When Zadig met Apollon: Designin’ December and the MAGAM sewalong

When Sarah Liz announced that the theme for December’s MAGAM (Make a Garment a Month) sewalong was going to be a joint challenge with Linda’s Designin’ December, I felt torn. I really wanted to take part for so many reasons: the idea is fantastic, both hosts are lovely, and I love how these challenges push me to think creatively about gaps in my wardrobe, BUT… it’s December. You know, the month I spend running around in manner of over-achieving headless chicken, baking, buying gifts, writing cards, sewing nativity costumes, wrapping gifts… not to mention preparing for my son’s birthday, which is 2 days before Christmas and always needs extra thought to make sure his celebration isn’t eclipsed by Christmas. Not much time for selfish sewing.

Oh but come on!!! Designin’ December?! You know where this is going, don’t you? I made something. A great thing. This thing:

So, the idea of Designin’ December is that you find a look from the catwalks and recreate it. If there’s one thing I learnt from my Sewing the Scene coat (apart from the importance of not losing pattern pieces at a rate of knots) it was that I need the make to be something I’ll actually wear (I STILL haven’t worn my Deneuve coat, despite the weather being perfect for it!) so I wasn’t sure I would find something. For a brief moment I flirted with the idea of combining this challenge with my red velvet dress for the Little Red Dress Project, since velvet has been big this season and I was sure to find something on the catwalks that I’d like, but it kind of felt like a cop out to basically lump three challenges together (whether or not I finish my red dress in time for the pre-Christmas reveal is anyone’s guess, by the way). So I looked at too many images of the Autumn/Winter collections, and got no real ideas. Focus, Helen. What do you like to wear?

I went back to the winter collection of one of my favourite fashion houses, Zadig & Voltaire, and noticed they released a lot of sweater dresses this year. I was particularly drawn to the shape of this one:

Photo credit: www.vogue.com

And when I realised it looked very much like the dress version of my trusty Apollon sweatshirt… well that was that.

Yellow isn’t my thing, nor are geometric lines, and nor is ostentatious wearing of a brand name (though I did wonder what would happen if I followed Zadig & Voltaire’s lead and emblazoned the first word of our logo across the front – can you imagine the awkward situations if I’d strutted around with “VALENTINE” written across my chest?!), but the whole point of this challenge is that you adapt it to suit your style. And when I found this glorious grey marl sweater knit on the Califabrics website, practically begging me to be made into a sweater dress, I decided to just go for it.

Let me take a moment to wax lyrical about this fabric. It’s cotton, which is a BIG WIN in my book – I hate synthetic fabrics, I just end up sweating and feeling unpleasant (plus I found out recently that polyester contributes to the pollution in our oceans, as the fibres can get down drains and into the open waters! Eek!) and when it arrived I actually did a little “yippee” noise! It’s so soft and snuggly, and I confess to having instantly gone back on their website to order it in the other colourway

The construction held no surprises. It’s the first time I’ve made Apollon in anything other than sweatshirt fabric, but it came together really well. At first I thought I might widen the neckline a little to be more like the Zadig & Voltaire one, but I love the neckline as it is and so I reined myself in. Again, learn from the Deneuve coat! I also debated about sizing up, to get the “oversized” look of the Z&V version, so I tried on one of my older Apollon sweatshirt dresses and actually it’s pretty oversized already. Add that to the fact that the sweater knit is less chunky than sweatshirting, and the oversizing pretty much did itself. So, note to self: if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. I also decided against lengthening the arms à la Zadig & Voltaire, as I’d have gone crazy pushing those sleeves up every time I wanted to wash my hands or pick something up or just, you know, do anything. So basically, all this to say I sewed up my Apollon without any modifications, and as a result…

Even bare legs in winter can’t stop me smiling at this one

I have a garment I will WEAR TO DEATH.

Seriously, I love it.

The only thing I would normally do but didn’t is to topstitch down the seam allowances on the neckband, cuffs and waistband. I mentioned here that I like to do this so that they don’t ping back up after washing, but with the delicate sweater knit I thought it would be a shame to add in any visible stitching (since all the raw edges are finished with a band, there is otherwise no stitching visible on the right side of the garment).

You can see that the inside seam isn’t stitched down, but it looks so pretty from the outside!

If I have to press my seam allowances after washing, it will be worth it (I’m not sure if it’s clear how significant a statement that is; I rarely press clothes apart from while I’m making them!!)

One thing I didn’t mention in my last post about Apollon is that the waistband is one long piece with a centre back seam, rather than two pieces joined together at the sides.

Thumbs up for the waistband

I quite like this as a construction method: no effort needed to match up the side seams! Though speaking of matching up the side seams, can we just take a moment to admire the cuffs?!

Pause for cuff love

I’ve styled the dress with chunky boots here to emulate as far as possible the styling of the Z&V image, but this is waaay too short for me to wear with bare legs! Not to mention how cold I’d get. But just for fun, I did a tiny homage and put on a beanie hat like the catwalk pics anyway. I even did a little “catwalk strut”, but clearly I need to work on my “effortlessly cool” face.

Yep, if I have to wear a hat, it’s going to be pink!

It’s safe to say I felt a little daft wearing a hat and boots and bare legs outdoors in December, but in real life I’m going to be wearing this with leggings, as styled here:

I absolutely LOVE this sweater dress. It may not be the most haute couture garment from the catwalks this season, but it’s one that suits my style, my wardrobe, and my life. Plus I’d never really thought of sewing a sweatshirt patterns with a sweater knit fabric, so once again the MAGAM sewalong has made me think outside my usual box.

Thanks to both Sarah Liz and Linda for this fun challenge! It was worth getting cold legs for 😉

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14 thoughts on “When Zadig met Apollon: Designin’ December and the MAGAM sewalong

  1. Diane G

    Firstly, Happy Birthday to your son! And secondly…thank god you won’t be going bare legged in December… you had me so worried that I wanted to put my on annoyed shrieky parent-to- teenager voice on and say ” you can’t go out like that you’ll catch your death!” lol!
    Seriously though. You nailed the look, Helen, bravo!

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Thanks Di! It’ll be the first birthday he’s really aware of anything happening, so we’re looking forward to it! And I shall heed the shrieky voice, I promise I’ll never ACTUALLY leave the house like that! It was a VERY quick photo shoot! It went kind of like this: “take a few photos like this. Wait, I’m just going to put a hat on. Take a couple more. OK, now leggings. We’re done”. I do love this sweater though, and I predict it will be worn until it gives up the ghost! Hope you had a fab date night in your red dress by the way!

  2. Kelly

    OMG! I want one! 😍 You look stunning Helen- this dress really suits you and I love the confident photo struts! Very well done 👍😄

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Thanks Kelly! It’s definitely one of my favourite garments, and I suspect there may be another someday! I’m glad you like it and yes, let’s be transatlantic handmade twinsies 😂💕

  3. Hélène

    J’adore ta démarche vers quelque chose que tu aimes porter. C’est bien beau l’inspiration, mais à quoi bon coudre des vêtements qui restent au fond du placard? Ça ne risque pas d’arriver avec cette robe super cool. Beau travail! Et bon anniversaire à ton fiston!

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Merci Hélène! Je suis très contente de savoir que tu l’apprécies. Et tu as bien raison, on a beau réaliser des vêtements compliqués ou formels, s’ils ne correspondent pas à notre vie au quotidien c’est pas la peine. Trop triste les créations qui prennent la poussière! Et merci pour les vœux d’anniversaire pour mon fils!

  4. Linda

    Nicely done! Knits are always a bit fussy, I find, but you got this one perfect! Thanks for joining in on the fun and I’m happy you got something wearable out of it! (one year I made a top that I subsequently donated to a charity shop – it just wasn’t ME!) Stick around for the voting on my blog and on my Instagram first thing in January!

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Hi Linda, and thank you! I’m really happy you like the sweater dress. It was a great idea to combine the MAGAM sewalong with Designin’ December, and it’s been such a fun challenge. Plus it’s resulted in one of my favourite ever makes, so I’m very happy! Thanks for hosting and for the inspiration 😊👏

  5. Sarah Liz

    Yes, I was worried too, about the bare legs! Although it is fun for the catwalk look – which I think you did rather well! I love this piece, mostly I love the fact that you are going to wear this garment…as sewers that share on IG we can get carried away with clothes that look interesting visually, and not always those that we would wear!! It’s a gorgeous little dress – and I would be wary pressing the seams on a fine knit – sometimes you get an obvious mark. Ditto stitching them down. Test first…and don’t ask me how I know! And I am so glad you got something made. You are going to be so busy over the next few days – and you are right to make sure your 2 year old gets his special day too. That is very important and something that will help make him feel good for life.

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Thanks Sarah Liz, I’m happy you like it. I can assure you I would never leave the house in a dress this short and bare legs – those days are long gone! I can see my 20-year-old self rolling her eyes at me, as no doubt she would have considered this perfectly appropriate! I always intended to wear it with leggings as in the picture at the end, and am really happy with how it looks. I also have enough of the fabric left to make something else, as well as the other colourway I ordered, and so I have some nice fabric to start off my 2018 projects. I’m glad to have you confirm the care needed with topstitching/ pressing a knit like this – I love the look of it like this and am sorry to hear you may know from experience how it can go wrong! Yes, our son was due on December 13th but he kept us waiting 10 days, but we’re just glad it wasn’t right at Christmas… It’s the first year he understands that his birthday is coming so we are really looking forward to it. I’m heading over to your blog now to read about your new dress!

  6. Sue

    I do love a sweater dress and I’ve been seeing a few this summer (your winter) so I’m about to start collecting knits to make them. Yours is great and well done for meeting the brief with such style!

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Thank you Sue, it’s such an easy style to wear isn’t it? I love this shape for a casual look but am thinking of using my next lot of sweater knit to make a dressier sweater dress. I’ll look forward to seeing how you style yours when your winter approaches!

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