Make With Mandi

Mia Dress Pattern Hack

Blog Post by @Fabulosew

Why I chose to make this dress?

I was inspired to make this dress when watching the first episode of series 7 of the Great British Sewing Bee when they made ‘buffet dresses’ – not a term I’d ever heard before, but it means a light and floaty dress with plenty of room to eat in! I immediately thought of Mandi’s Mia dress, and was attracted by the V neckline, the tiers and the pockets.  I always browse the Boden catalogue when they send it me (I guess I fit their demographic) and it has quite a Bodenesque vibe.

How I chose my fabric

I loved the fabric that one of the contestants used, and minerva.com highlighted that they sell it, so I bought 3 metres.  I used a discount code for the pattern which I got for signing up to Mandi’s newsletter, then got John (www.fabulosew.co.uk) to print it for me. I had size 12 and size 14 printed, but after a quick toile of the bodice I went with the 12 as there’s loads of ease elsewhere.

Because I work full time, and have 3 teens and a dog in the house, I don’t have much sewing time, generally I get up at 6am and sew until 7am.  This project is ideal for splitting into 1 hour chunks.

Cutting my fabric:

 

I always find cutting out the most stressful part of any project as it’s irreversible.  But this wasn’t too difficult, it’s basically front and back bodice pieces, facing, and then rectangles for the tiers.  I do struggle with cutting straight edges on rectangles especially when the fabric is folded, even when I think everything is perfectly straight, I find that there’s a dip on the folded middle bit.  But not enough to worry about. It’s something that is improving the more I do it, and something I’m letting bother me less.

The fabric requirements stated in the pattern were spot on, I only have scraps left, which is great as I don’t feel obliged to make anything else out of the leftovers (apart from maybe a face covering). 

Sewing the dress and adjustments:

 

 

The instructions for this pattern are great.  Really clear with photographs.  I struggled with the zip, and then found that I didn’t actually need it anyway! And it’s much longer than it needs to be, so I’d suggest checking if you need a zip, and then maybe using a shorter one.

The suggested pocket placement is slightly low for me, but that’s easily fixed, and is actually something i regularly find I need to do (short arms).

Creating the gathered tiers:

I was dreading the gathering and I’ve always avoided it until now.  But the instructions say to measure the piece that you are attaching the gathered section onto, and to gather the lower section to that length before sewing it together.  This is really good advice, as it means you can even out the gathers on unattached fabric, and then when you attach the 2 pieces, they will match perfectly. Mandi also suggests doing the gathering in front of the TV, which again is another good tip, which I followed. Most gathering instructions I’ve seen say to use 2 rows of gathering stitches, but Mandi only uses 1 row, so that’s what I did, and it was fine.

Finishing the dress

I attached the facing to the dress after I’d constructed the bodice and inserted the zip so that once I’d finished the gathered tiers, I was almost finished. I french seamed the arms, and think I’d missed some important notches on the arm or bodice pieces which made it slightly challenging to do this part. The seam allowance is marked on the pattern pieces which is always a good thing in my book!

Overall, I really enjoyed making this dress.

Final thoughts:

I couldn’t be happier with this dress.  I made the long sleeved version as there are very few days in the UK when I feel it’s’ warm enough not to cover my arms, so this will give me more wear out of it. 

I love the fabric, the tiers, the length, the neckline, and the dart placement which I prefer to standard bust darts.  It’s definitely a style that didn’t previously feature in my wardrobe, and something I can see myself reaching for often in warmer weather when it finally arrives!

 

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