Sewing Journal 5: Hinterland Dress

One day, maybe in the not too distant future, I’ll get back to writing a blog that isn’t just an occasional report on something I finished. But today is not that day. Today is a day I squee gleefully about a sewing project that has been a long time in the making.

I’ve known I wanted to make a Hinterland Dress since before I ever had a sewing machine, when my knowledge of sewing was zilch. I think it was one of the only things I pinned on an “Other Crafts” board in one of my many failed attempts to actually use Pinterest. I reckon if you made a Venn Diagram of people who knit and people who sew, a pretty big segment of them have made a Hinterland Dress. It’s a pattern that lends itself to layering with a handknit shawl or sweater! It’s also reminiscent of the dresses made by the small, US-based company Pyne & Smith Clothiers. I love Joanna’s dresses and have saved up for a few, but with import and customs fees in the UK, they are pretty out of reach for me these days.

All of which is to say … as soon as I got a sewing machine, sewing a Hinterland Dress was a goal, and when I saw this amazing lemony neon check from Merchant & Mills last summer, I knew what I wanted it to become. After missing out a few times, I got a sufficient quantity late last summer. But by then the short window in which I might wear a lightweight sleeveless linen dress was closing, and I didn’t quite feel confident in cutting into the glorious fabric. So I waited.

When spring came around, my thoughts turned again to my Hinterland Dress and that beautiful fabric. Energized by #MeMadeMay and feeling like I had done a few patterns that were good stepping stones for the pattern, I plucked up the courage to take scissors to fabric and cut my pieces out in June … and then I don’t know what happened.

It’s hard to do justice to the amazingness that is Merchant and Mills Frankie Lemon.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter now, because I have at last sewn up the neon gingham Hinterland Dress of my dreams, and I love it even more than I thought I would. It’s so summery as to almost be impractical for the northwest of England (but nothing a t-shirt and leggings won’t fix), and it puts a smile on my face every time I see it hanging in the closet.

When I took my measurements, they seemed pretty spot on for the Size 4, but I (luckily!) made a toile of the bodice, and it seemed too big pretty much everywhere. I made a second bodice toile in the Size 2, which seemed like a much better fit, but I was still really nervous about sizing down … I didn’t want to lose the easeful fit of the dress.

In the end though, I think sizing down was the right decision. It’s swingy and loose with plenty of room to layer with a shirt (which is how I imagine I’ll wear it most often).

I followed the pattern as written and didn’t make any major adjustments. It’s described as an advanced beginner pattern, and I found the instructions to be on the whole clear and easy to follow. For me, this make was a good mix of things I’d done before — sewing darts, sewing facings — with things I hadn’t done — gathering a skirt (I liked this tutorial), hemming a dress. It hit the sweet spot of doable challenge!

The seams caused me some worry … the linen was so lightweight, I worried that even if I overcast them, they would fray, and I don’t have an overlocker/serger. In the end, I went for French seams which was really straight forward for the bodice and possible, with the help of this tutorial, for the skirt with inseam pockets. I worried about my ability to sew a seam with gathers twice, so didn’t use French seams when I attached the bodice to the skirt. Instead, I bound them with some Liberty lawn binding I bought pre-made. My intention was to 1) bind each side of the seam allowance separately and 2) sew it down by hand. In the end, I did neither … this probably wouldn’t be a good solution for a more fitted dress since it’s a bit bulky, but the dress is so loose I don’t notice it. And I love the little pop of the light blue floral … it reminds me of my Grandma’s sheets.

A bit wibbly at the placket, but that’s okay!

I’m really happy with the end result, but there are definitely areas could improve on for future makes. Given my love of linen, I think I need to spend a bit more time figuring out how to make sure I cut it on the grain. It’s just so shifty! I’m not sure if it’s just a matter of using more of a heavier something for pattern weights, or if there’s a technique I need to learn. Fellow linen-lovers, send me your tips! And my placket is definitely a bit wibbly. Notes to future self include to take extra care when cutting and attaching that bit. But there are also plenty of things I’m proud of with this dress … I took a lot of care over the buttonholes, and I’m happy with how they turned out, and to my eye at least, my gathers turned out relatively even. And of course, I love the dress, faults and all, which is the biggest win of all!

I see more Hinterland dresses in my future. Most immediately, I’d like a heavier weight one, probably still sleeveless though, for wearing with long sleeve tops and sweater in the winter. And after that, perhaps a version with sleeves! When I bought the fabric for this version, I thought I could probably make it a three season dress with layers, but the fabric really is very light, so I think it’ll see most wear in the spring and summer. (And it would probably benefit from a slip dress underneath. Maybe an Ogden Cami hack?) But for now, I’m just going to bask in the lemony goodness that is this dress … I think it’ll get lots of wear when we travel to the US next month (!!) to see my family!

Full details

Pattern: Hinterland Dress by Sew Liberated, purchased at Cool Crafting. I purchased this pattern before the size range update, but it now covers chest sizes ranging from 31″-58.5″

Fabric: Merchant & Mills Frankie Lemon Linen.

Size Made: 2

Mods: French seams and bias bound waist (do those count?). Otherwise, none!

And I’m happy to report that sewing Hinterland has totally re-jumped my sewing mojo … I whipped up the free Merchant and Mills The Bucket Hat pattern with scraps right after I finished, and I’ve got three more patterns traced in the hopes of maybe, just maybe, making them all before our trip.

3 thoughts on “Sewing Journal 5: Hinterland Dress”

  1. Your dress is truly lovely. I was a prolific sewer many years ago and even made my own designs. However I was too much of a perfectionist and stopped sewing altogether. Dont fret if its not quite right and take a few shortcuts. Just enjoy your lovely creations even if they’re not quite perfect (your packet looks fine to me!)


  2. I was thinking about sewing a Hinterland Dress with French seams and stumbled upon your blog – how fun! Your dress is just lovely and lemony-summery 🙂 I hope you’ve enjoyed it this year with the many warm days.

    I have plans to make a 3/4 length sleeved Hinterland in tencel for the fall, and it’s a good thing that I took the time to make a toile, because the shoulders were pretty tight on me. So, I learned how to do a broad shoulder adjustment from this brilliant website: and it seems better now. So satisfying to try something new, isn’t it?

    I haven’t gotten to the waistline gathers yet, but I am tempted to try the technique on this blog to finish the seam:


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