Now why am I making a lightweight summer dress in the middle of November? I haven’t lost the plot, I promise, there is method in my madness. You see, in a few weeks I’m off on a cruise – something I’ve wanted to do for many years and finally I’ve taken the plunge (well I hope not literally seeing as I’m going to be on a large boat). I’m going with a group of friends from Southampton (UK) to San Francisco, calling at Aruba, Barbados, The Azures and Mexico. Now while it will only be just over freezing here in the UK in January, apparently it will be 29 degrees in Barbados. Hence why I’m in the middle of sewing a collection of lovely, light, floaty summer dresses.
I did have visions of taking one of those huge trunks that you see in many old films and filling it to the brim with beautiful cocktail dresses, pretty tops and plenty of accessories but unfortunately, a vision was all it was ever going to be. Because at the end of my holiday I’ll be flying home from the US and the airlines there don’t seem to be partial to a gal with a big trunk. So one large suitcase it it going to be – which isn’t that much considering the cruise is 23 days and then I’m touring around the West Coast and then over to Washington for a further 10 days. At least with all the knits I’m making I know they won’t take up too much room in the suitcase and hopefully they won’t need much in the way of ironing – after all, who wants to spend their holiday in the laundry room?
So with lightweight summer knit dresses in mind, the Moneta dress pattern from Colette seemed like the perfect design to make.
The description reads: ‘Moneta is your new go-to dress pattern …’ and I can certainly see it becoming a firm favourite of mine.
It is made especially for knits and more importantly it has been designed for ladies up to a size 26. I love that many independent pattern companies are now catching onto the fact that ladies of the fuller figure also want to wear nice clothes
I purchased this fabric from Craftsy
It is a knit fabric with a composition of 95% Rayon and 5% spandex and with a four way stretch of 100% on the cross grain and 50% on the vertical. Being rayon it does have a tendency for the fabric to continue to stretch on the vertical whilst being worn, something to bear in mind when choosing the length for any garment.
The fabric is 147cm wide and I ordered 2.75 m although I think I could have gotten away with a smidgen (a technical term) over 2m as I had plenty left. None of it was wasted, in fact I used the left-overs to make a test muslin bodice for another pattern.
The cost of the fabric was £11.56 + shipping.
I pre washed the fabric on a cool program and tumble dried it afterwards – I know, it isn’t recommended to tumble dry knits but hey ho, easy life and all that.
After ironing the tissue pattern using a dry iron (no steam) on a wool setting I traced it onto Swedish tracing paper. I used to do my alterations straight onto the pattern but I’ve found that it can take me 3-4 garments to get the pattern just how I like it and by then the original pattern looks like it has done 5 rounds with Mike Tyson. So now I just make a copy at the outset and then if I ever need to go back to the original it is still in pristine condition.
I had to use both bodice A and bodice B in order to get the size that I wanted. My shoulders are on the small side and I needed a 16 for them. I then graded out to an 18 at the chest area and moved onto bodice B to grade up to the XL at the waist / hips section.
For the skirt I used the XL size.
I decided to leave the pockets out. I have large hips as it is and try to avoid having more bulk in that area.
I read on a number of blogs that people had mentioned that the neckline was fairly wide which led to their bra straps showing. I definitely didn’t want mine on display so I brought the inner shoulder seam in by over an inch.
I decided I didn’t want such a scooped neckline at the front so I redrafted and raised it up by at least an inch.
I also redrafted the back neck as the design has the scoop at the back being even lower than the front. I have a fairly noticeable lump around and below my neck area from years on a computer and bending over crafting so I definitely wanted this to be partially covered.
The three neckline alterations above were just done by eye, using my French curve to get a curve that I was happy with. I then made a quick test muslin just to double check that I was happy with the new neckline.
Instead of cutting on the fold as the pattern indicates I cut both the front and back bodice on a single flat piece of fabric. This jersey was pretty lightweight and slipped about. In order to do this I just made a single bodice pattern using the Swedish tracing paper right at the outset so I didn’t have to mess about pinning and cutting half the bodice and then flipping it over to do the other half.
I used an 80/12 ballpoint needle to sew the dress.
All seams were sewn on my sewing machine using a zig zag stitch set to 2.5 length, 1.4 width. I then overlocked the raw edges to neaten and strengthen them.
Seams were sewn at 3/8” as per the pattern instructions
I used clear elastic on the shoulder seams to strengthen them overlocking the elastic in place to make sure that it wasn’t going to go anywhere.
I stabilised the neck both front and back with a small piece of lightweight stretch fusible interfacing.
Although I have a twin needle I still haven’t ordered the spool that I need to use on my machine to sit the extra reel of thread or bobbin onto. Following Jenny from Cashmerette’s advice on sewing parallel lines I topstitched twice around the neck, cuffs and hem using a stitch guide foot (this is the one I use for my machine) – not a bad job even if I do say so myself
After reading so many tales of woe from people who tried to attach the clear elastic to the bodice/skirt at the initial joining together stage I decided to follow the advice of the wonderful Mary from Idle Fancy who suggested using dental floss. Now that might sounds like the strangest idea in the world but believe me, it is genius – utterly utterly genius and it worked perfectly. Mary found the idea originally from indiesew here
Once I had gathered up and attached the bodice to the skirt I went back and put the clear elastic on whilst I was overlocking the seam. The result is beautifully even gathers, a stable waist that won’t stretch over time and no war torn fingers (as per many other bloggers who tried the elastic first method).
The finished dress
I’m over the moon with my new Moneta dress. The colour is gorgeous and the fabric feels beautiful and soft. On the downside, it does crease fairly easily as you can probably see from the photographs – and that is after ironing it!
I’m pleased with the new redrafted neckline, it sits perfectly and although wider than I would normally go for it still sits really nicely and there are no peeking bra straps. It is higher at the back and front than the original pattern but I think it looks fine.
I love how I didn’t need to do a FBA – something I have to do on most patterns, even with knits. As you can see, the bodice skims over the girls perfectly and there is none of that stretching that you often see on knits in the chest area.
I also like the ¾ length sleeves which are unusual for me, I generally always plump for full length sleeves.
The length is just how I like it although I think that owes quite a bit to the rayon content of the fabric and the increased stretchability. I need to bear this in mind when making the dress with another fabric as it might end up shorter than this version.
The only thing I’m unsure about is whether to wear the dress with a belt. I do like how the belt covers up the waist seam but on the other hand, I actually don’t mind seeing the seam. What do you think?
Cost to make
£11.56 for 2.75m although I only used just over 2m so let’s say £8.40
Shipping was £29 for four lots of fabric so £7.25 for each piece
1 reel of gutterman thread – £1.60
Clear elastic – I didn’t measure how much I used so I’ll estimate 1 m – 87p
washable tape and fusible interfacing – estimated cost 25p
Total cost to make: £18.37