The Christmas Jumper Dress

That’s Christmas jumper dress in the UK sense, by the way. Americans would call it a sweater dress. But I’m not American. So there.

Ottobre Cosy Winter Dress Christmas Jumper Dress

Umm, it’s been a while since I last posted here, hasn’t it? Over five months, in fact. I’m going to try to post weekly this year as I have a huge backlog of projects to share and I do enjoy blogging. I enjoy reading other people’s blogs too, so it’s only right to reciprocate by sharing my makes too 🙂

So, without further ado (and no apologies! I have three kids and life has been busy), here’s a recent super cute make for 20 month-old Lauren, along with the less successful version of the same pattern I made her last winter.

Ottobre Cosy Winter Dress Christmas Jumper Dress

I’ve got to say, I’m over the moon with how this year’s version turned out. And so is Lauren, even if she doesn’t look like it in the photo above. That girl knows how to do a grumpy face!

The pattern is from an old Ottobre Magazine in my stash (Winter 6/2011) and it’s called the Cosy Winter Dress. It’s a fully lined raglan sweater knit dress which is meant to be made with matching ribbing for the neckline and cuffs. Now, I don’t know what it’s like in Finland where they publish Ottobre, but here in the UK it’s a challenge to find a decent sweater knit, let alone one that comes with coordinating ribbing.

So as soon as I fell for the sweet picture of this one on the model baby, I knew I’d have to find a jumper (look, I’m English, I just can’t call them sweaters!) with enough ribbing included to cut the neck and cuffs from. Here’s the first version, made last February from a dusty pink man’s jumper I found in a local charity shop:

Ottobre Cosy Winter Dress Christmas Jumper Dress

Yes, Lauren does look super-adorable in it (and very fat of face!) but it really wasn’t big enough. Part of the problem was I measured her in the autumn (November, I think) and traced out the pattern thinking I would get it made for Christmas. Then life got in the way and I didn’t end up cutting it out till late January, and sewing it up in the first week of February. Babies grow fast!

Although she did fit into it and definitely wore it a handful of times, it was a struggle getting the cuffs over her fat little wrists. Part of the problem was the clear elastic the pattern has you sew into the wrist (I left this off the second time around with no problems), and part was that the ribbing wasn’t very stretchy. Also, it’s not really a dress, is it? I should have noticed that it looks like a jumper on the baby in the pattern catalogue, but I was distracted by the fact they call it a dress when really it’s nothing of the sort.

Ottobre Cosy Winter Dress Christmas Jumper Dress

Now, last winter Andy bought a Christmas jumper from Asos for a few quid, but it didn’t fit him properly and since he didn’t get around to returning it, I nabbed it for this year’s attempt at making a cute Christmas dress for Lauren.

I was almost successful in that I got most of the sewing done before Christmas, but I always underestimate just how much there is to do in December–it doesn’t help that Gabriel’s birthday is two days before Christmas! Anyway, I got it finished by New Year so that’s something. I’m sure Lauren will get plenty of use out of it as it’s not too Christmassy  and there’s plenty of room in it this time. I even lengthened it by a few inches to make sure it looks like a dress. Marvellous.

I can’t think of much to say about sewing this one up. Some of the instructions were a little confusing and I definitely deviated from them when I didn’t understand why they were telling me to do something a certain way. There are no explanatory diagrams in Ottobre instructions so you need to know what you’re doing as far as basic garment construction goes. Luckily my changes in method didn’t have any ill effect on the finished garment.

Ottobre Cosy Winter Dress Christmas Jumper Dress

I used the ribbing for the neck directly as is from the original jumper, which was a tight polo neck on Andy. The cuff ribbing was shorter than the pattern piece so I extended the length of the arms to make up for the ribbing being shorter. To be honest, I could have made them even longer for added cosiness, but they’re an acceptable length. I particularly like the way I got the big tree down the side of both sleeves.

Ottobre Cosy Winter Dress Christmas Jumper Dress

I’m not sure if it’s down to the design lines, the use of the patterned fabric, or a bit of both, but this has got to be one of the most professional looking garments I’ve ever made. Everywhere I take Lauren people comment on it, and look shocked when I tell them I made it. Most importantly of all, Lauren loves it and it makes a super-warm winter outfit for her. It’s nice to have something cute that doesn’t have to be covered up with too many bulky layers. This is warm enough to wear outside with just a gilet over the top on the average English winter day.

Anyway, after the success of this year’s dress I’m now on the lookout for another unwanted jumper I can turn into next year’s Cosy Winter Dress, as there are two more larger sizes in the pattern. I’d better raid Andy’s wardrobe. Shhh, Don’t tell him!

Ottobre Cosy Winter Dress Christmas Jumper Dress

The deets

Pattern: Cosy Winter Dress from Ottobre magazine, Winter 6/2011

Size: 80 (and 62 for baby version)

Fabric: Toddler version: Cheap men’s acrylic Boohoo Christmas jumper, lining cotton interlock jersey from stash.

Baby version: thrifted men’s acrylic jumper. Lining from an old viscose nightie.

Modifications: Toddler version: lengthened by a couple of inches and used existing cuffs and neckband using a single layer rather than folding over ribbing. Made arms 1″ longer as cuffs ended up 1″ shorter than pattern.

Are you a fan of the Christmas jumper/sweater phenomenon? Or do you think they’re best off left for the kids?

What do you reckon? I'd love to hear from you!

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