Simplicity 1366 hack
In case you’ve missed the weather-related social media rantings of Melbourne people lately, let me fill you in: it’s cold here. Sooooo cold! While it’s nothing like a northern hemisphere winter with ice and snow and dark for days, it’s our coldest in a long time and we’re all struggling to cope. People walk around looking shocked, everyone’s sniffling, and most of us are grumpy. Like, London winter-level grumpy.
In my little household we’re coping as best we can: The heater’s never turned off. I screech a lot at the kids to cover their kidneys and add another layer (they still want to wear t-shirts….?) The dog’s getting dashed around the block if he’s lucky – the park’s too muddy. Dinners are roasted or baked, nights involve binge watching TV under mountains of blankets (the Game of Thrones finale – OMG), cups of tea are on high rotation and I can’t stop raving about my new flannel sheets. Seriously, I went out with some girlfriends last weekend and bored them all senseless with my sheet-talk: So warm! So fluffy! Like sleeping on a cloud! They’ll change your life! When the most exciting thing you can talk about at Friday drinks is bed linen, it may be time to give up and go home (to watch some more TV).
Unsurprisingly, the cold is heavily influencing my sewing as well. Normally I can be a little season-agnostic when it comes to my makes. Something online will inspire me to sew a singlet when it’s almost snowing outside; I’ll plot a summer dress even though I know I won’t wear it for six months; or I’ll chance upon a piece of light summery fabric in the stash and decide I need to make it into something immediately – even if I have to layer it under a couple of jumpers and a coat. But not this week. This week’s been so icy that all I can think about is comfort sewing. And what could be more comforting to work with (and sleep on!) than flannel?
So I dug up this this grey and navy checked flannel that I brought home from Japan last year. I found it during our fabric frenzy at Nagato in Nippori Fabric Town in Tokyo and spent a good while just patting it – it’s seriously soft and fuzzy – before adding it to my shopping pile. It’s quite an interesting weight – a little heavier than your typical shirt flannel (or flannelette), but still a long way off a heavier, lumberjacket-weight wool flannel. (By the way I’m never completely sure of the difference between flannel and flannelette and Google has a few contradictory definitions; but I gather flannel is traditionally wool or a wool/cotton mix; while flannelette is a cheaper copy, made to feel like flannel by brushing the fibres in the weft. Fabric people – help me out here!)
As for what to make with my woolly flannel, that decision was easy. When I bought the fabric I thought immediately of this dress in the picture below: a short, loose linen dress I found at Of a Kind ages ago and squirrelled away in a corner on Pinterest, convinced I’d copy it one day. The fabrics may be totally different but the colour and check are so similar that I decided to go for as close to a carbon copy as possible.
This is where good old Simplicity 1366 came in handy. Is there a more hackable, adaptable top pattern out there? Just when I think it may have faded into the background of the collective sewist consciousness, to be replaced by something brighter and shinier, another version will pop up on Instagram or a blog and I’m reminded again of how great this simple top is. (recent new ones include this gorgeous floral top from Groovy Baby and Mama and this light cotton voile number from Fabric Tragic). Although there’s countless top versions out there to admire, I hadn’t really considered a dress hack until this sweet dress popped up on Bellbird last summer – and I was sold.
The pattern and the hack are very simple, but I had a couple of small challenges with this dress: I only bought 1.5 metres of fabric, and the checks required a bit of matching. I managed to just squeeze in all of the pieces (minus binding for the neckline, but plus lengthened arms) with nothing left to spare – it’s seriously zero waste. And I think I did okay with my matching on the side seams, but gave up even trying to make the sleeve checks meet the body checks in any coherent way. I cut the top a little long which meant the skirt’s a check-length shorter than I’d like, and I can’t help wishing the check-line wasn’t running so close to the edge of the neckline as it looks a little crowded. Ah, the things you realise once you’ve cut the cloth – I could fill a book with similar stories of regret.
Despite these nagging imperfections, I’ve worn this dress for three days in a row and feel like I never want to take it off. It’s warm and fuzzy, and easy to layer – in fact it’s almost as comfortable as my new flannel sheets 🙂