The Moneta Dress

Having my daughter home for the summer gives me an excuse to try some fun projects that are more suited to the younger crowd. For Fresh Make #13, I decided to make Hanna a Moneta which is an indie design by Colette Patterns that is wildly popular with the online sewing community. DSC_0354 DSC_0348 DSC_0346 The Moneta is available online as printed paper pattern for $18, or as a PDF for $14. I splurged for the printed pattern plus an additional $5.50 for shipping because I’m not fond of PDFs, and I was curious to see the hip graphic design and packaging. Now, $23.50 is a lot for me to spend on pattern, but I felt I needed to try an indie pattern to keep up with the online community. I have to say, the dress is adorable and a smartly designed pattern. I will save my knit picky comments to the end of my post.
cp1028-moneta-cover-med-37a80b85ae73088a6d790a6771162577 The fabric I chose is from the online store, Girl Charlee. I have to be honest that I hesitantly ordered from them as I have been disappointed in their fabrics more than once. I was swayed by the claim that the fabric was made in Los Angeles, and I like to buy American made if possible. Unfortunately, this fabric was no improvement over my past purchases. Basically there is very litte stretch in this single knit jersey and the design is printed significantly off grain. Previously I thought it wouldn’t be cool to bad mouth a resource, but I recently read a post in another blog in which the author chose to be honest about her disappointment in Girl Charlee, and then several readers commented that they felt the same way about the site’s products. Shouldn’t we be truthful in a blog?

The bodice calls for lining. I always like to find something in my stash for linings and such. I used a recycled t-shirt. I also used a hand-dyed recycled t-shirt for the constrasting collar fabric.

The back neckline is slightly lower than the front. Cool design detail, huh?

The back neckline is slightly lower than the front. Cool design detail, huh?

The collar is cleverly sewn with the seam on the outside, but remains hidden when the collar folds over.

The collar is cleverly sewn with the seam on the outside, but remains hidden when the collar folds over.

The bodice is fully lined, and the instructions provide a technique that was new to me for completely machine finishing the armholes.
DSC_0364 The skirt waist was “shirred” (gathered) with an new version of an old technique of stretching the elastic evenly around the opening and sewing it directly on the fabric. I have done this countless times for elastic waistbands on knits, but never for the purpose of gathering a skirt which attaches to a bodice.

The skirt is shirred with clear, lightweight elastic. This techique enables the waist stretch when pulling the dress on and off.

The skirt, shirred with elastic, enables the waist stretch when pulling the dress on and off.

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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. This pattern is a hip, modern and fresh design for knits. I now understand why everyone loves their Monetas.

2. Although Hanna’s measurements more closely corresponded to a SMALL, and the pattern provided an explanation about “negative ease” with knits, I cut a MEDIUM because the fabric had little stretch and the recycled t-shirt I used for the lining was of a thicker fabric. It fit her perfectly for the type of fabric used. I could see though, that if it was made with a stretchy fabric like a rib knit, a smaller size would be appropriate.

3. Please allow me to go on record as staying that I don’t think it necessary or a good technique to serge your 2 collar pieces when it is being flipped right-side out and the bulky serged seam will lie around the inside edge of the collar. This was done on a sewalong I followed, and I’ve seen it done other places online. With knits, even if they curl a bit, I still grade the seam allowances for a smooth outside finish when I am encasing them. A gentle pressing with the iron does wonders too for a nice quality finish.

4. Thoughts on instructions: I know the instructions on the big four pattern companies are ugly and hard to follow. Nobody likes to read them. The Moneta pattern comes with a thread-bound 32 page instruction booklet with simple illustrations on uncluttered, spacious layouts. While I was captured by the novelty of the instructions being visually different, when I really dove into them taking the perceptive of someone with little background experience/knowledge, they were just as hard to follow as traditional patterns instructions. I am not knocking people who write sewing instructions for any company. I know it must be hard; I wouldn’t want to do it. These instructions also contain some shaded boxes that direct you to websites with videos that contain further instruction details on some of the main techniques. This is a good thing, but I’m going to say that I’m glad that I could rely my own knowledge rather than go watch a video.

To conclude, Hanna did not pick out the fabric and did not ask me to this make this dress. I wanted to make it and I think it’s adorable, but I am not of the age or have the figure to wear it. I think she likes it; I hope she wears it. Whatever the case, it is still is joy to sew for her as I have done since she was very young.

Again, thanks for reading this post. I welcome your comments. Cheers, Lori

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The Sandra Dress

Sewing others stylish is just as much fun as sewing myself stylish! That’s why I’m so excited to feature my beautiful friend, Sandra, as a guest model in this post. For Fresh Make #7, I have made a versatile shift dress.
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The pattern I used is Burda 7031. I purchased on sale at JoAnn’s for $2.49. A few months ago, I posted it to my Facebook page as a pattern that I thought would be flattering on all figure types. “Who would like to make it?”, I posed. And Sandra said, “I would!” Sandra’s machine and sewing skills were a bit rusty, so I offered to make the dress for her and feature it in my blog.
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Now here’s the super fun part about sewing for friends – the shopping trip to buy the fabric! We went to Mood on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles and had a blast imagining ourselves as designers on Project Runway.

Sandra is captivated by all the luscious fabrics.

Sandra is captivated by all the luscious fabrics.


We spent at least 90 minutes wondering up and down the aisles, drooling and touching fabrics. Sandra finally choose this luxurious knit wool jersey. The pattern requires 2 5/8 yards. I think the fabric was $18 per yard. And did Sandra care? No, it was gorgeous!

Fabric bought, time for lunch! We walked up four blocks on La Brea to Sycamore Kitchen and both had salads were to die for. The Sycamore Kitchen is also directly across the street from recent Austrialian transplant, The Fabric Store. What a great day!

Here’s the results of our efforts:
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LET’S BE HONEST:
1. I when sew for others, the size I make is confidential, even to my client! I want having a garment custom made to be a wonderful, feel-good experience.

2. Sandra wanted the sleeve to become narrower towards the hem instead of the slight bell shaped of the pattern. I took about 4″ total off the bottom of the sleeve width.

3. I thought an interesting element to this otherwise very basic pattern was the bust dart. Sandra loved the shape that it created, too.

This dart may look unusual, but it creates a great shape.

This dart may look unusual, but it creates a great shape.

4. I found a big surprise as I began cutting and sorting through the pattern pieces. There was a dart at the top of the sleeve.

I don't think I've ever encountered a sleeve with a dart at the top before.

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a sleeve with a dart at the top before.

I considered manipulating the pattern to remove the dart because I was concerned that the sleeve might be a bit pointy where the dart ended. But then I decided I would go with it. It was part of the design vision for this pattern. To my delight, the sleeve actually turned out beautiful. This amazing wool jersey fabric molds itself like cake fondant when a steam iron is gently used on it. The dart is not even noticable.

5. I added 2″ to the hem when cutting the fabric to be sure I had enough length to create a hem that hit slightly past the midpoint of the knee. This is a flattering spot for a hem as it accentuates the narrower part of your upper calf without showing your whole knee.
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Sandra and I were giddy with excitement when I brought her the finished dress. We were thrilled with the perfect, flattering fit. For Sandra, wearing it is as comfortable as a nightgown, and no shape wear required!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. As always, I welcome your comments.

My Chill Pants

Sometimes when I am going out, I want to pull on something quickly, be super comfortable, and still feel like I’m wearing something unique and stylish. I decided to make a casual pair of wide-legged pants as an interesting alternative to jeans for Fresh Make #6.
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The pattern I choose was McCall’s 6514. I purchased this pattern for $1.40 as part of a 5 McCall’s patterns for $7.00 sale. I named this pattern My Chill Pants because these pants seem like a something you might pull on when you are going to just lounge around with friends. Or when you are going out to dinner and don’t want to feel constricted after a great meal.
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I have to admit that I rarely shop for fabric at JoAnn’s. It is the only fabric store within miles of my house, and sometimes as a last resort I needย buy fabric there. The fabric for this project was purchased at JoAnn’s because I was under a time constraint, and, I have to say I really like it! It is a light weight polyester knit with smooth feel and nice drape. I actually had these pants stuffed in a suitcase for 10 days, and when I unpacked them, they barely had a wrinkle. The fabric cost $10.49 on sale per yard. The pattern requires 2 3/8 yards.
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There is a front yolk.

There is a front yoke.


The back waist is elastic.

The back waist is elastic.


The front and back come together like this.

The front and back come together like this.


My favorite way to hem knits is with a double needle.

My favorite way to hem knits is with a double needle.

LET’S BE HONEST:

1. This pattern had no surprises for me!

2. This pattern is labeled EASY. I would say that a fairly accurate label, accept for the waist band features. Sewing the side seams together at the waist was a bit tricky, and the front yoke requires hand stitching on the inside facing.

3. The front yoke piece is the only area where fitting is crucial because it needs to hit exactly at the middle of the sides of your waist. I cut that piece exactly between the size 14 and 16, and it worked out perfectly. The legs are so full, it doesn’t really matter what size you cut!

4. The only alterations I made to the pattern pieces before cutting was I took 1 inch off the crotch length and 2 inches off the hem length. Since I’m not the tallest person in the world, I ended up cutting off a few more inches off the bottom of the legs when I hemmed the pants.

Overall I am very happy with my Chill Pants. They couldn’t possibly be more comfortable or easy to care for.

As always, I appreciate you taking the time read my post and welcome your comments. Happy sewing! Lori

The Instead Top

Several years ago I made a resolution not to buy any more plain T-shirts. My casual tops must either have a print or interesting design feature. I did this to keep myself from being too boring. These tops however must be as comfortable and easy to wear as a T-shirt. Fresh Make #5 falls into this category. You can never have too many cute grab-and-go tops.

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The Pattern I used is Butterick 5356 which I purchased at JoAnn’s for $1.40 as part of a 5 Butterick patterns for $7 sale. I have named the pattern The Instead Top because you can grab it instead of a T-shirt. What attracted me to this pattern was the loose fit and the peplum style sleeves on view D. I love a loose fitting top because it’s flattering and forgiving to whatever you got going on underneath!

I made view D.

I made view D.

I purchased the fabric at The Fabric Store on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. I was thrilled when I learned of the opening of this shop, a new location, and first in the U.S., for this Austrailian company. I didn’t know what to expect and was not disappointed to when I found a beautiful selection of high quality natural fiber textiles at reasonable prices. I bought 1 1/4 yard of cotton knit at $12 per yard for this project. The feel of this fabric is smooth and soft, very light weight and luxorous for a cotton knit.

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LET’S BE HONEST:

1. This pattern is labeled “FAST & EASY.” While the pattern does avoid a set-in sleeve, it is a “knits only” pattern, has gathers, and a curved seam. None of these features should be a deal breaker, but would be best done with some guidance for a beginning sewist who has yet to do these techniques.

2. I thought size wouldn’t matter too much – because it was a loose fitting top. I cut a medium (12-14), and I should have cut a small (8-10). I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that there is a large difference in numbers between my bottom and top half. I did not like how the sleeve hung on me after attaching the ruffle, so I decided to take it off, take in the seam in the underarm area about an inch, and then re-attach.

3. This fabric was 54″ instead of 60″. The patterns always give yardage amounts for 60″ and usually if the fabric is a bit narrower it doesn’t matter. In this case I was unable to fit the full length of the sleeve ruffle pattern piece on the fabric and had to settle for a ruffle that was less full. I would have liked the 3 or 4 inches I had to leave off the diameter of the ruffle.

4. Don’t cut yourself in half at your widest part. One of the beauties of making your own clothes in you can adjust them to flatter you the best way possible. I turned the hem up 4″ instead of the 1 1/4″ allowed on the pattern. My widest part is my thighs and my legs are relately short, so I like my tops to end somewhere around the upper part of my hips.

Overall I am happy with my Instead top. However, if I were to make it again, I think I would make a size Small.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. As always, I welcome your feedback and comments. Lori

The Carol Dress

I haven’t had a shirtdress in recent memory, and definitely not one in a slinky knit. Since this is my year for trying new things, Fresh Make #3 is a knit shirtdress.DSC_0030 I used McCalls 6520. I purchased it at JoAnn’s Fabrics as part of my recent bunch of 5 McCalls patterns for $7. I have named this pattern The Carol Dress in honor of TV’s favorite 70’s mom, Carol Brady. I know her collars were more exaggerated and her hems were shorter, but this shirtdress style definitely hints back to that era.DSC_0050 I bought the fabric at Michael Levine’s in downtown L.A. on the same trip that I bought fabric for The Tina Jacket. The total cost for this project is truly something to brag about. I bought two yards of 60″ fabric for $5.00 per yard for this project. $10 for fabric + $1.40 for the pattern + $1.60 for buttons + $4.00 for interfacing + $1.95 for thread < $20! I don’t focus too much on cost for my projects because I sew for many other reasons, but the low cost for this project was worth mentioning.
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DSC_0028I can’t remember the last time I did a collar with a band. But it’s like riding a bike, you never forget how.
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LET’S BE HONEST:

1. This McCalls pattern is rated EASY. While this may be a simple version of a shirtdress, NO shirtdress pattern is recommended for beginners, especially one that is designed for knits only. Features such as collars, plackets and buttonholes are best practiced on woven fabrics first.

2. A word about working with this knit fabric. This synthetic knit is very stretchy and requires some slow and patient sewing. I found that I needed to hand-base about 3/8″ from the edge first before I topstitched around the collar to prevent the fabric from stretching on the top layer.

3. Numbers rear their ugly head again! Like with The Jean Skirt, the size that matched my measurements sounded way too large for me. I cut a size 14 on top and at the waist transitioned to a size 16! Wow! Just numbers, right? Last week I bought a pair of size 8 jeans at Ann Taylor. Oh pattern companys, why can’t you flatter us like Ann?

4. I’m not always the expert I think I am. I pride myself in taking the time adjust the pattern pieces to my measurements before I cut the fabric and also fit as I sew. I took 3/4″ off the length of the sleeve pattern and thought that would be fine. Well maybe the fabric stretched with the weight of the cuff, or I have really short arms – but the sleeves came out about 2″ too long. They bunched at the wrist and I knew I would not wear the dress like that. So I decided the best solution was say good-bye to an hour or so of hard work and simply cut them off!
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5. Shh! Big secret. I’m wearing a slip and shape wear in these photos. You got to hide the bumps and bulges when wearing a slinky knit!

Overall, I am very happy with my Carol Dress, and I am pleasantly surprised at it’s flattering fit.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I welcome your comments and questions.

The Jean Skirt

I am filled with excitement as I write my first post on my new blog, “Sewing Myself Stylish.” For my first of 24 projects, I stitched up a simple skirt.

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I was tired of pulling on one of the same four pairs of jeans every day, so I wanted to make a skirt that was as easy and comfortable as a pair of jeans. The pattern I used is Simplicity 1616 which I bought at JoAnn’s sometime last year for $1.00 in their 5-Patterns-for-$5.00 sale. I like to think of myself as a modern sewist. Modern sewists use indie patterns that have names instead of numbers. So I’m going to rename this pattern “The Jean Skirt” because it as easy to wear as your favorite pair of jeans!

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I choose this knit fabric because I liked the graphic floral pattern, and I liked that it was navy blue and white which really acts as a neutral and can be worned with just about any color of t-shirt.

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What I like about this pattern is that it’s not form-fitting, nor is it too full. It also has a 6 inch yolk/panel that eliminates fullness around the belly and allows t-shirts to lay flat. Don’t we all want that!

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There is an elastic casing at the waist.

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I did a blind machine hem. (Contact me if you want more details on that.)

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Here’s a peek at the inside. I overlocked all edges.

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LET’S BE HONEST:

1. I have a lot of experience sewing with knits, so I have probably made this look easier than it might really be for someone who isn’t familiar with knit techniques. I am happy to share my techniques or answer your questions anytime. Just ask!

2. I am not revealing my online fabric source for this project. While I was happy with the result of my project, I was actually disappointed in the fabric. It is much thinner than I expected and it is printed off-grain. Since the flowers are a grid design, I spent a lot of time manipulating the fabric to keep the rows of flowers lined up way that was minimally acceptable to me. I still like this online fabric company and I’m not writing this blog to give negative reviews, so I will just leave them un-named.

3. IT’S JUST A NUMBER! If you’ve read my About Page, you will know that I haven’t sewn for myself in a long time. When I use to sew a lot for myself back in the day, I was 15 to 20 pounds less, and in turn my measurements were less too. I use to make size 12 skirt patterns, and that sounded huge back then, especially when I wore a 6 or 8 in readymades. Well, now, if I directly translate my current waist and hips measurements on the pattern envelope to a size, I’m between an 16 and an 18! Gulp! In readymades, I wear an 8 or 10. I can see that these number discrepancies might set a beginning sewer up for a fitting disaster if she just cuts the “size” that she thinks she is, rather than actually measuring the actual pattern pieces against her actual measurements.

4. I made three adjustments to the pattern. First: The “yolk” was 7″ inches long and I shorten it to 6″. I felt it would match the length of my t-shirts better. ย Second: I eliminated a slit on the side. Since the fabric was thin, I knew I would have to wear a slip. Yes, a slip. Remember those? I knew that a slip would show if it had a slit. Third: The instructions said to “float” the elastic in the yolk. This sounded strange to me, so I stitched a casing at the top just wide enough for the elastic.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my first “Sewing Myself Stylish” project. I can’t wait to get started on the next one! I welcome your feedback.