The Collette Moneta Giant Orange Monstrosity

I know everyone is making the wonderful Moneta. I know it’s supposed to be foolproof. But it wasn’t quite me-proof.

The reasons it all went a bit pear-shaped (or should I say saggy orange tube shaped) were these:

1: I genuinely didn’t know how tricky jersey could be
2: So I bought really fine, thin, super stretchy cheap jersey
3: I didn’t follow the Collette sewalong and was a bit casual in my reading of the instructions. I’m really not good at reading instructions properly.
4: I didn’t have twin needles or a ballpoint needle.

The first two points led to total disaster, the second two, had I understood the first two better would not necessarily have doomed the project, but combined with the fabric and the naivety were pretty fatal.

When I made the orange tube, I also did not think about my sizing properly. As the Collette Sorbetto size 18 was a bit small, I decided the obvious size to make would be a 3xl (approx size 26). This despite the fact that I was using a much more forgiving stretch fabric. I think what had happened was I read somewhere that for dresses waist size was the crucial factor, and being an apple shape (I’m pretty generous around the middle), I was a bit nervous about the clear elastic it said it needed digging in, so I picked the biggest size. This may be the case for non stretchy dresses that you have made a full bust adjustment on, but is emphatically not the case for the Moneta. I also decided, based on the fact that the waistline of  many of my dresses tends to rise up and become a bit empire line on me due to big boobs and middle, that I definitely needed to add 6 inches to the bodice length. I didn’t measure myself or the pieces to know this, I just ‘knew’.

Me trying to make the orange tube look good in the work toilets

Me trying to make the orange tube look good in the work toilets

Turns out ‘just knowing’ isn’t what sewing needs. Sewing requires accurate measurements and cutting out. Sewing requires that you pay full attention to the instructions, even if they do appear to be written in a foreign language, in shorthand. This is is an incredibly good discipline for me, because as my husband will tell you: I’m not a details person. I regularly declare that I am going to cook a dish for dinner that sounds delicious from a recipe I saw, buy all the ingredients and then get home and discover that I need to soak something overnight, or the cooking time is six hours long, or I don’t have any of the equipment I need.  Inevitably I will have skim-read the recipe at best, not read it at all at worst, and it will end in disaster. My husband now does pretty much all of the cooking. However, sewing is changing me slowly. Because I am so new to it, because I don’t know enough to muddle through: I have to pay full attention. This is good. It is helping me to concentrate and focus much better than I normally do, and sometimes I even achieve ‘flow‘. I will write more on the meditativeness of sewing at a later date. But it is incredibly good discipline for a distractable, flighty, flibbertigibbet like me.

Anyway: back to the dress.

Just cutting it out was enough to make me want to throw either my cheap scissors or myself out of the window.  I don’t have very much room at home and had to cut my fabric on the wooden floor. Oh dear me it was awful. It slipped and stretched and WOULD NOT OBEY. I hated it. I made cut marks on the parquet floor and so very nearly gave up entirely. But, using another zygotic skill, patience, I got through. And ordered a beautiful new pair of scissors  (Sheffield steel: whoop!) for next time. And then the sewing. I used a standard needle on a small zig zag stitch for everything because I didn’t have the right kit. This meant all my hems and seams didn’t look crisp, and in the thin jersey, puckered. For some reason I used white cotton as well which just added to the amaturishness of it all. But the big issue was the waist. I was actually ok with sewing on the clear elastic to gather the skirt, and found it easier than I thought. But I hadn’t looked at the Sewalong about how to attach the skirt to the top (or more accurately, read the questions from other sewers in the sewalong as the demonstration uses a serger which I don’t have), and wasn’t sure whether join the bodice to the skirt on the clear elastic again, or under it. I wasn’t sure if the elastic was just supposed to float around in the seam. I thought that if the join was the stitching and not the elastic this would snap. So I tried sewing the bodice to the skirt on the elastic, with the effect that the seam allowance was so small, I missed bits, and had lots of gaps and holes all around.  Instead of trying again, I went for the ultimate bodge-job fix, which was to try to cover it up with another bit of fabric. This also served as a kind of suspender belt as it had the triple function of covering the holey waistline, pushing the too long bodice up so it could billow over it, and holding the skirt up which was pulling the whole thing down as the waist band was too loose, and too low to actually sit on my waist, and the fabric was too thin and to stretchy to hold itself up.  It looked ok, ish but I knew it wouldn’t survive many washes. Also, I just hated it. Everything was too big and the fabric was just too thin and too clingy to be flattering.  I wore it once, then chopped it in half with the aim of reusing the skirt fabric for something and turning the top into a t-shirt, then decided that I didn’t want anything in that crappy thin stretchy orange fabric of doom and binned it. By this time I had made a smaller, much better Moneta in a  gorgeous stripy, thick double knit, and I didn’t need this orange monstrosity.

A close up showing too big sloppy shoulders. By the way, these aren't my shades, I was trying on my friends, they look terrible, I know. But not as bad as the dress.

A close up showing too big sloppy shoulders. By the way, these aren’t my shades, I was trying on my friend’s, they look terrible, I know. But not as bad as the dress.

So what did I learn?

1: Do not buy cheap thin jersey

2: If you do regardless (because you are a sucker for cheapness): make sure you have good scissors, have read all the instructions  and reviews for your pattern, take your time and use the right needles.

3: If you have buggered it up: don’t try and patch it up, but unpick and start again. Otherwise what you have made will end up in the bin.

4: It is a very good idea to make a muslin. This was essentially a not-very-wearable muslin for my successful Moneta as the fabric was cheap and I wasn’t very attached to it. Even though it ended up in the bin, I am so glad I made it as otherwise I would have had all these issues in the fabric that I really liked, and that would have ended up in the bin instead.

5: Measure yourself: don’t guess.

6: Round sunglasses don’t suit me.