If you don’t want to read a whole, rambly post, then read only this: the Moneta Dress by Colette Patterns is my favorite knit dress pattern of all time. Full stop. If you do care to read a rambly post, then by all means, continue at your leisure:
I love me a fit and flair dress, man. I really love vintage and feminine silhouettes and to me, the fit and flair is exactly that. Ever since I first started sewing clothes for myself I was drawn to patterns like that, so I’ve tried quite a few other patterns with a similar silhouette. They were the first kinds of dresses I tried to make for myself, and I used THREE different knit patterns to try to achieve the effect I wanted. Plus I even mashed up some other patterns to try to get the effect that I wanted. I had pretty much given up on making and wearing dresses like this because I never had much success.
The others I first sewed were the Lady Skater Dress by Kitschy Coo, the Out and About Dress by Sew Caroline, and the Penelope Peplum top with the skirt add on by See Kate Sew. I sewed five or six dresses based on these patterns and they were all…fine. Like, wearable, but I wasn’t in love.
The Lady Skater is really lovely, it’s got like a half circle skirt, so no gathering, and is quite fitted. I loved the way it fits but there’s no room to hide if you’ve been eating too many cheeseburgers, you know? I can only wear them when I’m feeling super skinny, which, as a mama of three young kids, is not super often.
The Out and About is a great favorite by many, and I was lucky enough to win that pattern (this was years ago), but it just doesn’t fit me well at all. I’ve made two, and the size range I fell into resulted in dresses that were way too big for me, so I tried to just take them in, but I’ve got major arm scye issues and the waist hits at a very unflattering point. I would have to see how it would look if I made a smaller size, but since I never loved any of my other attempts I sort of just gave up.
The Penelope Peplum was probably my favorite of the three. You can either do a circle skirt or a gathered skirt for this one, and the option for both is quite nice. But again the waist hits me at a weird point and I could never adjust it to my liking.
(*I don’t tell you this to disparage any of these patterns; I learned a lot from making these and I wore/wear the dresses I made, they just didn’t work for me perfectly. Keep in mind that we all come in different shapes and sizes, so what works for one might not work for another. If you think you might have a similar body type, or you’re wanting to try a fit and flair knit dress, then my recommendation is the Moneta Dress, after lots of thorough trial and error. If you have a different body type, then there are lots of other options to try!)
I had begun to think that as much as I loved it, the fit and flair was never going to work for me. I had seen the Moneta Dress all over Instagram, the pattern isn’t new, after all, but I already had these other patterns and couldn’t justify buying yet another fit and flair pattern when I had those. I thought either I couldn’t pull off the silhouette, or I needed to sit down and do all kinds of fiddling with one or all three patterns to get something to suit me. But about a year ago, I was given a gift card to Imagine Gnats wonderful online shop and I decided to go ahead and treat myself to the Moneta pattern. I just kept seeing so many beautiful versions others were sewing, and I had to give the old fit and flair one last try.
It took me awhile to get to the point where I was ready to make it; I didn’t have high hopes and I was worried I’d be disappointed again. I made a wearable muslin out of some pretty double brushed poly from my stash and it wasn’t my neatest knit sewing ever. I had a hard time gathering the skirt and so everything doesn’t line up perfectly (no fault of the pattern, just my own ineptitude on that particular day) and my neckline looked wonky, so I wasn’t expecting much when I tried it on.
You guys. I could not stop smiling when I put that dress on! It hits in exactly the right spot on the waist, is totally flattering, even though I’m not currently at my smallest, and is really just a beautifully drafted dress. I think the best testament to how much I love it is the fact that I’ve made three in the past two months.
My three versions are in double brushed poly, cotton spandex from Cotton and Steel, and a black stretch velvet. I sewed a size medium, and after trying on the first one, I decided to make the arm scye area smaller, which is a common adjustment for me. I loved the size, but I forgot to take into account the fact that my stretch velvet is less stretchy than my other fabrics, so that dress is a tad snug. I wish I had give myself a little more room in that one.
I also adapted the neckline, because the pattern recommends that you turn and hem the neckline with a twin needle, and I simply can’t abide a hemmed neckline. I’ve never achieved a good finish that way, and I just don’t think it looks as professional. To be fair, I’ve seen plenty on Instagram that were sewn this way and they look nice, it’s just a matter of personal preference. I played with several ideas on how to tackle this differently, and tried two different ways that both worked great.
On my floral muslin and this fun Cotton and Steel print, I tried a bias-bound neckline, which I’ve done on a lot of woven garments (it’s the method used to finish the neckline in the Scout Tee by Grainline Studio, if you’re familiar with that.) It’s a little bit different since you’re working with stretch fabrics, but I liked the idea of this one because the strip sits on the inside of the garment and therefore doesn’t change the shape of that beautiful boat neck that the Moneta Dress boasts. My first attempt at this looked really terrible, but once I’m wearing it, it sits beautifully. I did a better job on this technique on the Cotton and Steel dress, which you can see here.
(Gorgeous vintage ribbon found at Harmony Provo, my favorite local shop!)
On my velvet Moneta Dress I added a neckband (I measured the length of the neck opening once my shoulder seams were sewn together, and I made a neckband that was 80% as long as that measurement.) and I loved the finish. It gave a little bit more coverage too, so if that’s something you’d like, then I’d recommend the neckband.
The Moneta Dress is an adventurous beginner pattern, simply because it’s working with stretch fabrics. The hardest part is gathering the skirt with clear elastic before you attach it to the bodice. For some reason, this is one of those sewing techniques that I either do perfectly the first time, or have to redo like five times. I have no idea why. But slow and steady and keep calm and all that and you’ll be just fine.
I love all of these Moneta Dresses and I have great plans to make more, especially some short sleeved ones for summer. The pattern has pockets, which I simply must have in my dresses (I didn’t put them in the velvet one, because working with that velvet was not my favorite and I just wanted the thing DONE. Pockets are not hard, but they are time consuming, so I skipped it to finish the dress and save my sanity. I kind of regret it, but had I waited, that dress would still not be finished.) Colette patterns also has a download for all of these darling collar options for the Moneta Dress. There is a Peter Pan collar, which we know I love, AND a scalloped collar that is too darling for words.
I absolutely love the pattern and am so happy to have finally found a fit and flair knit dress that works for me. The moral of the story I suppose is that sometimes it’s worth persevering to find the right pattern when you want a particular look.
*If a fit and flair dress of the woven variety is what you seek, then check out the Emery Dress by Christine Haynes. I’ve got big plans to make some more of these as well, it’s practically the perfect dress.