I wish I had more photos of this dress, but unfortunately the battery on my camera died before I got all the shots I wanted.
During my Christmas break from work last December I traced off a new copy of my heavily altered Style Arc Cleo pattern, altering the skirt to be A-line instead of straight. I then cut into a thick wool blend sweater knit purchased last October from Fabric Mart.
This dress ended up taking much longer than I thought it would.
I first decided to use the gray quilted side as my right side. After putting it together and trying it on…I hated it! Due to the fabric’s quilted effect it looked stiff and frumpy. The open neckline also felt COLD. Out of curiosity I turned it inside out and put it back on. I was much happier with the effect. I decided to take apart the entire dress and start over again, using the almost-black diamond pattern face as the right side.
To fix the too-open neckline I cut a new neck band. I made the finished width 1.5″ instead of 1/2″, and used the diamond pattern as a design feature. This made the neckline feel significantly warmer.
The sleeves were also a little too short, so I finished them with a 1.5″ cuff instead of a regular hem. The hemline also ended up shorter than I wanted. In order to squeeze out the maximum length possible I made a hem facing from some black stretch lace that was laying around in my sewing area. I sewed the stretch lace facing in place using the blind hem on my machine.
After finishing the dress I took it in the darts an additional 3″ at the back waist. (I found this knit grew a little during wear.) I also let out my 5/8″ seams at the bust and sleeves.
I’ve worn this dress to work a few times. Styling it with wool tights, boots, and a silk scarf makes it a nice cozy dress for brisk winter days.
I was going to make a second Cleo, but the wool knit I had planned for it gave me quite a surprise after pre washing:
Yes. It went from 2 yards, 72″ wide, with squared-off ends, to 1.5 yards, 58″ wide, with very misshapen ends. I washed it in the machine on cold delicate and air dried (as I do for all wool knits). This is why I prewash all of my fabrics before sewing them up. Better to know before rather than after you sew.
I tried to save this knit by trying to shape it back on grain, but the problem was that the two bonded fabrics weren’t perfectly on grain when they were bonded together. For this reason it wasn’t suitable for a sewing project. Rather than throw it out, I folded it up and made it into a bed for Miss Bonnie. She loves it! Not what I had hoped for this knit, but it ended up being a solution that worked for everyone.