Thursday, February 16, 2012

Altered Knits: Mad About Plaid Part Deux!

I made this dress for the Burns Supper that I hosted a few weeks ago, but I couldn't get a good picture of it until now.

My sister and I have hosted a Burns Supper for the past few years. I always ask everyone to wear plaid, although we don't have a completely traditional supper. I am a vegetarian, so we don't have haggis; we still do the "Address to a Haggis", though, if only so we can stab something. My sister and I are the only ones who are really serious about it, and the rest of the family just sort of humors us, so we have to keep them entertained! We do make everyone recite one poem, and sometimes we make up little tunes for them and have my cousin accompany on guitar. Pretty entertaining. Then we watch "So I Married An Axe Murderer"; you know, because Mike Myers plays a Scottish character who eats haggis. Robert Burns would probably roll over in his grave, but we have a good time!

Please forgive the funny pose; I was trying to ensure that the sleeves showed. I had to take these pictures myself using the timer on the camera, so if it looks as if I was jumping into position, it's because I was. I also cut off my feet; apparently the Lincoln Log tubs on which the camera was sitting weren't stacked quite right...The light inside my house is terrible, but it will have to do until Spring arrives! At least I'll get to show a little bit of my house, which never seems clean enough to photograph.
The plaid parts started out as a huge vest from Goodwill, and the equally large red sweater dress was an etsy find:

I knew that I wanted to do something to alter the sleeves, but my options were limited by the size and shape of the available vest material. In looking for inspiration, I spotted a lot of bell-sleeved dresses and sweaters with contrasting lower sleeves.

Ever since I saw this picture, I've been hunting for enough black fur to make this coat; I have some red wool that would be perfect! I think the orange striped one is actually a jacket over a bell-sleeved blouse.

I was afraid that using a different print for the lower sleeves would make them look too much like they were altered; like they were just stuck on the ends of the existing sleeves (which they were!) instead of appearing as if they were knitted all in one piece. I found quite a few examples, though, that were knitted that way, including these beautiful full-color ones!

This one looks like a knitted jumper over a coordinating sweater. Lovely!

I started by removing the sleeves in order to move the shoulders up and take in the sides. The sleeves were originally gathered at the shoulder, but I wanted the shoulders to lie flat for a smoother line down to the bell, so I put in a series of radiating darts. The sleeves were three-quarter length, so I cut off about six inches so I could add the bottom part. I reattached the sleeve band to the bottom, which I had gathered. I was very proud of the way these turned out; I had to do a lot of measuring (which is not my forte) and drafting, and they ended up exactly as I had planned, which is rare for me!

Luckily, it came with a tie belt, so I just cut it down and put a buckle on it. I used the extra red material from the sleeves to back the collar and the insert for my hat. The plaid collar comes from behind the shoulder and is stitched in place with a big vintage button.

This dress took me about three days to make, most of which was spent planning, measuring, and drafting the sleeves, and then procrastinating because I was afraid that my measurements were wrong. That's pretty much my M.O. on every project, although I have managed to get another sweater dress finished; I'll get some pictures of it if we ever see the sun again!