Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Merino Jersey Daniella Dress

I chose to make the Daniella Dress from the latest release of Fibre Mood patterns mainly for the sleeves! The weather has turned cold here in the UK and I need more comfortable, snuggly garments to see me through...and not give the impression that I'm wearing pyjamas to work! I already have a couple of handmade turtleneck dresses (made using the Seamwork Neenah pattern) which are on heavy rotation through the winter months. But I was sold on adding another to my wardrobe when I saw those lovely voluminous cuffed sleeves! I don't have any knit garments with that kind of detail and the Neenah dress is more form fitting which sometimes I'm not in the mood for wearing.

My go-to fabric for knit winter dresses and jumpers is merino jersey and I thought this would be a great choice for this style as it is a good weight and has a beautiful drape. The Fabric Store kindly sent me a length of this beautiful deep navy merino jersey during the first lockdown earlier this year. It is their popular premium merino which I've sewn with a lot before and absolutely love. It presses and sews beautifully (with a stretch or jersey needle) and has a good amount of stretch and recovery which works for various styles of garment. I've gradually built up the number of merino garments in my wardrobe over the years and now have a seriously cosy winter wardrobe! I love that I can wear it day to day as it can go in the washing machine and that many of them are fine knits so you can layer them up without too much bulk.


I was slightly hesitant about the relaxed fit of this dress as (being fairly short) I didn't want to feel hidden in swathes of fabric but it has turned out better than I expected. I was tempted to size down to avoid the tent-like effect but I stuck with the closest size to my measurements (size 36) and am glad I did. The dress hangs beautifully in this jersey and there is actually a bit of shape to it. It is actually a touch narrow on the shoulders and I was surprised that the length of the sleeves is about spot on as I am used to shortening them. Detailed finished garment measurements are provided so luckily I checked those before cutting and automatically taking off an inch! If you're planning on making this I'd definitely suggest cutting your recommended size and if you're tall or broad shoulders check the lengths and measure pattern pieces carefully. 

For me the amount of ease below the bust is spot on and it is balanced well with the neat fit across the chest and shoulders. It is really comfortable (definitely in secret pyjamas territory!) yet still feels chic because of the way this fabric flows around the body. I think fabric choice is key here and something thicker with more structure would have a very different effect. I debated cutting this to be more of a midi length as I'm really drawn to dresses of that style at the moment but I think, given the relaxed fit, the 'just above the knee' length works a lot better on my petite proportions.

The gathering at the sleeve head is slightly less pronounced that I expected. I think probably because this merino is a soft and drapey medium weight. In fabric like a ponte you might get a bit more drama. The instructions don't say which way to press your seams for the most part but in the illustrations it looked like the armhole should be pressed towards the body which I did. If you pressed it towards the sleeve the seam allowance might give the gathered top of the sleeve a bit more oomph. In a similar way to how you might add sleeve heads to a tailored jacket or coat.

Gathering is possibly my least favourite sewing technique and I have never gathered a knit fabric before but there's actually not much of it involved to create the shape of the sleeves. Just a small section at the top of the sleeve head and around the cuff. Other than that it is sewn together much like a t-shirt, with the sleeves set in flat before sewing up the underarm and side seams as one. I really enjoyed making this and it came together in just 2-3 hours one afternoon. Just the kind of satisfying project I need at the moment with not a lot of sewing time and a tired brain!

Navy isn't generally a colour I go for, there's not much of it in my wardrobe and I'm not sure why! I tend to wear a lot of black and grey in the winter as they are easy choices that go with everything but actually after looking at 'my colours' apparently navy suits my colouring better. I like the rich tone of this navy and think I'll try incorporating more of it into my wardrobe. Ruby seems to approve of it too!

I can see this dress getting a lot of wear over the next few months and I'd like to try out a jumper version of this pattern too, perhaps with the hem gathered into waistband to mirror the cuffs. Definitely a pattern you could have a lot of fun hacking and adding your own stamp to.

11 comments:

  1. What a lovely cosy dress, chic too

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    1. Thank you! That’s exactly what I was aiming for!

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  2. Super cute. Great color. Looks so comfy.

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  3. I love the look of this dress and the fabric sounds great too. I have never bought fabric from overseas as the thought of postage costs, customs duty and post office charges puts me off, but I haven’t really found a similar offering here. Does it work our super expensive to the UK?

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    1. Not at all. I think the price of the fabric in the first place is very reasonable considering the quality. Postage is free above a certain amount (I think about £110) so it is worth saving up to do a big order. I haven’t had customs charges for a long time now but think it is luck of the draw really! When it has happened it has been about £25 for an order of that size. I’ve always thought it worth it for the lovely fabric but obviously it is a treat and a bit of an investment

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  4. Very nice!

    Isn't that fabric scratchy on the skin?

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    1. Not at all! It’s really smooth and soft

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    2. Thanks you! I would have never thought about using this fabric :)

      I guess it would be also hard to find in my country.

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  5. I'm so happy to see a post and know you are fine! A spectacular dress you have made! 😊

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    1. Ah that’s lovely! Sorry I was quiet there for a while. After the strange first half of the year I suddenly got very busy with work and also had to replace my laptop which suddenly does on me and left me unable to blog. All very well here though!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!