Melissa in polka dot chambray

It’s a funny thing, but I always feel a little odd, posting about something I’ve made using one of my own patterns. It’s quite a New Zealand type thing, really – we’ve got this phenomenon over here called Tall Poppy Syndrome, and the flip side of it is that we all tend to be almost painfully reluctant to talk about things we’ve done that we’re proud of. Crazy but true. And you see it evidenced everywhere. People downplaying achievements, brushing off compliments, pointing out things they didn’t do so well to take the focus off things they did do well. You even see it in companies hiding awards in cupboards, embarrassed to be seen putting them out on display. We’re a shy, self-deprecating bunch over in this corner of the world.


And I’m very much from New Zealand. Which means, I’m not particularly good about talking about things that I’ve done, either. Turns out the main way it shows up here is when I make something with one of my own patterns – I feel a strong reluctance to talk about it, a fear that it would be seen as self-congratulatory, boasting, or similar. Yep, I feel kinda embarrassed to show that I like my own pattern enough to use it to make myself things. Silly, isn’t it?!?

I figured a way to try to counter that, for one post at least, is to combine a garment I want to make with a Minerva Network post. (Clearly, it’s not going so well so far, since I felt a compelling urge to put that disclaimer at the start. Hah!)

So today, here’s a new Melissa dress that I’ve made.

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Anyway, ever since I made my brown linen Melissa dress, I’ve been wanting to make myself another one. I wear that one all the time (as evidenced during Me Made May, a round-up post of which I’ll get up on here sometime soon!). The idea of a polka dotted one in particular was stuck in my mind.

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

And then, when I was happily procrastinating by browsing the Minerva fabric selection, I came across this beauty – a polka dotted chambray! Woo hoo!! Perfect.

I had one heck of a time deciding which colour way to use though. Indigo? Sky blue? Argh! Both so pretty! In the end I went with the sky blue, even though it’s a lighter colour than what I’m usually drawn to. A key reason I chose this one was because of the fabric I wanted to use as the contrast inset at the back. You see, I’d spotted this pretty cotton crochet-look lace, and got to wondering how it would look for the contrast. A lace v inset? Hmmm…..

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Anyway, the sky blue seemed to fit with the lace better, so sky blue it was. πŸ˜‰

I’m really happy with how the lace looks on the back inset – I think it adds a fun and pretty touch.

vee inset being sewn

The sleeve cuffs required a bit of thought though. The cuffs are made by making two identical bands, sewing them right sides together, then flipping them out wards. The seams are enclosed, and the cuff is then attached to the sleeve. All well and good, but doing that with lace would have meant visible seams on the inside.

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

After giving it some thought, I cut the cuffs out in lace, chambray, and a lightweight fusible interfacing. I laid the lace with the wrong side of the lace against the non-fusible side of the interfacing, and treated them as one piece. Then, once the two cuff sections (one in lace and interfacing, the other in chambray) had been stitched together and turned right sides out, I fused the interfacing to the chambray, thus capturing the seam between those two layers and keeping it hidden. The interfacing also gives a solid white background for the white lace, which I think looks quite effective.

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Sadly I had to give up on the idea of using the lace for the pocket edgings though – the edgings are quite narrow, and this lace is quite bulky, so that just wasn’t going to work. I did a same-fabric edging instead, and I’m really happy with how that turned out. πŸ™‚

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

The chambray was a dream to work with – wonderfully light, with a great drape and a fine weave. It presses well and hangs well, and is soft and lovely to handle. I may be in love with it. And now I want it in the indigo colourway as well, to make something else! It’s the perfect weight for dresses, I reckon.

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Because I wanted the lace to be the main feature of the dress, I used smaller buttons than I usually choose for shirt dresses. I kept them white to tie in with the lace and the polka dots, and picked simple little circles with a round embossed design in the centre. (I do love me a bit of texture!)

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Just for the fun of it, I used fushia coloured Hug Snug on all the seams. The one exception being the centre back seam, which I overlocked and pressed open, as I didn’t want the Hug Snug to be visible through the lace inset. Because there are a heck of a lot of seams, rather than pressing them open I pressed all the others to the side and bound both sides together with the Hug Snug. I love the inside – it’s so bright and cheerful!


I also used Hug Snug on the hem, and finished it with a blind machine hem. It seems to be my hem finish of choice at the moment. *shrug*


The photos were taken outside a sub station near where I work, by my lovely colleague Kelly. (Thanks, Kelly! You rock!!) It’s always a bit tricky getting photos this time of year – dark before work, dark when I leave work…. It was pretty windy, you may spot a bit of hair sticking straight up in one or two of the photos! I’d been wearing the dress all day at work too, so it’s got those good ol’ lived-in creases going through it. πŸ˜‰ The graffiti is by a local artist – he’s quite prolific, with his work featured all over the place. Lots of happy smiley cartoon animals who are oddly dissected but seem perfectly fine about it. Strange. But also colourful, so I’m down with that.

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Also, the fabric and buttons were given to me for my monthly contribution to the Minerva Sewing Bloggers Network. You can see it all over here, along with pretty things made by other lovely sewing people. Yay! Sewing!

Polka dotted chambray Melissa dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

29 responses to “Melissa in polka dot chambray

  1. really lovely. i have the melissa waiting for a gap in my sewing schedule to be made up!

    • Oooh I’d love to see your Melissa when you make it! πŸ™‚ What are you going to make it up in, have you decided?

  2. Great dress, love all those bound seams! Great interview on pattern review too ;o)

  3. This is so lovely. I definitely need to copy the lace inset for my next Melissa dress. πŸ™‚ I adore that detail! πŸ™‚

    • Oh you so should – a lace inset would look gorgeous on you! (Plus I can now attest that it works well. πŸ˜‰

  4. Gotta love anything with lace – great dress! (Also appreciated that link to explain the poppy syndrome, which I’d not heard of before.)

  5. Those pockets are so cute!

  6. Love the insert in tha back, This pattern is still on my to make list just haven’t found the perfect fabric yet!

    • Just as well you didn’t use the original fabric you had planned for it, eh?!

      Lightweight cotton drill from Spotties, perhaps? So many pretty colours…

  7. Lovely! The lace inset is a really creative touch.

  8. Great dress! I like the idea of the “hole” in the back. I bet there are plenty of ways to decorate that!

  9. What a lovely dress! I love the insets in the front and back, which makes it unique. You should be proud of this dress.

    It seems as if Kiwis and Scandinavians have something in common, we have “The Law of Jante” ( which is a similar thing, not to think that you’re better than anyone else.

    • Wow, that was interesting to read! Thank you for the link! They are very similar, aren’t they?!

      • I thought it was interesting to learn that the syndrome exists somewhere else, I’ve always thought it was a typical Swedish/Scandinavian thing.

  10. Pingback: Melissa in polka dots | The Monthly Stitch

  11. Love the lace insert! You should be very proud. A lovely creation. xx

  12. Nice post, made me laugh, I don’t know if the same syndrome applies to Greeks too, but it definitely applies to me, haha. The dress is super cute on you, love the pockets and the lace. I admire the bias tape finishing, I never have the patience for something like that.

    • Heh, thanks! Sounds like it’s a reasonably common thing in various parts of the world!

      I’ve really fallen in love with bound seam finishes this year – so pretty on the inside!

  13. Hi Kat I love your dress and I really want to encourage you to share anything you make of your own designs. I’ve got your Melissa dress pattern and some fabric for the dress (green with spots as it happens!) and the blouse (white with a beautiful black leaf print on it) and I hope to make them up in Spring for summer wearing. I’ve often done searches on the net to see pics of this made up, and haven’t seen much yet. Seeing the dresses made up on other ‘real’ people really helps me before I attempt a new sewing task. I’ve made two Jennas, two Natalies and two Gillians now, and wear them frequently. Sandra

  14. This looks so cute on you! It’s not a surprise that your own pattern would suit you so well, but it’s nice to see you in it again! πŸ™‚ Tall Poppy Syndrome doesn’t really feature in American culture (ha!) although here, anecdotally, I find that women can’t seem to take a compliment without downplaying the attribute or achievement. Fellas, on the other hand, well, confidence is celebrated more here, I guess! πŸ˜€

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  16. Pingback: Muse Melissa | Nikki's Stitches

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