Montana #3 with frill and full lining

Montana by Style Arc

I really enjoy this dress from Style Arc patterns. Recently I have been discovering the beautiful prints available on Viscose (rayon) substrate and so for this iteration I have used a 100% viscose fabric ‘Summer Floral’ bought from an ebay seller, ‘ohsewcrafty’.

100% viscose ‘Summer Floral’

I purchased 3 metres for the grand total of £14.24 – a very competitive price! Once it arrived the fabric was laundered and on close inspection I decided that it was possibly a little more transparent than I would like and therefore would require a full lining.

I watched a youtube video by Suzanne of Sew Custom where she mentioned that she had lined a viscose dress with viscose voile purchased from the Fabric Room. This fabric was a mere £2 per metre (before vat & postage) available in 3metre lengths and so I ordered a total of 6 metres as I knew it would come in very handy for lining bodices etc., of my future viscose makes.

The floral print viscose was very wide and there was ample to enable me to cut the Montana with the addition of a deep frill on the skirt.

The viscose voile was cut at the same time but I omitted the hem frill and cut to the full length. I heard from someone, somewhere, that it is a good idea to use spray starch if the fabric is misbehaving and I have found this ‘trick’ to be a godsend in subduing the viscose’s tendency to shift and slide about!

First step was to prepare the skirt panels and frill. I used a 3-thread overlock stitch for the first pass in making French seams to join the pieces together followed by a 1cm seam on the sewing machine to put right sides together. In my enthusiasm, I forgot to include the pocket bags in the main skirt side seams so on this very rare occasion there will be no pockets on this dress :-(.

I stitched the darts in the bodice and lining before joining at the shoulder seams. With right sides together I stitched the necklines together using a 5/8ths seam allowance as I wanted the neckline to be a shade wider and deeper than the pattern (usually a ¼ inch seam allowance for this seam) dictates.

I under stitched all the seam allowances before trimming, turning right side out and giving a good press. I am very pleased with the neckline. Next was to Burrito the cap sleeve hems. I love, love, this method. It is quick and simple providing a very good finish.

Now that I had the neckline and sleeves sewn, I stitched the side seams of both the outer and lining in one pass. I overlocked these seams as they would be wrong sides together.

Initially I thought that I would stitch the waistline of the two bodices together before attaching the skirt panels for both outer and lining. After some consideration I decided to attach the individual skirts to each corresponding bodice. All seams would be inside but each bodice would bear the weight of its own skirt separately.

I made the gathering using two rows of long machine stitches before attaching with French seams. Again the first pass was made with the 3-thread overlocker before a final pass using the machine at a 1 cm straight stitch. Before attaching the lining skirt to its bodice, I turned up a double fold 2 inch hem and top stitched in place with a double row of stitching.

Montana #3 Floral Print Viscose – fully lined in Viscose Voile

A final press and here was the finished Montana #3. I love this dress in this Viscose fabric. It is so comfortable, light and breezy even with the full lining. With the added fullness of a deep frill on the hem it is ideal for ‘swishing’ and ‘twirling’!

Completed project #41 27th June 2020

Simplicity 8910 #2

I liked the first version of this dress so much that I made another version, this time using this fabulous Orchids print on duck egg blue viscose. The fabric is called ‘Hockley F’ and was purchased from ebay seller fabricmarket. I bought 3 metres for a total of £23.97.

Hockley F viscose from ebay seller Fabricmarket

The fabric was laundered and as soon as I had finished 8910 #1, #2 was prepared. There were some minor alterations made to the front bodice pattern as I was unhappy with the way that the small under bust darts were very ‘pointy’. This is not a problem that I had ever encountered before. I reduced the under bust dart and transferred the fullness to a long side bust dart and this seems to have solved the problem.

Lowered neckline x 1 inch

The neckline was lowered by 1 inch (very daring!) and once again I lined the bodice to avoid having to make a bias binding for the edge. This method also helps to stabilise the neckline which could otherwise stretch out a great deal.

The sleeves were lengthened by an inch and set in using French Seams. The skirt panels were also French seamed. The sleeve hems were narrow double folded and machined in place but the 3 inch skirt hem was hand sewn.

It was more by luck than judgement that I have managed to line up the large orchid motif on the bodice front with the centre line of the skirt. A lucky accident!

Simplicity 8910 version 2

Once again I am delighted with the end result. The dress is very comfortable, stylish and does a great job in disguising my ‘lockdown tummy’.

I will make this pattern again but for now I am returning to ‘Montana’ by Style Arc to make version 3 of that pattern.

Project #39 Completed 23rd June 2020

A new style – Simplicity 8910

I am back on my search for alternatives to my TNT shirt dresses. This one is Simplicity 8910 which I have seen on instagram and at the Pattern Review website. I like the idea of a raised ’empire’ line bodice and the pleats of this pattern which will, hopefully, camouflage my apple-shaped tummy.

I knew that I would need to make a toile of the bodice so out came my stash of lightweight calico. I copied off the bodice front and back, made a forward shoulder adjustment, a full bust adjustment, reduced the bust dart width and took the difference out at the side seam, increased the front bodice length by 1 inch and quickly made toile #1.

It took 4 toiles to perfect the bodice and then a couple more days to decide which fabric to use! By this time I was beginning to go off the whole idea of the dress. However, I finally cut out the dress from some pretty cotton by Lady McElroy bought from a seller on eBay.

Vintage Rose Cotton by Lady McElroy

Although the fabric was listed as cotton poplin, it is very fine and lightweight. I would say that it is nearer to a cotton lawn. I bought 4 metres at a cost of £23.86 which is very competitive pricing for this make of fabric. Cutting out View B with the short sleeves took around 3 metres meaning that I have sufficient left over to make a sleeveless blouse.

I used my final toile as a bodice lining as I disliked the idea of bias binding for the neckline. The darling little sleeves are sewn with French seams as are the pockets and side seams of the skirt panels. I increased the width of the skirt panels by 4 inches and this gave me sufficient to add extra pleating to the back skirt and a plain panel centre front. The bodice lining is hand stitched to the raised waistline seam allowances. The hem on the sleeves is a narrow machined one but the hem on the skirt is hand sewn.

Simplicity 8910 in Lady McElroy Vintage Roses printed cotton

With the raised ’empire line’ bodice and long length of the finished dress there is a look of ‘Jane Austen’ about it.

Jane Austen style

I find the dress flattering and it is so very comfortable to wear that I plan to make another. Having used a ‘ditsy’ print cotton this time, next time I plan on a larger floral print using a recent purchase of some viscose fabric.

project #39 completed 17th June 2020

Friends in the Garden Sun Dress

I previously made a short sleeved shirt dress in this pretty Lewis & Irene printed cotton.

Black background ‘Our friends in the Garden’
by Lewis & Irene

I liked the print so much that when there was a sale at New Threads Quilt Shop I purchased some more in a different colourway.


Lewis And Irene – Our Friends In the Garden – Mini Beast Garden in Summer Grass

After laundering I had just 2.25 metres of 108 cms wide fabric. I thought that this would be sufficient to make a sun dress. Having toiled a couple of bodices that had panel seams that would break up the print, I decided to adapt my TNT bodice block that has bust and body darts for the shaping. I used the bodice from my applique pinafore dress as the base and worked on that until I had an acceptable pattern.

Concept line drawing

Having checked my button stash I found that I had some co-ordinating spot buttons to make the dress ‘button-thru’ the bodice and skirt. These buttons were bought in bulk from ebay and have proved a godsend when looking to match up with my dressmaking.

100 buttons for £4.50 – a bargain!

The shoulder width was just wide enough to cover my bra straps and to make life easier I decided to line the entire bodice rather than made ‘fiddly’ facings and bias bound armholes. I used the bodice lining to double check the fit and it seemed fine. So on with the fashion fabric.

I interfaced the neckline front and back plus the bodice fronts and also stitched my ‘Carousel’ label to the back bodice lining. When I came to stitch the bodice to the lining I found that more ‘finessing’ was required for the front armscye. I got that sorted and have updated the pattern together with a note that in future I will always needs to make a forward shoulder adjustment – a new alteration for me after 50+ years of dressmaking!

I had cut out pocket bags to make side seam pockets but found I also had sufficient to make patch pockets – oh decisions, decisions! Eventually I decided that it would best not to interrupt the print design with the patch pockets, so concealed in-seam pockets have been made. I used my TNT pocket bag pattern and the top of the bag is stitched into the waistline seam to prevent it from flapping about.

I was unsure whether to gather or pleat the skirt into the waistband and after a couple of ‘auditions’ decided on gathers. After attaching the skirt to the bodice, I then slip stitched the bodice lining over the (trimmed) waist seam, marked out buttonholes and pinned up the hem. There are 12 buttons and buttonholes, the finished skirt length is just 27 inches with a narrow machine-stitched hem.

Completed Sun Dress

I am pleased with the way that the dress has turned out, especially the fit of the bodice. However, I am not in love with the gathered skirt, especially at this shorter length as it adds unnecessary bulk and makes me look even more dumpy than I am!

I think I will make another sun dress using this bodice but will add a circular skirt – probably the skirt from the Sew Over It ‘Penny’ dress. Meantime, the weather is changeable and we have had rain for several days – so a different style of dress with more coverage is being ‘toiled’.

Project #38 completed 10th June 2020

Lemons Ten-a-Penny!

See what I did there? I made a Penny dress by Sew Over It using a Lemons printed fabric!

Penny Dress by Sew Over It

After a couple of abortive attempts making toiles of new bodices I decided to take a break and make up a TNT pattern using this pretty lemons-printed cotton.

Rose & Hubble Spring Lemons on Dark Navy background

I bought 3 metres of fabric from an eBay seller for a total cost of £17.22 back in April this year. It was an impulse buy – probably due to internet cruising whilst in lockdown! The fabric is lovely quality and on arrival was immediately washed and dried in the sunshine.

I have made the Penny dress several times before and have amended the pattern to my specific requirements: I lengthened the bodice before adding an additional inch to the front bodice tapered off to 0 inches at the side seam. I made a sway back adjustment to the back bodice. I cut two sets of the yoke pattern so that the seams are enclosed. I omit the back neck facing and simply turn in the loose edge of the collar and top stitch in place. I use a self binding for the armholes. The skirt is cut in 4 panels as the fabric does not have sufficient width to cut in one piece on the fold. I add side seam pockets and all seams are made with French seams – including the pockets.

I was pleased that this time I was able to make vertical buttonholes in the button band and included some pretty Spotted Lemon buttons that match really well with the fabric’s print.

Having previously made all these minor adjustments means that I can now whip up a dress very quickly and hey presto! A new dress and renewed enthusiasm to try new patterns and styles.

Penny Lemons

Project #36 completed 31st May 2020

Raglan Sleeve Cropped Cardigan

A change from sewing – this stitching is knitting! I like to wear a cropped cardigan with my sleeveless dresses as this makes them multi-seasonal. Usually I buy competitively priced jersey shrugs from eBay but on this occasion I decided to knit my own. I used King Cole pattern #4125 purchased from an eBay seller and Double Knitting acrylic yarn bought from ‘The Range’.

King Cole Pattern #4125

I chose a Dark Teal-coloured yarn and decided to knit the plain stocking stitch version rather than the textured as I wanted a very simple, straightforward project. I know that my knitted projects usually take a very long time to complete.

King Cole #4125 knitted in Teal DK yarn

On this occasion, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown I have spent several hours a day knitting and thus the project has been completed in record time! Although I will never wear the cardigan buttoned up, I did make buttonholes and attached buttons which are pretty floral printed ones from my button stash.

I am very pleased with the end result. I have some 400 grms of yarn remaining so will combine with another colour to make up the 500grms required to make another #4125 in the future.

project #35 completed 28th May 2020

Hooray for Hannah #2

I loved the first Hannah so much that I made another!

By Hand London ‘Hannah’ dress

I used this beautiful cotton lawn by Lady McElroy that was on sale on eBay – a bargain 4 metres for a total cost of £20.06 including the post and packing. Thanks to Rachel of ‘Stitched up!’ for letting me know about the offer.

Anais, anais cotton lawn by Lady McElroy

This time I made a couple of changes: Having worn the Blue viscose version for a day I discovered that I need to make a further adjustment to the neckline to prevent some gaping. This is probably due to stretching out the fabric but I don’t think it would hurt to make this change. Instructions for how to achieve the adjustment were on the By Hand London blog.

As the cotton lawn is so fine but easy to cut and sew, I wanted to try a narrow double frill at the neckline. I measured from just below the centre point on the left bodice front, around the neckline and back down to the waistline on the right front. Using this measurement of 65 inches, I cut a frill piece 1 ½ times the length x 3 ½ inches deep. This would provide a completed frill of just over 1 inch after folding and seam allowances.

The other thing that I wanted to try was a different sleeve. I drafted a new sleeve pattern by pinning and pivoting out from the shoulder point so that the sleeve head would be the same smooth line but with a gathered hem into a narrow band.

Sleeve hack #1

Finally, I would use my TNT pocket bag pattern so that the pocket will be attached to the waistline seam to prevent it flapping about!

As this fabric is so fine on a White background, I again decided to line the bodice. As I was making changes to the construction of the dress, to ensure that I did not make any mistakes (i.e. forget to make French seams in the skirt and pockets) I wrote myself an order of construction.

By double checking the order of construction I was able to ensure that I made French seams wherever required. The dress went together fairly quickly bearing in mind the additional work involved for the frilled neckline and the different sleeves. Once again I curved the leading edge of the wrap skirt and this time made a narrow hem, machined in place.

Frilled neckline

I was delighted with the way the frill looked on the neckline, not so sure about the sleeves. After taking a day to think about it, I removed the band and turned up a narrow hem on the sleeves so now they are just ‘floaty’.

Floaty sleeve

Another day to think about the look and I am still not too pleased. Maybe I will eventually cut off the narrow hem and re-make a band. The next time it will be only 16 inches in length and this means that there will be more gathers into the band. That should improve the look.

Completed Hannah version 2

I am not sure if ‘Hannah’ is going to be my TNT woven wrap dress, I may have to try ‘Eve’ by Sew Over It. Meantime I think that I might have a break from new patterns and styles so that I can revert to one of my TNT patterns before tackling a Sun Dress with the ‘new to me’ McCalls 7950.

Completed project #34 28th May 2020

Hannah Wrap Dress

The next style to try is a wrap dress in a woven fabric. The Eve Dress by Sew Over It seems to be very popular but as I already had the Hannah decided to try that for the time being.

BY HAND LONDON Hannah dress

“Hannah is the quintessential easy breezy wrap dress that can be as daytime casual or night-time glamour as you want! With a sexy scoop wrap neckline, a gently gathered skirt and three unique sleeve options, you can have all the fun in the world coming up with your own drastically different variations. Best of all, this dress patterns has no zipper or lining so she can be whipped up in a matter of hours!”

As I have never made a By Hand London pattern before I printed out the pdf and cut a size 22 in lightweight calico so that I could make a toile to check the fit. It turned out to be pretty good but I needed to make a few adjustments; I raised the centre point at which the wrap crosses as it was too low for my taste. I lowered the apex of the bust and waist darts by ½ inch. Did a forward shoulder adjustment at the armscye by ½ inch, reduced the shoulder width by ¾ inch and made my usual sway back adjustment. I found that I also needed to take out 1 inch at the centre back neckline.

I marked the changes on the pattern and cut another toile in calico to double check before I cut into my fashion fabric. All now looking good.

Having browsed through my stash and knowing that for View 1 (short sleeved version) in my size I would need 3.4m x 150cm wide fabric, I decided upon some Blue floral print viscose that I bought from an eBay seller back in 2018. Only possible problem was that I had only a 2.8m length after the fabric had been laundered.

Blue background Viscose bought from eBay

I placed the pattern pieces roughly and decided to ‘go for it’. Cutting out this fine lightweight fabric was like ‘herding cats!’. I cut the back bodice in two with a centre back seam. Bearing in mind the error with pocket bags on my previous Montana make, I cut all 4 pocket bags as per the pattern, in the fashion fabric. Having decided to make the wrap with ties that go around the body through a buttonhole in the right bodice side seam and tie at the back I cut 2 lengths of 36 inches x 4 inches wide to make the ties.

As I said, this fabric is lovely in the way that it drapes but it seemed very fragile. I felt that it needed some more substance to the bodice, especially bearing in mind the weight of the closely gathered skirt. I unpicked my second toile and used the lightweight calico to underline the bodice back and fronts. The fabric still retains its drape and there does not appear to be any change to the colour but now the bodice has a deal more structure to it.

To underline the bodice pieces I pressed the pieces wrong sides together, carefully pinned around the out edge and then basted with a ¼ inch seam. I stitched just inside the lines for the darts before continuing with the construction using the underlined pieces as one layer of fabric.

The pattern instructions call for the sleeves to be inserted on the flat, but I prefer to insert in the round. I neatened the sleeve seam with 3-thread over locking before turning up 1 inch and machine top-stitching in place. I was reminded about ‘crimping’ the sleeve head (curlyseams vlog on youtube) to make insertion into the armscye easier and this certainly worked well on the toile so was repeated with the fashion fabric.

I made up the ties and basted them to the front bodice pieces. I stitched the pockets to the side seams before remembering that I had planned to use French seams – bother! The viscose gathered up easily with the two rows of gathering stitches and taking my time I attached the skirt pieces to the bodice.

I ran the over locker along that seam to neaten and also around all the skirt edges, fronts and hem. Whilst doing this I made the ‘leading edge’ of the front skirt pieces rounded at the hem edge as I intended to apply bias binding to the whole of the dress – from centre back of the neck, along the front bodice, down the edge of the skirt, along the hem of the skirt, up around the second bodice front and back to the centre back of the neck edge. I would need a serious amount of binding and ‘shopped my stash’ for some complimentary fabric to use. I settled on some of the remnant poly/cotton that I had used for Butterick 6554, the previous foray into woven wrap dress style. That dress has now been donated as the fit was seriously off!

I made yards and yards of bias binding 2 inches wide which I then basted wrong sides together to make a double thickness. I stitched to the right side of the dress using a ¼ inch seam before turning to the inside. I edge stitched before trimming all the seam allowances. Hand stitching in place on the wrong side of the dress was completed whilst watching a couple of episodes of Car Share. I had to stop occasionally as I laughed so much at the antics of Peter Kay. Finally I made a buttonhole in the right-hand side through which to pass the tie to make the bow at the back.

By Hand London Hannah dress in viscose

Despite having been dressmaking for many years the last time that I used viscose was back in the 70’s when I made a culotte dress in Bright Orange (sorry can’t find the photograph!). Sewing with viscose presents some challenges but I am sure that I will buy some more for my stash. Meantime, I am absolutely delighted with how this Hannah dress has turned out and plan to make another starting with cutting out some pretty floral print cotton lawn tomorrow!

project #33 completed 17th May 2020

Batik Montana Hack

I was so pleased with the bicycle printed Montana dress that I immediately explored my fabric stash and came across this bright Teal batik-style printed cotton bought last year from Franklins, Salisbury branch.

I cut the bodice and lining the same as before but this time decided to try the 3-tier skirt hack as demonstrated by AlexJudge in her vlog AlexJudgeSews.

Alex Judge Sews

I cut the first tier using the skirt pattern but cut at 11 inches deep (including ½ inch seal allowances top and bottom). For the second tier I cut the width of the fabric twice x 12 inches deep. The third tier is 3 widths of fabric x 14 inches deep which includes a hem allowance.

I constructed the bodice and lining the same as the previous make although I did take a wider seam allowance on the neckline which has the effect of lowering the scoop very slightly.

I then then moved on to make ‘in seam’ pockets. As I dislike pockets that flap about inside, I extended the pattern so that it could be stitched into the waist seam. I made one side of the pocket bags in lining and the other in fashion fabric but here is where I made a mistake – oops! When attaching the first tier to the bodice, I applied the back skirt to the front bodice and the front skirt to the back bodice. Thus the pockets although facing to the front, the fabrics are the wrong way around. If one pulls at the side seam, the lining fabric is visible and the fashion fabric which is backing onto the front of the skirt is hidden. 🙁

I attached the second tier to the third tier, hemmed the third tier and then attached to the bottom of the first tier. There is a lot of fabric in the skirt! All that remained was to hand stitch the bodice lining along the inside waist seam.

Batik Montana Dress Hack

Despite the mishap with pockets placement, I am particularly pleased with this dress as the colours are my favourite. Now to move onto a different style, the Hannah dress by By Hand London which is a wrap bodice dress in woven fabric.

Project 32 Completed 6th May 2020

Montana by Bicycle!

This dress was inspired by Alex Judge Sews and just happened to coincide with my desire to explore different styles of dresses.

Alex Judge Sews

Although Alex had made her dress in a viscose fabric with a tiered skirt, I could not find anything similar in my stash. However I did find this pretty, fine cotton print that I purchased last year in the sale at New Threads Quilt Shop, Weyhill Fairground.

Montana Midi-length Dress by Style Arc

I had already decided to try raised waistlines ‘Empire’ line and the Montana by Style Arc falls into this style. This is a very simply-styled dress and is described as a Midi length high waisted pull on dress with an extended shoulder line.

I cut a size 22 and made a ‘fitting toile’ in lightweight calico. The first thing that I noticed was that the back which should have been level to the front, was much longer. Part of this is due to my sway back and the other reason was that I needed to make a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA). At this stage I also noticed that the shoulder line was slightly different to my natural shoulder line and needed to be lifted by approximately 1cm at the neckline.

I altered the pattern and made a new front bodice toile to check the fit. Now all seemed fine except that the bust dart was too long and a little too high. I unpicked the dart and re-stitched, another fit check and now it was all good. I copied the amended pattern onto fresh paper.

Now I cut out the Bicycle print cotton. For the bodice lining I used White poly/cotton purchased in bulk from Fabricland, Salisbury prior to the closure of that branch.

I first stitched the shoulder seams of both the fashion fabric and the lining. Then using the ¼ inch seam allowance quoted by Style Arc I stitched the two right sides together around the neckline. I trimmed using my pinking shears before understitching 1/8 th inch away from the seam. I pressed well before turning my attention to the armhole seams. Using the ‘burrito’ method I sewed first one and then the other. I trimmed and understitched the seams before sewing the side seams of both the fashion fabric and lining in one go. On the lining bodice only I stay-stitched 1 cm from the waistline edge – this would provide a guide for turning to the inside when finishing the bodice.

I dislike side seam pockets that flap about inside the garment and so ignored the ones printed with this pattern.

I stitched the side seams of the skirt with French seams, before running 2 rows of gathering stitches along the bodice waistline edge. By matching the quarter marks of the skirt to quarter marks on the bodice I ensured an even distribution of the gathers. Once the skirt had been attached to the bodice all that remained was to machine a double fold hem and hand stitch the bodice lining along the inside waist seam.

Montana Midi dress by Style Arc

Much later ….. I made two patch pockets and attached to the front of the skirt. I was able to pattern match one of the pockets but the second one is a little off.

Pattern matched pocket – perfect!

Completed 5th May 2020