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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.