Thursday, 12 September 2013

Autumn dressmaking

Making plans for October I happened to peep at what the next page on my calendar would be. My calendar has been a disappointment this year - rather than pictures, it's snippets of poetry or book extracts, which are lovely, but I'm guilty of not really noticing them in the way that I would a picture as I pass it by in a hurry each day. However, I love the George Elliot quote that's coming up next:

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it and if I were a bird, I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

While I love summer and how much freer the children can be, how much happier my husband is and how the world seems to become a bigger place, it also makes me feel claustrophobic. I feel stifled by the heat and tired by how heavy and cumbersome it feels to have a body, in a way that I don't at any other time of the year (yes, I realise that makes me sound like a freak). When the first signs of autumn appear, for me, they are met every year (especially when we have had a proper, hot summer) with a sigh of relief and a feeling of being ready to embrace the plummeting temperatures and a return to full energy. Shallow beast that I am, I am also inordinately delighted by being able to put away my summer clothes and revel in exploring forgotten favourites that I put away in April or May. I love the fine knitted jumpers, cosy scarves, the fitted jackets or thick cardigans that are perfect for this time of year before it gets too cold, and I adore putting on my favourite boots again. 

I'd mentioned that I wanted to make a non-broken version of this summer-weight broken jacket in one of Dorte's cosy boiled wool fabrics and I now have the fabric samples and thought you might like to see them too. I think I'm going to go for the navy boiled wool. It will go with everything but black jeans. The photos don't do justice to the depth of the navy colour - it's beautiful - a perfect, saturated, rich navy. 

The colours are stunning. The only colour I'd be wary of is the dark grey - it's a slightly khaki grey that I don't love as much as the others (although it's perfect if you favour a grey that leans more toward green than blue). The 'Deep Heather', I think, is actually a more easily wearable grey, even though it's a little lighter.

But there's also another option, which is the perfect shade of grey. This is a knitted jacquard wool. It's the oddest thing - it doesn't feel boiled and the knit is still relatively loose...but somehow it cuts like a boiled wool with absolutely no unravelling edge - it's miraculously stable. 

I think this would be perfect for a dress or skirt (it would be a really happy dress to make as the zip could be omitted because it has a little stretch to it and the seams could be left as they're sewn because it won't fray). I'm just waiting for inspiration to strike as to what would be the perfect pattern for this fabric.

And talking of patterns, my gorgeous friend, Christine Haynes, has just announced her latest pattern, The Emery Dress, and it's a beauty. It has perfect non-puffy sleeves (no matter how much I love puff in theory, it looks all wrong on me) and a delicious collar. Last summer I tried on this very similar sleeveless dress, which surprised me by making me feel rather twirling-doll-in-a jewellery-box (in a good way, I think) and at the time Christine and others encouraged me to buy it, but I didn't (due to it being too expensive to justify buying in a year where winter stayed for the whole of the summer). The addition of sleeves in Christine's pattern makes it feel slightly less scary to wear something so overtly girly and twirly-skirted and I can imagine it making a fantastic winter dress in a ponte roma fabric. However, I have a black tie party to go to in November and I'm considering making a more fancy-pants (hopefully no pants actually on display, unless this dress has unexpected amounts of twirl. I'll have to test it out at home first) version to wear to that. I'm having trouble imagining what fabric would be right for that - any ideas for someone who doesn't like shiny fabrics, but wishes the fabric to convey that I have actually got out of my day clothes? I may enjoy attempting to copy the hair of the cutie on the left from Christine's pattern envelope illustration.

You can see an amazing version made by Adey, of The Sew Convert, who was one of the pattern testers, here. If my bodice fits like that I will be unutterably happy.

Christine is taking pre-orders for the pattern now, although if you're based outside the US you may want to wait 24 hours as she's making some adjustments so that the international postage doesn't come in higher than the actual pattern. If you know of a UK shop that's intending to stock it, do let me know and I'll update this post with it.  Yay! Sewbox will be stocking the pattern, so we can look out for it there. 

Right, I think I'm done for now thinking about Autumn dresses. Actually, I'm not at all. I have a lot more head space for that, but I think I should stop now as it's turning into a rather lengthy blog post...and well, again, every time I write a long one I'm still cast back to being 21 and sitting in a recruitment agency opposite dishy Giles and being told my CV was verbose...crushing.

Florence x


  1. I love autumn and I can totally relate to your sentiment that summer makes you feel more aware of how cumbersome the body can be! Autumn is my favorite season. I grew up in Arizona where it's perpetual summer and I am much happier living in a temperate climate now. :)

  2. You know already I'm an Autumn girl too. I become impossibly red in the face when required to function in the heat, so Summer isn't really a good look for me. I am also looking forward to digging out all my Autumnal clobber. And adding a couple of cardigans I knitted over the Summer to my wardrobe.

    That really is a gorgeous dress, love the fact that it has pockets too.

  3. I know exactly what you mean about a return to full energy. I do so love summer clothes though, and I see to have far more of them than winter ones. I hope you ignored dishy Giles, he doesn't know what he's on about, verbosity is perfect for a blogger I think.

  4. Thanks for all the kind words you lovely lovely lady! And I'm happy to report that all the non-US shipping rates are settled and lowered! You can see them here on the FAQ section:

    Also of note though, I can tell you that Sewbox has ordered the Emery too, if you'd rather wait to receive it locally!

    Oh, and my pal Haley made her Emery in black lawn with the bow and looked positively Audrey Hepburn-esc in it... perhaps good for a fancy party?

  5. That is one of my favorite quotes, because I feel exactly the same way!

  6. For a black tie do the fabric does need to be suitably classy - I would say it would look very Audrey in a black raw silk. This would also maximise the 60's slightly boxy. structurally simplistic look of the dress. In my very humble opinion!

  7. Bloggers really seem to love Autumn. (I do, too!) I love the heather boiled wool--I think it would make a beautiful jacket.

  8. Does taffeta count as shiny fabric? I always think of taffeta as suited for a black-tie event. Otherwise, bearing in mind the autumnal temperatures, perhaps a velvet would be nice? Velvet would certainly work for the twirly element that I suspect you are truly hankering for? ;)

  9. I love the boiled wool, I'm planning a jacket as soon as I find the right colour. I love the colours you've found, perfect for autumn!

  10. Oooh, I think this dress pattern will look really cute on you! I love that wool-- I'm so intrigued by it! It's really, really cool.

  11. It is indeed lovely :D

    I found your blog when I googled English Paper Piecing, and really found your advice helpful - I've put together a couple of little projects and really enjoyed doing them, so I just wanted to say thanks for the help!

  12. Love this boiled wool. The pictures really show the fabric well. Any idea where this is available in the States???


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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