Monday, 15 August 2022

a deeply unseasonal sweater knit dress (and bonus top)

 In surprising New Silhouette news, I'm considering becoming a shoulders person. 

I've been in and out of Gertie's Patreon a few times now. I don't love all the patterns she puts out there - I'm not particularly into vintage cosplay these days and I was never into the cutesy stuff - but they usually have interesting details, and a good chunk of it is stuff that I can make up in a not-so-vintage style. This one is the Joan wiggle dress, and this version is a trial I made to see if I a) liked the style in general and b) wanted to use my raspberry leopard print velvet on this pattern. (answers: a) yes and b) jury's still out.) I always loved the idea of this kind of dress but shied away because of potential stomach clinginess. And, as you may be getting bored of hearing me say, my concern about that sort of shit has been rapidly on the decrease. It was time. 

The fabric is a purple and black marl sweater knit from Fabric Land, which I bought three metres of initially and then found myself with more than half of it left after deciding to make another version of my Named Ruska hoodie hack with it. I never bothered posting it, I don't think, but I made it in January and it gets a decent amount of wear when it's colder. I'd assumed that the leftover fabric would have to be a top or jumper of some kind and was originally only going to make the top version of the Joan rather than the dress, but this is not a fabric-hungry pattern and I thought, fuck it, sexy sweater dress in the middle of summer, why not. 

Construction-wise this is pretty straightforward; the biggest problem I had was that the fabric kept breaking my overlocker (inexplicably, it instantly unthreaded one of the loopers every time I tried to put this fabric under it) so I had to sew it all on the regular machine. I used a scrap of black viscose jersey to line the bodice and sleeves and get a nice finish. It's meant to be longer than this, but I didn't quite have enough fabric for the full thing. And, if we're honest, I would have ended up cutting it above the knee anyway. 

Visually, I'm super into this. I think it looks great. Both the silhouette and the neckline are pretty new to me, so it's cool to see myself in something so different. Obviously it's extremely off-the-shoulder and there's no way to cheat wearing a regular bra with it (I mean, in these photos I am wearing a regular bra with the straps pulled down, but I wouldn't want to spend an entire evening like that). So the amount of wear this gets depends on whether I can find a longline strapless bra that comes in a G cup, which I honestly didn't think would be that difficult. I was wrong. I am actively on the hunt as we speak. I think it says a lot about how much I like this exposed-shoulders thing that I'm willing to entirely throw out my longstanding rule about clothes you have to wear special bras for.

I also don't really have shoes that go with this. I picked these because I'm six foot one in them and I feel like this is a dress that one takes up more space in, but for real life I probably need something else. 

(I took all these photos while listening to burlesque music. This may or may not be apparent.)

I also had about 50% of the tiger print fabric left over from my Nettie (which is done and photographed and I will post at some point, but I have zero things to say about it so I'm waiting until I have a post I can tack it on the end of), so I decided to use it to make a top:

Which I'm also kind of into. Is it a bit much for everyday? Sure. Do I often enjoy being a bit much? I mean... you've all seen the stuff I make. It's going to have to be a really comfortable strapless bra, though. For the dress version I lined the bodice, but I decided that was an extra layer I didn't need in a top, so I just cut an extra strip of jersey to use as a facing and topstitched it down. It could probably do with some elastic in the neckline, so I will probably go back and put that in before it stretches out much more. 

(The trousers are Victory Patterns Esther. I made them in 2020, they didn't fit me at all until a few months ago. I'm glad I was pleased enough with the construction to stubbornly hold onto them because they're currently my best-fitting pair of trousers.)

I would absolutely make this again, after I have acquired this mythical strapless bra. I've rarely done exposed shoulders at any point in my life and I'm extremely here for the way it looks on me. I'm still undecided about the raspberry velvet, though. I really wanted to make something that I might be able to wear semi-regularly, which this absolutely wouldn't be, but maybe there's something to be said for making a very occasional dress to just straight up murder people with. Technically this pattern would only use about half the amount of velvet I have, so I would have the option to also make something a little less... specific, shall we say, with the rest of it. But I don't know what that something would be, and the temptation to just make this dress but floor length might be too great to resist. I'm really not sure. 

Up next: either a pair of trousers, or several things I can't stretch out to their own individual posts, depending on which one I finish writing first! 

Charm Patterns Joan wiggle dress (Patreon)

Fabric: sweater knit from Fabric Land
Cost: approx. £7.50
Pattern details: Close-fitting knit dress (and top) with either a high slash neck or off-the-shoulder sweetheart neckline
Size: 10 H cup
Alterations: Skirt shortened by several inches
Would make again/would recommend: Yes/Yes


  1. wow, the color and neckline are absolutely stunning on you, you inspire me to consider the "looks that require strapless bras" also. Have you thought about adding a built-in bra for it? I've noticed this in some of my store-bought strapless dresses- some foam cups with power mesh and an elastic band, occasionally some boning on the side seam, and thought about tackling it. Madalynne ( has some handy kits/materials and blog posts about adding foam cups, etc, and there's a couple other bloggers I've seen do this with some of the more strappy tank tops.

  2. A second Wow. I hope you find a bra solution as you should definitely make more tops and dresses like these.

  3. Woweee!! You look spectacular in that style! Color me green. And yes, a floor length version would be amazing.