Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Green Merino Neenah Dress

As you read this I'm freezing my butt off in wintery Russia and at the time I've scheduled this to post I should be on a train out of Moscow on to my next adventure in St Petersburg. To prepare for the cold I honed in on the merino wool I've had waiting in my stash for just such an opportunity. Way back in March The Fabric Store got in touch with me when they first started offering their international shipping from New Zealand to see if I'd like to try out some of their products. I'd absolutely fallen in love with this company when I visited their LA store in September last year so I was quite honestly hopping up and down with excitement at the opportunity. If you aren't already familiar with this company they are known for being one of the only stockists/probably the biggest stockist of New Zealand merino wools along with beautiful silks, rayons and linens. The section of prints and colours in the LA branch blew me away, whoever does their buying has excellent taste.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Green Merino Knit Seamwork Neenah Dress with fabric from The Fabric Store New Zealand

Top of my shopping list was of course the merino which is nigh on impossible to get here in the UK. Its not cheap but sold at a very reasonable price by The Fabric Store considering the quality of the fabric. Its so soft against the skin, is amazing at regulating body heat and is also surprisingly fine with a delicate drape depending on the type of knit you choose. If that wasn't enough it dyes amazing vivid colours and can be machine washed (I use a 30 degree wool cycle). You do of course have to factor shipping costs from New Zealand but if you order over $150 (currently about £85 and very easy to do!) its free and pleasantly speedy. I was very excited by all the different varieties of knit the merino is available in and eventually selected the Premium Merino (which is the standard medium weight) in Malachite Green and Silver along with a piece of Black Merino Sweatshirting. You'll be seeing what I made with the latter two soon.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Green Merino Knit Seamwork Neenah Dress with fabric from The Fabric Store New Zealand

I've managed to keep this wool waiting for months as a) we were heading into warmer weather here in the northern hemisphere and b) I was paralysed by the fear of picking the wrong project for them and wasting the precious yardage. The idea to use the green piece for a turtleneck style dress came from Clare over at Sew Dixie Lou. She brought the new Karl Dress pattern from Schneidernmeistern to my attention and said she thought it would really suit me (even though I think she would totally rock it!). To be honest the thought of wearing a dress like this wouldn't have even crossed my mind as being on the short side I tend to shy away from midi length skirts and I'm not the biggest fan of a turtleneck as I find them irritating when they are too tight/close around the neck. Clare had noticed the pattern on Style of Constructing's Instagram feed and seeing those pics suddenly changed my mind! I hadn't been following her before and now I'm a wee bit obsessed with her chic minimalist style.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Green Merino Knit Seamwork Neenah Dress with fabric from The Fabric Store New Zealand

Despite it looking very similar this isn't actually the Karl Dress that I was inspired by! I was having a browse through the collection of Seamwork patterns looking at ideas for what to do with  the rest of my Merino when I spotted the Neenah Dress. It's a very similar style to the Karl, just closer fitting and a little shorter. The Karl has a very relaxed fit which I was a bit uncertain about as I thought in the longer length it might overwhelm my petite frame a little so I decided to go with Neenah but go up a size in that for a looser fit. It actually comes up much longer than it looks in the sample pics (even factoring in my lack of height) so I've got the midi length that I liked about the Karl anyway!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Green Merino Knit Seamwork Neenah Dress with fabric from The Fabric Store New Zealand

I cut the size small which is a little larger than my measurements and I used near enough all of the 2m of fabric I had. This knit is reasonably lightweight so I'm glad I went for the more relaxed fit as I think it would have clung in a way I don't like otherwise. I could not be happier with the collar which is the perfect size of turtle neck for me. It's loose and soft so doesn't irritate me to wear at all. I've folded it down on itself in these pictures and it holds an nice soft shape and depth really well.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Green Merino Knit Seamwork Neenah Dress with fabric from The Fabric Store New Zealand

Seamwork PDF patterns frustrate me a little as I think the layout of them could be better thought through. As I was cutting one of the smaller sizes at least 5 or 6 of the pages I printed I didn't even need and I had huge offcuts from the rest. That being said this is a cracking pattern, so satisfying as it is really quick and relies on techniques that I am well used to by now. The instructions are great and I've ended up with a garment I'm delighted with. With Colette patterns I usually have some fitting issues in the shoulder/upper chest/sleeve head area but this is absolutely spot on. Perhaps I should always go up a size above the waist with their blocks?

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Green Merino Knit Seamwork Neenah Dress with fabric from The Fabric Store New Zealand

I love the skinny little cuffs. It makes a really nice change to either the common wider cuff or turned up and twin needled hem. They looked really tiny once I had assembled them and i was a bit concerned that I had done something wrong but of course they are just going around your wrist not your upper arm. I was expecting to have to shorten the length of the sleeves as that's pretty standard for me and the dress itself came up long but these are actually sewn just as intended. Spot on.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Green Merino Knit Seamwork Neenah Dress with fabric from The Fabric Store New Zealand

I wasn't 100% happy with the way my first merino dress turned out last winter as I chose a more complex pattern and don't think I had the experience handling knits that was required to make the most out of it. Now I am used to responding to the stretch of the fabric I had no problems and can see how beautiful it is to work with. It can be slightly tricky to cut as things shift and stick to themselves but it responds to heat and steam in a wonderful way and I had no trouble with curling edges. I used a size 80 ballpoint needle with a narrow zig zag stitch on my regular machine and finished all the edges on the overlocker. The hem is turned up and twin needled. The construction methods in the instructions are exactly as I would normally expect for a knit garment; the sleeves are set in flat before the side seams are sewn up and the collar, cuffs and hem completed. The only thing I did differently/additionally was to stabilise the shoulder seams with a little bit of twill tape.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Green Merino Knit Seamwork Neenah Dress with fabric from The Fabric Store New Zealand

I'm so pleased that I took the plunge and made this dress before I hit the Russian winter; being wrapped in merino is just what I need! Its an ideal fabric for travelling to cold climates as whilst snuggly and warm they aren't bulky knits and won't take up much room in a case. Plus being a knit it won't wind up looking badly crumpled. I tried really hard to save all three merino garments for my trip but resisting for a couple of weeks proved too much of a challenge! I'm relieved to report that they all washed up beautifully and are hopefully keeping me toasty overseas.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Green Merino Knit Seamwork Neenah Dress with fabric from The Fabric Store New Zealand

I really enjoyed sewing all of the projects I settled on using my precious bits of merino for and could not be happier with the choices that past me made all those months ago! I had just enough of each piece for the project I thought it would match best with. I can't wait to get my hands on more.

8 comments:

  1. Hi Fiona,
    If you come to Moscow again, I would love to show you local fabric shops. Have a great time in St. Petersburg!

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    1. Ah that would be fantastic! I was only there for a few days seeing a friend and was keen to see the sights of the city so didn't have time to hunt out the sewing scene too but if I go again I will be sure to get in touch! Thanks Tatiana
      St Petersburg was beautiful, I was amazed at how different the two places were and how much beauty there was in both

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  2. wow! You look stunning, that dress and that color is just great one you. I hope you are having a great time in Russia.

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    1. Thanks so much Jannie. Green is my favourite so I knew that had to be one of my choices! I want to wear this all the time now.
      I had a wonderful trip thank you!

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  3. Fantastic dress! I love the color and cut, you certainly made the most of this beautiful fabric!

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    1. Thank you Kelly. It was such a relief when I realised it was turning into a dress I was going to absolutely love as I was so worried about wasting such great fabric! It's hard to tell with knits I think what the final result will exactly be as each one is so different to the next

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  4. this looks fabulous!! And it'll be so cosy in Moscow. :) I totally agree about The Fabric Store's merino jerseys, I bought a bunch this spring to turn into winter running gear (and a polo neck or two, too!).

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    1. Merino running gear?!!! Ok I love the sound of that. I may be about to go straight back on the fabric store site. Can't wait to see what you make.
      It was indeed super cosy in Moscow. I didn't want to take it off!

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