M&B Dresses

Muna and Broad is celebrating our 3rd birthday and we’ve shared 5 days of prompts for folks to share their M&B makes on Instagram! After pants day, and outer layers day, we celebrate dresses day!

Torrens Box Dress Side
dress 18
Huon dress back 3

Before we had a dress pattern, I’d already lengthened our Torrens Box Top into a dress with gorgeous blue A+R silk noil. Then We released the Waikerie Dress expansion and the very-gathered Huon Dress

Spotted Hexham-18
Ribbed Hexham-18
pink Hexham Dress
Atrax Dress-21

Up next, and like a year later we got into knits and knit dresses. The spotted, red and pink dresses above are various views of the Hexham Dress and the long black dress with white checks is an Atrax Top & Hexham Dress mashup that has been lengthened.

Melba Dress pink linen side
Gold Flounce Melba-24
seersucker Melba hack Dress-26

My recent dress making has been back to my lovely woven fabrics! Gorgeous A+R pink linen got made into a Melba Dress, and this very structured gold fabric got a flounce added to its hem for this fishy Melba. My most recent dress was another Melba, this time in peachy seersucker fabric with a very gathered skirt added onto the bottom.

Bishop Melba Top

A little while ago I shared this Melba Dress sewing fail on Instagram– a sad outcome for this deep stash linen which I cut into far too haphazardly. With the bold sleeves and the red colour, it felt like something I should be wearing as a church chorister.


I knew that removing the sleeves and making them less dramatic would probably fix the dress for me, but I really do prefer to wear pants so I decided that I’d just make a dramatic top instead since that will get the most wear.

Glebe Pants September-100

This was an early version of the Melba and the neckline isn’t quite the same as the final version, which has a much better fit on my narrow, hollow chest.

I don’t have much of this tomato red shade in my wardrobe, but I do love a pink and red pairing, so I’m hoping this top will work well with my various pink pants and also my natural linen Glebe Pants too!

Glebe Pants September-107

In fact, I like this combo so much that I used the photo as my headshot for the announcement that I’ll be one of the speakers (and attendees) at Camp Boom in Wellington this year! I’m very excited to attend ‘a fierce camp for fat babes’ in November, and am already planning a couple of extra pieces for my wardrobe (including some kind of me-made rain covering)!

Hacked Melba Dress

This project is blatant plagiarism I copied the project right down to the fabric choice and I don’t feel bad at all!

During our August M&B Patreon Zoom Sewing Circle, Leila whipped up this exact hack of our new Melba Dress, with gathers and in a seersucker fabric (hers was navy and white). But, since she’s particularly busy at the moment, I had a chance to copy her project and take photos of it before her!

seersucker Melba hack Dress-19

Fabric: I ordered 4m of this 137cm wide fabric because I didn’t want to be caught short of yardage like Leila was during her hack. It was a comfortable amount to work with in the end, and I’ve got a small piece left over. If I had wanted to cut the sleeves on the bias (which is I think what Leila did) then I probably would have needed the full 4metres.

I cut my facings and the front of my pockets from a stable rayon fabric- I probably could have done it with the seersucker, but I find it’s nice to have a stable fabric that’s ‘true’ so that I can ease the shiftier fabric into it. It’s also nice to have a silky-fronted pocket for secret hand comfort!

seersucker Melba hack Dress-31

The Hack: This is the Melba with the pattern piece cut off between the notch for the sleeve and the pocket. The skirt is 2 rectangles that are simply the full width of the fabric (so 137cm) front and back. The pockets use the same method as the original Melba pockets. The skirt is 90cm(ish) long, with a slight adjustment to cut to a light stripe so that when I hemmed it it would be on a darker stripe.

I’m pretty sure it’s all pattern matched (except the sleeves), but I didn’t check as I was going and there’s so much volume that I’m not sure anyone will ever notice.

seersucker Melba hack Dress-26

This fabric is from Spotlight and is only slightly wrinkled, unlike some seersucker which has serious dimpling and wrinkling. I did wet this and try to dry it in a ball after pressing the seams to get it to wrinkle up some more (without much luck, but it did remove the flat pressed parts). That’s fine though because it means I haven’t lost any length in the skirt or had the sleeves pucker up strangely on me.

Now, bring on the warmer weather so my Melba Hack and Dulcie Shorts can get amongst it.

Golden fish Melba

The Melba Dress was in production and I’d already made my pink linen Melba in a 200gsm linen. It was a total success and I loved it so that I made a fatal error. I forgot that fabric weight is much less important than fabric drape and I cut into this golden jacquard that was also 200gsm.

The result was way too structured- my mitred hems were beautiful but the whole thing was sitting weirdly. ‘This would have made a great Torrens Box Top‘ I thought to myself while trying to think about how to rescue the project, which was entirely finished at this stage.

Gold Flounce Melba-11

The solution was not immediately clear, nor was it especially ‘Jess-esque’ but I cropped the hem and added a flounce, for a golden fish tail hem! My flounce could use some more pressing and probably wanted me to fuss with its tiny hem a little more, but it was out of luck.

I’ve never made a circle skirt so I used a circle skirt calculator, pretending the hem circumference was my waist and then it gave me some measurements and I had no idea what to do with those. I got there in the end (I even had to pause the TV while I nutted out whether I should be cutting it on the fold and cutting it twice, etc).

I folded my fabric in half and then used my quilting ruler to measure the radius along the top of the fabric (from the fold towards the selvedge) and then down then I used that quilting ruler to mark a curve between the two point (see- it felt very complicated at the time). That was the stitching line at the top of the flounce. Then I added a 1/2″ seam allowance above that and then I measured another curve 12″ below that (I ended up cutting maybe 2 or 3 inches off the final flounce).

Then I did the same thing again, which gave me a front and back flounce.

Gold Flounce Melba-21

I quite like the finished dress, even though I would not have gone into the project thinking ‘I’m going to hack this to have a circle skirt attached on the bottom’. I do have enough of the fabric left to make a Torrens, which will probably be a much better fit for the fabric (or maybe I’ll just make a shirt-length version of the Melba)!

Next time it’s flounce time, I’ll be making a lined flounce that I understitch very well so that I can skip trying to hem that jerk bottom.

Gold Flounce Melba-24

In the background you can see my improv quilting experiments that I’m doing with linen scraps as part of the 30 Days of Improv Quilting during August. The neapolitan colours are the ones that I’m working on right now and although I’ve never patchworked or quilted before, I’m really enjoying the process and I feel like I’m putting those precious linen scraps to good use!

Melba Dress

The Melba Dress is the latest pattern from Leila and I through Muna and Broad. To celebrate, M&B email newsletter subscribers have 15% off during launch week. Sign up and the discount code will automatically be emailed to you.

Melba Dress pink linen side

We wanted to make a very beginner friendly pattern which riffed on the Torrens Box Top but brought some extra details! There’s shaping through the side seams to give some extra room, rather than a straight up-and-down boxy dress. The Melba has our classic sleeve-band application but pairs it with a soft v neck and pockets which are designed to sit forward and not flap around.

The mitred hem of the Melba is totally laid out for you, so they’re super straightforward to sew but you still feel great watching them come together (and looking at how tidy they make the insides).

Melba Dress pink linen-52

I made a straight-size F with no modifications, as that corresponds to my hip measurement. For future versions I will lengthen the dress a few inches as it hits right at the knee on me because of my long legs.

Yes, the show stopper here is the fabric! This 200gsm Hot Pink linen from A+R Fabrics is buttery soft and has incredible drape in spite of its heavyweight status. This was a delight to sew with (stable, not fraying, played well with the iron) and I ordered more so that I could fill my wardrobe with it. It might be the most delicious thing I’ve made in quite a while.

Melba Dress pink linen-45

I love the simple look of this dress- it’s ripe for casual wear but also elevating for outings. I can see myself making a beach version to throw over my togs come summer, but also slinking about in a sandwashed silk.