Montana #10 Border Print

So now I am well on the way to making a Baker’s Dozen of this pattern! For iteration #10 I used this charming border print viscose from Rainbow Fabrics of Kilburn. I bought the last 2 metres at £2.99/metre. Currently the design is now out of stock and I don’t know if Rainbow Fabrics will have any more in the future.

In order to avoid losing any of the print, I cut the bodice from the top part of the design where the motifs are randomly placed before measuring the length of what remained. I managed to centre a motif on the front bodice and also on the front of the skirt. The skirt of this Montana is long with a finished length of 31½ inches from waistline seam to turned up hem. The narrow hem was double folded to line up with the last part of the border print before hand-stitching in place. All seams are either French or finished with zig-zag or overlocking.

I was able to include side seam pockets using some of the printed viscose combined with plain Black polyester crepe de chine from my stash. The bodice and skirt are also lined with the crepe.

Due to the long length of the dress it should look very good with my Black pseudo riding boots. This is a versatile dress as it can be worn with a cardigan over the top or a blouse of thin jersey turtle neck sweater underneath depending on the weather at the time!

Project #59 completed 19th October 2020

Moira #3

As a little diversion from the Montana dress by Style Arc, I knew that I wanted a slightly different style for this pretty viscose from Rainbow Fabrics.

The ‘Moira’ dress is my hack combination of the Montana by Style Arc and ‘Hannah’ from By Hand London. The ‘Moira’ #1 and 2 were so successful that I had re-drawn the refined pattern so cutting out the updated pattern was very speedy.

Mustard background floral print Viscose from Rainbow Fabrics

I had purchased 3 metres of the print at £4.49/metre from Rainbow Fabrics and when it arrived I was so pleased that I wanted to order more. Unfortunately it was then out of stock 🙁 but on Thursday last week I noticed they had more stock – I ordered 4 metres so that will be enough to make a midi length skirt with matching blouse/tunic top. Hooray!

Mustard sweater, viscose fabric scarf & Tan suede espadrille sandals

After cutting out the main bodice, sleeves, skirt panels, frills and tie belt there was still a large remnant left over. I may well use this to make a scarf that I can wear either with the dress or with sweaters when the colder weather comes.

Front view Moira #3
Back view of Moira #3
Close up of Back Tie Belt

The usual construction was employed for making up the dress. I used Viscose Voile for the bodice lining with an applied facing in the printed viscose. There is also a skirt lining, this time a little longer. The hem on the sleeves was overlocked before machine stitching in place. All seams were overlocked with the exception of the main seams on the skirt lining which was French seamed.

Worn with Bright Blue Shrug
Light Plum Cardigan & Viscose print fabric combination

The print of the dress coordinates very well with my Bright Blue shrug, my Light Plum cardigan from Lands End and also my Blue denim jackets. I look forward to wearing the dress and later the blouse and skirt during the months to come.

Project #58 completed 10th October 2020

Montana #9 – Autumn Gold

Well, having made 8 versions of the Montana dress by Style Arc I decided to go for Gold and make at least a Baker’s Dozen! Here is version #9

I had just over 3 metres of the fabric remaining after making the Montana #8 for my sister’s birthday.

Well why not make another for me? On that distant day when we are finally able to meet together – we can be dressed as twins!

On 1st October I cut out my usual size with the deep hem frill, side seam pockets, self-tie belt, full lining of bodice and skirt and settled down to stitch. The sewing machine and overlocker were threaded with the correct coloured thread so all I had to do in preparation was a quick de-fluff, clean, dust and change to new needles.

During the next session I prepared the bodice and lining by stitching the bust darts and attaching my ‘Carousel’ label to the back bodice lining. The tie belts, main skirt panels with side seam pockets and pleated three widths of the fabric for the deep hem frill were all stitched. I pressed all that I had sewn so far and returned to complete the construction the following day.

For the next sewing session I completed making up the bodice with self-fabric lining. Once that was completed and pressed I discovered my ‘rookie’ error. By using the same fabric for the entire bodice lining rather than the Cream viscose voile with only the fashion fabric as a facing, there is a show-through of the print from the lining to the outer bodice. I have sewn and trimmed all the seams and am therefore unable to remove the offending lining to replace with a plain fabric. A solution would be to make a lining in viscose voile and applique to the printed fabric lining before cutting away to leave a ‘facing’ in print at the neckline and armholes. Alternatively I could acknowledge the error, continue with the construction and ‘live’ with the error. A lesson learned for the future …….

Final session was to attach the skirt panels, both lining and outer with the attached frill. I had cut the skirt lining to 31 inches long and made a double hem to reduce the length to 28 inches. The skirt lining was attached to the bodice lining only so that apart from the neckline and armholes, the skirt lining is hanging free of the main dress. In hindsight the skirt lining is a little too short so yet another lesson learned!

I gathered the top edge of the main skirt panels using 2 rows of long stitches. To reduce bulk I avoided gathering over the pocket tops. The skirt was then attached to the main bodice. Finally, the dress is finished.

As I said previously, the print design is rather larger than I had anticipated and the colours are VERY bold. However, I do acknowledge that as I am a ‘larger lady’ it is no good trying to hide in dull, boring colours. This dress will be worn through Autumn and will definitely brighten the days.

I can wear with the little cropped shrug with bold Turquoise or add my ‘statement’ necklace, also in Turquoise.

Project #57 completed 5th October 2020

Montana #8 – for my sister

I know, I know, I thought that I had finished making the Montana dress for a while. Catherine’s birthday is on Saturday and I happened to have 6 metres of this fabric – so I decided to make her another.

The fabric came from Rainbow Fabrics as part of a ‘haul’ of viscose prints that I wanted to make up into dresses for the coming Autumn season. I purchased 6 metres at £3.99/metre of this particular print. Unfortunately it turned out to be rather larger scale than I was expecting and therefore not appropriate for the pattern I had originally planned.

This dress is planned for Autumn wear, to add some extra substance and warmth I have therefore added a full lining for both the bodice and the skirt.

The lining is made from some more of the Ivory Viscose Voile that I purchased some time ago and has been a great staple for linings on my viscose dresses. All seams have been overlocked which I hope will enable the dress to be washed and worn for many seasons to come.

I included a necklace in the parcel that I sent to Catherine. I am sure with the addition of a turtle neck sweater worn under the dress or a cardigan worn over the top combined with opaque tights, the dress will be a great drop of ‘sunshine’ in the sometimes gloomy weather days ahead.

project #56 completed 30th September 2020

Moira #2

The ‘Moira’ dress is my hack combination of the Montana by Style Arc and ‘Hannah’ from By Hand London. The ‘Moira’ #1 was so successful that I wanted to make another with just a couple refinements to the fit. For this version I made a ½ inch full bust adjustment and trimmed down the side seams of the bodice and sleeves. Once again I used the long skirt with attached deep frill and finished the bodice with two self-ties.

Fabric used was a very colourful Mosaic Floral viscose from Rainbow Fabrics which was reduced to just £2.74 per metre. I used some of my stock Ivory Viscose Voile to line the bodice. To ensure there was no ‘creeping’ of the Ivory colour showing through at the neckline, I added wide ‘facings’ of the printed viscose which were stitched in place to the bodice lining.

Construction was fairly straightforward and I am very pleased with the results of my tweeks!

Order of work: Once stitched, 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.

This dress will be a delight to wear with my Baked Pink Western Jacket or Pink Ponte ‘Jenna’ cardigan.

Project #55 completed 26th September 2020

‘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