Long term readers of the blog may remember how I used the One Week One Pattern 2018 challenge to make as much use of the Batwing dress/top pattern as possible . When the sign-up post for OWOP 2019 came around, I scraped into the official challenge at the last minute, opting for the Shannon Collection dress/top.
This choice seems excellent on the face of it – I’ve got plenty of Shannons. It’s one of my favourite Simple Sew patterns. If the challenge had been taking place in July, I’d have been well sorted, because most of my Shannons are summer garments! Unfortunately it was happening in the last week of November, so I needed to make my Shannons work for the winter! I assessed all my existing ones to see which of them I might be able to use in the colder weather, but even allowing for a couple of repeats, I knew that to get through the week, I was going to need to make some more and they would need to be winter-wearable.
Apologies in advance for the photography, which was mostly the Instagram selfies that I took to photodocument my OWOP week.
I went with my very first ever Shannon, a basic tee in a denim-blue-grey jersey. I wore it with a black straight skirt and my Banksy “Fallen Angel” hoodie.
Shoulda done some sewing to get ahead for the rest of the week. Failed to do any sewing. But that was ok, I still had a couple of day’s worth of Shannons that I could use, so no pressure…
Hacks used: None, this was pretty much straight out of the packet sewing. The only change I made was to the order of construction, adding the neckband and sleevebands in the flat, just to make life a bit easier. If you want to see how I did it, this post about my royal blue Shannon dress explains it.
We had a big family get-together for my sister’s and nieces’ birthdays, so I decided I could go dressy, and wore my (Not Just For) Christmas Shannon dress with the beautiful big roses print. In the post, I explain how I added sleeves, to create a drop shoulder effect. This was quite strategic on my part, because I figured that once I knew the sleeve option worked, it would be the gateway to making the Shannon a winter garment as much as a summer one.
Still no sewing happened. It was still ok, though…
Sorry this isn’t an actual Day 2 photo – my instagram pic had all my family in it!
Hacks used: I added sleeves. I scooped the neckline a bit deeper. I didn’t include the neckband so as to keep the lines really clean and spare.
I wore a plain Shannon top in purple, with a matching straight skirt. I call it my Gothing up set. It was a bit chilly, to be honest, because the jersey is quite thin, and Monday was cold, but with a big thick cardigan and tights it was all fine.
Still no sewing, which was now something of a problem. I only had these three pieces, and they weren’t going to get me through the week without friends and colleagues noticing…
Hacks used: I skipped the neck and arm bands, to make the top a bit less t-shirt-y. (There’s a better picture of it here.)
I had to resort to a repeat of the denim-blue-grey. It was an awful work day. (Not everyone-being-made-redundant awful, which would really be terrible, just grim-unrelenting-can’t-wait-till-the-end-of-term awful.) I think that’s why I’m pulling that face. Anyway, I wore it with my aubergine coloured skirt, and a black cardigan.
Hooray, I had the morning off work, so I sewed!!! (“And not before time” I hear you cry!). I had a cute little cactus print jersey that I’d bought in France over a year ago, so I pulled that out of stash and came up with this top. I wore it with a straight skirt, as per usual. And what’s more, I sewed in the evening too, so that I had a new dress to wear on Thursday.
Hacks used: I re-used my sleeve pattern from the Christmas Shannon dress, but made them shorter and a little bit more tapered, because this jersey was a lot thinner than the rose print ponte. I also lengthened the top by about 10cm.
I have to say, this is currently my new favourite dress! The fabric is a jersey I got from Sewisfaction (so it was kind of fitting that I was using it for an OWOP make!) in some synthetic fibre, I’ve no idea what it is, but it sewed up beautifully. I cut out another Shannon top, and a dress, to be sure of having something to wear on the Friday. I sewed the dress up, but as it’s velvet, I decided it was too dressy to wear to work on a Friday. Shoulda sewn the top instead!
Hacks used: I had to cut my dress according to my cloth, which was a bit narrow, so it meant my sleeve tops/shoulder drops were a bit shorter than on previous makes, and I had to check my sleeve pattern piece would still work with it. It also meant that the dress was a bit straighter than I’ve done in the past. I lengthened the dress, to use as much of the fabric length I had, after allowing for the 30cm or so I needed for the sleeves. I narrowed the neckline by about 1 cm each side, which helps to make it sit better on my shoulders.
I had to make the top to wear to work. Fortunately I didn’t have to be at work till 10.00, so I just about managed it! I was sticking to my classic t-shirt style top + straight skirt + cardigan formula. This is an absolutely standard white cotton jersey, no elastane/spandex/lycra content, so I was treating this as a basic tee. Since I’m never that keen on “basic” anything, I used an old sleeveless t-shirt, that I haven’t worn in at least 2 years, to provide some contrast colour in the same sort of fabric. I’m also thinking about using the rest of the purple fabric to add some appliqué, maybe to the back. I also rediscovered some purple felt flower cut-outs in my stash, which are almost exactly the same shade of purple, and I’m wondering if I can use them somehow for some kind of embellishment. Keep an eye on my instagram to see how I update it!
Hacks used: I re-used the sleeve pattern, using the same alterations as for the Wednesday Cactus top. I narrowed the neckline a little, as I liked how that had worked with the navy dress. I lengthened the top by about 6cm. I added contrast bands to the bottom of the sleeves, as well as to the neckline.
I’m calling my 2019 OWOP challenge a success. It made me use my existing wardrobe pieces for layering, and it encouraged me to sew some seasonally appropriate garments that I know I will be wearing through the winter, and that could also work well into Spring.
It proved to me once again that the Shannon dress/top pattern is excellent. Even if you don’t hack it like I do, the choice of fabric can make it look different every time – a firm ponte will create more structure, a more drapey jersey will make a more fluid garment. But even simple changes, like lengthening the dress/top, or skipping the neck and sleeve bands, and using other hemming options instead can really add variety. You could consider shortening the dress to tunic length, you could add trims to the neckline, sleeves and hem, you could make the dress or top more A-line, or straighter, you could add patch pockets, or a peplum frill. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you could try colour-blocking, or giving the top/dress a front opening to turn it into a cardigan/coatigan, or adding a funnel collar, or cowl collar to the neckline. Once you know a pattern well, you can allow yourself to be a bit playful with it.
Béa blogs at Béa’s Sewing Adventures.