Happy Bank Holiday, England friends! I've had a particularly long and fulfilling weekend as I took the Friday off work too, meaning I had time to finally sew for myself!
I chose Tilly and the Buttons' new Martha Dress, even though at first she seemed a little too late-1960s for my taste and I'm really not a fan of mandarin collars. But it was very difficult to resist the princess seamed bodice, gently gathered sleeve heads and bias-cut panelled skirt, especially after Tilly planted the seed of a ponte knit version.
I chose this ditsy-print ponte de roma from Girl Charlee, which has a nice retro vibe to it (1970s or 1990s...I really can't decide?!?) and is beautiful to wear and handle. Although it sadly camouflages Martha's lovely design lines, I absolutely adore the fabric and how the dress turned out.
Despite making a knit Martha, I wanted a dress with a bit of structure that wouldn't loose its shape after a day's wear. So I still included an invisible zip (which ended up perfect if I do say so myself) and I added stay-tape (cotton tape) to stabilise the waistline.
I followed Tilly's easy construction, but instead of setting in the sleeves, I sewed them in flat and closed them and the side seams up at the same time. I omitted the mandarin collar and cut the neckline down to the smallest size, making sure to cut my facings to the same size too.
I really like the neckline where it is, as it's modest enough for work, but not at all chokey. My one regret is topstitching it because the bulk of the ponte has made it go a little curly. I'll have to figure out a different way to finish off the neckline next time...any ideas would be most welcome!
Just to point out the obvious, I used a stretch needle and zig-zag stitch to sew my Martha up. For the skirt panels I just used a straight stitch as they're not fitted to the body so the seams don't need ease.
My one piece of advice would be to check the fit of the bodice as you go along, because unpicking six zig-zag bodice seams and two sleeves ain't fun. Yup, that's how I spent my Thursday evening!!! I know checking the fit is a no-brainer, but with knit fabric it's easy to get complacent due to its forgiving nature. Anyway, for reference, a straight size 4 with the regular 1.5cm seam allowances fits me perfectly.
Even though Martha is a much more time-consuming and fabric-hungry make than your average knit dress, she's totally worth it. The design is ridiculously flattering with a bodice that's fitted with both bust darts and princess seams and a beautifully swishy skirt without any waistline bulk.
I want more knit versions in my life, and heck, I'm even tempted to have a go at a floaty viscose version too! What do you think to the Martha Dress? Aren't these trimming ideas so much fun?!?