FO: The Redwood Camber Dress by Merchant and Mills

Two sewing FO’s in two days?  Whatever is the world coming to?
Having got my sewing groove back on Wednesday with the Camber Top, I spent a restless night imagining my next project, the Camber Dress.  If I could have stitched it in my sleep, I would have done!

Pattern:  The Camber Dress by Merchant and Mills in size 8, with sleeves from Simplicity 6238 (from the 1960’s)
Fabric:  2 metres of Robert Kaufmann Shetland flannel in the colour “redwood herringbone” from The Eternal Maker
Other:  Just thread, from stash.

The Design

You may be surprised to hear that although the top and dress share a neckline, yoke and sleeves, the main parts (back and front) are cut from separate pattern pieces.  The dress is an altogether more shapely affair, which the pictures on the envelope do not fully capture.
The description reads:  “A simple dress with tapered A-line silhouette and short fitted sleeves for an easy-wear classic.”  All true.  But there is more to it than that.

Like the top, the dress has a bias-trimmed round neckline which exposes just enough flesh to be flattering and feminine, without scaring the horses.  Perfect for an aging neck.
The lined yoke construction encloses every possible raw edge of fabric and lies completely flat.  No gaping, back or front – it’s a miracle!
The sleeves fit into the armholes without any fuss or puckering.  When I made the top, I used the original short sleeve, but for this dress I took the 3/4 length sleeve from the 1960’s pattern Simplicity 6238, and blended it with the Camber sleeve at the top.  This was easily done, as they were almost identical in width.
The back of the dress is narrower than the back of the top, with more defined waist shaping.  The dress front has subtly different darts and an almost imperceptible curve at the side hip, which then tapers gently to the hem.
It is a really clever cut.  If your fabric has just a little bit of body:  a crisp linen, say, or a slightly felted wool, the gentle bell-shape of the skirt will become more apparent.

Having just made the top, I knew what I was doing with the yoke and it all went smoothly.  Evidence, if ever it was needed, of the importance of making a test garment.
“Easy to make”?  Yes, if you have made it before!
I used a lightweight cotton to line the yoke, because the flannel is pretty substantial.  This worked well.
I shortened the dress by 8 cm and then turned up a 3cm hem.  The original length was below-the-knee on me (but I am only 5 foot 2 so that’s no surprise).  I used a satin bias tape to bind the hem and hide away any raw edges.

Ok, I am going to gush now…
Cheese Louise, I love this dress!
I set out to make an everyday winter dress, probably for homewear around the farm.  But despite the Little House on the Prairie-style brushed cotton fabric I chose, I have ended up with a garment that is eminently suitable for work.  If I didn’t know it was cotton, I would suspect it was wool.  And if I didn’t know I had made it myself, I would guess it came from Toast or Cabbages and Roses and that it cost something with three digits before the decimal point.
It is simple, but memorable.  It is figure-skimming without being baggy, shapely rather than shapeless. 
Does FL like it?  Not so much.  It falls into the same category of clothing as the shoes I am wearing with it:  comfortable, practical, classic, and under no circumstances “sexy”.  Perfect.

If I sound like I am blowing my own trumpet, that is not my intention.  Because my contribution to this garment was just the making of it.
“But that’s the difficult part!”  I hear you cry?  Not at all.  I cut it out and I sewed it together.
But Carolyn N. K. Denham did all the hard work, for which I cannot thank her enough.

Will I make it again?
Just you try and stop me!
It would be amazing in cerise felted wool.
Or maybe a rich forest green velvet or needlecord?
Or how about this checked linen / cotton mix from Tinsmiths?
Or this watercolour stripe from Liberty?
In my desire for a simplified life, I can imagine this becoming my uniform dress.  Could I have a whole wardrobe of Camber dresses for every day of the week?  For every occasion?
Oh dear.
I think I have a problem!