I decided last week I’d work on a few knit items all at the same time given my current set-up of twin needles, low tension, walking foot etc. etc. I guess it’s partly due to laziness, but I’m still not so au fait with the settings that I can whip everything on and off like a pro. I already made the Metro t-shirt, and so I decided I’d follow up with a women’s t-shirt by Wendy Ward, plus this Moneta dress. Well, my apologies to Wendy, but I massacred the t-shirt by not realising the limits of a serger (or, indeed, my current serging skills) as I promptly shaved off half the t-shirt neck trying to turn an acute corner. It’s a goner I tell you. But I won’t do it again.
Onto the Moneta dress it was after that debacle and I’ve got to tell you that this dress is a winner! There aren’t too many pattern pieces, no facings or bindings, it sews quickly and it actually fits rather well! It’s a knit dress pattern, so it’s naturally more forgiving and that, fellow sewists, is a good thing. I had a paper pattern this time, so no ramblings about pdfs – it was nice for a change! I will also apologise for the lack of construction photos: the fabric is a bugger to photograph and the thread doesn’t show up well, so they turned out pretty useless. I will do better next time!
I believe that the Moneta was very popular when it was released in early 2014, and I can understand why. There are therefore scores of versions out there, but I’m still going to give a bit of detail for people, like me, who started sewing after that period. There are lots of bits and pieces to the dress, but basically it’s a bodice with gathered skirt in a sleeveless, short-sleeved or 3/4-length-sleeved version. There are different collars you can add and so on, but I went for Version 2: the short sleeved version with a simple hemmed neckline. One feature I rather like is the fact that the back is slightly more scooped than the front. I guess you could wear it either way, but I think it’s a nice touch (and I really don’t need to call any more attention to my post-baby décolletage anyway, let’s face it).I used a rayon knit that I bought as part of a Girl Charlee knitfix. I’ve done that a couple of times and the fabric can be pretty mixed. It’s not always to my aesthetic but I liked this graphic black and blue print and the quality is not too bad. You need around 2 and 5/8 yds for this version and I only had 2yds. I almooooost eked it out of the two, but ended up piecing the back bodice together. I think it’s totally fine and am happy I managed to get enough from the yardage. I cut a size L and it is probably a touch tight on me, but I am between a L and XL at the moment, so it’s about right I think. The pattern very generously goes up to 3X meaning it should work for all sorts of shapes and sizes.
The first steps involved putting the bodice together and I used the serger to join the shoulders and side seams and then flat sew the sleeves on. It was all very straightforward and matched up well. The final step saw you sewing the entire side together to form the complete bodice. I have to say that at this point the bodice looked extremely short to me and as a definitely-not-short-bodied person, I was a little dubious. I switched over to a twin needle at this point, with a tension of 2 and a walking foot, and stitched the hem and the neckline, which is simply a foldover and stitch affair. It all went smoothly.
Onto the skirt and this was where the chance to try out a new skill came into play. First though, the pockets. Yes, there are in-seam pockets on a simple knit dress! Yeehoo! Definitely worth it in my opinion, although I know many people left them out of this make. The pockets were added in a very straightforward manner, by attaching to the skirt back and front and then stitching the two pieces together. The instructions do ask you to not stitch along the entire length of the pocket though when attaching and that gave me a few little headaches later when the unsewn part kept slipping out of place. I’m not sure what I did there, but I think I’ll probably stitch it all down next time. I couldn’t use the serger for this part, so I used a normal zigzag stitch, set at 0.5 width and 2.5 length as recommended in the booklet, and it was perfect.Once the side seams are finished, you need to shirr the waist. The Moneta pattern has you do this by using clear elastic and basting it onto the skirt while significantly stretching it. This started off looking rather tricky, but I must say that when I got down to it and just tried it, it was actually ok! The things that helped were: to pull the fabric/elastic both in front of and behind the needle. This kept the stitching smooth and moving in the right direction. Also make sure to mark the elastic as directed. I didn’t even pin the elastic to the fabric in the end (it kept slipping out), but just did one piece at a time, trying to “reach” the next mark. It worked well.
Once this is finished, you stitch the skirt and bodice together and then hem the skirt at 1-inch. I used the twin needle again, and, in combination with the walking foot, this has become my go-to hemming technique for knits. It works so much better for me than a zigzag or stretch stitch on the machine. A quick press and it was all done! I’m glad to say that the weight of the skirt means the bodice is a better length and is absolutely spot on in the finished dress. The whole sew took me maybe 2-3hrs and that is not to be sniffed at. I can definitely see myself making a couple more of these with that knit fabric sitting in my stash. It’s a particularly good pattern for a vibrant print I think, given its simple lines. Excellent stuff from Colette!