The Hamilton dress

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Finally The Hamilton dress is ready!

Last year I went on summer vacation to Edinburgh, Scotland, and I fell for this fabric that I found in the Tartan Weaving Mill on The Royal Mile. According to the seller, the tartan belongs to The Hamilton Clan, hence the name for the dress.

Anyway – after having thought about it for a while, I came to the conclusion that I wanted the fabric to become a dress. And of course I had only bought enough fabric to make a skirt.

Normal people would probably go ahead and make a skirt under such circumstances, but being a dress addict, that was not going to happen. So the fabric lay in a drawer for a few months…

In spring this year, I discovered Holst Yarn in Denmark – they make the most wonderful, thin wool yarn, Supersoft. And it comes in many colors – and the price is very reasonable.

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So I bought a few colors, some greys, and after another few months I bought some more greys, still not thinking about the tartan.

About a year after the summer vacation in Scotland, I pulled out the fabric again, then I came to think about the yarn I bought, and wouldn’t you know – four of the grey yarn cakes matched pretty well to the fabric.

Then I found a supereasy dress pattern, and cut out the front and back parts of the dress. The dress had insitions, but I dropped these to show of the tartan as untouched as possible.

Having reached the point of no return, i.e. the cutting of my fine fabric, I took the necessary measures and started knitting the pieces that was still missing.

There is no pattern for the dress, but I will give a short description of how to make it here.

dsc_0918First of all, it is important that you have enough stretch in the hem to walk comfortably, so I started with italian cast on for the knitted side panels.

To have a close to perfect fit, it is also preferable that the knitting itself is as stretchy as possible, so I chose to make the side panels in one by one ribbing.

To look slimmer, the stripes should ideally have been vertical, but then I would have to sacrifice a good fit and comfort, so this was not actually an option for me.

Then there was the problem of choosing edge stitches – I didn’t want the knitting to become too loose compared to the fabric, so the solution was double edge stitches.

Shaping was the next challenge – and how to shape the dress from hips to waist and up to under the arms. I have decreased and increased only the purl stitches, so that the lines of the knit stitches are undisturbed. And at the same time I have made sure to keep the edge stitches, and place the decreases and increases at least 3 stitches from the edges, so that there’s one continuous line from the hem and up to sew in.

There’s an invisible zipper in the back – this is actually not necessary, because the dress is stretchy enough to be pulled over the head. Inserting zippers gives me a headache, so next time I make a dress like this, I will definitely drop this.

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Other than the back seam, zipper and neck facing, the dress is sewn by hand. It takes a lot shorter time than one should expect, but it is of course more time consuming than machine sewing – which is not possible to do with a good result when knitted and woven fabric shall be united. I have used invisible hem stitches, and for the joining of the knit and woven fabric I used some sort of back/matress stitching – I am afraid my language skills when it comes to hand sewing techniques are not good enough, so I will describe it instead: Put the fabrics right sides together. Insert the needle into the knitted part, as close to a knit stitch as possible and grab two treads of yarn (from 2 rnds), then go 1 mm back and insert the needle into the woven fabric, and pull it out 2-3 mm above, then grab the next two treads from the knitted part, and so on. This is firm enough to hold the two pieces together, and at the same time gives enough stretch to pull both fabrics and the seams as much as needed for normal wear. (At least I hope so, only time will tell if it will tear in the seams…)

That is basically it. No lining yet – but maybe I will put some in later on.

The dress will be put to the test next week, I am going to Scotland again, so it seems to be a good outfit for some more fiber shopping. I will not wear it to the pub though, there might be karaoke and dancing, and the best way to keep accidents from happening is probably to not wear it when drinking.

The next challenge will be making a cardigan to go with a button my mother gave me a few months ago. She has had it since the 1970’s, and it is a  royal blue retro plastic gem of a button that deserves a stunning garment…

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