‘Moira’ hack of Montana/Hannah dresses

Whilst it is evidenced by the fact that I have made 7 versions of the Montana dress by Style Arc, I would like to have something similar but with sleeves. I noted the Demeter dress by Anna Allen was very similar to the style I wanted to achieve but was loathe to purchase yet another pattern with all the pdf construction and fitting time required for a new pattern. ‘Impatience’ is my middle name!

Demeter has several features that I wanted to reproduce so using the line drawing as inspiration, I decided to try and draft something on those lines using a ‘Montana’ and a ‘Hannah’ by By Hand London designs combination.

Drafting the new ‘Moira’ pattern:- Using the Montana Front bodice to establish the neckline, empire waistline and bust dart, I overlaid with the Hannah using the centre front line as the match point. This gave me the amended shoulder line and armscye. I then laid down the Montana Back bodice, again overlaid with the Hannah to obtain the matching shoulder line and back armscye. I used the sleeve from the Hannah, the skirt panels from the Montana with self-drafted hem frill and my own drafted pocket and ties. So this dress is a real ‘Heinz’ pattern.

Using some lightweight calico I quickly made a toile of the bodice to check for fit. Not bad. I needed to make a forward shoulder adjustment and add a little to the side seam for the front bodice but other than that it was fine so I went ahead and cut out the dress. I used this Navy background Viscose, 3m bought at £13.47 from Rainbow Fabrics.

I like this fabric very much although I have to say that cutting out and construction was rather like herding cats! The fabric was very fluid and mobile – it shifted about so had to be controlled with lots of pins.

Other than that, construction was fairly straightforward. After stitching the shoulder seams of both outer and lining, I basted the side seams before re-shaping the neckline to mirror the curve of my new White Gold necklace bought by my LSH for my birthday in July.

I trimmed the seam allowance of the bodice with pinking shears and pressed them open and flat. The neckline was under stitched and the self-fabric ties were inserted into the side seams. The armscyes and Empire waistlines were stitched together within the seam allowances. Once the sleeves had been inserted, the seam allowances were then neatened with the overlocker.

The front and back skirt panels were each cut 40 ins wide and I used my standard side seam pocket bag pattern. The skirt panels were gathered at the top using a stitch length of 5.00. The hem frills were cut 12 ins deep by 3 x the width of the fabric of 60 ins. Again I used the ruffler foot to pleat up the frill using a stitch length of 4.00 and pleats every 6 stitches.

Once the dress had been completed I dressed the mannequin for photographs and noticed a very happy accident. Where the front bodice is joined to the skirt there is a floral motif that has been pattern-matched!

This dress will be a delight to wear with my Baked Pink Western Jacket or Blue Denim Western Jacket.

By coincidence the dress also goes very well with my Pink Ponte Jenna cardigan made back in March at the Purple Stitches Sewing Retreat.

Project #54 completed 18th September 2020

Honeysuckle#3 – Fruity Blouse

After completion of the Fruity Polly #4 dress I had almost 1 metre of a 100% cotton printed with ‘fruit’ remaining. I had originally purchased 4 metres for the grand sum of £21.48 from jjtextiles of Manchester. The ability to get 2 garments from the fabric was a real bonus!

I used my Honeycomb/Saraste-style hack blouse pattern (project #46 – now referred to as ‘Honeysuckle’) for the pattern but due to lack of fabric omitted the frills. Instead to bring a little extra to the design, I added some ric-rac trim from my stash to outline the collar and part of the front button closure.

I don’t quite know how or understand why, but once cut out and basted together the blouse was much too big! I refined the size by trimming 5/8 ths from each side seam from waist to hem and on the side back and side front panels. Now it is fine.

I used some self bias binding to finish the armholes but as I took only a miniscule seam allowance I find that they are a little tight. I have amended the pattern and may well go back and re-finish the armholes with plain binding as I no longer have sufficient fabric for a self bias binding. I used 5 of the 4-hole Green buttons from my button stash. In truth the blouse could do with an additional button and buttonhole at the top but for now I am using a tiny safety pin! The final touch was top stitch the facing in place and machine a narrow hem.

The blouse will compliment several denim and linen skirts and trousers that I have in my wardrobe as well as co-ordinating with the Ponte cardigan as shown in the dress post # 50.

Project #53 completed 15th September 2020

Montana #7 for my sister

When my sister Catherine saw the range of Montana dresses that I had made she asked if I would make one for her for her birthday. No problem, I had the pattern from Style Arc and once I had compared Catherine’s measurements with the size chart I decided to make a 14 and use 5/8th seam allowances.

Catherine had expressed a liking for the Viscose fabric that I recently bought from Pinkdoor.ie and so I ordered another 3 metres of ‘Flowers don’t tell, they show’ but this time on the Black background (my dress print has a Navy background). Once the fabric arrived it was washed and sat for a couple of days whilst I finished the Polly dress #4.

I originally planned to spend the last day of August making a Summer Swansong dress for myself. However, as I still had the overlocker threaded up with Black I changed the plan and made up the Montana for Catherine.

There are ties at the sides to help draw in at the Empire waistline. I added my usual concealed side seam pockets. The main skirt panels are gathered onto the waist seam but the frill was ruffled using the pleater set at 6 stitches and length 4.5. All seams are neatened with the overlocker.

I made a full lining for the bodice and used the ‘bagging out’ method. This was not my usual ‘burrito’ method on Montana dresses and I found it particularly awkward. I will revert to my usual method next time.

I am pleased with the way the dress has turned out and hope that Catherine will also be pleased- and that the dress fits OK!

When we are finally able to visit one another it may be that we each wear our Montana dresses and so will look like twins!

Project #51 completed 31st August 2020.

Polly dress – Fruity #4

As I have been suffering from diverticulitis this week, sewing has mostly been completed in small sessions of time. I had planned to make this Shirtwaister much earlier in the Summer but now with Autumn fast approaching I want to get the dress completed and move onto something else!

The fabric is a 100% cotton printed with ‘fruit’. I am not sure what fruit, but possibly Plums. I bought 4 metres from jjtextiles of Manchester for £21.48 much earlier in the year.

My ‘Polly’ design is the result of wanting something similar to the Penny dress by Sew Over It but with some adaptations. I wanted the yoke, the gathers into the yoke, sleeveless, fully functional button front to an elasticated waist plus 4 panel half-circle skirt with side seam pockets.

Once I had cut out ‘Polly’ there was still a good length remnant that I will probably use for a sleeveless shirt.

There were no complications with the construction – mostly sewn using French seams, including the concealed side seam pockets. The yoke was cut on the bias and the rounded collar and lapels were ‘borrowed’ from the Honeysuckle dress. Top stitching was done with standard Blue thread, stitch length 3.0.

The buttons were from my stash. The double bias binding for the armholes was machined to the right side, flipped to the inside, understitched and then top-stitched in place. For the hem on the skirt, I first overlocked the raw edges before making a narrow double folded hem and top-stitching in place. The bodice/skirt waistline seam has a casing with ¼ inch elastic but most times I believe that I will wear the dress with a belt.

This dress will be an ideal trans-season option when worn with the Old Gold Jenna cropped cardigan that I made back in the Spring before lockdown!

I am hoping to complete one more dress a ‘Summer Swansong’ before I progress to a commission make for my sister and more Autumnal, trans-season projects.

Project #50 completed 29th August 2020

Honeysuckle Dress

Very often I find a great pattern online, although many of the independent designers are now expanding their sizes, but am sometimes disappointed to see the designer has not drafted up to my size . I am fortunate that having drafted my own Basic bodice block from there I can often draft a new design that is similar to the one I have seen online.

The style lines for this dress are based on a Shoulder Princess seamed bodice. I had already drafted this style when I made the Frilled blouse – project #46 completed at the beginning of August.

I shall call the dress ‘Honeysuckle’ as it was inspired by the Honeycomb dress by Cocowawa patterns. My version differs as I have added a small, rounded collar with lapels, there is no back yoke, no sleeves and the skirt is full gathered, midi length.

For the first ‘wearable toile’ I used 3m x 56ins wide of this pretty, silky viscose bought through eBay from jjtextiles, Manchester for a total price of £12.07. I cut all the pattern pieces before the skirt panels which are the full width of the fabric x 30 inches length.

I cut the panels quite long as I wanted to wear this dress both in the Summer with bare legs and sandals then in colder seasons with tights and boots.

As I have previously tested out the Shoulder Princess seaming and collar/lapels combination on the cotton blouse, this dress was a reasonably quick sew.

The viscose fabric behaved very well. There were no problems with excessive fraying of seams which were all overlocked and the buttonholes stitched like a dream on my Brother 4000D machine. I used 5 Burgundy-coloured buttons from my stash and the armholes were bound with a self binding.

The binding was cut 1¾ inches wide, folded in half with wrong sides together and the cut edges basted together. The binding was stitched Right sides together around the armholes before flipping inside and top-stitching in place.

There are my usual concealed side seam pockets and the hem of the skirt was overlocked before a double-folded narrow hem was also machined in place.

I am pleased with how the dress has turned out although due to the ‘busyness’ of the print it is difficult to see the detail of the ties at the waistline. I think that I will be making this style again but perhaps in a less busy print or even a plain colour.

After a brief browse through my wardrobe I found several cardigans and jackets that will co-ordinate. When the weather is very cold I could even wear the dress over a thin polo neck sweater, with thick tights and boots.

Project #49 completed 25th August 2020

Montana #6 – Trans-season

As we near the end of August it is time to start thinking of trans-season dressmaking. Along with my stash of fabrics (just sooo many!) I have bought some new lengths that I think will be perfect for the next couple of months. Dresses that can be worn alone or with a cardigan or jacket, tights and even boots as the weather dictates.

This beautiful viscose fabric was bought from a ‘new to me’ seller, https://www.pinkdoor.ie/collections/viscose-fabrics-1/products/copy-of-in-the-garden-viscose?variant=32530890260580. The Navy background is currently sold out but I have also purchased some of the same print on a Black background which is to be a dress for my sister Catherine’s birthday.

You may well recognise that I have used my TNT pattern, the Montana from Style Arc. This time I have lined only the bodice but have added deep pockets, hem frill and self tie belt.

As I was in a hurry to get the dress done so that I could move onto a new self-drafted pattern, I opted to use my overlocker for finishing the seam allowances rather than French seams which have, of late, been my preferred method when using viscose fabrics.

The deep hem frill has again been pleated using my ruffler foot. Settings were pleat every 6 stitches at a stitch length of 4.5 which has produced a great frill suitable for ‘twirling’!

Below some variations to wear with cardigans and jackets ‘plucked’ from my wardrobe!

Project #48 completed 19th August 2020

Montana #5 with Mistakes!

I really enjoy this dress style from Style Arc patterns and version #5 is a repeat of #3 and #4 with the single deep frill at the hem and full lining.

Montana by Style Arc patterns

The fabric used has a Cream background with Purple flowers and paisley print on 100% viscose. I bought on 29th June 2020 from jjtextiles of Manchester for a total of £12.07 for the 3 metres x 142 cms wide.

Cream with Purple Flowers Viscose

Once it arrived the fabric was laundered and during one of the hottest days of the year I started to cut out the dress.

I had cut the main pattern pieces for the skirt, front and back bodice and self-fabric bodice front lining before I set fabric and pattern pieces to one side as it was just too hot to continue.

I would return when it was cooler and cut the self-fabric back bodice lining, ties and pocket bags.

However, I had forgotten that I needed to cut the back bodice from a long strip of fabric and then stitch a centre back seam. Unfortunately I had already used that piece of fabric for the ties and pocket bags before I realised! By now I did not have sufficient to cut the back bodice lining in the printed viscose. What to do? I spent some time considering how to proceed before cutting the back bodice in the cream viscose voile that I have been using for lining my other Montana dresses, plus a back neck ‘facing’ piece and bias strips in the printed viscose. I applied the back neck facing piece and bias strips to the neckline and armholes. In this way on completion the fact that the back bodice was made in a different fabric would not be too obvious.

All this ‘finessing’ has added considerably to the time taken to make the dress.

Having recovered from the ‘faux pas’ I proceeded in the usual way by stitching 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 this method. It is quick and simple providing a very good finish whilst avoiding a bias binding finish. Next was to stitch the ties which were basted into the side seams of the outer bodice.

Now that I had the neckline and sleeves sewn, I stitched the side seams of both the outer and lining in one pass taking care not to catch the free end of the ties into the seam. I overlocked these seams as they would be wrong sides together.

The pocket bags were attached and the side seams of the main skirt panels were completed with French seams. Likewise the seams for the deep hem frill. I kept the frill as a long length and gathered using my ruffler foot to gauge the length required to match the width of the main skirt panels. I used the 1-in-6 pleating ratio with a stitch length of 4.5. The frill was attached and the final seam made using a French seam. The hem on the frill was overlocked before turning in and top stitching in place.

Now I worked on the lining for the skirt. I used two widths of the Viscose voile and stitched with French seams. The hem was turned up as a double fold and machined in place before attaching to the waistline of the bodice lining. Rather than gather, this time I made some small pleats which seems to have worked well.

For the top of the main panel I made the gathering using two rows of long machine stitches before attaching to the outer bodice. The seams for the lining skirt to bodice and main skirt to outer bodice were overlocked.

The dress was now complete and when I put onto the mannequin ready for photography I realised that the colours went very well with my recently purchased from J D Williams, Western-style jacket in Baked Pink denim.

Completed project #47 15th August 2020

A new style Blouse

Using yet more of the Lily of the Valley printed cotton I had a yearning for a princess seamed blouse with frills. I was inspired by the Saraste blouse by Named ‘Breaking the Pattern’ book as shown by Rachel of Stitched Up on her Instagram and You Tube vlogs.

Inspiration – the Saraste blouse by Named

First I needed to draft a pattern using my darted bodice block. This is a fairly simple hack involving some dart manipulation and within an hour I had a new set of pattern pieces.

A forward shoulder adjustment was made. Originally I had thought of making a shawl collar but eventually decided to stick to a standard revere but with rounded collar slightly smaller than the original and a rounded edge of lapel/facing. The blouse would be sleeveless as I have yet to draft a sleeve for this bodice block. I decided to make a wearable muslin first using some pretty Pink floral cotton that I picked up last August at a Sew Southampton meet up. Just as well that the print was not a one-way design as the fabric measured just 1.5m x 114 cms so not a lot to play with!

Roses printed cotton

There were several interruptions to the construction of this blouse – visits by the plumber, gardener and general day-to-day duties such as housework, laundry and cooking!

I had drafted the pattern larger than my measurements and gradually took in the seams until I had an acceptable fit. I then amended the pattern pieces accordingly. All seams were overlocked and the Princess seams were also top-stitched to help keep the frill laying in the right direction.

I am particularly pleased with the collar. I had reduced the depth and with the rounded corners I believe that it is appropriate for this style and the print used.

The hem was overlocked and machined in place. I used 5 Raspberry-coloured spotty buttons from my stash (bought in bulk from eBay) and the buttonholes stitched like a dream.

Spotty button bought from eBay

The armholes were finished with some viscose voile binding folded double and machined in place on the inside.

It took a whole week to finish the construction but I know that next time it should take only an afternoon to make this style of blouse.

Frilly blouse wearable toile front view
Frilly blouse wearable toile back view

Whilst I am very pleased with the final garment, there are a few changes that I will make for the next iteration; reduce the width of the frill and make in fabric folded double to remove the need to have a hem on the edge of the frill, extend the frill insertion to waist level at the front, extend the length of the blouse by at least 2 inches and shape with a curve front and back.

So that is the wearable toile completed. Next I should be making the blouse in the Lily of the Valley printed cotton. However, I have a backlog of beautiful viscose fabrics – the next project will be Montana #5!

Project #46 completed 7th August 2020

Bronte Cropped Cardigan

In between the Lemon printed Penny dress and the Lewis & Irene printed cotton Sundress was project #37. This has taken a while to come to the blog as it is a hand-knitted cropped cardigan.I found the Bronte pattern by Martin Storey on Ravelry and it fitted my criteria of 1) double knitting yarn, 2) Cropped length 3) interesting texture with cables and moss stitch features.

I ordered the Light Stone-coloured yarn from Knitters Network and set off making the back. This part was a relatively quick knit as it featured the fancy rib followed by a lacy band and then double moss stitch for the main part. Next came the fronts. I was especially looking forward to these as they featured the textured cables and a diamond pattern. Again once I had mastered the pattern, working for the first time from a chart, the fronts were quickly completed.

6th June – so far so good!

Now onto the sleeves. I knitted the first sleeve exactly to the instructions, increasing and decreasing as directed. The sleeve turned out very long – we are talking orangutans! Now I know that I have short arms but this was ridiculous.

I knew that I would have to change the increasing so that the underarm sleeve was no longer than 17 inches and even that was generous for my arms. Having altered the rate of increasing so that I still ended up with the correct number of stitches when ready to knit the top of the sleeves I completed my 2nd sleeve. This worked out really well. So now I had two sleeves, one very long and one just right. I unpicked the 1st sleeve back to the rib and then re-knit according to my revised plan. Lovely – two matching sleeves!

Ready to re-knit the sleeve

Once I had completed the 2nd/3rd sleeve I was ready to stitch the cardigan together for which I used a back stitch.

Ready to stitch together

I have a particular dislike of picking up stitches for front bands and so I knitted two separate bands featuring a couple of the faux cables. I did have to pick up some stitches for the neckband, but only a few and continued with the faux cable pattern.

Finished Bronte Cardigan

I love how this brings all the design features together. I don’t know if I will add buttons but in any event, buttonholes are not required as I can slip the buttons through the faux cable pattern.

I have enjoyed this project so much that I have already started on version 2 using a darker Brown-coloured yarn which should be just right for the Autumn.

Project #37 cpmpleted 28th July 2020

Penny Dress # 5 – Lily of the Valley printed cotton

In my teens, twenties and early thirties I always had a White-based cotton shirtdress for wearing in the Summer. Of late those dresses have all gone and with so much of this charming fabric available to me I wanted to revive the practice of a White-based Summer shirtdress in my wardrobe.

Lily of the Valley printed cotton

Without a doubt, the Penny dress by Sew Over It is one of my TNT dresses. Whenever I feel in need of an easy make/palate cleanser, I turn to the Penny or my hack of it. I last made a Penny at the end of May (Lemons Ten-a-Penny) and having recently spent time on the new and somewhat more technically testing Siena, I decided to have an easier time with the Penny.

Originally I had over 10 metres by 150cms wide of the Lily of the Valley printed cotton inherited from my friend who passed away in 2010. Even after making the Siena and cutting out Penny, there is still some 5 metres left. I am not sure what else I will make with the fabric but there will definitely be a blouse – maybe a Libby by Sew Over It or my own Blouse hack – with frills!

There is not much to say about my Penny dress. I cut a standard size 20. I always double the fabric for the yoke, ignore the back neck facing, cut the skirt in 3 or 4 panels, stitch using French seams, put concealed pockets in the side seams and finish the armholes with narrow bias binding.

Again, this time the button band was narrow and as I can easily put the dress on over my head I decided to forego buttonholes and stitched the buttons in place through all thicknesses. I used more of the 4-hole green buttons, the same as was used on the Siena dress. I cannot remember where the buttons came from but there are still sufficient left to put on a blouse. The narrow hem was first overlocked and then turned up by ¼ inch before machining in place.

After a few hours here is another Penny hot off the sewing machine.

Penny #5

Project #45 of 2020, completed 31st July.