I've been vaguely aware of the Outfit Along in previous years but never participated in it. And isn't it just my luck that the year I decide to enter is the last year the along is going to take place.
The Outfit Along is the brainchild of Andi Satterlund, a knitwear pattern designer and blogger, and Lauren from the LLADYBIRD sewing blog. The idea behind the along is simple: Knit a piece. Sew a piece. Make an outfit. In other words, the goal is to both knit and sew two garments that together form a coordinating outfit. Either one of the pieces could be knit or sewn but my mind immediately went to a sewn summer dress with a matching knitted cardigan.
This year, the fifth and last year of the Outfit Along, the theme was WIP Cleanout. Either or both of the garments could be works-in-progress, something from stash, or unfinished objects from the back of the closet. The sewn garment of my ensemble was not a WIP but something I'd planned on doing for some time. Earlier this year I found a cute — but quite faded — swingy jersey dress from a local second-hand store for just 3€. The dress is super comfortable to wear and the style so cute I wanted to try to replicate it. And no, I didn't cut the original for pattern — just turned it inside out and traced along the seams.
The skirt portion of the original dress is made of six separate panels with triangle-shaped inserts, or godets (a word I picked up while watching the Great British Sewing Bee), to add more flare. I've tried sewing godets before and it was a massive fail so I streamlined the pattern and added the swing right into the pattern pieces. There were also other little design details, like a back yoke and gathers here and there, that I eliminated to save on sewing time.
Some details I kept mainly for fit reasons: waist darts on both front and back pieces. The fit of the bodice was a mystery to me right until the very end when I assembled it all together. And I must say, I was quite surprised of how well it fits! There's a bit of bagging in the back piece but, hey, I bag and sag, too.
But it wasn't all puppies and roses. I decided to add in-seam pockets to the dress, and although I've done them a few times before, I must have forgotten what to sew and in which order. I literally spent hours on making the pockets look at least half-way presentable on the outside. (Let's not even mention the inside.) Hours! I could've sewn 12 godets in that time.
The WIP part of the Along was my Autumn in Mirkwood, the second sample of my Mirkwood Cardigan pattern that I started last September. I've gotten quite a lot of "so that's what it looks like!" comments on my original Mirkwood when wearing it in public. While I love it the yarn color is quite dark so it's difficult to see the leaf lace pattern on the yoke. For this version I wanted to use a round, bouncy yarn in a luscious autumn-y red that would make the lace pattern pop. And I wanted a more form-fitting cardigan to wear with dresses and skirts so I did the unthinkable: I didn't swatch. In my defense, I'd knit the pattern once before so I knew going down one notch in needle size would give me the fit I wanted.
I'm planning on revising the pattern with updated photos and an extended size range. If you're interested in test knitting this design in 4X (145 cm or 58" bust) or 5X (155 cm or 62" bust), let me know.
On Ravelry: Autumn in Mirkwood
Pattern: Mirkwood Cardigan by Susanna Winter
Yarn: 1025 m or 1120 yd of Malabrigo Yarn Sock in Botichelli Red (shouldn't that be 'Botticelli'?)
Needles: 3.0 mm (US #2½) for twisted rib, 3.5 mm (US #4) otherwise
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