was determined to make it work.