Guess what Dakota sewalong-ers?!? We're done! I hope you don't have much catching up to do, but if you do and for future convenience, find links to all the sewalong posts here or via Pinterest. Don't forget you can also get 10% off dress fabrics from Minerva Crafts until the end of the year!!!

Rachel and I will be revealing our Dakotas on Monday 2 December, but we're also having a 'party' to celebrate your makes on Wednesday 4 December...woohooo! So send us photos (my email address is here) or post links to your makes below by the end of Monday please.

Right now I'm handing over to Saara and Laura from Named, who are going to share some excellent inspiration for customising your Dakotas...

One thing that we especially love about sewing clothes is the fact that you can make the garment very personal by changing the shape, fabric and details. Once you buy a pattern, you actually get a potential for many different garments, not only the one you have purchased! You can choose different materials and make minor modifications to create personal and well-fitting pieces of clothing, but you can also use the same pattern over and over again for several different garments. And, you won’t even need to make drastic adjustments to the pattern itself, even if it looks like you do.

Our Dakota Dress pattern is one style that is especially versatile. For your inspiration, we are sharing some ideas with you today - unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to make a tutorial for each style, but the purpose is to inspire you to design your own Dakota style!


Make different kinds of dresses for example by adjusting the skirt length and fullness, shape of the hemline, sleeve length and ease. You can choose a very well draping fabric and make a sleeveless dress for summer. Leave the waist darts open to create a lot of volume at the waist, add width to the skirt and gather the waist with elastic.


Remove the bodice altogether and use the bottom to make a fabulous skirt! You can add or remove width and length, remove pockets or replace them with in-seam pockets. Make an elastic waistband, or fit one to your waist and add a zipper opening to the back.


You can easily make short or long jackets with different shaped hemlines. Take the collar off or make it bolder! You can add lining if you want, but these work just fine even without one.

Blouses & Tunics

Make beautiful and feminine blouses that can be open at the front or closed as the original Dakota dress. Play with sleeve length and cuffs – you can remove the cuffs, or adjust the width and shape of them and the placket.


Make trendy vests by taking off the sleeves and maybe adjusting the shape of the armholes – add a couple of centimeters to the shoulders and use interfacing to create sexy sharp shoulder line!

As you can see, often it’s a matter of making some straight lines, very minor changes and removing some parts, to turn the dress into something completely different! Recycling is good, and the same rule applies to the patterns as well. Of course, if you make chances like this, it’s always recommended to make a toile first.

These are just a few of our suggestions for Dakota customisation, but as you can see, there are so many choices! Can you think of something else that you would like to do with the Dakota pattern?

-    Saara & Laura

Folks, we're so close to finishing our Dakotas, it's tres exciting, no?!? So let's crack on with the cuffs and sleeves!

We're going to start by taking our flat sleeve pieces and machine basting (sewing on your maximum stitch length) just inside the 1cm seamline around the top of the cap - this is so we can ease the sleeve into the armhole a little later. Usually patterns have markings to baste between, but the Dakota pattern just suggests that the front of the sleeve is slightly more eased than the back. So I measured 7cm from the notch in the middle of the sleeve towards the front of the sleeve and then 10cm from that same notch towards the back of the sleeve and then machine basted between the 7cm and 10cm marks. It's also recommended that you machine baste 3 rows for better gathering results, but I could only fit two in comfortably due to the narrow seam allowance.

Once your machine basting is done, sew and finish your sleeve seam and press open.

Now put your sleeves to one side, we're going to make our cuffs. Attaching the cuffs before setting in the sleeves is much easier to do, but if you haven't made a muslin and think you may need to shorten your sleeves, then reverse the order.

Fold and press your cuff in half, then fold and press the seam allowance of the cuff's inner side towards the wrong side - the inner side is your non-interfaced side, but I lined my entire cuff with silk cotton so both sides look the same I'm afraid. Pin the side seams and sew.
Carefully trim your seam allowances, turn the cuff to the right side and give it a good press.
Lay out your sleeve and cuff like I have below, then place your cuff over your sleeve so that the outer side (interfaced side) of the cuff is right sides together with the sleeve.
Pin into place, with the ends of your cuff slightly overlapping the ends of your sleeve, which will make enclosing raw edges much easier. Your sleeve should look like the pictures below when flipped over.
Sew your sleeve and cuff together, trim your seam allowance and fold it down towards the cuff so that the inner side of your cuff overlaps it. Press into place.
You can smugly hand stitch the inside of your cuff for a super neat result, or you can pin it in place from the right side of the sleeve and machine stitch close to the seam line or 'in the ditch'. 
And there you have it, seriously smart cuffs!
All that's left to do now is set in our sleeves! Turn your dress inside our and push your sleeve (right side out ) through the armhole, so that the right sides of the sleeve and bodice are touching. If this gets confusing at any point, check out Tilly's crystal clear tutorial

Start off by matching up and pinning the underarm and bodice side seam, sleeve and armhole notches, shoulder seam and central notch.  

You'll be left with some gaping where your sleeve head is larger than your armhole. This is exactly why we machine basted a couple of rows earlier though, so we deserve a big pat on the back. Grab the loose threads of your basting rows and pull them to gather your sleeve to the right size. Use your fingers to even out the gathers and until you're satisfied with how it all looks.
Secure it all with a million pins and then snip away your long basting threads so they don't get in the way. You can baste the sleeve if you're nervous, or you can get stuck in.
Just sew nice and steadily on the inside of the sleeve/armhole, smoothing out any lumps and bumps as you go along.

Before you trim and finish your armhole seam, turn everything the right way round to make sure you haven't got any unsightly puckers, that you're happy with your gathered sleeve head and that your underarm and bodice side seams match up nicely
Once you're happy and you've finished your seam, press it towards your bodice. I'm taking this opportunity for a shameless plug, because I was able to use my first ever tailor's ham for this make, lovingly made by Clare of Sew, Incidentally... It's absolutely beautiful and perfectly made...I don't know how I've survived this long without it!

Anyway! We're done for today, so go and put your feet deserve it!

Tomorrow you get to finally complete your Dakotas, as Rachel takes you through the finishing touches like buttonholes and hemming. Woohooooo! I've also got a very exciting customisation post for you on Thursday, courtesy of the lovely girls from do stay tuned ;o)

A day later than scheduled due to an additional post on the shawl collar construction from Rachel yesterday, but we're now ready to sew up our pocket and skirt pieces. Woohooooo!

Rachel has already shown you how to interface and line your pockets, but I'm going to go through the process in a little bit more detail for you today. For the record, I didn't interface my pockets, because my crepe is quite sturdy and I wanted to avoid a bulky look!

Start by pinning your lining (I'm using some beautiful silk cotton) and pocket piece right sides together.
Sew the two together using a 1cm seam allowance (unless you've allowed more for yours) and then trim across the corners of your pockets as illustrated below. Take care not to cut through your stitches though.
Trim the rest of your seam allowance and turn your pocket to the right side. Use a pin or knitting needle to tease the corners out and give it all a nice press, taking care to make sure the lining doesn't peep out.
Rachel cleverly sewed all around her pocket and left a small opening which she then slip stitched shut by hand. I didn't think of that at the time, so I just turned my seam allowance under, gave it a good press and turned it under once more with another good press.
Pin this down from the right side and sew close to your fold.
Now you just need to repeat these steps for your second pocket and both pocket flaps. 
Once you've trimmed your pocket flap seam allowance, you may find you need to notch along the curves to make it lie nicely. Also, once you turn your pocket flaps to the right side, leave the top side unfinished.
Put your pockets to one side and gather your skirt pieces. Place your two front skirt pieces right sides up, then flip the right hand side over the other so that right sides are facing. Pin into place and sew together.
Finish the seam however you like - I overlocked mine and here's a reminder of this and finishing other techniques - and give it a good press on both sides.
Now place your skirt front and skirt sides next to each other with right sides facing up. I've highlighted the pocket placements below so you know how to lay out your pattern pieces. 

First flip the right hand side skirt piece over so its right side faces the skirt front piece, and pin into place.

Make sure you fold back that side skirt piece (to avoid it getting caught in a seam line) and repeat with the left hand side skirt piece.

Sew down both skirt sides, finish your seams and give it all a good press again.

The wrong and right sides of your skirt front should now look like the two pictures below.

Repeat this exact process for your skirt back pieces. Now lay out your skirt front and back pieces side by side, with right sides facing up.

Flip one over the other so that right sides are facing and pin the side seams in place. Sew them up, finish your seams and give it all another good press.

Now, lay your skirt flat so you can see your pocket placement lines. Carefully pin your pocket on top, making sure that everything matches up as well as possible. If like me, you find that your pocket placement lines didn't match up perfectly, make sure that the top of your pocket is an even distance away from the top of your skirt.
Use plenty of pins and sew nice and slowly so your pocket stays in place. I suggest that:
  1.  You start from the top of the right hand side of your pocket, sewing close to the edge. 
  2. When you reach the bottom of that side, leave your needle down and lift your presser foot. 
  3. Now pivot your fabric around so that your presser foot is lined up with the bottom side of your pocket.
  4. Lower your presser foot and continue sewing. Repeat when you get to the next corner.

And voila, we've got beautiful pockets and an equally beautiful skirt!

Next time, Rachel will take you through attaching the pocket flaps and joining the skirt to the bodice. I hope you're keeping up with us ok, but please do let us know if you have any questions!

This is the moment you've all been waiting for Dakota Sewalong-ers. Today, we actually start stitching...eeeeep! Needles and thread at the ready please, because we're going to tackle the bodice!

First, we're going to sew all six of our darts - one on each front bodice piece and two on each back bodice piece. For this, I'm going to direct you to Tilly's excellent tutorial on sewing darts the 'correct' way. As always, I'm going to show you my way...which could be considered technically 'incorrect', but works well for me. Just don't use this 'method' if you're working with particularly unstable fabrics as they may pucker.

Anyway, begin by lining up your dart legs and pinning into place. Mark the tip of you dart with a pin, making sure you go through both layers of fabric.
Pin the rest of your dart making sure the middle (white) line is central and that your pins run through your dart leg (pink) markings on both sides of your fabric.
Now this is where I go off-piste and do things a little backwards. I like to start stitching from the tip of my dart, because I can get nice and close to the edge of the fabric. I leave my pin marking the tip in, manually lower my machine needle, take said pin out and then make the first few stitches. At this point I also backstitch to secure the tip of my dart. I know this is considered a huge 'NO-NO', but my darts never feel robust enough if I just tie the ends sue me ;o)

Once you've stitched all six darts using your preferred method, give them a good press on both sides. Press your front bodice darts towards the centre front and your back bodice darts towards the centre back.

Onto the constructing the bodice next! Lay your back bodice pieces next to each other, right sides up. Flip the right bodice piece onto the left one, so they are right sides together. Pin and stitch the centre back seam.
We now need to finish the centre back seam - Sunni has a great roundup of basic seam finishes and Tilly beautifully explains French seams. Because I'm a little lazy, I favour the overlocker for finishing most of my seams. To avoid bulky seams later down the line, press your seam open and serge each side separately. Then give it all a nice press again. 
Your back bodice should now look like this. Pretty!

Our final step today is to sew the side seams. Lay your back and front bodice pieces down just like below, right sides up. Now flip the front bodice pieces onto your back bodice, right sides together. Pin and sew your side seams, finishing them with your preferred method and giving everything another good press.

And we're all done for today! Below is what the wrong side and the front of your bodice should now look like.

I hope this has been easy and clear to follow, but if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask! And tune into Rachel's blog tomorrow and Friday, for a comprehensive look into constructing the shawl collar...exciting times!