The Montavilla is a dress & top pattern by Sew House 7, which I bought last year when it was released, with a 25% discount. It was originally named the Montavilla MuuMuu but the MuuMuu part was dropped with respect to the Hawaiian cultural tradition. I loved all 3 versions of this, so felt that even at the full price of $14 it was good value for money.

All 3 versions of the Sew House 7 Montavilla dress & top

Version1 – The Top

I made my first version out of a 100% cotton skirt that I found in a charity shop for £1 & thought that it would be interesting to have a practice with the pattern on something relatively inexpensive but with fabric that I loved. I think that it’s important to make a wearable toile in fabric that you like, otherwise you are less likely to wear it, in my experience, at least. The top takes around a yard, depending on fabric width & is great for scrap busting. It can be made in more structured fabrics too such as linen or a stiffer cotton to give the ruffle structure or rayon/viscose which would have more of a flutter effect.

The skirt before cutting out

It’s rated as an advanced/intermediate pattern & I would agree with this, as it is a relatively simple make without closures, so no zip or buttonholes but with enough interest for the more intermediate sewists. There are no bust darts in this top/dress, the shaping is in the form of a dart at the shoulder, which is gathered to form that lovely ruffle at the sleeve.

The size range is from 00 to 20, I’m not sure how someone with a larger bust would find the fit but the dress is designed to be long & loose but without being oversized & swamping you. There is an elastic channel under the arm to help with fit. I decided to sew the size 12 based on the size chart, my bust came in at size 10 but my waist is closer to 12 & there were no finished waist measurements on the website but this is not a fitted garment & I found the fit to be absolutely fine, though I could perhaps have gone down a size. (For information my bust is 37″, waist 32″ & hips 39″.)

Version 1 The Montavilla Top

Version 2 – The Mini Dress

I visited Abakhan in Manchester back in June & found this fabric in their remnant bin, which I thought would make a fab Mini dress version of the Montavilla. This was my first visit to Abakhan & I found it it a bit strange to start with, as there didn’t seem to be any rolls of fabric, just lots of remnants sold by weight. This piece cost me £7 & I managed to squeeze a raglan top out of it too. It’s a lovely lightweight viscose with a geometric navy print over a white background. I thought that it would be a nice addition to my holiday wardrobe for a trip to Greece in September.

Geometric viscose print from Abakhan Manchester

If anyone is put off by it being called a mini-dress, I wouldn’t say it was particularly short, I’m 5’8″ & it doesn’t flash my bum. The difference between the top & dress are those fabulous pockets. In a lightweight fabric like this I don’t tend to put my phone in or anything heavy as it just pulls & distorts the dress but I just love them.

I did make the belt for this version & like it with or without, I wore it with the belt the other day & found it a bit too long, ok for the maxi version but it kept tickling my knees in this version so maybe a shorter belt next time.

Not the best of photos, the colour looks solid light blue here & look at those nobbly knees!

Version 3 – The Maxi Dress

I was contacted by Minerva who offered to send me fabric in exchange for a blog post, there were a lot of fabrics to choose from but as soon as I saw the Flamingo print viscose challis I knew that it would make a great version of the Maxi dress. I’ve written a full blog post about it here. Essentially the maxi has the same features as the mini but with front vents/slits, making it easy to walk in.

Minerva Makers Montavilla dress in Flamingo Viscose Challis

Final Thoughts

The dress is comfortable, airy & easy to wear, without being shapeless & baggy. I’ve worn all 3 versions a lot over the summer, the top more so, as I made it first & I will definitely make the pattern again. The top is perfect for scrap busting, as the side panels can be made in a contrast fabric, which is great because I’ve got loads of scraps!

A couple of top tips that I’ve learnt making this pattern are to clearly mark your dart points & underarm dots with your preferred marking tool, preferably something that doesn’t fade or disappear to ensure that the dart points are even at the front & back. Also the instructions advise you to leave the elastic tunnel unsewn at the back to adjust for fit but I find it less fiddly to do this at the front.

After I had finished making mine I discovered that there is a full colour pictorial sew along on the Sew House 7 website, for anyone who requires any additional support.

All in all a good value pattern with 3 versions & unusual features. This will be my third Sew House 7 pattern that I’ve made & they have all been good, with clear instructions. I made the Bridgetown dress a couple of summers ago & the Toaster sweater will be getting a lot of tea again now the weather is turning autumnal.

Have you made this pattern or any of the other Sew House 7 patterns, which one would you recommend?

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