A Vision of Winter, in merino

Titles are hard, guys. But you know what’s not hard? This dress. It went from drafting (YES I DRAFTED THIS BABY) to wearing in three hours flat – not to mention, three hours between 10pm and 1am. It was one of those things were you’re like “oh I’ll just take my measurements, then go to bed” which quickly becomes “I’ll just cut the fabric”, “I’ll just sew up the bodice to check it fits”, and finally “well I might as well finish it”. I didn’t actually finish any edges until Wednesday (I sewed it Saturday night) but it was wearable.

I started the dress after hitting a snag in the last thing I was making, really wanting to sew but really not wanting to sew that thing (I might be psychologically ready to go back to it this afternoon, but I wasn’t then). It was also partially prompted by Gillian‘s Sewing Dares. She dared me to sew one or both of a Granville shirt (finally) or something with knits. Since I completely failed to read the deadline, I accepted both; this one I’ve completed with plenty of time to spare, but I’m not sure if I’ll make the Granville too, since I don’t really want it jumping the queue ahead of the dress currently on my sewing table. I promise to make it next in the queue though!


Isn’t this lovely? The fabric is a merino blend (about 10% synthetics) from The Fabric Store, a sort of sweater knit (it wasn’t labelled as such, but it’s as squishy and fuzzy as I always imagined sweater knits to be). It’s NZ Merino, which was a drawcard – of course you’ve got the warmth factor, but I’ve also been thinking a bit about how I can consume more ethically in the clothes I buy and make. It’s pretty hard to trace where fabric’s come from, I find, but for this fabric I can at least trust that two of the three steps (growing fibre, processing into fabric, making into garment) are ethically done – I have no idea where or how the spinning or weaving were done, but the growing and sewing are good.


The other thing to know about this fabric – it was $12 a metre and over 1.8m wide (it was taller than I am! That’s trying pretty hard). I used less than a metre of this – I have the rest hanging around to become a cardigan. With some stashed elastic to stabilise shoulder and waist seams, it was still barely $14 for everything. This is the most cost and time efficient thing I’ve made in a long time.


The waistband exists because I realised when I tried on the bodice that it was about an inch too short. At first I was really disappointed in myself for this (I measured my torso length, but evidently not very well. Sigh), but I realised pretty quick that a waistband would solve this. I considered doubling the waistband for strength, but at 12pm couldn’t work out how to do that neatly in this thick fabric, so I went with a single waistband but elastic in both the top and bottom seams in the hope that might help.

The top is drafted to my measurements with 1/2″ ease, which is great at the waist but just a little too much at the bust. The skirt is a half-circle, because that’s my magical skirt of magicalness. I am still in awe of the fact that I got a half-circle skirt out, plus bodice and sleeves, out of 1 metre of this amazing fabric.


I definitely have some kind of sway back deal going on here, ideally would fix that in the hypothetical next version (note: there probably won’t be one – I love this dress, but it’s super fabric-dependent for a fabric type that I almost never see, and I don’t need two identical ones). On the other hand, a sway back is on my back and I mostly only care about the fit issues I notice when I’m wearing things. This is not that issue. The slight wrinkling around the armscye is more noticeable to me by far.

I ended up finishing the arms with wide cuffs (these were actually always on the agenda) and the neck with a scrap of jersey left from when I made t-shirts last year, flipped to the inside and stitched down with a fancy stitch (I have a machine that does fancy stitches? Amazing). No detail shots because I’m currently wearing it, makes it a bit harder to get close ups.

We’ve been having some grey days here, and it actually just started raining again (thankfully I did the gardening I had planned earlier, instead of putting it off!) so I’m resisting wearing the dress every day. I suspect I’m only succeeding in this resistance because it’s Me-Made-May and you all get to see what I wear.

Happy sewing all!

12 thoughts on “A Vision of Winter, in merino

  1. I love it! I’m super envious of the fabric – I have never seen a wool knit locally. And you drafted it yourself? bonus points! I’m just in the middle of typing up a sewing dare update, so I’ll add a link to this post! (Oh, and don’t stress the “deadline” – I’m definitely going to extend it til june, because I’m still handing out dares now! šŸ˜‰ Good luck sorting out the other dress!

    • Oh really? This particular fabric shop has whole tables of merino – most of it far out of my price range, though. I guess it’s living in New Zealand, we’ve got to do something with those five sheep per person…

  2. I don’t think it’s so much a sway back, as just a shorter back than you drafted for. Which makes life easier!

    This is great, though, and I imagine it’s going to be AMAZING for the upcoming Dunedin winter! I hope you have a warm flat (I have lots of memories of cold, cold flats although I luckily didn’t live in any)

    • Thanks for the input! My flat isn’t the coldest, certainly, and at least I have flatmates who believe in using the heatpump (I was talking this morning to some people who didn’t, and I really don’t understand). I’m so excited for winter, with this!

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    • That would be for the cardigan I actually bought this fabric for. I might pop into the shop tomorrow and see if they still have any, if you like (would you like hot pink or weird grey? I believe those were the other colour options).

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