Friday, November 01, 2013

FO: The Redwood Camber Dress by Merchant and Mills

Two sewing FO's in two days?  Whatever is the world coming to?
Having got my sewing groove back on Wednesday with the Camber Top, I spent a restless night imagining my next project, the Camber Dress.  If I could have stitched it in my sleep, I would have done!
Stats:
Pattern:  The Camber Dress by Merchant and Mills in size 8, with sleeves from Simplicity 6238 (from the 1960's)
Fabric:  2 metres of Robert Kaufmann Shetland flannel in the colour "redwood herringbone" from The Eternal Maker
Other:  Just thread, from stash.
The Design

You may be surprised to hear that although the top and dress share a neckline, yoke and sleeves, the main parts (back and front) are cut from separate pattern pieces.  The dress is an altogether more shapely affair, which the pictures on the envelope do not fully capture.
The description reads:  "A simple dress with tapered A-line silhouette and short fitted sleeves for an easy-wear classic."  All true.  But there is more to it than that.
Like the top, the dress has a bias-trimmed round neckline which exposes just enough flesh to be flattering and feminine, without scaring the horses.  Perfect for an aging neck.
The lined yoke construction encloses every possible raw edge of fabric and lies completely flat.  No gaping, back or front - it's a miracle!
The sleeves fit into the armholes without any fuss or puckering.  When I made the top, I used the original short sleeve, but for this dress I took the 3/4 length sleeve from the 1960's pattern Simplicity 6238, and blended it with the Camber sleeve at the top.  This was easily done, as they were almost identical in width.
The back of the dress is narrower than the back of the top, with more defined waist shaping.  The dress front has subtly different darts and an almost imperceptible curve at the side hip, which then tapers gently to the hem.
It is a really clever cut.  If your fabric has just a little bit of body:  a crisp linen, say, or a slightly felted wool, the gentle bell-shape of the skirt will become more apparent.

Process:
Having just made the top, I knew what I was doing with the yoke and it all went smoothly.  Evidence, if ever it was needed, of the importance of making a test garment.
"Easy to make"?  Yes, if you have made it before!
I used a lightweight cotton to line the yoke, because the flannel is pretty substantial.  This worked well.
I shortened the dress by 8 cm and then turned up a 3cm hem.  The original length was below-the-knee on me (but I am only 5 foot 2 so that's no surprise).  I used a satin bias tape to bind the hem and hide away any raw edges.

Verdict?
Ok, I am going to gush now...
Cheese Louise, I love this dress!
I set out to make an everyday winter dress, probably for homewear around the farm.  But despite the Little House on the Prairie-style brushed cotton fabric I chose, I have ended up with a garment that is eminently suitable for work.  If I didn't know it was cotton, I would suspect it was wool.  And if I didn't know I had made it myself, I would guess it came from Toast or Cabbages and Roses and that it cost something with three digits before the decimal point.
It is simple, but memorable.  It is figure-skimming without being baggy, shapely rather than shapeless. 
Does FL like it?  Not so much.  It falls into the same category of clothing as the shoes I am wearing with it:  comfortable, practical, classic, and under no circumstances "sexy".  Perfect.
If I sound like I am blowing my own trumpet, that is not my intention.  Because my contribution to this garment was just the making of it.
"But that's the difficult part!"  I hear you cry?  Not at all.  I cut it out and I sewed it together.
But Carolyn N. K. Denham did all the hard work, for which I cannot thank her enough.

Will I make it again?
Just you try and stop me!
It would be amazing in cerise felted wool.
Or maybe a rich forest green velvet or needlecord?
Or how about this checked linen / cotton mix from Tinsmiths?
Or this watercolour stripe from Liberty?
In my desire for a simplified life, I can imagine this becoming my uniform dress.  Could I have a whole wardrobe of Camber dresses for every day of the week?  For every occasion?
Oh dear.
I think I have a problem!




30 comments:

Sarahel said...

This is spectacular. You're on fire this week. I loved the rainbow of yarn in Sunday's post. That was the day I turned 49 so I shall be interested to read more of your list of resolutions. And I love the Kex blanket, and the socks. All your colours are fantastic. Sarahel

Blogless Anna said...

I thought I didn't need this pattern, but now I can see I was oh so wrong. It's just jumped to the top of my Xmas list! Wishing your dress was mine! And it's great to see you again and enjoying it...

Gail said...

That's so lovely, Roo! Such a perfect dress for you. I really appreciate the close-up of the neckline too. You're right: it's really a step above.

Jen Forsythe said...

Lovely to see it made up in the dress. It looks lovely in the flannel, beautiful colour. Yes the options could be endless.I thought it was similar to the Colette Laurel, but it does seem different. Could I justify buying the Camber too? Oh dear, too much inspiration.

beate grigutsch said...

roo - thats just gorgeous!
the simplicity of the dress opens soo much possibilities to wear it! jewels, jackets, belts....
and you are right - c.n.k. denham did a fantastic job designing this dress.
only one thing - pockets. patched or sideseam...

Jane said...

Now that it is a really lovely, flattering dress! You're absolutely right - if I didn't know you'd made it yourself, I'd confidently predict that it came from Toast. What a triumph, I hope you make lots more, x

Jennifer C said...

Awesome dress! I thought it might be boring from the pattern but it's not and has a lovely shape.

laglov said...

Oh my gosh, I LOVE this dress. You are so right; something about the shape makes it special, a cut above a standard shift dress. Did you end up getting the Factory Dress pattern? I am dying to see that one next!

seamedstraightforward said...

Lovely dress, and a beautiful colour on you too.

Marie said...

Love both versions, very flattering and generally just lovely!

The Old Fashioned Way said...

Very very flattering. Lovely.

violicious said...

All the signs of a well-designed pattern! And that fabric was a perfect choice. Can't wait to see the next ones.

violicious said...

All the signs of a well-designed pattern! And that fabric was a perfect choice. Can't wait to see the next ones.

Sarah said...

That's a very smart dress, Roo! You look smashing! I absolutely adore that gorgeous red on you and would love to see you wear more.

Tell FL you'll wear a sexy belt with it! ;)

christinelaennec said...

Perfect on you! You look really happy in that dress.

Scruffybadger said...

If ever there was a Roo uniform dress, this is it. It has all the qualities of being the perfect dress, and I do adore the neckline. It looks a million dollars on you Roo, fab discovery!

colleen said...

So autumnal. Perfect colour and style for right now.

I'm inspired.

seashell bluez said...

What a wonderful pattern. It could be the "little black dress" or any kind of work dress. Just love it. Might order it.

MaryinTN said...

Awesome dress! Looks warm too.

jessica said...

Roo! I absolutely love it. You're making me want to order this pattern myself, can't you just imagine it in the teal Edges Dash fabric (ala your Painterly Camouflage Blouse), maybe with slight hip shaping extended into a subtle A-line? Ahhhhh ... it's so much fun imagining potential projects! I've said it before, but you inspire the "Jessica see (Roo do), Jessica do (too)" like no other!

I totally agree with seashell bluez - perfect to make over and over for work! Score!

RooKnits said...

Fabulous. I love it

opportunityknits said...

LOVE this dress, love everything about it, the colour, the fabric, the shift style and the sleeves, and you look great in it! Haha I think we have different ideas of what we like to wear than our other halves!

sewbusylizzy said...

To be honest when I first saw this I thought 'nah' and now I'm seeing the possibilities and the challenge to do it my way. I've just bought a pattern! Thank - you enabler! :-)

/anne... said...

Actually, it reminds me of Goat - http://www.goatfashion.com/ - which I am glad do not have a shop in Australia!

But then again, that is why we sew :-)

Emily Lowrey said...

Thank you so much for writing about your experiences with Merchant and Mills patterns. I've really enjoyed reading your posts, and this dress is just lovely on you. I was trying to decide whether to purchase a couple of patterns to try, and now I'm definitely going to.

runningsealey said...

Bahahahaha! My equines will thank me when feeding them in my Camber dress. Thank you for the review and the eye candy. I just received the pattern and linen from M&M, and I was pondering about the sleeves. You have given me food for thought.

runningsealey said...

Bahahahaha! My equines will thank me when feeding them in my Camber dress. Thank you for the review and the eye candy. I just received the pattern and linen from M&M, and I was pondering about the sleeves. You have given me food for thought. I will definitely add pockets.

Fiona Dilston-Bayliss said...

I am inspired ...googled to see other peeps efforts and found yours. Definitely buying this pattern now
You are a beautiful inspiration and I have read your blog during some of my darker days and thought bloody hell this woman is amazing. I do hope you get your move to Hebden Bridge ...you will have Immanuel Fabrics in Burnley on your doorstep almost with it's plethora of quirkiness

big love to you Roobeedoo xxxx

Roobeedoo said...

Thank you so much Fiona 😊

Fiona Dilston-Bayliss said...

Camber dresses x2 made ...one in tartan one in Liberty tana lawn Hesketh, the former trimmed in Hesketh as was juggling with a metre of fabric

Now on with two Union dresses shortened by 12cms in the bodice to make them work on my short waisted short arsed form

bless you so much Roo ...you are a sewing inspiration <3