Royal blue sew & knit combo: M7081 + Belladonna

Now that I have become a competent knitter (thanks to lockdown!), one of my targets is to matches my hand-knitted and hand-sewn garments. And knitting a cardigan to wear with the dress sat very high on my list of projects for Autumn 2020 (reviewed in this article).

This dress is one of my favourite, so much so that she has a red twin sister.

But strangely enough I never blogged about any of them. Let’s remedy this!

The fabric is a Dolce & Gabbana lawn-weight cotton , bought from Sew Me Sunshine. This fabric is magnificent and largely explains my adoration for this dress.

But the fabric being lightweight, the dress definitely needed a cardigan, cropped of course. Here it is!

You may have recognised Belladonna by Andi Sutterland, a stunning cardigan with all-over lace which I already knitted earlier this year – see here for the article on my first Belladonna.

I absolutely adore this pattern, the all-over lace effect is gorgeous and the cropped length is perfect. And the pattern is so perfect, crystal clear to follow.

I used a combination of Drops Baby Merino Electric Blue 33 and Drops Kid Silk Cobalt blue 21. I had knitted this combination already for my daughter and the result is a magnificent vivid blue, the pictures of the cardigan actually don’t give it full justice.

My only disappointment is that Drops seems to have slightly changed the Kid Silk, adding some white speckle, which makes it less bright – I realised it when after knitting the back and front down to underarm level with my wool leftovers, I started using my new wool and… it just did not match at all! I therefore had to start all over again! But all worth it, because this dress-cardigan combo is exactly what I had envisioned !

One combo done, two more to come…

No such thing as too much lace: my Belladonna cardi

Now that I have discovered that I can follow a knitting pattern (it only took me three years to gain the confidence), I have been knitting compulsively, with a passion for both cardigans and lace. So I could only fall for Untangling Knots’ latest cardigan pattern Belladonna.

For sure there is lace absolutely everywhere in this cardigan (except for the sleeves, which as we agreed with my lovely auntie would look tacky). There are three motifs at the back, two on each side of the front and another one under each arm when you join the round while working top-down – oh God! So although the lace charts are quite straightforward, you need to stay focused all the time! But so much worth it!

This is my third Untangling Knots project (after my Chuck jumper and my Salal cardigan) and I am an absolute fan of Andi Satturlund’s knitting patterns. Initially I was attracted to their shape: always cropped and snug-fitting, they match perfectly my retro-ish dress sense.

But when I started knitting them I discovered how amazingly well explained the patterns are. They also always follow the same construction logic so once you understand how they work your life is much easier. And they are perfect – I never ever make any change because I know every single stitch is calculated to be here! Anyway, I have already knitted a fourth one and many more will follow for sure!

Back to Belladonna, you will be surprised to read that I was actually grumpy most of the time while knitting it because I made a mistake in my wool order. I wanted to order the exact same Drops Baby Merino/ Drops Kid lace as the one I use for this blue jumper.

But I made a mistake and ordered what I thought was only a different colour of wool – but ended-up being also a different quality… which I only realised when I was missing wool to finish my second sleeve, horror! So in the end here is what I used: 4 skeins of Drops kid silk light steel blue 07; and  7 skeins of Drops cotton merino ice blue 09. The cotton-merino is much thicker than the baby merino so all the way though my knitting I wondered what was happening… No comment!

In the end this cardi looks completely fine and the cotton merino makes it even fluffier than the baby merino would (the picture below gives you a good idea). But it is definitely not as soft and will be only worn in the winter with long-sleeved dresses!

Appart from the wool drama, I am very pleased with this cardi and I am so tempted to make another one in royal blue – but I need two weeks of peace and quiet for that, and with the kids’ summer holiday looming this is unlikely to happen any time soon… So maybe one for autumn, we’ll see!

Autumn 2020 sewing and knitting plans

After five years of sewing my clothes, I have been recently inclined to better plan my makes, for two main reasons. First, it means my sewing is less compulsive – I realised that sewing on a whim is actually quite stressful to me. Second, I have recently started knitting properly, which opens-up a wide range of opportunities of clothes-matching – especially as I am such a dress/cardigan girls.

I started properly planning for Spring 2020, using the Canva app because drawing is unfortunately not my forte. But with an unexpected exodus to France for lockdown without taking any of my patterns or fabrics with me, this completely went out of the window and I ended-up going back to my usual compulsive-self, buying far too much fabric and making far too many dresses – which I all love but were definitely not planned!

So back to square one on planning! But at least this time I have quite a precise idea of the main directions I want to follow!

Key piece to add to my wardrobe: a fit-and-flare raincoat

Raincoats tend to be straight-shaped but to match all my lovely mid-season fit-and-flare dress, I have been wanting a fit-and-flare raincoat for ages. I found the perfect water-repellent fabric in my favourite wine colour last year from Croftmill and after years of searching, the perfect pattern appeared in McCall’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection, in the form M8048 – and it has bust cup options, hurrah!!!

Ideally, I would make a matching hat using the free Bob Fauve pattern, but given how much I hate sewing accessories I would not bet on it…

Key knit and sew matches: blue cardi, red cardi, wine skirt

Last autumn, I made two gorgeous dresses which I adore, in two different colour tones of the same Dolce & Gabbana fabric from SewMeSunshine.

They are definitely crying-out for a matching cardigan and now that I am a more competent knitter, I can definitely tackle this gap in my wardrobe. For the blue dress, I am planning a second Belladonna cardigan (see the first I knitted here), in the same glorious royal blue I used for my daughter’s Enchantée sweater.

For the red dress, I have managed to buy some deep red Drops Lace before this quality was discontinued for a Salal cardigan – a very easy knit and I adore the versatility of my powder pink one. After many sample orders for a matching fluffy fibre, I chose the Drops Brushed Alpaca Silk – I usually prefer the Kid Silk quality but the red was for too bright for my liking.

Last match, I want a brocade midi skirt to match the wine Chuck Jumper I knitted last winter. I am keen on a pleated skirt and I have already found the fabric at AmoThreads, I now just need to decide whether I am brave enough to self-draft it!

Key technical challenge: sewing a silk dress

Although I now buy very few dresses, I recently splurged on two Red Valentino beauties – both silk maxi dresses. The only reason to justify the price is that I couldn’t make them myself. This really needs to change so my challenge is to make another M7974 (see my first version here), in silk both for the outer fabric and the lining. Thanks to Bennytex, I have sourced all the silk I need at very reasonable prices so wish me luck!

Key sustainable challenge: more small pieces with fabric leftovers

With my recent love of maxi dresses, I know tend to buy fabric by 3m rather than 2 in the past. I therefore end up with bigger pieces of fabric leftover, which I’d love to use. I’ve been making quite a few summer tops from my girls this summer with the fabric leftover from my dresses. For the winter, I think shorts ar the way forward, using the Pascal pattern by Coralie Bijasson. Here is a quick preview of two recent makes, an article will follow soon I promise!

And a bit of stash busting would be good too! I am very keen to make a long sleeved version of M6696, using yellow piping along the button placket in the same way as I did for this dress.

And a few random projects of course…

Knowing myself I really cannot rule those out. Given the size of my silk stash, do expect at least another silk maxi dress if my first attempt is successful. I need some silk nightdresses toobut haven’t found the right pattern yet. Another jumpsuit may or may not happen, depending on whether I find the appropriate fabric. Many more happy hours in prospect!