Category Archives: Dresses

Multi-coloured Moneta – 3rd version

One of my August sewing plans was to re-visit the Moneta pattern by Colette patterns.

I have made this pattern twice before. The first time using a black background floral print fabric from Fabricland which worked out fine and the second time a Flamingo print which came out too small and was sold on eBay. So – let’s hope third time lucky!

Having double-checked my measurements against the size chart, I cut a 3X but then reduced to half-way between the 2X and the 3X. I used 2 metres of a multi-coloured polyester (?) jersey that I bought a couple of months ago when I visited Goldhawk Road. I love the print and colours of this jersey which is very stretchy but also has a ‘sanded silk’ finish – oh so soft and stroke-able.

I made view 2 but added a neckband rather than a bodice lining.

Due to the constraint of lack of fabric, the  back skirt has a seam (although I notice there is also one on the line drawing).

The construction was straightforward but the elastic for gathering the skirt pieces and the twin needle stitching on the hems leave a little to be desired – some skipped stitches which is annoying.

I used my usual TNT method of applying the neck binding which has resulted in the neckline scoop being quite high, certainly higher than I would like but hey-ho it is still wearable.

Because of the busyness of the pattern, this dress can be worn either way i.e. front at the front or at the back so it’s like 2 dresses for the price of 1!

The style of the Moneta dress is a wardrobe staple. However, in the final analysis I think that I prefer my versions – either the Paoletta (gathered skirt) or Paoletty (circle skirt) both of which are hacks from the original Paola turtle neck sweater.

KITTY Shirtdress – a new style of bodice

Those of you who have been following my blog will know how much I like the Kwik Sew bolero jacket no. K3736 so I thought I would try to transfer that collar style to a dress.

Original Kwik Sew K3736 pattern

Pattern drafting: I retrieved my basic bodice block which I then copied onto pattern paper (purchased from Morplan). With some ‘finessing’ I then traced off the style line of the collar from K3736 onto the front bodice for a shirtdress. I used my standard short/cap sleeve pattern and slightly adapted the back bodice so that the shoulders would line up with the revised front bodice. I measured the width of each bodice and ensured that the waistline of that old favourite, the skirt from Betty by Sew Over It would also fit this new button-front bodice.

Materials: I used approximately 3¼ yards of 60 inch wide Blue & White check print poplin that I bought sometime earlier this year from Franklins in Salisbury. The collar and front facing were interfaced with medium-weight fusible Vilene ®. There are 4 plain Blue fish-eye  buttons for the front fastening that came from my button stash.

Construction: I stitched the bust and body darts in front and back bodice pieces. Applied a back neckline facing with my maker’s label prior to stay stitching the neckline of the back bodice. I stay stitched the neckline and shoulder line of the collar on the front bodice. Applied fusible interfcacing to collar/facing pieces. Repeated the stay stitching for the collar/front facing pieces. Attached the collar before stitching the side seams and inserting the fully-self-lined short sleeves. All major seams were pressed and overlocked before proceeding to the next step. Checked the fit and marked up the buttonholes. Stitched the buttonholes and then attached buttons to correspond. Stitched the side seams of the skirt and overlocked the hemline. Attached the skirt to the bodice with straight stitch and then overlocked all seam allowances together. Pressed the skirt up towards the bodice. Machine-stitched a ½inch hem.

Gave the dress a final press and dressed ‘Dolores’ (the mannequin) ready for photography!


Final analysis: The dress has a distinctive ‘vintage’ feel, especially as the fabric recalls my old primary school dresses (tho’ they had White collar and cuffs on the sleeves).  I am very pleased with the fit of this bodice and will definitely be making again. Next step is to make a co-ordinating belt. Since completing the dress I have ‘tweaked’ the pattern slightly by extending the shoulders and re-drawing the armsyces front and back. This style of bodice and collar is very versatile as it lends itself to a variety of enhancements; top stitching, embroidery, addition of braid, ric-rac trim or lace, addition of patch pocket(s). In another version the skirt could be made as a full gathered dirndl instead of the circle. For the future I intend to extend the length of the bodice so that I can make a blouse version with a shaped hem to wear over trousers. Watch this space.

A Quick Trip thru’ the Jungle – The Paoletty Hack

Having spent rather a long time on the Appliqued Denim jacket I felt in need of a quick fix. A jersey project would answer and by combining the bodice of Paola with the skirt of Betty I ended up with Paoletty!

The fabric is a Viscose Jersey print from Minerva Crafts bought back in June. On receipt it was laundered and set aside in the “roundtuit” pile.

To hack the patterns I re-printed the Paola turtle neck top. I cut across the sleeves to make them just shy of my elbows. For the bodice seam I measured down 1¼ inches from the waistline and cut across. For a scoop neckline, I cut the shape freehand for the front and then measured the new shoulder width. I copied that width to the back bodice and cut another freehand scoop for the back neckline. For the skirt I measured and noted the width of each bodice piece. I added approximately 2 inches to the width of each skirt pattern piece of the Betty dress so that they would match up.

Construction: I first stitched the shoulder seams using a stabiliser in the form of a piece of selvedge of the leaf print jersey fabric. For the neckband I cut a piece 2 inches wide by the width of the fabric, folded in half wrong sides together and gently pressed the fold. Starting at the centre back with right sides together I pinned the neckband to the neckline, gently stretching the neckband as I pinned. When I got back to the starting point I stitched a ½ inch joining seam. Using a regular straight stitch I machine basted the neckband to the neckline before using the 4-thread overlocker to complete. When overlocking the neckband I ensure that I watch the distance from the fold to the left edge of the machine foot and this means that the depth of the neckband remains consistent.

Next I set in the sleeves using the flat method and an overlocked seam.

Prior to attaching the skirt panels to the bodice, I measured each bodice piece and cut a length of ½ inch wide clear elastic to match. The elastic was stitched to the top of each skirt panel using the twin needle. Each skirt panel was attached to its corresponding bodice using an overlocked seam. The seam was pressed towards the bodice.

Nearly finished… The side seams were overlocked from hem of the skirt, up the bodice and along the underarm of each sleeve.

I pressed up ½ inch hem on each sleeve and all around the skirt before stitching with a wide set twin needle, stitch length 4.

Time to construct the dress was approximately 2 hours – a quick fix trip thru’ the jungle!

Blooming Birthday Dress

Although I had planned to make the Black linen-look bolero jacket today – ready for the family wedding on Sunday, this dress sneaked in under the radar. I like to have a new dress to wear on my birthday which has also snuck up on me – it’s on Monday!!

Chloe’s Closet by Moda

I had 3.5 metres of this pretty print ‘Chloe’s Closet’ by Moda ® ready laundered and waiting in my stash so it was straight into cutting out and stitching.

I used the bodice pattern with the princess seamed front and a darted back (same as the Yellow dress posted on 18th June) and again the 4-gore circle skirt from the Betty dress by Sew Over It. The centre back lapped zip is from a length of continuous zip and is a machined insertion. The cap sleeves are lined with plain White poly/cotton and the hem is overlocked, turned up by 1 cm and machined in place.

My blooming birthday dress

This dress is a very quick make and has not really interrupted my plans by more than a few hours, so… on with the Bolero jacket!

Bordering on Indecision – Wedding Guest Dress

Bordering – see what I did there? I am now working on the border print fabric for my dress to wear as a guest to the family wedding on July 2nd.

Decisions, decisions. The problematic (in a good way) thing about making your own clothes is all the decisions that have to be made…. which bodice style shall I use, which style of sleeve, neckline, skirt?

Having settled a few style decisions in respect of bodice, neckline, sleeves and skirt I still had to decide on placement of the border print. Should I make the entire bodice in the plain central part of the fabric design? Should I have the border around the shoulders of the bodice pointing down towards the waist? Or, should I have the border placed on the waistline, pointing up towards the shoulders? The design on this border is asymmetric – should I place longer parts of the design central to the bodice or equidistant from the centre front?

To begin with I cut and stitched darts in the front bodice with the border around the shoulders with the longer design lines descending equidistant from the centre front. Definitely not the best decision.

first draft of bodice front

I re-cut the front bodice with the main motif centrally placed – so much better. I also took this opportunity to ‘finesse’ the body darts so that the midriff section is more fitted to my contours. 

much better design placement

Now the decision had been made for me with regards to the border placement on the skirt. It would be placed at the hem with the design ascending towards the waist. I would place the main motif in the centre front to co-ordinate with the bodice design placement. This means that the waistline area is in the plain White part of the design – maybe a good idea to make a coordinating belt….. let’s see how I get on.

Although I initially decided to make the skirt with gathers, when it came to it I thought it would look better with soft unpressed pleats. I pinned, tacked and machine-basted the pleated skirt to the bodice – hmmm- not sure. I unpicked the pleats and replaced with gathers. Tacked in place it looks so much better, especially when I tried it on with a full can-can petticoat underneath – it really showcases the lovely border design.

Having machine stitched the skirt to the bodice, I finished the seam with the overlocker and moved on to inserting the zip into the centre back seam. I had made a point of leaving a 1 inch seam allowance on the back bodice and skirt to give me plenty of room for a lapped zip insertion. I completed the sewing of the skirt seam and basted the zip opening with a stitch length of 5. I used a plain White zip from my stash of continuous zips and cut a length of 20 inches. The right hand side of the zip was machined in place and the left hand side machine basted. I then hand picked the lapped side of the zip for a really neat and professional finish.

Around the neckline I also hand picked approximately 3/8 ths inch from the edge.

Finally, the hem. Taking inspiration from Sian of Kittenish Behaviour, I used a ½ inch wide White satin ribbon. This was machined close to the overlocked edge of the skirt and then turned to the inside and hand-stitched in place. Using the ribbon has given a little stability and structure to the hem line without losing more than ¼ inch in length.

A good press and now the dress is ready.

The finished dress

I am still thinking about a co-ordinating belt to cover some of the expanse of plain White around the waist but meantime I shall get on with making the Black linen-look Bolero jacket…….. sewing, sewing, sewing!

Mellow Yellow – Auditioning Bodice Patterns

I am planning to make a new dress to wear when attending a family wedding on 2nd July. I have just two weeks to decide on the style, make a wearable muslin/toile and also the dress in the fabric of my choice. My chosen fabric is a border print cotton with a little stretch that has been languishing in my stash for far too long. I have an idea of the style which will have a gathered skirt to showcase the border print but to date have not identified the bodice pattern. As I have several long lengths of cotton print fabric ready laundered in my stash, now is the ideal time to get stitching up a wearable muslin/toile before I cut into the border print. For this version I chose a Bright Yellow background printed with clusters of roses that was purchased from Fabricland some time last year – or maybe even the year before!

To start with I decided to try the princess-seamed bodice that I used for the Yellow roses printed dress (posted back on April 10th) and combine with a 4-gore circular skirt (hack from the Betty dress by Sew Over It). I know that for the border print I will be using a gathered skirt but as I had over 4 yards of the this Yellow background print it would be a shame not to use the circular skirt pattern. As I was uncertain of the finished width of the bodice at the waistline seam, I cut the skirt panels with an additional 2 inches in width to allow for any adjustment that may be required.

I placed the centre bodice pattern centre line on the fold of the fabric thus doing away with the button front, then cut the back bodice with a 1 inch centre back seam so that I could insert a zip. As the short cap sleeves have a curved hem, I cut a lining from plain White poly/cotton.

First I made up the sleeves as they are so simple and straightforward. Then I constructed the bodice. Where the previous version had a button front, this time by cutting the centre panel on the fold it necessitated some adjustment in respect of dart shaping and the side seams. Once I had made up the bodice back and attached the back skirt panels, I used a lap insertion for the zip fastening. I set the zip a couple of inches down from the neckline as I prefer to leave the neckline clear of any interruption. I knew that with the width and scoop of the shaping, I would easily be able to put the bodice on over my head. The zip was required so that the waistline could open up and would go easily over my bust when putting on the dress. I added the front bodice and skirt panels before stitching the entire sides of the skirt and bodice in one seam. The neckline facing has an interfacing of plain white poly/cotton. I set in the sleeves which required a little gathering at the shoulder point as there was too much to be eased into the armscye. I have adjusted the pattern so that next time no gathering should be needed.

Finally the hem of the skirt was overlocked and a narrow hem machined in place.

I have a new dress and completed the auditioning of this style of bodice. Next step is to ‘trial’ my old favourite style bodice that has bust darts and body darts at the front and back. Again I will use the full circle skirt pattern as the fabric I have selected is another length of 4 metres purchased last Summer.

A Tropical Heatwave! – Gretta Sundress Hack no 2

COLETTE PATTERNS ‘GRETTA’ shoulder tie tank top looks lovely hacked into as a Sun Dress. I liked the previous wearable muslin/toile so much that I have made another. Am I tempting fate with two sundresses?

The fabric for this incarnation was 2 metres x 150 cms wide purchased a few weeks ago during a walk down Goldhawk Road. The stretch cotton sateen has a gorgeous tropical floral print and was lovely to work with although it does tend to fray. This was easily remedied with a quick run through the overlocker.

I made a few more adjustments – I like to call them refinements(!) as I found that the bodice was still very roomy. But we are getting there. I cut the skirt into four panels so that the joining seams would be offset against the bodice seams and darts. As I was a little short on fabric for the skirt it has a finished length of just 22 inches with a narrow machined hem. This has turned out just right – so I wonder if in addition to gaining width am I losing height?

Some Like it Hot! – Gretta hack Sun Dress

GRETTA Tie Tank Top

I recently signed up as a member to the SEAMWORK website and as part of the promotion was entitled to 2 free patterns.

SEAMWORK PATTERNS GRETTA (3057) shoulder tie tank top looks lovely as it is, but how much better with a skirt so that it is a Sun Dress? 

According to the marketing pitch the following is what Seamwork have to say about this pattern:-

With a relaxed fit and adjustable shoulder ties, Gretta’s silhouette can be as comfortable as you prefer. Darts provide shaping for the bodice, while a rounded patch pocket adds a bit of charm. The shoulder strap is sewn onto the front and back bodice to help with cutting layouts and fabric waste. A facing finishes the armholes, neckline, and ties, all at the same time, and the low scoop neckline is flattering yet modest.

I printed off the PDF pattern and cut to a size 18. Using some gifted fabric – a pretty Light Blue floral-printed seersucker, I started to make a ‘wearable muslin’ or toile.

As the original pattern was a loose fit, I added darts from the waist towards the shoulders at both front and back. I also raised the bust dart by 1 “. I found the waistline, added a seam allowance and cut off the pattern front and back at that point. I knew that come the fitting stage I would need to contour the waistline but at least this was a starting point.

I cut the remainder of the gifted fabric in half to make two panels for the gathered skirt. I hemmed at 26” length which turns out to be a little on the long side – next time I will reduce the length. The other thing that I notice is that I should have pattern-matched the centre back seam or cut on the fold (Ooops!).


Unmatched pattern on back                       Front Bodice

With a couple of sessions of stitch, fit, adjust, cut, stitch and fit I have finally completed the dress. There are a few further adjustments needed (e.g. take in more at the side seams) but for now this dress will be fine for those (very rare) days when we have a heat wave!

Raspberry & Lime Paoletta Dress (hack from Paola top)

I love the Raspberry and Lime cotton jersey from New Threads Quilt Shop. I was wearing the tee top in this fabric when I returned to the shop and purchased the final length from the roll that they had in store – 2.25 metres on ‘sale’ at £5.00 per metre. On returning home the fabric was immediately washed and by the end of the afternoon had been dried and pressed ready for cutting out.

I was going to ‘hack’ the Paola polo neck top into a dress Monetta-style. I traced off the bodice and sleeve of the Paola. Traced the waistline and then added 5/8 th inch seam allowance. I also made a sway back adjustment to the back bodice. There would not be sufficient fabric for a long sleeve, the pattern was cut with a 6 inch underarm seam. The skirt was cut from the Monetta pattern with the back skirt cut at the selvedge so would have to have a seam.

Stitching was straightforward and I am particularly pleased with the shaping of the scoop neckline which was done entirely freehand. I gathered the skirt using ½ inch wide clear elastic and a triple zig-zag stitch to secure the elastic to the top edge of the skirt panels. The sleeves are a little longer than I really wanted and so they have a 1½ inch turning which was then top stitched with the twin needle. Thereby is a happy accident. I had not changed the stitch setting when I threaded up the twin needle. Thus the hem stitching on the sleeves is decorative with two rows of the triple zig zag stitch. I repeated this stitch when turning up the hem of the skirt and I think it makes a very nice feature.

I have one more Dartmouth wrap front top cut out and once that is stitched I plan to revert to 100% woven cotton fabrics for a while – at present I am jersey knit fabric’d out!

Butterick 5539 – Measure, cut, sew – repeat at least twice!

It all started with Butterick 5539 – an out of print pattern that is very similar to a dress that I bought from M&S about 20 years ago and which now really needs replacing. I decided to make a ‘wearable’ muslin of the dress using some lovely Makower cotton printed with Yellow roses that has been loitering in my stash for some time.

First I measured myself. Front chest width, upper chest, full bust, waist and hips. Then compared with the pattern size chart and decided that the best ‘fit’ was a size 22. I was very sceptical about this size and it turned out that I was right as the pattern comes up very large.

I cut and sewed the shoulder seams of the bodice, attached the neckline and front facings, then basted the side seams before the first fitting. What a disaster! The shoulders were approximately 1½ inches too wide. There was no shaping over the bust and the entire bodice was way too big. I pinned out some of the fullness with darts from the waistline to just below the apex of my bust and tried again. No, still not right. There was a lot of ‘gaposis’ at the armhole. By pinning out the fullness at the armhole it became apparent that what I needed was a princess seam. So – I hacked the bodice apart and ‘free style’ cut a princess seam line. Not quite as drastic as it sounds as I had already pinned an approximate princess line. A little bit more ‘finessing’ and finally the front bodice fitted really well to the contours of my body. The back could do with some more width removed across the upper back and also in some darts from the waistline up towards the shoulder blades but that can happen next time when I will also extend the length of the bodice so that it comes nearer my natural waist.

the princess seam line

I stitched the side seams and inserted the fully lined cap sleeves. As they had been cut to a size 22 and by now the bodice was nearer to an 18 there was a lot of fabric to be eased into the shoulder cap, but I managed it.

Finally the bodice fits!

The two front edges of the skirt were interfaced with some fusible Vilene ® and the skirt panels were gathered by running 2 rows of gathering thread around the top. By dividing the panels into quarters I have spread the gathers evenly around the high waist seam line.

Pockets – the pattern includes some large rectangular patch pockets which I thought did not compliment the style of the print which is more rounded – why not make some soft gathered pockets from the scraps of fabric leftover from cutting out? I am particularly pleased with these pockets and will be including the pattern and instructions in my next workshop ‘Pockets-a-Plenty’.

Pocket bag (wrong side)

Pocket Bag and band

Stitching the band to the gathered top of the pocket bag

Completed pocket

The dress was finished with 9 buttonholes and a set of buttons in Green and Yellow which came from my stash. Although the dress now fits fine I am a little disappointed with the result so will probably keep it as a ‘house dress’.