Monday, December 7, 2015

Miss Lenore Wraps up Her Year: Appleton Dress

Idle Fancy - Cashmerette Appleton Dress - Green Wool Jersey-1095

Good evening, kittens! Happy December!

Honestly, I can't believe that sentence is applicable. How is it December already? Autumn slipped right by me, a whirl of pie making, furious writing, and family invasions. I've been taking time to sew, but I haven't photographing anything. The sun starts to dip on the horizon and I start thinking about taking pictures...

Then, nothing. My mind is too busy to go through the whole process of primping and hair curling and thinking about smiling, but not pointing my toes, but also not doing a duck face. Egads. Just the thought makes me want a glass of wine and a nap. 

A streak of sunny weather (We've had heaps of rain in Texas, lately!) and a new camera lens* shifted my attitude, though. With changing leaves, soft sun, and a gorgeous new dress, the impulse finally came. 

*Photography Nerd Redux: The lens is the new 50mm f/1.8 STM from Canon, which the reviews claimed was leagues better than its predecessor. We don't have a ton of extra cash to spend on lenses, so I've been living with my old temperamental 50mm, but finally broke down and used a birthday gift card for this one. Y'all, it's amazing. There's absolutely no post-production on these photos and every single one (out of 150) were in focus! Trust me, that's a huge improvement. Plus, look at that light quality! I'm swooning over here. It's definitely worth the reasonable price. (Note: That's NOT an affiliate link. I just found the best price on Amazon.)
Idle Fancy - Cashmerette Appleton Dress - Green Wool Jersey-1113

This is the Appleton Dress, from Cashmerette Patterns, which I've reviewed once before. However, this version of the Appleton is from the actual pattern, instead of the tester version. This new version is an even better fit than the original, thanks to a few crucial changes to the finalized pattern, and I didn't have to change a thing. Cup-sized patterns, I adore you. 

What really makes this particular Appleton is the fabric used. We have a fairly short winter here in the South, but I love cold weather sewing. As soon as the temperature dropped, I ordered a whole heap of wools from Mood. Among them were five yards of this dishy "Hooker Green" wool jersey, enough for both a sweater and a sweater dress. This fabric is a true medium-weight jersey, with a ton of stretch and complete opacity. While it doesn't quite come across in these photos, the color is a clear, dark emerald. Perfect for the coming holidays! 

Idle Fancy - Cashmerette Appleton Dress - Green Wool Jersey-1049

Idle Fancy - Cashmerette Appleton Dress - Green Wool Jersey-1051

As mentioned, I didn't change anything about this pattern. This dress is a straight-from-the-envelope size 16 G/H, which lines up with my 46-36-46 measurements perfectly. Picking a size from a cup-sized pattern can be a bit tricky, but the Appleton sewalong does a great job of walking you through the decision. 

For me, this fit was spot-on, from my fairly narrow shoulders to my extravagant waist-to-hip curve. There's been some discussion about what sort of shape Cashmerette patterns are designed for. Personally, I think they cover a good deal of the spectrum, particularly if you're either hourglass and apple shaped. I'm a textbook hourglass and favor styles that emphasize my waist--wide skirts and fitted bodices, particularly. Though the Appleton doesn't have a waist seam, the way it nips in provides exactly that definition I gravitate toward. At the same time, the hip ease is not snug in a way that makes me self-conscious. It skims over the belly, rather than clinging to it. Even with all the holiday eating (pies!) I've been doing lately, this dress is amazingly comfortable! 

TL;DR: It fits well! I adore it. 

Idle Fancy - Cashmerette Appleton Dress - Green Wool Jersey-1080

When it comes to construction, the Appleton is a sensible, well-drafted pattern. Every piece goes together beautifully and there are enough notches to guide one along the way. Honestly, I skim most instructions at this point, but Jenny's process is the one I would default to anyway. Two thumbs up on the directions! 

You can sew this entire dress on a serger, but I would advise against it. On the neckbands/waist tie, specifically, you're going to want more control. I sewed everything on a sewing machine, with a lightning bolt stitch, then finished my seams on the serger. It takes a little more time, but it keeps mishaps to a minimum. To stabilize potentially wonky bits, I added clear elastic at the shoulders and used Wonder Tape in the skirt hem. All hems were done with a twin stretch needle, as per usual. 

Idle Fancy - Cashmerette Appleton Dress - Green Wool Jersey-1071

Y'all must be tired of my knit dress spiel by now, friends. Knits! They're comfortable! I sew them the same way every time! This one is particularly cozy, though, I promise. Wool jersey is such a fun fabric to sew with--it's resilient, mannerly, and creates such warm, breathable garments. With all the chilly weather we've been getting lately, this dress has already gotten plenty of wear. I've been layering it over tights and a slip (to prevent static build up), which keeps me perfectly comfy!

Never fear, though, kittens. My next three projects are, remarkably, not knits. Think velvet and denim and European pattern magazines! For now, I hope you're having a merry beginning to the holiday season. Stay warm and safe! 

Note: My knit bodice post is still forthcoming. There was a tragic accident with its almost-finished draft and I haven't  had the mental fortitude to rewrite the blasted thing. Soon.