I had already made a knit Cora blouse, but wanted to make a knit dress. I had some most unattractively coloured knit in my stash which I deemed to be perfect. I made the Cora as drafted but extended the bodice into a gentle a-line to dress length.
This is the final dress after dyeing.
This the colour of the knit prior to dyeing. It’s wet here, but it’s clear that it’s not a very pretty colour. I made the dress and tried to fold it so that the dyeing would be positioned in a pleasing way. I did realise that the dress was a bit big for my dyeing grid, but I didn’t have any choice, so did my best.
I think I’ve explained before that I use an old fan cover as the grid for my ice dyeing but I found that it was hard to mound up the ice. Mark found this strip of heavy rubber in the garage and we fashioned a collar to help hold the ice in place.
The collar worked an absolute treat.
I sprinkled on the dye and waited for the magic to happen.
I was pretty pleased with the placement of the dye. I finished up with a massive flower-like shape on the front and back.
The only problem with the process is that there isn’t much control over where patterns emerge and I managed to get a map of Australia right where I didn’t want it, both front
At some point I might try and cover it up, but I do believe that the flower shape is rather beautiful and I’m afraid of ruining it, so I might leave it.
My next Cora was refashioned from an 1960s silk velvet ballgown which was never finished and had been donated to my stash by my friend Leonie. This is what it looked like. I can’t begin to tell you how fabulous this fabric is.
The problem with this silk velvet is that when unpicked it shows every stitch mark and seam line, and the maker had two goes at this dart.
I use a scrap of velvet on top of my fabric when pressing so that I don’t completely flatten the velvet, but it was tricky. The other problem was that I struggled to identify the direction of the nap, so I used the clues left by the maker to determine which way the nap was running – the darts pointed me in the right direction, as well as the zip and the shape of some of the pieces.
I had to do a fair bit of piecing together, but I managed to get a Cora out of it.
I didn’t gather the sleeves into a cuff for this one.
The collar shows some of the piecing I had to do. I didn’t use rouleau loops as the velvet is too thick, so I made a thread loop by doubling some thread over my finger and using a needle to create a series of buttonhole stitches. I then finished the collar off with two vintage buttons from my stash.
I really like this Cora and it can be dressed up and down very easily. It feels quite wonderful next to my skin.
My next Cora was made from a gorgeous piece of Japanese kimono wool, which was 4m long and only 30cm wide! It was woven from yarn dyed wool so it is clearly the work of an artisan.
I did a bit of research into this unusual fabric and found the following from http://japanese-kimono.net/kimono-fabric/
“Kimono made of wool fabric is mainly worn in winter.
In the Showa period (1926-1989) when Japanese people used to wear kimono in their daily life, wool kimono became widely popular and saw its peak; it then declined and now is deemed as something rare. Wool kimono can be worn as town wear or daily clothes, but cannot be worn for a more formal party.
It is regarded as an everyday wear and not often seen as valuable, but its unique texture, the rustic feeling and casualness have definitely earned a strong popularity.
It would look very Japanese chic to wear it casually like a sweater, and pair with a scarf!
It is strong and warm, it can be washed at home and stays wrinkle-free; these are just some of the reasons why it is cherished.”
I had the Cora pattern laid on the fabric for ages whilst I tried to work out how to fit it on. I had to have a centre seam front and back, but the fabric wasn’t wide enough to accommodate the sleeves. I took the problem to Sarah at Pattern Union and together we managed to hack the Cora into something a little bit different.
We shortened the bodice, and split the sleeves into two pieces and made them wrist length. The centre seams were highlighted with green topstitching.
The bottom of the sleeves were gathered in with topstitched tucks.
The collar was made from two strips of fabric sewn together. Instead of using buttons, the back opening is held together with two little bows which are a bit of a nod to the Japanese origins of the fabric. I always associate these little bows with the Japanese style.
This make was really close to being zero waste. I had the tiniest pieces left over, which will be incorporated into a hand sewn piece of work that I’m planning
I’ve been comparing the Cora to other boxy top patterns I have in my stash. It has become my new favourite because of the following:
- Layered pattern, meaning you don’t have to print out every size
- Cup sizes. No more full bust adjustments or going up a size and risking the top being too big.
- Bust darts
- Proper set in sleeves. I much prefer a shaped sleeve to dropped shoulders and triangular sleeves. They are much more comfortable and I appreciate the effort it takes to draft them. The sleeves in the Cora are a thing of beauty, they slip in easily, with no gathering or easing required. Any wrinkles seen on my makes are as a result of my poor pressing rather than drafting errors.
- Although it’s a boxy top, the Cora does have some shaping, which I think makes it sit better. The addition of darts at the back can eliminate sway back problems.
- The pattern is hackable in so many ways. I have plans for more, so there will be at least one more post on this pattern.
- Yes, the pattern is the brainchild of a friend, but I would certainly not make this many if I had a preferred pattern.
The Japanese wool top was my entry for the MAGAMsewalong on Instagram, which is hosted by my friends Hélène and Suzy and me.