A “don’t eat the daisies” Moneta

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Grab your bunting people, wave a few pom poms, or perhaps bring on the marching band to announce the arrival of this fabulous new dress pattern. The Moneta is the latest number from the team at Colette patterns, and part of the Curvy Colette’s plus size blog tour. Believe me when I tell you this is a life changing dress.

Let’s be honest, I can occasionally be a bit of a fickle creature, and my friends know I have the attention span of a drunken butterfly when I am excited. I flit from this to that, ooohing and ahhing over this pattern or that print but not committing in a big way to anything new. So, it may surprise you to know that I am totally in love with this dress pattern, and I see more endless style possibilities every time I look at it.
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What’s so special about a simple knit dress pattern? It is all in the cut. I have to be honest, when I first looked at the bodice pieces next to my Lady Skater dress pattern to check sizing I couldn’t imagine how the bodice was going to fit as the pieces have a slightly unusual shape to them, but do not doubt them … that is where the magic happens!

My starting point with this dress was this lovely emerald and white daisy border print jersey which has been languishing in my stash for many months. I bought it on a whim in a local fabric shop last year, and what drew me to it – the very strong border print running along both selvedge edges – made it quite limiting when contemplating new projects. However, as soon as I saw the Moneta technical drawing I thought it could be perfect for the daisies.

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The dress has very simple construction, with just 10 pieces in the version I made (and 4 of those were pockets!) so it can be made very quickly. I cut the XL, grading up to a 2XL for the armhole scythe and using the 2XL sleeve (I have really wide upper arms and hate a knit dress that hugs them too tightly). I also cut a 2XL for the skirt to add extra width and swoosh to the finished dress. It was quite a fiddly layout to get everything to work on the border, and in the end everything was cut at 90° to the grain so I could get the tumbling daisies at the bottom of the skirt hem and at the sleeve edge. My knit fabric had even stretch both ways so it worked out perfectly.

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The Moneta also comes with lots of options for collars and bodices, including a fully lined sleeveless version, a short sleeve version, a very “Audrey” collar and a myriad of other downloadable neck treatments. I believe there are 21 different designs if you count all the mix and match options. Because of my busy and bold fabric choice I opted for the plain neck and three quarter sleeve for this incarnation. Also, all the views have pockets! I am obsessed with pockets and love them in dresses, they increase the wearability so much, but I can’t explain why! I have never put pockets into a knit dress or skirt before so this was new, but I will be using these pockets in every single knit garment I make from now on. They were a breeze to do and hang really nicely.

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The bodice ran up very quickly and I was delighted with the fit … no changes at all. I moved on to the skirt. Now, this is where I had a few problems. The idea is that the skirt width is simply gathered up using clear elastic. You mark four divisions on your elastic width (measured so it corresponds to the bottom width of your bodice) and then align these markers at centre front and side seams of the skirt pieces and then just   s–t—r—e–t–c–h  to softly gather the skirt. Ahhhh … this is where it went a little bit wrong. I don’t know if I am just special or if we have the wrong kind of clear elastic here in the UK but mine just wasn’t especially stretchy and I had a devil of a job to get this bit to work. In the simple process of trying to stretch my non-stretchy clear stretch elastic I broke two needles in half, scraped the flesh off one of my knuckles and generally had a bad time of it. Worse still, when I tried it on once I had finished the gathering, the skirt was too wide and sat a long way from my body and with the weight of my skirt fabric the bodice had dropped, so I now had a dropped waist style dress (how very 1980s). It was time for the scissors.

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Sewing sometimes requires blind faith and extreme scissor action so I was brave and simply chopped the whole lot of skirt gathering off. Then I reduced the length of the bodice by two inches and started again with the elastic on the skirt. This time, instead of trying to stretch to the four markers, I just stretched the elastic as much as was physically possible (without injury) all the way round the top width of the skirt pieces. This meant a little more stretching was required when I attached it to the bodice, but it worked out perfectly.

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The neck on this pattern also surprised me, as it suggested a simple turned under and stitched hem. This isn’t something I’ve ever done before, but I overlocked the edge and did a 3/8 hem and it worked a treat. What’s wonderful is that it still creates a stable and pretty neck. The neck is the perfect height and width for me and this is cut straight from the pattern with no alteration.

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A quick hem of the sleeves and skirt and I was done. I was so excited by my new dress that I donned it immediately, and after doing some test twirling in the back garden (yes, it is a suitably swooshy finished skirt) took it for our afternoon walk by the River Thames in Marlow. Not only is this dress a stylish addition to any wardrobe, but I think you could be really creative with the styling given the number of design options available. I am already planning a nautical version with the little tie collar, a blue and white floral maxi version and …

I have a feeling this dress is going to turn into an addiction, much like my recent Lady Skater fetish. In comparison to the Lady Skater it stacks up really well and I like having all the neck options to play with in future versions. I also have to say I love the softly gathered skirt on this style and think it’s very flattering and easy to wear. Unlike my skater dresses this one is more forgiving after consumption of cake and that should not be underestimated!

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If you’d like to see more Monetas in action then don’t forget to check out the other amazing Curvy Colette Plus Size Blog Tour makes. The girls have already produced some outstanding garments, from Jenny’s nautical stripes to Tanya’s bright pink tropical number and Laurence’s super cute eyelet dress. And there are more on the way!

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Colour mad designer rampages gleefully through the world of plus size sewing! Oh, and there may be shoes … and cats.

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