The Madrid Dress: Seamwork’s Neenah

I’m currently dealing with a severe lack of sleep and two ill boys to look after (okay, one of them is in his 50s, but still a boy when he’s ill), so what better time than to cheer myself up by blogging my favourite recent make? And while wearing it too! Yep, this passes the secret pyjamas test for sure.

Oh, and why the Madrid dress when I’ve clearly been modelling it in my back garden? Read on to find out!

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In a Nutshell:

A quick and easy make that’s become a firm wardrobe favourite. Style and comfort, what more could you ask for?!

Pattern:

Neenah by Seamwork Patterns, which is a midi length, form-fitting, long-sleeved turtleneck dress. I used the bonus cowl neck rather than the turtleneck as I wasn’t sure my fabric would have enough stretch to make it over my head otherwise. Plus cowl necks are my new favourite thing 🙂

I’ll admit I wasn’t particularly taken by this dress when I first saw the promotional pictures. I think it might just be the solid colour, the shorter length and the way it was styled, though, because when I saw blogger Dani’s version I knew I had to make my own!

I cut a straight size Medium as my measurements were closer to that than Small, although with hindsight I probably should have gone for the Small.

Fabric:

This is a ribbed poly-blend fabric I bought as a “souvenir” on our recent city break in Madrid. It’s the first time I’ve gone on holiday with the intention of bringing back fabric, and I think it’s going to have to become a tradition. The shop I visited, Ribes y Casals, was the busiest and best-stocked fabric store I’ve ever been into and it was tough coming out with just two lengths of fabric. But Andy was patiently waiting for me so I couldn’t spend too long, could I? Especially as I’d vetoed his idea of going to the Real Madrid stadium 😛

I absolutely love the colours (greens and purple with a splash of turquoise and black–perfect!) and painterly stripes on this fabric, and it doesn’t feel as cold as poly knits often feel (perhaps because of the ribbing?) However, it is starting to pill and I’m not sure the amount of stretch and poor recovery is ideal for this particular pattern. Never mind, though. It’s still gorgeous 🙂

Changes I made:

  • I wasn’t sure I liked the very narrow sleeve cuffs so I cut ones double the length, and then compensated by hacking the extra off the end of the sleeve once I’d checked the length. I wanted a true long sleeve that reaches the base of the hand to keep your wrists warm, and this really is it.

Construction:

This really is one of the easiest dresses I’ve ever made. I think it was the cowl neck that did it–much easier than doing a standard knit binding. I took it with me to a sewing afternoon at Sewn Bristol, expecting I might just be able to finish it in time, and ended up having loads of spare time. Should have brought another cut project with me! Still, I got to clean my overlocker and chat to the other sewists there, so it’s all good. But next time I’ll be better prepared…

Time taken: approx 1 hour. Maybe an extra 10 minutes for zigzag hemming when I got home.

Overall verdict:

Okay, so I know there are a few fit issues visible in the pictures, but they don’t detract from the fact I love this dress and I feel just the right amount of glam in it. The figure skimming rather than bodycon fit mean it’s not so over-the-top sexy that I can’t wear it relaxing around the house or on the school run, but it still feels fabulous. I think it must be a combination of the print, long narrow silhouette and that cowl neck. I need to really analyse what’s working as I want more of my makes to give me this deep level of satisfaction. Good thing I’ve recently started working through The Curated Closet as that’s exactly the kind of exercise Anuschka recommends 🙂

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As to the fit issues… I think I should have cut a size small. My measurements were between sizes but closer to the medium, but then again, I do have very narrow shoulders. You can see that the main problem is around the upper arms and armscye where there’s simply too much fabric. This could be partly down to the poor recovery of my beautiful fabric, but I remember thinking the upper arm looked wider than I expected, so I think it’s partly in the drafting and might not be a problem for the C cup Seamwork draft for (let’s face it, I’m more of a B cup since stopping breastfeeding.) There’s a slight swayback issue too, but that always happens with my makes. In future I should probably figure out my standard adjustment and make it before cutting into the fabric.

But look at the cowl neck again–isn’t it just fabulous?!

I’m not sure why it gives me so much pleasure but it does, and I can see I’ll be adding this neckline (and perhaps other more interesting necklines) to future makes.

Changes for next time:

I’ll definitely be going down a size at the shoulders/bust and seeing if I can make a few flat pattern adjustments to narrow the top of the sleeve and the armscye. Also, a swayback adjustment. I think these are all fairly minor and easy changes, though.

I’m thinking a top or tunic length version would be great too. Perhaps loosening the bottom of the sleeves (or using a more stretchy fabric) so I can push them up if I want.

Costing:

Pattern: £2.40 Seamwork credit ($3.00 originally)

Pattern printing: £6.02 for equivalent of 2 A0 sheets

Fabric: £12.40 for 2m. Okay, it was in Euros but I’ve converted it already.

Total cost: £20.82

Okay, so it’s not my cheapest make but I love it and I’ll definitely be making it again. That’s a bargain for £20, in my book!

One last silly pose before we go:

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Anyone else made, or thinking of making, Neenah? And what are your thoughts on cowl necklines? I used to think they were hopelessly middle aged, but now I don’t care. Fuck it, I’m 40 now. I can wear what I want 😛

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