Completed: Black Merino Wool Joni Dress

31 May

Well, I definitely made a wool dress and here are photos of me modeling it in 90 degree heat.

Merino Joni Dress

To be somewhat gentle on myself, I started (and finished) this dress when there was still a bit of a chill in the air. I didn’t think to take photos until the other day, and even by 8AM it was solidly hot and humid outside. Case in point: I curled my hair about 15 minutes prior. Can you tell? Nope!

This isn’t even my worst offense when it comes to seasonally-inappropriate garments… I still have a (truly fabulous) coat that hasn’t made it’s rounds yet. I even took photos, but I just looked at them and am pretty sure they need to be retaken. But probably not until next year because LOOOOL Y’ALL IT BE HOT OUTSIDE.

Merino Joni Dress

Anyway, I posted a dress so I’ll talk about the dress! This is the Joni Dress from the new Tilly & the Buttons book, Stretch! – it is also the same dress Tilly is wearing on the cover. While the twisty front looks complicated (I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t feel a LITTLE intimidated to start sewing it! We all get our weird cold feet sewing hang-ups from time to time!), it is deceptively simple! This is a book designed to introduce beginner sewists to working with knits, after all!

Anyway, what I liked about this dress – other than that twisty goodness – was the fitted shape with the swirly skirt. I have seen a lot of knit patterns with the twisted detail (JFC how many more times am I gonna say twist in this post I’m so sorry), but not many with the very fitted look in conjunction. I like, I like!

Merino Joni Dress

Merino Joni Dress

As I said, sewing this dress up was pretty easy. There’s a little bit of stay-stitching, a clever twist (sorry), and then your basic knit fabric sewing construction. The waist has a length of elastic sewn to it to keep the skirt from drooping over time, which is a feature I always appreciate in a knit dress. The neckline is finished with a self fabric facing, which gets topstitched down. I used a serger to sew most of the dress, except that facing part – the first time I tried that, it was too damn bulky! So I seam ripped it out and started over, using a regular sewing machine with a zigzag stitch to attach the pieces. This made for a much smoother and less bulky finish. Other than that, really straightforward for the most part. I added the little elastic runching to the sleeves (a hack option outlined in the book) and let the skirt hang for a couple of days before hemming, which I used my coverstitch to do. Oh, and I made a size 2 with no other fit adjustments (including length).

Merino Joni Dress

Merino Joni Dress

A little chat about the fabric now: wool, huh? Yeah baby THIS IS MERINO WOOL! Or, specifically, merino/bamboo jersey – and it is DREAMY. I found it on the Mood Fabrics website, which has delighted to me to no end. You may or may not know my love for merino – it’s been a hot minute since I had my hands on a piece to sew up. I love merino for it’s warmth and breathability, that it’s anti-microbial, and machine washable. It is my dream fabric and I’d probably use it for nearly every knit I make (at least in the winter), but unfortunately it can be a bit cost-prohibitive. The stuff I found at Mood Fabrics is still a little high at $30/yard, however, it’s here in the US so at least there are no international shipping fees to deal with (in the past, most of my merino came from New Zealand!). There’s not a huge color selection available on their website at the moment, but, y’all know I dress like a tragic goth in the winter so black is totally fine with me!

Merino Joni Dress

Merino Joni Dress

Merino Joni Dress

This merino is pretty lightweight, with a lovely drape and a nice soft hand. Mood’s website says that it is slightly translucent, but idk I’m wearing this with some pretty neon undergarments and you can’t see through shit – so take that as you will. It was very easy to work with – reasonably stable (as much as 4 way stretch jersey knits can be, anyway) and it did not curl when I cut it. I only had a chance to wear this dress twice before it got too hot, but I look forward to snuggling back up in it again when the weather allows! It is super comfortable and I think it looks pretty good!

Merino Joni Dress

Here’s a terribly overblown photo so you can see a little more detail.

Merino Joni Dress

That’s all for this dress! I’ve love to have a summer version – maybe made up in a patterned (or striped!) knit – but I’m trying to be realistic about how many clothes I truly *need* in my closet. So we’ll see if that actually happens or not. And, as a side note – yes, I got bangs again! Felt tired of looking at my face and decided to change up my look πŸ™‚

** Note: The fabric used in this post was provided to me by Mood Fabrics, in exchange for my participation in the Mood Sewing Network. As always, all opinions are my own!


23 Responses to “Completed: Black Merino Wool Joni Dress”

  1. Deborah May 31, 2018 at 12:11 pm #

    Love the merino wool. I have knitted with it and worn in ready to wear but never sewn with it. Do you wash it? I have washed some merino socks and sweaters by hand. Sad to hear about the heat. We are really super hot this summer in KS as well.

    • LLADYBIRD May 31, 2018 at 12:22 pm #

      Oh yeah, merino wool is totally washable (and dryable!). I just throw it in the machine with whatever else is being washed (usually cold, but sometimes warm) and it’s fine! I’m actually not too bummed about the heat – I’m a born and bred Southerner, so I THRIVE in 90 degree weather lol – but I might be the only person who feels that way. I don’t even turn my a/c on half the time:)

  2. DatPixieGirl May 31, 2018 at 12:19 pm #

    Another fantastic, seasonally-whacked make =) I preordered the new Tilly and the Buttons book and read through it as soon as it arrived, but haven’t made anything from it yet. I do think the Joni is my favorite project in there, and I’d love to have some tops and dresses with that cute twist detail.

    Random and completely unrelated question: Do you have any advice on sewing pants with nonstretch denim/bottomweights? It seems like every damn pants pattern now calls for bottomweights with lycra content, but what if I want old-school fitted jeans using non-stretch fabric? Have you done so? You’re basically the pants-sewing guru, so I figured you’d be the best person to ask.

    • LLADYBIRD May 31, 2018 at 12:28 pm #

      Ooh I like the idea of making the twisty detail in a top! Might have to look more into that… I have some fun striped bamboo knit that isn’t enough for a dress, but probably a shirt πŸ™‚

      Yeah, pretty much everyone is doing the lycra bottoms these days! Honestly, they are much more comfortable – but I totally understand wanting to try non-stretch (for one, finding the correct amount of stretch in a fabric can be daunting enough as it is). There are definitely some patterns that don’t use stretch – the Morgan jeans, the Lander pants, the Thurlows – so you do have options. I would guess that if you wanted to use a lycra-intended pattern with a non-stretch fabric, you could probably manage by going up a size or two. Obviously the fit will be different – you can’t have super skinny jeans if there is no stretch (unless you want to embrace the 80s and add zippers to the ankles) – but I think it’s doable. Using a non-stretch fabric won’t, like, compromise the integrity of the garment. I’d start by comparing your measurements to the pattern pieces – not the finished measurements, since those account for stretch, but the pattern pieces themselves – to figure out a ballpark size. Then make a muslin (or a practice pair with big ol’ seam allowances at the side seams so you can let them out if need be) and see how that works. I have not personally tried this (I’m Team Lycra 100% atm) but it makes sense in my head πŸ™‚ Another option is just buying a vintage pattern that uses bottomweight fabric, which would definitely be old-school! πŸ™‚

      • DatPixieGirl May 31, 2018 at 12:33 pm #

        OMG yaaaasss, I can’t believe I didn’t think to just pull one of my vintage patterns. I inherited my aunt’s massive pattern stash and she had tons from the 70s and 80s. Comparing my measurements to the actual pattern pieces sounds like a logical route for the modern patterns, too. Thanks for the assist!

        • LLADYBIRD May 31, 2018 at 1:22 pm #

          Oh yeah, a vintage pattern would be the easiest way to do it πŸ™‚ If you end up using a modern stretch pattern, though, let me know how that goes – i am curious!

        • Heather Myers May 31, 2018 at 4:40 pm #

          I’m wincing a bit that 70s &80s are now vintage…Lol

          • LLADYBIRD June 1, 2018 at 9:49 am #

            GIRL they are now saying that early 2000s is vintage!!! o_O

  3. Lisanne May 31, 2018 at 3:15 pm #

    It took me about a second to decide that I need to make a black Joni dress as well. You look amazing!

    • LLADYBIRD June 1, 2018 at 9:49 am #

      Thank you!! It’s definitely a great little twist (ugh lol) on a classic basic!!

  4. Beck May 31, 2018 at 4:35 pm #

    Gorgeous! I loooove merino wool too but my one problem is that the merino jersey I’ve used before has a tendency to cling to the body. Does the bamboo content of this fabric help stop that or does it still long to cling somewhat? Your rave review has me thinking maybe it’s worth some international shipping fees to get some of this sent over to me in europe!

    • LLADYBIRD June 1, 2018 at 9:51 am #

      Oh yeah this merino is definitely still pretty clingy (you can see it clinging to my butt in the photo of the back! I did wear a slip with it when I wore it out and that helped – it didn’t stick to my tights)! I think the wool has something to do with it being grabby, as well as the fact that it’s a 4 way stretch jersey. If you don’t want a clingy fabric, this probably is not the fabric for you. But. It is pretty amazing if you can make peace with the cling!

      • Beck June 1, 2018 at 9:55 am #

        Ahhh, jersey problems!

  5. carlalissa May 31, 2018 at 9:08 pm #

    Love the dress a LBD with a “twist” LOL. Your hair color is dreamy!

  6. ellegeemakes June 1, 2018 at 9:48 am #

    Such a cute dress and love the twist detail – -Your hair is great too!

  7. mertxelasierra June 1, 2018 at 11:21 am #

    Very interesting post. I also got my copy of Stretch and I am going to give the Joni a go, of course! It looks great on you, BTW. I also love tight clothes at the top with swinging skirts, they are perfect, comfortable and chic. And that jersey is just lovely. Hot weather also took me by surprise, and I have two jacket projects queing up… I’ll have to hurry to get to my sundresses!!

  8. ooobop! June 5, 2018 at 3:48 pm #

    Just love the simplicity of black for this dress. I’ve not sewn anything from Stretch yet but I’ve defo earmarked Joni. It’s so cute on you!

  9. Amanda S. June 8, 2018 at 1:01 pm #

    Really cute! That twist detail really gives it some interest. Also, pretty sure I’ve made a coat during the summer… I definitely remember taking pictures in a wool coat during the summer for Vogue Patterns Magazine and yeah – it was hot and I got some really puzzled looks. LOL

  10. Jeanette June 20, 2018 at 4:40 pm #

    A really nice dress! I’m thinking of buying the Stretch book so thanks for this write up. Also, I really like your sandals! Would you mind saying where you got them from?

  11. LLADYBIRD June 20, 2018 at 4:58 pm #

    I think they are GH Bass, but I bought them years ago ago on clearance!

  12. Leni October 4, 2019 at 6:29 am #

    Really wish I’d read your post before starting to sew the Joni bodice last night! I sewed the neckline with an overlocker and the bulk was awful–couldn’t unpick so I’ve had to cut new bodice pieces but you’ve given me the courage of my conviction that regular machine sewing is the right choice for the neckline at least! Thanks

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