A Lazy but Lovely Skirt Hack

Yesterday, I pardoned a skirt that, in hindsight, should never have been on death row. My recent inspiration bath of stripes had me overly optimistic about my first attempt at matching them. The result showed promise, though. Enough to be a wearable muslin, for sure, but on one of those emotional days when my inner sewing teacher had no tolerance for imperfection, the skirt was put in a pile for sentencing.

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Outfitting myself for a Saturday of errands and the usual Mommy duties led to this outfit. What started out as a lazy attempt at looking human for the public ended up being the day I changed my mind about this skirt. It could be the floral scarf as half-turban thing (the humidity acts like reverse Kryptonite on my hair, something had to be done) that did it or I’d simply forgiven myself about the unmatched stripes on the right side seams.

I mean really, no one can see both sides of me at once. And anyone trying to would look so hilarious darting back and forth in front of me that the whole incident would erase and replace the memory of any epic fail with epic laughter.

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On its first day out in the world, the skirt seemed to work out fine. But, my shame about how fumbly it was assembled (probably from looking at too many stripe-matching wizards showing-off on Instagram), had me convinced it was a wadder.

I made it using the skirt and pocket patterns from the Colette Moneta skirt and some very lightweight cotton blend single knit from my stash. I machine-gathered the skirt with skinny clear elastic (per the original instructions) and topstitched on a two-inch elastic waistband. Because the fabric was so lightweight, I doubled it and skipped the hem for an unnoticeable raw edge that curls naturally to the inside.

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I’m kicking myself for nearly abandoning it. It is so damn cute to me now. And, I’m certainly making more given how quickly the need for a skirt can be satisfied. I may even break my privately declared fabric buying moratorium to find another striped knit for Stripe Match the Sequel. Maybe even shoot for both side seams this time.

Have you ever pardoned a make? What made you re-think it after giving up on it?

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).