I can’t tell you how long this dress has been on my project list. I definitely had both the Tuuli pattern printed out and fabric purchased in Autumn 2017. I didn’t quite get around to it though, and here we are, back in cold weather, so I dug it out a few weeks ago and proceeded to get going on it! You might think – why would you wait for winter for a knit dress? – but you’ll have to believe me when I say this is a really warm winter dress, and I am quite a warm-blooded person anyway. (Or is it cold-blooded? I never know. I mean that I naturally stay pretty warm in cold weather).
The weather in Seattle has been historically dark so far in December, but I took the chance to snap a few pics outside a store today, while Christmas shopping. They’re still pretty dark, but I think you can just about see the detail of the dress. Dark, dark, dark. Eurgh.
I really liked the Named Tuuli pattern when it came out as part of the Fall/Winter Evolution Theory collection way back in 2016 (!), although I haven’t seen too many versions of it on the internet. I will admit that at least some of my interest was piqued by the fabric they used for the sample (see above link). I don’t always love Named sample fabrics, but this one was perfect! For me, at any rate. Then, when I spotted this faded blue athletic knit on Emma One Sock’s website, it said “TUULI” very clearly to me. When the fabric arrived, I was slightly concerned it might be a little heavy for all those pleats, – it’s quite dense and a little spongy – but thought I’d go ahead anyway – it is a winter dress after all.
And you know what? I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I glanced through the instructions back when I bought the pattern and had the idea somehow that they were a little complicated. Well, I don’t know what I was thinking, because this is a really simple dress to make. It has a nice low, but not too low, V-neck, which is finished off with a facing – and then the rest of the top is just constructed as per any knit sweater: sleeves sewn on the flat and the side seam sewn in a oner, before adding the skirt. The other view of Tuuli is a bodysuit and I’m quite tempted to give that a go too, I must say, as the top fits me pretty well. I made a 48 with no adjustments.
I didn’t do a very good job of topstitching the facing down. I was slightly careless with my placement and it’s not very symmetrical, but the stitches sink into the fabric so nicely nobody will notice I don’t think. The waist is fairly high and I suppose it could be a little loose/straight on some people. The instructions suggest adding elastic if you find it to be so, but for me it wasn’t necessary. This is a good pattern if you have a bit of a “pooch” – ahem. I was actually concerned the opposite might be true: all those pleats with a tummy? Uh oh. But somehow it is flattering. One of those weird laws of sewing I guess.
The other principal distinguishing feature of the Tuuli is the set of wide pleats that go all the way around the skirt. This is where I worried the fabric might be heavy, but it’s actually just fine – it’s all twwirrrlllllyy. The recovery helps it stay buoyant. I did make one stupid error when I was cutting and that was to cut the skirt pieces perpendicular to where I should have. I could have kicked myself. To get the pattern the right way, I had to cut each piece in half, and so I ended up with a front and back seam, which you could see a bit and it made the skirt hang a little awkwardly.
To get round that I decided to topstitch the top 5 inches of each pleat down. This actually also helped negate the tiny bit of bulk at the hips that arose as a result of the fabric being a touch thicker than some. I crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t look ridiculous, but actually it worked out very well and helped in both areas. There’s still a bit of a break in the pleats from the seams, but I can live with it and the busy pattern helps hide it.
I left the hem and sleeve lengths as suggested, as they are full-length on my arms, but I notice on the model they’re somewhat shorter – maybe a bracelet sleeve length? – so you may want to adjust them if you prefer that length. The only other change I would make would be to take a tiny bit out of the back bodice for my slight swayback shape, but otherwise it fit well as per the pattern.
All in all, this is a great winter dress that turned out very much as I had hoped and continues my run of successful Named patterns. I’ve had quite a few compliments on it already and it’s very easy to wear. I would definitely make this again and can recommend it as a quick sew with an elegant shape (even with my big clodhopper boots – it’s wet in Washington!)