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.
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.
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!
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.