Guest blogger – Mary-Ellen!
I’m delighted to be the guest blogger for Felicity Fabrics in April, and I hope you enjoy reading this post. I decided to make the Cashmerette Alcott dress in the beautiful “romance blue” modal – I found the print irresistible. The tones of burgundy, orange, yellow and green are unusual against the blue. It isn’t a palette of colours I would ever have put together, but I think they work so beautifully together.
The Alcott dress was the first Cashmerette pattern I ever tried (and I only tried it recently). If I am being honest, I discovered Cashmerette when I first started sewing 2 years ago and bought quite a few of the patterns as I was thrilled at the very notion of patterns made for curvy bodies. After all, it was the fact that I found it difficult to find clothes that flattered my curves (apart from reproductive vintage labels) that instigated by desire to teach myself to sew in the first place. With lockdown I had the time on my hands to be able to do so.
It took me some 18 months to actually open one of the Cashmerette patterns I purchased at the beginning of my sewing journey. You see, the images on the pattern sleeves never really appealed to me. They seemed too ‘mumsy’ and, dare I say it, middle aged for me. And then I realised I was probably limiting the potential of the patterns by not giving them a go in ‘my kind of fabrics’.
I’m not going to lie; I had a hard time choosing a fabric from the Felicity website as their collection is so well curated that I could easily think of a project for every single one. In the end, what swung it for me was the type of fabric. I have only sewn with modal fabric on one other occasion and what struck me was the softness of the fabric. I thought I was prepared for the feel of this fabric but, being a sweater modal, it was even more soft that the modal jersey I had sewn with before. It really would be perfect for a pair of pyjamas, a hoodie or even a dressing gown but, as is pretty standard for me, I like to push the boundaries a little in terms of what is “suitable” or “intended”. I think I have got away with it by making the Cashmerette Alcott dress.
Aside from the soft feel of modal fabric, another draw for me is that the fabric comes with some ecological benefits, too. It doesn’t require as many resources as some other fabrics to produce and it is made with plant-based materials. Modal is made from the pulp of beech trees; it is a semi-synthetic and breathable material. It is also incredibly easy to care for and, being so soft, really comfortable to wear. If “secret pyjamas” are your thing, you should go for some of this sweater modal.
In terms of actually working with this fabric, it’s one of the easiest stretch fabrics I’ve ever fed through my machine. While super soft, it is also resilient and not easily caught or puckered – I think the silk like texture of the fabric is what lets it run so smoothly through the machine. Even when I was sewing through 4+ layers of fabric, I had no issues at all. I had no need of the walking foot as this fabric effortless ran evenly through the feed dogs.
The Alcott dress is a simple pattern with a clean silhouette; it has a fully lined empire-line wrap bodice (which made in this sweater knit makes it super cosy and thereby a great transitional piece, suitable even for a summer evening in Northern Ireland), elastic waistband, and a choice between a full skirt or an A-line skirt with ruffle and an option of full sleeves with ruffle or two lengths of flutter sleeves. With a technique I had never seen before I sewed this dress, the wrap bodice has elastic sewn into the seam allowance at the neckline, so it stays put and stops the fabric from stretching out over time. And, as a pattern that comes with a maternity skirt hack, I can see how other elements of this pattern works alongside this, especially the neckline.
Size and Fit:
The Cashmerette calculator would put me at a size 16 E/F as a starting point; however, from reading the size chart and finished measurements I knew that a 14 C/D would be sufficient. I had toiled this pattern before – and I think it’s always essential to do so, even when working with ‘more forgiving’ stretch fabrics – not least to ensure the neckline of the faux wrap would sit well. To be honest, I do not imagine anyone would have any real issues with the fit of the dress as it is such a cleverly simple design that not many adjustments would be needed.
The actual construction of this dress was incredibly simple. I’ve followed Cashmerette for almost as long as I have been sewing (during the initial lockdown) and I’ve always been impressed at the way in which Jenny Rushmore presents and promotes her designs (especially her new book, Ahead of the Curve, which I did buy and have to work through this year) so I was not surprised at the clarity of the instructions or ease of sewing. At the heart of Cashmerette, there is a focus on accessibility; no matter what your experience or ability, you should feel confident taking on this pattern.
There is nothing tricky about this pattern – the instructions are incredible so, even if you are a beginner and haven’t sewn with knits before, you’ll get on fine. There are only 5 pattern pieces (in the version I have made without the added frills) so this sews up in no time at all. I’d say you could sew it up easily within half an hour (for me, it’s the cutting that takes time but that’s because I suffer from a touch of vertigo so cutting can sometimes be a headache – often literally).
If, like me, you are sewing for a curvy body, Cashmerette does so much of the work for you – each pattern is drafted to flatter and fit curves, making adjustments minimal in comparison to sewing with patterns from other companies. I think this combination of fabric and pattern has made maybe the cosiest dress in my wardrobe. It is both an elegant and romantic style of dress and, even when made in a ‘sweater’ knit, looks smart and suitable for any kind of occasion; I’ve worn it to lunch and even just for a forest walk with the pups. Honestly, you need this fabric in your me made wardrobe.
Mary-Ellen (@shesewshappiness) x