How about something completely different? And by different, really I mean the same—I’m sharing a couple of finished projects. That’s the bread and butter of what I do ’round here, after all. But it’s been awhile since I’ve shared anything except the knitting patterns I’ve worked on this year, so I’m here to change that!
Ironically part of this outfit started off as something I intended to make into a cardigan pattern design (but spoiler: I won’t be). I really wanted a boucle cardigan. How iconically 1950s would that be? And I wanted it to be white (well off white). So I wanted to design a simple cropped cardigan as a base for that.
While boucle yarn seems to be (hopefully! maybe?) making somewhat of a resurgence, it’s still hard to find. I bought Halcyon Yarns Victorian Boucle Mohair, a mohair and wool blend. It couldn’t look more vintage. I mean just look at that halo and those loopy curls!
But wow, it was a bit of an ordeal to knit up. It shed while winding, it shed while knitting, it shed just looking at it. It wasn’t very soft until it was blocked. Did I mention it shed?
I could get past all that, but I struggled to get any kind of normal gauge. I was getting about a worsted weight gauge for stitches per inch, but way more rows per inch than I expected. Sometimes? It kept changing, which was the worst part, so I was re-doing math a lot as I went. All told, it didn’t give me confidence to turn this exact idea into a pattern, and frustrated me about the cardigan that I really wanted, and eventually I stuffed it away for a bit.
But I later realized I could knit it just for me! After nearly a year of designing sweater patterns, I kind of forgot I… could just do that. So after putting it away for a month to simmer down, I picked it back up and recently finished it. And I love it!
I wanted it to be the perfect length to wear buttoned or open, and with a dress or high-waisted pants. For me, these things rarely line up. Even with high-waisted pants, the waistband usually is lower than my skirt or dress waistbands. What works great with a dress is too cropped for pants. And what works with pants sometimes looks frumpy with dresses.
This one worked out pretty well, though alas, it’s not a magical formula. I can’t just say every cardigan that’s X inches long will work the same. It sure won’t! Yarn and ease play big roles in that too, as does the neckline shape, amount of shoulder shaping… I could go on and on. Always a bit of a grab bag, each time.
I knit this top down at least, so at least that helped to make the judgement call on length. But even that isn’t always so simple when you have a stitch pattern (ask me how I know). No matter, this one is good, and that’s all that matters today.
The last finishing touches on the cardigan were to face the buttonbands with petersham ribbon, seen below mid-progress, before I hand stitched the ribbon to the cardigan. I love doing this to stabilize the bands and prevent less gaping when buttoned up. Though I admittedly intend to wear my cardigans buttoned more often than I actually do!
The very last finishing touch was to make translucent white glittery resin buttons, which were impossible to photograph! I’m very happy with them, subtle as they are. I hadn’t done any resin crafting in a couple of years, so it was fun to pick this back up!
For the dress I used a Gertie cotton sateen, a long out of print fabric. (In fact I used a very similar one in light yellow for my 40th birthday dress, five years ago!) I absolutely love how the fabric is similar to the cartoon me that’s featured at the bottom of my web site now, done by artist Cynthia Frenette. She’d never even seen this fabric when she outfitted mini-me!
I’ve lost count how many times I’ve sewed up this dress pattern. 4 time? Maybe 6? And this is the first to make it to the blog. It’s a 1960s dress pattern, Simplicity 4432.
I’ve used the bodice with both gathered skirts and with slim skirts to make sheath dresses. Maybe I’ll do a roundup of them sometime, because it’s definitely my current favorite go-to bodice. The armhole fits well but doesn’t bind, the neckline is a perfect boatneck without gaping. It did need a few fit tweaks when I muslined it the first time—my usual lowering of bust darts, shortening bodice length, and I believe I did a narrow shoulder adjustment—but I haven’t touched it since.
This time I made it with a simple gathered skirt. I did have to sew the waistline seam twice, after the first one grew over an inch because I forgot to use my walking foot. Oops! I try to always sew gathered skirts with my walking foot, so they don’t accidentally grow. That was particularly necessary with this cotton sateen since it’s a bit beefy and stretchy. But I took the front waist darts in a smidge to counter the stretch and re-sewed the waist, and all was well the second time.
How about the bang up job on pattern matching across the center back lapped zipper? You can barely tell there even is a zipper.
I used the rose print from the border for a matching belt with a fabric covered buckle. I love that vintage touch.
All told, I’m very happy with the dress, and I already know I’m going to wear the cardigan a ton! I didn’t realize how much my wardrobe needed a white cardigan until I started looking at everything in my closet, thinking, “Yep, it’ll go with that… and that… and that too…” A great feeling when you finish a new project!
Vicki Elster says
I love this outfit! I grew up in the 50s and had many dresses like yours.
Thanks, Vicki! Great name too, same spelling as my mom. 😉
Deborah Makarios says
The finishing details really make this outfit sing! The petersham facing, the matching yet contrasting self-fabric belt, and the microscopically accurate pattern matching – amazing!
Thank you so much! I love all those little finishing touches!
Charlotte Newland says
everything about this outfit is spectacular! You have the most incredible attention to detail. One question – did the yarn shed though? 😉
Like it was trying to duplicate itself in shedding! Although wouldn’t that be a handy trick if you were a spinner too! 😂
Jo Kemp says
Lovely outfit. You have given me the courage to go off piste with my knitting, with your pointers & tips – thank you.
Oh, I love this cardigan! It was worth the headache, and the buttons are the perfect finishing touch. I remember when \gertie released that fabric, it is such a nice dress!
I love it all! ♥♥♥
Heather Myers says
These both are wonderful! Congratulations on such great garments.