Martha Dress in a ditsy-print ponte


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?!?

To celebrate Tilly and the Buttons patterns now being stocked at John Lewis, Freya, Jane and I will be joining Tilly for a Saturday Sew In on 21 May at John Lewis on Oxford Street. I hope you can pop by! It will be lovely to see both familiar and new faces!

17 comments:

  1. Gorgeous - perfect fabric! I have some wool jersey I want to make a Martha from, but not ideal heading into spring (though who knows with our summer....)

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  2. This looks beautiful! I made mine with the original collar but would love to do what you did or perhaps try a little peter pan collar. Such a lovely, flattering dress.

    xo

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  3. Super beautiful! I really love the fabric you chose.

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  4. This is simply gorgeous! I love the fabric print, and the way you made this dress your own really paid off - it looks perfect on you, and you look gorgeous as always!

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  5. Looks really great. I'd dismissed this pattern due to the collar. It suits you.

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  6. I didn't like the mandarin collar as well but your version looks lovely! Very 90s I'd say.

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  7. Ooh pretty (and I love the way you've done your hair, too)

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  8. Understitch the facing? I could not think of the word, and found a tutorial by Sewaholic that explains it reasonably well (http://sewaholic.net/understitching-a-step-by-step-demo/)
    Gosh, that is pretty! Happy spring!

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  9. beautifully made! you look lovely and i am so impressed by the perfect zip.!

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  10. I can't resist princess seams either! This came out so cute!

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  11. That's so cute! Just FYI, on Tilly's website it says the JL sewing day is on the 21st, not the 14th. Which is it? :)

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  12. this turned out so nice! it's very flattering, and that zipper is on point :)

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  13. Beautiful! I'd completely dismissed Martha as a possible make until seeing how beautiful your version is! I'd say it's 90's vibe, very nice 😊

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  14. This is a great version of the dress. You are a vision of loveliness in this stunning pattern making! Wow, I love it!

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  15. You have really nailed that one Marie, the collar was not my favourite thing either or the sleeves for that matter, I just knew you would not be able to put a cardigan/jacket on with it because the sleeves would get all stuffed up inside so your sleeves are just right. My Extravaganza dress is finished I am just waiting for a sunny weekend to photograph it properly.

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  16. We love this! You look fabulous (as does our fabric, thanks for featuring it). We may have to change the name of the fabric to Ditsy Odyssey!

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  17. I am so inspired by this modification! I love the lines of the Martha dress but, like you, I was put off by the high collar. I am definitely going to give a good look at some knits in my fabric stash and see about making a collarless version of my own!

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