in progress: Mesa


The Mesa dress was the reason I subscribed to Seamwork. It was, at that point, a purely aspirational pattern for me. I had no clue about sewing with knits. Really, I was just getting to know my sewing machine. I didn’t know when I would feel up to sewing with knits but I was strongly motivated in building up my skills.

The thing about aspirational projects is that they make a great carrot when you’re providing the stick of determination to “get there.” Sometimes the magic fades along the way but that happens through learning — and that’s the real gain here. You may not want the aspirational dress anymore but you do have the skills to make it, which are also the skills you need to make something different at that skill level. You win either way.

I’ve had my share of ambivalence about this dress. I made a top to test the neckline and armscye fit awhile back and was disappointed. So disappointed I worried the pattern was a no go. Now, I don’t know whether there is an issue with the pattern drafting or if it was just something about my project, but the neckline came out impossibly wide and stretched out, like a waterfall neckline gone wrong. I shelved the idea with, as the old poets say, a heavy heart.

Luckily, along came Beth’s fantastic Mesa dresses with a redrafted neckline. I used her tips to draft a new neckline (you can find them again here, in the Colette Blog feature about her Seamwork makes).

Another alteration to ensure a better fit was my annoying BFF the sway back alteration. I added a central back seam (and seam allowance) and I curved that seam slightly above the waist.

To accommodate the fact that my chosen fabric (a ponte knit) has less stretch than the recommended jersey, I cut one size larger below the armscye (I left the upper body in the smaller size because I have a fairly narrow back — oh sewing, you make me weirdly analytical about my back).

The sketch above has some notes about further tweaks I decided on after baste-fitting the dress. So stay tuned to find out how I sew a Laurel even when I’m not sewing a Laurel.*

*Confession time: I did make a shy attempt at Laurel in knit fabric. It ended quickly, as soon as I got to that bit of advice to “simply fold away the bust dart.” Friends, all I have to say to that is that one doesn’t simply walk into Mordor: when you fold away the bust dart, you get an interesting 3D paper structure, and I don’t know what you ignore or reshape there to get a flat pattern that will work. So that was that and back to the Mesa I went.


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I write about sewing, knitting, and may sometimes be tempted to talk about books.

2 thoughts on “in progress: Mesa”

  1. You just fold the dart, and then close your eyes and hit the pattern a couple times until it’s flat, then cut that shape.
    Wait no, that’s not quite right. Almost.
    Great sketch, I like how you drew in the herringbone.


    1. Yeah, I stopped at the point when it looked like smashing would be in order. But now that I’m getting the tip from a professional… 😉
      And thank you for the compliment on my sketch. I abandoned drawing for many years. Being awful at photography motivates me to work on my drawing (rather than working on taking better photos, because why simplify when you can overcomplicate or do something else instead?).


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