Grab a snack and get cosy – this is going to be a long post!
This weekend I’ll be teaching a class on knit dresses at Spool and Spindle. We like to offer students a choice of patterns so that everyone can get the size and shape that is right for them. This time, we’ve chosen Cashmerette Turner and Colette Moneta, two very similar patterns on the surface… but as I sewed up the samples, I was rather amazed by all the small but significant differences!
First off, the similarities:
- both knit fit-and-flare dresses
- both knee-length
- both have a lined bodice
- both have multiple sleeve lengths
But that’s boring, right? Let’s get down to the fun part – all of the differences!!!
My fabrics: Before I can really compare the patterns, let’s talk about how fabric may be affecting fit. I sewed the Turner in a Monaluna organic cotton interlock called “Hootenany”. It has no Lycra, so it has a soft stretch and gentle recovery. It’s also thick and spongey, so it wouldn’t do well with the gathers in the Moneta skirt. The Moneta is sewn in a black and white polkadot from Robert Kaufman’s Laguna line. It’s 95%cotton and 5% Lycra, so it has plenty of snap to it’s stretch. Neither one is the sort of drapey rayon or ITY that I would actually use for myself if I was sewing these dresses, but both samples are in very beginner-friendly fabric.
Sizing: Moneta has the more inclusive sizing, running xs-3xl. (That’s a 33″ inch bust up to a 54″ bust.) I sewed an XL, as recommended for my size. Turner runs UK size 12-26 (bust 40″ to 58″) and has three cup sizes. I sewed a straight 16 E/F.
The Patterns: Two very different approaches here!
Moneta, as you can see on the right, relies on negative ease for all the shaping. As drafted, the armscye curves, width and length of the front and back pieces are all identical. Potential outcomes of this are a gaping front neckline, wrinkles at the underarm, and a waist seam the angles up in the front. Moneta is designed for a C cup in the sizes up to XL (the size I sewed); from 2XL up, it is for a DD cup, and does have more shaping, I’m told. For both patterns I sewed the size that would fit me according to the measurement chart, so presumable Colette feels that this shape should fit and flatter someone with my measurements!
Turner, on the left, has much more pronounced differences between front and back bodice. I chose the E/F cup because a) it’s what fits me and b) for a sample, I wanted to demonstrate the bust shaping, which is the focus of Cashmerette patterns. Notice how on Turner the back is already adjusted for a typical swayback, and the front is longer to go over the bust. The front armscye is also narrower because most people’s shoulders sit slightly forward.
For my figure, Turner is clearly a better shape – but I was surprised that the negative ease in Moneta did make the fit look pretty good! It’s tighter than I usually wear, but I think the cotton spandex and busy print help camouflage issues.
The Skirt: This is where personal preference really comes into play. Turner has an A-line skirt, and Moneta has a gathered, slightly A-line shape. Moneta also has pockets!
Ever since Moneta’s release, I’ve heard grumblings about the suggested method of gathering with clear elastic. I asked around on IG, and most people agreed – it’s more fiddly and less consistent than using a basting stitch or zigzagging over dental floss. As an instructor though, I wanted to try it before I dissed it to my students… and you know what? It worked just fine! My local store had run out of 1/4″ clear elastic, so I used 1/2″ instead, which was less prone to sliding around. As I stretched it, it became narrower – with a narrow elastic to begin with, I can imagine the whole thing would be a pain.
(Speaking of strange methodology, I cannot fathom why the sleeveless version of the Moneta suggests a bizarre method of clean-finishing the sleeves, when a burrito method would be so much easier! Anyone remember watching this video in confusion?)
Personally, I hate a gathered skirt cutting across my belly – from the side in particular, I feel like it adds a lot of visual volume. Ditto with the pockets – cute, sure, but they combine with the gathered skirt to add centimetres of width that I don’t want on my hips. I know lots of people love a gathered skirt though, so pick the pattern that’s right for you!
Front/Back Balance: On me, the Moneta bodice rides high at the front and is too long at the back. Turner, but contrast, is actually too long on me at the front! It has additional length built in at the front hem, and I always have to trim some off on Cashmerette patterns. It would be relatively easy to adjust either pattern to suit your body shape.
Sleeves: Moneta’s sleeves are symmetrical, with the same curve for front and back. Turner has more shaping to allow for front and back differences.
Neckline: Turner is designed with a wide V, and Moneta has a wide scoop in front and a slightly deeper scoop in back. Both necklines are cleanly finished by sewing the outer layer to the lining, so you could easily redraw either neckline into the shape you want. If you have narrow shoulders or hate bra straps showing, consider narrowing both necklines.
Length: I’m 5’2″, with a relatively long back and very short legs. I have to say, both patterns fit just fine in length! I didn’t shorten the bodices or skirts. For anyone much taller, the bodices could be quite high-waisted. A fabric with a soft 4-way stretch like rayon or bamboo would stretch out the bodice and skirt making the dress longer.
Overall Thoughts: It’s no surprise I like Turner better for myself (I’ve made several already!) but I was impressed how the negative ease of the Moneta overcame a lot of what I thought were pretty serious drafting weaknesses. Ultimately neither sample dress is what I’d choose to wear for myself (Ack! Yellow! Gathered skirt!), but both would be quite wearable.
I think these patterns reflect the state of indie sewing when they were designed. Moneta was part of Colette’s first wave of knit and plus-inclusive patterns, and it was a smash hit. As the indie market has refined its expectations, I think Turner reflects more thoughtful drafting. Both patterns can make you a nice dress, and they are fundamentally similar styles… it just comes down to little details that only a seamstress would notice. Of course, there are also plenty of other fit-and-flare/skater patterns to choose from!
I’d love to hear: Which of these two patterns have you sewn, and what did you think? Do you agree or disagree with my assessments?