A Makeover for Moneta

Colorblock Monettie Collage

I should have been done messing with my Moneta pattern after all of those muslins. But, after my first two dresses got some real world wear time…it was pretty clear that all of the fitting changes I made couldn’t keep the shoulder seams from falling off my shoulders. 

So, I hacked it one last time.

By borrowing the neckline, shoulders and sleeves of the Nettie bodysuit and merging it with the waistline and skirt of the Moneta dress, I got the look I’d been after the whole time!

Colorblock Monettie

Not minding the windy spring day, especially sans snow.

I assumed I’d keep all of the alterations I made to the Moneta bodice below the armhole, but the circumference fit perfectly in the Nettie’s size 16, so I simply drew the Moneta’s tapered-in waistline on the Nettie, keeping the side seam length I worked so hard to get right. Except for my continued learning curve with shirring the waist with 1/4″ elastic, the Moneta skirt was fine as-drafted.

The original Moneta neckline (high in the front, low scoop in the back) is one of its best features, but the Nettie’s scoop neck is similar enough, I kept it this time – mostly out of fear of over-hacking again.

Tragedy struck the matching bodice (a sleeveless Moneta) I’d originally sewn for this dress. A stupid mistake (I’d rather not relive) put me in improvise mode — the perfect state of mind for trying out the Monettie mashup that I’d been marinating on for days.

Colorblock Monettie

A few things about the construction of this dress:

  1. This plan B blue bodice is self-lined. Which worked out great for smoothing out the lumps and bumps that are usually on display with fitted single knits. However, the extra fabric added bulk to the shoulder seam once the sleeve was serged in. Next time, I’ll stabilize the seam with something other than elastic to reduce cross-seam bulk.
  2. I avoided using clear elastic again (can only find 3/8″ locally) and opted for a 1/4″ knit elastic to shirr the Moneta skirt’s waistline. I basted it on by stretching it as I sewed. I think I can get it to shirr more by stretching it tighter, but I suspect I wouldn’t need to with clear elastic.
  3.  I coverstitched the sleeves and skirt in the morning before work — thinking I could convert my convertible serger, thread it, press, and coverstitch two hems before breakfast. I still suck. It took over an hour. I was late to work. But, I looked damn good in my freshly hemmed dress.

Colorblock Monettie

Monettie is my new boo now. Her cousin Moneta has a great neckline and bodice, but the original sleeves don’t have the sleek, negative-ease fit I wanted. I didn’t realize I was looking for the fit of a bodysuit until I spent days trying to redraft the Moneta to fit like one. I came close, but all of my changes probably created a fit problem.

As they say, the third time’s the charm. This pattern mashup has got me terribly excited for spring sewing. The box full of knit yardage that landed on my doorstep today is meant for a couple more Monetties. I’ll try not to bore you with the forthcoming fit and flare rainbow.

What are your favorite patterns to mash up?

An Encore in Teal

I made ANOTHER knit dress.

It was inevitable after such hard won success with my first one.

Moneta No. 2

Many other sewists have made the Moneta dress and repeated the experience. Well, give me a baton. I’m joining the parade.

Moneta No. 2

This version of Moneta is in a teal stretch jersey that was too lightweight on its own for winter, so I underlined it with self-fabric. A fancy way of saying I doubled the fabric to make it heavier weight.

Moneta No. 2

But that shit was no fun. It took way too much time to double cut, match and pin all of the pattern pieces. My convertible overlocker was a beast about serging all of those layers, but when it came time to coverstitch the hem…we had us some struggles.

Moneta No. 2

If I had to do it again, I’d baste the hem before coverstitching to stabilize it. Fusible hem tape wouldn’t work so well with all of the stretch and double layers of fabric, so the added steps of hand or machine basting and later removing it are worth the spared heartache of a wavy hem.

A situation I have chosen to live with on this dress. Because after number two, there’s always number three.

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The original instructions have you clumsily sewing in clear elastic to give the waistline enough stretch to pull over your shoulders. Since my local Joann’s has been out of clear elastic for months, I used the regular stuff on this Moneta and its predecessor.

Basting the elastic to the waistline was madness the first time, so for this second dress, I gathered the waist manually, sewed a wider seam allowance and used it as a casing to insert the 1/4″ elastic.

A much better sewing experience.

Moneta No. 2

I understand the knit dressmaking addiction I’ve been reading about on other blogs. The jones I have for the next fix (perhaps a collar or some color blocking for round three) is strong.

In the meantime, this DIY double knit teal Moneta will entertain me with its bright and cozy ways.

Meet Moneta

I want you to meet a friend of mine.

We’ve been through a lot together recently. With all of our disagreements, I almost gave up on our relationship. Until, finally…I got her to see things my way.

Moneta and me. A friendship made in jersey.

Moneta in Denim Jersey
It only took SIX trial fittings of the bodice to sort out this pattern. I’m no stranger to multiple muslins, but fitting Colette Pattern’s Moneta dress turned out to be a crash course in knits and negative ease.

Moneta in Denim Jersey

Flat-pattern measuring doesn’t really work on garments designed for knits. So, nearly every alteration had to be verified, one by one.

Luckily, a knit bodice can be cut and basted together in about 20 minutes. They key is to have plenty of discount jersey around. Before I knew what I liked, before I could distinguish cheap from quality, before I really knew how to sew it, I bought and stashed yards and yards of knit fabric (40% off coupons will have that effect).

Moneta in Denim Jersey

All of that hoarding came in handy when discovering that Moneta basically required open heart surgery to fit me. Here are the changes I made:

  1. Removed 1/2″ of length from the chest and sleeve cap.
  2. Removed ease from sleeve cap by flattening the back and scooping out the front.
  3. Shortened sleeve by 2″ at the bicep.
  4. Reduced front neckline width with a 1″ narrow chest/shoulder alteration.
  5. Added length at the bust with a dartless FBA.
  6. Raised back bodice at waistline with a 1/2″ swayback alteration.
  7. Re-drafted the pocket so the top reached the waistline.

Whew! I’m still out of breath.

I should have raised the waist by an inch so the skirt sits a bit above my waistline (a more flattering spot on me), but I only noticed this after assembling the final dress. OK, so it’s 98% right after all those mods. Perfection is overrated. I’m wearing it.

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If this wasn’t my first knit dress, if I wasn’t such a knit-sewing moron, Moneta would’ve only take a muslin or two to make. Instead, I used my 5 trial bodices and 1 full dress trial to practice coverstitching. A most wonderful thing I’ve had the power to do for years (three cheers for convertible overlockers!), but only just acquired the bravery.

The wearable jersey I chose to make out of my blood, sweat, and fitted Moneta pattern is a denim-look fabric with a faux twill weave. I bought it at Joann’s a while back. I think it’s a rayon/cotton/lycra blend, medium-weight or double knit jersey (kinda like this one from Mood) that was probably meant for sewing jeggings. Since I’m not ready for negative ease fitting on my bottom half just yet, a dress is where my knitventures began.

Moneta in Denim Jersey

All of the fitting work was absolutely worth it. The bodice alone has hundreds of possibilities. I’ll probably start with Colette’s free collar variations. Then, there’s all of the different kinds of skirt options beyond the original gathered one – circle, pleated, pencil, maxi – a girl could wear nothing but Monetas. A wardrobe of dress jammies in all the colors of the rainbow.

Moneta in Denim Jersey
No longer a knit sewing newbie, I am grateful for the time I spent getting to know Moneta. Now that we understand each other, she gives the best hugs (in all the right places).

Dress of My Year

There were only two things left on my list for 2014:

  1. Make a dress out of Liberty of London fabric.
  2. Properly line a dress.

2014 is ending and I did those things. I did them so well, I am having trouble caring about anything else I made this year. Or ever.

Number 001

That anxious feeling most makers have before actualizing the thing in their head? I’m beginning to get used to that. What I was calling my “birthday dress” became a daily source of welcomed anxiety while I planned its making. So, once I dropped the idea that I needed to wear it on my December birthday and simply set out to MAKE it on my birthday, the dress in my head was free to come out.

My go-to pattern combo (made previously here, here, and here) of Simplicity 2217 (bodice) and McCall’s 6503 (skirt) has become a signature silhouette of mine. I wanted this version made with the best fabric I could afford and no shortcuts. The dress in my head would be the anchor of my wardrobe, setting the tone for all makes after it. No pressure.

Design Notes, No. 001

Since there was no fitting to contend with, I could really focus on fabric choice. And, for me, for this dress, that meant Liberty of London. At about $30 a yard, I always felt Liberty was out of my league. Like I needed to become a better sewer to earn the right to cut into it. I wouldn’t be caught cutting into the loveliest cotton in the world with half-ass sewing and fitting skills. And mine are finally where they need to be. With help from a vote on Instagram, I made my choice, and bought 3 yards of Liberty Tana Lawn in the “Wiltshire” print from Fabric.com. It exceeded my expectations when it arrived. Gorgeous in every way.

Liberty of London Tana Lawn "Wiltshire"

With all of my meticulous planning, the dress in my head couldn’t do much about the lack of available time in my life. Spending my birthday sewing was a noble idea, but a fully-lined dress (my first attempt) was more than an 8-hour work day’s worth of making. I learned this at the end of Day 1, when cutting was all I’d accomplished. This is where an amazing gift from my husband was presented.

Number 001

He’d already agreed to Daddying solo, so I could spend my first day of winter vacation sewing obsessively. I was not prepared for him to offer that arrangement for the rest of the week! He told me to think of it as “a sewing retreat at a local B&B.” No diapering, cleaning, or cooking. More like a well-balanced eat, sew, play, eat, sew, play, sleep, repeat kind of pattern. That was my life for 4 days straight. And, it was bliss.

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I spent my birthday week exactly where I wanted to be, doing exactly what I wanted to do, with my favorite two people only yelling distance away.

Number 001

When it was all sewn and done, it took 32 hours to make (about 8 hours a day). An interesting fact for planning another ‘no shortcuts’ dress. But, if I’m honest with myself, only 70% of that time was spent on making. The other 30% was spent:

  • Fretting over cutting into the Liberty. It was like one of those professionally decorated cakes that’s too splendidly crafted to slice.
  • Figuring out the construction sequence for attaching the lining of a mock-wrap bodice with midriff. The original dress pattern had only facings (which I left out) and no lining – so, without instructions, there was much staring and noodling.
  • Troubleshooting my machine until I realized my tension problems had to do with a bobbin holder I replaced crookedly.
  • Basking in the moment. Oohing, aaahing, and fondling the Liberty.

 

Number 001

If I make a dress under these circumstances again, I will plan for a full 32 hours of making (70%), fretting (10%), fawning (5%), and solving (15%). The spell of Liberty has worn off a bit by now though and my fear of linings is behind me, so my next version of this dress would take about 25 hours. A whole day with no sleep or responsibilities. Three, 8-hour working days. Or, in my case, one full week.
Number 001

I know it’s cliché to say, but this dress has changed my life. For real, y’all. I can’t stop looking at it or thinking about it. Just as I had hoped, it turned out to be THE dress. The one that represents my style and skills. It’s been hanging on the outside of my closet door ever since I hand stitched the lining to the zipper (a dressmaking milestone for me). Everything about it makes my soul smile.

Number 001

In 2014, I returned to sewing. Before the year ended, I made the dress of my dreams.